In this article you will find:
- Nutritional Requirements Leading to Your Female Dog’s First Pregnancy
- What Are Some Nutritional Issues That Can Affect a Dog’s Pregnancy?
- The Best Foods For Pregnant Dogs
- Reviewed best dog foods for pregnant dogs
- Diet & Nutrition for Your Dog’s Healthy Pregnancy
- What Should Be Included in a Pregnant Dog’s Diet?
- Diet & Nutrition for a Lactating Dog
- Best Food For Pregnant Dog – The Takeaway
- What should I feed my pregnant dog?
- What should a pregnant dog not eat?
- Can I give my pregnant dog milk?
- Is it normal for pregnant dogs to not eat?
Do pregnant dogs need to eat more than non-pregnant adult dogs?
It might be easier to assume that they do since they are also feeding their puppies inside their tummies, but in reality, what matters most is that they get balanced nutrition from eating high quality dog food.
And in this article, we will talk about the best food for pregnant dog to be sure that your mama dog is getting the best nutrition during this special, but delicate time of her life.
Here at DogFood.Guide we have a dedicated mission to provide dog owners like you with well-researched information so they can provide the best care and nutrition to their dogs.
Our readers rely upon the dog food reviews, articles and recall alerts that we research and publish. We also routinely update and review our own reviews ensuring that any changes by manufacturers are brought to your attention.
DogFood.Guide is maintained by Mary Nielsen & her staff. Mary is an animal lover of both dogs and cats. She and her staff are passionate about animals and work hard to provide you with a wealth of information for you and your dog.
Nutritional Requirements Leading to Your Female Dog’s First Pregnancy
Nutrition plays an important role in a dog’s chance to be pregnant. It prepares a young adult dog’s body for successful breeding and pregnancy. And that’s why as pet parents, we should not let our dogs eat as much or as little as they want.
A malnourished dog – both under and over – is more predisposed to suffering the consequences of reproduction. Moreover, her puppies are also most likely to experience some health issues and difficulties while inside her tummy, and even after birth.
Each of the stages of reproduction brings forth its stressors to your dog’s body, and each stage demands specific nutritional concerns that must be met to ensure the health of both your mama dog and her puppies.
From the moment an adult female dog is in heat, to the first few weeks of her pregnancy, until he nurses her puppies, and weans them from her milk, you must provide your pup with the optimum nutrition from the best dog food for pregnant dogs, such as the ones featured in the list below.
OUR TOP 3 PICKS FOR BEST FOODS FOR PREGNANT DOG
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What Are Some Nutritional Issues That Can Affect a Dog’s Pregnancy?
Obesity is one of the leading health issues of dogs in the reproductive age. On the surface, it may seem like a trivial problem since it is very much common to many dogs.
However, it is different when obesity hits your dog during this stage, especially if you are getting her ready to get pregnant.
Obesity can increase the intervals between the heat (estrus) cycles of adult dogs, which can ultimately lead to decreased lifetime reproductive capacity.
Additionally, obesity can decrease the number of eggs released by ovulating dogs, which can cause smaller litter sizes.
Obesity can also increase a pregnant dog’s chances of having dystocia or difficulty in delivering her puppies.
Finally, obesity can decrease milk production and have negative effects on the puppies’ health, growth, and development.
To avoid all of these problems, an overweight dog must reach a healthy weight before breeding.
The Best Foods For Pregnant Dogs
Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food
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Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula
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ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Recipe
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The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe
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Blue Buffalo Homestyle Puppy Recipe
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Reviewed best dog foods for pregnant dogs
- Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food
- Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula
- ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Recipe
- The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe
- Blue Buffalo Homestyle Puppy Recipe
1. Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food
Although by-far the priciest option on this list, Nom Nom's fresh pet food contains quality that cannot be beaten.
Nom Nom recipes are designed by veterinarians and use the freshest ingredients to ensure your dog will gain all the nutrients it needs for nursing her pups and live a long, happy life.
Nom Nom allows you to design a custom meal plan on their website and will optimize it by knowing your dog's breed, sex, and weight. Once you've picked a meal plan, you will begin to receive frozen meals direct to your door every two weeks.
This ease-of-use makes it ideal for owners who don't have the time to prepare dog food themselves but still want to give their dog a luxury experience. Meal options include Tasty Turkey Fare, Heartland Beef Mash, Pork Potluck, & Chicken Cuisine.
The simplicity of Nom Nom's ingredients makes it a great option for dogs with sensitive stomachs. It does not include artificial flavors or filler ingredients such as soy, corn, and wheat.
