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Dogfood For Pregnant Bitch

While it is often easy to recognize malnourishment, the distinction between dietary sufficiency and optimal nutrition can be vague. The use of dietary supplements can supply excessive amounts of nutrients such as minerals, thus altering the balanced dietary matrix of the diet. The key to optimal nutrition is supplying a food that has a balanced nutrient profile at levels that meet the animal’s need.

Prior to any mating, the breeder should take every precaution to ensure that the bitch is in ideal health. This includes not only being current on all vaccinations and free from infections and parasites, but also in optimal physical condition. Animals should be exercised and maintained on a diet that matches energy needs relative to energy output. An important note to remember is 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. Because of this, it is important that the breeder not confuse optimal physical condition with 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.

There are numerous diets, both commercially available and home recipes, that are sufficient for reproduction. This merely means that animals were able to reproductively perform within expected levels while consuming a defined diet. Unfortunately, these expected levels are often well below the level that the bitch is genetically capable of performing.

Again you may ask, “what should I feed?” First and foremost, select a commercially available premium food with animal-based protein sources that is recommended for gestation and lactation and manufactured by a reputable company. While there are many “home based” diet recipes circulating, it is extremely difficult to achieve a complete and balanced diet using these recipes. These diets can often be deficient in vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients and are undefined with regard to amino acid and fatty acid levels. They may also vary over time due to an inconsistent ingredient supply. Commercial formulas offer distinct advantages by allowing the breeder to feed a product of known nutrient content and type proven to support the reproductive process.

Approximately two weeks prior to breeding, the bitch should be transitioned (if necessary) from her maintenance diet to a diet comprised of approximately 30% highly digestible animal-based protein and 20% fat. The fat portion of the diet should be balanced for fatty acid content to supply an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio in the range of between 5:1 and 10:1.*

1. Campbell JE, Phillips PH. Reproduction studies in dogs.

2. Ontko JA, Phillips PH. Reproduction and lactation studies.

3. Collins DR. The reproducing bitch. In: The Collins Guide to Dog Nutrition.

At High Desert we feed our dogs “Blue Buffalo Wilderness” and “Authority Harvest Baked” both have everything I look for in a good dog food. You can buy at Pet Smart and unlike so many good dog foods Authority doesn’t cost a fortune at around $1 a pound.  Only “Harvest Baked” Authority though. “Blue Buffalo Wilderness” is great for performance dogs or pregnant bitches. It costs a bit more, but you feed less. You can also grade your own dog food with the formula posted on this Blog.

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