Everyone loves puppies. They’re sweet, affectionate, curious and playful. Of course, some puppies are too cute for words. But if you’re looking to start dog breeding, setting the stage for producing the healthiest and strongest litter possible can be hard work.
Now, we know that not everyone looking into dog breeding wants to become a professional breeder. Owning a dog can be rewarding, emotional and fulfilling in a way that other companion animals aren’t always.
The team here at Vitalize® understands why some dog owners call their pets their “fur babies.” A dog becomes part of the family. It makes sense that some owners love their furry little companions so much that they want to breed them.
Likewise, many dog owners, not just dog breeders, purchase a dog to breed them. No matter your experience level or goals, dog breeding can be a complex process that necessitates guidance and support.
Our Insights into all Things Dog Breeding
We’ve created this introductory guide on how Vitalize products supplement the dog breeding process—helping improve overall nutrition and even being study proven to boost conception rates. But more than just our products, we’re breaking down the ins and outs of the breeding process.
We’re here to educate you about dog breeding—everything from how to breed responsibly to expecting to how to wean your puppies. We’ve got you covered.
What Makes Vitalize Products Different?
Vitalize products offer a thoughtful approach to supporting the health and vitality of dogs. Our goal isn’t just helping your dogs feel better. We prioritize products that support their overall health and wellness—especially when it comes to dog breeding.
Our products undergo rigorous testing for quality, offering dog owners and breeders peace of mind in their canine companions’ well-being. What sets Vitalize apart is our commitment to a cutting-edge formulation designed to maximize nutrient absorption.
Our formulations are crafted with a premium blend of high-quality ingredients, prioritizing essential nutrients for optimal well-being. In turn, this leads to improved reproductive success. A healthy female means a healthy litter.
So, what’s at the heart of those formulations? Amaferm.
It’s All About Amaferm
AO-Biotics® Amaferm® is a research-proven additive with over 111+ published and presented research studies proving its increase in digestibility and, ultimately, its impact on the animal. But what is it? Amaferm’s active ingredient is derived from the fungus Aspergillus oryzae through a carefully controlled fermentation process.
This fungus is known for its ability to produce a variety of enzymes and metabolites during fermentation. These compounds play a crucial role in influencing the digestive processes within an animal’s gastrointestinal tract.
In particular, Amaferm provides a few notable benefits to dogs:
1. Improved Digestive Health
The fermentation product in Amaferm positively impacts the microbial composition of the digestive tract. By fostering the growth of beneficial microorganisms, Amaferm contributes to the establishment of a balanced gut microbiome. But what does that mean in lay terms? Amaferm supports your dog’s gut health. In turn, that improves your dog’s overall health.
Creating microbial balance is essential for optimal digestion as it aids in breaking down complex dietary components into more absorbable forms. If you’re wondering whether digestive health is vital for your pup, here’s what you should know. Digestive health is vital to their overall well-being.
Efficient digestion ensures the proper breakdown of food into essential nutrients, including proteins, fats and vitamins, which are then absorbed to support energy production, growth and bodily functions.
Proper digestive function is linked to weight management, resisting disease and infection, helping regulate appetite and preventing obesity-related health issues. Additionally, a well-functioning digestive system contributes to the prevention of canine digestive issues.
The gut-brain axis highlights the connection between digestive health and mental well-being in dogs. You’re not just keeping their body healthy for breeding; you’re keeping their mind healthy.
2. Increased Nutrient Absorption
Unsurprisingly, Amaferm’s promotion of overall digestive health directly improves nutrient absorption. After all, nutrient absorption is a critical aspect of canine health. It ensures your dogs receive the essential elements necessary for their overall well-being.
When dogs consume food, the digestive system breaks down complex nutrients into simpler forms, such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The efficiency of this process directly influences the dog’s ability to absorb these nutrients into the bloodstream, providing the foundation for various physiological functions.
Proper nutrient absorption is essential for energy production in dogs. The nutrients derived from well-digested food serve as the primary energy source, supporting daily activities, maintaining muscle function and sustaining overall vitality.
The enhanced microbial activity caused by Amaferm results in a more efficient breakdown of nutrients from ingested food. This allows for better absorption of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutritional components. These micronutrients contribute to functions such as bone health, immune system support and the maintenance of healthy skin and coat.