By keeping the formula small, there are fewer ingredients that could trigger an allergic reaction. This is very advantageous for lactating moms as we don't want them to encounter any allergies nor any discomfort for that matter.
Despite having limited ingredients, Nom Nom contains levels of protein and fat that are higher than its competitors. This is great for your dog's bone, muscle, reproductive health and overall immune system health.
The food contains 60% moisture, which makes it a lot easier for dogs with sensitive stomachs to digest and helps them stay hydrated whilst eating the meal.
Most importantly, dogs love eating Nom Nom. This is due to the high-quality ingredients used that allow it to be classified as human-grade food.
As the food is more hydrated, it has a much more attractive aroma to dogs (although not as overpowering as canned wet dog food).
Nom Nom is therefore perfect for even the pickiest of dogs. We believe it to be the best dog food on the market, it's just a shame that the price will be a barrier to a lot of dog owners.
2. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula
Taste of the Wild High Prairie with Roasted Bison and Roasted Venison is a grain-free high protein diet ideal for pregnant and lactating dogs.
It is formulated using real meat from Water Buffalo as the #1 ingredient, followed by lamb meal and sweet potatoes.
It's loaded with 28% crude protein, 17% crude fat, and enriched with the essential nutrients and omega fatty acids needed by an expectant mama dog to keep herself and her puppies healthy throughout pregnancy and after delivery.
This delicious meal is also packed with 5% highly digestible fiber that is especially needed during the final weeks of pregnancy as the tummy gets bigger due to the growing puppies in utero and thus limiting the space in the stomach.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dry Dog Food is also made without grains, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, or artificial additives.
3. ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Recipe
With 38% crude protein, 20% crude fat, and 6% crude fiber, this premium kibble is definitely an excellent value for your money. And with a trusted brand like Orijen, you know that your mother dog and her puppies are in good hands.
This dry food recipe is crafted with free range chicken and turkey, wild-caught or sustainably farmed fish, and cage-free eggs.
It also contains calcium, and phosphorus to support the growing bones of the fetuses, and aid with milk production during lactation.
And it is packed with DHA, omega fatty acids to promote brain health, heart health, and overall health and wellness of both the mother dog and her puppies.
To top it all, the kibbles are freeze-dried coated to add a burst of flavor with every bite. And this recipe is gluten-free and is made in the USA using only the finest ingredients, and without a single trace of grains, corn, wheat, or soy.
4. The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe
Dogs are not the only ones who can be picky; we, their pet parents can be picky, too, for good reasons. And for some dog owners, even the premium commercial best dog food just doesn’t cut.
If this is the case with you, then, The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Dog Food might just be the one that you are looking for your pregnant dog and the growing puppies inside her tummy.
This human grade (no animal feed products) pet food is made using high quality ingredients, such as dehydrated chicken, organic oats, organic barley, organic flaxseed, and dehydrated potatoes.
It is richer in protein and calories than other commercial dog foods, and it meets all the nutritional requirements established by the AAFCO.
5. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Puppy Recipe
Adding variation in your dog’s diet will always be helpful at every life stage to keep her appetite strong and prevent boredom in her diet.
And you can do that by incorporating a full meal using canned dog food at least two to three times a week. You can also use the canned food as toppers on your dog’s favorite kibbles, or as a reward in between meals.
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables canned food is crafted using wholesome, healthy ingredients, and with real chicken as the first ingredient.
It’s also formulated along with easily digestible fiber sources such as carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes.
This pate-style dog food is also fortified with DHA, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids to support the brain, eye, and cognitive development of both the mother dog and her puppies.
This recipe is also enriched with all the essential vitamins and minerals needed by a pregnant dog, and it is made without corn, wheat, soy, and artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Diet & Nutrition for Your Dog’s Healthy Pregnancy
A dog’s pregnancy usually lasts for 60 to 64 days, and it is divided into trimesters. A healthy, well-nourished pregnant dog will gain about 15 to 20% from her pre-pregnant weight.
And as mentioned earlier, overfeeding can lead to a difficult pregnancy and delivery, and can also compromise the health and safety of the puppies.
In contrast, underweight pregnant dogs and those who are not receiving enough nutrition are at risk of losing their embryos and having spontaneous abortion or stillbirth.
Underfeeding pregnant dogs can also cause abnormal fetal development, a small number of litters, and puppies with low birth weight that fail to thrive.
The nutritional requirements of pregnant dogs during the first and second trimesters are essentially the same as those of a young adult female dog.
And with the complications mentioned above, it’s clear that underweight dogs can experience more serious problems during pregnancy that won’t just affect them but also their puppies.
Hence, it is crucial that you always monitor your dog’s weight and increase her food intake if needed, to be sure that she won’t lose weight during this critical time.
