Nutrition for a pregnant dog
Good nutrition and a balanced diet are important for all dogs, but especially for pregnant dogs that need the extra energy.
Sarah Abood provides nutritional consultations for small animal patients at the Michigan State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She says gestation in most dogs lasts about 63-days. During the first two-thirds of the pregnancy, owners don't need to add any supplements or change the mother's diet.
However, in the last three-weeks, the mother's nutritional requirements increase because she’s developing mammary tissue and the puppies are getting bigger.
"What we recommend is that the food be either enhanced or enriched from an adult maintenance food to a growth food, or it has the nutrient components of a puppy food, or the owner can just switch the dog right over to the puppy-type of food that they'd like to wean those new pups onto after they're done nursing," says Abood.
Water and energy are the most important nutrients for a dog in late pregnancy. A high-calorie diet with plenty of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals will prepare her for the rigors of birth and nursing.
Abood says to understand how to feed your pet during pregnancy, visit with your veterinarian before the pups are delivered.
"Regular body weight checks at the vet’s office are important. The veterinarian can show an owner how to do a body condition score assessment. This is an easy tool to monitor lean muscle and body fat. What we do is we feel the dog’s ribs, waistline and belly," says Abood. "And by doing this on a regular basis, the owner can work with the veterinarian to adjust the dog's food intake as needed."
Continue taking your dog on regular walks and be sure she gets plenty of exercise. This will help maintain her strength and muscle tone.
Learn more about nutrition for expecting dogs
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