What and How to Feed Pregnant and Nursing Dogs (2023)

Pregnant dogs require a lot of careand attention.

One of the most crucial aspects to focus on is your pregnant dog's diet. But what to feed a pregnant dog, and then what to feed a nursing dog?

Knowing this and what foods to include in the diet during the gestation period and after the birth can help your dog have a full and healthy litter.

Prepare for Dog Pregnancy

Preparing for your dog's pregnancy involves more than simply knowing what nutritional requirements your dog needs.

Here's afull dog pregnancy guideI would recommend you read.

In the end, if you want to breed your female dog, assessing her body condition in advance is important.

Physical demands that come with pregnancy and nursing can be hard for dogs who are not in perfect or at least good health.

Even if your dog is underweight or overweight, it can cause some problems in pregnancy.

Underweight dogscan have a problem with eating enough food to support the nutritional needs of their puppies and herself at the same time.

Overweight dogs can have difficult labor.

That is why a balanced diet fed in appropriate amounts is important before the breeding.

Get your dog in good shape for the pregnancy, and you can avoid many health issues.

We will go through what kind of diet a dog going through pregnancy needs.

We will also answer what you should feed them once they deliver the healthy puppies.

ALSO READ:How to Identify False Pregnancy in Dogs

What to Feed a Pregnant Dog

A diet for pregnant dogs needs to be nutritionally rich and feeding your dog properly during pregnancy can help you avoid problems likeeclampsia(low blood calcium) or even smaller litters and a higher risk of puppy death.

The diet will determine if the dog's pregnancy goes well and if she has healthy puppies.

Timing and amount of food will also differ.

Dietary Guidelines

Before you structure your pet's diet, be aware of all thedog pregnancy stages.

The gestation period for dogs is 9 weeks and during that time, you will have to modify your dog's diet depending on the week she's in.

(Video) Canine Health Facts : What to Feed a Pregnant Dog

Dog food from a commercial brand will do just fine, but just make sure it is a high-quality diet.

Make sure she is eating food that has higher than normal soluble carbohydrates. Your dog's food intake needs to provide adequate nutrition to prevent her blood sugar from dipping too low during pregnancy.

For the first 4 weeks, you can feed your dog the way you normally would with regular meals, without increasing the amount of food.

After that, by week 5, you should increase the amount of food in your pregnant dog's diet by20-30%.

She needs to consume enough calories to maintain adequate energy intake for both your mama dog and the puppies.

By week 6, her puppies will begin to grow and your dog's stomach capacity will shrink.

That means that you need to start feeding her more often, in smaller amounts.

Three times a day should be the minimum, but you can also do it 4-5 times a day. However, you should also continue to gradually increase the amount of food given.

By week 8, pregnant dogs need around 50% more food than before their pregnancy.

She will need it in the coming weeks because the dog's weight needs to be maintained since she will decrease food intake in the coming week.

A pregnant dog's weight is crucial during the whelping period and during lactation for healthy milk production.

Due to incoming labor, in the last week of pregnancy, she will start refusing food and eating less.

Some bitches eat about 25% less than in the previous week and for the last couple of days, many of them will stop eating altogether.

You must always keep in mind what to feed a pregnant dog and the exact formulas or recipes you use. If you are feeding your pet commercial dog foods during pregnancy, look for highly digestible foods or evensensitive stomach dog foods.

This can help her get the most nutrition from her food with little risk.

Premium quality dog foods are particularly good for dogs in the last three weeks of pregnancy and after labor.

Know what to feed a nursing dog to sustain the mother's milk production.

When the mama dog's diet has proper nutrition, it increases her chances of a healthy delivery.

She will use those nutritional reserves that you've been feeding her, so the next few weeks of feeding weak puppies go smoothly.

Your pooch will lose weight after birth, but her nutritional needs will increase.

Depending on the size of the litter, nursing dogs might need 2-3 times their normal food requirements to sustain their pups.