The puppies inside a dog’s tummy experience their fastest growth during the last trimester, which can add to the burden carried by the expectant mother dog.
Between 6 to 8 weeks of gestation, the expectant mom will need the highest amount of energy from her diet. Her energy requirement will go anywhere between 30 to 60% (depending on the size of her litter) higher than a normal non-pregnant dog.
However, since this is the last few weeks of her pregnancy, the challenge is that the puppies take up much of the space in her abdomen leaving just a little space for food in her GI tract.
So, to address her increased energy needs despite the limited space in her tummy, an easily digestible, high-quality puppy food is usually recommended.
Additionally, instead of giving her huge portions each meal, you should do small frequent feedings or multiple small meals that are distributed throughout the day.
This way, she can still get adequate calorie intake and balanced nutrition despite the limited space in her stomach which results from the pressure brought by the growing puppies inside her womb.
What Should Be Included in a Pregnant Dog’s Diet?
Pregnant dogs and dogs that are being prepared for breeding should be on high-quality food with roughly 30% animal protein and 20% fat.
Their diet should also be enriched with omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, and folic acid to increase their chances of having a successful pregnancy, increase live births, and support fetal growth and development.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, as her energy requirement increases, you may switch your pregnant dog to a higher calorie diet until her puppies are weaned from her. For dog owners who use commercial dog foods, this is equivalent to premium puppy foods.
As always, you should introduce this wet and/or dry puppy food gradually the way you would do each time you switch your dog to a new food. And you’ll do it until it’s the only dog food she is taking around the final week of pregnancy.
Moreover, you should remember not to give puppy food for large breeds as this won’t have the nutrient profile that she needs during this stage.
In particular, food designed for large breed dogs won’t have the accurate balance of calcium and phosphorus, which is crucial in supporting the growing bones of the fetuses, as well as in promoting milk production during lactation.
Diet & Nutrition for a Lactating Dog
Lactating dogs need more energy than pregnant and whelping dogs, with their highest energy requirement reaching up to 2-4 times more calories than that of a normal adult dog. And they usually reach this peak at around 3 to 5 weeks after giving birth.
Lactating dogs will return to their usual energy requirement before they were pregnant by about 8 weeks after delivery. This is also the time when their puppies are completely weaned from them already.
Just like during the final weeks of pregnancy, a nursing dog should also consume highly digestible puppy food with high quality ingredients. The mother dog can eat on her schedule, and as much as she wants during the first three to four weeks of lactation.
Free-choice feeding can encourage a nursing dog to produce more milk than she needs, which can potentially lead to mastitis if her puppies can’t consume the milk from her breasts.
Hence, free-choice feeding is not recommended when a lactating dog is only nursing one or two puppies. Puppies can start sampling solid food at about three weeks of age, and this also marks the start of their weaning stage.
As a pet parent, you can help stop the mother dog’s milk production by separating the puppies to their mother and enticing them to feast on puppy food moistened with warm water on a shallow pan.
Best Food For Pregnant Dog – The Takeaway
Pregnancy is a special, yet stressful and delicate moment for mother dogs and their unborn puppies.
They must be well-fed, but not over and underfed, with a diet rich in protein, healthy fats, highly digestible fibers, and enriched with all the essential vitamins and minerals.
Our recommendations in this list are based on facts and customer experiences, but we don’t intend to provide veterinary advice, which can only be given by your trusted veterinarian.
Hence, whether your dog has an underlying health condition while carrying her puppies or not, it’s best to seek veterinary guidance to ensure that there are no stones left unturned as far as their health and safety are concerned.
What should I feed my pregnant dog?
Just like the third trimester of pregnancy, feeding during lactation is best accomplished using a highly digestible, high quality puppy food. Free-choice feeding during the first 3-4 weeks of lactation, unless she only has one or two puppies, provides many advantages.
What should a pregnant dog not eat?
Raw diets are not recommended for pregnant or lactating dogs. A high quality maintenance dog food is usually sufficient for most dogs and you should avoid feeding your dog additional vitamins or supplements unless your veterinarian advises otherwise.
Can I give my pregnant dog milk?
Feeding your dog a puppy formula from week 6 of her pregnancy will help her to stay strong, and also passes nutrients to their puppies through the milk. Your dog should be introduced to the new food in stages, to allow their tummy time to adjust.
Is it normal for pregnant dogs to not eat?
Pregnant dogs lose their appetite for three to 10 days during their third week of pregnancy. It is normal for pregnant dogs to stop eating or eat significantly less, in the 24 to 48 hours before their puppies are born.