Whether you’ve lived with a dog your entire life or you’re just dipping your toes into being a pet parent, choosing the right food for your new puppy can be confusing and overwhelming.
Scouring the dog food aisle may leave you feeling lost with what is best for your new furry friend as you encounter food for different breeds, ages, and even hair types. You’ve likely invested a lot of emotion and money into your new puppy adventure by the time you read this blog, so we want to give you the peace of mind that you’re choosing the best food for your new addition.
Just like human babies, puppies have specific nutritional needs to support their growth, particularly in the early months. Additionally, their little tummies can’t handle some formulations of dog food.
The food that you feed your puppy in the early stages will directly influence their skeletal, muscular, and immune systems with the perfect mix of fats, protein, energy, calcium, and other essential nutrients.
Puppies grow incredibly quickly during the first year of their lives, and their food must be equipped to support this growth. The diet of a puppy will impact their health and wellbeing for the rest of their life.
Overfeeding can lead to just as many issues such as malnourishment and feeding your puppy the right amount of perfectly formulated food will set them up for optimal growth.
Large or giant breed puppy food, is carefully created with the right amount of energy and calcium to phosphorous ratio to support their growing skeletons and weight gain needs, while not overfeeding. It is no longer advisable to simply feed your giant breed puppy an adult diet, as this places them at risk of overfeeding and not getting the right nutrients.
Your puppy should be on an appropriately formulated diet made up of solely puppy food until it reaches 80%-100% of its adult body weight. Typically, puppies will reach their full growth by 12 months for small and medium dogs, 18 months for large breed dogs, and 24 months for giant breed dogs. Click here for Hill’s Pet guide on setting up a healthy feeding schedule for your puppy.
Feeding your new furry family member can feel incredibly daunting, especially if you’ve never had a dog before. There are many different brands of food and even suggested amounts, feeding methods, and guidelines.
Some important rules of thumb to follow when it comes to feeding your puppy include:
It’s important to follow vet recommendations for your puppy. Many new puppy owners are tempted to fit their puppy into their lifestyle of eating – vegan, grain-free, raw meat – however, it is essential to discuss these plans with your vet before committing.
During the first 6-8 weeks of life, puppies get all the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk. If your puppy has been separated from its mother in tragic circumstances, milk replacer is available to deliver essential nutrients. The first few months of a puppy’s life are much like a newborn baby – they eat, sleep and enjoy lots of cuddles with their mum and siblings.
It’s best to gradually begin the transition to puppy food around 3-4 weeks, with small amounts of water to make it easier to chew. It may take around 6-8 weeks for the puppy to develop a taste and preference for solid food, and this is generally when the puppy will be handed over to their new family.
8-week-old puppies often look very tiny and underdeveloped but rest assured, they will soon start growing rapidly, especially with a proper feeding schedule of high-quality puppy food.
In Australia, the puppy food industry is mostly unregulated without a strict set of guidelines for manufacturers to abide by. This means that many conscious puppy feeders look out for the American seal of approval, quality marked with AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).
Wet or dry food is generally a personal choice, but it’s important to ensure they are of good quality and wholesome ingredients. A good rule of thumb is that if you can understand and identify each ingredient in the food as wholesome and not chemical-based, the food should be a good choice for your puppy.
A protein that is not a generic meal or by-product should be listed as one of the main ingredients. You may start to feel like you’re feeding your puppy constantly, but four times a day is perfect for their small tummies and nutritional needs.
A long and healthy life for your dog begins the moment they enter your care. Even puppies who have had a rough start can gain a chance at a healthy life through a good diet. Each puppy is different, with specific needs based on their breed type, upbringing, temperament, and underlying conditions.
The best thing you can do is consult with a trusted vet during the early stages of your puppy’s life when they are most vulnerable.
At Rossmore Veterinary Hospital, we have experience with puppies of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and breeds, and we love helping families to welcome their new addition with the best advice to kick off a long and healthy life together. To book your puppy in for a health check or to talk about all things puppy parenting, call our team today on (02) 9606 6984.