(Video) What to feed pregnant/ nursing dogs

You also need to make sure that your dog always has water at her disposal and that she drinks plenty of it since that can help her generate more milk to feed the litter.

Important Nutrients

It's always best to discuss with your vet what you should feed your dog before you set up a diet.

But keep in mind that in different stages of her pregnancy, your dog will require different amounts of food; the nutrient needs will differ slightly.

If you're making homemade dog food yourself instead of using commercial kibble, then focus on foods that your pooch prefers to ensure she continues eating enough.


Protein is a vital source of amino acids for your dog and that is important for her in order to support the healthy development of her puppies.

Try to feed your dog high-quality protein during pregnancy and nursing.

Best source of protein for dogs is meat, so focus on chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and fish (as long as she's not allergic to any of these ingredients).

Eggs and dairy products are also good secondary sources of quality protein.


Higher demand for calories can be satisfied by increasing your dog's fat intake. This should particularly be done by week 6 of gestation.

By that time, you should increase the intake of red meats with higher fat content, and decrease the intake of lean meat or white meat.

That means sticking to beef, lamb or pork would be the optimal choice.

Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for your dog because they aid the development of fetal brain and nerves.

They are also good for the eyesight.

The best sources of omega-3 acids are fish like salmon, but you can also includefish oil supplementsin your dog's diet.


Important vitamins for a pregnant dog include vitamin C, vitamin D and folate, which is also known as the B9 vitamin.Vitamin C can help aid the uptake of iron into your dog's system, but it also helps with tissue building and can support theimmune system. Most fruits, vegetables and organ meats are high in vitamin C.

Vitamin D helps with the proper calcium absorption. Some of the vitamin D rich foods are salmon and canned mackerel, as well as dairy products and eggs.

Folate has a big role in stopping multiple birth defects.

Pork, poultry and liver are good sources of folate, but you need to be careful with the liver since it is also rich in vitamin A, which can harm the fetus in high doses.

Large dogs shouldn't ingest more than 5,000 mg of vitamin A daily, medium dogs more than 2,000 and small dogs more than 1,000 mg.


Even though all minerals are important, calcium, iron and phosphorous are the most required minerals for dogs during pregnancy and nursing.

Iron can help a lot in the formation of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia, which is common during dog's pregnancy.

(Video) How To Feed A Pregnant Dog! Tips For Picky Eater Dog Food!

Meat products like beef and pork, as well as organ meats like beef heart, liver and kidneys are the best sources of iron.

Calcium is needed for tooth and bone development in the fetus. Calcium is even more important for nursing dogs to produce more milk.

The best sources of calcium are meaty bones. However, you should avoid feeding your dog bones after week 7 until after labor because that may lead to some health problems likeuterine inertia.

Phosphorous can also support the bone development in puppies, and prevent bone health problems in the pregnant dog as the body will draw calcium from her bones if none is available from food sources.

The best sources of phosphorous are all animal tissues, as well as eggs and fish.

RELATED:7 Tips on How to Prepare for Your Dog's Pregnancy

Structuring Pregnant Dog's Diet

Planning out what pregnant dogs need to eat and what they need to produce more milk is no different than planning your dog's normal diet.

Consult with a vet, and make sure to follow some simple guidelines.

Pregnant and nursing dog's diet should be well-balanced, with increased amount of food, and you may need to change feeding times.

Foods to Include

Ensure your dog gets plenty ofhigh quality meat.

You can give your dog raw meat on the bone during pregnancy, or minced meat with bone in it.

This will get her necessary protein, fats and calcium.

Beef is probably the best choice.

Also, add more organ meats to her diet since they are the most nutrient dense foods.

Remember to include even more bones and organ meats after your dog's pregnancy.

Eggs are a great source of protein and minerals, and you should add one egg to every homemade pregnant dog food meal that you make.

Dairy products like cheeses and yogurt may also be a regular part of your dog's diet.

A spoonful of yogurt can make your dog's meal tastier and provide her with some probiotics for better digestion.

