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Lifestage feeding: Part one - Pregnancy raw feeding




Animals have different needs at different points in their life. We all know puppies and kittens eat a lot to support their growth and development but there are other things to think about. For example they may need a finer mince.


Here I will take you through the different lifestage and what you need to do to support them. As there's a lot of information each stage is broken down into different articles. The stages we will go through are pregnancy, lactation, puppy/kitten, adult and senior.


Pregnancy and lactation

Let's start where it all begins. Before your bitch/queen goes to the stud you may want to cut out any joint supplements for a while as Glucosamine may affect fertility. There's no clear data yet but better safe than sorry.


Before mating ensure she is free of parasites. You can either send off a faecal sample to check for worms or worm her using a natural product. Avoid using chemical flea and worming products as they can affect fertility.


You may also want to increase her food a tiny bit, then drop back to normal a week after mating.


There's not a lot you need to do during the first part of pregnancy. Just feed and exercise her as normal.


Cats and dogs can get morning sickness too, so don't worry if they go off their food or n the first few weeks. This phase should pass.


By week 5 you'll need to increase her food by between 5-10%. It's a good idea to add the extra by introducing another meal time.

I remember doing this with Goose and she learnt a new word "lunch" and she loved being the only dog that got that meal! She felt special bless her.

When increasing the amount it's important to just increase the meat and veg as increasing bone in her diet leads to more constipation.


Do not increase the amount of liver you feed as it's high in vitamin A. Too much can lead to hypervitaminosis A and affect the growing foetuses.


Week 6

Increase her food another 5-10%

Egg is a good addition to her diet as it's rich in folic acid, which she needs more of during pregnancy.

Hearts are another good addition to her diet.


Week 7

Increase another 5-10%

More berries can be added to give her immunity a boost and they have a laxative effect to help with any constipation.


Week 8

Increase another 5-10%

You do not need to increase her calcium intake. In fact too much can lead to bone deformities in the pups/kittens.

She'll want more nutrients from meat and veg.

At this point if you haven't already, it's a good idea to order in some formula milk just incase you need it. You don't want the stress of needing it and not having it.


Week 9

No need to increase her food any further unless she's looking thin around her ribs. She may even start to go off her food as she prepares for birth.


Birth

Mum can eat the placentas. It's high in nutrients to help her recover from the birth

Our Pancakes was obsessed with them. She cared more about eating placentas than her puppies. She cared for the puppy after she'd had her placenta. She had her priorities. She knew I'd look after the puppy for her.




Lactation

You will need to feed mum based on the litter size she has to support and her body condition. A lot of mums become thin as they don't receive enough food while supporting her litter.

If she looks thin then increase her food. At this point she can have increased amounts of her normal diet rather than just an increase in meat and veg.


When caring for a lactating bitch/queen it's important to take care of her breasts to avoid mastitis. I used a very dilute hibiscrub solution and washed her daily ensuring it was rinsed off well and it's also important to ensure she is dry between the mammary strips as she often this area gets damp and can lead to sores.


During the first two weeks you'll need to weigh the puppies/kittens daily to ensure they're all gaining weight. It's normal for them to lose weight on the first day but should gain everyday after that.

If it's a large litter you may need to supplement the puppies/kittens with formula milk. The biggest ones often need supplementing the most as they struggle to get enough from mum. The runt of the litter tends to be quite good at squeezing through their siblings to get to the teat in my experience but you can supplement any you feel need help. They're all individuals and every litter is different.


Once the puppies/kittens have been weaned you can return mum to her normal amounts of food. The reduction in food will help dry up her milk. The puppies/kittens may still try to feed from her. I used a medical vest to stop them getting on her, but some still found a way so I put a nappy on her as well to stop them getting through the bottom. Mum will tell them off for trying at this stage too.



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