Feeding Plans for Pregnant Dogs
As with all other kinds of mammals, female dogs (bitches) carry their young while pregnant, and give birth to them live. Pregnant bitches – much like pregnant women – require additional levels of medical and veterinary care during the approximate two months before they give birth. Generally, bitches gestate for fifty-eight to sixty-eight days. In the very first instance, it is always worthwhile taking your bitch to the vet if you suspect that she may be pregnant, or two to three weeks after she last mated. Once you have established that she is pregnant, it is of paramount importance – both to the bitch and unborn pups – that you implement a special care regime. However, providing this special care is actually relatively straightforward, and primarily concerns how you handle your bitch, as well as implementing a feeding plan. While much of this need not be overly complicated, it is nevertheless crucial, and should not be overlooked.
Have a Diet Plan Before Conception
Even before a female dog conceives, owners are able to increase the likelihood of this occurring through carefully controlling and regulating her diet. A healthy dog is a more fertile dog, and weight increase correlates with higher rates of hormone production. Certain supplements containing high levels of zinc and various vitamins can also support fertility rates, but we always recommend seeking veterinary advice before you start adding supplements in. Meat is a superb natural source of zinc!
A Species Appropriate Raw Diet
The first step to establishing a feeding plan for a pregnant dog is to ensure that as a foundation, your dog has a healthy and nutritious regular diet. At ProDog Raw, we very much believe that a species-appropriate natural raw dog food diet is the best way to ensure that these needs are properly fulfilled. As a dog’s dietary tract has evolved relatively little since it was domesticated from wild wolves, it is best to attempt to mimic what their natural diet would have been. For the most part, this is raw meat (lean muscle), offal, small amounts of fur and bone, and fruit and vegetables which may have been foraged. Carbohydrates are acceptable, but not in any large quantity has dogs and wolves evolved to primarily gain energy from protein and fat sources. Ideally, this should be as unprocessed as possible, as dogs did not evolve to effectively digest and gain goodness and nutritional value from low grade, intensively processed and refined cooked foods such as kibble.
Increase the Relevant Proteins
In addition to ensuring that her food is of the highest quality possible, another very useful generic principle for feeding pregnant dogs is ensuring that she is able to eat higher quantities of protein than normal. Pregnancy involves generating and growing new life, so increased amounts of biologically appropriate protein are important in guaranteeing functions such as normal growth and repair, development of foetal tissue, and growth of breast and uterine tissue. Additional protein will also help increase blood supply to the womb, which is integral to normal and healthy puppy development. Lean muscle supports growth and repair, while cartilage supports strong joints. Offal (i.e. liver, tripe, hearts, lungs, and kidneys etc.), is also known to support its body part that it originates from. While it is generally desirable to feed your dog a good source of bone for calcium levels, this should ideally be reduced to the point of elimination during a dog’s pregnancy. As pregnant bitches can be more prone to constipation during the later stages of pregnancy, it is obviously sensible to reduce the risk of a pregnant dog suffering any kind of digestive issues. At ProDog Raw we promote introducing our bone-free meal option when necessary.
Plan it in Stages
Owners should also plan their pregnant dog’s diet in certain phases, but this is not an overly complicated process. At the fifth week of pregnancy, one should increase the food they make available to the dog by 20-30%. By the sixth week, her stomach will have shrunk to accommodate her growing puppies, so owners should decrease serving sizes, but provide her with numerous smaller meals throughout the day. The amount of bone in her diet should be decreased, while the amount of fat should be increased. Total amounts of feed should be increased by 50% on a gradual basis up to the eighth week of the pregnancy.
Avoid Processed Foods
It is very important during a dog’s pregnancy to refrain from feeding low quality and nutrient-void high-starch or pulse dense intensively processed foods. Even at the best of times, these are unhealthy for all dogs and have been strongly linked to many health conditions. At such a crucial time, one of the easiest ways to ensure optimum health for your pregnant bitch and her puppies is by offering it a nutritionally rich raw diet. Quality protein fed in the right quantities should be a priority for pregnant dogs. As such, it is worth slightly reducing the amounts of vegetables they eat, but not completely eliminating them. Towards the end of a pregnancy, bitches should not be exposed to excessive amounts of Vitamin A or calcium, as these can be harmful to her unborn puppies.
Feed a Proper Diet After Birth
An excellent indicator of a bitch imminently preparing to give birth is her stopping eating at approximately nine weeks into her pregnancy. If you observe this, do not attempt to force her to eat. She will do so when she is ready. In the days leading up to this, though, owners should gradually decrease the amounts of food she is eating while increasing protein and offal quantities. Immediately after giving birth, it also perfectly natural and common for a bitch to eat her afterbirth, which should not be discouraged. As she will be lactating and nursing her puppies which is in and of itself another hard job, owners should not become complacent about providing their bitch with a proper diet after she has given birth. Your nursing bitch should always be offered access to good amounts of water, and a nutrient-dense high-protein diet. As all of ProDog Raw’s products are packed full of protein and nutritional value, we are uniquely placed to support your bitch during this, and the earlier stages of her pregnancy.
Creating a feeding plan for your dog before, during, and after her pregnancy, if you are planning on breeding her, need not be stressful or complicated. ProDog Raw has significant experience in providing pregnant dogs with optimal feeding plans and offers a broad range of appropriate raw products including main meal items, supplements, and treats. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we would be more than happy to help in any way we can.
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