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Skinner's: From pregnancy to puppiesSkinner's: From pregnancy to puppies

Skinner's: From pregnancy to puppies

Written by Zoe Russell, BSc (Hons), ANutr, Nutrition Officer, Skinner’s 

Thinking about breeding?  

As responsible dog owners, it’s important to consider if breeding is right for your dog and your situation. Firstly, it’s important to consider the suitability of the dam and sire (mum and dad) - are they in good health? Do they have good temperaments? Are they an appropriate age? Have you researched the necessary health tests required prior to mating? These tests can take quite a long time to come back to you, so give yourself plenty of time. It’s also important to consider your personal circumstances too and if you are ready for the time commitment and financial pressures that breeding can bring.  

The dam and sire  

Before breeding, it’s important the bitch is a healthy weight and condition, as if she is underweight, she may not come into season, and if she is overweight, she may not be able to conceive. The same rule applies for a stud dog, who should also be in good physical health before mating, to increase the chances of conception and minimise the risk to both dogs during mating. Therefore, providing both dogs are in good health, they can usually stay on a well-formulated, balanced diet. 

Preparing for the litter

Once the bitch is confirmed in pup, that’s when you may consider adjusting her diet. At this time, we would also suggest speaking with your vet or your Mole Valley advisor about a suitable worming programme for her. With regards to diet, around week 5 of the pregnancy we would recommend moving her onto a more nutrient-dense diet, such as puppy food. All of the Skinner’s puppy diets are balanced and complete, so will provide all the nutrients she and her puppies need, however our most popular diet is the Field & Trial Puppy Chicken, which is a wheat-gluten free recipe. Or if your bitch is used to a sensitive diet, you could consider the Puppy/Junior Duck & Rice or Puppy/Junior Lamb & Rice which are formulated without ingredients such as wheat, maize and barley. 

At this stage, you may also need to increase her number of daily meals, as her stomach capacity will start to reduce due to the presence of growing pups. In preparation for the puppy’s arrival, it’s also useful to have at least a 1KG tub of Field and Trial Puppy milk at the ready, just in case mum needs a little help feeding them, or she needs ‘building up’ herself.  

Weaning the puppies

Most breeders will start to wean their puppies between 3 and 4 weeks of age. At this stage, the mum should also start spending less and less time with them, which should help with the natural weaning process. When preparing the puppy food, we usually suggest boiling the kettle, letting it cool and adding tepid water to the food. Then, using a fork you can mash up the food to create a porridge or ‘wet-Weetabix’ consistency. Starting with one or two meals per day, you can slowly start to build the puppies up to multiple meals per day, as they have lots of growing to do, but only have little stomachs!

Looking after mum

As you start to wean the puppies off their mum, she can slowly move back to her ‘normal’ pre-pregnancy diet. We usually suggest doing this slowly over approximately 7-10 days to allow her digestive system to adjust to the change. The exception to this would be if she has perhaps dropped weight and condition since having the puppies, in which case you may consider keeping her on the puppy food for a little longer.  

Contact us

If you need any advice about Skinner’s, then please contact their nutrition team at [email protected] or call them on 01379 384247