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‘Paradise Lost’
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My Thoughts On Nutrition in General


Raw AS Nature Intended
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My thoughts on pet nutrition.

 

Nutritional managment of canine pregnancy

In addition to general advice on The Complete diet for dogs page there are specific nutritional requirements of pregnant dogs that every responsible breeder should be aware of.

Diet is the most important factor in a successful pregnancy. However, before we discuss diet it has to be emphasized that prior to any mating, the breeder should take every precaution to ensure that the bitch is in ideal health.

This includes not only being in optimal physical condition but also free from infections and parasites. To ensure such a condition, animals should be exercised regularly and fed a diet that matches energy needs relative to energy output.

Do remember that the reproductive process does not begin at mating, but several weeks prior to the mating process when ovarian follicles are being recruited for the upcoming cycle, therefore, it is important that the breeder not confuse optimal physical condition with one that is athletically finished. The breeding bitch should have evident muscle tone, but also have a slight degree of body fat. This body condition will help promote a healthy endocrine system that will influence the degree of reproductive success.

In a nutshell

The diet of the brood bitch needs to contain high quality protein and adequate calcium levels but should also be high in fat, iron, minerals and vitamins. For most raw feeders, this is a not a problem. Protein is essential for foetal tissue growth and the good health of the brood bitch. Fat is necessary for energy.

Food quantity

Normal amounts in a raw diet fed on a daily basis are 2% - 3% of the body weight. Obviously this will increase significantly throughout the pregnancy. Most pregnant dogs will require more food after the 3rd week (about 4% of body weight) with this amount increasing as the whelping date nears. In the last week of pregnancy and all the way through lactation this amount will increase to 6%. If the bitch is carrying a large litter, smaller and more frequent meals will be helpful for the decreasing room in her abdomen.

DO’s and DON’T’s of canine pregnancy

  • DO provide adequate levels of Omega3. These essential fatty acids are of paramount importance for foetal brain and nerve development, as well as eyesight. It is also helpful in maintaining a healthy immune system. A recommended dose is 1,000 mg (EPA and DHA) per 10 kg of the mother’s body weight daily. Animal sources are best and these include Salmon or Fish Body oil (NOT cod liver oil).
  • DON'T supplement Calcium. If your dog is being fed a raw meaty bone diet, (assuming that her raw diet is at least 30-40% raw meaty bones) this will supply enough. Supplementing Calcium during pregnancy can actually be dangerous, as this seems to lead to problems with uterine inertia, increasing the probability that a caesarean section may be necessary. It may also contribute to the frequency of seizure problems associated with low blood calcium levels during lactation (milk tetany).
  • DO provide adequate intake of Folate acid A.K.A Vitamin B9. This B vitamin is important in stopping several birth defects that involve neural tube, cleft palate and spinal defects, especially in brahychephalic breeds such as Boxers or Bulldogs for example. A normal dose would be 400mcg for a large dog, 200mcg for a medium dog, and 50mcg for a small dog. Food sources that are high in this vitamin include pork, poultry and liver. Adequate intake of folate is important not only during the foetal growth but also before pregnancy – at least 2 months before conception.
  • DON'T forget the iron. Iron is important for the formation of red blood cells and the prevention of anaemia. The best source of iron is in meat products, such as beef, beef hearts, kidney and liver. Eggs are also an excellent source of iron.
  • DO supplement Vitamin C. This vitamin helps aid the uptake of iron into the system; it helps with collagen (tissue) building, and supports the immune system. The daily dose is 500mg for small to medium size dogs and 1, 000mg for large and gigantic breeds.
  • DO avoid Vitamin A. High doses of retinol can cause damage to the foetus in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Avoid a high intake of liver and do NOT give cod liver oil to a pregnant bitch. Large dogs, no more than 5,000mg of vitamin A per day, medium dogs not more than 2,000mg and a small dogs no more than 1,000mg daily.
  • DON'T forget to keep a variety. The best way to achieve a healthy pregnancy and puppies is to feed a diet which offers variety in order to ensure all the nutrients. This means food that contain a full profile of amino acids and rich in calcium such as muscle meat, beef kidney and heart, raw meaty bones, canned fish such as mackerel or salmon, eggs, yogurt and goats milk.

 

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