Pregnant dogs need more calories to help sustain all those puppies and they will require a different food that they did before breeding. In order to help sustain all the puppies growing in your pregnant dog’s tummy, your dog may need to be switched to a higher calorie diet.
You should think about the following food requirements when coming up with a diet for a pregnant or nursing dog.
• Foods and treats that are easily digestible
• Food and treats with good quality protein
• Food and treats with available energy
• Food and treats with enough vitamins and minerals
All of these requirements can be met by feeding your dog a natural dog food. Here are some things you need to know about feeding your pregnant or nursing dog.
A dog’s pregnancy lasts around 63 days and for the first 4 to 5 weeks, your dog can be fed with her regular adult dog food.
Depending on the number of puppies, you should supply about 30-50% more calories than what she was eating before by the second half of your dog’s pregnancy. Your dog’s weight should increase by about 15 to 30% over this time period, from the puppies and increased body weight.
Your dog probably won’t require any additional dietary supplements during the pregnancy if you’re already feeding her a high-quality dog food. Some experts believe that the food chosen should be fortified with two fatty acids called EPA and DHA. They are thought to improve the neurologic development of puppies and they are also the same fatty acids found in many human baby formulas. To boost your dog’s intake of these important fatty acids, look for fish oil in the ingredient list.
When it comes to be 12-24 hours before whelping, many dogs will not eat and this is normal and you shouldn’t try to force your dog to eat. However, you should make sure that your dog is at least staying hydrated by providing plenty of fresh clean water.
After your dog gives birth, she will have puppies to nurse and since all these bodies need to grow, you will have to pay special attention to her diet. During the first 4 weeks of nursing, nutritional deficiencies in nursing dogs are most likely to appear. Here’s what you can to do to prevent it from happening:
Foods that have the right balance of proteins and fats are what your dog will need, switch her to a high quality puppy food or active dog food.
If your dog has 8 or more puppies, rotate them as they nurse and weigh them often to make sure all of the puppies are gaining weight. You may have to hand feed some of the puppies if you notice they aren’t gaining weight. Ask your veterinarian to help you start this process.
Switch to a free feeding method and leave food out all the time, particularly if your dog is a picky eater to begin with, so your dog can take in as many calories as she needs.
Your dog will require a 25% increase in her caloric intake for each puppy she has, that’s up to a 200% increase in calories. It’s often difficult for dogs to eat much more than this and maintain normal digestive functions even if your dog has 10 or 12 puppies.
For example, in order to feed herself and provide for 8-10 puppies, a dog who normally eats 3 cups of high-quality dog food each day before breeding will now need about 9 cups of food a day.
If you want to give your dog something else, like a small amount of quality dog treats, do not worry that you are going to be “upsetting her diet."
You can ask your veterinarian if she can recommend a food that meets her higher demands for fats and proteins during this time. If you are not sure that your dog is getting everything she needs, it's important to take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible.