Let’s say you are a new puppy parent and you are wondering how and with what you should best feed your puppy? If you want your dog to grow up healthy, you should pay attention to a few points when it comes to feeding and choosing the food. You can read here how to feed your puppy correctly from the beginning and which dos and don’ts you should practice.
Don’t Panic about feeding
If you search for what and how to feed your puppy in the internet, you will probably feel overwhelmed by the wealth of information. However, not all of them are true and some of them may be very outdated knowledge.
But don’t panic: feeding a puppy properly is not rocket science if you stick to a few basic points.
Choose The Right Type of Nutrition
There is a large selection of food variants: From fresh meat to wet and dry food to special forms of food such as cooked food – nowadays you can feed your dog in all possible ways.
When choosing the right form of food for your puppy, you should see what fits into your life. The best way to do this is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my dog have illnesses or intolerances and does it need a special form of nutrition?
- How much time do I have to prepare dog food?
- How much space do I have to store dog food?
- Do I often travel with my dog?
- Can I afford the selected form of feeding?
Of course, all types of feed have advantages and disadvantages. However, with all forms of nutrition you will also find food that is specially tailored to the needs of puppies.
Dry food: Advantages and Disadvantages
- Dry food has a long shelf life even when opened, is easy to store, does not take up a lot of space, and can easily be taken anywhere.
- Dry food Can be easily portioned, is relatively cheap, and causes the least amount of waste.
Dry food often contains too many grains (can lead to obesity) and hardly any fluids. The dog has to take in sufficient fluids elsewhere.
Wet food: pros and cons
- Many dogs prefer wet food and contain plenty of fluids.
- It is usually of a higher quality than dry food and has a long shelf life and is easy to store when closed.
- Once opened, it goes bad very quickly.
- The cans produce a considerable amount of garbage.
BARF – Raw Food: Benefits and Disadvantages
- Is considered particularly species-appropriate and natural.
- Individual needs such as allergies, age, or size can be catered for
- Must be adapted to the individual nutritional needs of the dog, otherwise, malnutrition will quickly develop.
- Requires a lot of time to prepare, a lot of space for storage (partly frozen ingredients) and causes relatively high costs.
Choose High-Quality Food
It is essential that you feed high-quality food that is specially tailored to the needs of puppies . Good quality food for puppies should meet the puppy’s high energy and protein needs and therefore be rich in protein. Grains that contain starch should only be included to a small extent or, ideally, not at all. Potatoes, for example, are better and healthier than cereals as a source of carbohydrates.
When it comes to puppy food, make sure that there is an optimal supply of calcium and the right ratio between calcium and phosphorus! These minerals are particularly important for healthy bone development. If you have any questions about the correct nutritional content of the feed, you can ask your veterinarian or a nutritionist.
You can recognize high-quality puppy or dog food by the following criteria:
- The food must be declared as a complete feed.
- Puppy food must be specifically designated as food for puppies.
- It should have a high proportion of meat whose content should also be broken down into muscle meat and offal.
- Artificial additives such as flavors, colors, attractants, or preservatives should not be included.
- It contains no sugar, whether it is in the form of molasses, glucose, or fructose
- The ingredients should be natural as possible.
- All ingredients should be food grade.
- The proportion of grain should only be small. Vegetables are better than cereals.
- The meat should ideally come from organic animals.
Feed the Right Amount
Many dog parents make the mistake of oversupplying or overfeeding their puppies. Sometimes, it can have bad consequences, for example, obesity or even serious skeletal diseases in adulthood.
Overfeeding is fairly common because you can’t tell whether your puppy is overfed, because in this case, it will not increase its weight visibly, but instead grow much faster. The soft bones are overstrained, which impede healthy growth.
Therefore, make sure that you stick to the dog food manufacturer’s recommended feeding amount, which is adapted to your puppy’s age and size. It is best to weigh the food precisely.
Often, however, the manufacturers have given a large range in terms of quantity. In this case, a calorie requirement table for growing dogs or a calculated growth curve can help you. You can get this from a reliable veterinarian or nutritionist. You can also use the weight of your puppy’s parents as a guide.
Attention: Additional delicacies such as chews and treats also have calories and must be included in the recommended daily amount! Therefore, even if it is difficult to resist the cute puppy eyes, remember that you are doing your young dog a disservice by spoiling them with too much food and treats!
Feed Your Puppy not just once, but regularly
Especially small puppies between eight and 16 weeks of age should not be fed just once or twice a day, but regularly, because growing organisms benefit from several small portions, as the stomach is less stressed. Therefore, it is best to divide the food into three or four servings that you offer your dog during the day.
If your puppy does not want to eat, it is not tragic, because not every young dog manages to eat regularly. Do not force him to do it, but simply offer him another small portion after a few hours.
As your young dog gets older, you can slowly change the feeding rhythm. After about five months, two meals a day are sufficient.
Change the Feed In Good Time
There are two fundamental changes in food during the puppy period. The first is switching from breast milk to solid foods and the second from puppy food to dog food for adult dogs.
Get Puppies Used to Solid Food
For the first three to four weeks, puppies feed exclusively on breast milk, which is very nutritious. From the third to fourth week, if the puppies have milk teeth, you can slowly start feeding them solid puppy food.
The bitch will continue to suckle the puppies during this time, but they will slowly and gradually be weaned. From the sixth to the seventh week, the puppy will then no longer be fed breast milk .
For the first feeding after weaning the puppies, a porridge made of water or puppy milk mixed with wet puppy food or tartare is suitable, so that the puppies can slowly get used to solid food. You should offer them this food mixture up to five times a day.
Puppies usually need a period of time getting used to solid food, but will gladly accept the mixture after a short time. The liquid content can then be gradually reduced until the puppies eat the wet food undiluted.
Change to Food for Adult Dogs
How long you should feed puppy food depends on your dog and the food. As a general rule, your puppy should continue to be fed the junior food until it has reached its adult weight.
Small breeds usually need 6 months before switching to adult food, while for large and giant breeds it can take 15 to 20 months. If you are unsure when to change the food for your young dog, just consult a nutritionist or a veterinarian who is well versed in nutrition.
It is important that you do not change the food abruptly from one day to the other, but proceed slowly and step by step, because a sudden change in food can lead to digestive problems.
It is best to plan at least five days for the switch and change the feed as follows: on the first day, you give 80% of the junior feed and 20% of the new food. On the second day 60% of the former and 40% of the latter. On the third day 40% of the former and 60% of the latter, etc. On the fifth day, your young dog will then receive 100% of the new food.
Dieting a puppy really isn’t that complicated. If you stick to the points described above, nothing could go wrong.
If you have any questions or your puppy is not doing well, you should of course always consult your trusted veterinarian.
And then enjoy your puppy time, it is something very special!