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05.04.2018

Proper nutrition for your pregnant or nursing dog

During pregnancy, female dogs experience several behavioral, hormonal and

physical changes. Therefore, balanced nutrition is essential, both to preserve

the health of the mother-to-be and to ensure the puppies are born healthy and

grow up healthy.

Some tips on feeding the pregnant and nursing dogs help a lot in this moment.

The first thing to do when you find out your dog is pregnant is changing its

food to a

more energy-dense one with a higher protein level.

Puppy food is the most appropriate in this case, not only because it has higher

protein and energy levels, but also because its formula is rich in vitamins and

minerals and makes digestion easier.

From the fourth week of gestation on, the

amount of

food consumed should

increase, so that at the end of the pregnancy the food intake is 40% higher

than the

amount

indicated for its normal weight. That’s because the puppies

are gaining muscle mass, developing coats and hair, and gaining weight, so

they need protein and energy.

After giving birth, the mother dog needs to produce milk for its puppies. In this

phase, the owners usually pay less attention to food intake, which may cause

problems for the dog, such as sudden weight loss and decreased immunity.

This kind of problem may lead to opportunistic diseases, such as fungal and

bacterial skin infections, ear infections and even hair loss.

At this time, the amount of food offered to the dog should be gradually

increased week after week, so that the mother gets all the nutrients it needs to

preserve its health, immunity and weight. Besides, with good nutrition the dog

will be able to produce enough milk for the puppies.

Therefore, in the first week of lactation you should feed your dog 50% more

food than the amount indicated for its regular weight; in the second week,

100% more food; in the third week, 150% more food; and in the fourth week,

200% more food; keep it like that way until the sixth week, because that’s

when puppies usually stop having only milk.

From this stage on, the amount of food offered must be gradually reduced until

weaning. Another important tip is that the daily food dosage should be divided

into several meals, as bladder, stomach and intestines end up being

compressed because of the advancement of pregnancy and the

increase in

the volume of the uterus. This may avoid constipation, gas formation and even

intestinal colic. This kind of care, along with moderate physical exercising, will

ensure a smooth pregnancy and nursing as well as strong and healthy

puppies.

Thiago Marçal Andrade e Silva

Veterinarian graduated from Universidade Federal de Santa Maria

Technical Manager for Nutrire Indústria de Alimentos Ltd.

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