How should you feed a puppy?

Cute, cuddly and hungry! When your new puppy is ready for solid food, it is essential that they follow a complete and balanced diet. This will help supply them with sufficient amounts of nutrients and provide energy in order to promote optimal growth and development. While your puppy may be begging for your bacon, it’s your responsibility as a dog owner to make sure that they fulfill all of their nutritional requirements.

Digging deeper into the nutritional needs of your adorable young dog may seem like a daunting task, but it is imperative for you to learn and understand this information so they can grow into healthy adults. Continue reading to discover what exactly a healthy, growing puppy needs during the first year of his or her life.


What are the essential macronutrient requirements for a puppy?

Proteins: Your puppy’s diet must consists of at least 20-25 percent protein. Proteins are crucial to the growth of your puppy because they are considered the basic building blocks for cells, organs, tissues, antibodies and hormones. Protein is also a vital component of the 10 essential amino acids that puppies require for tip-top growth and good health.

Protein’s biggest biological value are amino acids, which studies have shown to be responsible for multiple vital processes in a dog’s body. It’s important to note that for a growing pet, animal proteins have a much higher biological value when compared to proteins from vegetables. It is much easier for a puppy to digest animal proteins than plant-based ones. Research says that if your pooch’s diet is high in protein, there’s a significantly lower risk to fail with nutrition requirements [1]. Contrary to popular belief, all the extra protein will just be broken down to supply them with more energy, and a lack of it can result in a dull coat, depressed immunity, loss of appetite, weight loss and poor growth.

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Fats: Fat is also crucial the development of your puppy as it provides essential fatty acids and energy. It also helps transport fat soluble vitamins through their body. Furthermore, it ensures that their coat and skin remains healthy.

An ideal puppy diet should consist of approximately 8-10 percent fat. Keep in mind, there is such thing as too much fat, as studies have found [2]. This can result in developmental orthopedic diseases and even obesity. Limit their fat intake by opting for veggie sticks as treats and depending on the breed, switching to adult food between 10 and 18 months of age. Keep in mind, larger breeds take longer to mature so it is best to ask your vet when it is time to switch from puppy to adult dog food.

Carbohydrates: Given the fact that dogs’ have evolved through the starch-rich diet [3], including a sufficient amount of carbohydrates in your pooch’s diet is simply common sense.

Supplied in the diet from vegetables and grains, carbohydrates are a direct source of energy for your puppy. Without adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fats, the puppy’s body will proceed to convert protein to glucose in order to obtain the energy that they need. As a result, they will no longer have protein available to help assist in the growth and building of their internal tissues.


How often should puppies eat?

To make sure that they are getting all of the nutrients they need, a young puppy should be eating three to six times per day. Weaning should begin at around four to six month of age, and will result in only twice-a-day feedings at six months. You should always make sure that fresh, clean water is available to them at all hours of the day.

After a month or so of eating solid food, take the time and begin assessing your puppies’ health, and observe them closely. Are they energetic and playful, with a thick, shiny coat? If so, this is a good sign they are getting the nutrients that they need. Solid brown stool is another positive sign that they are following a healthy diet. If you have any concerns regarding the diet and nutritional requirements of your puppy, be sure to express them to your veterinarian, and don’t forget about the regular check-ups.

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