Caring for your pregnant dog
It’s a miracle of nature that a lactating bitch will continue to produce enough nutritious milk to support her litter, even if her own health is not so good. But the optimum outcome, of course, is to make sure that she gets enough nutrition not only to feed her pups, but also to support her own good health.
It’s normal to expect that a bitch will lose up to a tenth of her starting body weight during lactation, and if you can keep the figure within this range, it normally means that she was in good condition at mating.
Apart from making sure that she’s well fed when expecting, you should also make sure that she has plenty of clean, fresh water, and that she continues to get enough exercise and fresh air.
Also make sure that she has clean, dry bedding, and that she’s as comfortable as possible.
Changes in dog milk when nursing
The energy content level in dog’s milk increases all the time until around day 40. After this the levels drop off by around day 50. It is around this time that you should be weaning your puppy onto solid food anyway.
The fat content of the milk also increases until the puppies are ready to be weaned onto solid food. To allow these changes to take place, the nutrition level of the bitch must be at optimum levels to start off with.
Feeding bitches during the lactation stage
Milk production requires a lot of energy, so it stands to reason that the energy supplied to the bitch via her feed is critically important. Soon after whelping, the bitch will actually need to eat twice as much as normal – and three times the normal level during the peak lactation period, which occurs three to four weeks after whelping.
That’s a big increase in food intake, and bitches can often find it difficult to take this amount on board in two servings per day. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to divide the total amount of food into four or more servings.
Also make sure she is fed foods which are ‘dense’, i.e. have lots of calories in a relatively small amount of food. We recommend feeding her a puppy food. Or if possible, a food specifically designed for the needs of a pregnant dog.