10 Puppy Feeding Tips
If you're responsible for taking care of puppies in the first few months of their lives, you need to be prepared to move them from a diet of mom's milk, to regular puppy food. These 10 tips tell you when and how it's done, along with some other important information.
- Mother Knows Best
Newborn puppies receive complete nutrition from their mother's milk for the first four weeks of life. Mom's milk is 100 percent perfect for their needs, so there is no need to feed them anything else.
- Substitutions Allowed
In the event that the mother dog is ill or doesn't produce enough milk, or if the pups are found as orphans, it may become necessary to feed a commercial milk replacer. If you find yourself in this situation, contact your veterinarian for product and feeding recommendations. Young puppies, under a week old, need to feed every 2 hours.
- Love at First Bite
Puppies generally begin eating puppy food around three or four weeks of age. Start with small quantities, and gradually increase the amount of puppy food. Grinding large kibble to a coarse mash in a blender allows young pups to feed easier.
- Tasteful Toys
Puppies often play with their food when it is first introduced, but they will quickly learn what to do with it! By the time the pups are completely weaned at seven to eight weeks old, they should be eating their dry food consistently.
- Hey Ma, What's for Dinner?
Puppies require up to twice the energy intake of adults and, depending on the breed, will need to be fed a food that contains 25 to 30 percent protein.
- Portion Control Feeding
Small breeds of dogs, those weigh 20 pounds or less at maturity, reach mature body weight in nine to twelve months. As puppies, they can be fed free-choice. When food is readily available, most small breed dogs will develop good eating habits and not become overweight. However, if you have other pets, you should probably feed your small breed dog by the portion control method. Having more than one pet can lead to competition for the food, often causing overeating. If this develops its best to fed with the portion-control method, giving each pet their own bowl separately.
- Growth Spurts Can Hurt
If puppies are allowed to overeat, they can consume too many calories, grow too rapidly and develop bone growth problems. Clinical signs often seen with bone growth disease include bowing of the front legs. Sometimes, these signs are misdiagnosed as calcium deficiency (also known as rickets). Radiographs are crucial for an accurate diagnosis.
- Easy Does It
Do not overfeed in an attempt to accelerate a puppy's growth rate. Remember, the adult size of a dog is determined genetically, not by how fast the animal grows. Controlled feeding of a balanced diet specifically made for your size puppy facilitates optimal skeletal development. It is important to aim for a natural rate of growth with all breeds of puppies.
- Treats for Your Sweets
It is okay to feed your puppy treats. However, treats should make up no more than five percent of your puppy's daily nutrient intake. The rest of his or her diet should come from a high quality puppy food.
- People Food
Table scraps feed to your pup as treats, from the table when you are eating, will develop a bad habit of begging at every meal time. Your puppy will enjoy many vegetables and some fruits. Don't feed your puppy large portions of meat as a substitute for the regular meal. They need a balanced diet too.