What My Dog Should Eat After Giving Birth
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A female dog that has just given birth to a litter of puppies requires a number of special attentions that we, as caregivers, need to know. There are some changes in her diet that we need to consider, especially because a lactating female dog needs a more nutrient dense diet than normal. What your female dog eats during lactation will determine the quality of her mammary gland and therefore the healthy development of her puppies.
In this AnimalWised article, we explain how a female dog should be fed after birth to ensure her recovery and well-being, as well as that of her puppies.
Feeding a lactating female dog
At each stage of your dog's pregnancy and during lactation, there are specific nutritional needs. What you feed your pet can go a long way toward helping you deliver healthy puppies.
The early stages of a female dog's pregnancy are critical for the developing embryo. The mother's digestive tract breaks down complex nutrients that are transported through the bloodstream to the pregnant puppies. A normal, balanced adult diet is fine for both the mother dog and the puppies during the first half of pregnancy.
The last part of your pet's pregnancy is when the puppies are fully grown. Since the puppies develop quickly, they will need a lot of nutrients from their mother. Underfeeding dogs during pregnancy with low quality food, unbalanced diets, or simply too few calories can result in weak puppies.
As the time of birth approaches, you should switch your female dog to a special diet designed for lactating dogs. A lactation diet is a high-calorie food that contains extra vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that both mother and puppies need.
After birth, the female dog must continue to receive the same food until her puppies are weaned. Keep in mind that the number of puppies determines the size of the portions. After the puppies are weaned, about 3 to 4 weeks after birth, the mother can return to her normal portion per meal.
If you want to know more, see this other article for a more detailed description of feeding a pregnant dog.
Features of the feed for a lactating dog
Since the mother's energy requirements increase after birth and during lactation, she should be fed a puppy-rearing food after birth. This is because during pregnancy and especially during lactation, her needs change in order to adapt her body to the task of making the puppies grow properly.
The amount of calories and proteins that the female dog must consume during lactation increases so much that her usual diet cannot cover it. Puppy rearing food provides sufficient amounts of nutrients during this period.
As a general rule, the feed for the lactating female dog must not contain less than 21% protein. Of course, our dog must always have fresh and clean water available. We must avoid offering her treats, because although they can provide her with extra calories, they are not of good quality and cause her to eat less.
How to feed a dog after giving birth?
After choosing the puppy food, which, we must not forget, must be of high quality, we administer it according to the following recommendations:
In the first week after birth, we increase the recommended daily amount by about one and a half servings.
In the second week, we double this amount.
In the third week, the dog should eat three times the normal ration.
From the fourth week, when the puppies are no longer dependent on their mother's milk, we can gradually reduce the amount of food for the lactating female dog. Once the puppies are weaned, the female dog can return to her normal diet.
If the dog is fed homemade food, we can follow this guideline as well. In these cases, we should make sure to include high quality calories and proteins in her diet. If the dog loses weight, we need to visit our veterinarian to check the diet and prescribe supplements if necessary.
It is normal that the female dog does not want to eat immediately after giving birth. If this situation continues for several days, we should consult our veterinarian. We can divide her food into about 3 feedings per day or let her eat freely, especially if she has given birth to more than 4 puppies.
If the dog suffers from obesity or any other disease, we should consult the veterinarian about her diet.
In no case should we give supplements without a veterinarian's prescription, as this could even be counterproductive.
How do I feed my dog to make her produce more milk?
It is not uncommon for people to feed their dog certain foods that they believe will increase milk production. The truth is that there are no foods that increase milk production. The trick to ensuring good milk production is to feed the female dog, as we have explained in the previous sections.
However, if we notice that the dog is not producing milk, we should consult our veterinarian because she may be suffering from a disorder such as agalactia, which is a lack of milk production.
If your dog is unable to feed her puppies properly, read this other article, where we explore the possible health causes and what to do to treat them.
My dog has just given birth and does not want to eat
If the new mother does not want to eat for several days after giving birth, we should consult our veterinarian, as it may be suffering from a health problem. This can be anything from metritis, an infection of the uterus, to mastitis, an inflammation of the breast. In most cases, treatment is required. To encourage the dog to eat again, the dog's postpartum diet may include wet food, which is more palatable and suitable for growing puppies. In any case, a visit to the veterinarian is essential.
If you want to learn more about metritis in dogs, read this other article where we look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of metritis in dogs.
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