Ensuring the best possible start in life for young animals begins with the correct nutrition of the pregnant and lactating bitch. The average time of pregnancy in the bitch is 63 days, but it is not until the last 4 weeks of pregnancy that most of the weight gain in pregnant bitches occurs, coinciding with the growth of the puppies.

Overfeeding early in pregnancy can lead to unwanted body fat deposition and may cause problems at whelping. As a general rule, the amount of food for a pregnant bitch should be increased by between 10 and 15% per week from the fifth week of pregnancy onwards. At whelping she should be eating about 50% more than at the time of mating. As the puppies occupy a lot of space in their mother’s womb, the bitch’s stomach is unable to expand as much as normal. Therefore, it is best to feed several small meals a day and to use a more concentrated and very palatable food, so that she is able to consume enough to meet her demands.

While nursing her puppies, her demand for calories and nutrients will increase dramatically. During this time, she will need to eat up to three or four times her normal maintenance ration. This is to ensure that she can produce enough milk for the puppies and maintain her own body condition. At peak lactation (usually at about 3 to 4 weeks), she will be giving between 4 to 7% of her body weight per day to her puppies in the form of milk.

Again, it is necessary to feed her several meals – probably three or four a day – of a concentrated, highly palatable diet, with perhaps a night feed as well. Feed her as much as she needs – she is unlikely to overeat. Puppy food is the best choice of food during this time, as it does not only meet the demands of the mother, but is also ideal for her puppies, once they become interested in food.

Make sure, also, that the bitch has an unlimited supply of fresh water during this critical period.

We recommend and feed all our Dobermanns on Royal Canin Formulas

This information is referenced from the Waltham website which can be located at www.waltham.com

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