The early stages in wee puppies' lives are not only significant for themselves, but also for their dedicated mother dogs. Dams have pretty physically taxing and tough jobs on their plates, from nursing to watching over their litters and everything else. Weaning alone is usually a major, time-consuming duty.
Weight Loss Post-Parturition
Just as with female humans, female dogs inevitably gain some weight during gestation. After all, their bodies not only carry entire litters, they eat for them, too. After whelping the youngsters, dams frequently drop a lot of the pregnancy weight they just put on. In optimal circumstances, however, it should not decline by more than 10 percent of their prior weight, according to the ASPCA.
Weight Gain After Weaning
When puppies are weaned, they fully cease nursing behaviors, and therefore don't extract any nourishment from the mother's bodies anymore. Because of this, mother dogs won't actually lose weight -- they'll gain some. It's at this point that healthy female dogs usually begin, in a measured manner, reverting back to their normal body weights. After all, their bodies are no longer working hard to provide developing puppies milk several times each day.
Eating a Lot More
During nursing, mother dogs often have pretty voracious appetites. This is normal -- they have to make a lot of milk for their babies. At some points during nursing, it is common for dams to consume roughly 2 to 4 times more than the amounts they usually eat in typical, non-breeding circumstances. A lot of different factors come into play where this is concerned, however, including the number of puppies in the litter, the mom's overall well-being and her specific breed. Since nursing mother dogs need to eat so much -- practically all of the time -- free feeding is usually a smart option for them. Commercial food made for puppies is beneficial for these purposes. Apart from food requirements, it also is crucial to make sure that nursing dogs -- like all dogs in general -- have plenty of clean H20 always in front of them.
A little loss of pregnancy weight is typical in mother dogs after giving birth to puppies. Weight gain is the normal post-weaning scenario, however. Talk to your veterinarian immediately if you notice any abnormalities in a mother dog's weight during gestation, during nursing and weaning and even after all of those things are said and done. Apart from weight changes, also be on the lookout for other hints of any possible health issues, including dull, weak and lackluster fur.
By Naomi Millburn
American Kennel Club: A Guide to Breeding Your Dog
UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program: Canine - Guide to Raising Orphan Puppies
ASPCA: Do Dogs Lose Weight After Birthing?
VetWest Animal Hospitals: Breeding - Growing, Lactation, Weaning
The City of Austin, Texas: Nursing Mother Dogs and Their Puppies
University of Missouri Extension: Feeding the Dog
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.