Include healthy grains in your dog's diet because they are a great source of folate, fiber and iron, which are important for pregnant and nursing dogs.

Oats, flaxseeds and brown rice are particularly good grains to feed a pregnant dog.

(Video) How to feed a Female dog that is nursing

Fatty fish like salmon, as well as fish oil in general, should be included in your dog's diet because they are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Some holistic veterinarians claim that red raspberry can ease labor and help with speedy delivery.

It may also aid in milk production during lactation, so try to include it in your dog's diet.

Fennel may also be good for increased milk production.

Foods to Avoid

While omega-3s and fish oil are good, you should avoid cod liver oil because it is too rich in vitamin A.

Keep track of the amount of vitamin A you give to your pregnant dog from other foods, like fish, eggs, sweet potatoes and carrots.

Other than that, remember that you need to limit calcium intake during thelast 3 weeksof your dog's pregnancy.

Most other foods you would normally feed your dog are completely fine and should be included because variety is important in a diet for pregnant and nursing dogs; decreased appetite may soon become an issue.

Homemade Dog Food for Pregnant Dogs

When you know what to feed a pregnant or nursing dog to produce more milk specifically, you don't always have to stick to commercial dog food brands.

If you've consulted with your veterinarian and have a good idea of how to make nutritionally balanced homemade dog foods on a regular basis, this can be a great diet for pregnant and nursing dogs.

Just keep track of all nutrients and calories; it's crucial.

* Since most homemade dog food meals will be good for your pregnant dog, check outTop Dog Tips recipessection for more ideas on what you can cook for your pooch.

High-Calorie Beef Snacks

This recipe is high in calories, but it is also rich in other good nutrients and your dog will love the taste of it.


  • 1 pound of ground beef meat
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup of ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 1/8 oz. of creamed cheese
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon of molasses


The first thing to do is to cook the meat and scramble all the eggs.

Mix these two things together and add all the other ingredients.

Mix them all up thoroughly and form tablespoon-sized balls from the mix.

If you have a smaller dog, make the balls teaspoon sized.

Place all the balls on a cookie sheet and freeze them.

You can serve them at any time, after you get them defrosted.

Keep in mind that these are snacks and you shouldn't give more than three to your dog on a daily basis.

(Video) How I feed my dogs (weight gain, pregnant, nursing)

READ NEXT:15 Tips on Dog Pregnancy and Whelping to Help You Through the Process


What is the best food for pregnant and nursing dogs? ›

Raw goat's milk, raw honey, yogurt, or kefir are sure to boost your dog's energy levels. You can include meat in her next meals as well. Puppies have a pretty ravenous appetite during their three to four weeks, and your momma dog will have to keep up with their milk needs.

What do you feed a mother dog while nursing? ›

Most dog food prints recommended dosing for lactating mother dogs on the label. Make sure she always has access to hard kibble and fresh water because lactating dogs also tend to drink more than non-nursing dogs. Throughout the foster period, feed mom as much as she will eat – you cannot over feed a momma dog!

How much should a nursing mother dog eat? ›

Depending on litter size, nursing dogs might need two to three times their normal food requirement to nourish their pups. Be sure your nursing mom has plenty of water so they can generate the milk volume they need to feed the litter. During the entire pregnancy, you may notice your dog's interest in food fluctuate.

When should I start feeding my pregnant dog puppy food? ›

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 there anything you shouldn't feed a pregnant dog? ›

Do not feed a puppy food designed for large breed puppies as this will not have the correct calcium phosphorous balance to support the developing bones of the fetuses or healthy milk production in the mother. Folic acid and essential fatty acid supplementation may be beneficial to support developing fetuses.

Are sweet potatoes good for nursing dogs? ›

It's one of the few great sources of carbohydrates that are both nutritious and delicious. But is it safe to feed our canine friends? The short answer is yes, sweet potatoes are safe for dogs.

What homemade food should I feed my nursing dog? ›

Try to feed your dog high-quality protein during pregnancy and nursing. Best source of protein for dogs is meat, so focus on chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and fish (as long as she's not allergic to any of these ingredients). Eggs and dairy products are also good secondary sources of quality protein.

