For pregnant dogs, experiencing a loss of appetite from time to time is considered normal. However, extended periods of fasting can result in the unborn puppies not receiving the essential nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. In this article, we will explore when to be concerned about your pregnant dog’s eating habits and provide helpful tips on how to support her.
Why Won’t My Pregnant Dog Eat?
Similar to humans, the early stages of canine pregnancy are often accompanied by a decrease in appetite. This can be attributed to the hormonal changes taking place within their bodies. It’s no surprise that these significant biological transformations can cause feelings of nausea or disinterest in food.
As the pregnancy progresses, the growing puppies compete for space with your dog’s internal organs, which may lead to a decrease in her overall food intake. However, you may notice that she starts eating smaller meals more frequently to access the necessary nutrients for herself and her brood.
As your pregnant dog nears her due date, it’s not uncommon for her to stop eating up to 24 hours before going into labor. This is a natural instinct that helps prepare her body for the upcoming birth. After she has finished whelping, make sure to offer her favorite food and ensure she has access to plenty of water.
When Should You Be Worried?
While it’s normal to be observant of your pregnant dog’s well-being, if she goes without eating for longer than 24 hours (and is not showing signs of labor), it may be cause for concern. In such cases, it’s advisable to contact your veterinarian for guidance and advice.
Nutritional Requirements for Pregnant Dogs
Starting from the fifth week of pregnancy, pregnant dogs typically require an increase in calories, with the amount rising by approximately 10% each week. Switching to a puppy or nursing-specific food during week 6 can be helpful as these formulations contain additional calories to support the needs of the growing puppies.
If your dog is consuming a food that is specifically formulated for puppies or pregnant dogs, there is usually no need to provide additional supplements. In fact, an excessive intake of calcium can lead to eclampsia. However, supplementing with folic acid can be beneficial in supporting the healthy growth of the puppies.
Your veterinarian will monitor your pregnant dog’s weight throughout her pregnancy. As a general rule, her weight should not increase beyond 30% of her original body weight. Excessive weight gain can result in complications during labor, so it’s important to keep an eye on her diet and prevent overeating.
How to Help Your Pregnant Dog Eat
While some early-pregnancy nausea is considered normal, later in her pregnancy, your dog may also struggle with her appetite and lose interest in foods she previously enjoyed. Here are some tips to encourage her to eat:
- Stick to her regular feeding routine as much as possible. Familiarity and consistency can help stimulate her appetite.
- Dry food is typically higher in nutrients compared to wet food, which means your dog needs to consume a smaller volume to meet her nutritional needs. If possible, find a kibble that she enjoys.
- If she leaves a portion of her food uneaten, decrease the amount you offer her and introduce additional meal or snack times throughout the day. This allows her to consume smaller amounts at her own pace.
- If your pregnant dog is being picky with her food, try tempting her with some plain cooked chicken or pour a little warm broth over her kibble. (Remember, store-bought broth is too high in salt for dogs, so it’s best to make your own by simmering chicken in water.)
Remember, understanding and supporting your pregnant dog’s nutritional needs is crucial for the well-being of both her and her puppies. If you have any concerns or questions, reach out to your veterinarian for professional guidance.
Check out Katten TrimSalon for more helpful tips and information on caring for your pregnant dog.