Dog Pregnancy NutritionUpdated: May 10, 2023
Dog pregnancy nutrition is the foundation of health for both the mother dog and her litter. Good, balanced nutrition must meet all of the nutritional needs of the mother dog throughout her pregnancy and while she's nursing her litter.
This article will discuss why optimal nutrition is essential for pregnant dogs and how to provide proper dog nutrition for each pregnancy stage.
Why Pregnant Dogs Need Optimal Nutrition
Good nutrition contributes to good health. Providing your pregnant dog with good nutrition gives her the energy needed to carry her litter, while also ensuring the litter is developing well. According to the VCA Animal Hospital, good nutrition creates conditions for successful breeding and pregnancy, including:
- successful and easy pregnancies
- optimizing the number of pups
- preparing the mother dog to be able to deliver her pups
- keeping the mother dog strong and healthy before and after birth
- the puppies' growth and development before and after birth
Nutrition Needed at Each Pregnancy Stage
Dogs are pregnant for about nine weeks. There are several key stages during a dog's pregnancy. Each calls for different nutritional needs.
First and Second Trimester
For the first six weeks, you should still feed your furbaby her regular diet. It’s important that she not lose weight during this time, so adjust her meals accordingly. A healthy dog will gain about 15-20% beyond her ideal weight during pregnancy. But you don’t want her to be overweight from overfeeding. So stick with a regular feeding schedule and amount, but monitor her weight closely and make adjustments if needed.
If your dog's regular diet is not high-quality and well-balanced, you may need to switch food. According to The American Kennel Club, malnutrition in pregnant dogs can cause congenital disabilities, labor difficulties, and improper mammary development, which depreciates the quality and amount of colostrum and milk. A poor diet may also significantly affect the immune system of your furbaby and her pups.
"Malnutrition in pregnant dogs can cause congenital disabilities, labor difficulties, and improper mammary development."
During this time, your furbaby may have energy requirements about 30% more than usual. But it is also during this stage that your furbaby may exhibit a decrease or loss of appetite, because there’s not as much room for food in their gastrointestinal tract.
The American Kennel Club recommends giving your furbaby a diet that is high in calories to give them the energy they need, but not the one that allows your dog to gain weight. This high-calorie diet should contain approximately 17% fat and 29% protein, low fiber content, calcium, phosphorus, high amounts of soluble carbohydrates, and DHA. A poor diet during this stage may lead to weak puppies that are prone to fading puppy syndrome (a condition where pups who look normal and healthy at birth suddenly die a few weeks later).
Feed your dog small portions of food 3-4 times throughout the day to help keep energy levels up. And consult a veterinarian about diet or food if you’re unsure.
The Pups’ Arrival
After delivery and during nursing, your mother dog's energy requirements will increase. She may need 2 to 4 times the calories of a healthy adult dog. When pups are weaned at about eight weeks after delivery, your mother dog's energy requirements will decrease. During this time, you can shift her back to her normal meal portion.
You should provide a high-quality diet that includes easily digestible food. Puppy foods are beneficial as they are filled with calories and have high nutritional value for your pregnant dog's dietary requirements.
"You may need to supplement your mother dog’s diet to ensure they’re getting enough vitamins and minerals. Pet Parents® Multifunctional SoftSupps® help with daily health support."
You may need to supplement your mother dog’s diet to ensure they’re getting enough vitamins and minerals. Pet Parents® Multifunctional SoftSupps® help with daily health support. These soft chews are made with whole meats & veggies and contain active and super ingredients to maintain healthy skin and coat, provide hip and joint support, aid proper digestion, boost the immune system, and support a healthy heart.
Additionally, you may give your furbaby milk thistle, zinc, or small doses of apricot to help boost her milk supply. Whatever you give your furbaby and her litter, make sure it's safe and recommended or approved by your vet.
Proper nutrition during a dog’s pregnancy is so important. It helps the mother have a healthy pregnancy, while also ensuring her litter is healthy.
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