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Boxer Pregnancy

Boxer dam with puppies

Signs of Pregnancy

Whether you are purposely and carefully breeding your female Boxer or you think your Boxer may be pregnant due to an unplanned tie, it is important to notice the subtle signs as soon as possible.

It will only take 9 weeks (63 days, on average) for your Boxer to go from conceiving to having her puppies; it is vital to give her special care as soon as you know she is expecting.

The signs of Boxer pregnancy are not glaringly obvious immediately. However, you'll know, just by the physical changes, within the first two to three weeks. 

If you have suspicions, look for the following:
  • Her nipples will become enlarged & new nipples will pop out
  • Her stomach will show a bump very quickly, especially if your dog is not overweight. You'll take a step back and wonder, "Does her stomach look a bit rounded out?" and then within a day or so, you'll know.
  • She may begin to show dominance around the home; to other pets and even try to show this to her owners
  • She may be moody; wanting to be left alone and rest as opposed to her normal wanting to play, etc.
  • Possible decreased appetite at first, then a heartier appetite by week 3.

Confirming if a Boxer Dog is Pregnant

Typically, there are no outward signs during the first two weeks. A female may start to show signs by week 3.

And it will not be until week 3 that a pregnancy can be confirmed by the veterinarian. There are several different types of tests that can be done. 

Blood test: This is the test that will let you know as early as possible; it is accurate starting on day 22. 

Ultrasound: This is accurate starting on day 28 and is not usually performed if a blood test was conclusive unless the veterinarian suspects possible issues.

Palpation: This refers to a vet manually feeling the abdomen. An experienced vet should be able to tell by day 28. 

X-rays: These will not be conclusive until day 42, because until this time bones of the fetuses have not calcified enough. These are often taken a week or so before the expected due date to confirm how many puppies to expect. 

Special Care During the Pregnancy

From the time that you learn your Boxer is pregnant to several weeks after the birthing of the pups, your dog will need special care.
  • Her increased appetite after week 3 will be the most obvious sign and the one that you will need to tend to. A Boxer in this state will normally eat about 3 times the amount she normally does. Although she will be eating more in the last 3 weeks, be sure to spread out meals (3 to 5 times per day) so that bloat does not occur.
By the end of pregnancy, a Boxer dog should have gained 30% of her ideal weight.
  • Do not give her additional calcium. This has been linked to eclampsia (a sometimes fatal drop in blood calcium levels that occurs in nursing dams), difficult deliveries, soft tissue calcium deposits in the puppies, and certain joint abnormalities in the pups. 
  • Do not give her additional vitamins A and/or D. Too much of these can cause birth defects in the puppies.
  • Look for any discharge and report even a small amount to the vet. It can be a sign of a very serious infection including pyometra, which an be deadly if not treated.
  • Do not be surprised if your Boxer's stomach does not appear to be too big. A large Boxer carrying a small litter will not have that much of a drooping stomach.
  • Keep her exercising with daily walks; it is important to keep her in good shape. This can be curtailed for the last week, as she should be inside and resting. 

Knowing it is Time

Your Boxer's veterinarian can tell you exactly how far along your dog is via an ultra sound or x-ray. Knowing that the day is approaching, beginning on day 55 you can take your dog's temperature. 

This is done rectally. A dog's normal temperature is 100.5 F ( 38.5 C) to 101.5 (38.61 C). When her temperature goes down to 98 F (36.66 C) you will know that puppies will be born in 8 - 24 hours.

Setting up a Whelping Box

A whelping box is the area that you will prepare for your dog to give birth. It must be a confined area that:
  • Is placed in a quiet area; once she gives birth, she will nest here to nurse her puppies.
  • Has at least 15 layers of sheets on the floor of the box. As she goes through the delivery process, you can roll up and put each layer into a large, strong trash bag. This will create new, fresh sheets throughout the delivery.
  • Crumbled up or shredded newspaper can be placed on top of the sheets and in between the layers. You may also put some blankets. Expect this to be a very messy area.
  • Keep the room warm. Additional heat must be supplied to keep the newborn puppies warm. Many owners use heating pads, placed under a blanket. The optimal temperature is 85 F (29.44 C).

Tips for Whelping

What you should do when your dog gives birth? While this is a natural process of life, an owner should never make an attempt to go this alone. it is ideal to have two assistants, with one being the minimum. 

You must prepare yourself:
  • Trim your nails very short, file them so that they are smooth
  • Take all rings off of your fingers
  • Put on clothes that you have no problem with throwing away afterwards
Your Boxer will not want to eat right before she is ready. Do not try to force feed her. Keep all other pets, especially a male dog, out of the room.

Allow her to lay down in the whelping box. Contractions will begin. Do not panic if your Boxer cries while giving birth; this is natural although a bit heartbreaking. Keep in mind that it is temporary. Do not attempt to give her any medication.

As each puppy begins to crown, be ready in case you need to help pull them out. If you do, your grasp but be firm yet gentle. If a part of the puppy is showing, hold on to it so that it is not pulled back in. Allow nature to work, but if a pup is truly stuck you will then need to step in and help.

Each of the Boxer puppies will have a thin sac surrounding them and will be attached by the umbilical cord. Normally, the dam will tear away the sac, bite the cord and lick the puppy. If she does not do this, it is time to step in.

Carefully remove the sac, using sterilized thread cut the cord by tying the thread around it and pulling on each end. Rub the puppy to stimulate blood flow and breathing. If the puppy has difficulty making it to the dam, help him or her reach her to suckle.

Your Boxer's veterinarian should have been able to tell you how many puppies were due. However, to make sure, after what you believe is the last puppy to come out, feel your Boxer's stomach. You should be able to feel if there is another pup inside.

Once the last puppy has been born, remove the mess. Take away the sheets until you have a clean area. Lay down more blankets. Allow both dam and puppies to be left alone. Do not try to cuddle a newborn puppy. His or her place must be with the dam. 

The dam will be producing colostrum during the first few days. This is a highly nutritional fluid that supplies the puppies with antibodies to fight against infection and disease.

Keep an eye out for any puppy who does not seem to be getting this nutrition. 

Your Boxer may not want to eat right after giving birth. Allow her a day or 2 to get back into an eating schedule. She should have a rather big appetite during the time that the pups are suckling.

When to Call the Vet - Emergency Situations

While we all hope that the birth of puppies happens without complications, one must be prepared in the case of emergency. Your Boxer's veterinarian should be called when your dog is about to deliver. Call for emergency help if:
  • Your dog's temperature dropped but more than 24 hours have passed without any puppies
  • There is a greenish colored discharge coming from your dog
  • A puppy is truly stuck in the canal
  • More puppies need to come out, but more than 1 and 1/2 hours have gone by without another pup showing
  • Your Boxer has difficulty breathing at any point
  • If you sense any negative feelings or worry. It is so much better to be safe than sorry.
Black Boxers - There are certainly Boxer dogs that appear to be black. However, bloodlines suggest that this color cannot exist in the breed. Photos and information. 
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