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What to Feed a Nursing Dog: Expert Recommendations for Optimal Nutrition - PawSafe

What to Feed a Nursing Dog: Expert Recommendations for Optimal Nutrition

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

what to feed a nursing dog

Nursing dogs require a balanced and nutritious diet to support their health and the growth of their puppies. Feeding a nursing dog is not just about providing enough food, but also about ensuring that the food is of high quality and meets the dog’s nutritional needs. The right diet can help the dog produce milk with all the necessary nutrients and support her overall health during this critical time.

The environment plays a huge role. Just as you’d pamper a new human mom, you should make things as comfortable as possible for your fur-baby. A cozy, quiet space is key. Consider getting her a soothing dog bed in her whelping box to make her post-puppy life a little more serene.

Of course, nutrition for mother feeding puppies is a massive part of the equation. Don’t worry, we’ve got the experts backing us up. We’ll be drawing insights from reputable veterinary sources, like this comprehensive study on lactating dog nutrition and this in-depth research article. Plus, we’ll delve into the wisdom of Dr. Greco, DVM, who is a whiz at pediatric nutrition for our four-legged friends.

Contents show

Warning: Keep in mind that for every rule there is an exception and there is actually no “one-size-fits-all” approach in dog nutrition. Some dogs are very prone to pancreatitis (like miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Mini Schnoodles), and for these dogs, a high-fat diet can be a risk factor for pancreatitis.

Contrary to popular advice, dog food labeled “for all life stages” is not ideal as it usually does not have enough protein or fat. If you go the route of commercial dog food, you need to pick food specifically formulated for mother and puppy. It’s also best not to add any supplements to a balanced diet as this can easily disrupt the delicate balance of nutrients a nursing dog needs. Remember, this is not just about her nutritional needs, but also that of her puppies.

Below we will discuss exactly what a good diet generally looks like for a nursing dog. However, remember that if your dog is older, younger, or has specific health issues, then her ideal diet may look very different. For example, a dog with blood clotting disorder like von Willebrand’s disease, should not get fish oil supplements as it can thin her blood and cause her to hemorrhage while giving birth.

Likewise, dogs with liver issues, endocrine, or metabolic issues may all need diets further tailored to their needs. Nevertheless, if you want to know what a good diet for a lactating dog looks like, let’s break down the macro and micronutrients.

Related Posts:

Reading the Label: Macro & Micronutrients Requirements For A Nursing Dog

Before we get into exactly what the essential and best nutrients are for a new mother dog, let’s give a breakdown of what a good balance of nutrients looks like for a dog that is feeding puppies. Keep in mind, this is a general guide and the exact specifics can differ according to your dog’s individual needs. 

NutrientRecommended Amount
Protein30-35%
Fat (Including Omega-3s)15-22%
Carbohydrates30-40%
Crude ash6-8%
Crude fibers1.5-2.5%
Omega-3 fatty acid (DHA)0.2-0.4%
Omega-6 fatty acids2-4%
Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio5:1 to 10:1
Metabolizable Energy4200-4400 kcal/kg
Calcium1.2-1.4%
Phosphorus0.9-1.1%
Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio (Ca:P)1:0.8
Additives (per kg)
Vitamin A18,000-20,000 IU
Vitamin D31200-1400 IU
Vitamin E500-600 mg
Vitamin C350-450 mg
Iron40-45 mg
Iodine4-5 mg
Copper12-15 mg
Manganese50-60 mg
Zinc130-140 mg
Selenium0.05-0.08 mg

Essential Guidelines For Feeding Nursing Dogs (Starting In Pregnancy)

A female dog’s diet should start changing the last three to two weeks before birth to make sure she has enough energy and nutrients to feed her puppies when they arrive. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind to get you started on the right track.

Rules Feeding a Dog During Pregnancy

1. Two Phases of Pregnancy

Your dog’s pregnancy is really a tale of two halves. For the first 5 weeks or so, she won’t gain much weight, and most of her puppies’ growth will happen after this point. She usually does not have special dietary needs at this point.

2. Late Pregnancy Feeding 

Pay special attention to her diet in the last 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. Her pups will be growing quickly, and she may gain 15-25% of her body weight. Make sure she’s eating enough to support this growth. This is when she will gradually need more food with higher calories in several small meals per day. Don’t feed her big meals as the pressure on her tummy can make it difficult for her to eat a lot at once.

