The pitter-patter of little paws is coming. Your furry friend is looking bigger than usual as she prepares to become a mother.

Now that your cat or dog is carrying little ones, your pet needs more attention in preparation for its delivery and to be comfortable throughout her pregnancy.

1. Ensure that your pet is in best health. Balanced and sound nutrition is essential for any cat or dog, and pregnant pets may have additional specific nutritional requirements. It’s important to discuss your pregnant pet’s food needs with a veterinarian.

Providing measured portions of food can help in regulating the size and weight of the pet. You don’t want your pet to gain or lose excess weight during pregnancy, which can lead to delivery complications. For dogs, doing regular exercises, like going for a walk or a game of fetch, can help them keep healthy before labor. Plenty of rest is also important for them to recharge and refuel.

2. A welcoming environment. A safe and secluded spot in the house is the most ideal place for your pregnant pet to rest. Make all her necessities, such as water and food, accessible, and place soft bedding for her to rest on.

Remember that she needs her personal space, so try to keep her from getting into the household traffic to avoid stress.

3. Proper hygiene and good grooming. Your soon-to-be-mom pet should be clean and kept away from ticks and parasites. Occasional brushing over her fur can do the trick. Once or twice a day should be enough to keep her fur soft and neat. When it comes to bathing, seek consultation from the vet to learn what is best for your pet. If bathing your pet with running water would cause tension, a delicate sponge bath will keep her clean in the meantime.

4. Give her plenty of water. Pets, especially pregnant ones, should always have clean and fresh water available to them. Try putting up water stations around the house for their convenience. Staying hydrated will be helpful to your pet, especially during the summer.

5. Provide comfort and support. Just like any other pet parent, provide comfort and support to your pet by giving them the best form of care possible. Once your pet goes into labor, watch them carefully and make sure that they will have a smooth and safe delivery. If there are any evidence of blood or abnormally colored mucous or pus, reach out to the nearest 24-hour veterinary clinic.

Why nutrition is important

As experts in pet nutrition and pet care, Pet Food Institute and the Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines have a longstanding commitment to impart the value of responsible pet ownership to pet owners through its Well Fed, Well Nurtured campaign. To ensure a safe and sound maternity for the beloved mother pet, PFI and VPAP share some tips on how to take care of pregnant cats and dogs.

As pet owners, it is important to be mindful of the recommendations of the veterinarian on your pet’s health and nutrition. Pregnant pets’ nutritional requirements must be assessed to determine the right type of food that should be given daily. Necessary adjustments should be made to maintain the best nutrition for your pet and her litter.

PFI aims to promote pet health by encouraging pet owners to choose carefully formulated, nutritionally complete, and balanced US-commercial pet food products. Abiding by the highest of standards of nutrition, commercial US pet food brands provide products that assure pet owners are giving their cats and dogs a balanced meal. With the Well Fed, Well Nurtured campaign, PFI seeks to drive awareness of responsible pet ownership throughout the Philippine pet community through proper feeding and regular veterinary care.

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s June 2016 issue.