Pet Dogs

Canine pregnancy & hormone levels

Considerations

Whereas humans may rely on early pregnancy test kits that work by recognising pregnancy-specific hormones, in canines such tests are ineffective because of the endocrine physiology of dogs. Indeed, dogs unlike humans, do not produce chorionic gonadotrophin, the compound confirming pregnancy in test kits for humans. And levels of the hormone progesterone are not helpful in detecting pregnancy in canines since bitches secrete this hormone for two months after heat, regardless of whether they are pregnant or not.

Relaxin

There is, however, a hormone that indicates pregnancy in dogs--relaxin. It is primarily produced by the placenta when a fertilised egg is implanted. This hormone can be detected in a dog's plasma about 22 to 25 days after fertilisation. The levels of this hormone peak around 40 to 50 days into gestation, according to Merk Veterinary Manual. Because pseudopregnant bitches do not produce relaxin, relaxin tests are effective in distinguishing an actual pregnancy from a false pregnancy.

Prolactin

Prolactin is responsible for allowing lactation.
Prolactin is responsible for allowing lactation.

The levels of prolactin--a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, responsible for the stimulation of the mammary gland and lactation--tend to increase from day 30 to day 35 of a pregnancy until term is reached, according to Patrick W. Concannon, PhD. Increased levels of prolactin, though, are not reliable indicators of canine pregnancy since such levels tend to increase as well in dogs suffering from a false pregnancy.

Time Frame

Although progesterone, as mentioned earlier, is not effective in determining pregnancy in the first place, this hormone can be very helpful when whelping day is around the corner. In the first 60 days of pregnancy a dog's progesterone levels will be maintained around 10-80 ng/ml; however, within 48 hours of whelping the level of this hormone will dramatically decrease to the 2 ng/ml range and then to the 1 ng/ml range 24 hours prior to giving birth.

Effects

A temperature drop may indicate puppies are on the way.
A temperature drop may indicate puppies are on the way.

A significant decline in progesterone levels is accompanied by a significant temperature drop that can be witnessed by using a rectal thermometer. Whereas the normal temperature in dogs is around 100 to 102.5, when whelping day nears it will drop to 37.2 degrees C or lower. Generally, this drop indicates that a bitch will enter the first stage of labour within approximate 24 hours, according to the American Kennel Club.

How to Teach Autistic Children to Behave Around Dogs

Assign walking and feeding chores to your autistic child. Depending on his current ability levels, he might need assistance, but include him in the care-taking responsibilities. This will help the dog and your child develop a strong bond that will last for the lifetime of the dog.

Show him how to respect all dogs. Demonstrate how he should pet them and only when invited to do so, if the dog is not your family pet. Teach him that when they are sleeping, he should not disturb them and if they want to play when he is not ready to play, he should gently tell them no, or come to you for assistance. If it is your family pet, explain the dog is part of the family and needs to be treated with love, respect and kindness.

Get a puppy, not a full-grown dog. According to the North Star Foundation, an organization that provides service dogs to people with autism, it is best to start with a puppy so your autistic child and the dog start from scratch and build a strong bond. Depending on your child's ability level at the time the puppy enters the family, consider puppy training lessons and have your child take part in the classes.

Tip

Let your child choose the dog's name so he immediately feels ownership for his new companion.

Warning

Don't leave the dog and your child alone in a room until you are very sure he knows how to treat a dog.

Birthday Cake Ideas for Your Dog

Cake Mix

Recipes with flour, wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, vegetable oil, cornmeal, margarine, eggs and baking powder are safe for dogs. If you are not making the cake from scratch, read the entire list of ingredients before making the cake for your dog.

Add some more nutrition for your dog with shredded carrots, chicken and bananas. To increase the drool factor with flavour you can use bacon crumbles, peanut butter and some dog kibble.

Icing

Two simple recipes for icing involve the base ingredient of yoghurt. Plain vanilla yoghurt is not only delicious to your dog but also makes for healthy icing. In a large bowl, mix puréed bananas or melted peanut butter with vanilla yoghurt. Don't worry about making too much, leftovers can be frozen and given as a treat later. Any dog would love peanut butter ice cream with or without their birthday cake.