3. Quality Over Quantity 

A balanced diet is crucial. Look for commercial dog foods that meet the guidelines of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These foods don’t usually require additional supplements. However, anything you feed your pregnant or lactating dog needs to be properly formulated for her needs. 

If you choose a commercial dry food, picking a food like Royal Canin Mother & Puppy Starter food is ideal as best, as the formula is properly adapted to lactating mother’s needs, and the needs of her puppies. However, you may be skeptical of commercial foods, which is fine, but mother dogs still need a very carefully balanced diet. We will discuss what a properly balanced meal for nursing mother dogs looks like below.

4. Folic Acid

Some studies show that supplementing with folic acid can reduce birth defects in puppies. If you have a brachycephalic breed (like Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, or Pugs), consider a 5-mg daily folic acid supplement from the start of the heat cycle. This also works for Chihuahuas.

5. Weight Watch

Keep an eye on her weight throughout the pregnancy. Aim for a weight gain that doesn’t exceed 25-30% of her pre-pregnancy weight to avoid complications like dystocia (difficult labor).

6. Warning about Low Carbohydrate Diets

While some diets might emphasize low carbs, this can be risky for pregnant dogs. They need a proper balance of carbohydrates and protein to prevent pregnancy toxemia, a condition that can develop due to a lack of or imbalance in carbohydrates. Always ensure that your pregnant dog has a well-balanced diet to support her and her growing pups.

Inadequate nutrition or not enough carbohydrate intake during late pregnancy can result in ketosis and low blood sugar, a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.

7. Don’t Give Supplements Unless it’s Vet Recommended

As pet parents we can often make bad decisions out of ignorance. We may try to feed our nursing mother as much calcium as possible, without realizing that this can actually be dangerous for her and her puppies. We will discuss below what supplements are safe, and what nutrients we need to carefully monitor to prevent dangerous health problems.

8. Consult the Vet for Anorexia

If your dog isn’t eating much during the last two weeks of her pregnancy, get her to a vet ASAP.

Feeding Guidelines For Dogs After Birth (Nursing Period)

1. Adjust Her Calories

Lactation in dogs lasts for about 7-8 weeks, reaching peak milk production around 3 to 4 weeks postpartum (after birth). The amount of milk produced varies depending on several factors, such as litter size. Dogs with bigger litters will need more calories than dogs with smaller litters.

Related article: Littermate syndrome

Increasing Energy Needs

  • First Week: 1-1.5x maintenance energy requirements
  • Second Week: 2x maintenance energy requirements
  • Third and Fourth Weeks: 2.5-3x maintenance energy requirements

Effect of Diet on Weight Maintenance

Feeding a higher-energy-density diet is associated with little or no weight loss during lactation. For example, bitches with four puppies who were fed diets containing approximately 4200 kcal ME/kg of dry matter maintained their weight during lactation.

Water is Essential

Lactating dogs have a high water requirement; in fact, milk is 78% water. Always provide clean water freely to your nursing dog.

Caloric Needs Table for Lactating Dogs

Week Post-PartumCaloric Intake (times maintenance)Notes
11-1.5xStarting lactation phase; energy needs begin to increase.
22xMilk production increases, so do caloric needs.
3-42.5-3xPeak milk production; highest energy requirement.

Remember, the caloric intake is general guidance and can vary depending on breed, age, health, and other factors. Always consult your vet for tailored advice on feeding lactating dogs

2. Protein and Fat for Nursing Dogs

What the Expert Recommends

Dr. Greco advises that pregnant and nursing dogs should be fed an energy-dense and highly digestible commercial dog food, ideally one that’s labeled as adequate for all life stages. The recommended nutrient balance is 30% protein and 20% fat on a dry matter basis. This diet should also be balanced in terms of vitamins and minerals.

Protein Needs

  1. During Pregnancy: Protein needs can go up as much as 70% over regular maintenance levels. High-quality, animal-based proteins are preferable.
  2. During Lactation: Protein requirements are even higher, especially for large litters.

Taurine Supplementation

Some breeds are known for taurine deficiencies, and supplementing with taurine might be beneficial for these breeds, especially during the demanding stages of pregnancy and lactation.

