LET US assume that your bitch has been bred to the stud which was chosen after careful thought and much searching of pedigrees. What is the next step? The answer is again: Keep the bitch in good health. The first consideration when starting your kennels was to get good stock, and the next is to keep that stock at all times in the best of health.
We have already considered the various points necessary to keep your dogs healthy, but since diet is of extra importance to the whelping bitch, let us give some special attention to it here.
While the dog is essentially a carnivorous animal, a diet composed entirely of meat would not supply all his requirements. There does come a time during the last few days of gestation when the bulk foods are discontinued
and only minced beef is fed, but the normal diet required by the bitch before breeding and most of the way through gestation, must contain carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins as well as proteins. All commercial dog foods contain in greater or less quantities, dehydrated meat which has been ground to a powder, but freshly cooked meat added to the prepared food, which has also been moistened with meat broth, greatly adds to the efficiency of the diet. Meat, eggs, and milk contain amino acids which are lacking in most vegetables. When these acids are added, it has been found by experimentation that a dog can live on a vegetable diet.
Any vegetables fed to a dog should be raw or cooked as little as possible, because cooking tends to destroy the vitamins which they contain. Since these vitamins are the only reason for feeding vegetables to dogs, it stands to reason that they must be preserved. Their only other function is to supply roughage and to stimulate the intestinal tract.
There seems to be an idea around that milk will give the dog worms. This is quite false. Most dogs are fond of milk and will drink as much as they can hold, while some few are allergic to it and will vomit it later. If the dog likes it, there will not be any bad effects from drinking it. I have seen one of my studs get into a bucket of milk and drink until he looked like a captive balloon, but there was never any resulting harm from it.
It does not follow that because a dog bolts some food greedily, it is good for him. A satisfactory food is one which supplies the necessary vitamins and minerals, gives him tissue-building elements, and builds up a reserve which is seen in reproductive ability. This is very nearly approached by some of the commercial dry foods. These contain cereals which supply vitamin A, the anti-infection vitamin, and thus help to insure health. Combined with the cereals are ground bone, dried fish, cod-liver oil, salt, dried ground meat, and alfalfa. These foods with meat broth are the closest approach to the ideal diet which we have yet made.
With small breeds it is often a good plan to feed twice a day in normal times, but in any case, as pregnancy advances, the number of feedings per day must be increased in order to supply the growing puppies with necessary nourishment. In the later stages it is well to increase the number of feedings to three or four, but to decrease the amount of each feeding so that overloading of the stomach does not occur.