A woman’s ability to reproduce optimally depends on:
- successful conception and pregnancy
- maximizing the amount of puppies produced by litter
- enabling the mother (bitch) to deliver her offspring as best she can
- puppies that are healthy both before and after birth
The body experiences distinct pressures during each of the several stages of reproduction, including heat (estrus), pregnancy, nursing, and weaning. To ensure the healthiest possible outcome for both the mother and the puppy, each presents particular dietary issues that should be addressed.
Are there nutritional issues that cause problems leading up to pregnancy?
Healthy eating creates the conditions for effective conception and reproduction. Both an overweight and an underweight mother will experience reproductive problems, as will her puppies.
The most prevalent nutrition-related issue in reproducing dogs is obesity. Increased estrus cycle spacing brought on by obesity can reduce a woman’s lifetime reproductive potential. Additionally, being overweight might reduce the quantity of eggs released during ovulation, which leads to reduced litter sizes. Dystocia risk rises with obesity (difficulty delivering puppies). Finally, obesity can reduce milk production during lactation, harming the growth and health of puppies. Before breeding, a dog who is overweight or obese has to shed weight. A female dog does not have any particular dietary needs when going through her heat cycle.
How should I feed my dog during her pregnancy?
Dogs normally give birth after 62 days, give or take two days. A healthy, well-nourished dog will gain roughly 15-20% more weight during pregnancy than she did at breeding. The pregnancy is separated into three trimesters. Overeating at the end of pregnancy can lead to obesity, which raises the possibility of a difficult or protracted labor and adds additional stress to the puppies. On the other hand, inadequate nutrition during pregnancy can cause embryo loss, aberrant fetal development, spontaneous abortion or stillbirth, limited litter size, and underweight puppies that do not thrive.
The mother’s nutritional needs throughout the first two trimesters of pregnancy are approximately the same as those of a young adult dog. She must maintain her weight and physical condition throughout this time, so keep an eye on them and give her more food as necessary. A dog should not grow overweight or obese as a result of overeating throughout the first and second trimesters. The greatest method for regulating body composition and weight growth during pregnancy is meal eating.
“The puppies endure their most rapid development during the third trimester, after roughly day 40 of gestation, which is also the greatest load on the expectant mother.”
The puppies’ rapid development occurs in the third trimester, about day 40 of pregnancy, and is also the most demanding on the expectant mother. Between weeks six and eight of pregnancy, the mother need the most energy. Depending on the size of the litter, her energy needs may be 30–60% greater than typical adult maintenance rations. The difficulty during the third trimester is that the abdomen is stuffed full with puppies, leaving little place for food in the gastrointestinal track, especially in the final weeks before delivery. During the third trimester, a highly digestible, high-quality puppy/growth/development formulation is typically advised, and several small meals may give the mother the ability to maintain an acceptable nutrient and calorie intake. Feeding a puppy food made for large breed puppies is not recommended since it lacks the proper calcium-phosphorus ratio to support the fetuses’ growing bones or the mother’s healthy milk production. Supplementing with folic acid and necessary fatty acids may help support developing fetuses. Regarding their use in your dog, talk to your vet.
I have heard that lactation is even more energy intense than pregnancy. Is this true?
Absolutely. The mother’s energy needs actually rise after giving birth and when nursing. Three to five weeks after whelping, when she has the greatest energy need, she can need 2-4 times as many calories as an average, healthy adult. By about 8 weeks after delivery, when the puppies have finished weaning themselves, the mother’s energy needs will decline and return to normal.
The mother can increase her food intake after the puppies are born, but the energy density of the food must be sufficient or she won’t be able to physically ingest enough to maintain milk production, weight, and body condition. It is possible to adjust feedings when her bodily state is periodically assessed. Similar to the third trimester of pregnancy, feeding puppies during lactation is best performed using high-quality puppy chow that is highly digestible.
If she has more than one or two puppies, the first three to four weeks of nursing should be spent with free-choice feeding. The mother can eat whenever she wants, she can eat less each time, and the puppies can start trying solid food as soon as they are old enough (at about 3 weeks of age). Free-choice feeding is not advised while just caring for one or two puppies since it encourages the mother to produce a lot more milk than she requires, which could put her at risk for developing mastitis (inflammation of the milk glands).
Do I need to change how I feed my dog as she weans her puppies?
Before and throughout weaning, limiting your dog’s food intake will help her milk supply taper off and increase her comfort. On the first day of weaning, deprive the puppies of her nourishment and let them feed in their absence from the mother. The puppies will take some milk that night if they are all together. The puppies are taken away from their mother on day two of weaning, and she is given about 25% of her pre-breeding amount and formulation. Increase her pre-breeding portions to her full amount over the next four to five days. During this time, the puppies shouldn’t be permitted to nurse because doing so would prevent the milk from drying up.
You may develop a nutritionally sound plan for pregnancy and nursing with a little forethought and advice from your veterinarian, laying the foundation for the birth of healthy puppies.
What nutrition can I give my pregnant dog?
- The food must have at least 22% protein and 1600 kcal of digestible energy per pound.
