Your dog will go through a lot of changes in her pregnancy as she grows and nourishes her litter of unborn pups.
Her nutritional requirements change too, her metabolism increases with the extra energy demands and her body requires additional vitamins and minerals.
Giving your pregnant dog a vitamin supplement can be a great way to support the development of healthy pups.
Obviously you want to do everything possible to give your dog and her new born pups the best start possible.
If your dog isn’t healthy during her pregnancy then there is a higher risk of miscarriage, problems during labor or the puppies being born underweight, weak or with developmental problems.
We will discuss some tips on feeding your pregnant dog, why you might want to give your dog a prenatal vitamin, and take a look at some of the best prenatal vitamin supplements available.
We will also look at some risks of over-supplementing your pregnant dog, including the risks of giving too much calcium, vitamin A and D.
Why give a prenatal supplement to your dog?
Talk to your veterinarian about your pregnant dog’s nutritional needs and to check that a prenatal supplement would be suitable for your dog. Some of the main reasons that prenatal supplements may be good for your pregnant dog include:
Giving your pregnant dog a vitamin or essential fatty acid supplement can be a great way to give her a little boost and support the development of healthy pups.
One study even found that pregnant dogs that were given a folic acid supplement had a reduced incidence of cleft palate and cleft lip in their puppies!
Supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids helps to maximize brain and eye development in the unborn pups.
Now, lets take a look at some of the best prenatal supplements available for your dog.
6 Best Prenatal Supplements For dogs
There are a wide range of supplements available for pregnant dogs, and it can get pretty confusing trying to decide which one is best for your pooch.
We have chosen six great prenatal supplement options, that can help keep your dog healthy in this important phase of her life. Let’s take a look at each one in a little more detail:
Breeders’ Edge Oxy Mate is a prenatal supplement containing a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, and selected herbs. Revival Animal Health states it is “formulated for the specific nutritional needs of pregnant females and her developing embryos”.
These prenatal treats are fortified with iron, folic acid and zinc which optimize red blood cell production and blood flow, and may also reduce the risk of birth defects in the puppies. Nettle leaf is a natural herb packed full of nourishing vitamins, and is also thought to improve uterine tone and help ease the birthing process.
Oxy Mate is available in two easy to give options, a meaty treat or a soft chew, depending on your dog’s taste preferences. The meat chew is made with real meat (pork, beef and liver) for a delicious taste your dog will love.
While the tasty soft chews made with fish oil, do not need to be refrigerated, and are available in two size options. Female dogs can be given these treats daily from breeding to the birth of the pups.
TOMLYN High Calorie Nutritional Gel – Nutri-Cal®
Tomlyn’s High Calorie nutritional gel is a veterinary formulated product that is high in energy, packed full of vitamins and minerals and a great source of protein.
It also rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty acids, which are needed for a healthy heart, skin and joints.Supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids may help to maximize brain and eye development in unborn puppies.
In pregnant dogs, this gel is especially useful in the final trimester when the dog’s appetite might decrease but her energy demands remain high. Offering her an energy dense and nutritious supplement such as Nutri-Gel is a great way to give her a little boost.
It is tasty enough, that she will probably eat it straight off the spoon, but can be easily mixed in with food if needed.
The recommended dose is 1 ½ teaspoons per 10 pounds of body weight daily. This product is also a great choice for sick, stressed or weak puppies as it is so nutritious and is an easy to give gel formulation, so it’s a great investment.
Dorwest Raspberry Leaf Tablets
Raspberry Leaf is a natural remedy that has been used for centuries for a healthy pregnancy, smoother birth and reduced bleeding after birth.
This herbal product tones the smooth muscles of the uterus. Raspberry Leaf is also rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants(which help to prevent cellular damage and cancer).
One study in women who took raspberry leaf tablets while pregnant, showed that it shortened the second stage of labor and reduced the rate of forceps deliveries, compared to women who did not take raspberry leaf.
Although, no studies have been carried out in dogs, it is a very popular natural supplement with dog breeders to help their dogs have a smoother labor.
However, its not just a useful supplement for pregnant dogs, many owners and breeders use if successfully for the prevention of pseudo-pregnancy (false pregnancy) in dogs.
Dorwest recommend that pregnant dogs take 1 tablet daily per 10kg (22lb) of bodyweight from the third week of pregnancy until one week after the pups are born.
Cobalaplex has been designed to support the normal cobalamin (B12) and folic acid levels in dogs.
It also contains a combination of prebiotics (friendly gut bacteria) to help keep the digestive tract healthy. Cobalamin (vitamin B12) and folic acid (vitamin B9) both play an important role in many cellular processes within the body including metabolism, energy production, DNA synthesis, cellular growth, and red blood cell production.
Pregnant dogs have a higher requirement for these vitamins due to the demand of her growing pups. Studies have shown that supplementing pregnantdogs with folic acid reduces the incidence of cleft lip and palate in the puppies.
