Feeding a Pregnant Bitch
Feeding a Pregnant Bitch
Being pregnant is one of the most stressful and biggest hormonal changes in your bitch’s lifetime and how you feed your bitch has a direct impact on not only her health but also the health of the puppies. Dogs are pregnant for 9 weeks, experienced vets and breeders will be able to palpate her womb at 4 weeks to confirm pregnancy, or alternatively some breeders choose to ultrasound at 5 weeks.
We wholly recommend fully researching and doing the relevant breed health tests before mating your bitch.
GENERAL ADVICE DURING PREGNANCY
It’s important important you visit the vet for a health check-up before mating, after mating and once you think she is pregnant. Keep your vet up to date, including when you are expecting her to whelp so they can always be on standby.
Also do NOT change the way you feed substantially such as DIY after the 4 week mark, pregnancy is not a good time to start exploring.
We strongly advise that a pregnant bitch is fed 10% offal as part of a balanced diet, per day, this is due to the plethora of different mineral and nutrients in organ meats, vital for growth and development of your puppies.
Vitamin E is vital and some bitches can require supplementation be it in spirulina form, salmon oil or another natural supplement. Signs that your bitch might need Vitamin A can include, but not limited to; dull, itchy and dry coats, not falling pregnant after a previous mating or unusual seasons. Do consult your vet or contact one of our qualified nutritionists if you think this may be the case.
The advice below is for healthy bitches ONLY. If your bitch has pre-existing conditions or has developed a specific health issue, please take advice from your vet.
Week 3 & 4 TIME FOR CHANGE
Whilst feeding a healthy, pregnant bitch, start to increase their food from 3 weeks, to help the growing embryos develop. This is particularly important as week 4 is arguably the most delicate, formative stage for the puppy’s development.
We recommend beginning to feeding higher fat formulas (eg lamb, duck and venison) to help strengthen the amniotic sacks the puppies are growing in as well as making crucial stores for milk and colostrum for when her litter arrives.
Try introducing duck , chicken or lamb as part of her already varied diet. During week 4 start to increase the bitch’s food from her usual 2-3 % to a minimum of 4-5% of her ideal body weight per day.
Week 6: COMFORT & GROWTH
From 6 weeks, feed 6 – 8% of a bitch’s normal ideal body weight, providing she is eating a balanced diet with high fat formulas included.
6% is a minimum and should be split across a minimum of 4 meals. This will ensure she is processing and absorbing the optimal amount of nutrients from the foods throughout the day and passing this onto her puppies.
Moreover, as her puppies grow, it will be more comfortable for her to be eating multiple smaller meals a day.
Week 6 Onwards: PREPARING FOR DELIVERY
Now she has reached 6 weeks, we would normally advise reducing the bone content by feeding beef, low purine and salmon as well as your higher fat foods, including; beef, low purine and salmon as well as your higher fat foods, including; lamb, duck and venison.
This is for a couple of reasons;
Pre and post eclampsia is always a worry for most breeders, as it unfortunately claims so many puppies and bitches per year.
There is a strong correlation between calcium ratio and eclampsia, too much calcium can lead to eclampsia, sadly no breeds of dog are immune.
With her growing tummy and the puppies putting strain on her other organs, particularly her bowel during later weeks of pregnancy, reducing the bone content can help to make stools softer and make toileting more comfortable for your bitch.
Should I supplement with calcium?
No, there is no need to supplements when fed any of our formulas, too much/supplementation calcium can be dangerous to both mum to be and puppies.
My bitch won’t eat?
Some bitches suffer with morning sickness at 3/4 weeks – this common and it can help to just feed her whatever she fancies, however if it continues do seek advice from your vet. Sometimes adding a little luke warm bone broth can help.
Later on in pregnancy your bitch might be uncomfortable, again this is normal – try feeding more frequent, smaller meals.
It is common for bitches to stop eating a few days before labour (days 54-56), don’t worry there is little you need or can do – just makes sure she is comfortable, well hydrated and again some scrumptious bone broth might help.