Top 8 Best food for pregnant and nursing dogs

During her last three to four weeks of pregnancy, a mother dog’s dietary needs are also crucial, even though proper nutrition is most important for a nursing dog nursing new puppies. The puppies’ rapid growth during this stage increases the mother’s energy requirements between 25% and 50%, depending on the litter size.

Dietary DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is necessary for her. Before and immediately after birth, this omega-3 fatty acid helps puppies’ vision and neural development. In the last three to four weeks of gestation, a mama dog should be fed a high-quality, nutritionally complete, and balanced puppy formula several times daily or free choice.

It is generally true that nursing puppies eat as much as they need to, and they are fed as much as possible by their mothers. Keeping the mama dog healthy is crucial.

As a result of her desire to help her puppies grow, she will actually jeopardize her own health by depleting her nutritional resources. It is important to feed your puppy’s mother quality food formulated for nursing dogs in order to ensure that they grow at the appropriate rate without compromising their mother’s health.

Canine nursing mothers require around two to four times as many calories as adult dogs of the same size, according to the National Research Council. According to the U.S. FDA, her food must contain 22% protein and 8% fat according to the nutrient profiles of the American Association of Feed Control Officials.

In spite of their low fat, protein, and calorie content, vegetables are high in fiber, making your dog feel full for longer periods of time. In order to produce milk, nursing moms must consume high-calorie, high-protein foods. Compared with growth, lactation has the highest nutritional requirements.

During the first six weeks of nursing, mama dogs’ nutritional needs and milk production peak at about three to four weeks. In order to meet the higher energy needs of lactation, nursing mother dogs should be allowed free feeding or several times a day throughout the first 3 to 4 weeks after whelping.

It is possible, however, that free-feeding will cause her and her litter to gain weight, which can be harmful to both of them. Food rations should be adjusted according to weight gain. Once puppies start eating solid food, milk production will decline after week six.

Nursing mama dogs do not need a set amount of food to feed. Calorie requirements of lactating dogs are affected by several factors, including:

A litter with more puppies has a greater nutritional requirement for milk production.

There is a greater energy requirement per pound of body weight for smaller breeds, so foods with a greater caloric and nutrient content are required.

Mother dogs need more calories based on their temperament. The energy expenditure and calorie requirements of a temperamental or nervous mama dog will be higher.

Quick Summary

Royal Canin Starter Mother BEST VALUE For Pregnant Dogs

Rachel Ray NutrishBEST OVERALL For Pregnant Dogs

Taste of the WildPREMIUM CHOICE For Pregnant Dogs

Purina Pro Plan Puppy – For Pregnant Dogs

Nutro Natural ChoiceBEST OVERALL For nursing Dogs

Wellness CORE BEST VALUE For nursing Dogs

Nulo Frontrunner VET’S CHOICE For nursing Dogs

The Honest Kitchen – For nursing Dogs

Also Read: The 7 Best dog food for joints and weight loss

How to choose the best food for pregnant and nursing dogs?

Pregnancy and lactation are both times when your dog needs special nutrition. Pregnant dogs may require extra calories, and nursing puppies may need additional nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D.

Here’s a guide to choosing the right foods for your pregnant or nursing pup:

1. Choose Foods Based on Nutritional Needs

Your dog’s nutritional requirements change during pregnancy and lactation. During these periods, she requires higher amounts of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. She also needs carbohydrates, fiber, and water.

During pregnancy, your dog’s diet should contain more protein, fat, and carbohydrate than usual. Protein is needed for the growth and repair of tissues; fats provide energy and essential fatty acids, and carbohydrates supply energy for her growing fetus.

Lactating dogs need more protein, fat, carbohydrates, and calcium than nonlactating dogs. Calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth, and phosphorus supports bone development.

2. Check Labels Before Buying Food

Labels tell you a lot about the quality of the ingredients used in pet foods. Look for labels that say “made with whole grains,” “no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or sweeteners,” and “natural sources of vitamins and minerals.”

3. Avoid Processed Dog Treats

Processing removes some of the natural goodness found in meat and vegetables. When you buy processed treats, you’re buying something that doesn’t taste nearly as good as the original product.

