Let’s go back in time… I am a third year student at the vet faculty in Toulouse, South-West of France. And when you’re a 20 year-old student, there are plenty of things you don’t really pay attention to.…  

Here am I, wandering in a public park. It’s winter (South of France winter, which means outside temperature approaches 10⁰). I’m obviously freezing (I am French, remember?), that explains why my hands are deeply buried inside my pockets.  I am here with my Labrador bitch. She is running free in the park. She is in heats… As I said, when you are a student, there are plenty of things you should pay attention to. Like this Labrador male that comes closer and closer…  I finally realise that something is going wrong when I find them locked together in the middle of an open – and crowded- area, with everyone around laughing at me!  

Two months after my bitch delivers 9 black lab puppies. This is my first litter, I am so happy… but it did not exactly go the way I wanted. After parturition my bitch was really… really skinny. She simply looked awful... Day 2 after parturition we lost 5 puppies.  I discussed this with our professor in Nutrition (it happened that I was in her class at this time), and she asked me this simple question: “How did you feed your bitch during pregnancy?”. I was a student, with no money. Obviously I fed her with pet food I was buying at the grocery, cheaper option, right? Our professor sighed and distinctly said: “Ok, let’s start again from the beginning…”. I am not going to repeat every word she said (you can view our video on Nutritional management of the pregnant bi...!), but I clearly remember the message. Wrong nutritional feeding during pregnancy leads to weak puppies, certainly poor milk quality and therefore many difficulties… She spoke of a diet called “Starter” (first time I heard about it I guess)... I kept it in the corner of my mind. One day, maybe, I would need it…

One year later, I am wandering again in the same park. My bitch is in heat again. Another lab male comes along… Did not really learn anything, did I (students, sigh)? My bitch is obviously pregnant… But this time at least I won’t do the same mistake. I go back to see our Professor in Nutrition, and she tells me exactly what to do. I will use Starter after the 42nd day of gestation… My bitch delivers 9 puppies again. After parturition, she looked wonderful: she had not lost weight this time. The puppies are vigorous. This time, I did not lose ANY of them.

This is a real story, and this is my story. Adequate nutritional management during pregnancy DOES make a difference, I experienced it. For sure I learnt after that that there are plenty of other things to focus on to decrease neonatal mortality (we have an excellent talk about that, ask your rep if you want to hear it!). But this also explains why, among all the diets Royal Canin has to offer for our PRO clients, Starter will always be my favorite!

Remember we are all part of the same PRO community! Don’t hesitate then: share with us your experiences, ask your questions and let us know what you think! Social networks enable us to keep the discussion going, so whether you are a Facebooker or a Twitter-addict, you can – and should!- be part of it!

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