Dog Nutrition – Feeding neutered, working and pregnant dogs
Occurrences which may affect maintenance requirements;
When a pet is neutered the body's natural metabolism will be altered; it will slow slightly and can even drop by 25% in the first 2 days following the operation. Therefore your pet will be at risk of gaining weight more readily if it continues to consume the same nutrition as before. If your pet is eating puppy or kitten food, then over then next month you may gradually change this onto an adult maintenance diet. If they are on an adult maintenance diet then reduce the amount fed to suit; it is helpful to regularly weigh your pet to adjust the amount fed accordingly.
This only refers to dogs whose energy expenditure is far greater to that of a normal pet dog, such as gun dogs, sheep herding dogs, sledge pulling dogs, racing greyhounds etc The diet should be specifically designed for the dog's particular needs. For example, greyhounds will require a high carbohydrate source to fuel short and intense bursts of energy, whereas dogs working for long periods such as endurance dogs or wildfowl gun dogs will require less carbohydrates but will gain their energy from fat. Generally though, not many have time to make and design home made diets for these kinds of dogs which will contain the correct balance of nutrients. Many good quality brands of foods have a working dog mix which is highly digestible, energy dense, and nutritionally balanced; they will all contain higher protein content than maintenance foods to aid energy requirements, muscle growth and repair.
A bitches’ average gestation period is 63days. The foetuses only begin to gain weight at any speed at around the last third of the pregnancy. Therefore her energy requirements are not dramatically increased until this point. Feeding more than is required at early pregnancy may result in weight gain which in turn may cause problems for the bitch at whelping. During the second half of gestation the food should be increased gradually, about 15% extra food each week. Towards the end weeks of the pregnancy there will be rapidly decreasing space in the bitches' abdomen, which may mean she will have trouble managing to eat the large quantity of food required to supply the amount of energy and nutrients she needs. You may either split the food into lots of small portions throughout the day, or if this is not viable she may be changed onto puppy food which is more energy dense. She therefore would receive the required levels of energy and nutrients but in a smaller, manageable quantity.
The first four weeks following whelping, when the pups are feeding and growing, is the most energy-demanding period a bitch can face. She will need to not only have enough nutritional energy to support herself but also to support her rapidly growing pups. She will require a highly palatable, highly digestible, energy dense diet – it is easier to use puppy food at this point as this will have a higher energy content than maintenance foods; there should be no need to use any extra supplementation in the diet providing the bitch is being fed a high quality, nutritionally balanced food. The amount supplied should be steadily increased over the four weeks depending on how many puppies the bitch has to support. If the bitch is not fed the correct amount of nutritional energy when lactating the pups will drain her body of her reserves resulting in loss of weight and condition and also leaving her at risk of eclampsia (hypocalcaemia) which is a very serious condition and can be fatal.