Gestation (pregnancy) in the dog lasts for around 9 weeks.
Growing multiple puppies inside her then producing enough milk to feed them all for 5 to 8 weeks takes an enormous amount of energy. For the first 6 weeks of pregnancy, she will be OK with her normal food allowance but, in the last 3 weeks, she will need up to 30% more food than before she became pregnant and, when her milk production is at its peak in weeks 3 to 4, she will need up to 3.5 times her normal food supply. It is simply not possible for her to eat enough food to supply all the energy she needs to produce that milk so she also converts some of her body fat into extra energy and one would expect her to have lost up to 10% of her normal weight by the time the pups are weaned.
Because of this, she needs to be in peak condition at mating. If she is underweight, the unborn puppies can be smaller and there will be a higher risk of mortality when they are born. If she is overweight, the unborn puppies can be too big which can make for difficult births.
Because she needs so much energy but has a limited appetite, she needs a food with higher levels of energy than normal. Our Puppy and Large breed Junior foods are both designed to also meet the requirements of the lactating bitch and should be fed instead of the normal adult food from the 6th week of pregnancy. Using the puppy food also gives the puppies an introduction to their first solid food. Multiple meal-times allow the bitch to eat more and, in weeks 2 to 4 of lactation, it is a good idea to give her constant free access to food.
If you have found there is something we haven’t answered feel free to telephone our Nutritional Helpline Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm and a member of the team will be more than happy to help.