What to feed a pregnant dog?

What to feed a pregnant dog?

The average dog diet is built at a ratio of 5:1:1, which makes it 5 parts of raw meat on the bone, 1 part of fresh organ meat (liver, heart, kidney), 1 part of vegetables.

two cute dogs

Building little carnivores is easy 

Raw feeding a pregnant dog is easy, just give her more of everything! It is building mini-versions of itself and they need the same thing as their mother. So feed her more meat on the bone, more muscle fresh meat, and organ meats.  

Muscle meat feeds their muscle meat, cartilage helps to form stronger joints, fresh bones lead to optimum bone growth, and organ meats are broken down to form organs. Organ meats are probably the most important thing, nutritionally, for dogs. Their diets should consist of 10 to 15% organ meat.

Include as much variety in their diet as possible; liver, heart, eyes, spleen, etc. Avoid including too much of one thing as different body parts are beneficial to different parts of the dog's system. 

What to feed a pregnant dog at the various stages of development

For the first half of the pregnancy, nothing much will change and she will eat as normal. Many breeders like to use more heart muscle which can be higher in folic acid. 

Week 5, Increase Quantity 

Increase the amount of food she is being given by approx 20-30%

Week 6, Increase Fat, Decrease Bone

By week 6 it stomach capacity will shrink as the pups are growing. Hence, you will need to decrease its portion sizes and increase how often she is fed; observe how much she eats and how often she is trying to look for food, based on the action you may increase maybe four to five days a day.

At this point, you can increase the fat content, by selecting more red meat rather than white meat. Red meats include meat like duck, pork, beef compared to white meat which includes e chicken, turkey, fish.

You may start reducing the bone content of the meal now by using more boneless meats. 

Week 8-9 

The food quantity should increase gradually over time and by week 8 she may be consuming 50% more food than she was pre-pregnancy. By this stage of its pregnancy, the bone content of her food should be effectively nill.

Week 9 

This is the last week, you will now realize that she will begin to eat less, so gradually reduce the amount of food. A day or two beforehand some mother dogs will stop eating, do not panic, and don't force them to eat. Read this article to know more about your dog going into labor.

Eating Post Birth 

Once it starts to eat again, you can bring back the calcium to its diet, you may change the meat to minced meat with bone in it, as some dogs might not eat bones. Thus, you may give it some wings, chicken backs, and necks, etc. This will help build milk naturally. Don't forget to leave lots of water! 

dog eating bone

Why less bone before birth but more after

Calcium is stored in bones. Before birth, the parathyroid pulls calcium from the bones to help form the skeletons of the new pups, but also to increase the contractibility of the heart and uterus wall. On the contrary, during birth oxytocin controls the duration and frequency of contractions but calcium and parathyroid control the strength. If you feed too much calcium, the parathyroid can sort of going on a vacation during labor when you actually need it to work. 

Do take note that

[blockquote font="3"]After birth, you will need to feed lots of calcium to avoid seizures in the mother, [/blockquote]


After your dog gives birth, she could have 8 to 12 puppies to nurse and occasionally more than 12! Since all these bodies need to grow, your girl will need special attention to her diet. Nutritional deficiencies in pregnant or nursing dogs are most likely during the first 4 weeks of nursing.

Here's what you can do :

  • Change your current dog food to a higher quality puppy food. These foods will have the right balance of proteins and fats for its needs right now.
  • If she has 8 or more puppies, weigh them frequently to make sure all puppies are gaining weight. If some of the pups aren't gaining weight, you will have to hand feed them.
  • If you've been feeding your dog in controlled portions, you may start to leave the food out all the time, particularly if she is a picky eater, to begin with, so she can take in as many calories as she needs. 
  • If your dog is eating 3 cups of food each day before breeding, it will now need about 9 cups of food a day, in order to feed itself and the puppies. 

sick dog on bed

Potential Problems


If your dog experiences diarrhea while nursing her puppies, it could mean that she's eating a high volume of food in order to get enough nutrients to feed her puppies. It could be a sign that the food she's eating is not digestible, so she has to consume more, and later on, her intestines must expel the excess.

To avoid tummy troubles, you can provide a more energy-dense food. If there's a litter of 6 puppies and above, look for dry puppy food or active dog food that contains 30% protein and 20% fat, or wet food that's at least 7% protein and 5% fat. This way, you can decrease the amount of food you give her and still keep all those pups fed and growing.


Eclampsia seems to affect smaller dogs more frequently. The signs associated with this problem are muscle spasms, seizure-like activity, and stiffness of muscles. Blood tests on dogs with eclampsia are usually low in serum calcium, blood glucose, and sometimes low in blood magnesium concentration. 

This problem needs to be addressed by a veterinarian with calcium supplementation. The pups should be removed from the mother at least for 24 hours and the mother dog should start consuming calcium and vitamin D supplementation. 

Examples of good quality puppy foods

royal canin dog food

Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Dry Adult & Puppy Dog Food

  • Perfecting for weaning puppies
  • Supports digestive health and immune systems
  • Specially manufactured kibble for smaller mouths 
  • Meets the needs of the mothers well as a supports both immune systems 
  • Contains essential nutrients including protein, rice, animal fats, vegetable protein 

hill science dog food

Hill's Science Plan Puppy Healthy Development 

  • Easy to digest 
  • Nutritionally balanced
  • Antioxidants help to support a growing immune system
  • Specially developed for medium-sized dogs less than a year old
  • Contains added omega-3 and DHA from fish oil to support joint and bone health 

canine dog food

Canine Choice Puppy (Grain-Free) 

  • 60% of meat
  • A grain-free formula
  • No soy, artificial colors, or preservatives
  • Energy content adjusted to the metabolism of puppies 
  • Cranberry, rosemary, and rosehip to support the immune system
  • Prebiotics, probiotics, chicory, and camomile to improve digestion and relieve irritation 

purina dog food

Purina Pro Plan Opt Puppy Range 

  • Natural Ingredients 
  • Great flavor your pet will love 
  • Supports bone and joint growth
  • Encourages and supports an active lifestyle 
  • Colostrum boosts your dog's natural immune defenses
  • Special OPTI blend of ingredients especially for medium-sized puppies 

Keeping a record of your puppies' weight, development, and activity every day or two can be helpful for your veterinarian's routine assessments in the first year of life.

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