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Congratulations! Your pup is pregnant, and soon you and she will welcoming her puppies into your home. We all want to do the best for our pets, so this article looks at her special needs during pregnancy.
A dog’s pregnancy lasts for around 63 days. You might think she needs feeding up from the outset, but during the first stages of gestation, the puppies don’t gain much in terms of size and weight. So from mating to about day 35, the ideal goal is to maintain your dog’s regular weight. It’s not considered healthy for her to pile on the pounds at this stage. However, throughout the whole period from mating to giving birth and subsequent nursing, good nutrition is of the utmost importance to support her changing body and the health of her pups.
Many owners therefore choose to supplement their pregnant dog’s diet with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to give her a boost and to add specific benefits, both in terms of handling her increased metabolism during this special time and for the puppies’ health and wellbeing. Here, we offer a round-up of the best and most popular on the market.
This product features the manufacturer’s own blend of vitamins, minerals and herbs specially designed to address the unique requirements of both the expecting mother and her developing puppies. The supplement contains boosted levels of iron, zinc and folic acid, which enhance red blood cell production and improve the flow of blood round the body. Herbal supplements such as raspberry leaf are also included, which help to improve uterine tone and assist in the birthing process.
Breeder’s Edge Oxy Mate Prenatal is suitable for use in pregnancy for both dogs and cats, and offers the most complete combination of vitamins, minerals and selected herbs to support the nutritional requirements of pregnant females and the developing pups.
Suitable for adult dogs of any size over the age of one year, the Institute of Pet Nutrition’s VitaHealth Daily Vitamins offer a full complement of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy coat, skin and claws. They are also formulated to strengthen immune and digestive systems, to give a boost to energy levels and to promote good circulation which reduces pain, stiffness and soreness in joints. As an added benefit, natural antimicrobials also help fight bacteria and the causes of bad breath.
They have been tested and found to be completely safe for use in pregnant and nursing female dogs, as well as those suffering from illness. VitaHealth Daily Vitamins come in chewy form and are flavored to appeal to your dog as a treat, even if her appetite is not otherwise strong.
Product Type: Chewable tablets
Active Ingredients: Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin B. Rich in Antioxidants.
Suitable For: All adult dogs aged 1 year+, pregnant and nursing females, dogs suffering or recovering from illness.
Administration: Feed by weight, mixing with food or separately as a treat: ½ tablet daily for dogs under 10lbs; 1-2 tablets daily for dogs over 10lbs. For pregnant, nursing, sick and convalescing dogs under 10lbs: 1 tablet daily; over 10lbs: 2 tablets daily.
NaturVet VitaPet Adult Daily Vitamins are recommended by veterinarians and have been scientifically formulated to provide a full spectrum of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients for dogs over one year old. Their complete formula makes them ideally suited to supplement the diet of pregnant and nursing dogs who have greater nutritional requirements, as well as particularly active or working dogs.
The product provides effective support for a healthier coat, skin and claws; a boost to energy levels; and improved digestion and immunity. The time-release formulation ensures a stow and steady release into the system, allowing improved absorption and greater benefit from the active ingredients included.
Containing 100% pure salmon oil from wild Alaskan Salmon, Grizzly’s All-Natural Dog Food Supplement for pregnant dogs is a hugely popular and natural fish oil supplement that brings a variety of benefits to all dogs, not least pregnant and nursing females. The high levels of helps boost your dog’s immune system, improves mobility and decreases pain and stiffness especially in arthritic joints and promotes a shining, healthy coat. It also supports a healthy heart and balances the functioning of the kidneys.
The liquid formula makes this product easy to administer to even the most cautious of dogs, while allowing the body to absorb its goodness faster than tablet form. However, the strong fishy odor may be off-putting to some canines.
Product Type: Pump Dispenser
Active Ingredients: Arachidonic Fatty Acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6, high levels of EPA and DHA, antioxidants such as Rosemary Extract.
Suitable For: Dogs of all sizes, ages and breeds, highly recommended for pregnant and lactating dogs, as well as those with food insensitivities, intolerances and allergies. Also beneficial for cats.
Administration: As with all supplements, introduce into the diet gradually. Feed by spraying lightly over food. Dosage is based on the dog’s weight, from ½ to 1 pump for dogs up to 12.5lbs to 7-8 pumps for dogs over 75lbs. Halve the smallest recommended dosage for puppies.
