What should be the weight of your pregnant bitch ?

I love maths. To me, maths mean « black or white », « true or false ». It rhymes with certainty. Predictability. Exactitude. Music to my ears, definitely ! Because I work in the field of biology where, very often, it is literally the opposite. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining here ; I love what I do ! But wouldn’t it be nice sometimes to be able to use maths to bring a certain amount of certainty in this field ?

 

I must admit I am trying. Nearly on a daily basis ! Let me give you an example : last week I got an interesting question from a breeder. He was wondering if he was overfeeding his pregnant bitch. Let’s see how maths can be used to give an appropriate answer ! 

 

Overfeeding the pregnant bitch : a right concern

 

First you need all the elements to better understand the background problem. Overfeeding your animal during gestation can indeed have consequences : 

 

--> Overfeeding means the bitch is provided with extra-amounts of energy… And energy excess is converted into fat.

--> Extra-fat infiltrates the muscles. Including an extremely important one at the time of parturition : the myometrium (= the muscle part of the uterus). 

--> Because of that, overweight / obese bitches can have weaker uterine contractions at the time of parturition.

—> Weaker uterine contractions means prolonged whelping and eventually difficulties to give birth (what we refer to as dystocia in veterinary medicine)

--> Difficulties to give birth = lower neonatal survival rate.

 

Ok, but then, how can we use maths to address the question ? The answer : using a mathematical model. 

 

Nutrition, gestation… and maths ?!?! 

  

To do that, you need to have a good understanding on how a pregnant bitch should be fed. I created the short webcast below a couple of years ago. Don’t hesitate to watch it, it will give you all the key elements you need to know on the matter ! 

 


Find more videos like this on Royal Canin Canada Elite Breeders' Club

 

The key sentence here is the following «  Puppies will gain 70% of their birth weight after day 42 of gestation ».

 

It means that :

- the body weight of the bitch should not vary that much during this first period from 0 to 42 days of gestation ;

- after day 42, weight gain is gonna be observed. In a somehow linear pattern. 

 

The textbooks of canine nutrition give us the last element we need here : «  At the time of whelping, a bitch body weight should increase by approximately 15-25% » .

 

Estimated body weight of the bitch during gestation

 

We now have all the elements. We can therefore build the following table : 

 

Table 1 : Estimated body weight of the pregnant bitch during gestation based on her optimal body weight (*Day 63 means just before whelping) 

That can give you an idea of what to expect. And if you want to do it for your own bitch ? Download the following excel sheet I created. I will help you for your specific case.

 

You just need to :

- know your bitch's optimal body weight ;

- monitor her weigh on a weekly basis after day 42 of gestation

- check with the Excel calculator I provided you with if you are right on track ! 

 

The only thing you would need to do is investing in is a good scale (or you can use the one at your veterinary clinic, it will do the trick as well !). 

 

As much as I would like this model to work in any given situation, keep in mind however that this is not absolute. Other factors may play a role in the equation ( especially, the size of the litter ). Remember : this is biology we are dealing with here. Not mathematics !

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.“ Benjamin Franklin. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it! Good way to spread information inside our PRO community! And stay in touch with us to get our latest updates, just click on one of the icons below!

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