Pregnancy is a special time for everyone, dogs and their owners are no exception. A pregnant dog for a responsible and caring owner is similar to a pregnant woman for her man, the father of her unborn child.
Increased attention to the health of a pregnant dog is justified, the health of the offspring depends on it 90%. It is especially important to pay attention to feeding during this period. This article is written to help the reader navigate this issue.
Pregnancy in various breeds can last from 56 to 73 days, the average indicator is 63 days, and we will start from it.
Every dog breeder or owner is faced with the problem of choosing the type of feeding for his pet. Natural type is more troublesome, feeding with dry food is easier. What is more economically profitable is difficult to say, because each owner has its own “story”. One, for example, is engaged in animal husbandry, which means most likely he does not experience a deficit in natural products, so it is more profitable for him to keep his dog on a natural type of feeding.
In the other, on the contrary, the dog lives in a city apartment. Of course, with this lifestyle, it is wiser to use dry food. Veterinarians are most often of the opinion that feeding a pregnant dog on a natural type is already akin to “high skill”, feeding with dry food is much easier and more reliable.
Feeding a dog during pregnancy
So, at the first stage (the first 5 weeks), changes in the diet are not required, but this is only if the owner did not save on feeding before mating.
It is probably stupid to mention this, but nevertheless, one often has to deal with such a practice when the owners, having invested a lot of funds and efforts in their pet at the stage of maturation (so that there are no problems in the growth and development of the dog), then “relax”, believing that the diet can be “cheapened” and no bad consequences will come. It’s a delusion!
If a pregnant dog is initially conscientiously prepared for mating, then only then the first month of pregnancy cannot change the diet. During this period, it is required to monitor the dog for changes in its behavior. Often, they have periods similar to mild toxicosis in women in early pregnancy. No, they certainly do not vomit, but a decrease in appetite happens and quite often.
If the diet is initially not rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals (there is usually no shortage of carbohydrates), then it is imperative to revise and balance it, otherwise a pregnancy that has just begun can suddenly end, and, possibly, with bad consequences.
Experienced dog breeders recommend not to “push” the dog with food, but to leave a bowl of food for it in the public domain – if it wants to – eat it. This is where two main differences in the type of nutrition “emerge”.
First, with a natural type, such a technique may not work – natural food is a quickly perishable product.
Eating sour food is unacceptable for a pregnant dog. In this matter, dry food definitely wins. Secondly, natural food must be prepared according to a pre-calculated recipe, using an additional source of vitamins and minerals.
Further, at the 6th week of pregnancy, the embryos are already sufficiently formed and enter the phase of active growth. The expectant mother has a noticeable rounded belly and appetite begins to grow in proportion to the puppies in the womb.
At this time, the diet begins to increase. This is usually + 10-15% of the total food intake every week. Food should be digestible and rich in vitamins, but moderate in minerals, especially Ca (calcium). Its excess in the later stages can cause a severe form of toxicosis, life-threatening to the dog – eclampsia.
Simultaneously with an increase in the volume of food, the frequency of feedings should be increased. A pregnant dog cannot eat food as well as before pregnancy, it is too difficult for her. the increased size of the uterus significantly compresses the abdominal organs, and primarily the stomach. Therefore, you need to reduce the amount of food for a single feeding and increase the frequency of feedings. The number of “approaches” to the bowl may be different, depending on the individual characteristics of the dog, but not less than 3 at a period of 6 weeks of gestation and further, incrementally. Ultimately, the daily amount of food increases by 1.5 times.
Drinking water for the expectant mother should be clean, fresh, cool and always available so that she can drink plenty.
You can only increase the diet with foods containing protein and vitamins. These substances are essential for the “building” of organs and tissues of puppies. If a pregnant dog for some reason does not receive them in the required amount, then her body will be forced to give these elements from its own resources. But it is better to balance protein and fat in the diet with vegetables.
Note! During pregnancy, it is necessary to monitor the live weight of the dog. By the time of delivery, the weight should not exceed normal by more than 12%!
Excessive or inadequately balanced feeding can lead to abnormal pregnancy, miscarriage and premature birth. Also, excess weight has a destructive effect on the course of labor and the body of the dog itself.
From 41-42 days of pregnancy, the dog is transferred to a “lactating” diet, which should be more high-calorie, without increasing the amount of food mass, but more on that later.
In the third month of pregnancy, puppies are actively gaining weight, loading the mother’s musculoskeletal system. From such a load, the dog quickly gets tired, it needs more and more time to rest, which makes it calmer. This also affects appetite – sometimes you can observe a decrease or even refusal to eat. But this phenomenon should not be permanent. Refusal to eat for 2 days in a row, combined with refusal of water, lethargy, discharge from the noose with an unpleasant odor is a cause for concern and a visit to the veterinarian, with the exception of a harbinger of childbirth. The dog refuses food, but not water, about a day or two before giving birth. This can be explained, for example, by incipient contractions.
