For a new dog owner, it is quite easy to be thrown into confusion regarding what and how to feed your new puppy dog. Unlike a fully grown dog, a puppy is a bit more delicate, and without the right nutritional care, it might not thrive or even survive – that’s why it can be even more frustrating when it comes to a puppy.
One thing every serious pet lover should have a firm grasp on is how to feed their pets. There is a plethora of pet food out there and many pet owners are finding it increasingly difficult to come up with the right nutritional plan for their pets. In this guide, you will learn exactly what you need to be able to comfortably feed your puppy.
What’s The Best Kind Of Food For Puppies?
You can choose to feed your puppy commercial food or homemade food. Most dog owners opt for a combination of both. Pet experts may often disagree on what is the best food for a puppy. However, there are some basic nutritional facts regarding a puppy food that they all agree on. Generally, a puppy will thrive on food that is rich in proteins, vitamins, fats, and minerals.
Different brands may have different additional ingredients that wholesomely contribute to the health of the puppy. This disparity should not stray away from the general regulations of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) which defines the nutrient standards for growth.
Here is a more in-depth breakdown of the necessary nutrients and why they are important
• Proteins – Proteins are crucial for the development of strong muscles, healthy skin, organs, and tissues. Additionally, they are needed to produce important hormones and enzymes that contribute to the healthy functioning of the body. A minimum of 22% protein is recommended by the AAFCO for puppies.
• Calcium and phosphorus – These are important for healthy development of teeth and bones. Generally, calcium and phosphorus are behind the proper development of the skeletal system. They should be at least 1% and 0.8 % respectively.
• Fat – Fat is needed for the production of energy that drives growth. A minimum of 8% fat is recommended.
• Carbohydrates –These also provide the energy needed for the proper growth and functioning of organs and tissues.
Puppy Age and Feeding Requirements
Just like a human being, the puppy’s nutritional needs change as it grows, especially in the first six months. The puppy stage for most dogs usually lasts for 12 months, after which their nutritional needs become less complicated. However, giant breeds may remain puppies for up to 24 months.
Technically, you should begin feeding your puppy with solid food at about four weeks. This is around the time when the amount of calories from the mother’s milk starts to drop. In the beginning and until the puppy is over eight weeks, all the solid food should be moistened to a spongy texture to make it easy for the puppy to eat.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of how and what to feed your puppy at every stage:
6 to 12 Weeks
When puppies are weaned from their mothers, eating several times a day becomes essential. At this time period, it is recommended that you feed them four evenly distributed meals a day. If your puppy depends on commercial food, you can begin by feeding them with un-moistened dry food when they hit 9 or 10 weeks.
3 to 6 months
At this stage, you can start feeding the puppy three times a day instead of four. This should basically be breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time each day. The food doesn’t change much here. However, you should keenly observe its growth and adjust the food quantity as you deem fit.
You should also begin a walking schedule at this stage, preferably after every meal and in between.
6 to 12 months
The puppy is now testing adolescence and it is okay to switch to two meals a day. Depending on the breed of your puppy, you can start feeding them with adult food. If it comes from the larger breeds, you might have to continue feeding them for 24 months. For normal puppies, however, you can switch to adult food after 12 months.
If you adhere to the correct nutritional requirements, your puppy will be bursting with health through the ages. It is also wise to ask a vet or any other dog expert when you are at crossroads, especially regarding homemade puppy food. Apart from feeding, your puppy also needs to be vaccinated at different stages of its development. You, therefore, need to check with your vet to stay accustomed.
Ensuring that your pet is fed with nutritious, age-appropriate food is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and keeping your pet well fed and healthy will help you reduce vet costs as well as ensuring you get the most out of life with your dog in the long run.
You can also download this great booklet which provides more information about food, training, and general information for new pet owners, and is particularly good if there are children in the home.
Written by Brie Summers