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For Healthy Bitches (all breeds)
Balancing for Lactating Bitches
PDD was specifically engineered to balance meals and treats for all breeds of healthy lactating dogs. By the time you have finished this tutorial you will be able to make complete and scientifically balanced homemade pet food that is precisely optimized for your lactating bitch.
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Step 1a - Key points to remember when feeding your lactating bitch

Lactation for dogs usually lasts 7 weeks. Peak lactation lasts for 4 weeks after giving birth.

Nutrient requirements during lactation are equal to or greater than any other life stage. Nutrient requirements are directly related to milk production and the number of suckling puppies.

Energy requirements for lactation.

Energy requirements continue to increase following whelping and into lactation, peaking at approximately 3 to 5 weeks. At this point, energy requirements can fall between two and four times the adult maintenance requirement (Ontko and Phillips 1958; Legrand-Defretin and Munday 1993).

Milk production peaks during the third and fourth week of lactation. Caloric requirements are highest during this period. Once weaning is complete, usually by 6-8 weeks, the bitch should be consuming the same amount of calories prior to breeding.

If foods with low energy density are fed, the bitch may not be able to physically consume enough to maintain weight, have decreased milk production and display signs of severe exhaustion. These signs are most pronounced in giant-breed dogs with large litters. Therefore, foods should provide at least 4 kcal metabolizable energy (ME) / g dry matter (DM).

Energy requirements can be subdivided into energy for maintenance and energy used for milk production. The maintenance energy requirement for lactating bitches is slightly higher than that for average adults because of stress and increased activity associated with caring for puppies.

The requirements for lactation can be expressed as follows:

ME (kcal) = maintenance + BW x (24n +12m) x L

Extrapolated maintenance energy requirements during lactation: 145 kcal x BW0.75

ME (kcal) = 145 kcal x BW0.75 + BW x (24n + 12m) x L

Where:

BW = body weight of bitch (kg)

n = number of puppies between 1 and 4

m = number of puppies between 5 and 8 (<5 puppies m = 0)

L = correction factor for stage of lactation: week 1, 0.75; week 2, 0.95; week 3, 1.1; and week 4, 1.2)

 

The good news is that you don't have to do these calculations because PDD handles it all for you! 

Nutrient Requirements for lactation.
How often do I feed my bitch?
When to see the veterinarian.

Step 1b - Safe Upper Limits

When formulating a diet for lactating dogs it is important to make sure that there are no excesses for some nutrients. Safe upper limits will be integrated into our Pet Diet 365 line of products. The table to the right lists the safe upper limit of key nutrients for lactating dogs based on the NRC recommended allowance.

Pay attention to Total Fat, Linoleic Acid and Vitamin D as they have more stringent requirements than the other nutrients.

KEY NUTRIENTS FOR LACTATING BITCHES SAFE UPPER LIMIT (SUL)
Total Fat 387 %
Linoleic Acid 493 %
EPA + DHA 2153 %
Vitamin A 989 %
Vitamin D 588 %

Step 1c - Re-balancing your recipe

This video is a continuation of the recipe fed during our gestation life stage. For this video we will re-balance the recipe that we created during our Balancing for Gestating Bitches tutorial.

Step 1d - Some final points to remember when feeding your lactating bitch

Your goals when feeding your lactating dog are to optimize milk production and maintenance requirements for the dam.

Free choice feeding is especially important for dams with more than 4 puppies.

 

Balance amino acids first and choose palatable ingredients

A simple method to follow when balancing for your lactating bitch:

  1. balance amino acids,
  2. balance fatty acids,
  3. balance minerals and vitamins
  4. remaining calorie target is as close to zero as possible (-30 to +30 kcal)

Don't forget to choose ingredients that are palatable to your lactating dog. Remember that meat grinds (ground food) are good for mixing supplement powders, pureed veggies, etc.

Weigh bitch every week and re-balance recipe.
Don't feed toxic foods and ingredients for dogs.
Don't use pig liver for copper

Getting Started

View these tutorials to get a good overview of the capabilities of PDD for Windows.

How to balance a puppy

Everything you need to know to perfectly balance meals for your growing puppy.

How to balance an adult dog

All the ins and outs to choose energy requirements and balance for your adult dog.

How to balance a gestating bitch

How to ensure perfectly balanced recipes for your pregnant dog.

How to balance a lactating bitch

Find out how to create perfectly balanced meals for lactating dogs.

How to balance a kitten

Everything you need to know to perfectly balance meals for your growing kitten.

How to balance an adult cat

All the ins and outs to choose energy requirements and balance for your adult cat.

How to balance a gestating queen

How to ensure perfectly balanced recipes for your pregnant cat.

How to balance a lactating queen

Find out how to create perfectly balanced meals for lactating cats.

Taking the Next Step

Take your pet formulation skills to the next level. Choose one of the video tutorials below.

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If you didn't find the help you were looking for in our tutorials, Pet Diet Designer also offers tech support on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (ET). If you need help outside of those hours, check out our online user guides or post to our user community.

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Balance your pet's diet

We offer scientific, evidence-based DIY diet formulation to the world of homemade pet food. Take your pet diet formulation skills to the next level with the world's best pet nutrition software. Our software complies with the guidelines set by the 2006 NRC publication, "Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats". This publication is the gold standard for dog and cat nutrition worldwide. Download PDD today and get started designing dog and cat recipes with confidence using our advanced Pet Diet Formulator™. Designing diets is finally fun!

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