Nutrition for Pregnant Dogs
Pregnant and nursing dogs have very specific nutritional needs. That’s why special care and consideration should be taken when feeding and caring for these dogs.
- Feeding an all life stage puppy food such as Purina® Puppy Chow® brand puppy food is best
- The food should have 1600 kcal digestible energy per pound of food and at least 22 percent protein.
- Unless the pregnant or nursing dog has a tendency to put on too much weight, give her all the food she wants.
- If she seems to be losing weight, try moistening the food or switching to a more nutritionally dense food.
- Always keep out plenty of fresh water in a clean bowl.
Adjustments During Pregnancy
- Dogs are typically pregnant for about nine weeks. For the first six or seven weeks, food intake shouldn't be that much higher than normal.
- Between weeks six and seven, the pregnant dog’s weight will increase. At this time, put out 25 percent more food.
- In week nine, her appetite may slip or disappear. This is often a sign that the babies will be born in the next day or two. Be sure to consult a book or expert on what behaviors or events to expect and what signs signal trouble.
- After the puppies are born, expect your dog’s diet to steadily increase over the next 20 to 30 days as the puppies grow and nurse more.
- After the first month, the mother may be eating two to four times the amount of food she ate before pregnancy.
- Give her all she wants and encourage her to eat by moistening the food.
- In the third or fourth week, the puppies will probably start nibbling at her dish, which is a good way to introduce them to solid food.
Weaning the Puppies
Between six and eight weeks, the puppies are typically weaned. Here are some steps to help stop milk production and make the transition as easy for the mother as possible.
- On weaning day, do not give the mother any food, only water.
- The next day, give her 1/4 of her pre-pregnancy intake; the next day, 1/2; and the next, 3/4.
- By the fifth day she should be back to her normal diet, although you may increase it for females that have lost weight during pregnancy until she gains her weight back.
At the beginning of the pregnancy and after lactation stops, you may need to switch the food you are giving the mother. When you change foods, gradually make the transition over 7-10 days.