Feeding Your Puppy

Puppy feeding top tips and advice

Feeding Your Puppy

Puppy feeding top tips and advice

Puppy Diet

Puppies grow 20 times faster than adult dogs and so require a special diet to aid their physical development. A specially formulated growth food is recommended which needs to be fed at evenly spaced intervals to avoid over stretching their small stomachs. Any responsible breeder will provide you with advice about your puppy’s diet.

Feed your puppy four meals a day up until the age of four months, and then reduce its feed to three meals a day until it is six months old You can then change to two meals a day, and keep it on this regime for the rest of its life.

It is better not to leave food down (lift up any uneaten food after 20 minutes – you can use this for treats) and not to give your puppy any variety, which could cause problems with its digestion and toilet training regime. However, make sure that water is always available to your puppy.

There are many different feeding regimes to choose from: dry complete diets, semi-moist or tinned food with or without biscuit mixer, and home-made food. Within this, there are many different qualities. Personally, we advocate Grain-Free and Holistic foods, both of which are available from ‘Shandell Pet Foods’.

The most suitable diet should be easily digested and produce dark brown, firm, formed stools.

If your puppy produces soft or light stools or has wind or diarrhoea, then the diet may not suit your puppy or it might have some kind of digestive problem, so consult your vet for advice.

Please remember that stability in the diet will help maintain good digestion. Any change in diet should be made very gradually over at least a week to avoid upset and you should try a new diet for at least 10 days before making any further changes.

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Dry complete food

There is a large choice of dry complete foods on the market and the quality varies widely. To get the best out of your puppy’s development choose a food specially designed for puppies and buy the best you can afford. The ‘premium’ dry puppy foods tend to have the best quality ingredients. Many are based on chicken and rice and suit most puppies really well. Please do try to avoid feeding your dog food with grain in it – this is mainly a bulking agent used by pet food manufacturers to gain profit.

Although these foods may appear more expensive to buy, you do not need to feed the large amounts you would with a lower grade food, so many of them actually work out to cost the same, if not less!

Some puppies are not accustomed to complete dry foods immediately after weaning but will normally grow to like them with time. If your puppy does not seem to like eating dry complete food, and this is what you wish to feed, you can try soaking the food in a little warm water to soften. Gradually, you’ll be able to reduce the quantity of the soaked food until he is fully weaned and accepts dry complete.

Semi-moist and tinned foods

As with complete dry foods, tinned foods and semi-moist foods can vary in quality. Again choose a good quality food with an easily digestible recipe i.e. chicken and rice and choose a specialist puppy food which is nutritionally complete (i.e. does not require additional foods to be added to it). As before it is best to avoid changes in your puppy’s diet so if you find a product that works for your puppy, stick to it.

Home-made food

Puppies need the best possible diet whilst they are growing up, as even a slight imbalance may harm their development and growth. As it is very difficult to get this balance right, you are probably better off choosing from one of the tried and tested commercial diets.

Food sensitivities and intolerances

Just like their owners, some puppies and dogs can be sensitive or intolerant to certain ingredients or additives in food and this can cause various problems.

Some common symptoms include:

As with children, the most common food intolerances appear to be colourings, sugars, wheat, milk and soya. Obviously, not all puppies are sensitive to these things, but if the symptoms keep re-occurring, you might do well to check this out and ask your vet for advice.

If you suspect a food intolerance you should avoid giving your puppy any foods or treats containing any suspect ingredients for a month or two, and then reintroduce each ingredient, one at a time, and watch for the return of any physical or behavioural changes. You can use some of its food (from its daily allowance) as rewards.

Treats

Treating is a good way to reward your dog during training and encourage the behaviour you want. There are a wide variety of prepared and natural treats on the market which vary hugely in quality. Some commercial treats have lots of sugar, colourings, milk products and fat in them. Even ‘doggy chocs’ or ‘low fat yoghurt drops’ can contain sugars or lactose (milk sugar) so always check the ingredients label.

Good quality prepared treats have been developed with dog’s dietary needs in mind.

However, all treats should be given sparingly, never more than 15% of the total calorie intake. If used regularly reduce the amount of main meal food your dog is receiving in order to avoid obesity. Some chew treats have a proven ability to help prevent dental diseases, but again check the label to ensure you are getting a genuine product.

Chocolate should not be fed to dogs as it is poisonous to them and can cause liver damage so never give your dog any chocolate, so take care not to leave any lying around for him to eat.

Try not to give your puppy any sweet or sugary treats, they are bad for his teeth as well as his weight.

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Puppy feeding tips

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