Feed a pregnant bitch much the same as any other adult dog, that is 5:1:1, but with a few tweaks along the way…
The average dog diet is built very roughly around the ratio 5:1:1, that is 5 parts raw meat on the bone (or mince with bone in it), 1 part fresh organ meat (liver, kidney, heart), 1 part vegetables (to help it pass through the system). A couple of tweaks to this is all that is necessary when considering what to feed a pregnant dog.
Building Little Carnivores is Easy…
When raw feeding a pregnant bitch simply give her more of everything! She’s building mini-versions of herself and they need the same things that she needs. So feed her more meat on the bone, more muscle fresh meat, more organ meats.
This is because muscle meat feeds their muscle meat, fresh cartilage helps make strong joints, fresh bones lead to optimum bone growth and organ meats are broken down to form organs. The latter are particularly important and often over looked, as, organ meats are probably the most important thing, nutritionally, for dogs. Their diets should consist of 10 to 15% organ meat, particularly for pregnant bitches.
Include as much variety in their diet as possible; liver, heart, kidney, eyes, spleen etc. Never have too much of the one thing as the different body parts are beneficial to different parts of the dogs system.
What to feed a pregnant dog at the various stages of development…
For the first half of the pregnancy nothing much will change and she will eat as normal. Many breeders like to use more heart muscle which can be higher in folic acid.
By week 5 INCREASE
Increase the amount of food she is being given by approx 20-30%
By week 6 INCREASE FAT, DECREASE BONE
Her stomach capacity will shrink as her pups grow. Decrease her portion sizes and increase how often she is fed; three, four, maybe even five, times a day. You can increase the fat content of her diet at this point. You do this by selecting more red meats (duck, pork, beef) than white (chicken, turkey, fish). Fatty beef mince is probably the easiest ways of adding some much needed energy.
IMPORTANT: START REDUCING THE BONE CONTENT OF THE MEAL BY USING MORE BONELESS MEATS
Week 8 – Week 9
The food quantity should increase gradually over time and by week 8 she may be consuming 50% more food than she was pre-pregnancy.By this stage the bone content of her food should be effectively nil.
In the last week (week 9), she will begin to eat less, so gradually reduce the amount of food.
By the time she whelps, the feed quantity may be half of what it was the previous week (with no bone), with many only eating 25% of the previous weeks total. A day or two beforehand some bitches will stop eating all together and the same can happen afterwards. Don’t worry, they have lots of reserves to draw upon.
Eating Post Birth
Once she begins to eat again, one can start thinking about getting calcium back into her diet, but NOT in the form of supplements. She needs fresh meat mince with bone in it (in case she’s not up to eating bones). Thus focus on bonier bits like chicken backs, necks, carcass, wings. Even ground egg shells. Whatever. This will help build milk, naturally. And don’t forget to leave out lots of fresh water.
Why Less and Less Bone Before Birth and More After?
Calcium is stored in the bones. Before birth the parathyroid pulls calcium from the bones to help form the skeletons of the new pups but also to increase the contractability of heart and uterus walls. During birth oxytocin controls the duration and frequency of contractions but calcium and the parathyroid controls the strength. If you feed too much calcium, such as a raw diet with lots of bones, then the parathyroid can sort of go on vacation during labour when you actually need it to work.
Postpartum (after birth) you once again start feeding lots of calcium to avoid eclampsia (seizures) in the mother, which is a very understandable lack of calcium.
Dr. Billianhurst’s Advice
Just before birth, Dr. Ian Billianhurst, author of “Give Your Dog a Bone”, recommends
to increase the amount of cooked vegetables while, at the same time, reducing the amount of bone content in her diet. This has a laxative effect on the dog, allowing her to fully vacate her bowels, facilitating more space for the pups and contributing towards an easier birth.
Eating the Placentas
Once born she’s probably going to eat the placentas! This is perfectly normal, though if there are any complicatons and some placentas appear off, maybe take these away so they can not be eaten. The placentas, along with a few other things such as the stress hormone cortisol, can have a laxative effect. Again, this is totally normal.
Home Made Booster for Lactating Mothers
Dr. Ian Billanhurst recommends a great blended mix for the mother, after the first few days of the birth of her pups. As an extra boost, we would recommend including some fresh liver:
– 1 cup of whole milk (goats milk)
– 1 teaspoon of real raw honey,
– 1 or 2 teaspoons of flax seed oil (packed full of good stuff)
– 1 raw egg
Extra things to add in
Eggs: Raw and without the shell. Increased calcium can negatively impact a dogs milk production.
Herbs: Fenugreek and milk thistle are known to stimulate milk production during lactation
Kelp: Packed with vital minerals, nutrient, trace elements and unique bioactive compounds, a welcome addition to any dogs diet.