The needs of pregnant dogs!

As in the nutritional needs of those dear creatures.

Having said in yesterday’s post that this week would be a succession of repeat posts along comes an email from Susan Combs offering a guest post. It seemed a great post to share with you all.

She describes herself as:

Susan works as a Pet Health and Safety Expert and holds expertise in the area of animal/pet care. She has over 6 years of experience in pet healthcare and is a pet parent to a dog named Chilly.
Her post has also been published over on the MyPetZilla blogsite and the following is a copy of that version.

Jul 14, 2016

How to Meet the Nutritional Needs of Pregnant Dogs

As a pet owner you should remain educated about the nutritional requirements of your dog at the time of her pregnancy. A pregnant dog needs precise nutrition and if proper care is not taken then it can lead to serious health issues.

How long does a dog’s pregnancy last?

It lasts for 63 days. The first 3-4 weeks she can be fed a regular diet, however the last weeks are important from nutrition point of view and she requires more calories. During the first 3-4 weeks, it is recommended to feed her green trippet which is made from high quality green tripe. It contains lots of digestive enzymes and ensures good health. You can mix tippet to high-quality kibble and feed to your dog.

What should I change in my dog’s diet during the 2nd half of pregnancy?

During the 2nd half of pregnancy, dog should be fed around 30-40% more calories than what she was being fed in the first half of pregnancy. Your dog’s weight should increase by 15-25% at the time of whelping in order to maintain optimal body weight after parturition, as she needs to produce sufficient quantities of milk and colostrums to support growth in the newborn pups until they are weaned.

By week 8-9, the meal should be a third more than the regular meal. Total food quantity should be divided into four or more servings per day and dog foods with minimum levels of  430 kilocalories/cup should be provided in order to supply adequate quantities of calories. If the dog is experiencing weight issues then it is recommended to consult a vet immediately.

It is absolutely okay if your dog is eating too little in one go. You can break the meal into little portions to be fed entire day. Actually, in the advanced stages of pregnancy, the stomach cannot take large quantities of food in one intake so it is better to allow eating several portions of light meal throughout the day.

How to spot potential problems?

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea then that’s an indication that you are feeding her high volumes of food. If this is the case then shift to energy dense food, preferably dry dog food.

How much should I feed her prior to parturition?

Once the bitch is ready to give birth, you should slowly increase her calorie intake to around 15 to 25 percent. It should be noted here that most bitches refuse to eat food 12 hours prior to whelping. You should keep attention and provide her to drink water in order to prevent dehydration.

How to increase the calorie intake depending on the number of puppies?

For every puppy, your dog will require a 25% increase in her caloric intake, up to 180-200% maximum increase can be done in case she has around 10-12 puppies. Increasing more than 200% is not recommended. For example, a dog eating 2 cups of a high quality dog food each day before breeding will now need about 6 cups of food a day, in order to feed herself and provide for 8-10 puppies.

What preparation do I need to do for the puppies?

Yes, there is certain preparation that you need to as a dog owner prior to the birth of the puppies. You must prepare a room for the birth to occur. Ensure that the floor should be easy to clean and the area should be calm and soothing. You should also prepare a bed for the mother to deliver the babies. Have lots of towels and encourage the mother to sit on them so they become comfortable with them and opt to use them when on labor. This would make the birth easier for both you and the mother. Also as a responsible pet owner, it is your duty to get them insured.

When should I wean the puppies?

Puppies will begin to start eating food once they achieve 3-4 weeks of age. Henceforth, weaning should be completed at 6-7 weeks of age. After 6-7 weeks, you should start giving puppy food to them.

It is important to note here that the energy content level in dog’s milk increases all the time until around day 40. After this, the level of milk drops down and this is the time when you should start feeding the pups with light puppy food.

Is puppy food different than adult food?

Yes, puppy food is different than adult food. It is high in proteins and contains higher amounts of fat soluble and water soluble vitamins, minerals, fats, and other essentials. It also has a controlled amount of calcium and phosphorus that helps in the overall growth and health of the newly born puppies.

Should I exercise my pet regularly?

Obesity is potential danger in pregnant dogs when delivery time comes so exercising should be done regularly during the first 4 weeks of pregnancy but during the later stages, light walk is preferred.

Any other precaution that I need to take?

Treatment for internal and external parasites is necessary. It is better to consult the veterinarian if there is any problem related to external parasites. Another important point to note is that soon after whelping, your dog will actually need to eat twice as much as normal – and three times the normal level during the peak lactation period, which occurs three to four weeks after whelping.

When should I visit my vet?

Visiting a vet should be a regular practice. If possible, take your dog to the vet during each week of her pregnancy. This will ensure that all her nutritional requirements are met. Your vet should also guide you regarding any complications and after pregnancy care tips.
Pregnancy is an important part in the life of your dog and making her comfortable is your duty. You should take complete care of her nutritional and emotional needs so that the pups born are healthy. Apart from healthy and nutritious food, you need to ensure that your dog is getting plenty of clean, fresh water, enough exercise and fresh air.

6 thoughts on “The needs of pregnant dogs!

  1. Um, given the number of rescue dogs and dogs put down, I think it’s more important to advocate spaying than how to look after pregnant bitches and pups. Or perhaps something about how to look after abandoned pups? Snowy survived perfectly well despite being thrown out at a few days old. Also, he didn’t like puppy food and was eating adult dog food immediately. When we took him to our vet at say, five weeks old, he said he was a healthy young pup. No accounting for how things turn out. With or without mama.


    1. As you say, there’s no accounting for how things turn out. In a perfect world we would be looking after dogs whatever their circumstances. Lovely to have your response.


      1. I know. When we took Tosca in, she had clearly recently had pups. Had it been sooner we might have been looking after a pregnant bitch and pups (nightmare! However adorable). My point really is that spaying should be top priority, hence we got her spayed in the second week we had her. No responsible dog owner should be choosing to have a pregnant bitch and add more dogs to the pool. Spain and Rumania have a hortific number of abandoned dogs. Breeding dogs, by choice, right now, is selfishness.


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