The first six months are the "main growth phase". They require high quality protein and nutrients.

The next 6- 12 months require a reduced protein content to help prevent any growth disorders.

Now fully grown, finding the right diet to match their energy requirements is key. 

Now in old age, diets with a lower fat and phosphorus are needed.

Feeding the pregnant bitch

Pregnant bitches need a nutrient-rich and highly digestible food to ensure their puppies grow healthily. The embryos’ need for nutrients and energy also changes as they grow.

Diet during pregnancy

In the first phase of the pregnancy (day 1 to 35 or 40),the embryos are very sensitive to any lack of nutrients. So the quality of the food is very important at this time. On the other hand, the bitch does not need an increased energy supply until day 35 or 40 as the egg cells are simply settling down and the foetuses’ organ systems are being created. A “normal” high quality food is sufficient at this time.


As the second phase of pregnancy commences (after day 35 – 40), the embryos start to grow rapidly, the skeleton is mineralised and the organs mature. The bitch now needs food with a higher energy content and appropriate mineral and vitamins. She should now be offered a high quality puppy food.

Diet while nursing (lactation)

A bitch needs a great deal of energy and lots of nutrients in order to produce enough milk for her puppies. The puppies drink relatively little in the days immediately after birth, but the energy requirement grows every week of the puppies’ life, reaching a high point at 5 - 6 weeks.


The bitch needs highly-digestible food with a high energy content. The amount of food also needs to be increased according to the number and age of the puppies. She should ideally continue to receive a high quality, high energy puppy food, and the size of ration should be in- creased appropriately.


Overweight dogs can have problems during pregnancy and birth, so make sure she maintains her ideal weight when covered and during pregnancy.

Dog and her puppies


A bitch also needs lots of liquid for milk production. So she should always have access to plenty of fresh, clean water.

As a rule of thumb,

a bitch during lactation will need:

  • 4 puppies – roughly twice the energy content
  • 8 puppies – roughly 3 times the energy content
  • 10 puppies – roughly 4 times the energy content

At 5 - 6 weeks, when the puppies
are weaned, she should be changed back to a normal food.

Feeding graph