When you first bring your new puppy home, he may not be in love with whatever food you offer him. He’s likely used to whatever he was being fed at his previous home. So when you’re feeding your new puppy, don’t be too alarmed if his appetite isn’t huge at first. If you do know what kind of food he was being given, it is wise to slowly transition to a new food (if you’re changing his food). By that I mean mixing a little of the new food with the old food – adding more of the new food each day until (after several days) you’re serving only the new food. This article will provide you with all the information you need about the best way to feed a puppy.
Which Food is Best for Puppies?
Before we get into advice on proper puppy nutrition, I suggest you read my article, Best and Worst Foods for Your Pet. It gives great advice from a veterinarian about the different types of foods that are available, and which are best. Also, it’s important to know from the very beginning of being a dog owner what foods can be poisonous for your pet. You can see a list in my article, Foods That are Poisonous for Dogs and Cats.
How Long Should I Feed Puppy Food?
You should be feeding puppy food for the first year, because puppy foods are specifically formulated to help them grow. Things to consider when choosing a puppy food are:
Small bites. Puppy baby teeth aren’t that strong, so puppies need small, not-too-hard food. Consider the size and breed of your dog when choosing what “size” his food should be.
Fresh food. Fresh puppy foods are available at grocery stores and pet stores. You can find them in refrigerated display cases. They contain fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits. This is super healthy for your dog. A bit pricey- but worth it if you can afford it.
You should be feeding your pet the best quality food you can afford. Whatever price range your pet food budget is in, pick the healthiest, best quality brand within that price range.
I strongly believe in serving a MOIST diet not only to puppies, but to adult dogs as well as kittens and cats. Animals need moisture in their diet. Serving only dry food can cause a whole host of health problems down the road.
Here’s a recommendation for a healthy, natural, holistic canned puppy food. Canned food is cheaper if you buy it by the case – you can save money by purchasing it HERE. This brand has several flavors. My mini doxy eats the adult and senior versions of this food and she loves it. I like it because it’s more moist than other canned dog foods – less sticky and easier for them to swallow.
Here’s a suggestion for dry puppy food. I like this one because it’s grain free and has REAL food ingredients. You’ll save money buying a larger bag HERE. Different flavors, plus smaller size bags are also available.
How Often Should I Feed My Puppy?
Puppies should have three meals a day until they’re about 4 or 5 months old. After that, you can scale back to two meals a day. Please don’t begin the habit of giving your poor dog one bowl of dry kibble every morning, and nothing else. Puppies and adult dogs need fuel throughout their day just like we do! Would you want to be served just one bowl of dry food per day?! Whatever daily portion is suggested on the package for your dog’s weight, split that in half and serve half in the morning, then half at dinner time. Eating should be an enjoyable part of your pet’s life. My dog, for example, loves that she’s included at dinner time. We have our food, and she has hers. She’s excited and looks forward to dinner each night.
Should I Give My Puppy Vitamins?
Pets benefit from taking a daily multivitamin just like people do. Give a multivitamin specifically formulated for puppies for the first year, then an adult-dog multivitamin daily thereafter.
Here’s a recommendation for an inexpensive, good quality puppy multivitamin. My dog likes these – they’re chewable (and I think beef flavored). Click HERE to purchase.
What About Treats?
It’s important to consider what part treats play in your puppy’s daily diet. First, you should be using treats to train your puppy – see my article, How to Train a Dog With Treats. So you have to count those treats when you’re considering the amount of food he’s eating. You don’t want your dog to end up with a weight problem because you’re feeding full servings of his food, plus treats – equaling too many calories by the end of the day. Healthy ideas for treats are fresh, raw foods like vegetables (baby carrots are a big hit!), and fruits (my dachshund loves blueberries and oranges!) Please don’t buy those pre-packaged, soft treats. Most contain ingredients that aren’t good for your dog – and some can be downright toxic. Whole, real food. Stick with that, and you’ll be on the right track.
Don’t Forget About Water!
Most dogs will naturally go to their water dish and drink as often as they need to. But some dogs, particularly puppies and senior dogs, can get distracted and literally forget to get a drink. Monitor your pet to make sure he’s visiting the water dish often enough. Proper hydration is crucial to his overall health and well-being. Also remember to make sure water is available whenever you’re exercising your dog. They get thirsty after exercise just like we do! And of course always make sure your dog has access to plenty of water during hot weather.
Remember to Incorporate Exercise
Just as important as nutrition for the health of your dog, is exercise. Exercise burns calories, keeps their muscles strong, and keeps them happy and active. Remember puppies have a super high activity level. They need you to give them plenty of opportunities for play each day. Running around in the back yard, playing with the kids, going to the park. Even tossing a tennis ball around in the living room will help if you don’t have a lot of time. Getting on the floor to play with the dog has been a part of my life since I was a small child. My dad would always get on the living room floor to “wrestle” with our German Shepherd. My siblings and I would get on the floor and play with our Poodle. I have a friend who regularly played, “Hide ‘n Seek” with his black lab! Really roll up your sleeves and plunge into play with your dog. Believe me, you’ll be a healthier, happier person your entire life if you do this!
If you have any question about puppy nutrition, please feel free to comment below (I’ll respond!) Or, if you have more recommendations and ideas for taking care of our sweet pets, please share! Debra
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