There’s nothing more exciting than welcoming a new family member to your home. Having a new puppy running around the house is such a fun time. Sure they can be a handful, but come on…isn’t it so worth it?!
Other than ensuring your new puppy gets all the love it needs to grow, his diet is the next most important concern, especially for his first few months.
Puppies rely on their mother’s milk for the first 4-6 weeks or so of their lives. At that point, their mother’s milk simply doesn’t have all the calories they require. This is when solid foods are introduced to your puppy.
We picked up each of our last 5 puppies from the breeder between 8 and 10 weeks. This is pretty normal, but can vary depending upon the breeder and/or organization. By the time you pick your puppy up, he should be fully weaned from his mother.
Which Dog Food Should I Give My Puppy?
Puppies need a ton of calories to fuel their rapid growth. A good rule of thumb says that your puppy should consume about twice (2X) as many carlories/pound than an adult dog of the same breed. Puppies grow their fastest in the first 5-6 months of their lives. Accordingly, you should feed your puppy a dog food with this in mind.
Several companies make dog foods especially designed for the unique dietary needs of your puppy.
Company A, Company B, Company C…are several great puppy foods. (Enter dietary info here) (Enter pics of the foods here)
What About My Large-Breed Puppy?
Large-breed dogs like Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, and Doberman Retrievers are more likely to develop skeletal and joint problems than smaller breed dogs. Hip dysplasia is probably the most common disorder these dogs may suffer. Large-breed dogs are more likely to develop chronic joint or skeletal problems when they get older if they are overfed.
Large-breed puppy foods are designed for controlled growth and may be lower in calcium and phosphorus than other puppy foods. Excess levels of calcium and phosphorus can contribute to these skeletal problems.
Often, large-breed puppy foods will contain more fiber to allow for additional ‘bulk’ without the additional calories.
Here are some examples of large-breed puppy foods we recommend (Enter dietary info here) (Enter pics of the foods here)
How Much Should I Feed My Puppy?
Puppies should eat three times a day from weaning through four to six months, if possible. After six months, twice-a-day feedings will suffice.
The amount of food you serve per feeding will depend upon the brand of food you purchase. Cheaper, less nutritious foods (hint: Grocery Store Dog Food) may offer less nutrition per serving, or more specifically per ounce served. Accordingly, each feeding will require a larger serving size in order to ensure your puppy gets all the nutrients they require.
Higher quality dog foods, such as the ones we’ve mentioned above, will contain higher nutritional values and allow for smaller serving sizes to equal the same, if not greater nutritional value, than the cheaper versions.
Important: Cheaper is not always—‘less expensive. Ask a Just Dog People associate for help in calculating the difference (Inset-maybe grey’d out)
Is My Puppy Eating Enough?
If you’re a loving pet-parent, and I’m sure you are (especially since you’re reading this post), you may be asking yourself, “Am I feeding my puppy enough? Too much?”
Veterinarians use a scale to evaluate your dog’s body conditioning score. The scale ranges from 1-5, 1 being emaciated, 5 being obese.
Puppies should be in the 2-3 range. After the first 10 weeks or so, you’ll notice your puppy’s baby fat disappearing.
A healthy puppy shouldn’t have any fat on its ribs. In fact, a puppy’s ribs may be easily visible. If you were to stand above your puppy and look down, you should easily see a waist. Looking at your puppy from the side, you should see some abdominal tuck as well.
Don’t Forget The Water!
Water is essential to life, obviously.
Water accounts for some 60-70% of your dog’s body weight. While there is some water (moisture) in your dog’s food (up to 10% dry food, up to 80% wet food), pets need fresh, clean water available to them at all times.
Make sure you empty and refresh your dog’s water bowl at least once per day. Bacteria can and will grow in your puppy’s water bowl, so clean your bowl once or twice a week as well.
When traveling with your puppy or playing hard at the local park, make sure you have some water on hand. A convenient container/bowl combo like the one below is a great option.
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What About Puppy Treats?
Of course your puppy deserves a treat! I mean, look at that face!
As a proud parent of a new puppy, it’s natural to want to spoil your puppy…but don’t get carried away! A puppy should get most of his calories from puppy food rather than from treats, which typically don’t provide complete nutrition.
According to the SPCA, puppy-parents should aim for no more than 5% of calories from treats.
Be aware of the size of the treat you give your puppy too. A small puppy doesn’t need a treat larger than it’s head. Accordingly, larger dogs may try to swallow small treats whole, which can be dangerous. Watch how your puppy handles each treat you give her and adjust from there.
Puppy treats aren’t your only option though! Consider carrots or green beans. Our dogs LOVE these as special treats. Not only will your puppy love these healthy options, but they’re good for your puppy too, containing less calories than traditional ‘treats’.
When Do I Stop Feeding Puppy Food?
No matter how hard we try, we can’t stop our puppies from growing up (sad face).
Your puppy’s nutritional needs will change, and will require a new dog food formula. If you continued to feed your adult dog puppy food, they would probably become obese (due to the extra calories) and may even develop health issues too.
Once you puppy has reached about 90% of their expected adult weight, it’s a good time to switch from a ‘growth diet’ to a diet designed for maintenance. Your average Sheltie sized dog may finish growing by 9-12 months, and your larger Labs/Danes may continue to grow until 12-18 months of age.
Here are a few good maintenance dog foods to consider:
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Just Dog People is located in Garner, NC. Servicing Raleigh, Smithfield, Fuquay-Varina, the Cleveland Road and the 40/42 area. Conveniently located on Glen Road, right off I40 at exit 312 at the 40/42 interchange. Just Dog People offers full service dog grooming, a 5 bay self-serve dog wash, dog obedience training, and a full line of retail supplies including dog food, dog treats, dog leashes, collars and harnesses, dog toys, dog grooming supplies, dog wellness and nutritional items, dog cages, dog lover gifts and more.