How to feed?
The food you feed your puppy and dog is one of the most important things you can do for their health. Recent advances in nutrition have played a key role in helping pets live longer and healthier. Your puppy’s growth rate varies depending on their size and breed. For this reason feeding according to your puppy’s particular needs is crucial to maintain a perfect balance and avoid nutritional excesses or deficiencies. During this important stage in your puppy’s life, profound changes occur and development needs to be closely monitored.
Once weaned from mum, your puppy’s digestive system is still immature and they are not yet ready to digest large amounts of food. Overlooking this can lead to serious digestive disorders. During their growth phase your puppy’s energy needs are greater than those of an adult dog. Their diet should be strictly controlled to reduce the risk of obesity and joint disorders caused by excess weight.
Your puppy should be fed up to four meals a day until the age of four months at evenly spaced intervals to avoid overstretching their small stomachs. This can then be reduced to three and then two meals by the time they are six months old. Food should not be left down all the time and uneaten food should be moved after 20 minutes. It is also important not to vary feeding times and types of food fed as this will cause problems with your puppy’s digestive system and toilet training regime. You must always make sure they have access to water at all times.
What to feed?
Your breeder may have given you advice on what your puppy’s diet has been and it is advisable not to change this too suddenly although you should make sure that your puppy is moved onto a complete and balanced good quality puppy food as soon as possible. Any advice given about feeding human food ie milk, eggs or Weetabix should be stopped as soon as convenient as these are not necessary ingredients in your puppy’s diet and do not provide any nutritional benefits.
Depending on the breed and size of your puppy they should be fed a complete puppy food until they are at least six months of age. After this your dog can move onto an adult food to continue their optimum development.
A large breed puppy, a puppy that will be over 25kg when fully grown, should move onto a Junior food instead of an adult food until they are at least 15 months of age. This is because they are still growing and require additional nutritional support for their joints and development.
At Cinque Ports Vets we recommend the Royal Canin Pediatric/Junior Vet Care Nutrition range. We work closely with Royal Canin to make sure we are able to provide you with the best pet food available for your new addition. All staff members are fully trained to offer advice and support on your puppy’s dietary needs. The Vet Care range of food is a good quality, highly nutritional puppy food which provides support for your puppy’s digestive system and natural defences by a complex of antioxidants. The kibble size and shape is also tailored to suit the size of your puppy.
As a veterinary practice we are aware that there are a wide range of complete dry puppy foods on the market and the quality varies widely. It can be very daunting trying to decide which brand to choose. Pet foods currently available on the market, range from economy brands to premium. Economy brands are a much cheaper option to buy but do not provide optimum nutrition with generally a larger volume needing to be fed. This in turn can mean a larger volume of faecal output due to their poor digestibility.
Premium foods are consistently made of high quality ingredients of a high nutrient and energy density which means you can feed a lower volume. They are also made with a fixed formula which means the same source of for example protein (chicken) is used in each bag. These foods suit puppies delicate digestive system well. The cheaper economy foods have a fixed receipe which means they use the cheapest source of for example protein (chicken) available at the time. It isn’t necessary to declare the levels of minerals like phosphorus, sodium, potassium, sugar and starch on the packaging but the more premium pet foods do, which aids in deciding on a suitable pet food for your pet’s lifestage. Although the premium foods may appear more expensive to buy, you do not need to feed the large amounts which are required from a lower grade food, so many of them actually work out to cost the same if not less! Remember all pet foods provide nutrition but the premium ones offer your puppy health benefits as well.
Royal Canin rigorously test every ingredient in their pet food and if a batch of ingredients does not meet their standards they do not use it in production of their pet food.
How much to feed?
Manufacturers spend a lot of time trying to make feeding guides on packs as accurate as possible but they will never be exactly correct for every dog. This is because there is a significant variation between individuals. Some dogs need to eat more than others to maintain their body weight, others put on weight easily.
This is due to:
- differences in activity level/lifestyle
- differences in breed
- stage of growth
- individual metabolic rates
As a dog owner you should assess your pet’s bodyweight using a Body Condition Score Chart and regulate the food accordingly.
We will be happy to advise you on which diet would be best suited to your puppy and we also offer free nutritional consultations with our qualified Royal Canin Pet Health Counsellors who can advise you on your dog’s diet throughout their life.
Please click on the videos below to find out more about feeding your puppy through their lifestages.