How To Feed & Take Care Of A Pregnant Dog? - IAMS™ Philippines
How To Feed & Take Care Of A Pregnant Dog? - IAMS™ Philippines

Pregnant Dog Care Guide

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Nutrition and bodyweight management are crucial for the health of a pregnant dog and her puppies. While your dog may not require as many doctor visits as people do during pregnancy, you wi’ll still need to understand how to take care of a pregnant dog. This can be achieved by consulting your vet who can evaluate and treat her for both internal and external parasites that could pose a threat to her or her offspring. Pregnancy in a dog is one of the most exciting, but delicate' times in the life of a female dog. Hence, providing sufficient care during the early weeks of pregnancy is critical.


Signs of dog pregnancy

It can be difficult to notice anything unusual in your dog during the first few weeks of her pregnancy. However, you can watch out for subtle signs of pregnancy in dogs.

  • Reduced activity

Your pregnant dog will get tired easily and spend more time napping. For dogs that usually have a high energy drive, this decrease in activity should be considered carefully. It may be difficult to spot a decline in energy in dogs who love resting all day. So, if this is the case, pay attention to how quickly she feels exhausted during walks.

  • Strange behavior

You will observe certain changes in your dog's behavior if she is pregnant. For example, she may crave her owner's comfort more frequently. A pregnant dog will spend more time around you, seeking extra attention. At times, she will also prefer solitude and would not want to be bothered. And when given attention, she may appear depressed or even irritated.

  • Alterations in appetite

Appetite fluctuations are another sign of pregnancy in dogs. She may eat less or perhaps even vomit sometimes, early or midway through the pregnancy. However, she may consume more than normal and be unhappy with her meals. These changes are caused by your dog's shifting hormones.

  • Weight gain and belly enlargement

Your dog's abdomen will grow in size as the puppies grow. This can be one of the most obvious signs of a dog's pregnancy, particularly if your dog hasn't gained weight for any other reason. However, because enlargement of the abdomen happens late in a dog's pregnancy, and if you detect this sign, it’s time to take her to the clinic.

Proper nutrition requirements during the pregnancy

Proper nutrition for pregnant dogs is important in this period. Therefore, extra caution and care should be given while providing food for pregnant dogs and caring for them.

  • Feeding your pregnant dog with a high-energy diet is important since she requires higher energy during such delicate times. Along with letting a baby grow in her womb, she will also be gaining body weight. That’s exactly why your vet will advise you to provide your dog with a high-energy diet with appropriate levels of fat, carbs, and protein. So, make sure to give her as much food as she likes unless she has a tendency of gaining weight.
  •  A dog's pregnancy usually lasts for nine weeks on average. During the first six or seven weeks, the food intake shouldn't be higher than normal. Use a puppy formula to feed your dog as it will enable her to stay strong. Puppy food is also more nutritionally packed, making it easier to pass through the mother's smaller stomach. In fact, providing puppy food during the first six or seven weeks will be beneficial later as well. It will eventually provide essential nutrients to your dog’s puppies through the mother's milk when they are born. Then, between weeks six and seven, start giving her additional food as per her weight gain. By the ninth week, her appetite may wane or vanish. This is usually a sign that the puppies will be born within the next few days.


Pregnancy and nursing are not only responsible for many changes in a dog's body, but for changes in her lifestyle as well. If your dog is pregnant or nursing, pay special attention to her changing nutritional needs as she carries, delivers and nurses her puppies.

A week-by-week overview of your dog’s pregnancy



Weeks 1 and 2
  • Breeding occurs
  • Fertilization occurs
  • Fertilized eggs embed into the female’s uterine lining 
Weeks 3 and 4
  • Embryo develops
  • Spinal cord slowly begins to develop
  • The fetus grows facial features
Weeks 5 and 6
  • Other organs develop
  • Legs, eyes, and other features develop
Weeks 7 and 8
  • The puppy/ies are well developed 
  • Slowly move around in the abdomen
Week 9
  • The puppy/ies are fully developed
  • Labor begins


Which vaccines are required before and during your dog’s pregnancy?

Did you know? You must ensure that your female dog is up to date with vaccination before and during pregnancy. After all, it offers protection from rabies and other severe illnesses. So, let’s explore the vaccination needs of a female dog during this delicate, yet beautiful stage of its life.

Before dog pregnancy:

There are certain vaccines that you should consider giving your dog before she’s pregnant. 

The Canine Task Force of the American Animal Hospital Association believes the following canine immunizations to be essential:

  • Canine Distemper
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis
  • Rabies

During dog pregnancy:

In general, normal pet owners will not need to vaccinate a pregnant female dog. If she is up to date with all her vaccinations, there is usually no need to give her an additional booster shot just because she is pregnant. Moreover, even veterinarians discourage vaccinating pregnant dogs. 