4. Consider Supplementing Her Diet

Many commercial diets aren’t complete, so supplementing with high-quality kibble is recommended. Be sure to read the label before adding supplements to your dog’s daily ration.

5. Don’t Overfeed

Overfeeding can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Dogs fed too much can become overweight and suffer from joint problems.

6. Feed Small Amounts Frequently

Feeding small meals throughout the day keeps your dog’s metabolism active. This prevents weight gain and ensures proper digestion.

1. Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Food – for Pregnant Dogs

best food for pregnant and nursing dogs

Dogs who are pregnant can benefit from Royal Canin’s Starter Mother & Babydog Food. The mother benefits from it during her pregnancy, lactation, and the growth of her puppies. High in calories, it provides a great deal of energy and is easily digestible.

With liquid, the kibble forms a consistency similar to oatmeal. As well as minerals and vitamins, it contains DHA for overall health. Vet-approved brand with a good reputation. There is a feeding guide on the packet to help you determine how much food to give your pregnant or nursing dog.

Despite being a little expensive and containing corn and gluten, this is one of the best foods for pregnant dogs.


  • Contains DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which promotes brain development and eye function.
  • Provides essential nutrients for the mother and puppies.
  • Made by Royal Canin, a vet approved brand.
  • Easy to digest.
  • Good source of protein.
  • Helps maintain healthy skin and coat.
  • Suitable for dogs of all breeds.
  • Available in both dry and wet form.


  • By-products, grains, corn, and gluten are present in this product.

2. Rachel Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food – for Pregnant Dogs

best food for pregnant and nursing dogs

Nutritionist Rachel Ray recommends Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food for pregnant dogs. In addition to being high in protein (28%), it contains chicken as the first and main ingredient.

There are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals, including taurine. Your pregnant dog’s joints, bones, and teeth will benefit from DHA and EPA, which support vision and brain development.

Some dogs may experience stomach upset if they eat this food, especially picky dogs. On a dry matter basis, it contains 17.7% fat, which is at the lower end of the range for pregnant and nursing dogs. In the event that your dog is not gaining weight as expected, you might need to switch to one with closer to 20%.


  • High in protein (28%)
  • Contains Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids
  • Supports Vision & Brain Development
  • Contain Calcium For Joints, Bones & Teeth
  • Contains Taurine To Support Nervous System Functionality
  • Made In USA


  • Some dogs may experience stomach upset from it.

Also Read: 6 Best dog food to prevent tear staining in maltese

3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula – for Pregnant Dogs

best food for pregnant and nursing dogs

We recommend Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Dog Food as the best dog food for pregnant dogs. With buffalo as the first and main ingredient, it has a high calorie content, 415 calories per cup, and a high protein content, 28 percent.

A pregnant dog’s coat health and energy are supported by the inclusion of superfoods and fruits that contain various vitamins and minerals. Probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants all contribute to overall health and wellness and healthy digestion. There are no grains, wheat, corn, or artificial colors or flavors in this puppy food made in the United States.

There are two main flaws to this food. The first is its strong smell, which some people don’t like, and the second is its high price.


  • Contains probiotics, prebiotic fiber, and antioxidants.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Doesn’t contain grain, wheat, corn, soy, or artificial ingredients.
  • Great for puppies during pregnancy.
  • Provides essential nutrients for your dog’s health.


  • It might smell bad to some people.

4. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula – for Pregnant Dogs

best food for pregnant and nursing dogs

Whole chicken is the first and main ingredient in Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula, so it’s high in protein and calories at 456 per cup. Fish oil contains DHA for the brain and eyes, and phosphorus and calcium for strong bones and teeth. As well as being highly digestible, it contains antioxidants for the immune system.

Some dogs may experience stomach issues from this food because it contains gluten, corn, wheat, and grains. Both diarrhea and constipation can occur.


  • High in protein and calories.
  • Contains DHA for the brain & eye development.
  • Contain antioxidants for the immune system
  • Highly digestible
  • Gluten free
  • Corn Free
  • Wheat Free
  • Grain Free
  • Made in USA


  • The product contains wheat, corn, and by-products.

5. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food – For nursing Dogs

best food for pregnant and nursing dogs

It is the best food for nursing dogs for the money, Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice. Complex carbohydrates and proteins in the food help dogs maintain energy throughout the day.

