Is It Worthwhile To Get An Ultrasound For Your Pregnant Pet?

If you have a dog, cat, or other mammal you suspect may be "in the family way," you could find yourself wondering what to do next -- especially if you've never cared for a pregnant pet before. Do you need to change your pet's diet? Should you seek an ultrasound to ensure the babies are developing as they should? Read on to learn more about caring for a pregnant pet, as well as some factors to consider when deciding whether an ultrasound is a good choice.

What extra care does a pregnant pet need? 

Just like many pregnant humans, many pregnant pets should be able to go about their daily lives with minimal disruption; but, just as some pregnant women deal with complications or health issues that can make this time tough, some animals can have a rough time as well.

As a general rule, it's a good idea to have your pet examined by a veterinarian as soon as you suspect she is pregnant -- the vet can perform a simple blood test to confirm pregnancy and even get an idea of when she may be due.

While your pet is pregnant, you'll want to make an extra effort to ensure she always has access to food and fresh water, as well as a quiet place to rest (away from children or other pets). A few days before your pet gives birth, she'll likely begin "nesting" -- dragging towels, blankets, or other soft and cushy items into a secluded place in preparation for birth. By providing an empty cardboard box or another sheltered area for your pet to begin her nesting process, you'll ensure she feels comfortable and safe, minimizing the risk of escaping from your home and giving birth under your porch or in a neighbor's garage.

When may a veterinary ultrasound on a pregnant pet be a good idea? 

Because ultrasounds can be expensive in many parts of the country (and, unlike pregnancy ultrasounds on humans, aren't usually covered by insurance), you may wonder whether this process is necessary. However, there are a few situations in which an ultrasound should be able to give you a good idea of whether your pet could face any health complications while giving birth. 

For example, if you have a purebred English Bulldog or another large-framed dog of a breed that often requires a C-section, having an ultrasound to determine the number and size of embryos can let your vet know whether a C-section will be needed or natural birth can be attempted. In other cases, an ultrasound can show you any problems with one or more of the embryos that might require selective reduction in order to save your pet's life. Your vet should be able to help you determine whether an ultrasound would be a good investment in your specific situation. Click here for more info.