Breeds Known for Taurine Deficiencies
  • American Cocker Spaniel;
  • Golden Retriever;
  • Boxer;
  • Newfoundland; and
  • Saint Bernard.

What Kind of Protein Should My Nursing Dog Eat?

Protein is essential for the growth and repair of tissues, and it is particularly important for nursing dogs. The mother’s body uses protein to produce milk, and the puppies need protein to grow and develop. Good sources of protein for nursing dogs include:

  • Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and beef;
  • Fish (cooked and boneless);
  • Eggs (cooked); and
  • Dairy products such as cottage cheese and plain yogurt.

One study looked at how different sources of protein affect mother dogs and their puppies. All the dogs in the study were given balanced diets with the same amount of calories, fat, and carbohydrates. The only thing that changed was where the protein came from. The researchers used beef liver, round steak, and dried hen’s egg as the protein sources.

The interesting part is that the type of protein really mattered. When mom dogs were fed liver, they produced more milk, and that milk had higher fat content compared to when they were fed egg. Not only did the moms do better, but their puppies grew faster too.

One dog was tested multiple times, switching between egg and liver as the protein source. She always did better on the liver — producing more milk with higher fat content. Another dog was fed round steak and had results that were similar to the egg, but not as good as the liver.

They couldn’t complete the tests on a kidney-based diet, because all of the mother dogs on the kidney-based diet had birthing issues. This could be a warning not to feed your pregnant dog kidney meat.

So, the takeaway is that if you’re feeding a mom dog, liver seems to be the best choice for protein. It helps the mom produce more and better-quality milk, and that’s great for fast-growing puppies.

However, keep in mind that feeding too much organ meat to dogs can actually be harmful, despite the nutritional benefits that organs can offer. Organs like liver are rich in nutrients, but they’re also high in certain vitamins and minerals that can be toxic in large amounts. For example, vitamin D is essential for dogs, but too much can lead to bone problems and even kidney failure. 

Similarly, an excess of vitamin A can lead to vitamin A toxicity, which can cause a range of issues like joint pain, dehydration, and serious conditions affecting internal organs. High copper levels, which can be present in organ meats like liver, can also be toxic to dogs and may lead to liver disease over time. So, while organ meats can be a healthy addition to a dog’s diet, they should be fed in moderation and not as a sole source of nutrition.

Fats

Fats are a rich source of energy and are important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Nursing dogs need more fat than usual to support milk production and the growth of their puppies. Good sources of fat for nursing dogs include:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna;
  • Chicken and turkey skin (in moderation);
  • Olive oil or other healthy oils; and
  • Whole eggs (including the yolk).

Fat Needs For Nursing dogs

Fat is crucial because it contains twice as much energy per unit as carbohydrates or protein. This is particularly important during lactation, which can triple energy requirements, especially in large litters.

Essential Fatty Acids For Nursing Dogs

Essential fatty acids, such as linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, are increasingly important during the stages of pregnancy and lactation in dogs. A deficiency in these crucial fatty acids has been associated with complications like preterm labor, inadequate development of the placenta, and reduced litter sizes. On a more positive note, research indicates that a diet rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can significantly improve the puppies’ cognitive abilities, memory, and vision.

Research by Dr. Bauer suggests that certain types of omega-3 fatty acids, like DHA found in fish oil, algal oil or green lipped mussel extract,  are really important for a puppy’s brain development. The study found that when mother dogs were fed diets with different types of omega-3s, it affected the levels of these fatty acids in their milk. The puppies then drank this milk, which influenced their own levels of these critical nutrients.

What’s really interesting is that not all sources of omega-3s seem to work the same way. For example, when the mom dogs were fed a diet high in flaxseed oil, which is a different kind of omega-3 (called ALA), it didn’t increase DHA levels in the puppies like fish oil did. DHA is crucial for brain health, so this suggests that the source of omega-3s matters.

So, for healthier, smarter puppies, it looks like mom dogs should have a diet rich in the right kind of omega-3s (like those found in fish oil) from the time they’re in heat, through pregnancy, and while they’re nursing their pups.

