You’re no stranger to the tons of choices at the dog food aisle of the supermarket. It’s only natural to struggle with choosing the best for your dog and trying to figure out a puppy feeding guide.
As responsible dog owners, our primary aim must be to ensure that the little puppy gets the required amount of nutrition to develop into happy and healthy adult dogs.
There are quite a few factors you need to consider when choosing the proper diet for your puppy. You have to plan and follow advice to create the perfect puppy feeding schedule.
Read on for a few simple guidelines to create a puppy feeding guide.
Puppy feeding guide: Get some expert advice
The first thing you need to do is talk to your vet. The veterinarian will examine your pup and provide the best information about what food will be most nutritious, how often to feed a puppy, and how to determine what amount of food to offer.
Your vet will be your source of good advice for any issues you might face with your puppy.
Choose the correct food
Feed your puppy a balanced diet that consists of vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, fats, and adequate water. Your puppy needs a hearty diet of high-quality, high-protein food to grow into a healthy adult.
When you shop for food, check that it meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards. Check for the phrase “complete and balanced” on the food package.
By choosing the right food, you can minimize the need for supplements.
Understand how large your puppy will grow
You need to realize that the nutrition requirements vary depending on your dog’s breed. So choose food that meets your dog’s breed and size and determine how often puppies should eat based on age, size, and activity level.
a) Small breed dogs
In addition to having smaller teeth and mouths, small breed puppies have a faster metabolism. They need high-protein, high-calorie food that is easy to chew to meet their high energy levels.
Toy and teacup breed dogs also may require more frequent meals because they have tiny stomachs.
b) Large breed dogs
Large breed puppies typically are less energetic compared to small breed dogs. Thus they require food lower calorie food. Large breed puppies need to grow more slowly to prevent joint stress and pain.
Large breed dogs, such as Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and Labrador Retrievers, need specific food to meet their dietary needs. Over-feeding them may develop joint and skeletal problems.
Food for large-breed puppies is formulated to lower calcium and phosphorous, as excess levels of these minerals may lead to skeletal problems. They are more abundant in fiber and have fewer calories.
Create a schedule to feed your dog
To determine how many times a day should a puppy eat, it’s essential to create a feeding schedule to make sure you feed your puppy the right amount of food based on your puppy’s age and activity level.
Use a puppy feeding guide to monitor your puppy’s appetite to ensure you don’t over or under-feed your dog.
a) For 6-week, 8-week, 10-week, and 12-week-old dogs
Keep your puppy with its mother and littermates for the first 6 to 12 weeks if possible. Mother’s milk is the best source of nutrition for puppies.
If you bring your puppy home before 10 weeks, you will need to add a high-calorie supplement to your puppy’s dry food. At this age, puppies need to eat at least four times a day. Base the amount of food your feed your dog on your puppy’s weight. Read the package or consult your vet if you are unsure about how much to feed your puppy by weight.
Be sure to use puppy food and not adult food. Give dry food to large breed puppies by 9 weeks to 10 weeks. For smaller breeds, start dry food by 12 weeks or 13 weeks.
b) For 3-month to 6-month-old dogs
Monitor your dog’s physical shape. Puppies will start to lose their pudginess and pot belly and form a more mature body type. You can cut their meals and start feeding them three times a day.
c) For 6-month to 12-month-old dogs
Puppies are typically spayed or neutered between 6 months and 12 months, and this procedure can reduce their energy requirements. After spaying or neutering, start feeding your puppy twice daily.
Plan to feed your dog puppy food until your puppy is a year old unless your vet gives you a different recommendation.
Switching from puppy food to adult dog food at 12 months should be done gradually throughout one to two weeks. Instead of omitting puppy food, mix progressively smaller portions of puppy food with increasing amounts of adult food.
Determine how much to feed a puppy
The best way to evaluate this is to keep an eye on their physique. After 10 weeks, you should check to see if you can feel your puppy’s ribs and look to see if the top of the bones at the back are visible. If you can feel fat along your puppy’s ribs or can’t see a clearly defined waist, your puppy may be getting too fat.
You can refer to growth-and-weight charts, which are available online to track your dog’s progress and adjust their food portions accordingly. It’s best if your puppy is more on the lean side as opposed to being overweight.
If your pup is leaving food after a meal or looks a bit chubby, it might mean you’re over-feeding them. On the other hand, if your dog seems too thin or exhausted, he might need more food.
Foods to avoid
Avoid foods like macadamia nuts, raw bread dough made with yeast, chocolate, raisins, and avocados. Also, keep your dog away from onions, chives, and garlic, as well as salty food such as potato chips.
Food sweetened with xylitol, also known as birch sugar, causes liver failure in dogs. Hence food such as candy, baked goods, and gum should be strictly prohibited.
Any food with large amounts of dairy products, such as cheese, should be avoided because they contribute to obesity. Also, make the transition over to adult food when it’s the appropriate time. Feeding puppy food for too long can lead to orthopedic problems or gaining too much weight.
Follow your puppy feeding guide
Bringing a puppy home from foster care, a shelter, or a breeder brings immense joy to the entire household.
But you must be responsible for taking good care of your puppy. Feeding your puppy the right amount of the right food at appropriate times will ensure your dog grows to the appropriate size without gaining too much weight or putting unnecessary stress on his joints.
Follow these tips to create a puppy feeding guide to ensure your puppy gets proper nutrition so he grows be a strong and healthy adult dog.
Shawn Richards is a content writer at FeedFond. He’s a doting father not only to his two children but also to his two Golden Retrievers. Check out more of his articles at FeedFond.com.