From time to time, all dogs may experience stress in unfamiliar situations; some dogs exhibit nervousness, hyperactivity or aggression during thunderstorms, in crowded spaces or when left alone (separation anxiety). It’s especially essential to keep your pet calm and stress-free throughout her pregnancy, both for her own health and that of her puppies.
Zesty Paws Calming Soft Chews work to relieve the symptoms of anxiety through the administration of natural, organic ingredients including Suntheanine®, a pure form of L-Theanine, which promotes relaxation. The formula is non-drowsy and turkey-flavored, tasty enough to tempt any dog.
Tomlyn NutriCal Puppy Dietary Supplement is ideal for pups that are ill, off their food or fussy eaters. The product is rich in calories at 28kcal per teaspoon, and is designed to supplement the diet while stimulating the appetite. It’s intended for short term use only, but can help give a boost to puppies suffering from stress and separation anxiety (if removed prematurely from the nursing mother) or sickness. It’s also recommended for pregnant dogs to address the growing calorific requirement as her pups develop.
It comes in a gel form rather than the more usual chewy treat or tablet, making it easy to administer to even the smallest puppy. Specially formulated by veterinarians, this dietary supplement is tasty as well as being high in the nutrition your pups need for their energy requirements.
Product Type: Gel
Active Ingredients: Cod Liver Oil, Dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Riboflavin 5′ Phosphate Sodium (Source Of Vitamin B2 And Phosphorus), Vitamin A Palmitate And D Supplement, Folic Acid, Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12), Omega-3 fatty acids.
Suitable for: Puppies, pregnant female dogs
Administration: Smear a small amount of gel on the nose or mouth to accustom the puppy to its flavor. Subsequent dosage is ¼ – ⅓ teaspoon per pound of body weight daily.
Pet MD Canine Tabs Plus are a natural, one-a-day supplement for pregnant dogs, rich in vitamins and minerals which increase energy levels and promote health in dogs. Ideal for pregnant and nursing dogs that need a nutritional boost, these tablets also contain levels of protein from a high quality source (liver powder) in order to support a healthy skin and coat; and to promote and rebuild tissues and muscles. They’re easy for your pet to digest and the tasty flavor makes feeding them these tablets a breeze.
Produced in regulated manufacturing facilities in the US in small batches to maintain freshness and quality, they’ve also been tested as safe from harmful microbiological pathogens such as EColi, Salmonella, Yeast, Staphlococcus Aureus and Coliforms.
Product Type: Chewable Tablets
Active Ingredients: Iron, zinc, manganese and copper; vitamins A, D3, E, B6 and B12; antioxidants.
Suitable for: All ages, sizes and breeds of dogs, especially recommended for pregnant dogs, active puppies, ageing or working dogs.
Administration: As a treat just before feeding or can be broken up and sprinkled over food. For dogs under 10lbs, ½ tablet daily, for dogs over 10lbs, 1 tablet daily.
Cranberry Bladder Bites from Zesty Paws are designed to assist with urinary tract problems in dogs. Organic Marshmallow Root and Astralagus are the ingredients that can help flush any build-up of toxins from the bladder and kidneys. Cran-Max Cranberry Concentrate is also added to provide antioxidants that balance urinary pH levels to support proper function of the bladder (preventing urinary tract infections), aid digestion and boost the immune system.
The product also contains Vitamin C antioxidants, which help promote healthy skin and a stronger immune system. The supplement is suitable for longer term and daily use, and is entirely free from corn, wheat, artificial colors or preservatives, so even the most sensitive or intolerant digestions can benefit.
Product Type: Chewable Treats
Active Ingredients: Organic Marshmallow Root, Astralagus, Organic Licorice Root, Nettle Seed Herb, D Mannose, Cranberry Concentrate.
Suitable for: dogs of any age, breed or size
Administration: By weight, 1 soft chew per day for dogs 0-25lbs; 2 per day for dogs 26-75lbs; 3 per day for dogs 76lbs+.
While your pet is pregnant, she may suffer from uncomfortable digestive issues from time to time. The digestive system of any dog or cat can also be affected by prescribed antibiotics; stressful events; food intolerances; or a diet that does not meet its nutritional needs. VetriScience Laboratories Mega Probiotic is designed to support the health of the digestive tract with eight strains of ‘good’ bacteria (probiotics) that supplement those naturally occurring in the gut.
