Dog Nutrition during Pregnancy
During the pregnancy period, which has an indicative duration of 63 days, it’s necessary that the female is fed quality food with high digestibility and desirability and meets her nutritional needs.
The nutrition must have an adequate percentage of fatty acids Omega3 and must address the needs of the gestation, childbirth, and lactation periods. The goal is for the female to be in good physiological condition and have a healthy appetite throughout the pregnancy.
An overweight female has a lowered fertility rate and is vulnerable to problems related to both the gestation (excessive growth of fetuses) and the birth (narrower pelvic canal).
Severely underweight females will have difficulty taking the required amount of food to cover the nutritional demand of the pregnancy and lactation.
During the first 5 to 6 weeks, dogs have particular nutritional needs. A sufficient maintenance nutrition will contain the necessary carbohydrates. A good quality nutrition shouldn’t need additive substances (protein, calcium, phosphor, or vitamin). This can be counterproductive by causing soft tissue calcification and malformed fetuses. Malnourishment or poor quality of food can have negative effects on the immune system and fetal development with repercussions on the future growth of the puppy.
The major growth of the fetus happens in the last three weeks of gestation, in which the nutritional needs of the female increases. A higher energy pet food is recommended. Divide the food into more meals throughout the day, to avoid quantities that can clutter the abdominal space.
For these purposes, use a puppy pet food or a diet specifically designed for this phase of life; both have high energy and protein.
Many breeders use this type of food just in the last two weeks of gestation.
It’s important for the female to maintain a routine, to prevent stress that would be counterproductive for her and the puppies.
Stress and lack of nutrition can cause negative effects on the pregnancy, preventing the female dog to fully exploit the potential of her genetics.
Once the childbirth has finished and the placenta has been expelled, the female should be given fresh water and food. Many females refuse food, but will resume eating in the following 24 hours after childbirth.
If she was properly prepared for lactation, her weight after childbirth should be 5 – 10% more than the first gestation.