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Do Pregnant Dogs Need To Be Fed A Different Diet?

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Your dog is in heat and you notice the stud next door eyeing her up. They are left alone
for a few hours and chances are they mated. So how can you tell if your dog is pregnant?
There is no missed period and no mood swings. There is not even a home pregnancy test
that dogs can take. Not only do they not make them, but a dog will go through the same
hormonal changes whether she is pregnant or not so there is no HGC produced in a dogs
body. So a blood test is out also. There are though signs you can look out for. If your
dog’s stomach looks swollen or she looks like she had sudden weight gain and her nipple
area seems swollen these are all signs that your dog could be pregnant. The most
definitive way of knowing is by going to your vet. Your vet will do an ultrasound to
determine if your dog is pregnant.

So what can you expect now that your dog is expecting? For starters, it is a quick
pregnancy. A dog is only pregnant anywhere from 60-63 days. Sounds like a dream
come true. Your dog usually will not need any extra nutrients throughout most of her
pregnancy. In fact, you might find that your dog will lose some of her appetites and vomit
a few times in the beginning of her pregnancy. It is just like our morning sickness only it
lasts a week or so and it usually comes about 2 to 3 weeks into your dog’s pregnancy.

During the last 3 to 4 weeks of pregnancy, you might want to increase her food slowly so
that by the time she delivers she will be eating only about 25-30% more than she was
beforehand. That really is not a lot. Make sure you add this in slowly and try not to
overdo it. You do not want your dog gaining much weight. A lot of well-meaning
pet owners start increasing their mommy’s to be food intake right from the get-go
because they are under the assumption that they need the extra calories to grow their
puppies. This is not true at least not for the beginning and middle of the pregnancy. It is
only in the last few weeks. The reason why you are going to wait until the end of the
pregnancy to increase her food intake is that that is when the puppies really begin to
grow. Your dog will need more nutrients and energy to grow these pups. Some vets
will recommend you switch her over to a growth/puppy food because it will provide the
nutrients for her growing family. Other vets will suggest you put her on a
nursing/lactation diet.

It is up to you on how you want to feed her. You may want to feed her two small meals
throughout the day. It might be hard to feed her in one feeding because her puppies may
be taking up a lot of room and she might not be able to eat it all at once. You might even
want to break the rule of not leaving food in your dog’s bowl all day for these last few
weeks. It might be beneficial to your dog if you do this, but make sure you are watching
what she eats. Dogs can develop toxemia or eclampsia late in their pregnancy if they do
not eat enough or have a poor diet. Again some doctors will have to give your dog
vitamins during pregnancy and others will not. Do not add any vitamins or minerals on
your own to your dog’s diet. It can be deadly to both the mom and the pups. Especially
calcium which can increase the chance of eclampsia and even a milk fever after birth.

Milk fever is when the mother does not have the ability to move calcium into their milk
without taking it from them.

A pregnant dog can still exercise, in fact, it is recommended to keep her on a light
exercise program. This will not only keep her muscles tone but it will also help with the
weight gain. Just as with humans, obesity in pregnancy can cause some serious
complications.

Right before your dog is about to deliver, she will probably stop eating a day or two
before delivery. This is one of your first signs that delivery is immediate. You might
want to keep some food out for her though, just in case she wants to nibble here and there
to keep her strength up.

Once she has given birth and all is well you are going to see a remarkable increase in her
appetite. She is nursing after all and lactation brings more demands on her body.
Expect her nutritional needs to multiply by 3 or 4 times. This does not happen at all once.
Expect to see an increase the 20 to 30 days following the birth and the puppies grow and
nurse more. By the time the puppies are a month old, your dog should be eating at least
four times of what she did before she was pregnant. Keep an eye on her, if she seems to
be getting to thin you can supplement the food more with some flavored canned food.
Once 6 to 8 weeks have passe delivery you should start weaning the pups and
getting the mom back to normal.

To wean puppies you have to help the milk supply dry up. Withhold food and give her
half of the water she normal drinks for one day. The next day give her only a quarter of
what she was eating before she got pregnant and half her water. From then on, give her
all the water she wants and slowly over the next five days increase her food until she is
eating what she was before her pregnancy. By the time she is back on her pre pregnancy
food, her milk supply will have dried up and the puppies will have been weaned.
So for a short while she will be feed more than normal, there is no reason to start going
crazy with the feeding of your dog when she is pregnant. Keep her on the same schedule
until the last month or so of her pregnancy. If you are unsure of when conception took
place, your vet should be able to make an estimated guess for you and you can use that as
a guide line. Even before your dog gets pregnant you should make sure she is eating a
balanced meal and is not overweight.

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