Knowing your dog’s dietary requirements as they progress through different life stages is important. What and how much your dog eats when they are a puppy, adult, and senior is likely going to change over time unless you can stick to one high quality food designed for all life stages. Feeding a pregnant dog is no different.
Think of pregnancy like a different stage in your dog’s life, where her energy requirements and diet will need to be slightly adjusted for a while. By following the general guidelines that exist for feeding pregnant dogs, you will make sure that she and her puppies are as happy and healthy as possible throughout conception and gestation, all the way up until the puppies are weaned from the mother.
If you’re in a hurry check out Taste of the Wild: This is the best commercial dry dog food to feed a pregnant dog, because it meets the AAFCO nutritional needs, has three rich-protein meats and is made in the USA.
According to Woodhaven Labs, dogs used for breeding or who may get pregnant should be on a diet with roughly 30% animal-based protein, 20% fat. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids should also be included in their diet. These nutritional guidelines will ensure that the dog is in optimal health to increase the chances of conception and more live births.
A study by Cornell University suggests that dogs who may become pregnant should be fed a high-quality maintenance food. These dogs should be at a healthy weight for conception, meaning they may have to gain or lose weight beforehand. Owners shouldn’t try to make their dog lose weight while pregnant.
Pregnant dogs can stay on the same food as usual until about day 50 of their pregnancy, if they are being fed a quality diet to begin with.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, she should be switched to a high calorie diet until the pups are weaned. For owners who use commercial dog food, this usually means premium performance or puppy food (but not for large breeds, because the nutrient profiles are different). This food should be gradually mixed and switched out until the new food is being fed exclusively around the final week of pregnancy.
Taste of the Wild’s grain-free, high protein dry dog food is an excellent choice for pregnant dogs who need a high-quality kibble with a little more protein than usual. This dog food blend has a minimum of 32% protein, 18% fat, and max 4% fiber. This High Prairie Canine formula is made to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.
The top three ingredients in this premium dog food are named protein sources (buffalo, lamb meal, and chicken meal). The next few ingredients are sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes which are healthy carbohydrate sources for energy, and canola oil for omega 3 fatty acids. Although canola oil isn’t the healthiest source of omega 3s, the main ingredients in this formula are healthy and high quality.
Owners can feel confident feeding a pregnant dog Taste of the Wild because this food is made in the USA by a family owned and run company. The company uses only ingredients that are trusted and sustainable. They also have scientifically advanced food safety protocols. Taste of the Wild products were included in one dog food recall in 2012 but there has not been any more since.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet is another grain free option that provides complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs. This formula contains min 20% protein, 10% fat, and max 5% fiber. It is formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for adult maintenance. This diet is good for sensitive dogs, but it is low in protein and fat when it comes to feeding for pregnancy.
A look at the top five ingredients (sweet potatoes, venison, pea protein, canola oil, and brewers dried yeast) also raises a few questions. Sweet potato is a great digestible carb which gives dogs energy, but generally high-quality foods have meat as the first ingredient. Venison is a great protein source, but pea protein is a lower quality source of protein. Brewers dried yeast is another controversial ingredient.
Despite these caveats, Natural Balance is a highly rated dry dog food. Each production run is safety tested nine times by highly qualified microbiologists and chemists. The results are posted on the company’s website to give dog owners peace of mind. The company has been making dog and cat food since 1989 and has had only two recalls of its dry dog food, one in 2010 and another in 2012.
For some dog owners, even premium commercial dry dog foods just don’t cut it. The Honest Kitchen offers human grade dehydrated organic dog food that is made for active adult dogs of all breeds and sizes. This dog food is made in the USA without any preservatives, by-products, or GMO ingredients. All owners need to do is add warm water and stir to give their dogs a warm and delicious meal.
Yes, this dog food is different, but how does it compare nutritionally with other brands? This dehydrated dog food contains a minimum of 24.5% protein, 15.3% fat, and max 3.4% fiber. The top five ingredients are dehydrated chicken, organic barley, organic oats, organic flaxseed, and dehydrated potatoes. All of these are quality, nutritious ingredients.
The Honest Kitchen is recommended by holistic veterinarians and meets the nutrient levels established by AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages. This formula uses only human grade ingredients (no animal feed products) and is made in an FDA inspected facility. The Honest Kitchen has had one recall of several products in 2013 but no others since.
Bully Max is a high performance, super premium dog food that is the only 5-star rated, meat-based formula of its kind. This food contains no corn, wheat, or soy and has a minimum of 30% protein, 20% fat, and maximum 3.8% fiber. In terms of the protein and fat levels recommended for dogs who are pregnant, this performance dog food meets those requirements.
Another important thing to consider when choosing a dog food for pregnancy are the top 5 ingredients. For this formula they are chicken meal, brown rice, chicken fat, dried plain beat pulp, and ground grain sorghum. Chicken meal and brown rice are healthy sources of protein and carbs, while chicken fat provides essential omega 6 fatty acids. Ground grain sorghum is like corn but somewhat healthier.
Bully Max has had no dog food recalls. This all-natural dog food is formulated for puppies and adult dogs. With 535 calories per cup, your dog may eat less but still get the nutrition they need. The directions on this dog food say to feed a pregnant dog the amount needed to maintain her ideal body condition, keeping in mind that her food intake may double (or even quadruple!) during lactation.
Wild Calling is a grain free rotational diet adult dog food containing 96% lamb, salmon, and chicken. This canned dog food contains no grain, gluten, or artificial ingredients. The ingredients for this food are all purchased and produced in the USA with added zinc, copper, and iron to provide dogs with balanced nutrition.
The first five ingredients in this food are lamb, water sufficient for processing, chicken, salmon, and chicken liver. These are all quality ingredients and having several real meat protein ingredients listed is great. This food contains min 9% protein, 8.5% fat, and max 1% fiber, which makes it a good supplement to a pregnant dog’s diet but not sufficient on its own.
Unlike other foods that are designed to be fed to dogs exclusively, a rotational diet food means that it’s meant to be part of a varying menu. The feeding instructions state that owners should give their dogs ¾ to 1 can of Wild Calling per 15 lbs of body weight per day. There have been no recalls of Wild Calling canned dog food.
Feeding a pregnant dog can be a delicate balance. Before becoming pregnant, a dog should be brought to her ideal weight and then fed a maintenance diet with high fat and protein. There are several dog food brands that fit this description, but Taste of the Wild, The Honest Kitchen, and Bully Max stand out as some of the better options.
Owners who choose to feed their pregnant dog a food with lower protein and fat may want to supplement their dog’s diet with a canned food like Wild Calling, which offers high quality protein sources that dogs love. This might be the case if your dog is on a limited ingredient diet like Natural Balance due to allergies and sensitivities but isn’t getting quite enough protein and fat.
Pregnant dogs may need to be switched from a maintenance food to a puppy or performance formula towards the end of gestation and after the puppies are born. Owners should keep in mind that their dog will need to eat a lot more during lactation, up until her puppies are weaned.