Nutrition during nursing in large and small breeds

The nutritional requirement for large-breed dogs differs from that of small-breed dogs. While you would want to shower your pregnant dog with endless foods and treats, it is best to refrain from it. Overfeeding could lead to obesity towards the end of pregnancy. This will increase the risk of difficult labor, which will thereby cause stress to the dog. Hence, during these delicate times, following the feeding guide provided by your vet is a must.

 A small breed dog needs more calories per pound than a large breed dog to sufficiently sustain her puppies during pregnancy as well as breastfeeding. The to-be mother dog’s food consumption should be increased by roughly 15% to 25% as she nears the date of delivery.

Small dog breeds should be fed a small breed puppy food. Therefore, choose a highly nutritious puppy diet for your dog based on the size of the breed.

Before pregnancy: plan ahead

If you're planning to breed your female dog, it’s important to assess her body condition well in advance due to the physical demands of pregnancy and nursing, a dog with less-than-ideal health can experience problems.

  • An underweight dog often has difficulty consuming enough food to support both her own nutritional needs and those of her developing puppies.
  • Overweight dogs may experience abnormal or difficult labor because of large fetuses.

Be sure to feed the proper amounts of a complete and balanced diet. This will support the mother's healthy weight and body condition before breeding and help maintain her health and that of her babies throughout pregnancy and lactation.

Pregnancy: monitor your dog’s weight gain

The gestation period for dogs is nine weeks. Pregnant dogs gain weight only slightly until about the sixth week, and then gain weight rapidly.

The energy requirements of pregnant dogs are reflected in the pattern of weight gain. Pregnant dogs will need to consume 25% to 50% more than their normal food intake by the end of pregnancy, but energy requirements do not increase until about the sixth week.

The best diet for pregnant and nursing dogs is a high-quality, nutrient-dense pet food formulated for all life stages. Although puppy diets are generally recommended for pregnant or nursing dogs, large-breed puppy formulas may not be appropriate for this use due to their adjusted energy and mineral content.

What food should be avoided while caring for a pregnant dog?

Raw foods are not recommended for nursing or pregnant dogs. Most dogs can get by on high-quality dog food alone, so unless your veterinarian suggests otherwise, you should avoid giving your dog any additional vitamins or supplements.

A good option is to give your pregnant dog IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Mother and Baby dog food. It supports the mother’s gestation and milk production for healthy puppy development while also boosting your puppy's training capacity with vital DHA for healthy brain development, making its first year of life a pleasant one.

Nursing: make sure your dog gets sufficient nutrition

Pregnant dogs lose weight after giving birth, but their nutritional needs increase dramatically. Depending on litter size, nursing dogs might need two to three times their normal food requirement to nourish their pups. Be sure your nursing mom has plenty of water, so she can generate the milk volume she needs to feed the litter.

To help your nursing dog get enough nutrition, you can try several tactics:

  • Feed a nutrient-dense diet such as puppy food.
  • Instead of increasing the quantity of food in a single meal, increase the number of meals throughout the day.
  • Adopt free-choice feeding and, offer unlimited access to dry food throughout the day.


Weaning: return to a pre-pregnancy diet

By four to five weeks after birth, most puppies start showing an interest in their mother’s food. Gradually, the puppies will begin eating more solid food and nursing less. At the same time, the nursing mother will usually begin eating less. Most puppies are completely weaned around age 7 to 8 weeks. By this time, the mother's energy requirement is back to normal, and she should be eating her normal pre-pregnancy diet.

Similar to the nutritional requirements of pregnant and nursing dogs, senior dogs also have specific nutritional needs. Explore our blog where we discuss the nutritional needs of senior dogs.


If you're looking for the perfect dog for you, try our Dog Breed Selector today and enjoy a lifetime of tail-wagging joy.

FAQ On Nutritional Needs For Pregnant And Nursing Dogs

  1. What should a pregnant dog eat?
  2. A pregnant dog should be switched to a higher-calorie diet (when they are already a month into pregnancy). The food should also have 22% protein and 1600 kcal of digestible calories per pound.

  3. Can I Feed my dog during labor?
  4. If your dog is in active labor, she would most likely refuse to eat. The labor process can be exhausting, resulting in stomach trouble, pacing, vomiting, and uneasiness. As a result, feeding her during this period is ineffective. If your dog eats soon before labor, she may vomit up the meal.


  5. Can a dog get pregnant if not in heat?
  6. Your dog can only become pregnant when she is in heat, which occurs once or twice annually depending on the breed. When dogs are about 6 months old, they go into heat for the first time. The entire heating cycle takes about three weeks, and it is during this cycle that your dog can become pregnant.