Omega fatty acids in the food also promote healthy skin and coats in nursing dogs. Succulent chicken is the first ingredient in this dry dog food, which is a good source of high-quality protein during lactation.

Antioxidants will strengthen your dog’s immune system, natural fibers will aid digestion, and glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health. Large breed dogs are recommended for this product, but this range also offers formulations for smaller breed dogs.


  • Nutro Natural is formulated specifically for large breed dogs.
  • Contains high-quality ingredients that are easy to digest and nutritious.
  • Provides essential nutrients for puppies and older dogs.
  • Helps maintain strong bones and joints.
  • Supports healthy skin and coat.
  • Made in USA.


  • Compared to some other brands, this one has fewer calories per cup.

Also Read: The 7 best dog food for dental issues

6. Wellness CORE Dry Dog Food – For Nursing Dogs

best food for pregnant and nursing dogs

Another food suitable for nursing dogs is Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food. This food contains complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein to help nursing dogs meet their nutritional requirements.

Vitamins and minerals are also added to the food to support the health of nursing dogs. There is no doubt that dogs will enjoy the savory taste of this treat! Designed to support the entire body of lactating dogs, it is ideal for them.

Nutritionally dense superfoods, protein-rich grains, and fiber-rich grains nourish and replenish nursing dogs. To support the retention of body mass in your dog, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine are included.


  • Provides essential nutrients for growth and development.
  • Supports overall wellness.
  • Helps maintain weight during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Contains omega fatty acids to promote skin and coat condition.
  • Promotes strong bones and joints.
  • Ensures proper digestion.


  • Compared to other brands, it has a little less fiber.

7. Nulo Frontrunner Adult Dry Dog Food – For Nursing Dogs

best food for pregnant and nursing dogs

Vets recommend this food because it is suitable for nursing dogs, contains complex carbohydrates such as ancient grains, and contains turkey and trout protein. Besides aiding digestion, the high fiber content also provides antioxidant protection.

In addition to improving skin and coat conditions, spelt is also included in the formula. Nursing dogs and their puppies can benefit from this formula’s sustained energy. As well as turkey and trout, the food also contains omega-3 fatty acids and protein, both of which are beneficial to nursing dogs and puppies.

A healthy digestive system is also supported by the addition of probiotics to the food. In puppies, protein derived from animal sources promotes lean muscle mass and a healthy heart. Their healthy coat and skin are attributed to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. AAFCO’s dog food nutrient profiles have been designed to provide additional assurance.


  • Contains ingredients that support a healthy immune system.
  • Provides essential nutrients for a strong immune system.
  • Supports a healthy digestive tract.
  • Promotes healthy growth and development.
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight.
  • Contributes to a shiny coat and soft skin.
  • Offers added nutrition during times when extra care is needed.


  • It smells a little fishy since it is made from trout.

8. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food – For Nursing Dogs

best food for pregnant and nursing dogs

It contains complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and protein, making it a great food for nursing dogs. It is made with human-grade ingredients and provides dogs with the nutrients they need to grow and develop.

Additionally, this food contains high-quality protein to support muscle growth, as well as essential fatty acids for a healthy coat, so it’s a wonderful source of nutrition for puppies.


  • Made with real meat and vegetables, not by-products.
  • Contains no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or added sugar.
  • High in fiber and low in fat.
  • Can be fed to both adult and young dogs.
  • Great for dogs recovering from surgery or illness.
  • Easy to digest and highly palatable.


  • The protein content is lower than some other brands.

Also Read: 6 Best non prescription dog food for kidney disease

Dog foods for nursing dogs: what are the facts?

In order to meet milk production demands and maintain their own body condition, lactating dogs require a highly digestible, energy- and nutrient-rich diet (e.g., puppy formula).

Approximately three to four weeks after whelping, milk production peaks.

The energy requirement increases steadily, peaking at two to four times the pre-breeding level.

In the first 3 to 4 weeks after whelping, feeding several times a day or free choice is helpful for meeting lactation’s higher energy needs.

As puppies start eating solid food, milk production will decline.

When a German shepherd has six puppies, he can easily produce two liters of milk per day. The amount of milk produced by a nursing mother dog is the same as the amount produced by a cow during peak lactation.

