Puppy Food Advice: Puppy Food And How Much To Feed A Puppy.
You aren’t the first person to adopt a new puppy only to go cross-eyed while looking at the myriad food options available. A new puppy is a joy like no other. You have entered into a world of love and companionship, but there is a dizzying array of choices when it comes to what to feed your new friend. And he’s hungry!
People likely wonder if puppies truly require a different type of food, or if the entire idea is just a marketing ploy designed to increase the sales numbers of dog food manufacturers. But be sure: Puppies have specific nutritional needs, which differ markedly from those of adults.
What Exactly Is Puppy Food?
Puppy food is designed specifically for the nutritional needs of young and still growing dogs, with twice the daily nutritional requirements that a mature dog needs. Puppies are growing and developing rapidly — in their bones, muscles, joints, internal organs and immune system, to name but a few of the developmental needs that are being met by nutrition.
A well-balanced puppy food contains those nutrients that a puppy specifically need for this purpose, nutrients that are not necessary once the puppy has finished growing into a dog and that is not added to adult formula dog foods.
For example, to build a strong body, puppy food contains about 30 percent protein, as well as the vitamins and minerals that are needed for a puppy to be healthy. Puppy food also contains a high-fat content for energy, which is why it is not recommended for adult dogs.
How Do You Know How Long To Feed A Puppy Puppy Food?
Dogs are considered puppies until they reach their expected adult size. Ideally, a puppy should be fed puppy food until he reaches 80% of his expected adult size, which is about a year old for most dogs. There are rare instances when you may need to stop giving puppy food before then; especially if the puppy is developing too quickly and your veterinarian is concerned of complications (e.g., long bone disease and panosteitis are two growth diseases of concern). In cases such as this, you will need to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations.
How Many Times Should a Puppy be Fed?
New owners are often unsure how much food to give their new puppy at mealtime. Do you fill up her bowl? Just let her eat as much as she wants? Some owners even make the mistake of leaving a bowl of food available at all times (called ad libitum or on-demand feeding).
In most cases, you should just follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging. These puppy feeding recommendations usually fall within the veterinary-recommended range, although they are occasionally so broad that they are useless. For example, a given food may advise providing your dog with 2 to 4 ½ cups of food per day. As you can see, the high-end of this range provides more than double the calories of the low-end recommendation, so that’s really not a helpful range.
A puppy should be fed three times a day until she reaches about six months old. In many breeds, growth slows down around this age, so unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise, you should reduce her meals to twice a day only — in the morning and in the evening. Twice-a-day meals will remain the feeding guideline for the life of your dog.
What Should You Look For When Selecting a Puppy Food?
A number of characteristics can help you distinguish the differences between foods of various qualities – no doubt you only want the best for your pup!
- Steer Clear of Mystery Meats. You’ll want to steer clear of any foods with unidentified animal meals or fats derived from unidentified meats. For safety’s sake, it is best to avoid foods that don’t indicate the sources for their additives. Meat meals and rendered fats are not inherently problematic, but you need to know from which animal these byproducts originated.
- Avoid Preservatives & Artificial Colors. Try to avoid as many preservatives and artificial colors as possible. In most cases, the fewer the ingredients listed on the bag of food, the better.
- Protein Should Be #1. Look for foods that list a protein source as the first ingredient. Although dogs are omnivorous animals, who remain healthiest when fed a combination of fruits, fats, vegetables, meats, and grains, meat should represent the largest portion of their diet.
- Stick To Foods With Moderate to High Price Points. While some mid-level puppy foods are of similar quality to high-priced products, puppy foods at the lowest end of the price spectrum are almost universally inferior. You simply won’t get the same kind of quality with cheaper puppy foods.
- Pay Attention to the Location of Manufacturing. Select products that are manufactured in a country with high pet-food quality standards. Although it is difficult to make broad generalizations, dog foods made in Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe, Canada or the United States generally fit the bill, while most Asian-made products should be avoided.