The nutritional needs of dogs change as they grow from newborn pups to adults. Once a puppy is weaned, young dogs need special food to meet their nutritional needs, as this time in their lives is one of growth and development. Here are some tips to make sure you are feeding your puppy well.
- Time for puppy food: For the first year of its life, your dog should only be eating puppy food as it is specifically formulated with an essential balance of nutrients. Big dog breeds may need puppy food for longer than a year.
- Leftovers are for you: Dogs and humans have separate dietary needs. Feeding your dog leftover food from your meals may seem like less work, cost and waste of food you won’t eat, but it is not healthy for a dog. Such food most likely won’t be nutritionally balanced, especially for a dog.
- Feeding new pups: If you have just brought your pup home, find out what food and schedule she was following before and stick to that for the first few days to make it easy for her to settle down. You can then start introducing the food you see fit after consulting your veterinarian. Do this gradually, over 10 days, to prevent your pet getting an upset stomach. For instance, start by replacing 25% of her old food with the new variety for a few days, then switch to 50%, 75% and so on. If your pup shows signs of intestinal distress (vomiting, loose stools, constipated), slow the rate at which you are switching food over.
- Don’t encourage begging: Your puppy may be underfoot while you’re eating your dinner, asking you to share your food. It may be super cute when they’re tiny, but giving in to your begging puppy should be avoided as it’s a hard habit to break. Also, the type of food we eat is not suitable for your dog’s needs and could cause diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems.
- Buy dry food: You can either buy dry food, semi-moist food that comes in sealed packs, or moist food that is in cans. Dry food is recommended as it is economical and easy to use. Canned and packet foods have high water contents which makes them expensive for the amount of nutrition they provide.
- Don’t go by price: Beware of cheap brands as the food is usually made of the cheapest available ingredients. Better brands use better ingredients which is easier on your dog’s digestive system. Ask your vet to recommend the best food for your dog.
- Schedule: Never leave food out all the time. Your dog should have fixed meal times that are convenient for you and work for your pet. For pups less than six months, feed them three times daily. Those above six months can be fed twice daily. Let your puppy get some rest after a meal and avoid playing with them then, as it could hinder proper digestion and cause problems. You may want to take her out to use the bathroom, however.
- Water: You will need to have fresh, clean water available to your pup at all times. This is even more important for dogs on a diet of dry food as they do not get a lot of hydration from their meals. Puppies need more water than adult dogs because they are growing.
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