  7. does mother dog miss their pups?
  8. Mother dogs may miss their pups if their specific circumstances are not taken into account. Therefore, plan everything carefully before breeding her to a male to ensure that the separation of her litter is not all at once. 


  9. Can my dog get pregnant while nursing puppies?
  10. Yes, your dog can get pregnant again at any time after she has given birth. However, it will depend on when she goes into heat again. Thus, it is best advised to keep the male dogs away from her so that insemination doesn't happen accidentally.


  11. How to take care of a pregnant dog?
  12. Here are a few tips on caring for a pregnant dog:

    • Indulge her in short walks or easy and light playtime
    • Follow a healthy, nutrition-rich diet
    • Dogs can pass worms to their puppies. So, ensure that you deworm her. However, not every deworming medicine is safe for pregnant dogs; hence, consult your vet.
    • Stay in touch with your veterinarian at every stage of pregnancy. The doctor will help your manager her weight, mood, and overall health.
  • Choosing the Right Dog Food
    Choosing the Right Dog Food
    Choosing the Right Dog Food

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    Author: Dr. Diah Pawitri

    When visiting the store, dog owners can get overwhelmed by the array of dog food options available, from dry kibble to canned wet food and more. These processed foods may not be appealing to humans, but they contain all the nutrients that dogs need to stay healthy. Like humans, dogs also need a variety of nutrients from their food, not just from meat as their main diet, but also from grains, vegetables, and fruits. This kind of balance is usually weighed by pet food labels in kibbles or wet food in grams for different types of dogs. 

    For optimum health, dogs need food that is tailored and customized to their life stages, starting from when they are puppies and all the way into adulthood. Puppies have completely different nutrient needs compared to adult dogs as they are still in their early stages of life. They need enough nutrients to fuel a speedy growth, especially after transitioning away from their mother's milk. Puppies require complete and balanced nutrition with protein to help build their tissues, fats or healthy skin, hair, brain, and vision, carbohydrates for energy, vitamins, minerals, and water.

    The need for balanced nutrients in puppies starts with the mother during pregnancy, followed by lactation and growth. Sufficient nourishment for the mother is pivotal in enhancing the puppies’ growth inside the womb and preparing them for life after birth. Both mother and puppy should receive well-proportioned antioxidants, DHA, and prebiotics to support their health and growth as provided by the IAMS product line, which contains DHA that is essential for puppies' brain development while also supporting the mother's pregnancy and quality of milk produced. 

    While puppies need the primary nutrients for growth, adult dog food has a different level of complexity. Adult dog food requires the same make-up of nutrients as puppies do but tailored to their specific needs. Recent research indicates that an adult dog requires at least 10% of its daily calories from protein and at least 5.5% from fat. Adult dogs need quality protein for firm muscles and a healthy immune system. Additionally, an adult diet can contain up to 50% carbohydrates, with fiber ranging from 2.5 to 4.5%. There is no specific prescribed amount of fibre for adult dog consumption daily, however, it is still one of the most important components in dog food to address constipation and support a healthy weight.

    Adult dogs in their prime also require a balance in antioxidants to reduce systemic inflammation and restore active muscles. They should receive Vitamin E and C to support their immune system, joint health, and prevent inflammation. As they grow older, they may be exposed to different diseases from diabetes to cancers, which can be prevented by polyphenols.  Parents to adult dogs must acknowledge the most suitable food for their loved one that is comprised of the right amount of nutrients and can look to the IAMS line as they are formulated to support healthy bones and joint health, scientifically proven for healthy digestion with a good fibre and prebiotic blend, as well as antioxidants for a strong immune system.

    Besides life stage, balanced nutrition should be adjusted to their breed, which give insight to different factors like weight, mouth size, and energy level. This will then determine the type of kibble and food given. Smaller breeds tend to be more active, requiring the same essential nutrients and prebiotics for a healthy body as well as smaller-sized kibble designed specifically for their smaller mouths. As smaller dogs relatively have a high metabolism, higher levels of protein, fat, and essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6 are some of the important nutrients that should be available in their food. On the other hand, larger breeds require foods that are lower in fat and calories, contain slightly lower levels of calcium and phosphorus, and have a specific balance of calcium-to-phosphorus ratio to support stronger bones and muscles.  Owners can look to products like the small breed line from IAMS, containing 7 essential nutrients to build strong muscles, support their tiny immune system while protecting their healthy skin and coat, and the product line for adults for large breeds.

    Dog parents must acknowledge and understand the unique needs, life stage and characteristics in their dog to choose the right dog food so their furry ones can grow into their healthiest selves. Make sure to visit your vet regularly to check these components as well!