Puppy Feeding Guidelines; Puppies do a lot of growing during their first year of lives and they need a proper nutritional schedule to help support them as they mature into adult dogs. The following are a few guidelines to help ensure puppies get all they need to be happy and healthy.
What Should Your Puppy Eat
Puppies need to be fed food that is enriched with everything they need to grow into healthy adult dogs. Always feed your puppy “puppy food” because it is designed to have extra nutrients and protein essential to development.
Be aware that the ingredients in the cheaper brands of puppy foods may include fillers like sugar that can have some affect on your puppy’s overall health and energy level as he or she ages. Look for brands that use high-quality ingredients to feed your puppy during this crucial stage of development and growth and talk to your vet to ensure you are making the right choice because not everything about the food is disclosed on the package.
It may also be a good idea to consider food that is specific to your dog’s breed. Puppy food can be found for small, medium and large breeds and all provide the fundamental nutrition each breed needs until adulthood.
How Often Should Your Puppy Eat
A puppy should follow a set feeding schedule. When a puppy eats should be dictated around your schedule but it should be around the same time each day. A feeding schedule puts your puppy’s entire body on a followable schedule. Meaning, a puppy thats eats at the same time each day, will eliminate waste at the same time each day which makes housebreaking and training your puppy a much easier and faster process.
Leaving food out at all times so your puppy can eat whenever it wants is not a good idea because he or she will not be on a set schedule that you can follow, and it could lead to overeating and weight gain.
Puppies under the age of six months should be fed their correct amount of food three times a day because smaller meals are easier for them to digest and provide them with enough energy to last throughout the day. After they are six months, feedings should decrease to twice a day.
How Much Should Your Puppy Eat
Consult your veterinarian to help you determine exactly how much food your puppy should be fed. The amount recommended on the back of your puppy’s bag of food may not be accurate for your individual pup. Some owners who follow the food’s guidelines end up feeding their puppy too much and some do not feed them enough.
Adjust the amount of food you feed your puppy according to their weight. Puppies should have a visible waistline and you should be able to feel their ribs, but not see them. Always keep an eye on your dog’s weight because being underfed or overfed can lead to serious and life-threatening medical issues.
Water is a human’s most important nutrient, and the same goes for dogs as well. Puppies will need a lot of water to keep them healthy and should have access to a fresh and clean supply of water at all times. In general animals, including puppies, should drink 2.5 times more water than their daily food intake. If a puppy is playing or in the heat for a prolonged period of time, the amount of water they drink should be increased.
Puppies on a dry food diet will most likely consume less water than a puppy that eats canned food. If you notice your puppy has stopped drinking water altogether, this is usually a sign of sickness and you should immediately make an appointment to see your vet.
Puppies should receive all of their nutrients from their food, but treats are a nice bonus to their diet. Don’t be afraid to reward your new puppy with treats as he or she is making the transition into your home but their treats should never make up more that 10% of their caloric diet. Be mindful of how many treats you are giving your new pup so he or she doesn’t fill up before a meal and not eat their necessary nutrients.
Switching to Adult Food
As your puppy begins to approach maturity, their nutritional and caloric needs change and they will need to be transitioned from puppy food to adult food. There is currently a lot of information that conflicts about when the appropriate time to make the switch is but the right time usually depends on the individual dog and breed.
Different breeds mature at different times and while it make take a toy breed less than a year to fully mature, a larger breed may take up to two years. Let your pup help you decide when the right time is. If they meet their breed’s guidelines for maturity and are eating less of their puppy food or are starting to gain weight, it may be the right time to consider making the transition.
When you do switch to adult food, it is best to do so gradually. Start by mixing just a little of your dog’s adult food into their puppy food and then slowly start increasing the increments of adult food. If you switch your puppy’s food too quickly they could experience some stomach and digestive problems that could end up all over your floor later.