Throughout the entire period of pregnancy (and further, during lactation, while the dog will feed the puppies with its milk), with a natural type of feeding, it is imperative to add additional vitamin, vitamin-mineral complexes to the diet. When feeding with dry complete ration food of a class not lower than “premium”, an additional source of vitamins and minerals is not required.
Vitamin and mineral supplements for pregnant bitches with natural type
Any vitamin and mineral complexes fall into this category, from the good old domestic Phytocalcevit and Farmavit Neo to the brand-name type Exel 8 in 1 (USA).
The list can be very long: Beaphar (Netherlands), Kanina (Germany), Polidex (UK), Gelakan and Kanvit (Czech Republic), Walmar (Switzerland), etc.
Foods suitable for a natural feeding diet for a pregnant dog:
Protein (protein) sources
These products include everything that is of animal origin. Suitable for a dog’s diet:
- meat and bone meal;
- lactic acid products, preferably curdled milk and cottage cheese;
- eggs, especially proteins, but limited.
Fats contain neutral fats, fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins and many other substances important for metabolism. They satisfy the dog’s energy needs by 20-25%.
- chicken fat;
- pork fat;
- fish fat;
- corn oil;
- chicken egg yolks;
- sunflower oil.
Carbohydrates make up the largest part of a dog’s diet. Basically, it is they who provide the energy value of the diet, providing the dog not only with energy, but also with fiber.
Special dry food
Feeding a dog with dry food is incomparably easier than “natural”. The main thing here is to pick up food. Otherwise, everything is similar, but simpler.
The first 5 weeks, you do not need to change anything in the diet, at the 6th week of pregnancy, just as with the natural type of feeding, you need to increase the daily amount of feed by 10-15% per week and introduce additional feedings (dividing the daily rate by the number of feedings). There should be at least 3 meals in total at this stage.
In the last month of gestation, from 40-42 days, there is a need to transfer the pregnant pet to food, preferred for the lactation period. It should be a feed with a higher energy content. These foods include puppies marked “Pappy”. Of course, there are differences in this kind of food for dogs of different sizes, but each manufacturer has separate lines of food for dogs of different sizes and in each line, there is a puppy food.
Proven dry food for pregnant and lactating dogs, breeders and veterinarians include:
Royal Canin Starter; Bosch Reproduction; Pro Plan Performance (Purina); Hill’s Puppy; Eukanuba Puppy Starter; Brit Care Puppy.
What to feed after giving birth?
Feeding a dog that has given birth is a very serious matter. This is due to the fact that they belong to polyploid animals, in which there may be up to 15 puppies in a litter during one birth. This is a colossal burden for the mother’s body.
Mother’s milk for puppies is the only food for the next 1-1.5 months. In addition, the first day or two from the mammary glands in all mammals, including dogs, too, does not excrete milk, but colostrum. This exceptional substance contains a concentrate of vitamins, microelements, nutrients and, the most important and unique, ready-made antibodies to those infectious diseases that the mother herself has. These are those infections that were either vaccinated or with which the dog had been ill.
Therefore, with a large litter, it is very important to feed the dog correctly, because its colostrum, and later milk, should be enough for all puppies.
For milk to be nutritious and provide all the puppies with energy in the right amount, the mother’s diet should also be high in calories, but at the same time, it is desirable that the food does not take up large volumes. a dog, getting used to a large amount of food, undergoes inevitable stretching of the walls of the stomach, leading in the long term to diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and endocrine system.
If, before the onset of labor, the dog usually refuses to eat, then after giving birth, it is imperative that she be given a drink and offered to eat in order to recuperate.
After childbirth is over, the first 3-4 weeks of the young mother’s appetite will increase. Depending on how many puppies in the litter, you need to increase the daily ration and, accordingly, the frequency of feeding.
The quality of the diet also changes slightly to a more “intensive” side. This means that the calorie content must be significantly increased. A veterinarian or an experienced breeder dealing with a particular breed of interest will help to calculate the diet in more detail. For example, for a German Shepherd Dog weighing 32-35 kg and feeding a litter of 8 puppies, a diet with a caloric value of 4500 kcal / kg will be required, and it should contain approximately 30% protein and 20-25% fat in relation to dry matter.
Products for composing a diet on a natural type of feeding are used the same as for a pregnant dog, but mineral complexes (mineral and vitamin), supplements in the form of meat and bone or fish meal must be added.
Vitamin and mineral complexes for dogs feeding puppies are the same as those used during gestation.
This option is much simpler. It does not require additional sources of vitamins and minerals, and has clear instructions for dosing from the manufacturer.
In addition, there is no need to change feed after giving birth. the food that was used at the last stage during the gestation of puppies is quite suitable for the lactation period.
