This study addresses gestation and lactation in canines, and feeling guidelines for reproduction.
Facts About Gestation
- Gestation lasts on average 63 days, and ranges for 57 to 69 days.
- Puppies can be palpated in the abdomen of the bitch from 18 to 24 days of gestation.
- The bitch temperature drops about 1.1° F around 12-48 hours before whelping.
- During weeks 1 to 5 of gestation, the bitch does NOT have increased energy requirements.
- From week 6 to 9 of gestation, energy requirements increase by 15% per week. By the end of gestation, the bitch needs 60% more energy than normal adult energy requirements.
- During gestation, the bitch should be fed a highly digestible growth diet with EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty aids found in fish that are important for brain development).
Facts About Lactation
- The energy requirements of the bitch during lactation increases with the number of puppies she is feeding.
- Lactation is the life stage where the energy requirements are highest, up to 3 to 4 times normal adult energy requirements.
- The bitch has to produce milk that has all the energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals that puppies need to grow.
- During the first days of lactation, the bitch produces colostrum. A rich milk that provides antibodies to protect the puppies who still have an immature immune system.
- The bitch will sacrifice her own energy stores and tissues to produce milk for her puppies if she does not have enough food.