Raw feeding in pregnancy
In pregnancy, the diet needs to contain high quality protein, adequate levels of energy (fat) and essential nutrients such as calcium, folic acid and omega 3 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids, especially omega 3, are important for growth and development of the brain and nerves and also for eyesight and for the immune system. Omega 3 will be found in salmon and fish body oils.
If the bitch is already on a well-balanced raw diet, including a variety of meats, bones and organs, then her protein, fat and calcium needs are already being met.
The amount of muscle meat (80%) will need to be increased as the pregnancy progresses and throughout the whelping stage, to meet her increased energy demands and to ensure she has a good supply of milk for her puppies, whilst maintaining her own body weight.
Good quality proteins are essential for the growth and development of the unborn puppies, as well as maintaining muscle tone for the bitch. The protein will also be providing her with iron which is important for the production of red blood cells.
Eggs can be included in her diet, these are a great source of protein and supply a good amount of vitamin D, which is important to allow for the proper absorption of calcium.
Maintain organ meats throughout the pregnancy at around 10% of the diet. Liver is a natural source of folic acid, amongst it's many nutrients, which is required for the development of the brain and spinal cord of the puppies. Try to keep liver consumption at 5% as it is also a source of vitamin A, which should not be provided in excess during pregnancy.
Your dog will need plenty of raw bones to provide adequate calcium and, if this is the case, she should not need extra calcium to be added to the diet. This is especially so after the puppies are born, for milk production.
For dogs already on a raw diet -
You may find that you dog's taste changes during pregnancy, she may avoid foods that she previously liked.
During the first half of the pregnancy, things will not need to differ greatly from her normal needs.
Around week 4, you can slowly begin to increase the amount of muscle meat being fed. Increase gradually over the next few weeks at between 25% - 50% depending on the size of the litter. Do not increase the amount of offal and bone being fed. As her belly starts to grow, it may be more comfortable to feed her several smaller meals throughout the day, instead of one big meal that she may not have room for. If she appears hungry, then increase the meat even more.
Swapping to raw during pregnancy -
From 6 weeks onwards, it is recommended that you wait until the pups are born and then swap her to raw, along with the pups, as you begin weaning.
After the birth -
Continue to feed as much as she needs and provide plenty of edible bone, to keep up her calcium supplies, to make milk. She will need feeding 3 or 4 times per day but take care not to overfeed, getting her milk bound, or underfeed, stunting milk production. Keep you eye on the milk and feed accordingly.