A pregnant female dog needs to increase food intake gradually, and a protein-rich meal
- Author: By EVA SAN MARTÍN
- Last updated: August 17, 2015
The feeding of a pregnant dog should take into account both the mother and the future puppies that grow inside her. This article explains how to feed a pregnant dog, how to increase food intake during pregnancy and what is the most appropriate diet, not only during pregnancy but also during the lactation of puppies.
Feeding a pregnant bitch and her puppies
The feeding of the pregnant dog is key to provide both the mother and the future puppies, the energy, proteins and nutrients they need. The pregnancy of the dog lasts between 63 and 67 days, and constitutes a very demanding stage for the future canine mother.
The body of the pregnant female undergoes important changes to adapt her body to the puppies that grow inside the canine belly. Future canine pups do not stop increasing their size, and increasingly require more nutrients, which they receive through the placenta.
But, How do you have to feed the pregnant bitch so that the pregnancy takes place in a healthy way?
Feeding of the pregnant dog: first weeks
The body of the pregnant dog is transformed during her pregnancy. However, during the first two weeks of canine pregnancy the changes are still not visible.
The Pregnant female feeding should be the usual, depending on their race and size. The pregnant dog must also maintain normal physical activity, with walks and games.
The symptoms of pregnancy, however, will soon arrive. Pregnant women are not the only ones who feel the nauseous characteristics: canine females also suffer from this discomfort.
The pregnant dog needs to eat small portions of food, to avoid nausea
This desire to vomit that the dog will suffer explains that she can lose her appetite during the third and fourth week of gestation. Therefore, we must offer the future mother small portions of food and repeatedly throughout the day. This will help you eat. However, if the desire to feed does not return, a consultation with your veterinarian is recommended.
The pregnancy of the dog continues: increase intake
The future puppies accelerate their development from the fifth week of gestation of the dog, and the future mother accumulates the work. The female not only has to feed herself but also has to take care of nourishing the small embryos that grow inside her.
A dog that expects four puppies should increase their food intake by 5% every week
The female's food intake should increase at the rate that the little ones do. A female who expects four puppies, for example, must increase food intake by 5% every week.
In this way, when the pregnancy enters its ninth week, the amount of food the dog will require will be about a quarter more than I ate before pregnancy.
Feeding a pregnant bitch: puppy food
The pregnant dog needs extra protein and lots of energy to go through this very demanding phase of her life. Ana Domínguez, veterinary assistant, recommends using a puppy meal for the mother during this stage.
"Puppy food has a lot of protein and gives the dog and the puppies that have the energy they need inside," he explains.
However, extra protein needs do not end pregnancy. "Ideally, the dog will continue to eat puppy food until the weaning of the puppies," says Dominguez.
Final phase of pregnancy: the dog loses her appetite
Puppies that grow inside the mother's belly get fat, and increasingly take up more space. In the last weeks of pregnancy the site inside the womb is a scarce commodity. Therefore, it is convenient to feed the mother with small portions of food, offered frequently.
The dog, in addition, is no stranger to this feeling of agglomeration that your body experiences, and it is usual to stop eating. He The female's appetite may even disappear during the ninth week of pregnancy, when the time of delivery of the dog approaches.
However, the pregnant female must always have her food and fresh water nearby.
The pregnancy of the dog: medicines and supplements
Nutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals are usually not recommended before the sixth week of pregnancy. A sudden contribution of these substances could drive an abnormal growth of embryos and an exaggerated development of future puppies.
Medications, meanwhile, should be avoided throughout pregnancy, since can cause congenital problems in small puppies that grow in the womb. Before administering medicines to a pregnant dog you should consult your veterinarian.
The pregnancy of the dog: watch out for the scale
Most of the weight that a pregnant dog gains is explained by the burden of the placenta, a large organ that grows inside the body to feed the embryos.
The future dog puppies that fatten without rest inside their body explain the rest of the kilos that the female takes during pregnancy. This sudden weight gain favors that an abnormal overweight can go unnoticed.
The obesity of the dog can cause problems during pregnancy and childbirth, so it is advisable to monitor the weight of the future mother throughout pregnancy. It is advisable to increase the weight controls, and write down the weight of the dog regularly.
Feeding the dog after the arrival of the puppies
The birth of the dog does not reduce the nutritional requirement for the canine mother. The arrival of the puppies implies starting milk production to feed their little ones. And the Breastfeeding is one of the activities that require more energy in the life of a dog.
