Pregnant dog nutrition

Written by katie leigh
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Pregnant dogs have some specialised nutrition needs, especially as their whelping date grows closer. Though the guidelines for feeding a pregnant dog are generally the same across the map, you should consult your veterinarian if you suspect you dog is pregnant. The vet will be able to supply you with a specialised diet plan if your dog has any medical risks that require it.

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Water

Pregnant dogs tend to be exceedingly thirsty, and dehydration is very dangerous when they are carrying puppies. For that reason, pregnant dogs should always have access to a lot of water. Make sure to leave at least one full bowl in the pregnant dog's feeding area at all times, and keep an eye on it throughout they day. If you must leave her alone, make sure to make a few full bowls of water available to her.

Dog Food

At the beginning of pregnancy, the dog should continue to eat the same adult dog food she was consuming before. The food should be a high-quality, premium variety that is balanced with all the vitamins and minerals an adult dog would normally need. Around the fourth week of pregnancy, start subbing in a more high-calorie premium puppy food or performance food. Make the switch gradually. For example, if the dog usually gets a cup of dog food, mix 3/4 of a cup of regular dog food with 1/4 cup of puppy food during the first week of the change. Increase the ratio of puppy food to adult dog food each week so that, by her final week of pregnancy, the dog is only eating the high-calorie food.

Supplements

Sometimes pregnant dogs will require supplements to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need for their growing pups. However, if the dog is healthy and is eating a premium dog food, supplements are usually unnecessary. Only give pregnant dogs supplements if a vet specifically prescribes them. These supplements often require a large amount of calcium. Giving a pregnant dog too much calcium can lead to eclampsia, a very serious condition that could kill her. Some breeders also like to add a bit of cottage cheese or hard-boiled egg to the dog's food to boost protein intake. This is not dangerous, but should still only be done if the vet gives the OK. Feeding the dog unusual foods during pregnancy can lead to excess weight gain, which can make delivery difficult.

Meal Size

Your dog will be pregnant for about 62 days. For about half of that time, the dog should eat her normal serving of food each day. In the fifth week of pregnancy, however, you should begin increasing her food just slightly. Over the course of the final three to four weeks of pregnancy, give her about a tablespoon more food each week until she is consuming about 25 per cent more food than usual. The reason for the food increase is that the dog's weight should increase by about 30 per cent in the final weeks of pregnancy, as that is when the puppies grow rapidly.

Pre-Delivery

In the final days before delivery, the puppies may have grown so large that the dog will no longer be able to eat all of her food in one go. If the dog will self-feed, simply leave the bowl of dog food in her feeding area and allow her to eat when she's hungry. If she will not, feed her a bit of food every few hours. The dog may stop eating entirely as her due date draws near. This is common, and should not be a cause for concern unless it lasts for several days. A weak diet for an extended period before birth can lead to pregnancy toxaemia in dogs.

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