Feeding during pregnancy and lactation

Kittens

Growing multiple kittens inside her then producing enough milk to feed them all for 5 to 8 weeks takes an enormous amount of energy. By the last week of pregnancy, she needs up to 1½ times as much energy as before she became pregnant and, when her milk production is at its peak in weeks 3 to 4, she needs up to 3 times her normal energy supply. It is simply not possible for her to eat enough food to supply all the energy she needs to produce that milk so, from early in her 9-week pregnancy, she starts to build up extra reserves of body fat which she can then use to top up her energy from food during lactation.

Because of this, she needs to be in peak condition at mating. If she is underweight, the unborn kittens can be smaller and there will be a higher risk of mortality when they are born. If she is overweight, the unborn kittens can be too big which can make for difficult births.

From the first or second week of pregnancy, she needs unrestricted access to a high energy food, and we strongly recommend that she has one of our Kitten foods throughout pregnancy and lactation. Make sure there is always food in her dish and that she can always get to her dish. The Kitten foods are high in energy and formulated to meet all the mother’s mineral and vitamin requirements during this time. They also have the advantage of supplying the kittens with the correct food as they get close to weaning.

When weaning is complete and the kittens are removed, the mother can be encouraged to stop producing milk by fasting her for a day then gradually building up to her normal allowance over the next few days.

Puppies

Feeding the Bitch during pregnancy and lactation

Gestation (pregnancy) in the dog lasts for around 9 weeks.

Growing multiple puppies inside her then producing enough milk to feed them all for 5 to 8 weeks takes an enormous amount of energy. For the first 6 weeks of pregnancy, she will be OK with her normal food allowance but, in the last 3 weeks, she will need up to 30% more food than before she became pregnant and, when her milk production is at its peak in weeks 3 to 4, she will need up to 3.5 times her normal food supply. It is simply not possible for her to eat enough food to supply all the energy she needs to produce that milk so she also converts some of her body fat into extra energy and one would expect her to have lost up to 10% of her normal weight by the time the pups are weaned.

Because of this, she needs to be in peak condition at mating. If she is underweight, the unborn puppies can be smaller and there will be a higher risk of mortality when they are born. If she is overweight, the unborn puppies can be too big which can make for difficult births.

Because she needs so much energy but has a limited appetite, she needs a food with higher levels of energy than normal. Our Puppy and Large breed Junior foods are both designed to also meet the requirements of the lactating bitch and should be fed instead of the normal adult food from the 6th week of pregnancy. Using the puppy food also gives the puppies an introduction to their first solid food. Multiple meal-times allow the bitch to eat more and, in weeks 2 to 4 of lactation, it is a good idea to give her constant free access to food.

In week 5 of lactation, you should start to gradually reduce her allowance so that, by the day of weaning, she should be getting only 1.4 to 1.5 times her pre-pregnancy allowance.