3. Regulated, Healthy Appetite
One of Amaferm’s most obvious effects is its impact on your dog’s appetite.
“Now, why is this important?” you may be asking. Well, when a dog becomes sick or stressed, one of the most telltale signs is that it will stop eating. This is a problem because without the necessary nutrients to get better, a dog’s health can spiral.
A healthy appetite also facilitates efficient nutrient absorption, as engaged digestive systems break down and absorb essential nutrients from food. Moreover, regular and appropriate food intake reduces the risk of nutritional deficiencies, promoting overall health and preventing related health issues.
Changes in the gut microbiome promoted by Amaferm significantly improve and regulate your furry friend’s appetite. This gets them eating, helping them stay healthy and fight existing issues they’re dealing with.
How Does Amaferm Support Dog Breeding?
The ultimate goal of incorporating Amaferm into an animal’s diet is to enhance overall health and performance. This can manifest in various ways, including increased energy levels, improved coat condition and potentially greater resistance to environmental stressors.
Animals that receive the nutritional benefits of Amaferm may exhibit better growth rates, reproductive performance and general vitality.
You read that right: dogs fed Amaferm have better results during breeding. But don’t just take our word for it. Research shows that Amaferm plays a decisive role in improving dog breeding outcomes. A 1984 study found that “Amaferm-fed dogs tended to outperform controls at every stage.”
Throughout gestation and weaning, females fed Amaferm maintained their hemoglobin concentrations better than controls. Pups from these animals were larger at birth and generally grew faster. They also noticed an increase in litter size on average as well as in the number of puppies weaned.
Vitalize Products Ideal for Dog Breeding
We offer multiple products that are ideal for supporting your breeding efforts.
Vitalize Dog is a granular vitamin and mineral supplement for dogs designed to support breeding and performance. It contains:
- AO-Biotics Amaferm, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility.
- Omegas for healthy skin and hair.
- High-quality blend of vitamins and minerals for daily support of any diet.
VITALIZE® DOG GEL
Vitalize Dog Gel is a prebiotic and nutrient-rich gel for dogs designed to give immediate support to the digestive and immune systems. The gel works fast to support appetite and hydration. It contains:
- AO-Biotics Amaferm, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility.
- MOS to help normalize gut microflora and support the immune system
COUNTRY VET NATURALS DOG FOOD: HEALTHY DIET
Country Vet Naturals dog food is a highly digestible, natural dog food that provides 24% protein and 14% fat to promote a healthy lifestyle. It contains:
- AO-Biotics Amaferm, a precision-based prebiotic that impacts intake.
- Ingredients to support superior joint health.
- Omega 6 and Omega 3 to enhance skin and hair condition.
- No corn, wheat or soy fillers.
Invest in Your Dog with Vitalize!
Would you like to take the first step toward better breeding outcomes? Now’s the perfect time to invest in dog breeding essentials from Vitalize. All our products are available online in the BioZyme store or on Amazon!
Do you prefer to shop in person and support local businesses? You can do that with our Find a Dealer tool.
Let’s Talk Dog Breeding
We’ve discussed how Vitalize products, and the ingredient Amaferm specifically, can enhance your dog breeding efforts. But now, let’s talk about breeding itself. If you’re a dog owner interested in breeding your dog but have little to no experience, this section is for you.
The Importance of Breeding Responsibly
When it comes to dog breeding, always breed to improve. While every dog holds a special place in its owner’s heart, steering clear of “kennel blindness” is essential. You should assess your dogs, acknowledging strengths and areas for refinement.
After all, responsible breeding aims to consistently produce outstanding dogs and exceptional pets.
Preparations for Dog Breeding
The best way to “breed to improve” is to ensure you are knowledgeable.
Any guidance regarding breeding is, of course, going to vary from person to person. After all, not everyone is looking to get the same results out of dog breeding. No matter your goals, though, good breeding begins with learning.
Research Best Practices
It likely doesn’t sound fun, but step one in dog breeding is researching best practices.
