Changing Dietary Needs For Puppies

Ten Tips That Keep Them Thriving

Veterinary Assistant Programs provide invaluable information they pass on to pet owners.  For the first time dog owner, knowing how to feed a puppy is important because they have different requirements at different stages of growth.  This is particularly true when weaning your puppy from their mother’s milk.  You’ll want to ensure they get all the nutrients needed for maximum health in other key growth stages as well: for bones, coat, and disease prevention. 

Below are guidelines that provide information for proper nutrition and establishing good eating habits.

  • First Four Weeks.  Mother’s milk is sufficient for the first month of your puppy’s life.  There is no need to supplement solid food during this stage.
  • If  Mother’s Milk Is Lacking.  Sometimes substitutions become necessary if the mother dog is ill or if she is unable to produce enough milk for the litter.  If this occurs, contact someone at your vet’s office, or through a veterinary assistant program who can provide guidelines on a milk replacer for your puppy.
  • Nearing a Month Old.  Between three to four weeks you can begin introducing puppy food to begin adding more nutrients to their diet.  It is important to start with small quantities then gradually increase the amounts.
  • Food for Play.  Puppies need to learn that solid food is something to eat.  They often try to play with it first as they investigate it.  Gradually, they get the hang of its purpose by weaning time.   By about eight weeks your puppies should be completely comfortable with their food.
  • Hefty Protein Source.  Puppies need far more enriched ‘fuel’—up to twice as much—than adult dogs because they are growing.  Depending on the breed, they can require up to thirty percent more protein.  A reputable veterinary assistant program can offer guidelines for your puppy requirements.
  • Unique Needs for Small Breeds.  Small breed dogs have different growth patterns.  These breeds (weighing 20lbs or less as adults) reach maturing body weight in nine to twelve months.  Feeding your pup by ‘free choice’ method can allow it to receive enough energy to grow at this faster rate, without usually creating any overeating habit.  Should overeating develop (or if there are other dogs in the household) you can default to the ‘portion control’ method.
  • Medium to Large Breeds.  The best feeding method for medium to large breed puppies is using the ‘portion control’ method.  Medium dogs at maturity commonly weigh between twenty to fifty pounds as adults, with large breeds reaching more than fifty pounds as a mature dog.
  • Genetics Determines Rate of Growth.  As mentioned above, small dogs grow quicker.  Mid to large size dogs, however, grow slower.  It is beneficial to know the projected weight of your dog as an adult.  Your vet can offer feeding advice since larger dogs may have different nutritional needs than smaller breed dogs.
Don’t Overdo Puppy Treats.  Training typically begins in the early months of your puppy’s life.  Giving treats is a natural and effective tool in this process.  But remember, treats should only comprise about five percent of a dog’s daily caloric intake.  The rest of your pup’s calories should be provided in nutrient-rich puppy food.

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