Raw Feeding During the First Four Weeks of Gestation

Raw Feeding During of Gestation

This is part two in a series about raw feeding for pregnancy and lactation

The Early Weeks

You do not increase your dam’s food during this time. You do want to ensure you’re providing a balanced diet as discussed in article one when we talked about diet improvements for pre breeding feeding; but you do not need to make any increases to her food supply until week five unless she is under weight. If you are not feeding twice a day then this is the time to increase from once per day feeding to twice per day feedings. You aren’t going to feed more; you’re going to split her day’s food in half to get her used to eating more frequently. This is generally already taken care of during the pre breeding phase when you would have made improvements to her diet in preparation of the breeding.

Critical Tip: If your female is underweight then it is important that you bring her weight up to a normal number in a healthful but speedy way. She is creating anywhere from one to upwards of sixteen lives with her body and she must be at a proper weight to do so. Find your breeding female’s recommended adult weight online and enter her specific information on our calorie calculator here to find the correct range for her daily needs. Our calculator allows for you to work within the average 30% range of kcals needs from dog to dog. This means if you need to add or reduce calories to the number calculated then you are within range to do so up to about 30%.

Feeding High-Grade Foods

By offering your female high-grade meats such as grass fed/finished muscle meats, you are providing a cleaner type of food than grain fed beef. Do you have to feed GFF beef? No but if you can then you should. Grain fed proteins in your dog’s food supply play a factor in system inflammation, food intolerance, and sometimes allergies in extreme cases. Cattle are meant to eat grasses and are referred to as ruminants because they have a specialized organ called the rumen. Ruminant stomachs have four compartments: the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, & the abomasum. Rumen microbes ferment, feed and produce volatile fatty acids, which is the cow’s main energy source. Rumen microbes also produce B vitamins, vitamin K and amino acids. 

If your female is already on the right path nutritionally then you are probably already including omega-6 & omega-3 but if that hasn’t been brought in prior to breeding, then it is vital that is brought in now.

Fat Requirements • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) & Pregnancy

Pregnancy negatively affects the female’s Essential Fatty Acid status (EFA) due to the changes going on in the body at a rapid rate. This is because gestation has a high demand on the female’s energy storage. Making sure you’re feeding her an energy dense diet right from the beginning allows your dog to eat the optimal type of calories she needs without you having to increase the food yet. Dietary fat has been found to provide more than twice the amount of metabolize energy per unit weight than protein and carbs. So, you want to feed a higher fat diet to your dam throughout the pregnancy because her energy needs have increased. It’s been found that feeding a higher protein % with a higher fat % & a modest % of carbohydrates provides adequate amounts of glucogenic amino acids to keep up with the needed plasma glucose levels during pregnancy and lactation.

Critical Info About Fatty Acids:

Fatty Acids are the main source of energy used by dogs during times of body stress such as pregnancy/whelp/lactation.

Fetal tissues are supplied with fatty acids from the mother via the placenta and then after whelp via her milk supply. 


During the first four weeks of gestation you continue with the diet improvements you made prior to breeding. You are now feeding via a caloric method and paying attention to the nutrient levels that your dog optimally needs. 


Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition, 2012 Edition by Andrea J. Fascetti and Sean J. Delaney

Canine and Feline Nutrition, A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals Third Edition 2001

Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, Animal Nutrition Series by the National Research Council (NRC) 2006

Canine Reproduction and Whelping: A Dog Breeder’s Guide by Myra Savant-Harris 2006

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