Start by delving into reputable books authored by experienced breeders and veterinarians. These can help you master the basics of genetics, breeding management and canine health. Complement this with online exploration. You should also visit the websites of respected dog breed organizations, kennel clubs and veterinary associations.
Additionally, consult with veterinarians specializing in canine health and reproduction to gain advice on pre-breeding health checks, genetic testing and overall breeding management. You may want to try and reach out to ethical breeders in your area to learn from their practical experiences.
Consider attending dog shows to observe and learn from top-quality dogs in your chosen breed. It’s also the perfect place to meet experienced breeders and get insights into what works for them.
Know Your Genetics
To breed responsibly, you’re going to need to learn the basics of genetics. That’s right, it’s time to get scientific. After all, your potential puppies’ health, appearance and temperament result from genes inherited from their parents.
While this isn’t absolutely necessary for dog owners not looking to breed champion show dogs, we still highly recommend learning the genetics behind dog breeding. This ensures your puppies are healthy and possess the right qualities to be great pets and companions.
After all, the last thing you want to do is accidentally breed a litter with serious diseases or deformities. It’s important to remember genetic defects can impact any body system and vary in prevalence among breeds. That’s why research is so important.
Find the Right Mate
When selecting a breeding partner (most likely a sire for your dam), there is a simple principle to bear in mind: mate animals that complement one another.
Choose a dog whose bloodlines will strengthen your female’s weaknesses and emphasize her good qualities. For example, if your female’s coat is not as good as it might be, find a partner with a good coat from a line of dogs with good coats.
Of course, it can be very difficult to do this because you need to weigh all the factors that contribute to the dogs’ traits and appearances. This is an area where research and the advice and experience of other breeders are invaluable.
2 Key Factors: Temperament & Health
Temperament in dogs is predominantly hereditary, shaped over generations through selective breeding. Breeds have been developed with specific temperaments suited for tasks like sled pulling, scent tracking or game retrieval. That said, while hereditary factors strongly influence temperament, external factors also play a role. This is what makes breeding for temperament so complex.
In terms of health considerations, it’s crucial to recognize that dogs can inherit various defects. Some of which pose significant risks to their well-being. Certain hereditary diseases can be crippling or even fatal.
For any breeder, the primary objective should be to produce dogs free from the major known hereditary diseases associated with their breed. Doing your research should help promote the overall health and vitality of the canine population.
Health Checks! Health Checks! Health Checks!
Health checks are essential in responsible dog breeding for several critical reasons. These checks help prevent the transmission of hereditary diseases. They do this by assisting in identifying potential genetic disorders within breeding lines, promoting the breed’s overall health.
Assessing the reproductive fitness of breeding pairs ensures their ability to conceive, carry, and deliver healthy litters. Moreover, early detection of health issues through regular examinations is a vital tool in the overall wellbeing of your dogs. It allows you to address concerns proactively, preventing conditions from worsening over time.
Conducting health checks also aligns with ethical breeding practices. Breeders, even first-time breeders and non-professionals, who prioritize health considerations contribute to the sustainability and success of their breeding programs. That’s because they are more likely to produce robust, genetically sound dogs that positively impact the breed’s quality.
At the end of the day, health checks are a cornerstone of responsible breeding. They ensure the health and vitality of both the breeding pairs and their offspring. They also allow you to uphold ethical standards within the canine breeding community.
The Mating Process
In a natural dog breeding scenario, male and female dogs are introduced during the female’s estrus cycle, a period commonly known as being “in heat.” The female signals her receptiveness through pheromones and behavioral changes, attracting the attention of potential mates.
During mating, which typically involves mounting and copulation, the male deposits sperm into the female’s reproductive tract. Natural breeding allows for a range of behaviors, such as courtship rituals, mutual sniffing, and vocalizations, as dogs communicate and establish compatibility for mating.
This method of reproduction harnesses the innate instincts of dogs, facilitating the continuation of desirable traits and ensuring genetic diversity within the canine population. While natural breeding is a fundamental aspect of canine reproduction, responsible breeders have more to consider.
Factors such as health, genetics and temperament are important when selecting breeding pairs to contribute positively to the overall well-being and characteristics of the breed.
