Pregnancy and farrowing place great demands on the bitch’s body. Breastfeeding will also require a lot of energy, which means that you will need to provide it with food that meets its needs.
As during gestation , the bitch ‘s nutritional needs change in quantity and quality during lactation . The lactation phase requires considerable contributions of energy and essential nutrients such as calcium in order to meet her own needs and those of the puppies she is nursing.
You will therefore have to ensure that your dog benefits from a diet adapted to her condition, until a return to normal following the weaning period of the pups.
The first 2 weeks after giving birth
To better meet the food needs of the bitch during lactation, it is important to understand the process of breastfeeding and its different phases . There are 3 of these, with a specific development for each of them in terms of nutritional quantity and quality.
The initial stage concerns the first 2 weeks following the birth of the puppies. These ensure their survival by consuming the colostrum produced by their mother during feedings. The bitch will stay at their side at all times, leaving them only for very brief moments.
The quantities of food consumed by the bitch are not very high, but her energy needs remain high. Throughout lactation, it is vital that the bitch has adequate water availability . The contents of its container should be changed regularly so that it can have fresh and healthy water.
The 2nd phase: needs that are skyrocketing
From the 3rd week until the 5th, the needs of puppies and the mother will skyrocket. The bitch’s food needs will be multiplied by 3 or 4 during this phase. The contributions that you will have to provide will therefore have to be increased accordingly.
Phosphorus, calcium, minerals, carbohydrates and reduced protein will allow the mother’s body to cope with them and stay healthy. If you are not sure whether you can prepare meals adapted to these needs, you can turn to the kibble offered on the market and specially designed for the lactating dog.
The ideal during this key stage of breastfeeding is to divide the daily intake into 3 meals so as not to upset the mother’s digestive system. A dietary transition phase is also recommended if she was previously used to homemade food. The best would be to familiarize with this type of food from the 10th week of gestation.
To read also: The heat in the bitch
The 3rd and final stage: weaning approach
After the end of the 5th week, the food needs of the bitch come into gradual decline phase. Between the 6 th and the 7 th week , puppies begin to move towards a more solid diet and less and less based on mother’s milk .
As the weaning stage approaches, the mother’s diet will gradually move towards what it was before gestation. A return to normal will then be observed about a month after she has stopped breastfeeding her offspring, both in terms of her food needs and in terms of her weight . </p