Why Is My Pregnant Dog Not Eating?
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A dog pregnancy lasts around 65 days, and during this process you will observe your dog going through different phases. In order to support her during this time, it's very important for us to be well informed on dog pregnancies. One of the most important factors for a healthy pregnancy is nutrition.
However, what do you do if your pregnant dog stops eating? How can you help her eat again? In this AnimalWised article, we will help you understand what to feed your pregnant dog, how much and what to do if she stops eating.
Why is my pregnant dog not eating?
The most common cause for a pregnant dog that has stopped eating or has lost their appetite is due to nausea. Nausea in pregnant dogs usually starts after the first three weeks of her pregnancy. However, it's also common to observe both nausea and loss of appetite as signs of pregnancy. Clearly if your dog is experiencing this, she will not want to eat. If she has vomited for more than one day, it's best to take her to the veterinarian.
Another reason may be that your dog is about to give birth. Many dogs refuse to eat about 12-24 hours before whelping. This is completely normal, so you shouldn't worry. Just make sure she is well hydrated by providing her with plenty of fresh water. If none of these two reasons apply to your pregnant dog, her loss of appetite may be due to her diet or exercise. Make sure you are feeding your dog the correct diet for a pregnant dog.
Your pregnant dog may also be eating less due to her lack of exercise. Pregnant dogs will not be able to do as much exercise as they used to do as they are carrying many pups with them and going through certain symptoms. They need lots of rest and this may be the reason why they are eating less than before their pregnancy. They simply don't need as much calories and are feel satisfied with less food.
Lastly, loss of appetite in pregnant dogs may be due to stomach health issues. To rule this out, the best things you can do is take her to the veterinarian to be properly examined, diagnosed and treated.
How long can a pregnant dog go without eating?
Pregnant dogs may stop eating due to their hormone levels. They tend to go off their food for a while until they adjust to the change in their hormonal balance. Once she begins to feel better, her appetite will kick in and she will most likely make up for the lost time. It's very important to allow her to eat until satisfaction when this happens because she does need those calories to have a healthy pregnancy.
Towards the end of her pregnancy or, perhaps, once she has had her puppies her appetite will go back to normal. However, if during her pregnancy she doesn't eat or eats very little for more than two days you must take her to the veterinarian.
How much should a pregnant dog eat?
Now that your dog is pregnant, she is not only eating for herself but also for the puppies that are growing inside of her. It should be no surprise that she will need a higher calorie intake.
How much should a pregnant dog eat?
For an estimation, your pregnant dog will need a 25% calorie intake increase for each puppy she has. It will be difficult for her to eat enough for 10 - 12 puppies and maintain her normal digestive functions, but we need to be able to offer her this amount of food for a healthy pregnancy.
For example, if your dog would eat 3 cups of high quality dog food, and now she is pregnant with 8 - 10 puppies, she will now need about 9 cups of food a day. To ensure her diet is enough and meets her new demands, it's recommended to consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to tell you how much fat and protein your dog will need according to her age, pregnancy and health condition.
How to encourage a dog to eat
Although we know the importance of feeding our pregnant dog enough to have a healthy pregnancy, she may refuse to eat for the reasons we've mentioned above. So, how can you help her eat the calorie intake she needs? As we've said before, she may need some time to adjust to her new hormone levels and then will eat more to make up for the lost calories. However, if this isn't the case and she has had trouble eating enough for various days, we can offer you some tips:
- Offer her food in smaller portions: divide her food into smaller portions and offer more frequent meals. This way, she will be eating more frequently but smaller portions, helping her digest the food without feeling too full.
- Provide her with the correct diet: a pregnant dog will not only need a higher intake but a nutritionally rich canine diet. This includes meat-sourced protein, healthy fats and low amounts of carbs. Learn more on our article about the best diet for dogs.
- Maintain a certain routine: dogs love routines, it helps them go on their day in a relaxed matter. This is what we want for our pregnant dog. A great idea is to feed her after taking her for a calm walk. This way she is feeling hungry and will probably eat more.
- Always offer fresh food: if she has left food and it has been there for 10 minutes, take it away. Do not put her new food on top of her old food. This will create bacteria and can cause her to have diarrhea and experience vomiting. Make sure her food is always fresh and her dog plate is always clean.
If these tips don't bring a solution to the problem, it's best to take her to the veterinarian for a checkup. Your veterinarian will be able to examine her and rule out any health issues, as well as give you advice for your dog's specific situation.
What to feed a pregnant dog
As we've briefly mentioned, you will need to feed your dog a nutritionally rich diet. Here are some pointers to take into account when feeding your pregnant dog:
- Calorie intake: your dog will need a higher calorie intake due to the fact she will now also be eating for her puppies.
- Protein: Protein may need to increase up to 70% of their normal intake due to altered breast development and the growth of her fetuses
- Fatty acids: essential fatty acids are important for her puppies' brain and retina development, helping them improve learning, memory and vision.
- Vitamins and minerals: as for any other animal, vitamins and minerals should not be ignored when considering a dog's diet. These have various functions in improving a dog's health. Talk to your veterinarian about whether your dog will need a supplement during her pregnancy.
- Highly processed dog food: avoid giving your dog any highly processed food as this will not only be useless for her nutritional needs but can also cause her harm. This also goes for forbidden human food for dogs.
To learn more, we encourage you to read our article on what to feed a pregnant dog, where we dive deeper into the subject.
What to feed a pregnant dog before labour
You already know what to feed your dog through her pregnancy, but what about before she gives birth? This is a unique stage in her pregnancy that will requiere certain care as their body is under a lot of stress. It's common for a dog that is about to go into labour to avoid eating. Labour can be very painful and may cause uneasiness, an upset stomach and vomiting. Therefore forcing your dog to eat at this moment is not the best idea as even if they do eat, they may throw up and it will make them feel even more uncomfortable.
The best thing you can do is offer them small and easily digestible food. This could mean high quality dog food that she never had problems digesting. By offering her small amounts, you will avoid her feeling too satiated, something that may lead her to vomiting. Small treats can also work as they are high in calorie and that can help her have the energy she needs to get through labour.
Lastly, you will need to offer her fresh and clean water. Even is she refuses to eat, offer her water as it's very important she is not dehydrated during the process of giving birth. Although it's relatively common for pregnant dogs not to eat 12 - 24 hours before giving birth, drinking water is very important and should be promoted.
Once she has given birth she will need to rest and continue eating nutritionally rich food to produce milk for her puppies. You will observe that she will gradually recover and go back to her old eating habits.
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