He or she is fun, playful, and mischievous and hopefully you and your puppy will enjoy many future years together, which you can do if you get a few simple steps right at the beginning of your life together.
Few people realize the importance of starting a puppy on the right food, for better health and less complications in later life for the dog, yet it is so easy with just six main considerations.
1st Consideration: Solid food too early.
If your new puppy has only had milk from the mother then you should do a transition changeover using a special puppy formula. These formulas are readily available at specialist pet food stores and also online.
Changing from formula to solid food needs to be done gradually by introducing the puppy to the new food in small increments over a couple of weeks, until the formula is fully replaced by solid food.
2nd Consideration: Feed what has been fed.
It may be that your puppy has already started on solid food and if that is the case then continue to feed the same style and preferably brand of food. If you wish to change the food brand, or type, make the change over a number of feeds, and by small amounts at a time.
Failing to change slowly will probably result in your puppy having an upset tummy, which could easily cause vomiting, or diarrhea or both. This will be very upsetting for the puppy and could lead to a distrust of the food bowl if the puppy thinks it has unwanted results after eating.
3rd Consideration: Feeding “adult” food straight away – or too early.
Whilst they are growing puppies need a different formula in their food make – up, which in most cases will be their first year. Yes 12 months, and even longer for the larger breeds, that period of time will be around 18 months or so. A rule of thumb for defining a “large breed” is if the adult weight of the dog will fall into the 50lbs (23kg) or above range.
Some foods will accelerate the”body building system” too fast, causing the real danger of major joint and skeletal problems in later life, and that is a common factor for all sizes of dog.
Buy food that states it is suitable for puppies and look for the notation whether it is NOT suitable for large breed, if that is the category size for your puppy. Many puppy food manufacturers will specify if suitable or not for large breeds on the label or on their website. If in doubt telephone the customer service department of the manufacturer or even choose another product.
Ingredient quality is vital in this “formation” period for puppies. You need to ensure they get the right food and vitamin balance to meet their nutritional needs.
Puppies should be fed 3 or 4 times a day for say the first six months, if that is possible. Then the food amount can be split down into one less feed, and then a few months later reduced to two feeds a day. Many people will then reduce down again for once a day feeding, although as it is better in later years, of a dog’s life, to feed twice a day, perhaps this would be a preference to maintain throughout life.
4th Consideration: Food “testing” and Treats.
Many new owners are tempted to give a puppy a piece of food to see if the puppy likes it, or the food is given as a “special treat”. This is so wrong because puppies will chew on everything and anything. A grape or piece of chocolate, plus so many other “human” foods, can have a dramatically bad affect on puppies (and adult dogs) some of which are fatal.
Puppy food is the only food that should be given to your puppy.
5th Consideration: Variety is the spice of life.
Let your puppy enjoy the different styles of food such as dry, canned, raw etc. and two things will happen, you will not be developing a fussy eater and every meal time will be an adventure for your puppy! Certainly there is nothing better than a sparkle in the eyes and a wagging tail to enhance feeding time for the owner!
Changing food brands and styles around has the added benefit of preventing any vitamin or mineral “build up” that may occur if only the same brand and style are a constant food source.
There is no better time to encourage acceptance of all food styles than during the puppy stage of life. Do remember though when changing food to do it small steps, and that way you should get acceptance and not rejection.
6th Consideration: Do not impose your lifestyle food preferences.
Your diet may be protein or carbohydrate enriched or you may be vegetarian but these eating regimes should not be imposed on your puppy. Any such preference you may have should only be introduced when the dog has reached adulthood, and only then by consultation with your vet or preferably a canine nutritionist.
As was said earlier this puppy period is highly important in joint and skeletal development, plus long term health, so the best puppy food is one that gives all the essentials needed.
Puppies are a delight and will bring endless hours of fun and excitement for you, your family and those around you.
Your starting point is just six simple considerations in relation to that puppy food.