Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
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Common Sense Dog Feeding - Reproduction
Brought to you by: Purina Dog Food
Providing proper nutrition during pregnancy and lactation for the female is essential. Developing puppies depend upon the mother's diet for essential nutrients, while the female needs to maintain good body condition and be prepared for the stress of lactation.
The Feeding Program
Fortunately, a feeding program for the reproducing female needs not be complex. Diets containing more than 1600 digestible calories per pound of food and at least 21 percent protein are recommended. The easiest way to ensure proper nutrition is to feed a good quality dog food that is labeled complete and balanced for all life stages such as Purina Dog Chow brand dog food or Purina brand Hi Pro dog meal.
Some dog foods on the market are labeled complete and balanced nutritionally for the maintenance of adult dogs only. Other diets are labeled for intermittent feeding or therapeutic uses. These diets generally do not provide the nutritional balance required for reproduction and growth.
Unless a female has a tendency to put on too much weight during pregnancy, she can be given all the food she wants to eat. If she seems to be losing weight and is being fed a dry diet, it may be helpful to add water to her food according to package directions. This will make the food taste better and she will probably eat more or gradually switch to a complete and balanced diet of increased nutrient density such as Purina Hi Pro.
During gestation and lactation, it is not necessary to add any supplemental vitamins, minerals or other ingredients to a complete and balanced diet unless advised to do so by your veterinarian.
Although it is true that more minerals and vitamins are needed at this time, they are obtained through increased consumption of a good quality complete and balanced diet. Problems can occur with over-supplementation, especially when high levels of vitamin A or calcium are added.
The nutrient requirements of the female during the first six or seven weeks of pregnancy are not much higher than for maintenance. Beginning about the sixth or seventh week of gestation the female's body weight will increase. At this time her food intake should be increased 20 to 25 percent.
As whelping nears, the bitch may lose her appetite. In many cases, food refusal during the ninth week is an indication that whelping will occur within the next 24 to 48 hours. Usually within 24 hours after whelping the female's appetite will return. After the puppies are born, she should receive all the food she wants.
Importance of Water
During reproduction, water serves as a carrier of nutrients to and wastes eliminated from the developing fetuses. Other important functions of dietary water during reproduction are the regulation of body temperature and as an aid in milk production. Keeping water bowls clean and changing water frequently tend to encourage water consumption. Fresh water in a clean dog bowl should be available at all times.
Milk production is one of the most nutritionally demanding stages in a female's life. A good quality nutritionally complete and balanced diet for all life stages will normally supply the nutrition the female needs during this stressful time.
The demand for milk by nursing puppies will continue to increase for about 20 to 30 days. Consequently, the female's food and water requirements increase during this time. At peak lactation, the female's food intake may be two to four times above the maintenance levels.
Very attentive females with large litters may rarely leave the puppies to feed themselves and will need encouragement to eat and drink. Moistening dry dog food with water will help increase the food intake.
Another reason for offering the dry food moistened is that at three to four weeks of age, normal puppies will start nibbling solid food. Even small-breed dogs can start to eat moistened dry food at this age, although it may have to be broken into smaller pieces.
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