Balancing Vitamins and Minerals For Nursing Dogs

One thing that many dog owners can overlook is that it is essential to get the right amount of vitamins and minerals for dogs, as both too much and too little can be dangerous for dogs. This is especially true for lactating or nursing dogs. To give you an idea of the dangers or excesses and deficiencies, we will use a simplified version of this table from Dr. Linda Case:

Dangers of Imbalanced Mineral Intake in Dogs 

MineralLack of Mineral Can Cause:Too Much Can Cause:Common Sources
CalciumWeak bones, joint painPoor bone growth; can cause other mineral shortagesDairy, poultry, bones
PhosphorusSame as calciumCalcium shortageMeat, poultry, fish
MagnesiumSoft bone growth, muscle twitchingUnlikely to be harmful; the body regulates itSoybeans, corn, grains, bones
SulfurNot reportedNot reportedMeat, poultry, fish
IronWeakness, pale gumsBody usually controls the level, but can be toxic in high amountsOrgan meats
CopperWeakness, poor bone growthLiver diseaseOrgan meats
ZincSkin issues, faded fur color, stunted growthCauses shortages of calcium and copperBeef liver, poultry, milk, eggs, legumes
ManganeseUnlikely; poor bone growth, failed reproductionUnlikely to be harmfulMeat, poultry, fish
IodineUnlikely; swollen neck (goiter), stunted growthSwollen neck (goiter)Fish, beef, liver
SeleniumUnlikely; muscle weakness (myopathy means muscle disease)Muscle, liver, and kidney diseaseGrains, meat, poultry
CobaltUnlikely; weakness, low red blood cell count (anemia)Not reportedFish, dairy

This is one reason to be very careful about the food you give your dog. Remember, as certain minerals are fed in excess even in commercial dog foods, there has been a rise in copper storage disease in dogs. 

So do not give your pregnant or nursing dog vitamin or mineral supplement unless your vet recommends one because she has a deficiency. An excess of certain minerals can affect the proper bone growth of her puppies and endanger her life (as can a deficiency). We will discuss which supplements are safe to give your pregnant or nursing dog below.

Calcium Supplementation: A Double-Edged Sword

Supplementing with calcium is common among breeders who believe it ensures healthy fetal development and adequate milk production. However, this practice comes with risks:

  • Calcium Homeostasis: Calcium levels in the body are regulated by hormones like Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) and calcitonin. When calcium levels drop, PTH helps in mobilizing calcium from bones and enhancing its absorption from the small intestine.
  • Down-Regulation of PTH: If calcium is supplemented, serum calcium concentration remains high, leading to down-regulation of PTH activity. This means the female dog’s body may not be able to adjust to the high demands for calcium, especially at the onset of lactation.
  • Risk of Eclampsia: A failure to regulate calcium properly can lead to eclampsia, a condition more common in small and toy breeds. Symptoms include ataxia (lack of muscle coordination), muscular tetany (involuntary contraction of muscles), and convulsive seizures. Even if treated, it’s advised to remove the offspring to prevent relapse.

Vitamins and Minerals For Nursing Dogs

When it comes to calcium, there’s a general consensus that additional supplementation is usually not required for pregnant and lactating bitches, except in cases where a homemade diet is being fed or there’s a specific medical condition like eclampsia to consider. 

NB: The calcium-to-phosphorus ratio in the diet for a nursing dog should ideally be balanced at 1:0.8. This ratio is very important! If there’s too much phosphorus and not enough calcium, the body might start pulling calcium from the bones to maintain the necessary balance, weakening them in the process. On the flip side, if there’s too much calcium, it can interfere with the absorption of other minerals, and even lead to kidney stones or other health issues.

In short, maintaining the right calcium to phosphorus ratio is all about ensuring your dog’s bones stay strong and their body functions properly.

Interestingly, smaller dog breeds like Chihuahuas are at a higher risk for eclampsia, particularly when fed homemade diets that lack adequate calcium supplementation. Older dogs may also be at a higher risk due to reduced nutrient absorption efficiency.

Vitamin E and folate have historically been considered safe supplements during dog pregnancies. However, recent studies have shown that excessive Vitamin E can lead to a pro-oxidant state, which essentially increases inflammation in the body. 

Folate (folic acid), on the other hand, has been promoted to alleviate midline closure defects like spina bifida and cleft palate. While data in dogs is limited, there is some evidence to suggest that folate can help reduce the occurrence of these issues.

