FEEDING YOUR PUPPY
There are so many high quality options in dog and puppy food now, not only by brand
and formula, but for life stages and sizes, that the prospect of choosing the right one -- or ones -- for your puppy is daunting.
It is important to take into consideration the size your puppy will be when he's grown.
Large breeds have special requirements -- negative requirements, actually. When
raising a large breed puppy, slow, even growth is the ideal, allowing bones time to grow slowly and joints to develop fully before the body fills out too fast and creates a strain on developing bones and joints.
For a long period of time, excess protein fed to puppies was blamed for causing skeletal and joint problems in large breeds, but research has never tied protein to those issues. Rather, it is excess calcium and calories that are linked with bone and joint development problems in large breed puppies.
Smaller and toy breeds don't seem to have these issues as their bone structure is more dense than that of large breeds at the puppy stage.
What all that means is if you are raising a large breed puppy and plan on feeding kibble, you want to stick to either a premium formula large breed puppy food or choose an all life stages formula in a correspondingly high quality brand.
For very young pups, moistening the kibble with water or broth helps make it more
palatable and easily digested, especially when they are still sporting those needle sharp
little milk teeth.
Look for the same hallmarks of quality in puppy food that you would in adult dog food. Avoid things like hulls, pomace, digest, mill runs, sugars and other sweeteners,
menadione, ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, glutens, the list is long!
Another question that comes up with the feeding of puppies is how often should they be fed?
They're babies. Babies need to be fed smaller meals spaced closer together. The
younger the pup, the more frequent the meals need to be. Think about how often a
mother dog lets them nurse. While you shouldn't be getting your puppy before eight
weeks old -- well weaned -- so you won't want to feed as frequently as a just weaned
pup would need, still, three or even four small feedings a day is not unreasonable for
the first six or eight weeks at home, cutting down to two feedings a day as he
approaches eight or nine months of age (for a large breed). Small breeds typically will
need to be fed smaller, more frequent meals throughout their entire lives.
Some of you may be curious about feeding raw to young puppies. Have at it! Do some homework first and get the basics, like making sure you've completely frozen then thawed to kill off any detrimental organisms or bacteria.
Another important point to keep in mind when feeding raw to a puppy is the calcium to phosphorus ratio. Some dogs are going to do better on certain meat sources than
others, so it's a good idea to start puppies out on one meat source for a week or so,
then rotate to another, watching for any adverse reactions, other than possibly some
looseness in the stool as you change the meat source, but that can usually be cleared
up with a spoonful of plain canned pumpkin. Once you've ascertained that your pup
does well on different meat sources, make it a point to keep rotating or even mixing
those sources, as its a good idea to get your dog acclimated to eating a variety of
As far as the amount of raw to feed a pup goes, the typical wisdom says 2 - 3% of their projected adult body weight, or up to 10% of their current body weight.
There are good books available on feeding raw, and if you're not sure yet, a good way
to have the proper balance of nutrients in a raw diet for a puppy is to go to a
prepackaged raw food or one of the formulas that has everything but the meat, which
you add in recommended proportions.
What you feed your puppy now will have a major impact on his quality and quantity of
life later on; consider it an investment in your future together.
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