Awaiting the birth of new pups is an exciting time. When your dog is pregnant or nursing, their diet is key to the puppies’ gestation and development. You may be asking, “What should I feed my pregnant dog”? Good, balanced nutrition is the foundation for health. Building on that, there are specific needs at each stage of your dog’s pregnancy. What you feed your pet can go a long way in delivering healthy puppies

Your friends at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services congratulate you on your upcoming bundles of joy. We are here to provide insight and recommendations on what you should feed your pregnant dog. 

The First Few Weeks of Pregnancy

The early stages of a dog’s pregnancy are critical to the developing embryo. During the first two and ½ weeks of pregnancy, the embryo remains in the Fallopian tubes. They remain until about 17 days when they descend and produce the placenta. There they gain their nutrition and continue to grow. 

The mother’s digestive tract breaks down complex nutrients to be carried through the bloodstream to her gestating puppies. During gestation, it is crucial to keep the mother from away from chemicals and other toxins that can hurt the puppies. (Discuss with your veterinarian whether certain medications and parasite control products are safe for your pregnant fur friend before giving them anything.)

What you feed the mother vitally affects the health of the growing puppies. That said, a normal, well-balanced adult diet is fine for both your mama dog and the puppies in the first half of gestation. In most cases, your adult dog doesn’t need to change their regular diet at this point if they are eating a high-quality diet. 

Different Stages of Pregnancy, Different Needs

The last part of your pet’s pregnancy is when the babies grow to full term. In the final weeks, most of their organs are fully developed, and they are preparing to thrive outside the womb. As the puppies develop quickly, they need a lot of nutrients from the mother. Unfortunately, as anyone who has ever experienced pregnancy will agree, eating can be uncomfortable for the mother, since the babies have grown to capacity.

The AKC has specific dietary recommendations including a diet that contains plenty of calories without too much bulk. It should have at least 29 percent protein, 17 percent fat, high amounts of soluble carbohydrates, and low fiber content. It should also include calcium and phosphorous for proper bone formation in the puppies and adequate milk for nursing. DHA is also important for your developing puppies’ nervous system.

Hill’s Pet recommends one of their nutrient-dense Science Diet puppy foods during both pregnancy and nursing. Underfeeding of dogs during pregnancy, from poor quality food, imbalanced nutrition, or just too few calories can lead to weak puppies and even fading puppy syndrome.

Whatever food you choose, try to get your expectant mama to eat small portions throughout the day rather than a large meal. This will go a long way in easing her prenatal discomfort. As the time for birth nears, you will want to transition your dog to a lactation diet, designed for nursing dogs. 

The Arrival – How Much to Feed Your Nursing Mama Dog

As you may guess, a nursing dog is in need of a higher nutritional value diet than normal. Her food, after all, feeds her growing newborns. Most medium-sized dogs produce up to 6-8 puppies in a litter, which is a lot of mouths to feed. A lactation diet is a high-calorie feed that provides extra vitamins, minerals, and other forms of nutrition that the mother and babies require.

In terms of portion size, the number of puppies determines larger portions. We’re happy to advise on the right portion size for your dog. After the puppies are weaned, the mother can return to her normal portion per meal.

Puppies should be ready for actual food at about 4 weeks of age. During weaning, you can gradually decrease the amount of food given to your dog over a two-week time frame. 

What Should I Feed My Pregnant Dog

We hope we have answered your questions about feeding your pregnant and lactating dog. We’re here for you every step of your pet’s pregnancy and can answer additional questions about their care. We are very excited for you and are looking forward to seeing the new arrivals and their proud mom. Please call us to schedule an appointment.