Your puppy is dependent on you to provide a diet that is complete and balanced for optimum nutrition during it’s rapid stage of growth. The first 6 months are the most important and puppies need large amounts of energy and higher levels of nutrition to grow into strong, healthy dogs.
What food should I feed my puppy?
Premium foods specifically designed for puppies and growing dogs are an easy way to ensure your puppy is being fed a high concentration of energy with high quality ingredients in the correct amounts and proportions.
Your vet can advise you on the food that best suits your puppies needs according to age and size. You can feed a combination of dry and canned food; dry foods can be moistened until your pup gets used to the dry biscuits. Supplements, including calcium, are not required if you choose a complete food and, in fact, can be harmful.
How much should I feed my puppy?
Puppies should be weaned on to solid food by 6 weeks of age. From this time puppies should have 3 or 4 small meals a day until 3 months of age, then 2 meals a day until 6 to 12 months of age, depending on breed. Small dogs may finish growing by 9 months of age while large and giant breeds can continue growing for up to 18 to 24 months.
Take care not to feed your puppy whenever and however much it likes. Obese puppies grow into obese dogs and are at risk of serious diseases such as diabetes. Large and giant breed puppies can develop bone defects if they grow too fast and it is essential to control their daily portions.
Individual animals can vary in their requirements. Use the feeding levels on the product label as a guideline and adjust according to your puppy’s condition and weight. Your vet will have scales for regular weighing and can advise you of the recommended weight range for your puppy.
Changing your puppy’s diet
If you are bringing home a new puppy that has been on a different diet, check with your vet if it is suitable. An all-meat diet, for instance, is completely inadequate for your puppy due to insufficient levels and proportions of calcium and can cause severe bone growth problems.
Any changes in diet need to be made gradually over 3 – 4 days to avoid digestive upsets.
Milk is unnecessary but can be fed if introduced slowly and diluted with water to avoid diarrhoea. Commercially prepared pet milk with low lactose is available.
Puppies may enjoy a soft raw bone e.g. a lamb riblet, beef spare rib, lamb cutlet to chew on occasionally but never offer cooked bones because they are likely to splinter or cause constipation. Dogs that wolf down their food without chewing should not be offered bones due to choking hazard. Alternatively, give specially designed dental chews.