When you bring your puppy home it is a very exciting but also sometimes challenging time.
You can feel that you have more questions than answers when it comes to looking after this cute new addition to your family.
One of the first questions is what should I feed my puppy and what is the best puppy food for him?
What Should I Feed My Puppy?
The best idea is to keep things simple! Set up a routine for your puppy straight away.
Setting up an eating / sleeping / toilet time routine will make life much easier for puppy and family as time goes on.
Your puppy should be getting 3 meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pick times that will fit naturally into your schedule, so it will be easy to follow and aim to keep the dinner time feed no later than 6pm, so your puppy has time to digest and go to the toilet before the families’ bedtime.
What Is The Best Food For Your Puppy?
There is such a vast choice of puppy food to pick from these days it can be mind-boggling, so ask an expert!
Puppy foods are available in dry or wet food, although most veterinarians recommend dry food.
One of your first trips with your new puppy will be to your vet. Ask her to advise you on the most suitable type of puppy food for your new addition. For example, large breed dogs need food that is suitable for the huge amount of growing they need to do and will help avoid joint issues as they get older.
So, when you get your puppy the first thing you should do is arrange a visit to the vet, which will include assessing the best food for your puppy.
For nutritional purposes the age span of a puppy covers from birth up until between 1 and 2 years of age, depending on the breed.
Feeding correctly provides the building blocks for strong bones and teeth, muscle strength and brain development.
Puppies are growing rapidly and need extra nutrients to fuel this growth.
Your vet will weigh your puppy and do a full physical check and will then be able to advise you on the best type of food, to start your puppy on.
Also, to note is that for the first week you will need to take into consideration the food your puppy has been given by the breeder or animal shelter you got him from.
You will need to mix their old food with the new food over the first week to give their digestive systems time to adjust. This will help avoid any upset tummy and ease puppies transition into their new food.
So, over the first week, you will be moving from 100% of their old food to 100% of their new food, gradually introducing more of the new and less of the old, as each day progresses.
Larger breeds such as Great Danes and St Bernard’s will not be at their full adult size until nearer 2 years old, whilst smaller breeds mature quicker. Larger breeds can be more prone to skeletal and joint problems, so it is important to feed large breed puppy foods designed for slower controlled growth, that will give their bodies time to develop at the ideal rate.
How Much Should I Feed My Puppy?
Puppies should eat three times a day up to six months and then after six months this can be reduced to twice a day.
A starting point is the feeding guidelines on the puppy food bag. However, your vet will help you determine the exact amount to feed your puppy, at his various stages of growth and will advise at each of his check-ups.
Monitoring your puppies weight should be done on a weekly basis for the first few months, as they will have large growth spurts at times and their food quantity will need to be adjusted accordingly.
Remember to always have water available with and after each of puppy’s meal times.
How Much Water Should I Give My Puppy?
A general guideline for your puppy’s daily water requirement is: 1lb = 60ml of water
So once your vet weighs your new puppy, you will be able to figure it out from there.
Puppies will generally just drink as much water as they require. Although external factors can increase their requirement such as hot weather or exercise / general excitement, so always ensure there is water available for them during the day.
Water is the most important nutrient of all. Puppies need more water per pound than adult dogs do because they are growing, and water is needed to support all their bodily functions and keep them running at an optimum level, at this crucial developmental stage of their lives.
Should I Give My Puppy Treats?
Healthy snacks like bits of carrot give your puppy something to crunch on and will help ease the teething stage and then will help keep teeth clean and strong ongoing.
During the training stage, tiny pieces of chicken will motivate them, luring them into position and acting as a positive reinforcement.
Remember the scent of the treat on its own is a great motivation, as a puppy’s scent is up to 100,000 times more acute than ours, so they only require small tasty bits of chicken, as a reward.
Always consider how much food you are giving as a treat in their daily allowance and subtract it from their meals.
Try to keep the treat item exclusively for training, so it is extra special and enticing for them.
Like all things in life, balance is the key when it comes to your puppy’s nutrition.
Giving your puppy a solid feeding schedule with a dry nutritious food, plenty of water and the occasional treat and he will develop into a healthy and happy dog.