Neonates are very demanding in terms of the food they require. And breastfeeding a litter of hungry growing puppies can be strenuous. The little ones grow fast and the amount of milk they require from their mother is huge. The lactation of the dog will last at least another six weeks.
Feeding a pregnant dog: tips
The feeding of the pregnant dog should be the usual one during the first two weeks of gestation.
When nausea arrives, it is advisable to give the dog small doses of food, distributed throughout the day.
Nutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals, are not recommended until the sixth week of pregnancy.
Medications should be avoided throughout the pregnancy of the dog.
In case of problems, see your veterinarian promptly.
Characteristics of pregnancy in female dogs
The pregnancy in bitches lasts about 64 days and is divided into two phases:
- First phase of pregnancy: This is the development of the embryo until day 42 and in this period the mother practically does not gain weight.
- Second phase of pregnancy: From day 42, the fetuses grow rapidly and reach up to 80% of the birth weight, so the mother's weight gain is significant as her energy needs increase. The weight gain on the part of the mother at the end of pregnancy should not exceed 25% (large dog) or 30% (small dog) of her initial weight and after childbirth recover her weight without problems.
It's important pointing that fetuses feed through the placenta and it is very important that the mother receives adequate nutrition since there can be losses of puppies.
Nutrition in pregnant bitches
In the first stage described, the type of feed and the usual amount we give to the dog should not be modified. From the month and a half, that is, in the second stage, we must gradually introduce a very digestible and energetic food that allows to cover all the needs with small portions.
When the dogs are pregnant the abdomen is distended due to the uterus and this causes a decrease in digestive capacity by the digestive system. In addition, the ideal feeding pattern is to divide the necessary daily amount into several shots To avoid overloads.
By slightly increasing the size of your ration every week from the fourth, we will reach the ninth week with a ration a third larger than usual.
- Energy needs: In the last third of pregnancy these needs are multiplied by 1.5, so the diet must provide a high caloric content.
- Protein needs: The protein needs in this last third of pregnancy, because of the beginning of breast development and especially the growth of fetuses, are also very high. It is estimated that they increase up to 70% compared to those of a female in maintenance. If the protein intake is not enough it can result in a low weight of the pups at birth.
- Fatty acids: Essential fatty acids are important for the early stages of puppies' development, especially for their brain and retina., Helping to improve their vision, memory and learning.
- Folic acid: Reduces the probability of suffering cleft palate in brachycephalic dogs.
- Minerals: They are administered in balanced doses that are given by feed. It is not necessary to supplement with nutraceuticals.
All these nutritional requirements that we have mentioned are found in feed called "for puppies" or "puppy" and it is very important to acquire it of high range. We can find specific feed for puppies in any animal shop or store on-line.
Excess weight and other problems
As we have previously noted, the weight gain at the end of pregnancy should not exceed 25-30%, so we must control weight throughout the period. To do this, we will point the weight of the dog at the beginning of pregnancy in a notebook.
Ideally, our dog is at the right weight before becoming pregnant because the excess of adipose tissue interacts with the reproductive function resulting in poor quality of the embryos. In addition, the dog's obesity causes problems in childbirth because fat infiltrates the myometrium, reducing the strength of uterine contractions.
Many owners believe that food needs increase in a pregnant dog since the beginning of pregnancy and we increase the amount of feed promoting obesity.
Finally highlight that nutrient deficit provoke in puppies Congenital malformations, alterations in the central nervous system and other pathologies.
If you want to read more articles similar to Feeding a pregnant bitch, we recommend that you enter our Gestation section.
Why should I feed my dog with puppy food during pregnancy?
Puppy food is richer in essential nutrients and provides more energy than adult formulated food. In addition, it is easier to digest. It is important to keep all this in mind when feeding pregnant dogs.
Feeding your dog with a formula for puppies from weeks 3-4 of gestation will help her stay strong, and pass the nutrients to her pups through breast milk.
You must gradually introduce the new food in your diet, to allow time for your digestive system to adapt. Start by introducing puppy food in its usual formula, a little at a time, for about a week, until you have completely replaced one meal with another.
Keep in mind the size and preferences of your dog when choosing the puppy food you are going to give her.