Another breeding strategy is, of course, artificial insemination (AI). For those of you who don’t know, artificial insemination is a strategy in dog breeding to facilitate the mating process without direct natural copulation.
In this method, fresh, chilled or frozen semen collected from a male dog is introduced into the female’s reproductive tract. Artificial insemination offers several advantages in the breeding process, including the ability to overcome geographical barriers when the chosen breeding pair is located far apart. It also allows breeders to utilize semen from superior male dogs without the logistical challenges of physically transporting the animals for natural mating.
Make sure to be mindful of what strategies will work best for you when dog breeding.
What You Need to Know About Canine Pregnancy
Pregnancy signs include heightened appetite, weight gain and enlarged nipples, but these symptoms can also manifest in a false pregnancy. A veterinarian can typically confirm pregnancy through abdominal palpation at 28 days or through methods like ultrasound or X-rays. The gestation period for dogs is roughly 63 days or two months.
Upon confirmation of pregnancy, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian regarding specialized feeding requirements. They can also walk you through what to expect during pregnancy, labor and post-birth. Additionally, being informed on how to identify and address potential emergencies is crucial for ensuring the well-being of both the pregnant dog and her upcoming litter.
Proper Nutrition for Your Pregnant Female
Proper nutrition during pregnancy is of paramount importance for the health and well-being of pregnant dogs and their developing puppies. A well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet is crucial to support the increased energy and nutritional demands of gestation.
Adequate intake of essential nutrients, including protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins, is vital for fetal development and the overall health of the mother. Proper nutrition ensures the optimal growth of the puppies. Additionally, it contributes to the mother’s strength and vitality during the demanding phases of pregnancy, labor and lactation.
We encourage everyone interested in dog breeding to consult with a veterinarian about creating customized diets for their pregnant females. A diet tailored to the specific needs of the pregnant dog can significantly enhance the success of the pregnancy and the health of the entire litter.
With veterinarian approval, Vitalize products offer an effective supplement to any diet. Vitalize Dog, Vitalize Dog Gel and Country Vet Naturals dog food can be incredible effective support for your pregnant pooch. They will help not only ensure her health but provide comprehensive health benefits that improve breeding outcomes.
Prepare for Whelping
You’re going to want to create a whelping box well in advance of the birth. This will give the female time to acclimate to it. If not accustomed, she might choose an inappropriate location—like a closet—for giving birth.
An ideal whelping environment is warm, draft-free and secluded, especially for smaller breeds. A spacious whelping box with low sides, a small shelf, or roll bars is recommended, providing a safe space for the puppies to crawl under.
Many breeders opt for lining the box with newspapers during delivery—it’s easily replaceable when soiled—and transition to non-skid mats or outdoor carpeting post-whelping for better footing.
During the birthing process, most females can manage the delivery without human intervention. Each puppy is enclosed in its own placental sac, and the mother typically removes it, severs the umbilical cord and stimulates the puppy’s breathing through licking. Monitoring the delivery of placentas is essential. That way you can make sure the count aligns with the number of puppies and prevent complications from a retained placenta.
In cases where the mother fails to remove the sac or sever the umbilical cord, immediate intervention is necessary. A puppy inside the sac has a limited time before oxygen depletion, requiring careful tearing of the sac near the puppy’s head and gentle removal. This intervention ensures the puppy’s well-being and minimizes the risk of infection through iodine application.
After birth, the mother focuses on cleaning, warming and allowing the puppies to suckle. Suckling is vital for ingesting colostrum, the first milk rich in maternal antibodies, bolstering the puppies’ immune systems during their early days.
You’re going to want to monitor the puppies’ weight for the first 2 weeks after their birth. This way you can track their nourishment levels and ensure they stay healthy and continue to develop.
Signs of Labor
While the duration and specific behaviors can vary among individual dogs and breeds, common signs indicating the onset of labor include:
- Restlessness and Nesting Behavior
A pregnant dog may become increasingly restless, exhibiting behavior such as pacing, digging or attempting to create a nest. This nesting instinct is a clear indication that labor is imminent.
- Drop in Body Temperature
Monitoring the dog’s rectal temperature can provide an early clue. A drop in temperature (below 100°F or 37.8°C) often signals that labor is approaching in the next 12-24 hours.