For this reason, veterinarians recommend keeping plenty of fresh water available for nursing mothers. Water may be needed every day by an 80-pound nursing dog.

If your nursing dog is picky about what it eats, what should you give it to help it gain weight?

It is not uncommon for nursing dogs to put their own health at risk in order to feed their puppies. Lactating dogs must therefore be provided with protein and fat by their owners. When a nursing dog is picky about what he eats, it can be quite challenging.

If you want to spoil your precious pup with fattening treats at this time, this is the time to do it.

According to the American Kennel Club, many breeders provide highly palatable products to encourage food intake. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Besides providing calcium to lactating dogs, ice cream also boosts their energy levels. She will also be able to produce milk with calcium at this point.

One can of evaporated milk, one can of water, three egg yolks, and one quarter cup of Karo syrup can be made at home.

Pregnant or nursing mothers can maintain a healthy weight by taking puppy milk replacers, which are powder milk supplements containing probiotics.

A spoonful of plain yogurt mixed with hard-boiled or scrambled eggs makes an excellent snack for dogs.

Protein, fiber, and healthy fats are found in peanut butter. In addition to folic acid, it contains magnesium to assist the body in metabolizing B complex vitamins.

Please note that if you overdo this, you can do more harm than good. It’s okay to love your mama dog to the point of death! To prevent obesity, keep a tight grip on how many treats you give out.

How should nursing dogs be fed?

It is important for owners to calculate the amount of food to provide optimal nutrition to their puppies while keeping the mother dogs healthy. It is impossible to tell how much to feed your nursing canine companion from the back of a dog food bag.

In addition to weight, bag printers consider your dog’s activity level, metabolism, and overall health when creating feeding guides.

It is recommended that you increase a nursing dog’s food intake by 25% per puppy at the peak of lactation, over what she normally requires to stay healthy.

If your nursing dog needs two cups of dog food to maintain her body weight, and now she has a litter of six puppies, follow these instructions:

Each puppy will receive one-half cup after dividing the 2 cups by 25%. Adding 3 cups to the usual maintenance portions you fed the nursing mother before the pregnancy gives you a total of 5 cups. Therefore, you should feed her 5 cups over the course of the day.

Taking care of a lactating dog poses another concern. A nursing dog’s nutritional requirements vary over the 6-week lactation period, peaking in weeks three and four. According to some advisors, you should follow the table below, calculate the number of cups of food based on your regular maintenance diet and increase it accordingly.

Lactating dogs’ energy requirements after giving birth
The first and second weeksDouble the amount of nutrition provided to adult dogs in order to maintain their health
The third and fourth weekFor the maintenance of adult dogs’ health, three times the nutrition is provided
The fifth and sixth weekTo maintain the health of adult dogs, double the nutrition provided

You will begin weaning your pups after the sixth week. Watch her weight during this period. Make sure she eats more fat if she loses too much weight, or spoil her with a few treats if she loses a lot of weight. The last thing you want is to become obese, so don’t let that become a habit.

Also Read: Top 7 best dog food for older chihuahua

Can nursing dogs eat homemade food?

Many dog owners prefer to feed their lactating dogs homemade food, despite the fact that commercial dog foods contain the necessary nutrition. To ensure optimal nutrition for both mothers and puppies, nutritional needs must be met.

The following is an example of a pregnant and nursing dog’s diet.

The majority of the bones are raw meaty bones, like chicken wings, oxtail, or rabbit bones.

Around 15-20% of the meat comes from alternative sources, such as cow cheeks, pig’s intestines, whatever game is available, and raw fish (whole).

For vitamins and antioxidants, about 5% of the meat is organ meat, especially liver

A liquid mix of about 5% fresh leafy vegetables (like kale and pumpkin), plus 1 tsp brewer’s yeast (Vitamin B), 1 tbsp vegetable oil (Vitamin E), a raw egg yolk (extra vitamins and antioxidants), and 1 tbsp yogurt (probiotics).

You can add liver to the vegetable mixture if your dog isn’t interested in it, or if she isn’t already on a natural diet.

It is assumed that your dog will eat about 1/5 of her body weight per week, but some pregnant dogs can be fed free-choice and not gain excessive weight. Weighting her every week during pregnancy is the only way to monitor this.

