Caring for English Bulldog during Pregnancy
Adjust her diet as necessary
For most of the pregnancy, the female should maintain the same well-balanced, high-quality diet as prior to the pregnancy. Once she begins putting on weight (around the final five weeks of the pregnancy), then adjust her diet according to the weight gain.
This can mean up to 35-50 percent more daily food in the final days before whelping. Introduce the increased food in the form of more frequent, smaller meals rather than simply adding more food at standard mealtimes.
Ask your veterinarian about a C-section
Problems with whelping are so common with English bulldogs that it’s usually appropriate to plan an elective C-section. In fact, your veterinarian should provide a full examination of your bitch to clear her for free-whelping (natural birth) before you even consider foregoing a C-section. Consult with your vet about the ideal date to perform the C-section based on when you mated the bulldogs and schedule the procedure well in advance.
Also, check in advance that your vet will perform an elective C-section.
Provide a whelping box
You should start getting your English bulldog accustomed to a whelping box several weeks before the expected due date of the litter. Provide a roomy box with low sides. Line it with plenty of newspaper and provide a small shelf that the puppies can roll under to avoid getting rolled on by the mother.
Place the box in an environment that is warm, dry, quiet, still, and away from other dogs.
It is entirely normal for the female to begin nesting in the lined newspaper as she becomes accustomed to the whelping box. Even if you have planned a C-section with your vet, it is beneficial to allow the female to nest in a whelping box.
Keep other necessary items on hand closer to the pregnancy
You should keep several other items on hand to prepare for when your bulldog goes into labor. Have a heat lamp or heating pad with a low setting, feeding bottles and puppy-suitable artificial milk (in case the mother rejects the puppies), and lots of clean towels and bedding. You should also keep clean scissors if you need to cut the umbilical cords, unwaxed dental floss to tie off the puppies’ umbilical cords, and iodine to clean each puppy’s abdomen after the cord is cut.
Know your veterinarian’s emergency procedures before the delivery
If your vet refers emergencies to an emergency clinic, make sure you know where it is and how to call if you need help. If your veterinary hospital staff covers its own emergencies it is still important to know the procedure for contacting someone before the need arises. Providing a safe environment for the puppies is important.
Watch for the first signs of labor
First stage labor lasts an average of twenty-four hours and involves the bitch being restless, unable to settle, and going off her food. She may lie down and look at her flanks and then get up again.
Prepare for the arrival of the puppies
Second-stage labor is the pushing phase of labor when the pups should be born. Her water will break, and she will lie down and strain hard, pushing with her flanks, in order to try and expel the puppy. If she labors hard for two hours and no puppy appears, call the veterinarian.
The mother may rest after the delivery of each puppy. 20-30 minutes is acceptable. If you know she has lots of puppies and she rests for longer than half an hour, call the vet.
English Bulldogs have large heads, and it is common for a puppy’s head not to fit through the birth canal and get stuck. The only way to free the puppy is a C-section, which needs actioning urgently. If the bitch takes longer than an hour between pups call the vet.
Keep count of both the number of English bulldog puppies as well as placentas to ensure that the mother delivers everything she needs to during the pregnancy. There should be a placenta for each and every puppy.
Keep your vet’s phone number as well as that of your local emergency pet clinic close by during the entire process.