Congratulations on getting a puppy! We’re sure it’s the cutest little thing ever. Raising a puppy is an exciting time, and you two will build a very strong and special bond. But there’s a lot to do, and you’ll definitely have your hands full keeping them healthy and happy.
One of the questions you probably ask yourself is, “How do I feed this little thing?” It’s an important question because the answer can be a little complex.
What should I feed them?
The dietary needs of puppies differ greatly from those of adult dogs. One of the reasons is that they must be able to grow from puppies to adults in a relatively short period of time and also maintain their health at the same time. They are also very susceptible to nutritional imbalances caused by excess or deficiency of nutrients, or an unbalanced ratio of the nutrients.
Without the right balance of nutrients, your puppy has a higher chance of developing orthopedic diseases, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, skin problems, and more.
Make sure you use a complete and balanced diet that meets all AAFCO nutritional requirements for puppies. This will promote their essential initial growth and development.
Fiber is especially important in your puppy's diet. Fiber helps promote gut health and a healthy microbiome by fueling intestinal cells (the colonocytes), boosting beneficial bacterial growth, and supporting overall health and well-being.
Stay’s Turkey with Spinach recipe, while great for dogs of all ages, was designed and approved for growing puppies. These are just some of the healthy foods that can help them grow into healthy adults:
- They contain a great balance of muscle tissue and fat that contribute to the right nutrient balance.
- Studies show it aids in proper brain and eye development, and is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- This has essential minerals and vitamins that research shows improve immunity and maintain a strong and healthy body.
- Research shows that they are rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber that improves digestion and helps eliminate toxins from the body.
- These are an excellent source of nutrients that studies suggest help protect cell membranes and support blood cells and tissues.
How much should they eat?
Your puppy needs to gain weight at the appropriate pace and not too fast. For most puppies, but not all, just following the feeding directions will work. Your puppy's meal portion will also need to be adjusted as they grow based on their weight, age, and growth rate.
You can often see for yourself if your puppy is gaining weight at the right pace and make sure they aren’t underweight or overweight. The ideal body weight is a score between 4-5 on the 9-point scale of the body condition score (BCS).
Stay’s members can use their personal account to regularly and easily update their puppy’s weight, which helps the team of vets and nutritionists adjust the meal plan so they get the proper nutrition during this critical stage of their life.
Can I give them treats?
Yes! Treats play an important role in bonding with your puppy (aka spoiling, because they deserve it!), and are super helpful for training. But most are usually fatty and high in calories, which can easily turn those treats into an extra meal.
No matter what the situation is for your puppy, treats should make up no more than 10% of their total daily caloric intake.
How often should they eat?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), growing pups need to be fed as follows:
How long should they stay on puppy food?
This really depends on your puppy’s breed. Small and large breeds have different nutritional needs, and puppies also have different nutritional needs.
According to the AKC, “adult dogs who weigh less than 20 pounds are considered small-breed dogs. These puppies grow quickly and may reach adulthood by 9 months. Large-breed puppies (20 pounds and up), grow more slowly—it takes anywhere from 15 to 24 months to reach full size and maturity.”
For example, large-breed puppy diets have fewer calories and less calcium than small-breed puppy diets. This is because large-breed puppy bones are more sensitive to excess calcium while they are growing. It is important to know that you should not add calcium to your puppy's diet if it's formulated as a complete and balanced diet for their breed/size as an adult.
If you’re reading this, then way to go! Now you know the basics about feeding your puppy. Puppies grow in a relatively short time, about one year, but they should gain weight at an appropriate pace and not too fast. So feed them a diet that is approved for puppies.
While you can usually follow the feeding directions, for some puppies, it may be better to look at them and use the BCS system to evaluate their growth. You should always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding your puppy’s diet, growth rate, or medical issues.
If you’re a Stay member, you can update your puppy’s weight directly in your personal account. Stay’s nutritionists recommend updating this before each shipment so they can make sure your puppy gets the correct amount of food.
Lastly, puppies are always super cute, so have lots of fun with them!
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