Changes in protein and nutrient composition of milk throughout lactation in dogs

Yuriko Adkins, Allan J. Lepine, Bo Lönnerdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective - To evaluate changes in protein and nutrient composition of milk throughout lactation in dogs. Sample Population - Milk samples collected from 10 lactating Beagles. Procedure - Milk samples were collected on days 1, 3, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, and 42 after parturition and analyzed to determine concentrations of nitrogen, non-protein nitrogen, casein, whey proteins, amino acids, lipids, lactose, citrate, minerals, and trace elements. Optimum conditions for separating casein from whey proteins and distribution of milk proteins throughout lactation were assessed by use of polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Results - Protein concentration was high in samples collected on day 1 (143 g/L), decreased through day 21 (68.4 g/L), and increased thereafter. Concentration of nonprotein nitrogen did not change throughout lactation (5.7 to 9.9% of total nitrogen content). Casein-to-whey ratio was approximately 70:30 and remained constant throughout lactation. Lactose concentration increased from 16.6 g/L on day 1 to 34.0 to 40.2 g/L on days 7 to 42. Lipid concentration ranged from 112.5 to 137.2 g/L. Citrate concentration increased from day 1 (4.8 mM) to day 7 (6.6 mM), then gradually decreased until day 42 (3.9 mM). Iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium concentrations decreased during lactation, whereas calcium and phosphorus concentrations increased. Calcium-to-phosphorus ratio remained constant throughout lactation (approx 1.6:1). Energy content of milk ranged from 1,444 to 1,831 kcal/L. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Protein and nutrient composition of milk changes throughout lactation in dogs. These data can provide valuable information for use in establishing nutrient requirements of puppies during the suckling period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1266-1272
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Veterinary Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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