Are eggs good for nursing dogs? ›

Eggs are a great source of protein—an essential nutrient for nursing dogs, who need more protein than their adult counterparts. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals that can enrich your dog's milk, in turn benefiting her pups.

How do I know if my dog has enough milk for her puppies? ›

Answer: If the puppies are crying excessively, even after they have fed, your dog does not have enough milk.

How long can a nursing dog go without eating? ›

If otherwise healthy, most dogs can go about 3 to 5 days without eating food. Puppies and dogs who're pregnant, nursing, or suffering from underlying health problems may not be able to survive as long without food.

Can you overfeed a nursing puppy? ›

Cold formula, overly rapid feeding rates, and overfeeding can lead to regurgitation, aspiration, bloating, and diarrhea. If the orphaned puppy develops diarrhea, reduce the formula volume. It is better to slightly underfeed than to overfeed neonatal orphaned puppies.

What supplements do pregnant dogs need? ›

Folic acid is especially important in the early stages as it's crucial for puppy development - while iodine, calcium, iron and all vitamins A, D, E, K, C and the B family will also prove important both during and after the dog's pregnancy.

Is scrambled egg good for pregnant dogs? ›

Yes. Eggs are good for dogs to eat. Of course, they are rich in protein, but aside from that, eggs are also a good source of linoleic acid and fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A.

Is tuna good for pregnant dogs? ›

Can puppies and pregnant dogs eat tuna? Weaned puppies and pregnant dogs can benefit from the extra lean protein found in tuna in addition to their regular diet. Light tuna (tuna canned in water) can be offered in small amounts as a treat or as part of a balanced home-cooked diet.

How many meals a day should a pregnant dog have? ›

A useful rule of thumb is feeding an extra 10% energy per week until birth. To ensure she is able to eat this, particularly with the smaller amount of stomach space, you should start to offer the food in little and often meals, rather than two large meals per day. Feeding dry or wet is an important consideration.

Can pregnant dog eat banana? ›

Bananas provide a great source of vitamins and minerals that benefit pregnant dogs and their puppies. Bananas are packed full of nutrients like Vitamin C, B6, Potassium, and Magnesium, and they are high in Fiber, which can help boost a pregnant dog's immune system.

Is Oatmeal good for dogs to eat? ›

It is a great alternative carbohydrate for dogs that may be sensitive to wheat or grains.” Oatmeal contains vitamin B, which helps maintain a healthy coat, and linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that helps to maintain the strength of dogs' skin.

How do I keep my whelping box clean? ›

Clean the bottom with a chemical-free disinfectant cleanser.

Spray a bit of chemical-free disinfectant cleanser on the bottom and sides of your whelping box, and use a paper towel to wipe this up. If there are any particularly dirty areas, you may want to go over them more than once.

Can nursing dogs eat pineapple? ›

Yes, pineapple is safe for dogs to eat so long as it's served in reasonable portions. This tangy fruit can be a great addition to your dog's diet, especially if they have skin allergies.

Can nursing dogs eat cucumbers? ›

Cucumbers are perfectly safe for dogs to eat, and offer a low-calorie, crunchy snack that many dogs love.

Is tuna good for nursing dogs? ›

So we would recommend that you limit your dog's tuna intake. This is especially true is they are pregnant or lactating, purely to be on the safe side.

Is cheese good for nursing dogs? ›

Feeding Nursing Dog Cottage Cheese

Vets say that excessive calcium intake during nursing is bad for the mamma dog. Giving your pet too much calcium while they are nursing could suppress parathyroid hormone production and increase the risk of low blood calcium levels.

Is yogurt good for nursing dogs? ›

The answer is yes, depending on its ingredients. Yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, all of which boost your dog's immune system and help them get over an upset stomach.