Keep feeding the mother the natural diet she is used to once the puppies are born. It is likely that she will begin eating more during early lactation and convert most of the food into milk for her pups.

You can start feeding the mother less when the mother’s milk production decreases about a month after the puppies are born. During this time, the puppies will start eating solid food, so you’ll still need more food.

Take advantage of this time and remember that your mama dog and her puppies depend on you to feed them the best dog food.

When my dog is pregnant, what should I feed her?

In general, a dog’s pregnancy lasts for 62 days, plus or minus two days. Healthy, well-fed dogs gain about 15-20% more weight during pregnancy than they did at breeding.

An overfed pregnancy may result in obesity at the end of the pregnancy, which can lead to prolonged labor or difficult delivery, as well as extra stress on the puppies. In contrast, underfeeding during pregnancy can lead to embryo loss, abnormal fetal development, spontaneous abortion or stillbirth, small litter, and low birth-weight puppies.

It is essentially the same nutritional requirement for a young adult dog during the first two trimesters of a mother’s pregnancy. She should not lose weight or condition during this time, so monitor her weight and body condition, increasing food as necessary.

Overfeeding a dog in the first and second trimesters can also result in overweight or obesity. During pregnancy, meal feeding is the best method for controlling body conditions and weight gain.

  • Puppy development is at its peak during the third trimester, after about day 40 of gestation, which is also the most stressful period for the expectant mother.”

The puppies’ growth is most rapid in the third trimester, after about day 40 of gestation, which is also the most stressful for the expectant mother. In the first six to eight weeks of pregnancy, the mother’s energy needs are at their highest.

Her energy requirements maybe 30-60% higher than normal adult maintenance rations, depending on the size of the litter. In the third trimester, the abdominal cavity is stuffed with puppies, leaving little room for food in the gastrointestinal tract, especially in the weeks leading up to delivery.

A high-quality puppy/growth/development formula is generally recommended during the third trimester, and multiple small meals may enable the mother to maintain adequate nutrient and calorie intake. Large breed puppy food does not have the right calcium phosphorous balance to support the developing bones of the fetus or healthy milk production in the mother.

Supporting the development of fetuses may be achieved by supplementing with folic acid and essential fatty acids. You should consult your veterinarian before using them on your dog.

Lactation is said to be even more energy-intensive than pregnancy. Could this be true?

Yes, absolutely. As a result of delivery and lactation, the mother’s energy requirements increase. When she requires the most energy, 3-5 weeks after whelping, she may require 2-4 times the calories of a normal healthy adult. Approximately 8 weeks after delivery – when puppies are completely weaned – the mother’s energy requirement will return to normal.

The mother can increase her food intake after the puppies are born, but the energy density of the food must be high enough to sustain milk production, weight, and body condition.

By assessing her body condition periodically, you can fine-tune her feeding regimen. A high quality, highly digestible puppy food is the best way to feed puppies during lactation, just as it is during the third trimester of pregnancy.

The benefits of free-choice feeding during the first three to four weeks of lactation cannot be overstated. At about 3 weeks of age, the puppies can begin sampling solid food and the mother can eat on her schedule.

The mother can consume smaller amounts of food each time she eats, and the puppies can sample solid food as soon as they are able.

When nursing only one or two puppies, free-choice feeding is not recommended because it allows the mother to make much more milk than she needs, potentially causing mastitis (milk gland inflammation).

Also Read: Top 6 Best remote control car for dogs to chase

Pregnancy-related nutritional issues?

In order to breed and have a successful pregnancy, nutrition is essential. Neither an over- or underweight mother, nor her puppies, will be able to reproduce properly if they are malnourished.

  • “Good nutrition is essential for successful breeding and pregnancy.”

The most common nutritional problem in reproducing dogs is obesity. It has been reported that obesity can increase the interval between estrus cycles, reducing one’s ability to reproduce. In addition to reducing the number of eggs released at ovulation, obesity can also result in smaller litter sizes.

Dystocia (difficulty delivering puppies) is associated with obesity. Last but not least, obesity can reduce milk production during lactation, negatively affecting puppy growth and health. It is recommended that overweight or obese dogs lose weight before breeding. During the heat cycle of a female dog, there are no specific nutritional needs.


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