What should a nursing mother dog eat? A Complete Guide

What Should I Feed a Nursing Dog?

The best and most healthy source of fat and calories for nursing dogs is homemade puppy food. However, commercial dry food for pregnant dogs contains a decent calorific amount of healthy fats and proteins to meet the nutritional needs of growing puppies. Make sure to add a bunch of greens to her food to aid digestion.

Most importantly, the food you feed a nursing dog bioavailable dog food. This means that the nutrients in the food should be easily absorbed by the dog’s system; otherwise, there is no point! Poorly absorbed nutrients will get excreted through feces and urine and your dog will still remain undernourished (while your garden will flourish).

If you don’t want to feed commercial dog food, a few homemade alternatives would include meaty bones, oxtail, chicken or even rabbit. Healthy meats of cows, pork and game birds are also recommended, but in lesser quantity. Lastly, feed small amounts of organ meats, leafy vegetables, whole grain, and eggs.

A few things to keep in mind while feeding a nursing dog:

  • Food should be high in calories and fat
  • It should have nutrients that are easily absorbed by the dog’s digestive system.
  • The digestibility should be high
  • It should be high on vitamins, minerals, calcium, and protein
  • It can be fortified with vet-approved supplements
  • Add fish oils to keep her fatty acids balanced
  • She should be supplied with enough fresh, drinking water to generate milk.
  • Check with your vet before giving her milk or any other product that you have not fed her before – most dogs are lactose intolerant
  • Don’t worry about overfeeding your nursing dog. During this time, she needs enough energy, calories and fat to be able to produce milk to feed her pups while keeping herself fit. Let her eat as much as she wants to.

    Many nursing moms are “free fed,” which means dry food is left out at all times for her, allowing her to eat as much as she pleases. You can adjust such an arrangement while the puppies are weaning to ensure mom doesnt overfeed and does not feel deprived when she goes back to a regular feeding schedule. At all times, mom and pups should have access to water.

    The ASPCA says nursing dog moms will need extra nutrients to properly care for the litter. The organization recommends a high-quality commercial dog food, either wet or dry, specifically formulated for dogs with high-energy needs. A puppy food fine, as do some adult foods marketed for active dogs. It is possible to create a homemade diet for a nursing dog, but the ASPCA recommends doing this only with the advice of a vet to ensure the correct balance of vitamins and minerals is met.

    Catherine Lovering has written about business, tax, careers and pets since 2006. Lovering holds a B.A. (political science), LL.B. (law) and LL.L. (civil law).

    Nursing canines need extra nutrition and energy to make sure they produce can capably deliver offspring and provide enough milk for two months of growth. Your veterinarian knows best what to feed your individual pet, given her unique health and reproductive background. In general, your dog needs more food with higher energy content.

    Should I change my dog’s diet when she is pregnant or lactating?

    The nutrition of a pregnant dog is important during all stages of gestation in order to ensure optimal health and growth of newborn puppies. Although a dam’s nutritional requirements increase during the last trimester of pregnancy, nutritional deficiencies are most likely to occur after birth, when her body must cope with the stress placed on it by the demands of lactation.

    The goals of feeding are to provide adequate nutrition so that her weight increases by 15-20 percent by the time of whelping and to help her maintain optimal body weight after parturition when she must produce sufficient quantities of milk and colostrum to support growth in the newborn pups until they are weaned.

    Moving to a high-energy dog food such as a puppy formula for the period of pregnancy is beneficial as the additional calories and higher levels of other key nutrients are perfectly suited to the nutritional requirements of the pregnant or lactating dog. This is particularly advisable if she is quite lean, or you suspect she may have a large litter of puppies.

    As with the transition to any new dog food, moving to a high-energy formula should be done on a gradual basis, from approximately the sixth week of pregnancy. Progressively substitute a little more of the new dog food for the old over a period of about a week, until she is only eating the new food. An expectant mother will require gradually increasing amounts of high-quality food to nourish both herself and the developing litter. For the first four to five weeks of pregnancy, a normal size serving should suffice. If your dog has a past history of weight issues, seek your vet’s advice about how to increase her intake of key nutrients without risk.

    Here are some good–quality puppy foods we recommend:

    Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Dry Adult & Puppy Dog Food

  • Perfect for weaning puppies
  • Meets the needs of the mother and supports both immune systems
  • Contains essential nutrients including protein, rice, animal fats, vegetable protein
  • Specially manufactured kibble for smaller mouths
  • Supports digestive health and immune systems
  • Specially developed for medium-sized dogs less than a year old
  • Contains added omega-3 and DHA from fish oil to support joint and bone health
  • Antioxidants help to support a growing immune system
  • Nutritionally balanced
  • Easy to digest
  • 60% meat
  • Energy content adjusted to the metabolism of puppies
  • Cranberry, rosemary and rosehip to support the immune system
  • Prebiotics, probiotics, chicory and camomile to improve digestion and relieve irritation
  • A grain-free formula
  • No soy, artificial colours or preservatives
  • Purina Pro Plan Opti Puppy Range

  • Special OPTI blend of ingredients especially for medium-sized puppies
  • Colostrum boosts your dog’s natural immune defences
  • Great flavour your pet will love
  • Natural ingredients
  • Supports bone and joint growth
  • Encourages and supports an active lifestyle.
  • What to Feed a Lactating Dog

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    Your dog has just delivered a litter of cute and cuddly puppies. You can trust that she will likely take care of them, but who will take care of Mom? The answer is you.

    Fortunately, most bitches (female dogs) need little help. All they ask for is peace, quiet and privacy as they deliver their new babies and take care of them. But, you should still be there to help if necessary.

    Bitches are very protective of their young. It is wise for only one or two people to check on her. Parading your friends and neighbors through the house to handle and play with the new puppies is stressful on the mother and can potentially spread a disease to the puppies. For their safety, visiting should be delayed until the pups are at least four weeks old.

    During the birthing process and immediately after, most bitches are not interested in eating. However, within 24 hours after the birth of the last pup she should begin eating again, and most likely will eat a lot. Nursing a litter of puppies takes a lot of energy and Mom must eat enough to provide for her newborns; In fact, she should be fed as much as she wants to eat.

    Feeding a high-quality dog food may be sufficient but many veterinarians recommend feeding the new mother puppy food or a specially made nursing (lactation) diet. This can provide extra calories that the dog needs to produce more milk. Make sure to keep your dog’s food bowl full at all times. Some new moms can eat up to two to three times their normal amount while they are nursing. After about a month, the bitch will begin weaning her brood and the amount of food she is offered can be reduced slowly as you begin to switch her back to her normal adult diet. By about eight weeks, the pups should be pretty much weaned and the dog should be back to a normal amount of her maintenance adult dog diet.

    It is a good idea to take the bitch’s temperature daily during the first two weeks after delivering her litter. Temperatures over 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit should prompt a visit to your veterinarian.

    New mothers are usually very nervous about their babies. For this reason, many will not leave their side for at least the first 24 hours. They often do without food or water and some won’t even leave to go outside to urinate. For this reason, it is important that the new mother has food and water kept close by. Also, you may need to remove the dog from her litter and take her outside. After about a week, the new mother may feel more relaxed and may venture out a little more, but food and water should still be kept nearby.

    Discharge from the vagina should be minimal and may be present for up to 3 weeks. You should check your dog daily for excessive or abnormal vaginal discharge. Also check the breasts for excessive swelling, discharge or pain. Make sure your dog is eating plenty of food and the puppies are active and gaining weight. If you notice any abnormalities, contact your veterinarian.