What should I feed my Pregnant Dog? [Nursing Dog Diet]
What should I feed my Pregnant Dog? During the pregnancy and lactation period, your dog undergoes physical changes and her nutritional needs vary. Help them to achieve optimal development of fetuses, and puppies until weaning.
The feeding of your dog influences the quality of the milk that the puppies take. So, in this article, I will give you an overall idea of your question “What Should I Feed My Pregnant Dog”
Body condition of your Dog before Pregnancy:
An inappropriate body condition, either due to overweight or underweight, negatively affects pregnancy.
The planning of the pregnancy of your dog allows you to prepare for the arrival of cute puppies and choose the ideal time to impregnate the female.
It is very important to start from an adequate physical condition in the mother that favors fertilization, an adequate embryonic development and avoid problems during childbirth.
Excessively thin or malnourished females have greater reproductive difficulties, which can interfere with fertilization or embryonic development. In contrast, females who are overweight before fertilization are more likely to have problems during labor.
An inappropriate body condition, either due to overweight or underweight, negatively affects pregnancy. In the same way, an early or excessively senile age can also affect pregnancy.
The body condition of dogs is classified from one to five. In the number one category dogs are excessively thin, also called cachectic (ribs are marked, vertebrae and bony protuberances, there is no fat in the chest area and no muscle development) and, at the other end, would be those belonging to body condition five, which are the obese (visible layer of fat on the thorax, lower back, base of the tail and abdomen).
The ideal weight of a dog is perfect for breeding when she is in between one and five body condition. These dogs have a thin layer of fat on the chest, their waist is clearly different, and the ribs, vertebrae and bony protuberances are palpated, but not visible to the naked eye.
Nutritional needs of your Pregnant Dog:
In the last phase of pregnancy, the diet of your dog must have a high caloric level to cover the high energy needs that characterize this period.
Good nutrition during the pregnancy of your dog increases embryonic survival rate, improves the size and weight of the puppies, and decreases perinatal problems.
It is very important to keep in mind that the energy needs of the mother will not be the same throughout the pregnancy, but will change according to the development of the puppies.
Essential fatty acids, vitamins and trace elements influence the production of ovarian hormones, placentation and fetal development; therefore, the control of feeding must be carried out throughout the reproductive process.
The average duration of pregnancy in the dog is 63 days, but there may be a variation between 62 and 68 days since riding. From the nutritional point of view, we divide it into two phases.
The first phase goes from fertilization to six weeks, and embryonic development occurs without obvious influence on the mother’s weight. However, in the second or last phase of pregnancy, the dog gains weight in a considerable way because the puppies grow very fast.
This growth of the puppies, which is up to 80% of the weight they will have at birth, causes the mother to gain up to 25-30% of her weight before birth.
In the last phase of pregnancy, the mother’s diet must have a high caloric level to cover the high energy needs that characterize this period, and that is up to 1.5 times higher than the energy provided by a maintenance diet.
The proteins provided in the diet have a great role in the last phase of pregnancy since they support the final growth of the puppies and the development of the breasts for future lactation.
If the diets offered to the mother do not have an adequate protein level, the weight of the puppies is affected at birth and the milk is delayed and poor quality. The protein needs of the female increase up to 70% with respect to the food that was taken before pregnancy.
In the embryonic stage of the fetuses, it is recommended to supplement the diet with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, because they favor the development of the nervous system of the puppies; even some studies suggest that they can improve their learning ability, as well as vision or memory.
An extra supply of folic acid may also be recommended because it helps reduce the risk of cleft palate.
How should the Diet of your Pregnant Dog be?
Homemade foods are not recommended because in most cases the adequate percentages of protein, fat, and carbohydrates that the pregnant dog needs are not fulfilled.
Usually, the dog owners think that it is necessary to increase the amount of food from the first moment of the pregnancy of the dog.
But this idea is a serious error because it favors the deposit of fatty tissue on the myometrium (muscular part of the uterus), which reduces the force of uterine contractions in childbirth, predisposing to dystocia.
Therefore, in the first two-thirds of the pregnancy, it will be enough to feed the female with quality maintenance food.
In the last phase of pregnancy, due to the increase in energy needs, diets with 29-32% protein of animal origin, containing at least 18% fat, including omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and 20-30% carbohydrates are recommended
Homemade foods are not recommended because in most cases the adequate percentages of protein, fat, and carbohydrates that the pregnant dog needs are not fulfilled. In addition, this type of homemade food usually sets preferences in animals causing unbalanced diets.
These characteristics for optimal feeding are offered by several commercial brands available on the market, through balanced feed intended for the growth of puppies. Sometimes they are specific presentations for pregnant or lactating females.
Throughout the pregnancy, physical changes will occur in the female that will condition the digestive capacity. The size of the uterus will increase dramatically, producing abdominal distension and pressure on the digestive system and bladder.
For this reason, it is advisable to offer a very digestible and energetic food, in small portions distributed throughout the day.
Nutrition in the Lactating Dog:
The feeding of your dog influences the quality of the milk that the puppies take.
The lactation period in the dog lasts for about seven or eight weeks, and in the third or fourth week after delivery, there is a peak of milk production.
Lactation requires a large amount of energy, so that the mother’s diet is of vital importance for the lactation process and, in addition, affects the quality of the milk that the puppies take.
During the lactation period, your dog needs a feed that multiplies by 1.5 the energy contribution that a maintenance feed offers in the first week, doubles it in the second week, and almost triples it in the third and fourth weeks.
From the fourth week of life, the puppies begin to eat dry food and the mother’s milk production begins to end.
Water must also be supplied ad libitum since it constitutes 78% of the composition of the milk, and therefore the lactating female must have access to clean and fresh water all the time.
A correct nutrition of the mother and certain modification in the diet according to the need throughout the lactating period guarantees that the puppies have the highest quality milk and mother will also be healthy.
For example, the energy content of the mother’s milk progressively increases during the first 40 days of lactation and then, by day 50, begins to decrease with the time when the puppy begins to eat solid food.
This decrease in milk production causes a regression of the breast tissue.
The fat content of milk also varies during the lactation period. In the beginning, the level of fat is 2.4%. Halfway through the period, the level increases to 5%, to decrease to 2.6% when weaning approaches.
The nutritional level of the mother must be very high to produce this variation of nutrients and provide optimal nutrition to the puppies.
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