- Give the pregnant or nursing dog as much food as she wants unless she has a propensity to gain too much weight.
- Try moistening the meal or switching to a more nutrient-dense food if she appears to be losing weight.
- Always keep a clean bowl with plenty of fresh water outside.
What dietary supplement is ideal for pregnancy?
To ensure that they are essential and taken in safe proportions, your doctor should approve and oversee the use of any micronutrient and herbal supplements, just like they would with pharmaceuticals.
Always get vitamins from a reliable company whose goods have been examined by independent agencies like the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
This guarantees that the vitamins meet strict requirements and are typically safe to consume. Uncertain of which brands to trust? Your neighborhood pharmacy is a great resource.
To fulfill the increased need for micronutrients during pregnancy, prenatal vitamins are multivitamins that have been carefully prepared.
They are meant to be taken prior to conception, throughout pregnancy, and while nursing.
Prenatal vitamin supplementation lowers the incidence of preterm birth and preeclampsia, according to observational studies. A potentially serious condition known as preeclampsia is characterized by elevated blood pressure and sometimes protein in the urine.
Prenatal vitamins shouldn’t substitute a healthy diet, but by adding extra amounts of the micronutrients that are particularly needed during pregnancy, they may help eliminate nutritional gaps.
Prenatal vitamins already contain the vitamins and minerals you’ll need, so you might not need to take any additional supplements unless your doctor advises it.
Doctors frequently recommend prenatal vitamins, which are also sold over-the-counter.
The B vitamin folate is essential for red blood cell creation, DNA synthesis, and fetal growth and development.
The synthetic form of folate that is present in many supplements is called folic acid. The body changes it into L-methylfolate, which is folate’s active form.
To lower the risk of neural tube defects and congenital abnormalities such cleft palate and heart malformations, it is advised to consume at least 600 micrograms (mcg) of folate or folic acid each day.
Daily folic acid supplementation was linked to a lower risk of neural tube abnormalities in a meta-analysis of five randomized studies including 6,105 women. There were no unfavorable consequences found.
Although getting enough folate by diet is possible, many women don’t consume enough folate-rich foods, necessitating the need for supplements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advises that every woman of childbearing age take 400 micrograms (mcg) or more of folic acid every day.
This is owing to the fact that many pregnancies are unexpected and birth defects brought on by a folate shortage can happen very early in pregnancy, even before the majority of women are aware that they are pregnant.
Pregnant women may want to choose a supplement that contains L-methylfolate to ensure maximum uptake, particularly those who have the MTHFR genetic mutation.
Due to the approximately 45 percent increase in maternal blood volume during pregnancy, there is a large rise in the need for iron.
The placenta and your baby’s optimal growth and development depend on iron for oxygen transport.
Around 18 percent of pregnant women in the United States have iron deficiency, and 5 percent of these women are anemic.
Infant anemia, mother depression, and preterm delivery have all been linked to anemia during pregnancy.
Most prenatal vitamins will provide the 27 milligrams (mg) of iron per day that is advised. Your doctor will need to prescribe higher doses of iron if you have anemia or iron deficiency.
To prevent negative side effects, you shouldn’t take more iron than the recommended consumption if you don’t have an iron deficiency. Constipation, vomiting, and unusually high hemoglobin levels are a few of these that may occur.
This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for healthy bones, cell division, and the immune system.
Preterm birth, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean sections have all been linked to vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy.
Currently, 600 IU, or 15 mcg, of vitamin D per day is advised for pregnant women. Some professionals contend that pregnant women require significantly more vitamin D.
Consult your doctor about correct vitamin D supplementation and testing for vitamin D deficiency.
Magnesium is a mineral that your body uses in countless chemical processes. It is essential for the health of the immune system, muscles, and nerves.
Premature labor and the risk of persistent hypertension are both increased by this mineral deficiency during pregnancy.
According to some research, taking magnesium supplements may lower the risk of issues like fetal growth restriction and preterm birth.
Can dogs who are pregnant eat eggs?
Yes, fried eggs are beneficial for dogs! Dogs can consume scrambled or hard-boiled eggs. The eggs must be boiled in order to achieve the main goal. Dogs should not be given uncooked eggs.
Due to their rich source of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and protein, eggs are beneficial for dogs.
When should I feed calcium to my dog that is pregnant?
Eclamptic dogs require calcium to be infused intravenously right away. In general, dogs require 1 milliliter of 10% calcium gluconate per kilogram of intravenous calcium, which should be supplied slowly, carefully, and in the appropriate proportion. Calcium may induce a dramatic reduction in heart rate if administered in excess doses or too quickly, followed by an arrhythmia that is difficult to regulate.
Dogs with eclampsia also need antipyretics, which are medications that lower high body temperatures, in addition to calcium. With the help of chilly baths, the process of reducing body temperature can be accelerated. Most people with eclampsia require anti-seizure medications to treat their spasms, convulsions, and seizures. If the patient is having too many or powerful seizures, they should be moderately sedated. Injections of intravenous dextrose are also advantageous (this is because the tremors and seizures deplete the glucose stored in the liver thus causing low blood glucose levels).
