Once your puppy is weaned from his mother, he'll need to eat a special diet formulated just for his needs. This story gives some facts on the advantages of prepared foods, and on moist vs. dry dog foods.
As the owner of a new puppy, you'll want him to grow up fit and healthy, and reach his full genetic potential. It's not hard to help him do this; all you have to do is provide your puppy with the correct diet right from the start.
In this section, we'll go over some of the things you should know about feeding your puppy the food he needs to grow up strong and healthy:
Why nutrition is important
First, your puppy will need a very digestible diet so his body can absorb all the nutrients. Second, it's important that he really enjoy his food so he'll eat all of it.
So it really matters what you feed your puppy. In fact, he needs special nutrition with just the right amounts of protein, fats, minerals and vitamins. After all, weight for weight, a puppy needs up to two and a half times as many calories as an adult dog does.
A puppy's diet must also be balanced so he receives the right amount of nutrients. And the food should be concentrated to allow him to take in all the needed nutrients with a small amount of food.
Puppies are normally weaned from their mother's milk onto solid foods when they're three to four weeks old. You should give them their food in small portions three or four times a day. If you're buying from a breeder, your puppy should have been weaned onto a solid diet by the time you take him home at the age of eight to twelve weeks.
When you bring your puppy home
Changing homes and leaving his mother is stressful for a puppy. It could cause an upset stomach. If this happens, take him off solid food for two meals, and just give him small quantities of water to drink. Then, gradually introduce boiled rice and scrambled eggs over 24 hours, before you reintroduce his normal puppy food again. If, however, the diarrhea or vomiting continues for more than 24 hours, or becomes more severe, phone your vet.
Once your puppy has settled in, you'll likely want to change his diet to the type or brand of food you've decided on. Make sure you replace the original food with the new food gradually, over a period of three to five days.
The benefits of prepared foods
Proper nutrition is necessary for your puppy's health. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it's difficult even for an experienced breeder to get the nutritional balance just right. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating prepared foods from the very start.
The advantages of prepared foods are:
- They meet all a dog's nutritional requirements: they're balanced, with the proper amounts of protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, and easily digestible.
- They don't require any food supplements. Just don't forget to put down a bowl of fresh water.
- They are convenient to use and can be stored for long periods.
Which type of food should you choose?
There are two main types of complete dog food: moist in cans, and dry in packages. Both types are made from meat and grains, and provide balanced nutrition, with all the necessary nutrients.
Dry foods have certain economic and practical advantages: they're more economical, they don't need to be stored in the refrigerator, and they'll keep for a day in the bowl. Moist foods, on the other hand, provide your dog with a highly enjoyable eating experience.
Two stages of development: puppy, and young dog
All dogs go through two stages of development: puppy and young dog. These are both very important periods in a dog's development, as they determine what kind of adult the dog will be. Puppies are very active and grow rapidly. That's why they need special food that will meet their energy requirements.
What's most important to keep in mind is that dogs of different breeds reach maturity at different times. Dogs of the toy or small breeds stop growing at around nine to 12 months, while dogs of the large breeds continue to develop up to 18 to 24 months.
But we can generalize by saying that for all breeds, the initial stage--when a puppy reaches half of its adult weight--ends at between five and six months.
Proper nutrition allows for the puppy to reach his full genetic potential. If he's overfed, a puppy can develop bone anomalies, which are more common in puppies of the large and giant breeds.