What should a pregnant or lactating dog be fed?

Our question this week was:

What should a pregnant or lactating dog be fed?


Hi – thanks for your email. Your question was- "What should a pregnant or lactating dog be fed?" Excellent question. Good nutrition is important in gestating dogs. Dietary deficiencies (or excess) during this time can have devastating effects on the bitch, whelping and fetal survival.

The most important thing is that the food be good quality and the label should read "(Product name) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog Food Nutrient Profiles" or "Animal feeding tests following AAFCO procedures substantiate that (product name) provides complete and balanced nutrition.

This is important: the label Should NOT say "intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding". Some labels try to word the label so it appears to be AFFCO approved but is not. If the label suggests at all "Intermittent" or "Supplemental" – then assume that the food is not nutritionally sufficient.

There is a large variation in caloric requirements in pregnancy dogs. There are several formulas that calculate energy needs for pregnancy dogs – all of which can be rather complex. For simple guidelines, read Feeding the Pregnant Dog.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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