Dogs love chocolate but it is toxic for them to consume. Try making a fake chocolate frosting with carob. Carob tastes like chocolate but is safe for dogs to eat. Party-photo-favors.com lists this tasty recipe: 2 cups mashed banana 1 tbsp butter 6 tbsp powdered carob 2 tsp vanilla 3 tbsp unbleached flour 1 tsp cinnamon Beat all the ingredients thoroughly and ice your cake.

Decorating

You can also try shaping the cake with a serrated knife or spatula. Carve the cake into a bone, a pile of bones, a cat's face or even their favourite metal food dish. With the food dish cake you can freeze the yoghurt flavoured icing and then break it into little pieces. The cake will look like a food bowl and the icing will look like pieces of kibble.

Try adding sprinkles to your dog's cake. Mix your ingredients in a food processor to get very small pieces. Use things such as carob, dog kibble, peanut butter treats, dried bananas, carrots and pecans.

Pipe a message for your dog onto her birthday cake. Make a homemade piping bag with a sandwich bag. Put your frosting into one of the corners of the bag. Use scissors to cut a small portion of the corner off. Then squeeze the frosting out of the corner. Practice on a paper towel first to get familiar with how the frosting will come out of the bag.

Dangerous Foods

When making a cake for your dog's birthday keep this list of dangerous foods in mind. Dangerous foods can cause death, gastrointestinal complications and organ failure. Among these are alcoholic beverages, bones from meat sources, chocolate, citrus oil extracts, garlic, grapes, raisins, human vitamins with iron, large amounts of liver, macadamia nuts, dairy products, mushrooms, onions, persimmons, fruit seeds, fruit pits, green potatoes, rhubarbs, tomato leaves, tomato stems, raw eggs, raw fish, salt, string, sugary foods and yeast dough. This list does not include all dangerous foods and is not specific for each dog.

How to tell if a female dog is having a false pregnancy

Check your female dog for any signs of milk production. A female dog that is going through a false pregnancy will have enlarged mammary glands and swollen teats. During this time they may also begin to seep milk even if there has been no live birth.

Gently feel your dog's abdomen for swelling. Even though the pregnancy is false, her body does not know it. The pregnancy hormones can still cause her body to function in ways that denote pregnancy, and one of the repercussions, is a slightly swollen abdomen. Although her belly will never become as large as that of a female that is carrying puppies, it can swell.

Notice if your female dog is showing signs of nesting. A dog may purposefully transform areas of the home into comfort zones as if she is caring for her live young. This can be emotionally stressful for your dog especially when she is missing the most important part of the pregnancy. Pulling blankets and small rugs into corners of the room and making cosy little spots as if she is going to nurse her young are signs that your dog is having a false pregnancy.

Watch to see if your female dog begins to carry around stuffed toys or other small soft items, as if they are her babies. A dog that is dealing with the emotional stress of a false pregnancy will take possession of these items and nuzzle them, gently carry them around and lie down with them. She may be looking for any type of items in the house that can fill the void of her missing pups.

Look for signs of confusion or psychological distress that may be affecting your female dog. False pregnancy can be a very stressful time for a dog, especially if she is looking for her puppies. Her body is giving her all of the signs that she should be whelping, yet there are no babies to suckle. This situation will not only create a psychological toll, but also a physical one that will cause confusion and stress to a female dog that is dealing with a false pregnancy.

Tip

Allow your female to nest, harvest toys and pillows, and fully involve herself in the emotional part of the false pregnancy. If the symptoms have already begun, it is too late to fix it. Allow her to go through the process, and have her spayed before her next heat to ensure that it won't happen again. To make your female dog more comfortable, you can massage the mammary area, helping her to release some of the milk that has been building up and causing discomfort. You may also choose to use your female dog as a surrogate mother. At times the humane society may have very young puppies that they have rescued, without the mother. Your female may be helped emotionally if she is able to use her nurturing instinct to care for and feed the puppies.

Warning

Never remove any stuffed toys or objects that appear to be substitutions for puppies. Your dog sincerely believes that she needs to care for the toys, and by taking them away before she is ready, you will be causing more stress. The situation may even cause territorial issues that can turn violent if you attempt to touch her puppy substitutes. If you feel that the false pregnancy is becoming a situation that is difficult to handle, seek a veterinarian's advice.