- Loss of Appetite
A dog in labor may show decreased interest in food. This loss of appetite is a common pre-labor sign as the dog’s body prepares for the birthing process.
- Increased Affection or Seeking Solitude
Some dogs may seek more attention and affection from their owners, while others might prefer solitude. These behavioral changes can indicate the hormonal shifts associated with impending labor.
- Excessive Panting and Shivering
Panting and shivering can occur as the dog’s body readies itself for labor. These physical signs may become more pronounced as contractions begin.
- Increased Vaginal Discharge
A noticeable increase in a clear or slightly blood-tinged vaginal discharge is a strong indicator that labor is underway. This discharge often signals the passing of the mucus plug.
- Visible Abdominal Contractions
As contractions commence, the dog’s abdomen will visibly contract. These contractions may start subtly and gradually intensify as labor progresses.
- Resting or Licking Genital Area
In the early stages of labor, a dog may lick its genital area or attempt to keep it clean. This instinctual behavior is a preparatory action before the active birthing phase.
It’s essential for you to monitor your dog for these signs. Consult with a veterinarian if there are concerns or if the labor process deviates from the expected course.
The first milk produced by the female after whelping is called colostrum. Every puppy needs to ingest colostrum as early as possible after birth and certainly during the first 24 hours of life.
Colostrum contains several beneficial substances for the puppies, including immunoglobulins that protect newborns from infectious diseases to which the mother is immune.
For your nursing females, one thing to keep an eye out for is canine mastitis. Though not especially common, you should be aware of it. Canine mastitis is a breast infection in females, usually occurring a few weeks after whelping.
Typically, the breasts of a lactating female are warm and enlarged. If the breasts seem to be red, dark, hot, or painful when touched, then you should contact your vet immediately. Advanced canine mastitis presents itself as a hard, hot and almost black breast segment—this will be extremely painful for the female when touched.
After whelping, some female dogs may exhibit reduced appetite for the first 1 to 2 days, followed by a sharp increase in appetite and nutrient requirements. This will peak around 3 weeks.
It is crucial to provide adequate calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D throughout this period to prevent eclampsia. These essential nutrients are typically present in a high-quality diet, negating the need for additional supplementation. Eclampsia—symptoms include nervousness, whimpering, unsteady gait and spasms—will require immediate veterinary intervention for successful treatment.
Post-whelping, the female should ideally maintain her pre-pregnancy weight, with a slight increase of 5 to 10% at most. Over the initial three weeks, she will require 2-3 times more food than her usual diet, ensuring healthy milk production for her puppies.
Other Things to Consider:
Newborn puppies may need handfeeding if the mother is unable or unwilling to nurse them. While cow’s milk is an inadequate substitute, you will want to use commercial puppy formula. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In cases where nursing is challenging, tube feeding may be necessary—consult your veterinarian for guidance through this process.
Daily weight monitoring is crucial. Feeding amounts can be adjusted based on the puppy’s response to handfeeding, with steady weight gain and well-formed feces serving as indicators of satisfactory progress. Proper hygiene is essential, and any signs of diarrhea require immediate veterinary consultation.
Newborn puppies also need assistance with defecation and urination, typically provided by the mother’s licking. Human intervention, involving gentle massage with a warm, damp cotton ball, becomes necessary for orphaned puppies. Incorporating gentle body massages during waking moments further aids circulation and overall puppy well-being.
Most puppies begin the weaning process at about 2 to 4 weeks. Some breeders recommend starting them off by offering a pan of puppy formula instead of their mother’s milk. Other breeders combine the puppy formula with presoaked or pulverized dry puppy food and/or rice cereal to create gruel.
As the puppies get older, you will want to add more food and decrease the amount of formula. To avoid digestive upsets, though, be sure to introduce all changes in food or feeding schedules gradually.
Start Your Dog Breeding Program Right
We’ve discussed the importance of nutrition, how Amaferm can help, and everything you could possibly need to know about dog breeding. So, how do you start your breeding program off on the right foot? Easy. Proper nutrition.
Do you prefer to shop in person and support local businesses? You can do that, too, with our Find a Dealer tool.
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