Advice on how to look after a breeding bitch
ArticleThursday 14 March 2013
It is that time of the year when breeding is on the increase so here is a quick guide on bitch care to make sure your dog is well prepared for having a set of pups. The most important thing? Nutrition, nutrition and nutrition.
1) Before you begin, seek a vet's advice. They can give your bitch a quick check-up to see if she is suitable for the task at hand and will check if there are any physical abnormalities or any internal of external parasites. Furthermore she should be given the various vaccinations that are required.
2) The most important aspect is your dog's diet. Just like humans, if a woman eats poorly then her baby suffers. The same if true for a bitch. With good nutrition one can expect healthy pups. When should this begin? This should actually long before she is bred and of course before her estrous cycle. Again ask your Vet to check her diet. If she suffers from malnourishment and is either overweight or underweight then problems can occur such as the breakdown of the immune system for her and the pups. In summary the diet of a breeding bitch is important and vital in all stages of the reproductory cycle.
3) Parturition is an important stage. Your bitch’s dietary intake should have increased by up to 25%. If your bitch rejects food up to 12 hours prior to whelping then this is normal and you should not worry. Try to encourage water in order to stop dehydration, weakness, labour difficulties and impaired milk letdown. Once the bitch has given birth the diet must continue. You may find that she is reluctant at this time to leave the pups so if you need to then bring food and water to her. Try highly palatable foods such as ice cream, puppy-milk replacers or a growth-and-lactation commercial cat food.
4) You may notice that during the lactation stages that Nutritional deficiencies could occur during this time. Remember that during this time, her priority is not herself but her pups and her body will rapidly lose it's reserves for the pups. Your aim is to provide enough nutrition for her during this stage. Take caution with commercial dog food as it may not contain enough nutrient density and caloric content. Change to a higher-quality, more calorie-dense product. Another alternative is to supplement the diet with a fat source such as lard or vegetable oil. For example 1 tablespoon of fat per cup of dry food.
5) You may think that after 3 - 6 weeks of the puppies entering the world all is fine however this is the stage of peak lactation. There are many nutritional demands at this stage. Ways to tell if the bitch is suffering is through her being out of condition, her coat may look poor, and she may have lost weight. Remember that if food is difficult to digest she may suffer from diarrhoea. On the other hand if she contains large amounts of a poor diet the intestinal tract can become overwhelmed which further reduced digestibility.
6) Behavioural changes - If your normally behaved bitch becomes annoyed and bad tempered then this is no surprise considering the stress she is under. It has been reported that an intake of vitamin C can help. Allow her plenty of rest during the reproductory cycle.
Source: American Kennel Club
Photo Source: West Midlands Police