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Essential Nutritional Guidelines for Pregnant Dogs: Calcium and Diet FAQs

Ensuring the appropriate calcium-phosphorus balance during pregnancy and lactation is crucial for the health of the dam and her puppies. Proper nutrition and supplementation can make a significant difference in the outcomes. This guide provides comprehensive answers to frequently asked questions about calcium and diet for pregnant dogs.

Should You Supplement Calcium During Pregnancy?

Calcium Supplementation:

  • No Supplementation Needed: Pregnant dogs should not receive supplemental calcium during pregnancy. A high-quality, all-life stage or puppy commercial dog food provides all the necessary calcium and maintains the correct calcium-phosphorus balance.

  • Risks of Over-Supplementation: Adding calcium supplements or high-calcium foods like yogurt and cottage cheese can disrupt the parathyroid gland’s function. This gland is vital for mobilizing calcium from the bones to support puppy development and milk production. Over-supplementation can lead to hypocalcemia (low blood calcium), also known as eclampsia, which is dangerous for the dam.

What Should You Supplement During Pregnancy?

Recommended Supplements:

  • Folic Acid and DHA: These supplements support the development of the puppy’s eyes, brain, and neural tubes. A prenatal supplement like Breeder’s Edge Oxy Mate is an excellent source of folic acid.

How Should You Adjust the Dam’s Diet During Pregnancy?

Diet Adjustments:

  • Increased Food Intake: After the fifth week of pregnancy, increase the dam’s food intake by 10% each week until whelping. Adjust based on her body condition and litter size.

  • Post-Whelping Intake: After whelping, the dam’s food intake should be increased to two to four times her normal daily amount to support adequate lactation.

What Happens if You Add Calcium During Pregnancy?

Impact of Excess Calcium:

  • Parathyroid Gland Suppression: Excess calcium during pregnancy can suppress the parathyroid gland, preventing it from mobilizing calcium effectively. This can lead to eclampsia during labor or lactation.

When Should Calcium Supplementation Start?

Timing for Calcium Supplementation:

  • Start at Labor Onset: Begin calcium supplementation at the first signs of labor. Use a calcium gel like Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus Gel to support effective uterine contractions and reduce the need for oxytocin injections.

Dosage Recommendations:

  • Small Dogs (up to 20 pounds): Initial dose of 2 mL/cc, followed by 1 mL per dose after each puppy is delivered.

  • Larger Dogs (over 20 pounds): Initial dose of 1 mL/cc per 10 pounds, followed by 1 to 3 mL/cc per dose after each puppy is delivered.

Why Use Commercial Dog Food Instead of Homemade Diets?

Advantages of Commercial Dog Food:

  • Balanced Nutrition: Commercial dog foods from reputable brands like Purina, Royal Canin, and Hills provide balanced nutrition with the necessary macro and micronutrients for all life stages, including pregnancy and lactation.

  • Risk of Homemade Diets: Homemade and raw meat diets may lack essential nutrients and carry risks of bacterial and parasitic infections. Grain-free diets might contain phytoestrogens that interfere with reproduction.

How to Handle Calcium During and After Whelping

During Whelping:

  • Calcium Supplementation: Calcium helps oxytocin strengthen uterine contractions and facilitates the efficient delivery of puppies.

After Whelping:

  • Continued Supplementation: Calcium aids in expelling placentas and uterine fluids, reducing the risk of metritis (post-partum uterine infection).

  • Managing Eclampsia: Small dams with large litters may experience hypocalcemia during heavy lactation. Early calcium supplementation can mitigate this risk. Monitor for signs of eclampsia such as stiff gait, muscle tremors, and aggressive behavior towards pups or humans.

Emergency Treatment:

  • Veterinary Intervention: In severe cases, intravenous calcium must be administered under veterinary supervision, with careful monitoring to avoid complications.


Proper calcium management and nutrition are essential for the health of pregnant dogs and their puppies. Supplementing only with folic acid and DHA during pregnancy, starting calcium supplementation at the onset of labor, and relying on high-quality commercial dog food are key practices. Being prepared with the appropriate calcium supplements, such as Breeder’s Edge Oral Cal Plus Gel, ensures that you can support your dam effectively during labor and lactation.

For more detailed information and to explore our range of products for canine health, visit or call us at 800-658-5308. We are committed to helping you ensure the health and success of your breeding program through expert advice and top-quality products.

pregnant dog
pregnant dog


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