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My Dog is Pregnant, How Do I Maintain Her Weight?

My bitch is carrying puppies. How do I care for her weight during her pregnancy?

Nutritional Problems That May Occur For The Pregnant Dog

Most nutritionists agree that reproduction is the most critical stress encountered by a female dog. While the healthy male dog can sire hundreds of puppies without any stress whatever, the female is called upon to use tremendous amounts of energy and nutrients during pregnancy and lactation. If her feeding program does not adequately supply these nutrients and energy, she will obtain them by using up her own body tissues. If neither dietary nor body sources of nutrients and energy are available, a multitude of problems will result.

The manifestation of an inadequate diet during early phases of reproduction may take on several forms. Those most likely to be recognized are:

1. An “out of condition” appearance of the dog. This may not become apparent until after the pups are born. An actual loss in body weight throughout gestation can occur, but is unusual in most instances.

2. An uncontrollable diarrhea following whelping and throughout much of lactation. This is most often seen when she must increase her food intake excessively to meet increased lactational demands because the food she has been eating is poorly digestible or low in calories.

3. The “fading puppy” syndrome. The puppy may appear normal at birth, but several hours to several days later it is found crying or whimpering and chilled. It is off by itself, obviously disowned by the mother. Attempts to reunite the two are usually met with failure. The puppy’s stomach will be empty and its body will be dehydrated. When weighed, it will weigh the same or less than the day before.

4. Anemias. When an anemia occurs as the result of a dietary deficiency during reproduction, it will be present in both the dam and pup. When both mother and pup are anemic, the first place to look for its cause is the diet.

Once pregnancy is terminated by the whelping of the pups, an inadequate diet during lactation is most likely to appear as:

1. Lactation failure (agalactia). This is a complete failure of the mammary glands. The dog produces no milk at all from which the pups can be nourished. These pups cry continuously, fail to gain weight, and unless immediate remedial feeding is started, the pups will die.

2. Lactation depression (dysgalactia). While the mammary glands are functional, they are unable to produce adequate amounts of milk to fully support the pups’ complete nutrient needs. The pups are restricted in growth rate and may become stunted.

3. Deficient milk. The milk, although it may be produced in adequate amounts, is deficient in one or more nutrients.


My name is Jasmine Kleine. I am a qualified vet nurse and a passionate animal advocate. I write professionally about pets and animal health.

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