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Emergency Kit for Pregnant Dogs & Puppies

What do you put in a pregnant dog’s emergency bag? If you have a pregnant dog or newborn puppies, it’s important to have certain supplies and medications on hand in case of an emergency. Organizing your medicine cabinet by life stage may help you find what you need when you need it. We’ll walk you through our strategies for moms, newborn puppies, deworming and pet emergencies.

Dog Pregnancy Medicine

Knowing what is safe for pregnant dogs and what is not can be the difference between life and death for their unborn babies! Moms are at a high risk until day 42 of gestation, meaning that you must be especially careful what medications you give during that time. After day 42, most medications that do not cause cramping are okay. The embryo implants in the uterus between days 18 and 21, and any inflammation during that time will decrease implantation.

Doxycycline, Baytril® or penicillin are effective if strep is causing the infection. The risk of defects caused by us is greatest between days 21 and 35. During this time, puppies develop their organs and normal bone scaffolding – and you know how important those are for our growing babies! Avoid these antibiotics during pregnancy, unless the dam is at risk of death without them.

Sulfa (sulfamethoxazole) and metro (metronidazole) are the big drugs to avoid, especially because they cause cleft palate and other midline defects if given between days 22 and 42.

The last two weeks of gestation, it’s okay to use most antibiotics, but only do so if mom’s having an issue and you know the solution. For example, if she had mastitis with her previous litter, we use sulfa trimeth (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim), a helpful combination of two antibiotics that work together against E.coli in a single pill.

Puppy Medications

With newborn puppies, it’s important to keep a few ages in mind as you consider medicines, as some of them damage growing tissues. Babies’ livers and kidneys do not work well until they are six weeks old and are not fully functional until three months of age. This means that they’re unable to clear drugs from the body as easily as adults. We don’t want to damage kidneys that are still growing; that damage will be permanent!

  • Drugs to avoid at this stage include gentamicin, which can cause severe issues in babies under four months, and sulfas such as Albon®, which should be avoided until at least four weeks (preferably six weeks).
  • Be careful when using Baytril® or Enrofloxin, as these drugs disrupt cartilage development in babies’ joints. Without that cartilage, we may end up with bones rub on bone, leading to lame puppies at only six months old. Never use these products for longer than five to seven days. In particular, avoid in pups during the time they are weight bearing (over 3 weeks) and in dogs that will be heavy or large breed dogs as adults.
  • While they’re nursing, it’s okay to use Clavamox®, amoxicillin and the cephalexin family.
  • Convenia injectable is also used and works well.
  • Doxycycline and tetracycline should be avoided in pups under four months of age as they can affect bone development and cause discolored teeth.
  • For puppies under four weeks, stick with the penicillin or cephalexin family.
  • Over five weeks, most antibiotics are okay (except gentamicin and Baytril®).
  • Metro (metronidazole) works for puppies over six weeks, but it has a couple undesirable drawbacks. It sometimes causes a head tilt reminiscent of an ear infection; stop using the medicine, and this should go away in four days. Metronidazole also causes depression in puppies, which is another drawback. Safe-guard® is a better choice if you’re targeting giardia; use it for five days to treat or three days to prevent giardia.

Can You Deworm a Pregnant Dog?

Keeping parasites out of the pregnant and nursing mom is one of our highest priorities, but not all dewormers are pregnant safe!

  • Stick with fenbendazole, Safe-guard® or Panacur®, as they are safe and labeled for pregnant animals. They cover roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms as well as giardia.
  • Do not use praziquantel or tapeworm medications on a pregnant mom! They cause abortions in 20% of late gestation cases. While they do not hurt the embryos, they make mom cramp and send her into early labor.
  • Most monthly heartworm preventives (except Trifexis) and injectable heartworm preventives (moxidectin) are safe during pregnancy.

When to Deworm Puppies

Almost all dewormers are okay for babies, with a few caveats.

  • There is no reason to use tapeworm medications on puppies; stop the fleas on the babies, and you will stop the tapeworms.
  • Start the babies with pyrantel at two and four weeks, and then at six and eight weeks, switch to fenbendazole. Changing dewormer families prevents parasite resistance from developing.
  • Coccidia should not be an issue until four weeks. Babies get coccidia from mom, and the parasite has a three week lifecycle; therefore, it will be four weeks before you should worry much about it. If you’re seeing what looks like coccidia before then, consider other causes such as E. coli or campy (campylobacteriosis).
  • Ivermectin is not a good dewormer for internal parasites, but it is effective against external parasites like mange, ear mites and lice. Wait to target external parasites using ivermectin until puppies are six weeks old or, better yet, get them out of your moms and they won’t give to them to their puppies! Do not use these medications on collies, shelties or mixes with their genetics in them!
  • Selamectin is a broad spectrum parasite control product and is safe during pregnancy. Selamectin kills adult fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching for one month and is indicated for the prevention and control of flea infestations (Ctenocephalides felis), prevention of heartworm disease caused byDirofilaria immitis, and the treatment and control of ear mite (Otodectes cynotis) infestations. This is also indicated for the treatment and control of sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei) and for the control of tick infestations due to Dermacentor variabilis.
  • Bravecto is the only oral flea and tick product tested and found to be safe in breeding dogs (male and female). Avoid the use of other oral flea and tick control products until they are also evaluated.

Emergency Kit for Dogs

When it comes to your pet emergency kit, keep your cat or dog emergency kit simple – that way, you know you have everything on hand that you need.

Knowing what medications to keep in your medicine cabinet will save you a lot of stress as you care for your pregnant dog moms and new babies. It’s not one thing, but 101 things we do correctly to get puppies healthy and on to their next home!

Have what you need, but you’re not sure how to use it? Give us a call at 800.786.4751. We’re happy to help.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.