Probiotics For Nursing Dogs

Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut, can be particularly beneficial during the stressful and physically demanding periods of pregnancy and lactation. Probiotics such as Enterococci have been studied for their ability to help in cases of acute diarrhea, dysbiosis (gut imbalance) due to antibiotic use, and various other digestive issues. 

When choosing a probiotic supplement, it’s crucial to look for strains that have been proven safe for dogs and that can survive in a dogs stomach (most human probiotics can’t so yogurt is not a good probiotic supplement), and are approved by recognized bodies like the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Commercial vs. Homemade Dog Food for Nursing Dogs: Weighing the Pros and Cons

When it comes to feeding a nursing dog, it’s critical to firstly provide her with a balanced diet that meets her increased nutritional needs. Commercial dog food can be a convenient and reliable option for many dog owners because they come balanced for your mother dog. This limits the chances of nutritional excesses or deficiencies, which is much more likely in homemade dog food.

However, there are some drawbacks to be aware of when it comes to feeding your nursing dog highly processed wet dog food (canned) or dry dog food (kibble). 

  • Firstly, commercial foods can be up to 60% highly processed carbohydrates. Ultra-processed carbohydrate rich diets in puppies and pregnant bitches puts them at increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Heat processing of starch, particularly together with the amino acid asparagine (high quantity of both in potatoes) may release the carcinogenic and genotoxic compound, acrylamide. The safety of the acrylamide levels present in pet food is disputed. Heat processing of food also leads to a large amount of glycotoxins in dog food, which is linked to extensive ranges of diseases, including cancer.
  • Heating proteins together with carbohydrates creates protein aggregates that are not easy to digest and can be allergenic. This may explain why canned foods tend to be more allergenic than fresh proteins.
  • Puppyhood exposure to mixed oils, heat processed foods and sugary fruits might be a potential risk factor for skin allergies incidence later in  life.

With this in mind, a balanced homemade diet for a nursing dog is a much better choice, however, this is only true if a veterinary nutritionist properly formulates the diet. An unbalanced homemade diet can lead to a variety of life threatening conditions for your nursing mother and can affect the proper early development of the puppies, causing lifelong health issues.

Complications from Inappropriate Diet for Pregnant Dogs

Feeding your pregnant pooch might seem like a simple task, but it’s a bit more nuanced than you’d think. Essentially, what mama dog eats can really impact her pregnancy and the health of her future fur babies. So let’s talk about what can go wrong when her diet isn’t up to snuff. 

The Weighty Issue of Obesity

First off, if your dog is overweight, it’s not the best idea to breed her. Studies have shown that fat tissue can mess with hormones that are super important for reproduction. Although the science isn’t all there yet for dogs, studies in humans have shown that obesity can lead to low-quality embryos. And guess what? Obese dogs have been found to have funky levels of leptin, a hormone that comes from fat and plays a big role in hormonal balance. 

The Risks of Overfeeding

Many well-intentioned pet owners think that a pregnant dog needs tons of food from the get-go. Nope, this is a myth! Overfeeding can lead to excessive weight gain, and that’s a problem. Overweight mama dogs are more likely to experience dystocia, a fancy term for difficult labor or a false pregnancy. Why? It might be because the extra fat weakens their uterine contractions. 

Weight Monitoring is Key

Experts recommend that a pregnant dog’s weight should not exceed 25-30% of her pre-pregnancy weight. Keep an eye on the scales and adjust her diet accordingly.

Carbohydrate Caution

Low-carb might be a trend for humans, but it’s a big no-no for pregnant dogs. A lack of carbs can lead to a scary condition called pregnancy toxemia. In simpler terms, this can mess with her metabolism and lead to a harmful state known as ketosis. That said, don’t overdo it. A nursing dog should be on a high-protein diet balanced with adequate carbs to maintain her energy and blood sugar.

Don’t Ignore Anorexia

If your doggy diva stops eating during the last two weeks of her pregnancy, that’s a red flag. Head straight to the vet for a check-up.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. It can cause high blood sugar levels in the mother, which can lead to complications for both the mother and her puppies. Symptoms of gestational diabetes include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, and lethargy. Treatment may involve a special diet, exercise, and insulin therapy.

