You are excited because the beautiful dog you own is about to become a mother or has just given birth to the most beautiful puppies in the world. If either of these things is true then you must read carefully what I am about to share with you all.

Just like humans, dogs also need special diets, medical attention and supplements to keep both the mother and the new-born healthy. For a nursing dog, the most important nutrient is calcium. I learned this lesson the hard way.

I was overjoyed when my beautiful dog became pregnant the first time. I showered her with love and did everything possible to make it comfortable for her. I bought new toys, new beds, and fed her mouth-watering treats. Soon she gave birth to a litter of adorable puppies. Then the problem started. She started exhibiting these signs:

  1. Restlessness
  2. Panting and even whining at times
  3. Vomiting and diarrhea
  4. Tremors, panting and breathing heavily
  5. Overall poor maternal behavior

Initially, I took it as a post-partum symptom, but I was worried about my dog. After consultation with a specialist who went over her diet with a fine comb, we realized that it was a lack of calcium which was causing this problem.

As soon as we started giving the right dose of calcium we could see the difference. Soon she was back to her loving self and became a doting mother to her babies.

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Importance of calcium to a nursing dog

Read and understand the importance of calcium for a nursing dog. It is also important to find out how much calcium is necessary because excess intake can also cause problems. A nursing or lactating dog will have different and more specific nutritional needs than other dogs. Let’s see the effects of calcium:

  1. Calcium is important for all dogs but for nursing dogs it becomes crucial. The need for calcium peaks just as the dog is ready to give birth.
  2. The mother has to produce milk for her babies which require calcium.
  3. Calcium is required for the right development of skeleton, teeth, and nails.
  4. Calcium is necessary for the heart to function well for both, the mother and the babies.
  5. Lack of calcium can lead to Eclampsia, also called milk fever. This can be life-threatening to the mother.
  6. It regulates the nervous system and also the hormonal functions.

How much calcium is the right amount?

Handsome young man with glass of milk and adorable golden retriever dog sitting on couch and looking away

Calcium deficiency can cause serious damage and make your dog very sick and even be life-threatening. A healthy adult dog generally requires 50 mg of calcium per kilogram of body weight.  For example, a 5 kg dog needs 250 mg of calcium per day. The factors which decide the required calcium are:

  1. Size
  2. Age
  3. Breed
  4. Gender
  5. First pregnancy or subsequent ones
  6. Regular diet, and
  7. Nursing dog

The Most Crucial Need for Calcium is By a Nursing Dog.

Generally, calcium supplements are not recommended during pregnancy because this may lower the immunity in the dog. During lactation, calcium is advised. As soon as the dog gives birth to her babies the vet may prescribe calcium supplements.

If there is not enough calcium the nursing can cause the calcium stored in the mother’s body to be bleached away leaving her vulnerable. This is what happened to my dog. A lot will depend on the kind of diet the dog has been on through the pregnancy. Most important is to keep going for regular checks.

Different dogs react differently to calcium. Some may have stomach problems or some other problem. Read as much you can and consult your vet frequently and keep up-to-date with your dog’s medical reports.

Another important thing you should remember is that giving the right dose of calcium is very important. There have been cases where excess calcium caused hip deformity or even create cracks in the bones and cartilage. So, the right dose of calcium at the right time is the best thing for a nursing dog.

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Foods Which Are a Good Source of Calcium

female purebred jack russel terrier and her very young puppies

Though calcium supplements are good for a nursing dog, it is better to ensure a steady supply of calcium throughout the pregnancy.

The best way to do this is to include it in the daily diet. Let me tell you about some foods which are rich in calcium and then you can decide as per your dog’s liking and requirement.

Egg

We all know eggs are nutritious and contain a number of nutrients. Eggshells have a large amount of calcium and if included in the diet can be a rich source. There are two ways you can include the shells:

  1. Clean the shells with hot water to kill bacteria and then dry it completely. Grind it with a grinder or mixer and mix it with your dog’s food.
  2. boil the whole egg and then crush the hard-boiled egg in a blender and add it to your dog’s food.

 

Dairy Products

Dairy products are also a rich source of calcium but you have to be careful. Some dogs are allergic to certain products. Be very sure of what your dog can have.

Milk

Milk can cause indigestion or even diarrhea. Goat’s milk is better for dogs. Skimmed milk or milk mixed with water can be more suitable.

Cottage Cheese

This is good for nursing dogs. There is hardly any salt in it and it can be added in the diet or given as a treat.

Yoghurt

Many dogs react better to yogurt than to milk. It has good bacteria which is good for digestion. Use low-fat yogurt with no added flavorings.

Ice-cream

Vanilla ice-cream has been known to give good results. Try it if your dog is not eating properly.

Bones

If you give your leftover scraps and bones to your dog then please stop immediately. Cooked bones can break into smaller pieces very easily. They can damage or injure the intestines and stomach. Bones are good sources of calcium and you can give them:

Raw

Dogs can chew and digest raw bones easily. Let there be some meat on the bones. This is a good way to include calcium and also keeping the teeth healthy.

Crushed

It is always better to crush the bones, whether they are raw or cooked. Even a small splinter can cause a major problem.

Fish

This is a great source of calcium and also supplies other nutrients which are beneficial to a nursing dog. The best fish to add to your dog’s diet are tuna, trout, salmon, and sardines. Some fish can cause food poisoning if not cleaned or cooked properly. Remove all the bones and spines completely before giving it to your dog.

Conclusion

Nursing dogs have very high calcium needs. A healthy dog also needs calcium but for a nursing dog, this need goes up by 4-8 times. The golden rule is to keep your dog as healthy as possible during pregnancy.

Regular visits to the vet will make sure that your dog remains healthy during the whelping and nursing process. If you love your dog like I love mine then I have no doubt that you will do everything possible to make sure that she is comfortable and rested and healthy during her nursing days.

I will be happy if you find the information given here helpful. Please feel free to share with others.

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