Per serving, dry food contains more calories than wet food. Therefore, if your dog's diet consists only of wet food, you will have to feed her more times (or in larger rations) to make sure she gets the extra energy she needs, especially if it is a breed of size big. You can also try mixing your wet food with some dry food to give you the best of both.
Make sure you always have easy access to plenty of clean, fresh drinking water to stay hydrated, especially if you are going to use a dry food formula during pregnancy.
How much food should I give to a pregnant dog?
In feeding pregnant dogs, maintain the usual size of your ration during the first weeks of pregnancy. During these early stages, your dog may get away from food or suffer from small nausea or vomiting, similar to human "pregnancy nausea." Although it may seem worrisome, it is not: it is a completely normal process. However, if you are worried about your loss of appetite or if you still have discomfort, go to the veterinarian.
It begins to increase its food intake, little by little, from the fifth week of gestation. Increase the size of your ration a little each week, so that by the ninth week the ration size is approximately one third larger than normal. By then, mom's weight will have increased by about 25%, or even more if she is waiting for a large litter.
Measure and control the rations to avoid eating too much and develop obesity, as this would cause problems during pregnancy and childbirth. If you are worried about your pet's weight during pregnancy, go to your veterinarian.
It is best to feed your pregnant dog with small and frequent rations in the last stages of pregnancy, since a belly full of puppies will not have much room for food.
How much food should I give a dog during breastfeeding?
Feeding your newborn litter is hard work for mom, since her puppies need plenty of nutritious breast milk to grow strong and healthy. In fact, did you know that bitches produce more milk for their puppies than women for our babies?
To help her get the extra energy she needs to breastfeed her hungry litter, continue feeding her with the puppy formula she started eating during pregnancy. Its higher caloric content and added nutrients will provide resistance and help you produce high quality milk for your dogs.
During weeks 1-3 of breastfeeding, increase your daily meals from two to three. In the fourth week (when your milk production reaches its peak), it goes up to four daily meals. The serving size of each of these meals should increase as follows during breastfeeding:
- First week: 150% of your usual ration
- Second week: 200% of your usual ration
- Third week: 300% of your usual ration
The amount and frequency of meals of your dog during breastfeeding will depend on your breed and the size of your litter. If you are breastfeeding a litter of more than four puppies, you will need so much energy that perhaps it is best to allow you constant access to food.
New moms will breastfeed their litter for approximately 6-8 weeks, but puppies can begin to try solid food from 3-4 weeks of age. As the puppies are weaned, gradually reduce the food intake of the mother, until it reaches again the amount prior to gestation.
If you have questions about feeding at this important stage, talk to your veterinarian about feeding your pregnant dog during all phases of pregnancy and lactation.
The first 2 weeks of a pregnant dog
After detecting your pet's pregnancy, a common mistake is to quickly change the feed for another alternative, however you should take it easy. The best thing will be to think about other needs first, such as space and attention, because the feeding a pregnant bitch, at least during the first two weeks, it must remain the usual one.
What will be important is to perform a routine check-up with the veterinarian, since an assessment of your physical condition is important, to know if you are fully trained to carry out a healthy pregnancy. It will also be essential to know the number of puppies that come in the litter, as this will be a factor to consider when designing your most appropriate diet.
Weeks 3 and 4 of pregnancy
From the third week onwards, you should go looking for a more specialized food alternative, If what you are looking for is to pamper and offer the best to your pet during this period, there are super premium starter feed alternatives specially designed for this phase.
This type of feed are composed of high quality natural foods, which are in fact suitable for human consumption, although they are designed to offer a composition free of preservatives, genetically modified organisms, dyes and, in addition, it is prepared to cover all the necessary nutrients for this stage, including vitamins and minerals that They will be of great contribution to your body. In this type of food, in fact, various high quality ingredients such as tuna or salmon are included, important for its high proportion of Omega 3, which provides important advantages to strengthen the necessary fat intake, which will be another element to have in bill.
Normally from the third or fourth week already you must change your diet. It is best to do it gradually, gradually increasing the proportion of new type of feed, in a process of about a week, until you completely stop the previous feeding.
If you prefer, you can also opt for a puppy food, one of the main objectives of this type of feeding a pregnant bitch It is to provide the nutrients to be strong, but it is also important to start generating breast milk.