Eclampsia

Eclampsia, also known as milk fever, is a condition that can occur in nursing dogs when they are producing large amounts of milk. It is caused by low blood calcium levels and can lead to seizures, muscle tremors, and even death. Signs of eclampsia include restlessness, panting, muscle stiffness, and loss of appetite. Treatment involves calcium supplementation and supportive care.

Keep in mind, eclampsia can be caused by unstable levels of calcium in the diet or by supplementing calcium unnecessarily. So it’s really important your dog stays on a consistent balanced diet when it comes to calcium when she is lactating or pregnant.

Overall, it is important to monitor nursing dogs closely for any signs of potential health issues and seek veterinary care as needed. By taking proactive measures to prevent and treat these health issues, nursing dogs can remain healthy and provide the best care for their puppies.

When to Consult a Vet

It is important to consult a veterinarian if you are unsure about what to feed your nursing dog. The vet can help you determine the best diet for your dog based on their individual needs and health conditions. Additionally, if your dog is experiencing any health issues, such as weight loss, lethargy, or digestive problems, it is important to seek veterinary care.

If your dog is not producing enough milk to feed her puppies, a vet may recommend a specific diet or supplements to help increase milk production. On the other hand, if your dog is producing too much milk, it can lead to mastitis, a painful inflammation of the mammary glands. In this case, a vet may recommend a diet that is lower in calories and fat.

If your nursing dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is important to seek veterinary care:

  • Loss of appetite;
  • Vomiting or diarrhea;
  • Rapid panting;
  • Lack of coordination;
  • Shaking;
  • Lethargy or weakness;
  • Dehydration;
  • Rapid weight loss or gain; and
  • Abnormal behavior or temperament.

In some cases, a nursing dog may require a special diet due to underlying health conditions or allergies. A veterinarian can help identify these issues and recommend an appropriate diet.

Overall, it is important to consult a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your nursing dog’s diet or health. With proper care and nutrition, your dog can provide her puppies with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the best supplements for a nursing dog?

Nursing dogs should rather have a balanced diet that contains all the necessary nutrients rather than supplements that can create dangerous dietary imbalances. Generally safe supplements include canine probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) and folic acid. Do not give calcium or other supplements to a balanced diet as calcium excesses can be dangerous. Consult your vet before giving any supplement.

What is the best dry dog food for a nursing mother?

A high-quality, nutrient-dense dry dog food that is specifically formulated for nursing mothers is ideal. Look for a food that contains a balanced ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and is made with high-quality ingredients. It’s important to read the ingredient list and avoid foods that contain fillers, by-products, or artificial preservatives.

Can I feed my nursing dog eggs?

Eggs can be a good source of protein and other nutrients for nursing dogs. However, it’s important to cook the eggs thoroughly to avoid the risk of bacterial contamination. Additionally, eggs should be fed in moderation as too much can upset a dog’s stomach.

What should I feed my dog after she gives birth?

After giving birth, a nursing dog will require more food than usual to support milk production. A high-quality, nutrient-dense dog food that is specifically formulated for nursing mothers is ideal. It’s also important to provide plenty of freshwater and to monitor the dog’s weight to ensure she is maintaining a healthy body condition.

What can I feed my nursing dog to increase milk production?

Studies show the type of protein you give your dog can really affect milk production, with liver being the best protein for the most milk. Healthy fats (omega-6 and omega -3 fatty acids) and a properly balanced diet will also help her body produce more milk.

Should I increase the amount of food I give my nursing dog?

Yes, nursing dogs require more food than usual to support milk production and maintain their own health. It’s important to monitor the dog’s weight and adjust the amount of food as necessary to ensure she is maintaining a healthy body condition.

Final Thoughts

Feeding a nursing dog can be challenging, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it can be a rewarding experience for both the dog and the owner. It is important to remember that the nutritional needs of a nursing dog are different from those of a non-nursing dog, and that the diet should be adjusted accordingly.

When selecting a food for a nursing dog, it is important to choose a high-quality, nutrient-dense food that is specifically formulated for lactating dogs. The food should be rich in protein, fat, and calories to support the increased energy requirements of nursing. It is also important to ensure that the food is easily digestible, as nursing dogs may have digestive issues.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.