Can a nursing dog drink milk? ›

Healthy infant puppies have no trouble digesting their mother's milk, but adult dogs are often unable to digest lactose, milk's naturally occurring sugar. The lactose in cow's milk is blamed for diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, bloating, flatulence, and other symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.

How many hours do puppies drink milk from their mother? ›

Puppies less than two weeks of age should be fed every 3-4 hours. Puppies two to four weeks of age do well with feedings every 6-8 hours. Weaning, as described below, should begin at three to four weeks of age.

How long should a newborn puppy nurse in one sitting? ›

Puppies: Puppies should nurse vigorously and compete for nipples. Newborns can nurse up to 45 minutes at a time. Be sure to watch puppies nursing at least once a day, if the mother will permit it.

How do you know if your dog is feeding enough? ›

Look at your dog if their waist is extremely exaggerated instead of a gradual slope your dog might be underfed. If you can see or feel the ribs and they don't seem to have any fat on them your dog is probably underfed. If your dog is losing patches of hair there may be an issue with the nutrition.

Can dogs eat chicken broth? ›

In short, the answer to “can dogs have chicken broth” is yes. However, like any other human food you might give your dog, it's important to check the ingredients in the chicken broth to make sure that your dog isn't accidentally eating harmful seasonings or additives.

How many times a day should a nursing dog eat? ›

She should be fed at least twice daily. Indeed, many breeders will be feeding free choice by the time whelping approaches.

How often should a mother dog nurse? ›

Newborn puppies should nurse at least every 2 hours for the first week or two of life. After this, they can stretch the feeding times to 3-4 hours, as long as they are still gaining weight and doing well. Once the puppies are 3 to 4 weeks old, you can begin the weaning process by giving them access to puppy food.

Do puppies need to eat at night? ›

As a rule of thumb, remove the food and water bowls about two-to-three hours before bedtime. So, if your lights-out time is at 11 p.m., a puppy should have no food or water after about 8–8:30 p.m. This gives you a chance to take him out for a one last potty break before settling in for the night.

When can a mother dog stop sleeping with her puppies? ›

How much time should a mother dog spend with her puppies? The ideal minimum time that the puppy should be able to separate from its mother is 8 weeks. Still, many ethologists also claim that the puppy should be with its mother until 12 weeks of age.

Why do puppies cry while nursing? ›

Puppies are born with their eyes and ear canals closed, and their main activities are sleeping and nursing. They cry or whine to seek contact or care from their mother. At this stage, puppies are helpless; they rely on their mother for everything from food and grooming to a warm and secure place to sleep.

Why is my nursing dog so hungry? ›

The mother's energy requirements increase after delivery and during lactation. At her highest energy need, three to five weeks after whelping (giving birth), she may require 2-4 times the energy calories of a normal healthy adult.

Are bananas good for dog? ›

Yes, dogs can eat bananas. In moderation, bananas are a great low-calorie treat for dogs. They're high in potassium, vitamins, biotin, fiber, and copper. They are low in cholesterol and sodium, but because of their high sugar content, bananas should be given as a treat, not part of your dog's main diet.

Is boiled egg good for mother dog? ›

Eggs are perfectly safe for dogs, Eggs are a great source of nutrition for your canine companion. They are high in protein, fatty acids, vitamins, and fatty acids that help support your dog inside and out. Remember that eggs are only as good as the chicken they come from.

Can I rub my pregnant dogs belly? ›

Our touch during a pregnancy massage must be light and gentle. No pressure should be put on the belly or spine, yet your girl will likely love a very light belly rub. “Laying of hands” which is placing your hands on your dog's body without any pressure, will help to warm her muscles and stimulate circulation.

Are blueberries good for dogs? ›

Yes, dogs can eat blueberries. Blueberries are a great source of , minerals, antioxidants, and more. This fruit is a healthy snack for both large and small dogs, and most pups love them.

Can dogs eat peanut butter? ›

Don't keep your pup in suspense any longer. Yes, dogs can eat peanut butter as long as it is fed in moderation and does not contain xylitol, so get out that pet-safe peanut butter jar and share the good news.

