Above all else, puppies want one thing: to grow up quickly! But growing too quickly is unhealthy and can lead to lifelong health problems. Read here how to avoid feeding errors and provide your puppy with all the nutrients.
Do not change the feed immediately
The arrival at the new home means a huge change for your puppy. In this situation, you should not give him any new food at first. It is best to have the breeder or animal shelter give you some of the food that your little dog knows and likes. When the excitement of the first few days has subsided and you want to change the food, mix some of the new food into the old one every day. The following mixture has proven itself:
- Day 1 and 2: 3/4 old and 1/4 new food
- Day 3 and 4: half old, half new food
- Day 5 and 6: 1/4 old and 3/4 new food
- from the 7th day: only the new food
Deceptively Delicious tip for dogs.
Puppies should eat several times a day
The gastrointestinal tract of your tiny baby is already adapted to solid food at 8 weeks, but can only cope with small amounts of food at first. At the same time the puppy needs a lot of energy to grow and romp around – ?? on average twice as much as an equally heavy adult dog. Therefore, it is important not only to feed puppy food but to do so several times a day.
- In the beginning, it should be four meals a day,
- at six months, three.
- At one year old, when most dog breeds (excluding large breeds) are fully grown, one meal is usually enough for small and medium-sized dogs.
- It should be two meals for larger adult dogs and three for giant breeds.
Ask the dog breeder about feeding times and keep the times your pup is familiar with unchanged for at least the first week. With fixed feeding times you prevent begging and scientists have been able to prove that the production of digestive juices increases shortly before the usual feeding time: Your dog then digests its food better and faster.
Please be sure to divide the amount of food your puppy needs according to its age and weight! Don’t let him eat as much and as often as he wants!
As a rule, the manufacturers offer both puppy food (Puppy) and young dog food (Junior) for the first year of life. This separation by age also makes sense, because the energy and nutrient requirements of an eight-week-old puppy are significantly higher than that of a six-month-old young dog in relation to body weight.
How the feed affects growth
The food for your puppy must provide everything it needs for its development. Above all, of course, energy, but also all nutrients, such as high-quality protein, calcium, and phosphorus for building muscles and bones. Therefore it is definitely the best to feed a balanced puppy food or growing food for young dogs – ?? in the right amount.
The more energy and nutrients your puppy gets, the faster it will grow.
An overfed puppy doesn’t get fat at first, but rather big!
This is exactly where the problem lies: at first you do not even notice that your dog is oversupplied because it is not getting “fat”. Only when you compare it with littermates will you see the difference. Too fast growth leads to skeletal diseases, especially in large dog breeds, which can affect them for a lifetime. For example, you are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. Dogs overfed in puppyhood also tend to become overweight as adults, which has been shown to reduce life expectancy and quality of life.
You can avoid too fast or too slow growth by orienting yourself on a growth curve created individually for your dog. It is best to have such a growth curve printed out when you visit the vet for the first time. To make the most accurate curve possible, your veterinarian needs to know the weight (and breed) of the parent animals – ?? therefore ask the breeder.
Measure the amount of food according to the target weight of your dog given in the growth curve.
Weigh your dog weekly during its first year of life (longer in the case of large breeds) and compare its weight with the growth curve. If he’s on the curve, everything is fine. If it is significantly (more than 10%) above or below it, please discuss with your veterinarian how you should adjust the amount of feed.
- A puppy that is too heavy should receive less food, but not have to “starve itself”.
- Puppies that are too tender only need to be fed if they are clearly too small or too skinny (ask your veterinarian). Otherwise, they just grow a little slower and reach their genetically predetermined size a little later.
Dog owners often look at the food packaging and then feed the amount recommended for their puppy’s current weight. As a result, puppies that are too heavy get too much food, while puppies that are too light are inadvertently put on a diet. That is why it is so important to orientate yourself on the target weight of the growth curve.
Don’t be put off if other dog owners find your young dog too thin. Many dogs that are spot-on on the growth curve look lanky. If in doubt, ask your veterinarian.
The most common mistakes in puppy feeding
Mistake number one is actually over-energizing growing dogs. You can avoid them by:
- Orientate yourself to the growth curve of your dog and measure the amount of food according to its target weight.
- Do not feed your puppy “ad libitum” (at will), so do not serve him an “All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet”.
- Set up a treat box into which part of the daily amount of food is diverted. Treats are then only available from this can. In this way, you ensure that your puppy does not get more calories than it should and that it is nibbling on delicacies that are healthy and do not disturb its nutrient supply.
- Remember that chews have calories too, and quite a few. An average chewing bone made from cowhide (190 g) contains 699 kcal, a dried pig’s ear (50 g) 216 kcal, and an ox pizzle (dried beef penis, 65 g) 276 kcal. For comparison: according to McDonald’s, a hamburger contains 255 kcal (as of April 2012).
Young dogs like to chew extensively on such chewing articles and should also be allowed to do so. You just have to keep in mind that you mustn’t add more uncontrollably here either.
In collaboration with a specialist veterinarian, Dr. Natalie Dillitzer created a calorie table for popular dog snacks that can be found online on the side of Royal Canin ( calorie table treat ).
The second most common mistake is a calcium and phosphorus supply that is not adapted to the increased needs of growing dogs. Both undersupply and oversupply lead to serious damage to health. You can actually avoid this mistake quite easily with a ready-made feed:
- Initially choose a balanced complete food for puppies and switch to a young dog food after a few months according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Do you start feeding adult dog food after your dog is fully grown? with most dog breeds this is the case at 12 months, with large breeds and giant breeds it may not be until 18 to 24 months.
- Opt for premium manufacturers who provide detailed analysis data for their products so that you can see protein, energy, and mineral content at a glance.
The number of manufacturers and their advertising promises often make it difficult to identify real premium manufacturers. Play it safe with manufacturers such as Royal Canin and Hills, who sell their special feedthrough veterinarians. For example, there is the Vet Care Nutrition series from Royal Canin and the VetEssentials series from Hills.
- Do not give any mineral supplements if you are feeding your dog a complete food for puppies or young dogs!
If you would like to prepare the dog food for your dog in the growth phase yourself, you should obtain suitable recipes from your veterinarian or a veterinarian who specializes in animal nutrition. He will calculate a ration adapted to the individual nutritional requirements of your dog and adjust it several times during the growth phase. Although this veterinary service costs money, it saves you from the high treatment costs that you will have to pay later if your dog is incorrectly fed as it grows.