Being a puppy parent requires you to ensure your furry friend is well taken care of. From their sleeping conditions to what they eat, you want to make sure that they grow up strong and healthy; feeding them properly is a surefire way to do that.
This article will discuss all there is to know about puppy nutrition so that you can make informed choices about your pup’s diet.
The Importance of Proper Nutrition
Why Your Puppy Should Eat Right
The early stages of your pup’s life are vital to their development. Your furry friend needs more protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals than adult dogs.
They need a balance of protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to enable them to grow and maintain their overall health.
With a proper diet, you can prevent your puppy from getting obese as well as protect their immune system while promoting strong muscles, bones, and teeth.
How to Choose the Right Food for Your Furry Friend
Pay Attention to Dog Food Labels
Firstly, you need to understand what you are feeding your puppy. It might be challenging to read dog food labels, but in the end, it is essential for your pet.
Ensure that the food you are purchasing meets the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Furthermore, confirm that the food is specifically made for puppies or all dogs regardless of age.
Think About Food Options
When it comes to dog food, you have two options: dry food or wet food. Here are detailed explanations for both.
Dry Food Option
Dry food has always been a go-to option for puppy parents because it is affordable and convenient (no need for refrigeration).
That said, there are various options, and you need to look out for the most suitable one for your furry friend. Keep an eye out for products that contain high-quality ingredients and possess the right balance of nutrients.
In addition, you should pay close attention to whether or not the product contains real meat and try to avoid unnecessary fillers and by-products.
A downside to dry puppy food is that it does not provide a lot of moisture. This can pose a problem if your pup does not drink enough water. Furthermore, some products contain grains, which can affect the digestive system in some pups.
Wet Food Option
Wet food is fantastic for puppies because it contains nutritious vegetables and meat, which provide all the nutrients they require. Also, it is usually easier for them to digest wet food, and the food helps keep them hydrated.
Just like shopping for dry food, you should look for products with high-quality ingredients and a proper balance of nutrients.
That said, wet food goes bad relatively quickly and needs to be put in the fridge after you open it. Additionally, wet food is more expensive than its dry counterpart, and due to the moisture content, your pup may need to go for potty breaks more frequently.
Using Dry and Wet Food
It is not uncommon for puppy parents to mix dry and wet food. The combination of wet and dry food options for your puppy can provide a varied diet and meal texture. If you have a picky eater, this might be the best option for them.
Alternatively, you can consider mixing dry and wet food to bring some excitement to your puppy’s meal. Keep in mind that if you choose to mix your food, you should ensure that you maintain the appropriate balance of nutrients.
How to Feed Your Puppy
Knowing what to feed your pup is one thing, but knowing when and how much to feed them is another. Here’s how much and how often you should be feeding your pup.
When feeding your pup, you need to create a proper feeding schedule. One thing about puppies is that they thrive off of routine and structure, and a feeding schedule helps you develop a routine for your dog.
Feeding your pet at the same interval daily can help them to comprehend when to expect their meals, reducing the odds of them overeating.
When determining the feeding schedule, factor in your pup’s age and breed. This is because various breeds need different food amounts.
That said, a rule of thumb is to feed your dog about three to four times daily for the first six months of their lives. After these six months, you can transition them to two feedings daily.
While feeding your pup regularly is essential to their growth, too much food can lead to overfeeding, and this can lead to obesity and various health concerns.
Thus, you should monitor and manage your pup’s weight and make adjustments to their meal portions when necessary.
If you are having a hard time determining the right portion for your puppy, you can take a look at the packaging of the dog food. It typically has all the information you need about portions based on dog ages, activity level, and weight. Remember that you should also consider treats when accounting for your pup’s calorie intake.
Importance of Treats and Supplements
Treats are vital to your pup’s diet because you can use them to reward or train your furry friend. You should only purchase healthy natural treats that are high in nutrients and low in calories. Stay away from treats with artificial colors, added sugars, or preservatives.
Your pup does not necessarily need supplements as long as you feed them well-balanced meals.
Nevertheless, there are some cases when your veterinarian may suggest you obtain supplements to help your dog with certain health issues or deficiencies. Ensure you talk to your vet before including supplements in your pet’s diet.
Food Allergies in Your Pup
Recognizing Food Allergies
Just like in humans, food allergies can affect your pup at any age. However, it is especially crucial to monitor and detect these allergies while your pet is still young.
Some symptoms of food allergies include vomiting, ear infections, and itching. If you suspect your pup might have a food allergy, consult your vet as soon as possible.
Even an experienced vet might find it challenging to accurately determine what your pup is allergic to.
Therefore, they will most likely suggest doing an elimination diet. This method requires limiting the number of ingredients you feed your pup and slowly reintroducing them to potential allergens.
As soon as you discover the allergen, you can alter your pup’s diet accordingly.
How to Make Mealtimes Fun
Establishing a Positive Environment
As mentioned, puppies appreciate structure. So to make mealtimes enjoyable for them, you can stick to a consistent routine and set up an excellent eating area.
Try and find a calm, quiet place that does not have distractions. This can help them stay focused on their meal, creating healthy eating habits.
Helping Picky Eaters
Some puppies are picky eaters. If your pup happens to be one of them, you can try introducing them to various flavors and textures to keep them interested. Try heating up your wet food or adding broth to your dry food.
Finding what your pup enjoys eating might be difficult, but avoid feeding them table scraps because this could worsen their picky eating habits.
Proper nutrition is pivotal to your puppy’s overall well-being. If you can grasp the importance of a properly balanced meal and suitable feeding times and portions, you can ensure your pup lives a long healthy life.
That said, all puppies differ, so if you have any concerns, be sure to reach out to your vet for guidance. Hopefully, this article contains all you need to ensure your furry friend is eating right.