Last issue's question: What changes, if any, do you make to your bitch’s diet prior to breeding or whelping?
Last issue’s question generated probably our greatest diversification of “Pick-of-the-Litter” responses. We read them all with much interest and hope that you, too, will read and discover what some of your fellow breeders are doing.
For bitches in whelp, I sometimes have to make my “whelping soup” … a strong broth enriched with millet, a fine-consistency high-protein grain. This is almost liquid. Hind quarters of chicken are cooked with celery, parsley and a bit of garlic, and the bitch may eat some of the chicken too. —J. Gottlieb
I supplement with ManaPro (dry milk, very rich) and cut-up cooked beef liver. —J. Wooten
During the last few weeks, I give cranberry extract tablets, add home-cooked protein like boiled chicken or beef, especially since bitches tend to get pickier toward the end. —L. Eyth
I switch her from adult dog food to a high-protein puppy food. It works great every time! —T. Nolan
Four weeks after being bred, I switch my bitches to a good puppy food, Eukanuba Puppy, small-breed bites, along with simple supplements, a small amount of ground round and two tablets of Osteo-form. It gives me healthy, nice-size puppies —G. Hart
My mentor suggested a very high-quality natural dog food, Canidae, and an all natural dietary supplement, Concept-a-Bitch. I use it on both of my females from the time they go into season, during their pregnancies, until weaning. What an incredible difference in their health and the puppies! —R. Dugal
After pregnancy is confirmed, my bitches are changed over to Pro Plan Puppy Chicken and Rice with tablespoon of cottage cheese and Concept-a-Bitch as prenatal care. —W. Silver
I put my expecting mothers on Eukanuba High Performance during the last month and while nursing. I also add eggs to her diet. —J. Flowers
I give my bitches a few tablespoons of red-raspberry leaf tea, drizzled over their food or in water, 2–3 times a day, for about 2 weeks prior to delivery. It helps their contractions to be stronger and more consistent during labor. It also increases their milk supply after whelping. I continue giving the tea for about three weeks after whelping for milk supply and to help the uterus to tone up after delivery. —L. J. Searcy
About two weeks before the whelping date, I start adding cottage cheese to the mother’s food. I feed her two to three smaller feedings. The calcium is good for her and the babies. I continue this while she is nursing. —B. and J. Harbert
I encourage the bitch to eat more by adding wet food to a high-quality puppy food. I also add a calcium tablet to her water or give her ricotta cheese or yogurt for calcium, especially after whelping. —M. Hart
I start my bitches on added vitamin C and a bit of goat’s milk from the day she comes into season. The C should be added slowly and gradually to avoid diarrhea. I increase the food proportionately, and divide her meals into two or three smaller meals. —J. Malone
I add fish-oil capsules to increase the fat and omega fatty acids to the diet and also supplement with folic acid to help prevent cleft palates. —T. Chapman
Starting at two and a half weeks prior to the whelping date (the time at which the fetuses really start growing, draining the mother of huge amounts of calcium), as a means to offset the solid phosphorus in dog food I start providing the bitch with a calcium tablet, vitamin D and a prenatal vitamin daily. —S. Reith
First and foremost, I strive to keep my bitches in good weight and condition prior to breeding. I measure their food and regulate their daily exercise … —D. Booth
I raw-feed my dogs. I do not change my bitches’ diet at all when they are pregnant, other than increasing her raw liver intake for the folic acid and vitamin D. —T. Berry
But Who Controls the Remote?
I don’t add anything or change anything. ... The biggest thing I do is my pups are whelped in my house by my recliner so that my bitch and I can relax and watch TV. —L. Shannon
Editor’s note: The opinions of our readers as listed are not recommendations from the AKC. You should always consult your veterinarian when making a decision regarding your dog’s care.