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Nutritional Needs of Pregnant and Nursing Dogs
Nutritional Needs of Pregnant and Nursing Dogs-mob

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How To Care For A Pregnant Dog?

Nutrition and bodyweight management are crucial for the health of your dog and her puppies during pregnancy. While your dog may not require as many doctor visits as people do during pregnancy, you’ll still need to understand the correct way of caring for a pregnant dog. This can be achieved by consulting your vet who can evaluate and treat her for both internal and external parasites that could pose a danger to her health or her offspring. 

Pregnancy in a dog is one of the most exciting, but delicate, times in the life of a female dog and her unborn puppies. As a result, providing sufficient care during the early weeks of pregnancy is critical.

Here are a few signs that will tell you if your dog is pregnant – 

 

Signs Of Dog Pregnancy
 

  • Reduced Activity

Your pregnant dog will get tired easily and spend more time napping. For dogs that usually have a high energy drive, this decrease in activity should be considered carefully. It may be difficult to spot a decline in energy in dogs who love resting all day. So, if this is the case, pay attention to how quickly she feels wearied on walks.

  • Strange Behavior

You will observe certain changes in your dog's behavior if she is pregnant. For example, she may crave her owner's comfort more frequently. A pregnant dog will spend more time around you, seeking extra attention. At times, she will also prefer solitude and would not want to be bothered. And when given attention, she may appear depressed or even irritated. 

  • Alterations In Appetite

Appetite fluctuations are another sign of pregnancy in dogs. She may eat less or perhaps even vomit sometimes, early or midway through the pregnancy. However, she may consume more than normal and be unhappy with her meals. These changes are caused by your dog's shifting hormones.

  • Weight Gain And Belly Enlargement

Your dog's abdomen will grow as the puppies grow. This can be one of the most obvious signs of a dog's pregnancy, particularly if your dog hasn't gained weight for any other reason. However, because enlargement of the abdomen happens late in a dog's pregnancy, and if you detect this sign, it’s time to take her to the clinic.

 

Proper Nutrition Requirements During The Pregnancy

Your pregnant dog will have specific nutritional requirements during pregnancy. Therefore, extra caution and care should be given while feeding and caring for your dog. 

  • The energy requirements of your pregnant dog will increase as she gains weight with time. Your vet will advise you to provide your dog with a high-energy diet with appropriate levels of fat, carbs, and protein. So, make sure to give her as much food as she likes unless she has a tendency to gain weight.
  • A dog's pregnancy usually lasts for nine weeks on average. During the first six or seven weeks, the food intake shouldn't be higher than normal. Use a puppy formula to feed your dog as it will enable her to stay strong. Additionally, it’ll provide essential nutrients to your dog’s puppies through the mother's milk. Puppy food is also more nutritionally packed, making it easier to pass through the mother's smaller stomach. Then, between weeks six and seven, start giving her additional food as per her weight gain. By the ninth week, her appetite may wane or vanish. This is usually a sign that the puppies will be born within the next several days.

Pregnancy and nursing are not only responsible for many changes in a dog's body, but for changes in her lifestyle as well. If your dog is pregnant or nursing, pay special attention to her changing nutritional needs as she carries, delivers and nurses her puppies.
 

A Week-By-Week Overview Of Your Dog’s Pregnancy

 

Weeks 1 and 2

  • Breeding occurs
  • Fertilization occurs
  • Fertilized eggs embed into the female’s uterine lining 
 

Weeks 3 and 4

  • Embryo develops
  • Spinal cord slowly begins to develop
  • Fetus/es grow facial features

Weeks 5 and 6

  • Other organs develop
  • Legs, eyes, and other features develop

Weeks 7 and 8

  • The puppy/ies are well developed 
  • Slowly move around in the abdomen

Week 9

  • Puppy/ies are fully developed
  • Labor begins

 

Which Vaccines Are Required Before And During Your Dog’s Pregnancy?

Before dog pregnancy:

There are certain vaccines that you should consider giving your dog before she’s pregnant. 

The Canine Task Force of the American Animal Hospital Association believes the following canine immunizations to be essential:

  • Canine Distemper 
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis 
  • Rabies

During dog pregnancy:

In general, normal pet owners will not need to vaccinate a pregnant female dog. If she is up to date with all of her vaccinations, there is usually no need to give her an additional booster shot just because she is pregnant. Moreover, even veterinarians discourage vaccinating pregnant dogs. 

 

Differences In Nutrition And Nursing In Large Breeds Vs Small Breed Dogs During Pregnancy

A primary difference between large and small-breed dogs during pregnancy is their nutritional requirements. A small breed dog needs extra calories per pound than a large breed dog to sufficiently sustain her puppies during pregnancy as well as breastfeeding. By the time of birth, the female dog's food consumption should be roughly 15 - 25% higher than her normal, non-pregnant intake. And during week three, your pregnant dog may require three times her usual food intake to keep her milk production and body weight in balance. 

