This is a vital source of Amino Acids that helps the bitch support the healthy development of her puppies. The best source of protein is meat in the form of Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Lamb and Fish (subject to her not being allergic to any of these). We have various products available as single source Proteins in our Country Bowl Premium Pure range or if you want something to include fruit and vegetables we have our Country Bowl Premium Complementary range.
One of the most crucial aspects to focus on is your breeding bitch’s diet. We have put together a guide as to what foods to include in her diet during the gestation period and after the birth that can help your dog have a full and healthy litter.
Firstly, it’s important to assess your bitch’s body condition in advance of any breeding as due to the physical demands that come with pregnancy and nursing matters can be made so much harder for those not in the best of health.
Even if your dog is under or overweight it can cause problems – those who are underweight can have a problem with eating enough food to support the nutritional needs of her puppies and herself whilst overweight dogs can have a difficult labour.
This is why it is so important to feed a well balanced diet in appropriate amounts prior to breeding to get you bitch in the best possible shape for the pregnancy and to help avoid problems like eclampsia (low blood calcium).
A dog’s gestation period is 9 weeks and during that time you will need to modify your dogs diet depending on the week she is in.
For the first 4 weeks you can feed your dog the way that you normally would with regular meals without increasing the amount of food. However, by week 5 you should increase the amount of food by 20-30%.
By week 6 the puppies will begin to grow and her stomach capacity will shrink. This therefore means she will need to be fed smaller amounts but more often. As each week passes the amount also given should increase by around 10% so that by week 8 she should be having around 50% more food per day than before her pregnancy.
In her final week, she may start to eat less around 25% and for the last couple of days may stop eating altogether which is quite normal.
The bitches’ intake needs to be broken down into various nutrients as follows:
Increasing your dog’s fat intake, which should ideally be done by week 6 of gestation, can satisfy a higher demand for calories. By this time you should increase her intake of red meats with a higher fat content and decrease the intake of lean/white meats. That means sticking to Beef or Lamb, which are both available in our online shop.
Omega 3 fatty acids are very important for your pregnant bitch because they aid the development of foetal brain and the nervous system. They are also good for eyesight. The best sources of Omega 3 acids are fish like Salmon or we have whole Mackerel, Sardines and Sprats available.
The most important vitamins for a pregnant bitch include Vitamin C, Vitamin D and folate, which is also known as B9. Vitamin C can help aid the uptake of iron into your dog’s system but it also helps with tissue building and can support the immune system. Most fruits, vegetables and organ meats are high in Vitamin C, which can be found in our online shop.
Vitamin D helps with proper calcium absorption – this can be found in Salmon and Mackerel.
Folate has a big role in stopping multiple birth defects and can be found in poultry and liver, but you do need to be careful with Liver, as this is also rich in Vitamin A, which can harm the developing puppies in high doses.
As most minerals are important, calcium, Iron and Phosphorus are the most required minerals for bitches during pregnancy and nursing. Iron can help a lot in the formation of red blood cells and the prevention of anaemia, which can be a common illness. Meat products such as Beef as well as organ meats like Beef Heart, Liver and Kidneys are the best sources of iron.
Phosphorus can also support bone development in puppies with the best sources are all animal tissue as well as fish.
Whilst Omega 3 and fish oil are good you should avoid cod liver oil because it is too rich in Vitamin A. You need to keep track of the amount you give during the pregnancy, which can also be found in other foods like fish, sweet potatoes and carrots.
You also need to limit the amount of Calcium intake during the last 3 weeks of the pregnancy.