Proper Nutrition for Puppies and Young Dogs

Anyone who pays attention to a needs-based diet for puppies and young dogs lays the foundation for optimal development and a healthy life. These tips will help you find your personal way of feeding your puppy the right way.

Dogs need special nutrition at every stage of life. The right nutrition for growing puppies and young dogs lays the foundation for a healthy future.

Feeding puppies when they move in

Before a puppy moves in with you, it has already been accustomed to solid food. Ask the breeder or shelter staff what they fed and how often. He may even give you a small ration for the first few days. It is important that you stick with this food to begin with. If the move is accompanied by a change in feed, this means additional stress for the little one and quickly affects the stomach and intestines.

Give the pup a little less for the first two to three days to ease the strain on the digestive tract. If he still gets diarrhea or vomits, go to the vet immediately. The loss of fluid can quickly become life-threatening. If you would like to switch to a different food, mix a little more of the new food into the usual food for a few days at the earliest after a week and reduce it by the same amount. In this way, the organism can gradually adjust to it.

The right amount of food for puppies

Puppies and young dogs need food that is specially tailored to their needs. Because the little ones are supposed to be “big and strong”, many owners tend to make the portions a little larger – and thus unintentionally harm them. Food with a high energy content can lead to health problems, especially in large breeds. Muscle growth is then stimulated too quickly, the still soft bones deform and severe skeletal damage can result. The larger a dog gets, the slower it should grow. Of course, you must not go to the other extreme and want to “starve” the puppy. The right measure is therefore required.

Optimum weight for puppies and young dogs

Since young dogs put all their energy into growth, you can’t tell by looking at them when they eat too much. They don’t build up fat reserves like adult four-legged friends, but instead continue to grow rapidly. Therefore, especially with large breeds, do not be fooled if the puppy looks too thin. It can still be too heavy for its age. Therefore, you should check your puppy’s weight regularly:

With pedigree dogs, you can use the ideal weight that is set for them according to the standard as a guide.
In the case of a mixed breed that is still growing, the weight of the parent of the same sex can be used as a benchmark for the expected final weight. In the case of a male, it is the breed of the father that counts, and in the case of a bitch, that of the mother.
If possible, compare your dog’s current weight with the target value on a weekly basis. If the weight is higher, the feeding must be adjusted. Your veterinarian will be happy to help you with this.

Barf for puppies?

There is nothing to be said against self-cooked meals or BARF rations for puppies and young dogs, but you have to pay attention to a lot of details here. Because the self-prepared meal must contain the right proportions of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fibre, minerals and vitamins so that your dog gets all the nutrients it needs. It is best to seek advice from a nutritionist.

Based on data such as body weight, age, breed, muscles or coat type, they can put together the individual ingredients with the help of nutritional value tables so that your dog gets a daily ration that is specially tailored to him.

Calcium and phosphorus in puppy food

The right supply of calcium and phosphorus is very important for healthy bone formation. But again, more doesn’t automatically mean better. Too much phosphorus, for example from too much meat, makes the bones soft and brittle, too much calcium inhibits the absorption of phosphorus, zinc and copper. This leads to a mineral deficiency, although there was originally enough of it in the diet.

You should therefore give additional feed lime over the finished feed. Most ready-made food for puppies and young dogs already contain all the important vitamins, nutrients and minerals that a baby dog needs. However, the individual feedstuffs can differ in terms of their energy content. Basically, very high-fat ready-to-eat food contains more energy and accelerates growth.

Portions of food for puppies per day

Depending on the age of the puppy, the size and number of portions into which the daily food ration is divided differ:

  • up to the age of about six months: three to four servings daily
    then until the end of growth: two portions daily (in the case of smaller breeds up to a year, in
  • the case of giant breeds this can also be 18 months and more)

If possible, always feed at the same times and let the puppy eat in peace. But take the bowl away after 20 to 30 minutes. In this way he learns to eat quickly and leftovers do not go bad, especially in summer. It is also very important: After eating, the dog absolutely needs a digestive break.

Because puppies still have limited kidney function and their body tissues are about 80 percent fluid, they need to drink a higher percentage than adult dogs, whose tissues are only 43 to 67 percent water. So make sure that fresh water is always available.

Calorie bombs in puppy food

Of course, a puppy can also get a treat from time to time. However, you should definitely pay attention to its fat content. For example, pig ears, Wiener sausages or meat sausage are real calorie bombs. Therefore:

  • Be sparing with treats and subtract the nutrient content from the daily ration.
    In terms of energy, chewing bones made from cowhide should not be underestimated.
  • However, dogs that are allowed to nibble on a bone now and then as a puppy learn better to actually gnaw on it. This is good for dental care.
  • Getting your puppy used to treats like a piece of cucumber, carrot, or apple from an early age will help the adult dog maintain its weight later on as well. Due to the high water content, such snacks have hardly any calories, but they do have vitamins and fiber.

Habituation to different foods

Studies have shown that there is a time window when it comes to feeding, similar to the socialization phase in which puppies learn to adjust to their environment. In this window, it is usually decided whether the dog will later become choosy about food and only eat what it knows, or whether it will become flexible.

This period begins when breast milk is weaned and lasts for a few months. If you offer your puppy different types of wet and dry food from different manufacturers during this time, there will be no problems later if you switch to other food for any reason or have to change your diet. Simply combine (do not mix!) two types of food alternately, for example, fresh meat with dry food, home-cooked food with canned food, or dry food with wet food. Of course, you shouldn’t feed them a wild mess, but combine them in reasonable proportions.

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