Whether you chose your puppy from a breeder or fell in love with one when you visited the rescue home, there’s no doubt that bringing a puppy into your home is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time! No matter what breed of puppy you have chosen (although everyone knows the puppy chooses the owner!), there are some common rules around feeding your new puppy food that are important to understand.
Before you select the right food for your puppy
Every puppy owner wants their puppy to grow into a vibrant and healthy adult dog. What and how you feed your puppy plays a vital role in supporting this growth development.
The choice of available puppy foods is overwhelming. If you are buying from a breeder, it’s always a good idea to ask what the breeder uses as they will probably give you a little of the puppy food to take home with you when you pick up your puppy from them.
By knowing the breeder recommendation you can then research the puppy food in advance and be fully aware of what is in the puppy food when you receive it.
It’s amazing to think that healthy puppies need twice as many calories as adult dogs, as a puppy grows twenty times faster than adult dogs and reach adulthood within the first 12 months of their lives (for larger breeds this may take a little longer, up to eighteen months).
Puppies require more calories to keep up with their busy lifestyles of digging muddy holes in the garden, jumping off steps, playing with balls and getting up to general puppy antics! The aim of the puppy food you feed is to keep your puppy healthy and strong while they concentrate on growing up.
Choosing the best puppy food for your puppy
Choosing puppy specific food is essential as the recipe will be formulated for a balanced diet, made with extra protein and an essential mix of nutrients, minerals and vitamins boosting brain, bone and muscle growth. This will provide exactly the right balance to maintain mint condition teeth and glossy coats. Not all puppy food formulas are made equal so look for recipes that are rich in high quality proteins.
Make sure that when you feed your pup you use a complete and balanced puppy food whether it is wet or dry. If you decide to mix wet and dry food together, it is important that the total calorific value requirement of your puppy is met. You can find this on your puppy food packaging. If you have decided to feed dry kibble, the individual biscuit size should be smaller and softer than the kibble of an adult dog food and should be designed to make it easier to chew and swallow. If using wet food, serving it at room temperature will make it smell better to your puppy and make it easier to digest. Wet food should be stored in the fridge once opened and used with 24 hours.
How much and how often to feed your puppy
Following the feeding guidelines of the food you have chosen for your puppy is crucial in order that your puppy receives the correct number of calories at the correct stage in its growth cycle. Feeding guidelines should be clearly stated on the packaging. If feeding guidelines are based on the estimated adult weight of your puppy, then it may be helpful to ask the breeder the size of the puppy parents.
This is more important for large breed puppies. Remember that no two recipes are the same so if you switch flavours within the same brand, or move to a completely new puppy food, be sure to check the feeding guidelines so you can continue to feed the correct number of calories to your puppy. Your puppy’s dietary needs will depend on their age, breed, energy level and whether there are any medical conditions you are aware of.
Getting into a daily feeding routine is key and makes for a healthy pet and a happy owner! Your puppy is CUTE. They have big, beautiful eyes, the waggiest of tails and they already know exactly how to tug at your heart strings. Don’t be fooled! Never allow your puppy to free feed or dictate when you should feed them.
Here’s a feeding schedule to help you with planning puppy mealtimes:
Scraps and treatsA little word about table scraps; feeding your dog from the table when you are eating is a very difficult habit to unlearn. Moreover, table titbits add up in calories and can create a nutritional imbalance for your puppy. Those puppy eyes are bigger than their little tummies and sticking to evenly spaced, evenly divided daily feeding will allow your puppy to digest the right food at the right time and avoid increasing any risks of obesity or poor joint and bone development in later life.
Treats are a great way of training your puppy and teaching them good habits. They are often used as rewards in the early stages of a puppy’s life. Be mindful that each treat you give your puppy has a calorific content and should be factored into their daily calorie intake. As a rule of thumb, calories from treats should never exceed more than 10% of your puppy’s daily calorie allowance.
Your puppy at home
A bowl filled with fresh water should be available to your puppy at all times and remember to keep checking the water levels, as puppies tend to drink more water if they are eating a dry kibble puppy food and when the weather is warmer. Always keep both your food and water bowls clean with a daily wash to avoid a build-up of bacteria.
It’s also a great idea to allocate a feeding station so your puppy knows where to eat and drink. Ideally this space should be on a hard floor or wipeable mat, away from the main dinner table, in a quieter spot where your puppy can concentrate on eating without distractions like children and adults! If you have other household pets, try and choose a different place for your puppy’s feeding station so that your other pet won’t be tempted to try your puppy’s food and vice versa. If this isn’t possible, stagger your feeding times.
Make sure that the whole family are onboard with your puppy feeding routine and rules as this will help your puppy settle into its new life with you much quicker. Your puppy has a superpower which can pick out the softest touch family member in a nanosecond!