This is one important stage in the gestation processIt is also completely normal for your pet to feel nauseous and even present vomiting, for this reason it is best to give smaller but more frequent rations. In any case, if you consider that the discomfort that the mother is suffering is very much, it is best to be checked by a veterinarian.
In this phase, weight checks should also begin to be regular, a common problem is not to detect an overweight of our pet, because it may appear to be part of the normal process of pregnancy. However, you must consult the veterinarian for the appropriate weight, according to their breed and number of puppies in gestation.
Of course, you should also consider that neither at this stage, nor at any other, the intake of medications is recommended, only in case of strict medical recommendation.
Tips for weeks 5 and 6
It will not be until week 5 when the puppies already begin to take a greater volume inside the mother, who will therefore begin to need also a greater amount of food, it is here where the portions should begin to be more abundant.
Depending on the number of puppies in gestation, the increase in the amount of food will also vary. For example: if there are 4 puppies, it is advisable to increase by 5% the feed quantity each week.
The growth of the puppies inside the mother is quite exhausting for her body, which is why they should eat abundantly so as not to generate some kind of decompensation, neither in their nutrition, nor in that of the puppies.
For this reason, as of the sixth week you can start to also provide nutritional supplements for strengthen the feeding of the pregnant dog, and although this does not have to be necessary if you are already using super premium feed specially designed for this stage, it can be an alternative if instead you are feeding your pet with feed for puppies, which is also another cheaper and less efficient option, but at least more advisable than continuing to feed her with the feed she consumed before pregnancy.
Weeks 7 and 8 of gestation
Here the control will have to be more rigorous, because the definitive stage in the development of the puppies is approaching and multiple risks for the mother are also opened. Therefore the review of the weight should be timely, as well as the routine review with the veterinarian.
It is important to monitor the level of weight gain, as less than recommended growth can cause malnutrition and, as a consequence, malformations in puppies. On the other hand, an overweight can also be lethal to the mother.
It is best to calculate that they are on the right track so that with the pace up to that date, it can be concluded that it is progressing consistently so that, reaching 9 weeks, it rises between a third and a quarter of its initial weight, which will not only be for the puppies. In fact, most of this weight will be for the placenta.
Here it will also be essential a good protein intake, which represent most of the energy that will be essential for this exhausting process through which the mother will go through.
Final stage of pregnancy
If everything goes well, from the ninth week your dog will be already in the final stretch of the gestation process. Because the space in your stomach is already becoming more limited, food rations must also be smaller, but equally frequent to be able to provide the necessary nutrients.
In case you notice that the pregnant bitch begins to lose appetite, it may be normal, as it could indicate that the time for delivery is about to arrive. For this reason it will be important to always keep fresh water and some food at your fingertips, in addition to taking control with your veterinarian, in order to also be trained for the day of delivery.
First weeks of breastfeeding
At the time of birth, which is a very special event, and beyond the usual measures that you should take for the care of the puppies, regarding the mother's diet, it will also be important to start increasing the intake, since the food needs They will also be very demanding for the breastfeeding process.
The mother requires not only the nutrients to recover from the tired process of pregnancy and birth, but also must obtain the extra nutrients to be able to offer adequate breastfeeding to puppies newborns, who will be hungry and will grow rapidly, which is why the first three weeks of life should take very particular measures.
In the first week you should increase the usual amount of food for the mother by 50%. This measure should be increased by the same proportion, that is, in the second week it should already be twice the amount of food that you usually ate, and this rate should be extended at least until the third week of breastfeeding, where the amount of Milk you will need to produce will be higher and therefore the dog should already have triple the food available.
For this reason, and depending on the number of pups that were born, you can even offer the mother free access to feed, that is, a diet to pleasure, because it has the ability to feel when it requires a greater amount of food so that you can continue with the essential breastfeeding process properly.
From the third or fourth week the puppies can start eating solid food, it will also be time to reduce the amount of food for the mother, trying to do so proportionally. However, breastfeeding is recommended to extend for at least a period of 6 to 8 weeks.
Taking the appropriate measures, and consenting to your pet properly, you will see that it is possible to carry a process of gestation and healthy upbringing.
In any case, the constant assessment of your veterinarian, as well as assistance in case of any doubt or strange symptom, will be essential to lead a happy pregnancy and that allows to carry out this important moment in the life of your pet. Remember that good food will be the key main to give life to healthy and strong puppies and at the same time take care of the integrity of their mother.