Dogs with eclampsia typically require hospitalization until they are totally stable. They are advised to take oral calcium and vitamin D supplements after being sent home. These oral supplements stop the illness from returning after treatment.
It is advised to temporarily take the puppies from the mother and feed them by hand while she heals if she is not in the hospital. Therefore, they should only nurse for three sessions totaling around 20 minutes each, with any additional hand-feeding necessary based on age and needs. The mother should also be hand-fed if she is unable to eat on her own.
What is the prognosis of canine eclampsia? Generally speaking, dogs with eclampsia recover fully in a matter of days if they receive quick and effective treatment. However, the effects could be fatal if ignored.
A pregnant female dog’s chance of acquiring the potentially fatal condition eclampsia is not decreased by calcium supplementation. The risk of getting low blood calcium levels is actually increased by heavy calcium supplementation during pregnancy, which can block the generation of parathyroid hormones.
Therefore, it is typically not advised to use calcium supplements when pregnant. Each person, however, is unique and has various needs. Consult your dependable veterinarian if you are unsure whether calcium supplements is necessary.
Contrary to pregnancy, calcium supplementation during breastfeeding is really quite beneficial. Early in labor is advised to administer the mother’s first calcium dose (when she starts nesting or her rectal temperature drops one degree). The intention is to administer three to four doses to the mother before the first pup is born. You should take calcium supplements that are quickly absorbed in the form of oral gels. Another benefit of taking calcium supplements at this time is that they help to dilate the cervix, which facilitates and speeds up labor.
Dogs who are expecting should consume nutritious diets full of important vitamins and minerals. For pregnant women and nursing mothers, there are numerous commercially accessible diets that have been specially developed. The calcium content of some human foods is unusually high. Eggs, or more specifically eggshells, dairy products like milk, yoghurt, and cottage cheese, raw bones, and fish like trout, tuna, salmon, and sardines are among these foods.
Dr. Ivana Crnec is a veterinary medicine graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia.
She is finishing her postgraduate studies in the pathology of domestic carnivores at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb, Croatia, while also working as a veterinarian in Bitola.
Ivana often attends international veterinary conferences and has had research published in international journals.
Should I give my dog calcium during pregnancy?
Eclampsia, also known as hypocalcemia or puerperal tetany, is an urgent medical illness that affects nursing women and causes a life-threatening decline in blood calcium levels. When the mother is producing the most milk, which is between the ages of one and four weeks for puppies, eclampsia most frequently occurs. It might even happen just before giving delivery.
What causes eclampsia in dogs?
Eclampsia’s cause is frequently unknown, but it could be brought on by:
- significant calcium loss from the mother to the fetal skeletons that are still forming
- pregnancy calcium supplementation
- making milk after giving delivery
- not consuming a quality, well-balanced diet while pregnant or nursing that is intended for reproduction or growth
- an issue with the parathyroid gland’s hormones
Mothers who pay close attention to their puppies appear to be more susceptible to eclampsia. Small breeds are more vulnerable, including Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Toy Poodles, Miniature Pinschers, Shih Tzus, and others.
What are the clinical signs of eclampsia in dogs?
“A true medical emergency is epilepticus. Prevent the puppies from sucking and call your veterinarian right away if you think eclampsia is developing.”
At first, the signals are imperceptible. The female may be fidgety or panting, and you might observe that she’s moving stiffly. If this continues, she might eventually become unable to walk. This swiftly develops into widespread muscle spasms (tetany), which can quickly develop into convulsions. Some afflicted cats may experience fever, confusion, aggression, restlessness, and excessive pacing. A true medical emergency is epilepticus. Prevent the puppies from sucking and call your veterinarian right away if you think eclampsia is developing.
How is eclampsia treated?
Depending on the results of the physical examination and laboratory tests, the treatment may include intravenous fluids, calcium injections, and other drugs. Intravenous calcium must be infused extremely cautiously and gradually to prevent severe heart rate reduction and arrhythmias. To reduce seizures and tetany in some dogs, anti-seizure medications like diazepam (Valium) may be necessary. Follow-up care usually involves giving the puppies oral calcium supplements (even something as easy as Tums could be suggested) and weaning them as soon as feasible. When eclampsia is identified and treated right away, recovery is typically quick and complete.
Can eclampsia be prevented?
Every pregnant dog should consume a premium food rich in vitamins and minerals that is designed for expectant and nursing mothers. If the mother is in danger, it might be necessary to take the puppies away from her a few times a day so she can feed. At three to four weeks old, the puppies can start eating puppy food and supplemented with a milk substitute.
“All pregnant dogs should be fed a premium food rich in vitamins and minerals that is designed for pregnant and nursing mothers.”
It is generally not advised to give dairy products or calcium supplements to dogs that are pregnant or nursing. Overconsumption of calcium during pregnancy or lactation can reduce the generation of parathyroid hormone and raise the risk of eclampsia. If you’re unsure whether your dog requires supplements, consult your veterinarian.