Puppy nutrition: give your dog the right food from the start!
Proper nutrition begins in puppyhood. Depending on the breed, puppies go through different growth stages on the way to adulthood. Smaller breeds generally grow faster than medium to large breeds and are often fully grown by the age of eight months. In contrast, large breeds can take up to two years to reach full maturity. Feeding your puppy the right diet and the right amount of food is particularly important to ensure healthy growth. Growing pups needs food that provides sufficient energy and an optimal combination of nutrients.
The special puppy food dogs should receive up to the age of about one and a half years is ideal for this purpose, as it is specially tailored to the needs of growing dogs.
What do puppies need to grow?
For the first three weeks, puppies feed exclusively on the nutritious milk of their mother which contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need. After three weeks, their diet can be supplemented with a little puppy food high-quality puppy porridge to meet their increased nutritional requirements. By eight to ten weeks, puppies are fully weaned from their mother’s milk and feed exclusively on the puppy food they get in their bowl.
Responsible breeders will not allow a puppy to be taken home until it is weaned from its mother’s milk and will usually give new owners a generous portion of the food the the puppy is used to for the transition period.
How often should I feed my puppy?
You should feed your puppy three to four times a day until about six months of age. After that, two to three portions distributed throughout the day suffice until it reaches near-adulthood. Adult dogs are fine with one or two meals a day. Of course, every dog has different preferences and needs, which is why it is important to pay close attention to yours in order to determine the most appropriate approach. Large dogs should continue to be fed twice a day to avoid stomach distension or gastric torsion. Also remember to allow a rest period after each meal.
The larger the dog breed, the longer the growth phase, but whether large or small, puppies need enough energy and the right nutrients during this time to grow into a healthy adult dog, and for this, they need an appropriate diet.
What do I need to be aware of with a small breed puppy?
Puppies need about a year to finish growing and this time should not be wasted with poor quality puppy food or the wrong diet. Puppies need energy, minerals and protein, but too much can be harmful: a too high energy intake leads to too rapid growth and weight gain, which can affect the development of bones, ligaments, tendons and joints due to overload. Though well-intentioned, the use of vitamins and other supplements is unnecessary and may even be harmful if your pup is receiving good quality puppy food, which already contains everything it needs during the growth phase. This is also something to bear in mind when dispensing treats.
What do I need to be aware of with a large breed puppy?
Most dogs reach half of their final weight by the age four months and keep up this growth rate for at least the first year of life. In large breeds, it only slows down after about 18 months. Great Danes take two full years to reach their final weight. Excess food and calories accelerate the growth process, which can lead to joint and bone problems later on. Calcium for example. which is very important for bone growth is already present in sufficient quantities in high-quality puppy or junior dog food for large breeds.
Many owners of large breed puppies give them adult food immediately for fear that the high energy content of puppy food could accelerate their growth too much. However, by doing so, they also deprive it of the important building blocks present in puppy food, which are also present in adult food, but in smaller amounts. Ideally, large breeds should be fed special puppy food until they are just over one year old (up to two years old for very large breeds).
How can I make my own puppy formula?
In some cases, puppies cannot be fed maternal milk, e.g. if the mother has died or there is another emergency. In such situations, the puppies need to be raised by hand. It is strongly discouraged to make your own puppy formula using untested recipes. You can get special puppy milk with all the essential nutrients from your vet or a specialist shop.
Puppy nutrition at a glance
As puppies are actively growing, they need balanced, high-quality puppy food for a healthy life. The amount should be based on their weight and nutrient requirements during the growth phase.
Puppy food – All the facts at a glance:
- Dry food:
easy portioning; less spoilage in summer; less odour; no canned food waste.
- Wet food:
contributes to fluid intake; easier to “hide” medicines in
- Mixed food:
alternate between wet and dry food: for the first week or two after welcoming a new puppy into your home, you should continue feeding it its usual food rather than switching to a new diet.
feed your puppy at least three small meals a day instead of fewer larger ones.