Nursing bitch: what diet?

The body of a female dog who is nursing her puppies has special nutritional needs. This therefore implies a modification of his diet so that it is perfectly adapted. This is fundamental for the health of the lactating bitch and also for that of her young. But don’t panic: the lactating bitch’s food shouldn’t be an obsessive subject. Teachers have every interest in taking a step back from everything that is said these days. Using common sense is enough to keep your dog and her young in good health, and kibble is not a must. Let’s do a check in.

Feeding your nursing dog: we don’t make a big deal out of it!

It is clear that today, the masters are worried at the idea of ​​not feeding their bitch correctly, which is breastfeeding her young. There was a time when this was not at all a problem, these animals received homemade food and were doing very well. They knew how to hunt to supplement their ration if necessary and he had fewer obese dogs, but also fewer allergic or intolerant dogs … Except that since then, the specialized industries in the development of food for adolescent dogs, senior dogs, convalescent dogs, pregnant bitches, lactating bitches, growing puppies and dieting doggies have all been there.

There are big economic stakes and it is not in their interest to advocate the household ration because these industries would have a lot to lose if the sale of kibble or dog food were to collapse. The sums invested by the masters in these industrial foods are more and more astronomical and even a number of veterinarians have “fallen into the trap” of a large-scale propaganda.

Ultimately, pets are victims of petfood industry lobbies which nobody ignores marketing power. However, the nonsense is beyond measure: dogs are now forced to always eat the same food when it is much healthier for their food to be varied.

To come back to the subject that occupies us here, let’s just say that there is nothing to be guilty about if we prefer to be inspired by what our ancestors did (full of common sense, them) because they knew how to feed their families. animals and easily met the needs of their nursing bitches and puppies … without making a big deal out of it or straining their brains. No need to fall into excess by weighing each spoonful or by drawing up a table of nutrients, food by food, to the nearest micron. Let’s leave that to nutritionists, and remember that a lactating bitch is not a sick animal.

Nursing bitch: nutritional needs that change over time

We can ask the veterinarian for some advice on the daily food ration of the lactating bitch in order to give her enough to eat without going beyond reasonable limits. The bitch should receive a variety of foods each day capable of providing her with micronutrients, nutrients, essential fatty acids, water andenergy. We must avoid deficiencies. Note that calcium has a key role on two levels: lactation and the growth of puppies. This does not mean that it is necessary to increase calcium intake beyond what is necessary.

On the other hand, foods rich in oxalates should be served in small quantities, or even avoided because they lead to a decrease in the absorption of calcium by the body such as sweet potatoes and brown rice for example.

Finally, it is better to cook food in order to avoid any risk of contamination by bacteria or parasites. The three most suitable cooking methods are a bain-marie, steam and papillote, because they preserve a large part of the nutrients. We strongly advise against cooking in butter and oil.

Breastfeeding bitch: split her daily ration

Throughout the nursing period, the dog’s food needs are greater than normal. However, it should not be given too much food at the same time as this will inevitably lead to a overload in his digestive system. She would suffer from discomfort and disorders such as diarrhea or constipation and intestinal gas responsible for bloating and stomach aches. The only solution to overcome these drawbacks is to divide the daily ration into three or four meals well distributed over the day.

Bitch during lactation: kibble or household ration

It is a choice that can be left to the appreciation of each owner.


Many breeders are convinced that they are less likely to make mistakes if they buy specific kibble for lactating dogs because they are supposed to be perfectly balanced. They therefore choose excellent quality croquettes rather than low end. These are certainly economical to buy, but they do not meet the nutritional needs of the lactating bitch. There are indeed significant differences from one category to another. Junk food is not an exclusively human problem, it is also found in animals …

The advice we can give is to always take the time to read labels to make sure that the kibbles consist of only the right ingredients. A large majority of owners set their sights on kibble for puppies during the growing season because they are rich in essential nutrients and provide a lot of energy to the bitch and her young. They frequently buy them from the vet because they only provide top quality food. Knowing perfectly the products he markets, he can recommend the ideal portions according to the number of puppies in the litter and the bitch’s weight.

Homemade food

Feeding her nursing dog with kibble is not, however, an obligation! There is nothing to prevent them from giving them good quality, fresh food. purchased raw then prepared at home. Here again, the veterinarian is the best adviser in this matter because he knows the bitch well, which he certainly follows regularly.

Food prepared at home is ideal since it allows the variety, which is still more satisfying for the animal and healthier. It suffices to opt for fatty meat or fish or even cheese (in reasonable quantities), more suitable during this period than lean meat and fish since the energy density of each food portion should be slightly larger than usual. A few carrots are welcome, as are green beans, cucumber, and zucchini, and some masters substitute rice for oatmeal. Finally, water is vital and must be given at will. A water fountain is welcome.

Lactating bitch: an update on supplementation

The food supplements are not absolutely obligatory, and they are even perfectly useless if the owner takes care to give her dog a healthy and balanced food and that the small female eats the totality of her daily ration. On the other hand, the veterinarian may advise giving him supplementation if:

  • She lacks appetite and only eats part of her ration,
  • She suffers from digestive problems,
  • It does not digest certain foods, especially kibble rich in starch.

Food supplements (vitamins and minerals) should not be given to nursing dogs only on the advice of the veterinarian.

Finally, it is important to start imperceptibly reduce energy intake from the 4th nursing week and until the puppies are completely weaned, that is, when they are 7 or 8 weeks old. This is the right time for the dog to resume physical activity so that she regains good musculature, top-level breath and loses her possible curves. But the resumption of sport in the bitch whose young are just weaned must be done gently.