Small dog breeds will be fed a small breed puppy food. Therefore, choose a highly nutritious puppy diet for your dog based on the size of the breed.
 

Before Pregnancy: Plan Ahead

If you're planning to breed your female dog, it’s important to assess her body condition well in advance of breeding. Because of the physical demands of pregnancy and nursing, a dog with less-than-ideal health can experience problems:

  • An underweight dog often has difficulty consuming enough food to support both her own nutritional needs and those of her developing puppies.
  • Overweight dogs may experience abnormal or difficult labor because of large fetuses.

Be sure to feed the proper amounts of a complete and balanced diet. This will support the mother's healthy weight and body condition before breeding and help maintain her health and that of her babies throughout pregnancy and lactation.
 

Pregnancy: Monitor Your Dog’s Weight Gain

The gestation period for dogs is nine weeks. Pregnant dogs gain weight only slightly until about the sixth week, and then gain weight rapidly.
 

The energy requirements of pregnant dogs are reflected in the pattern of weight gain. Pregnant dogs will need to consume 25% to 50% more than their normal food intake by the end of pregnancy, but energy requirements do not increase until about the sixth week.
 

The best diet for pregnant and nursing dogs is a high-quality, nutrient-dense pet food formulated for all life stages or for growth. Although puppy diets are generally recommended for pregnant or nursing dogs, large-breed puppy formulas may not be appropriate for this use due to their adjusted energy and mineral content.

 

What Food Should Be Avoided While Caring For A Pregnant Dog?

Raw foods are not recommended for nursing or pregnant dogs. Most dogs can get by on high-quality dog food alone, so unless your veterinarian suggests otherwise, you should avoid giving your dog any additional vitamins or supplements.

A good option is to give your pregnant dog IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Mother and Baby dog food. It boosts your puppy's training capacity with vital DHA for healthy brain development, making its first year of life a pleasant one, while also supporting the mother's gestation and milk production for healthy puppy development.
 

Nursing: Make Sure Your Dog Gets Sufficient Nutrition

Pregnant dogs lose weight after giving birth, but their nutritional needs increase dramatically. Depending on litter size, nursing dogs might need two to three times their normal food requirement to nourish their pups. Be sure your nursing mom has plenty of water so she can generate the milk volume she needs to feed the litter.
 

To help your nursing dog get enough nutrition, you can try several tactics:

  • Feed a nutrient-dense diet such as puppy food.
  • Without increasing the amount of food offered at a meal, increase the number of meals throughout the day.
  • Free choice feed her, offering unlimited access to dry food throughout the day.

Weaning: Return To A Pre-Pregnancy Diet

By four to five weeks after birth, most puppies are showing an interest in their mother’s food. Gradually, the puppies will begin eating more solid food and nursing less. At the same time, the nursing mother will usually begin eating less. Most puppies are completely weaned around age 7 to 8 weeks. By this time, the mother's energy requirement is back to normal, and she should be eating her normal pre-pregnancy diet.

 

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FAQ On Nutritional Needs For Pregnant And Nursing Dogs

What Should A Pregnant Dog Eat?

A pregnant dog should be switched to a higher-calorie diet (when they are already a month into pregnancy). The food should also have 22% protein and 1600 kcal of digestible calories per pound. 

Can I Feed My Dog During Labor?

If your dog is in active labor, she would most likely refuse to eat. The labor process can be exhausting, resulting in stomach trouble, pacing, vomiting, and uneasiness. As a result, feeding her during this period is ineffective. If your dog eats soon before labor, she may vomit up the meal.

Can a dog get pregnant if not in heat?

Your dog can only become pregnant when she is in heat, which occurs once or twice annually depending on the breed. When dogs are about 6 months old, they go into heat for the first time. The entire heating cycle takes about three weeks, and it is during this cycle that your dog can become pregnant.

Does mother dog miss their pups?

Mother dogs may miss their pups if their specific circumstances are not taken into account. Therefore, plan everything carefully before breeding her to a male to ensure that the separation of her litter is not all at once. 

Can my dog get pregnant while nursing puppies?

Yes, your dog can get pregnant again at any time after she has given birth. However, it will depend on when she goes into heat again. Thus, it is best advised to keep the male dogs away from her so that insemination doesn't happen accidentally.

  • Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels
    Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels

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    Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels

    How much do you know about the food you’re buying for your puppy? When shopping for puppy food, pay attention to these three sections of a dog food label.

     

    1. The Ingredient Panel

    This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. In dry food, look for a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.
     

    Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic — but not optimal — nutrition. You should also avoid artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.

     

    2. The Guaranteed Analysis

    Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the "guaranteed analysis." These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.

     

    3. The Manufacturer’s Name and Address

    This information must be included on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address for the manufacturer may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-525-4267.

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