In fact, this Mega Probiotic is said to contain around 5 billion microorganisms per capsule, which assist by normalizing digestion, encouraging regularity of bowel movements and boosting the immune system. In addition to preventing specific conditions and problems related to gas and bloating, these microorganisms also provide overall gastrointestinal, neurological and immunological support. The product contains no dairy, ideal for dogs with intolerances.
Suitable For: Dogs and cats with food intolerances or digestive upsets causing diarrhea, constipation and flatulence
Administration: Can be given directly, sprinkled on food or hidden in treats. Dosage is by weight: 1 capsule per day for dogs up to 40lbs, 2 per day for dogs 40lbs+, preferably after food. For cats, ½ capsule per day with food.
This multivitamin from Makondo is perfectly balanced to meet the needs of ageing or otherwise vulnerable dogs, notably those who are pregnant or nursing, and puppies. The formula is also suitable for cats, making it ideal for households with multiple pets! This daily vitamin supplement also includes multiminerals with Amino Acids along with natural components, all designed to complement and enhance the general health and wellbeing of pets, as well as improving energy levels and strengthening the immune system.
The product also enhances appetite, perfect for pregnant females who need to consume a regular daily diet to maintain the development and growth of healthy puppies. Altogether, this multivitamin offers top level support for muscles, joints and bones, eyesight, skin and coat, the reproductive and hormone production systems, the brain, heart and metabolism. The flavorsome beef liver taste will appeal to all small domestic animals.
Product Type: Chewable tablets
Active Ingredients: Multivitamin: Vitamins A, C, D3, E, B Complex ( B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 ); Multimineral: Calcium, Chloride, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Phosphorous, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, Sodium, Zinc; Amino Acids: Lysine, Methionine, Threonine, Cysteine
Suitable For: Pregnant pets, ageing dogs and cats, puppies and kittens.
Administration: As a treat or can be sprinkled over food. Dosage is by weight: ½ tablet daily for pets up to 10lbs; 1 tablet for pets between 10 and 50lbs; 2 tablets for animals over 50lbs.
Supplements such as those above can perfectly complement a diet of high quality dog food in pregnant and nursing females, as well as assisting in addressing specific requirements such as a loss of appetite or an existing medical condition. Which you choose to give your dog will very much depend on her own individual needs. It’s always worth seeking your veterinarian’s advice when you first find out your dog is expecting, and of course at regular intervals throughout the pregnancy, especially if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Below, we answer some of the more frequently asked questions about dogs in pregnancy.
What Are the Early Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy in Dogs?
As noted, female dogs do not really gain much weight in the first half of their pregnancies, so this may not provide the visual clue you need! However, if you’re aware your dog has mated and are alert to possible signs, you may notice some or all of the following:
Behavioral changes, such as increased territorialism, ‘nesting’, lethargy and above average sleepiness;
A larger appetite than usual;
Enlarged nipples and/ or a firm abdomen;
Clear discharge from the vagina and/ or more frequent urination.
Like humans, some dogs also suffer from morning sickness, which is caused by the changes in the hormones and hormone levels in her body. Unlike many humans, though, this morning sickness doesn’t last long – only a few days! Look for it around the third or fourth week, when she may vomit, act tired and listless and lose her appetite for a day or two. If this persists for longer than a week, though, it’s important to seek your vet’s advice.
Does My Pregnant Dog Need Supplements?
Unsurprisingly, a pregnancy places increased demands on a dog’s nutritional requirements. Many of these can be ordinarily addressed through feeding her the usual high quality food, but especially from around day 35, her calorific intake and weight gain will increase.
Towards the end of your pet’s pregnancy, the puppies will have grown to such an extent that she will have little space left in her abdomen to take in her usual quantities of food. It’s advisable to feed her little and often during this late stage, so she can consume sufficient to keep her going without becoming uncomfortable. While she’s nursing her pups after the birth, huge demands are placed on the body by lactation.
Many owners therefore choose to fortify pregnant dogs’ diets with supplements to address these increased needs. And of course, young puppies, older dogs and any canines with pre-existing medical conditions will also benefit from the boost offered by such formulas.