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Feeding the dam:


A few days before the puppies are born

Give the dam easily digestible food. Do not give bones during the last few days of the pregnancy, so that the dog's body learns to use up all the calcium efficiently and there is no danger of a calcium-cramp when the bitch starts to produce milk. The bones are also very hard to digest. You can give some yoghurt if you feel that the food you are giving does not contain enough calcium. The bitch is often able to limit its meal sizes and pick out the bits of the food that it needs. You should give her food that contain a lot of energy such as tripe, so that she will not need to large quantities to get the energy she needs.

Increase the meals' carbohydrates during the end of the pregnancy. You can mix porridge into the regular meals. The bitch's appetite will often decrease a few days before the puppies are born, so that the intestines start to empty (to keep the nest clean). You can also offer “better foods” i.e. foods which contain a lot of energy (so you only need a little). It is important that you make sure the bitch has eaten even a little and has the energy to give birth and take care of the puppies.

The opening phase lasts for about 24hrs. Vera refused to eat anything during this phase, she had stopped eating a few days before. Offer the bitch a lot of cold water, as her milk production will start soon and the bitch will get easily dehydrated. The bitch's temperature will increase and she will start panting heavily, so make sure she drinks enough. You need to take short walks with the dog even during the last few days of the pregnancy, so that her intestines work. The walks should be short and slow, in the bitch's own pace.

During the birthing:

Often the bitch will refuse to eat anything during the birthing. However, if this takes a long time, you can offer the bitch some easily digestible foods such as mince meat. You can let the bitch eat some of the placentas as they contain a lot of energy. If the litter is very big, it is not recommended for her to eat all the placentas as this often causes diarrhoea. We usually let the bitch eat 2-3 of the placentas.

Hydration is important during the birthing. Make sure you have enough cold water to give your dog and change the water often.


After giving birth:

0-2 days

Vera's appetite stayed non-existent, and she refused to eat anything. We mixed a few tablespoons of store bought puppy-milk into her drinking water, so that she would get at least some nutrients. We offered her tripe, mince meat, vegetable mash etc.. but nothing was appealing to her. You can also mix some oil or yoghurt into the bitch's drinking water, so that she drinks and stays hydrated. Be careful that you do not give too much calcium, as there is still a danger of a calcium-cramp.

2-5 days

Make sure the food you give is easily digestible, as the bitch's digestive tract has only just started functioning normally after a few days of rest (=birthing). Vera's appetite stayed almost non-existent for the few days after the puppies were born, so we had to make the meals more interesting.

In the food we mixed:

-about 2 cups of mince meat
-about 2 cups of tripe
-2-3 eggs with the shells or 2-3 tablespoons of puppy-milk powder
-1-1,5 dl of warm water
-1 small packet of cat-food to boost the taste

You can use scissors to break the egg-shells, because there is a membrane beneath the shell and it is very difficult to chop it with any other tools. The scissors cut the shell into very small pieces, making it easier to mix them into the food. You can mix water into the food, if you feel the bitch does not drink enough. You can also add puppy-milk powder into the drinking water, if the bitch does not produce enough milk, or if you feel that she needs additional calcium. We offered Vera bones, but she refused to eat them.

We kept Vera's food in the cooler room next to the puppy-area, so that it was easy for her to decide when she wanted to eat and how much. We noticed that when the food was microwaved (smelled more), Vera was much more interested in it than food taken straight from the freezer.

At this time, the puppies eat a lot, so it is important for you to keep an eye on the bitch and make sure she stays hydrated. You can also offer the bitch food and water while she is feeding the puppies, if she does not want to leave the puppies.

5-10 days

Vera ate 4-5 times a day. We gave her vegetable mash, meat, ribs, fat, tripe and fish. Vera did not need the cat-food anymore, and started to eat as she normally does. She started to eat ribs when the puppies were 8 days old and at this time we stopped giving her additional calcium (puppy-milk, eggs, yoghurt). Make sure the bitch stays hydrated, as the puppies eat a lot! We offered Vera cold water throughout the day.



(c) Salmelin