Just as new parents research feeding options for their new babies, pet parents want the best for their new puppies. The shelter or breeder might send you home with a small bag of the food your puppy has been eating, so that you don’t upset his or her tummy with a sudden change. But now it’s time to choose the right diet for your furry friend going forward.
Puppies and dogs are not the same. The daily nutritional requirements for a growing puppy are quite different from that of adult dogs. They need more calories to support their growth, and also more vitamins and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. So you need to choose a formula specifically made for puppies.
Check the Nutritional Adequacy Statement on a bag of food to discover whether it is appropriate for puppies.
Your puppy needs special nutrition for a year or more. Depending on whether you have a large breed versus a small breed puppy will determine how long they should remain on puppy food. Small breeds can remain on a small breed puppy formula up to approx. 10 months. Large breed dogs should be on a large breed puppy formula diet to help support their growth until they reach 80 to 90% of their growth. They should not be fed high-energy diets, which lead to rapid growth and increased weight gain. It is best to measure out what your puppy is eating daily to not encourage overeating.
Foods can be breed-specific, too. Some larger-breed dogs can be better nourished by a food specifically formulated for their needs. Large-breed formulas contain the right amount of calories to prevent overfeeding and obesity – common problems in large-breed puppies.
Adult foods can be harmful to puppies. Resist the urge to switch your puppy to an adult diet too soon. The calcium-phosphorus ratio of adult foods can be inappropriate for puppies, and lead to improper bone development (especially in larger breeds).
And of course, make sure your puppy gets plenty of exercise as they grow! Not only do they crave lots of activity; adequate exercise can prevent weight issues that can contribute to poor health.
If you’re adopting a new puppy, call us right away for a routine health exam. We’ll discuss your puppy’s nutritional needs and help you select a food that supports proper growth and long-term health.