Getting a new puppy is really exciting, and before you even get them and during their first couple of weeks with you, you will need to make a lot of important choices for your pup that will in many cases go on to have long-lasting implications for the rest of their life.
For instance, if you decide that your pup is allowed to sleep on your bed or jump up now, changing your mind later on will take a lot of work to correct, and what and how you feed your puppy now will have a direct impact on their growth and development, and even future attitude to food.
When you first bring your new pup home at around the age of 12 weeks or a little older, you should initially feed them the same diet and at the same times as they were used to when living with their breeder.
However, you’ll probably want to change their diet to your own choice when this becomes viable, and you’ll definitely need to adjust the amount you feed to them as they get older; as well as potentially the times and frequency of when you feed them as well.
With this in mind, this article will outline the basics of how to go about choosing a food for your new pup, how to know how much to feed them, and when they should be fed. Read on to learn more.
Ask the breeder of your pup why they feed the diet that they do; some breeders will take price into account as a large consideration, which may be the case for you too, but others might have specific nutritional reasons for feeding the brand and range that they choose, based on their experiences of their own dogs.
You don’t have to pick a different diet just because your pup has a new home, and in many cases, sticking with the breeder’s recommendation will be wise. But if you do want to change your pup’s food, factor in their size, breed, activity levels, and the quality of the diets you’re considering carefully.
Ask your vet for advice if needed, and educate yourself about dog food ranges and ingredients, in order to get a better idea of what to look for and what to avoid.
Knowing how much to feed any puppy or adult dog isn’t always simple, as dogs will always tell you that they’re starving to death even if they’re full to the point of satiety! Additionally, as your puppy is growing and developing all the time and their food needs to be adjusted on an ongoing basis in order to support this, things get even more complicated.
The vast majority of good quality dog foods have feeding guidelines on their labels, to give you an idea of how much of that specific food the average dog of a certain size will need to eat each day.
However, remember that these directions are for guidance, and are not set in stone. Even two pups from the same litter might need different amounts of food based on their activity levels and size, and if you notice that your pup is leaner than they should be, not developing as well as they should be, or are gaining excess weight rather than height and breadth, they’re likely being fed the wrong amount.
Use feeding labels as a guide but don’t be dictated by them; learn to assess a healthy weight and conformation for the dog breed you own, factoring in the puppy chubbiness that is often naturally present, and ask your vet if you need further advice.
The first year of your pup’s life will involve a lot of training and teaching, and the best way to motivate a dog of any type to work hard is with training treats. However, don’t just free-feed treats; measure them out each day, use them sparingly, and remember to account for them in your dog’s complete food intake so that they don’t cause your dog to gain too much weight.
In an ideal world, the adult dog would have their food divided up into at least three portions spread over the course of the day, to provide them with consistent slow release energy and prevent them feeling alternately stuffed and then hungry.
However, many dog owners feed their dogs twice a day instead due to either convenience or necessity, and if this is your plan, you should introduce this change gradually and not expect pups younger than eight or so months of age to do well on a feeding regime of this type.
Additionally, pups of very tiny dog breeds like the Chihuahua or those that don’t carry a lot of body fat have a very delicate blood glucose balance, and will very much benefit from being fed three or even more times per day to avoid peaks and troughs in their blood glucose levels.
Finally, dogs of all types need routine and consistency, and nowhere is this more important than when it comes to their diets. When you have set a plan for your dog, stick to it, so that they are reliably fed at the same sort of time each day, and know what to expect.