Giving the best achievable care for your female dogs and also her litter of puppies begins even before you choose the right dog to breed her to. The first step is to ensure she is healthy, which includes worming, vaccinating and also having her health examined. If there are any nutritional concerns, it is necessary to address them with your vet at that time since pregnancy will be a nutrient drain on her body.
If you get the go ahead, it is important to have her fit and within a healthy weight range. Once she is bred, you also do need to keep a calendar, so you know approximately what to expect and when to make changes in her feeding schedule before the arrival of the puppies.
Dogs are pregnant for approximately 62 days, give or take about five days depending on the breed and the individual female. It is essential to avoid overfeeding, and under exercising your dog for the first month to five weeks of pregnancy, it should be business as usually. Do not provide additional food or change food, just keep her on a high-quality kibble that is mostly meat based, or feed a homemade balanced diet or a BARF diet as she has been eating. Changing the diet at this time is not recommended unless there is a specific reason as recommended by a vet.
Typically most female dogs will experience a sort of dog version of morning sickness at about week three, and she may start to refuse food. As long as she is eating a bit at least once a day all is probably fine, however, if she skips more than two feeding sessions contact your vet immediately.
The last month of the pregnancy is the biggest strain on the female since this is when the puppies have a growth spurt. Gradually begin to increase her food intake, but keep the food to about 30% more than her average daily intake. At the same time switch her to a high-quality puppy food in the same quantity. This will provide the additional caloric and protein intake she needs to keep her weight as well as provide the nutrients needed for the rapidly growing puppies. She should be on full meat based high-quality puppy kibble by the second week before her due date.
During this time her abdomen will become stretched so she may have a much smaller stomach area than she did before the pregnancy. Some vets recommend allowing her free choice access to food so she can eat all day, just place the daily ration or half the daily ration out in the morning, then do the same at dinner time to give her a controlled amount of food to nibble on. Avoid just dumping a huge quantity of food since you cannot monitor how much she is eating or if she is skipping any meals.
Weighing the dog may also be a good idea, she should not begin to lose weight at any time after the third to fourth week of pregnancy. Any rapid weight loss or weight gain at this time should be checked out by your vet as soon as possible.