Are cooked eggs good for nursing dogs? ›

Eggs are a great source of protein—an essential nutrient for nursing dogs, who need more protein than their adult counterparts. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals that can enrich your dog's milk, in turn benefiting her pups.

What meat is good for nursing dogs? ›

Try to feed your dog high-quality protein during pregnancy and nursing. Best source of protein for dogs is meat, so focus on chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and fish (as long as she's not allergic to any of these ingredients). Eggs and dairy products are also good secondary sources of quality protein.

Is egg good for pregnant dog? ›

Yes. Eggs are good for dogs to eat. Of course, they are rich in protein, but aside from that, eggs are also a good source of linoleic acid and fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A.

How do you prevent eclampsia in nursing dogs? ›

Can eclampsia be prevented? All pregnant dogs should be fed a high-quality diet formulated for pregnant and nursing mothers that is rich in essential vitamins and minerals. If the mother is at risk, the puppies may need to be separated from the mom a few times per day allowing her to eat.

Can nursing dogs eat oatmeal? ›

Plain oatmeal is safe for your dog to eat. Oatmeal provides lots of fiber, as well as some vitamins and minerals (30).

Can nursing dogs eat bananas? ›

The answer is yes; dogs can eat bananas.

Bananas are a great source of vitamins and minerals like vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, and potassium. Bananas are also high in fiber and carbohydrates, which can provide your pup with energy.

What not to feed a nursing dog? ›

Dietary supplements, such as meats, milk, vitamins and minerals are generally not recommended if a high-quality growth/lactation diet is fed. Feeding excessive amounts of calcium or vitamin D can cause calcification of the soft tissues of the fetus, as well as other birth defects.

Is chicken and rice good for nursing dogs? ›

The Chicken and Rice “Done Right” recipe is formulated to be complete and balanced for adult dogs according to AAFCO nutrient standards. This recipe is not appropriate for puppies, pregnant or lactating dogs.

Is cottage cheese good for nursing dogs? ›

The Benefits of Feeding Cottage Cheese to Your Dog

High in protein: dairy-based proteins can help increase dietary intake of proteins for a short period, if indicated, for example, in lactating dogs or dogs with poor appetites.

What do pregnant dogs need in their diet? ›

A useful rule of thumb is feeding an extra 10% energy per week until birth. To ensure she is able to eat this, particularly with the smaller amount of stomach space, you should start to offer the food in little and often meals, rather than two large meals per day. Feeding dry or wet is an important consideration.

What foods increase dog milk production? ›

Milk thistle is one natural supplement known to help nursing mothers with their milk-making. Other dogs benefit from taking zinc while providing for their pups. In small doses, apricot can also increase milk production. Whatever you decide, it's always best to run it by your vet before you begin supplementing.

Is cheese good for pregnant dogs? ›

Be careful with how much you feed your dog, especially towards the end of a pregnancy. Cottage cheese is a better idea for dogs than hard cheeses, cream cheese, or blue cheese. It's a good option if your pup needs to eat food with bland flavor – but always watch to make sure they don't have an adverse reaction.

What are the signs of low calcium in nursing dogs? ›

In nursing female dogs, heavy milk production can lead to hypocalcemia (milk fever) and may result in seizures. Pets with abnormally low calcium levels often show signs of muscle twitching, loss of appetite, weakness, and listlessness. In severe cases, pets may have convulsions or seizures.

What are the first signs of eclampsia in dogs? ›

The early signs of eclampsia generally include restlessness, panting, weakness, and stiffness in the muscles that can make the dog's walk wobbly. As the condition advances, the dog may experience increasing muscle stiffness or spasms that make the muscles twitch or jerk.

What can I give my nursing dog for calcium? ›

Calcium supplements for nursing dogs such as Breeder's Edge® Oral Cal Plus Powder a great source of calcium for dogs after giving birth. Breeder's Edge® Oral Cal Plus Powder has both calcium and phosphorus, which is needed for effective absorption. Giving only calcium actually decreases absorption.


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