chocolate labrador eating from bowl

Feeding Your Dog During Pregnancy

5 min read

Having puppies is both exciting and exhausting for you and your pet. Whilst it’s wonderful to welcome adorable bundles of fur into your home, it’s hard work for a new mom to grow, deliver and look after a mischievous litter!

Therefore it’s more important than ever for you to make sure she’s getting everything she needs from her food. Eating right will make sure that both mom and her puppies are happy and healthy. Although adult-formula food is great for everyday use, she’ll need an extra boost of nutrients when pregnant, especially if she’s expecting a large litter.

Moms-to-be can get the higher amount of energy and protein that she’ll need from a high quality puppy food. Feeding your pregnant dog a puppy formula will help to support your pet during and after pregnancy.

Your dog’s body condition (and any other medical requirements) can affect what nutritional demands she will have when expecting. You can find out more about your dog’s body condition with our body conditioning tool.


"When Molly, my Labrador, had puppies, Purina helped me to make sure that she was getting all of the nutrients that she needed to nurse her litter. Now we’ve got a happy, healthy mom and a house full of energetic pups!"


Why should I feed a pregnant dog puppy food?

Puppy food is richer in key nutrients and provides more energy than adult-formula food. Plus, it’s easily digestible. These are all important things to think about when feeding pregnant bitches.

Feeding your dog a puppy formula from week 6 of her pregnancy will help her to stay strong, and also passes nutrients to their puppies through the milk.

Your dog should be introduced to the new food in stages, to allow their tummy time to adjust. Start to introduce the puppy food into the usual formula, a little bit at a time, over the course of about a week, until the formulas have been completely swapped over.

adult to puppy food transition for pregnant dogs


Bear in mind your dog’s size and preference when choosing what puppy food to give her.

Per portion, dry food contains a higher number of calories than wet food. Therefore if your dog is on a wet food only diet, feed them more meals or larger portions to ensure they’re getting the extra energy that they need – especially if they’re a larger breed. You can also try combining their wet food with a bit of dry kibble to give your pet the best of both worlds.

As always make sure your dog has easy access to plenty of fresh, clean drinking water so they can stay hydrated, especially if your pet is on a dry-food formula during pregnancy.

How much should I feed a pregnant dog?

When feeding pregnant dogs, give them their usual portion sizes for the first few weeks of pregnancy. During these early stages, your bitch may go off her food or experience a little nausea and vomiting, similar to our ‘morning sickness’. We know this may seem alarming, but don’t worry – it’s perfectly normal. However, if you’re concerned about her loss of appetite, or if she continues to be sick, do contact your vet.

Start to increase her food intake, bit by bit, from around week five of her pregnancy. Gradually increase the portion size a little more each week, so that by week nine her meal size is about a third more than normal. By this time, mom's weight should have increased by about 25%, or more if she is expecting a large litter.

It’s best to feed your pregnant bitch little and often, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, as a tummy full of puppies will mean she won’t have much room for food.


How much should I feed a dog during nursing?

Nursing her new-born litter is hard work for mom, as her puppies demand a lot of her nutritious milk to help them grow big and strong. In fact, did you know that dogs actually produce more milk for their puppies than humans do for our babies?

To help her get the extra energy to nurse her needy litter, keep feeding her the puppy formula that she had throughout pregnancy. Its higher calorie content and added nutrients will give her strength, and help her produce high-quality milk for her pups.