Puppy Tips – Feeding

Puppies eating

What Should I Feed My New Puppy?

Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a dog’s life.  There are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your puppy.  We recommend a name-brand food made by a national dog food company and one which is made specifically for puppies.

You should also be sure the food is certified by the AAFCO, which is an organization that oversees the pet food industry.  The AAFCO  does not endorse a specific food, but it will certify that the food has met the minimum requirements for nutrition.  It is recommended that puppy food be fed for at least 6 months.  Some breeds may need food formulated for large or small breeds, and may require feeding puppy food for a longer period of time.

Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of food is acceptable.  Each has advantages and disadvantages.  Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive, and it can be left in the dog’s bowl without drying out.  Dry food is generally recommended by veterinarians because it is easier to measure and does not cause plaque build up on the pet’s teeth as quickly as soft foods do.  Most commercially available diets are generally superior to homemade diets, as they are generally balanced (contain the and complete.

Table foods are not recommended.  Because table foods are generally tastier than the dog’s own food, most dogs will hold out for the table foods and not eat their well-balanced dog food.  Contrary to popular belief, most dogs actually prefer not to change from one food to another.  If it is necessary to change your puppy’s food, a gradual change is better than abruptly switching to the new food.  Recommended guidelines are to feed 85% old diet and 15% new diet (mixed together) on day 1, and decrease the old diet daily by 15% while increasing the new diet daily by 15% for the next 6 days.

Also, it is very important that dogs are not fed bones of chickens, birds, or turkeys.  These bones are hollow and splinter easily producing very sharp pointed pieces of bones, which can damage the gastrointestinal tract causing serious injury, including death.

In most cases, puppies should be fed specific meals, rather than leaving food available at all times.  The number of meals and frequency depends on the size and age of the puppy.  Very small puppies (less than three pounds and less than three months of age) need to be fed much more frequently than larger breed puppies.

A measured amount of food should be offered at each feeding.  What is not eaten within 30 minutes should be taken up.  This method of feeding also helps with housetraining in that it makes the puppy’s potty habits more predictable.

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