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Practical information about the nutritional needs of cats and dogs at each life stage, including growth, maintenance, reproduction and aging.

Adult Dog & Puppy

Nutrition for Pregnant and Lactating Dogs and Their Nursing Puppies

Optimal nutrition plays an essential role in successful reproduction. Estrus, pregnancy and lactation are each associated with specific nutritional needs that must be addressed for optimal conception, fetal development and parturition, and for optimum neonatal viability.

brown lab nursing four puppies
Did you know?

Lactation is the most nutritionally demanding life stage, with nutrient requirements higher than for growth.

Key Messages

Reproducing Bitches 


Conversation Starter

"Nutrition plays an important role in keeping your dog and her developing litter healthy during gestation, or pregnancy. Nutrition is also critical for supporting [dog’s name] and her growing puppies during lactation, or nursing. To meet the increased nutritional demands of gestation and lactation, [dog’s name] should be switched to a high-quality, complete food formulated for puppies and/or lactating bitches."

To Share With Pet Owner:

Evaluating Your Dog’s Body Condition

Assess your dog's Body Condition in just 3 simple steps.​

View Video 1 min to 5 min

Switching Pet Foods - Dogs

Gradually transitioning onto a new diet minimizes the risk of stomach upset.​

View Brief 1 min to 5 min

Additional Resources

Case, L. P., Daristotle, L., Hayek, M. G., & Raasch, M. F. (2011). Canine and feline nutrition: A resource for companion animal professionals (3rd ed.). Mosby Elsevier. 

Debraekeleer, J., Gross, K. L., & Zicker, S. C. (2010). Feeding reproducing dogs. In M. S. Hand, C. D. Thatcher, R. L. Remillard, P. Roudebush, & B. J. Novotny (Eds.), Small animal clinical nutrition (5th ed., pp. 281─294). Mark Morris Institute.