Nutritional needs of Pregnant Animals

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Nutritional needs of Pregnant Animals


Nutritional needs pre-pregnancy

It is vital to ensure that the breeding female is of a good body condition before mating. It will ensure a higher chance of conception as well as the ability to carry healthy puppies/kittens to full-term. A mom of poor body condition—underweight, overweight or nutritionally deficient—may give birth to puppies/kittens that are too small or too large, leading to difficult birth. Hence, it is important to get potential mothers checked by a veterinarian before mating to ensure a smoother pregnancy.

Nutritional needs during pregnancy

Carrying a baby to full-term demands a lot of energy and nutrients from the mother. Most of our non-human mothers carry not only one but several babies each time! Therefore, it is essential for owners to ensure that their soon-to-be-mothers are eating sufficiently. Moreover, it is important to feed a good quality diet that is easily digestible and utilised by the body. The amount that a pregnant dog/cat could eat late in pregnancy is very much reduced, due to the enlarged womb that is taking up space in the abdomen. Frequent small meals is recommended. You may have to tempt mothers to eat by heating up their meals, adding toppings like boiled chicken breast/anchovies or by adding some unsalted low-fat meat broth to their dry food.

There is usually no need for supplements, such as Calcium, if you are feeding them a high quality balanced diet suited for pregnancy. If you are using a commercial dry food, please switch to one for pregnant animals or for puppies/kittens once pregnancy is confirmed. Omega 3, on the other hand, may be beneficial if added into the diet . Omega 3 degrades rapidly when exposed to air and most commercial food would have less omega 3 than the amount initially added into the diet.


In bitches, there is no increase in energy requirement till 4—5 weeks after mating. The energy requirement may increase by 25% to 60%, depending on the weight of the mother.

Energy required per day after taking into consideration undigestible materials and waste products(urine):

Metabolizable energy (kcal/day)=130 x kgBW^0.75 + (26 x kgBW)


In queens, their energy requirements increase by about 40% during pregnancy. A 40—50% increase in body weight is encouraged.

Energy required per day after taking into consideration undigestible materials and waste products(urine):

Metabolizable energy (kcal/day)= 140 x kgBW^0.67

Energy Requirements for Lactation

The high energy and nutritional expenditure does not end at parturition. Milk production to feed the newborns is equally demanding. It is important to continue with the diet for pregnancy up till the puppies/kittens are weaned.

Here are some recipes for making delicious food toppings and broth:

Liver Pâté

Pork Liver 150g

Parsley 20g

Boil the ingredients in 2 cups of water for about 5 minutes.

After which, blend them in a food processor. Refrigerate/freeze to keep fresh! You may heat up the Pâté before adding into meals.

Seaweed topping

Kombu 10g

Wakame 10g

Hijiki 10g

Process the above ingredients in a food processor.

Sprinkle on meals as required!

Chicken soup stock

Chicken thigh 150g

Water 500ml

Boil the above ingredients for 7—8 minutes.

Shred the chicken meat into smaller pieces.

Freeze the soup stock and shredded meat in ice cube trays.

Defrost each ice cube as required. You may add the soup stock to meals to make them more appealing to picky eaters.


Fascetti, A. J. and Delaney, S. J. (eds) (2012) Front Matter, in Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., West Sussex, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118785669.fmatter

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