Differences in size
Oddly enough, but the principle of feeding pregnant and lactating dogs practically does not depend on their size. Yes – yes, almost all the rules will be the same for a small Italian lapdog and for a huge Caucasian Shepherd Dog. Here the quality of the feed and its compliance with calorie content, protein, vitamins and minerals are more important.
With a natural type
This means that with a natural type of feeding, the products can remain the same as usual, but with the necessary adjustment for the required parameters. An experienced dog breeder can cope with this task without much difficulty. If there is little experience in this matter, then you need to contact either more experienced “comrades in arms” or to the veterinary clinic for advice on such feeding.
When using dry feed
When feeding dry food, you must adhere to the usual line that was used before pregnancy. Those. for large breeds (an adult dog weighs more than 45 kg) – food marked GIANT.
For puppies of such large breeds, the packaging will be labeled Starter, Babydog or Puppy. It was about such food that was discussed in the sections “Feeding pregnant dogs” and “Feeding lactating dogs”. Such food is necessary for the dog in the last month of gestation of puppies and in the first 1-2 months after giving birth.
- For dogs whose adult weight is 25-45 kg, the food marked MAXI is intended.
- For dogs with an adult weight of 10 to 25 kg, mark MEDIUM.
- For dogs of various mini-breeds, whose adult weight does not exceed 10 kg, mark on the MINI / Starter / Babydog / Puppy food.
Thus, for small breeds in the last third of pregnancy and the first 1-2 months. after giving birth, you will need food marked MINI / Starter / Babydog / Puppy, for the English Spaniel – MEDIUM / Starter / Babydog / Puppy, for the German Shepherd – MAXI / Starter / Babydog / Puppy, and for the Alabai GIANT Starter / Babydog / Puppy.
How to stimulate milk production in a whelping bitch
The question is relevant not only for dogs. First, make sure that this kind of stimulation is needed.
The main symptom of a lack of milk or insufficient nutritional value will of course be hungry puppies. They will worry, crawl around and squeak.
The mother will be reluctant to feed them, constantly being distracted by extraneous stimuli, will constantly try to leave. This behavior is associated with a lack of milk and sore nipples when trying to feed.
What needs to be done so that the giving birth dog has more milk. This can be done in several ways.
- Introduce liquid food, fermented milk products (fermented baked milk, yogurt, etc.) into the diet and be sure not to limit drinking water, to monitor its purity.
- Physical stimulation of the nipples and mammary glands. Gently massaging the mammary glands and even expressing pumping triggers the release of oxytocin in the brain, a hormone responsible for the process of milk flow. When puppies suck milk, they massage the mammary gland with their paws, and the nipple itself with their mouths (this is what babies do in almost all mammals, including humans). In dogs, as a rule, the last pair of nipples is more productive, so it makes sense to put the weakest puppies on them first, and the strongest ones on the first pair, so that the puppies develop them “stronger”. After the weak are full, they can be swapped with the strong.
- Walnuts can be introduced into the dog’s diet – 1 three times a day, ground, can be with food, as a medicine.
- Application of the biostimulator “Apilak”. This is a medical device with contraindications. Before using it, you must at least read the instructions, and as a maximum, consult a veterinarian.
- Apply hormone therapy. This method can only be performed by an experienced practicing veterinarian. Self-medication in this way is unacceptable.
The consequences of improper feeding
Above, it was mentioned in passing about what will happen if the question of feeding a pregnant dog is approached irresponsibly and negligently, but we will dwell on this point in a little more detail. So what can happen if a pregnant dog is not fed correctly? More often it is:
- Miscarriage (spontaneous abortion and premature birth).
- Weak, unviable puppies.
- Heavy or weak labor.
- Long-term recovery after childbirth.
- Lack of milk for feeding puppies.
- Poor health of the dog even after weaning of puppies, which does not allow further mating.
Prepare your dog not for pregnancy, but for mating. After mating, take care of the dog, do not save on it, and then you will not have to fork out for its treatment.
- Before mating, do preventive treatments – treatments against ecto- and endoparasites, check the dog for dirofilariasis, carry out routine vaccinations and undergo a general strengthening course of vitamins.
- Visit a groomer before mating, if necessary.
- We also recommend purchasing a dog feeder. In this case, you can be sure that your pet will receive the exact amount of food on time. In addition, it is recommended to purchase an automatic drinker, which will provide the dog with clean, filtered water.
The feeding issue is eternal. There are always those who argue which type of feeding is best. Now, there is no better type or worse. Every dog deserves to have the right food for it. One single postulate is true for everyone – do not try to save on food for pets, love and take care of them, remember that a miser pays twice.
By saving a small amount on food and additional sources of vitamins for your pregnant dog today, you will spend several times more later, and the dog will also experience physical pain and distress. Remember this.