So, what is the best food to feed a puppy? Puppies grow fast, and it is vital for them to have a steady diet plan so that they can grow into healthy and happy dogs. We have a puppy food guide so that you have a better idea of their nutritional requirements. Some of the best dog food brands in India sell puppy food as well.
Good quality puppy food nurtures them through the different stages of growth and keeps them happy and curious like the naughty little puppy they should be. So, how do know what to feed your puppy and how much to feed them? It’s all in this article, stick around to know more.
A Puppy Food Guide For The Different Stages Of Puppyhood
Ideally, your puppy should have access to their mother’s milk for the first eight weeks. So, please don’t bring home a puppy younger than eight weeks.
If your dog has recently given birth to a litter, start weening them from six weeks. It is essential to take it slow. While you introduce them to a puppy mix, they should also have access to their mother’s milk as well. The puppy mix you feed them now will get them accustomed to what they will have in the future.
1. How To Choose A Good Puppy Food Mix?
To know if you picked a good puppy food always check the list of ingredients. Check if the primary component is a named meat. Also check if the mix has no artificial colours, flavours and is high on vitamins and minerals (especially calcium) and calories.
The meal should also contain significant amounts of calcium and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Calcium develops their bone strength and when they are growing so fast, they need extra support. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are good for their brains, hair and eyes.
2. How To Introduce Puppy Food?
When you find an ideal puppy mix, combine it with a milk supplement before giving it to your puppy. At 6 weeks, this food mix should is just an added food source. It should not be considered the main meal.
If your puppy does not have access to their momma’s milk due to some unforeseen reasons (like adoption, or mom is ill/dead), you can give them small quantities of this mix at least 5-6 times a day.
Make sure the kibble is soaked and made to a pulp so that it is easier for them to eat it. Gradually reduce the milk supplement and by 8-9 weeks they will become fully weaned puppies.
You can continue with milk supplements for a little longer if your puppy couldn’t have their mother’s milk for as long as 6-7 weeks.
Please do not separate them from their mother at this age, unless you don’t have an option. When puppies stay with their mother and the rest of their litter for 8 weeks they get access to their mother’s milk and also learn important doggy manners. Mother’s teach them how to behave and these manners help them as they grow older.
3. Diet Plans For A Weaned Puppy
By the time your pup has stopped drinking their mother’s milk, they might need a change in their dog food. You can go for an ‘all life stages’ puppy food or one made especially for 2-4-month-old puppies.
Their teeth and gums are developing during this stage so it is best to buy smaller pellets and soak their food in warm water for 20 minutes. This will make it softer and the puppies will enjoy the soupy texture.
Once you found a puppy food, you can stick to it until they reach adulthood. Interestingly, small breeds mature much faster than larger dogs. So, if you have a little dog (adult weight is below 14kgs), you can gradually switch them to adult dog food by the time they are ten months old.
As they grow older, you can soak it lesser so that their teeth and gums gradually adjust to bitting hard pellets by the time they become an adult dog.
Every breed is unique in terms of their growth rate and maturity. Medium-sized dogs take around 1-1.5 years to mature whereas large, and giant breeds can take two years to develop. This is why a lot of companies sell a separate variant for large breed puppies.
What about Calorie Intake?
The number of calories largely depends on your dog’s size and breed. During their fourth month to their 10-12th month, many pet owners add more calories with every passing day. This is a common mistake because they don’t need extra calories.
Puppies burn a lot more calories, and as they grow older, they need lesser and lesser. So, if your pup requires 1000calories as a puppy, they would need the same amount of it as they grow older. Here’s a Goodness feeding chart to give you a better idea:
The trick lies in how you space the calories. Start by giving him/her small portions of frequent meals. Many suggest giving puppies, as small as 2 to 2.5 months, free food, or 24-hour food supply so that they can eat as often as they want. However, this can lead to picky eating or obesity as they grow older, so we suggest to set up mealtimes and habituate them early on.
Space their meals to 4-5 times a day and slowly reduce the number of times you feed them. By the time they are six months, you can feed them twice a day, unless your vet recommends any other feeding pattern. Make sure their last meal is before 7p.m. so that they have enough time to digest it.
Feeding Concepts You Must Keep In Mind
The feeding habits established during their puppy stage will affect them later on in life. Dogs often develop allergies if they have the same formula all life. This is why it is important to rotate their diet from time to time.
Make sure to gradually rotate their diet to prevent anorexia.
1. Monitor their Weight and Energy Level
Another way to know if you are feeding them right is by observing their weight. Now, weight varies from breed to breed, but ideally, a dog that is in the right weight range is one that has a tucked tummy when he/she stands. You should be able to feel their ribs, but you can’t see them.
2. Can I Give Them Puppy Food All Life?
Puppy food has a lot of essential vitamins, minerals and is high in calories. But that does not mean you should feed it to them as adults. Your dog does not require higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and extra calories when they are older and if you continue puppy food into their adulthood, they may develop obesity, bone problems or lethargy.
Can I Give Them Adult Dog Food All Life?
No. Adult food during their puppy years would deprive them of a lot of essential vitamins and minerals. Also, adult food contains sizeable, hard pellets which they may choke on.
Packaged dog food is labelled specifically for puppies, large breed puppies and adults for a reason. It’s best to stick to the labels. A good rule of thumb would be to give them puppy food for a little longer than switching them to adult food earlier.
Fun Fact: Not all dogs are lactose intolerant. They aren’t born lactose intolerant but slowly develop it after six months. Some dogs become intolerant much earlier, while others take their time. This allows them to digest their mother’s milk as puppies.
Diet is a crucial element in your puppies life. Though it is essential to find them a good quality dog food, it is also important to keep in eye on them, notice slight changes in their body, mood and movement feed them accordingly. If you feel you are feeding them too much, or too little, consult your vet. Tables and charts are mere guidelines. Every dog is different, and you must meet their dietary needs accordingly.