What to Feed a Pregnant Dog?

Key points

  • Once a dog gets pregnant, its nutritional needs change. They also become different once again as the pet starts nursing her puppies;
  • Dry food is a good choice for feeding a pregnant dog since it provides all the necessary nutrients without taking up a lot of space in the stomach;
  • A nursing dog has to drink enough water to produce milk and increase metabolism.

When your dog is expecting puppies, it is an exciting situation for you and your four-legged friend. However, one thing you should pay extra attention to in the coming period is your pregnant pet’s food.

After all, the future mother has to look not only after herself but also after her unborn offspring. Therefore, the better you adapt the diet to the needs of your pregnant dog, the more likely it is that the pregnancy will go smoothly and that the puppies will have a good start to what will hopefully be a long and happy dog life.

Dog Food For Different Stages Of Pregnancy

black short coat dog on snow covered ground during daytime

First weeks

Once you find out your dog is pregnant, your goal for the first weeks is to maintain her healthy weight. The maximum weight gain during this time should be no more than 10%.

The pet won’t have an increased need for nutrients until the end of the 6th week of pregnancy. The unborn puppies, however, are very reliant on the mother’s food. A lack of trace elements and vitamins in the diet can lead to malformation of the fetuses. This is why it is essential to feed your pregnant bitch high-quality food that contains all the necessary minerals and vitamins in a balanced ratio.

Week 6 and onward

Starting at the 6th week of pregnancy, your dog’s body will begin storing more fat (which is vital for milk production) and the increasing supply of nutrients to the unborn puppies. Simultaneously, the space in your dog’s stomach will decrease since the fetuses start to occupy more of the abdomen. That is why it is crucial to adjust your dog’s feeding regime during this time by giving it smaller meals 4-6 times a day.

At this stage of pregnancy, the dog’s energy requirement increases, therefore, you should also increase the amount of food she eats by 10% every week. The most common nutritional error in pregnant bitches is the lack of protein in dog food. This can result in the puppies being born underweight. Make sure that the pet food you choose contains at least 29% protein and 17% fat. The ideal pet food for pregnant dogs will also be high in soluble carbohydrates and low in fiber.

Minerals such as phosphorus and calcium are vital for puppy bone formation. Therefore, you should choose pet food that contains 1-1.8% calcium and .8 and 1.6% phosphorus.

However, you should be very cautious with the diet. If your dog is expecting many puppies, an extra energy and nutrient boost will be suitable for her. But if the dog is expecting only 2-3 puppies, it might cause health problems instead of helping.

Weeks 6-9 of pregnancy

This is the time when you need to transition your bitch from her regular diet onto a puppy formula. However, this transition has to be very slow to avoid irritating the mom’s tummy. Compared to adult food, puppy food has a higher content of calories, protein, and certain vitamins and minerals. Puppy food is also more nutritionally dense than food for adult dogs.

brown short coated dog on gray couch

Since unborn puppies are actively developing and growing during this time, it’s important to gradually increase the amount of food the pregnant mother receives. Starting at week 6, you should increase your pet’s daily food intake by 10%. Keep in mind that the fetuses take up a lot of space in the stomach, and there is often not enough space for food. That is why you should continue feeding your pet at least 3-4 times a day.

Even if your pet usually eats a natural or wet pet food diet, consider switching it to dry food during this period, as wet food takes up a lot more space in the stomach.

It’s also important to remember that a pregnant dog has to stay hydrated. So make sure your pet’s water bowl is always filled with fresh, clean drinking water. This will also be important during lactation.

Feeding A Pregnant Dog Before Labor

Since by week 9, labor is just around the corner, feeding your dog a complete, nutritionally balanced diet. Pet food for growth or lactation will be the best choice.

Feeding A Nursing Dog

You should always make sure that your pet has free access to fresh water during the breastfeeding phase. Water is essential both for milk production and for the increased metabolism of the lactating bitch. The dog shouldn’t lose more than 5-10% of her normal body weight during this period.

A nursing dog naturally has much higher energy requirements, so you should adjust the pet’s diet accordingly. Usually, you need to increase the amount of food a nursing dog consumes gradually for 4 weeks after the pet gives birth. The amount of food your pet will need will depend on the size of her litter, so it’s best to consult your vet for feeding advice.

If a nursing dog doesn’t consume enough nutrients, it can cause her to become exhausted and emaciated, so you should always take the matter seriously.

Supplements For Pregnant Dogs

white and blue medication pill on pink textile

If you provide your pregnant dog with a complete and balanced diet, there is no need to supplement it with prenatal vitamins. However, if your vet prescribes them, it is better to follow that advice. At the same time, you should avoid giving your pet supplements without talking to a vet because they can sometimes be harmful. For example, over-supplementation of calcium can suppress the dog’s parathyroid gland, which plays a key role in maintaining calcium balance in the body. This can lead to the dog developing eclampsia.

If you look for a complete and nutritious diet for your pregnant bitch, consider trying insect-based pet food manufactured by Petcan. This dry food can provide your dog with all the necessary protein, fats, and minerals, while simultaneously being sustainable and good for the Earth.


What is the best dog food to feed a pregnant dog?

The food you feed a pregnant dog has to be very nutritionally dense since the pet’s stomach space will decrease during pregnancy. Puppy food is an excellent option for dogs in the late stages of pregnancy.

What can a nursing dog eat to increase milk?

Milk thistle, zinc, and apricots are among the products that might help to increase milk production in a pregnant dog.

Are eggs good for nursing dogs?

Yes, eggs are non-toxic for dogs, and they are considered to be a great source of protein. But you should avoid feeding raw eggs because they are not suitable for dogs.