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Feeding Pregnant and Lactating Bitches

Make sure that your bitch is in optimum condition before embarking on a breeding programme. Bitches that are overweight before becoming pregnant will struggle to lose weight after whelping - which may have an impact on the whelping itself.

pregnant-dog

We advise that you put the bitch on a nutrient dense higher calorie diet at around six weeks of being pregnant. This can be done using a higher protein and oil food, usually the puppy variety. Stick to the flavour as you have been doing before the mating. i.e. if you are feeding a Chicken & Brown Rice based Adult food then go to the Chicken & Brown Rice Puppy variety, but do so gradually to avoid any stomach upsets.

At six weeks of being pregnant, it is usual to start increasing the bitch’s calorie intake by approximately 10% of her usual daily allowance. This would then be increased on a weekly basis, up to whelping, until you hit around 50-60% increase from her usual daily allowance. We would also recommend that you switch from feeding twice a day at this stage to around four times per day.

Always judge by eye as to how much to feed and in particular pay attention to the stool quantity and quality. Her stools should still be firm, as before becoming pregnant. If they are starting to soften and she is going frequently, then this is a sign she is being overfed so we would advise to cut back in increments of 20g per meal until you get the stool firm again.

Do not add any supplements to the bitch’s diet, this is particularly important if you are feeding a complete food, as this can have a detrimental effect not only to the bitch, but to the puppies too.

It is usual for some bitches to go off their food in the days leading up to the whelping but it is very important to make sure she eats at regular periods to stabilise her blood sugar levels and to make sure she has enough energy for the whelping itself.

After whelping her appetite may increase dramatically and it is important that she is still fed smaller meals little and often to help with the milk production. Judge by eye if she needs more food if she is underweight as some bitch’s can drop weight after whelping, whereas if she is still looking overweight then reduce the portion of food accordingly.

In the first week of the puppies being born your bitch will need approx. 140% more calories than her usual daily allowance. In week two approx. 180% and by week three 200-250% depending on the size of the litter and her condition i.e. over or underweight.

Most breeders tend to wean their puppies at around three weeks of age, although some do wean earlier if the bitch has a particularly large litter. At this time you would start to reduce the bitch’s calorie intake until she is back to her normal ration by the time the puppies are fully weaned.

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