It is important to consider the increased need for high quality nutrition when female dogs are nursing puppies. During the lactation phase, which lasts about 6 to 7 weeks, high energy nutrition is especially critical for the nursing mother.
When lactation begins, the mother should have a high Body Condition Score which must be maintained throughout this period. Considering this and the need for high energy, at the beginning of lactation, provide 1.5 times the normal food amount, and gradually increase to reach the maximum amount (three times) at the peak of lactation, which happens at the third to fourth week, until weaning.
From the peak of lactation to when puppies are weaned, the female should consume 25% more for every puppy than their normal nutrition quantity, and it’s important to use high quality foods.
The characteristics of these pet foods are digestibility, a high caloric value, and the use of easily digestible proteins of high biological value. Some breeders integrate calcium into their food and believe this mineral enriches milk and contributes to the development of the puppies.
On the contrary, the integration of calcium would not be necessary if they used complete, balanced, and high quality nutrition.
The most stressful phase for the mother is the first 72 hours after giving birth, when they produce a special milk containing colostrum, which is highly nutritious and rich in immunoglobulins essential for the transfer of passive immunity to the puppies.
Always consider the increased stress on the female dog’s system when they are nursing, adjusting food quantity and quality as needed to ensure continued health for the mother, and a good start for the puppies.