What changes are necessary to make in a dog’s diet once she is pregnant?
There are two main things you’ll need to keep in mind if your dog is pregnant:
• Pregnancy, and the subsequent, lactation, will require the most energy your dog will ever have to expend. Therefore, good nutrition during these periods is absolutely imperative.
• Your pregnant dog is now “eating for two (well, three or four or more!)” and any lack of proper nutrition will have a huge negative impact on both mother and babies.
That said, your pregnant dog would need a lot of extra protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Many pet experts even recommend puppy food. Puppy food is part of the “Growth and Reproduction” life stage recognized by AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) and their requirements for “complete and balanced” are stringent. This food is much higher in protein (sometimes as much by 30 percent), fat (usually about 18 percent) and calories.
It’s important to understand the pregnancy cycle. The total gestational period is about nine weeks, then there’s another six weeks for lactation. When your dog’s pregnant, she might lose her appetite and even be a little nauseous for the first three or four weeks. Then, at about five weeks, she’ll start wanting more nourishment for her babies; at this time, you can increase her food portion by 25 percent for each week until the end of pregnancy.
Some advocate letting her eat as much as she wants since she’s also eating for others. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that obesity can complicate a pregnancy. So, by all means, add those necessary extra calories—but be smart about it, so as not to cause too many extra pounds.
During lactation, the babies will require huge amounts of milk from her, so keep her nutrition and calories up. She might also require some extra calcium here; your vet will guide you on this.