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Calcium and Food for Pregnant Dogs: FAQs

Calcium and Food for Pregnant Dogs: FAQs

Calcium and Food for Pregnant Dogs: FAQs

The appropriate calcium-phosphorus balance during pregnancy and lactation is essential for the dam and her pups to have great outcomes.

Dog Pregnancy Diet and Calcium

Should you supplement your dam’s calcium during pregnancy?
Marty Greer, DVM: No. A high-quality all-life stage commercial dog food will provide all the calcium and the correct calcium-phosphorus balance needed.

What should you supplement during pregnancy?
Marty Greer, DVM: Folic acid and DHA help the puppy’s eye, brain, and neural tube development. Breeder’s Edge® Oxy Mate® is a great source of folic acid. Otherwise, feed only a pregnancy diet.

Should you feed her more during pregnancy?
Marty Greer, DVM: Yes, after the 5th week. She typically needs a 10 percent increase in her daily food intake weekly until whelping, based on body condition and the projected litter size. Upon whelping, she needs her daily food intake increased from between two and four times normal for adequate lactation.

What if you add calcium to her diet?
Marty Greer, DVM: By over-supplementing her calcium or feeding a diet without the correct calcium-phosphorus balance, her parathyroid glands stop telling her body to mobilize calcium from her bones and can set her up for an episode of hypocalcemia (low blood calcium), also known as eclampsia.

When is calcium supplementation appropriate?
Marty Greer, DVM: At the first signs of labor, start calcium gel. Calcium is essential for oxytocin to create effective, uterine contractions. Often, effective calcium supplementation can preclude the need for oxytocin injections.

If she is not having successful labor patterns, supplement calcium by injection and/or gel before using oxytocin. Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus™ gel works quickly and is palatable, helping her contractions.

If she fails to deliver a pup within 1 hour, administer oxytocin injections. Micro doses of oxytocin are typically more effective in creating effective rhythmic contractions. Too much oxytocin or starting too early can cause the uterus to spasm, causing premature placental separation and/or shrink-wrapping the pups, clearly detrimental to effective and safe delivery.

Injectable calcium can be used if available. Only 10 percent calcium gluconate is labeled and safe for dogs.

After delivering all the pups and placentas, you can switch her to Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus Powder.

Why do you recommend commercial dog food kibble?
Marty Greer, DVM: The big three pet food companies have developed pet food that can support reproduction. Making your own dog food is unlikely to provide the vitamin and mineral balance needed for effective canine reproduction.

Raw meat diets may allow bacteria and parasites to interfere with our dog’s good health. Grain-free diets may contain phytoestrogens that interfere with male and female reproductive processes.

Whelpwise, a canine uterine contraction monitoring service, has documented that dogs fed home-made diets are more likely to have difficult births resulting in C-sections than dogs fed a commercially available and balanced diet.


Calcium and Food for Pregnant Dogs


Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 35+ years’ experience, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019.