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Feeding an adult dog is a fairly straight-forward matter, however getting a puppy's diet right is a far more complicated issue, especially with all the conflicting advice on the internet. If you are buying a puppy from a breeder ensure that the puppy is at least 8 weeks old. Puppies any younger than this are not ready to leave their mother as they still require her milk for proper development. The three most important factors you need to concentrate on when constructing your puppy's diet are - quality, variety and routine.
Buying cheap canned dog food is not a good way for your puppy to start his life. Between the ages of 8 weeks and a year your puppy will constantly be growing, which makes high quality food an absolute must for a future healthy dog. There is plenty of variety in dog food brands on the market, which comprise of good quality ingredients aimed specifically at certain stages in a puppy's development. Smaller pet shops and supermarkets mainly sell the adult dog food brands and may not sell the best food for puppies, for the largest selection opt for pet superstores or buy over the internet. Look for food which is natural, and preferably contains real meat, rather than derivatives.
It is a common belief that puppies should not be given variety in their diet as it may upset their stomach. This can indeed be true when puppies are first exposed to new foods, however it is natural for your puppy's stomach to have to adapt to new ingredients and it may result in the odd incidence of vomiting or diarrhea. It is important that you do not limit your puppy to dog food, and give him human-grade meat, such as chicken, once every few days and also mix some vegetables into his food. The best way to avoid a upset stomach is to introduce any new type of dog food or human food bit by bit, by incorporating it into his usual meals. However foods that should always be avoided include nuts, fruit stones, cooked bones, onion, garlic, chocolate, grapes and raisins. If you are unsure about a specific ingredient always consult your vet.
To avoid your puppy having an upset stomach or being under or over fed you should feed him a set number of times per day (as discussed below) and weigh or measure the food. Try to keep the times regular throughout the day. A routine will also help with house training as his bowel movements will become regular.
Between two to three months old you should feed your puppy three times a day, all meals should be equally sized. Between three to six months puppies reduce this to two times per day. At this time they sometimes lose their appetite or become more fussy about their food because they are teething. If your puppy is refusing to eat for more than a few days then it is best to contact your vet. Your puppy should be fed on high quality, age specific puppy food until he is one year old, at this stage you should slowly introduce your puppy to adult dog food until he transfers to it completely. Feed your dog twice a day for the rest of his life.
This is a much more complicated issue as the amount varies with breed, size, age and type of food. The labels on dog food provide a guide which you should follow, but nothing compares to the advice of your vet. There are also calculators available on the internet that will calculate how much to feed your dog based on information about his size. You must make sure that you get this right because it is very easy to over or under feed which can result in health problems.
Raw bones are helpful for oral health of your puppy, preventing teething problems and for fulfilling a natural instinct. You should only feed him raw bones that are too big to fit completely in the puppy's mouth or be swallowed. Although bones keep a puppy occupied for a while, it is important not to give them too many - one per week is enough. Do not give your dog large marrow bones or T-Bones.
By following these simple guidelines your puppy will grow into a happy and healthy adult dog!
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