Cobalaplex is available in packs of 60 capsules, which can be given whole or opened and sprinkled onto food. They are chicken flavoured so your dog will think they are tasty. Dogs weighing between 20-40lbs require one capsule daily.
Canine Complete is a“proprietary blend of pure, whole-food ingredients meant to ensure the health and longevity of your dog”. It can help keep your dog healthy and happy throughout her pregnancy.
This high quality supplement is jammed pack with vitamins, minerals, essential Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and whole fish protein.
What makes it unique is that it also contains digestive enzymes (lipase, protease, amylase, cellulase and papain) and probiotics (friendly gut bacteria e.g. Lactobacillus Acidophilus) to help your dog fully digest its food and fully utilise the nutrients.
It doesn’t contain fillers, synthetics, GMO’s or any artificial flavors.
It comes in powder form, that you can easily mix it in with your dog’s normal food. One disadvantage is that most dogs probably wont eat it straight from the spoon.
A standard tub of Canine Complete gives a 30lb dog a 60-day supply. Dogs weighing 21-30lbs require 1 tablespoon of this supplement daily.
Natur-Vet All-in-One Support
Natur-Vet’s All-In-One Soft Chews are a great choice for your pregnant dog if you want a high quality “all-rounder” vitamin supplement. It is specially formulated to support digestion and promote healthy skin, coat and joints.
This supplement contains a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals to support your pregnant dog and her unborn pups. It is also rich in Omega-3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, which are needed in the diet as dogs can’t produce them.
They are necessary for the normal function of the brain, nervous system, vision, healthy skin and hair, and the production of hormones. Pregnant dogs need omega-3 fatty acids as they are essential for the proper development of the brains and retinas of their puppies.
All-in-one also contains digestive enzymes (lipase, cellulose, protease) and the probiotic bacillus coagulans, to help keep your pregnant dog’s digestive system healthy and help absorb all the necessary nutrients from it’s food. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin for added joint support too, and to help build healthy joints in the unborn puppies.
Theses tasty wheat free chews are like a treat, so your dog will probably love them. This company is cGMP compliant and NASC audited, which ensures consistent high standards while manufacturing it’s products.
The All-in-one soft chews are packaged in a re-sealable jar, so its easy to keep them fresh. Dogs weighing up to 30lbs require 2 chews per day.
Feeding your pregnant dog
During pregnancy your dog should be fed a high quality, complete and balanced canine diet. You shouldn’t aim to over feed her, so that she rapidly gains weight, as in the first few weeks she still has the same nutritional requirements as a young adult dog.
However, in the final trimester (from around day 40) the puppies start to grow rapidly and put a lot of extra nutritional demand on the mum to be.
This is when she should be transitioned onto a high quality puppy food, as its easier to digest but full of energy and nutrients.
During this time, she may need 30-60% more energy than normal, depending on her breed and the size of her litter.
Are there any risks with prenatal supplements?
Not all pregnant dogs will need a dietary vitamin supplement. If you are feeding your pregnant dog a premium complete dog food, then she is probably getting all her vitamin, mineral and nutrient requirements already.
However, if you chose to give your pregnant pooch a prenatal supplement then you should always take care that the supplement you are giving is suitable and safe during pregnancy!
It’s a good idea to have a chat with your veterinarian first, before you decide which supplement is best for your pregnant dog.
Over supplementing some vitamins and minerals might cause your pregnant dog more harm than good! Let’s take a look at some of the main risks in a little more detail:
Adding lots of calcium into the diet is not advised
Your pregnant dog’s calcium requirements do increase, however, her needs should be met by the increased amount of food she is eating. Calcium supplementation is contraindicated.
If you supplement too much calcium into your pregnant dog’s diet, then you suppress the parathyroid hormone production, and suppress your dog’s ability to regulate her own calcium levels.
Then at whelping or during lactation, her calcium regulation has become lazy as it has depended on the supplements, and suddenly she can’t regulate her own calcium levels.
This can put her at high risk of developing eclampsia or milk fever, a life threatening condition caused by a dramatic drop in blood calcium levels.
Too much vitamin A and D is not good
Excessive levels of vitamin A in a pregnant dog’s diet has been associated with congenital defects, including cleft palates.
Excessive levels of vitamin D may reduce a pregnant dog’s ability to regulate and use calcium, putting her at higher risk of eclampsia or milk fever.
Therefore, care should be taken when supplementing these vitamins in your pregnant dog’s diet.
Keeping your pregnant dog happy and healthy is the best way to give her new pups the best start in life.
It's important to feed your dog a high quality, complete and balanced diet during pregnancy so that she has all the essential nutrients she requires. Giving your dog a prenatal vitamin supplement might help to give her a little extra boost, and support the healthy development of the pups.
However, over-supplementing some vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin A and D, might put your dog at risk of some health problems. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian to check a prenatal vitamin supplement is suitable for your dog.