What To Feed a Pregnant Dog?

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What To Feed a Pregnant Dog?

A dog’s pregnancy lasts approximately 63 days and nursing continues for a few more weeks.

A balanced and complete nutrition is crucial during these stages.

Nursing is one of the most nutritionally challenging activities in a female life.

For a pregnant or nursing dog, malnutrition can lead to severe health problems and put in danger the health of her puppies.

In this critical nutritional phase you should take in consideration:

  • Pregnant or nursing dogs have increased energy needs for milk production and the growth of puppies
  • High digestibility is essential to maximize calorie intake from smaller quantities of food
  • Puppies require more calcium and phosphorus
  • The healthy development of puppies needs more protein

Pregnancy Stages in Dogs

Pregnancy in the dog lasts 9 weeks and is separated into 3 trimesters of 21 days each:

First trimester:

  • Normal energy requirements
  • Minimal fetal development
  • Few evident changes

Second trimester:

  • Normal energy requirements
  • Increased fetal development
  • Weight gain

Third trimester:

  • High energy requirements
  • Maximal fetal development
  • Obvious weight gain
  • Mammary development

Shar Pei breastfeeding her puppies

What To Feed a Pregnant Dog?

Is you have the suspicion that your dog is pregnant, this can be confirmed by your veterinarian assistant from 4 weeks after mating by physical examination, but prior using ultrasound.

1. Changes in appetite

You will notice some changes in the appetite of your dog throughout pregnancy:

  • During the 1st trimester there is no need to increase the amount of food because puppies growth little
  • In the 2nd trimester, your pregnant dog may lose her appetite and suffer from a little nausea.

My Advice:

If your pregnant dog presents a disturb stomach, loss of appetite, or seems at all lethargic or sick, you should contact your veterinarian assistant.
  • In the final week of 2nd trimester and during the 3rd trimester an expectant mum’s necessities to nourish herself and the developing puppies will progressively increase.
  • A certain loss of appetite can occur before delivery although food and water should still be accessible.

2. Feeding during pregnancy and nursing

Puppy foods are richer in crucial nutrients, have higher energy content and are more easily digestible.

Thus foods formulated for puppies are appropriate to support your dog through all stages of the breeding cycle.

To feed your pregnant dog the basics are very simple:

  • Choose a puppy food, wet or dry, suitable for your dog’s breed and size
  • If your dog has a preference for wet food, it may be prudent to mix some dry food into her meals to decrease the volume of food needed, as dry food includes more calories per gram
  • Always make sure a fresh bowl of drinking water is available
  • Consult your veterinarian  to discuss food selection
  • The change to a different food formula should be done on a gradual basis
  • Gradually replace a little of the new food for the old over a period of about a week, until your dog is eating just the new food
  • The quantity of food your dog will need while nursing depends on her individual metabolism and the number of puppies she is nursing

Things to Remember

My advice is:

Give your pregnant dog a good nutrition and remember to:

  • Feed a complete and balanced growth food – puppy food.
  • Make sure your pregnant or lactating dog always has access to fresh  and clean water
  • Avoid giving any supplements or medications without first consulting your veterinarian
  • Consult your veterinarian if you notice  any changes, problems, or if you have concerns about your dog’s health
A balanced and complete nutrition is crucial during pregnancy.

This may be the most important time in your dog’s life when it comes to specific nutrition.


About the Author:

Hi! I'm Dora Mancha, DVM. I am graduated for the Veterinary Medicine Faculty of Lisbon (2009). My degree is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). I completed my degree in Veterinary Medicine in July, 2009. Over the first years as a veterinarian my work was closely related to the animal health field. I have gained some average experience having worked in Barcelona University (UAB) Equine Hospital and by working with veterinarians in Portugal. In addition, in 2009 - 2010 I was in Madrid at the University Alfonso X el Sábio doing an internship in the equine service. I am also very interested in small animal medicine and surgery. In fact I worked in several small animals clinics in Portugal improving my knowledge about small animal behavior and health. Dogs always have been present in my life, since I was a child. At the present moment I have four dogs a Labrador, a Epagnheul Breton, a Whippet and a mixed breed dog.

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