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Puppy Nutrition - Rules and Tips

Puppies need to grow a lot in a short time: in just 12 months (up to 24 months for large breeds) they will become fully developed adult dogs. Their bodies need to develop remarkably fast, so it is no surprise that they need the highest quality nutrition - well digestible to achieve this. A healthy, energetic puppy can burn up to twice as many calories as a mature dog!

Puppy nutrition

Puppies are very curious about the world around them, but they need a lot of energy to discover it. Industrial puppy foods are formulated to provide a complete, balanced combination of the nutrients your puppy needs. Puppy food is a concentrated food for growth, free from unnecessary ingredients to avoid burdening the immature digestive system of a puppy. High-quality puppy formulas are rich in highly digestible protein to support the proper development of tissues and organs, and contain higher amounts of essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and iron, as well as vitamin D to help build strong bones and teeth. So unless your veterinarian tells you to do so, your puppy doesn't need any vitamin and mineral supplements when you feed him with complete ready-made puppy food.

Puppies have smaller mouths than adult dogs, so the smaller, bite-sized pellets in most commercial puppy food are easier to chew on and release all the nutrients they need.

Puppies have smaller mouths than adult dogs, so the smaller, bite-sized granules in most commercial puppy food are easier to chew on and release all the nutrients they need.


Needless to say, breast milk is the perfect first food as it is naturally rich in all the nutrients and nutrients you need for a healthy immune system. Although puppies prepare for weaning at six to eight weeks of age, most will become interested in solid food after they are three to four weeks old - usually by playing with the contents of their mother's bowl and licking the food from their paws!

This is the best time to start giving puppy food. If you choose dry food, it should be soaked and mashed into a mush. As your puppy grows, you can add less and less water and feed in an increasingly dry form. Switching puppies to solid food too early can be a burden on the immature digestive tract of a puppy. When you see your puppy eagerly biting, stop soaking food to give him the opportunity to munch on his own.

How much feed should be given

Puppies have small stomachs but large appetites, so give them often small amounts depending on their age, size and veterinarian's recommendation. As puppies vary in size, the one-time servings as well as the daily servings will vary greatly. Remember to always read the guidelines carefully in the table on the packaging of the food you are serving. Divide the daily ration into several meals. When introducing food, start with 1/3 of the amount of food recommended for the whole day.

  • From the start of feeding to weaning (usually two months) - 4-6 portions per day.
  • Two to three months - 4 servings a day.
  • From four to six months - 2-3 meals a day.
  • Over six months - 2 meals a day (depending on the breed, very small and very large dogs may stay with more meals).

Do not overfeed your puppy to speed up his growth. It is easy to do this without controlling how much is served in the bowl and giving free access to food. The puppy does not stop after eating the "appropriate" amount of food. The volume of food administered may be too large for the developing gastrointestinal tract, which may lead to digestive disorders and impaired growth rate, or may accelerate this growth in an unhealthy manner, leading to undesirable weight gain and painful bone development disorders in the future. If you are in doubt as to how much or how often to feed your puppy of a particular breed, consult your veterinarian or animal nutritionist.

The recommended daily amount of food to be fed depends on your puppy's age, size and breed, as well as its condition and body shape and any possible health problems. Always carefully read the feeding instructions on the food packaging. Dose ranges are given for the correct size of dog (the expected body weight your dog will reach in adulthood) along with the age range. Your puppy will likely fall into one of these ranges. Your dog's expected size can be determined by a breeder or veterinarian. Remember that individual puppies, even of the same age and breed, differ in energy requirements depending on how well developed they are, how efficiently they digest food and their individual metabolism and level of activity. The recommended feed doses are just a starting point. To be more precise and enable your puppy to develop optimally, you should regularly assess his body condition and adjust the amount of the feed accordingly.

Try not to feed your puppy immediately after or before exercise, and give your puppy an hour between eating and being active to avoid the risk of developing a condition known as gastric dilatation and torsion. Large and giant breeds are particularly vulnerable to this disorder, which is a life-threatening emergency. If your dog has a deep chest, ask your veterinarian what the potential risks are.

Puppies naturally like to chew on their food, which also helps keep their teeth strong and healthy. Consistency in the diet is also important, so unless there is an obvious problem or your veterinarian has recommended a change, it's best to stick with one brand of food for a given season or development period. Adaptation to a new food and the conversion period takes about 10 days to two weeks, so in order not to make the dog too much revolution, feed the dog in a uniform way for at least 2-3 months.

Where to feed your puppy

Your puppy should be given food in a quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle of the house where no one will disturb him. Choose a surface that is easy to clean, such as tiles, or put a coaster under the bowl. Always serve the food in a clean bowl; the best are ceramic and metal. Do not let the children try to play with the puppy during this time and do not let him interrupt his meal. If there are other dogs in the house, feed them separately to avoid mutual terrorism and competition.

How to feed

Try to feed moist food at room temperature as it smells more appealing and is easier to digest. If you keep it in a refrigerator, remove it at least one hour before serving; you can also heat the wet food in a water bath until it is warm, but not hot. Avoid leaving wet food exposed beyond 3 hours as it can quickly become stale and can develop indigestion bacteria. During the day, you can expose your meal from dry food, as it will not spoil up to 6 hours. Most dogs like their dry food to be crunchy, but if your pre-soaked preference or medical reasons should avoid hard food, you can feed it with warm water. If you are soaking food, consider giving your pet a regular (at least 2-3 times a week) an oral hygiene teether to help remove plaque that may form tartar in the future. Regular crunching of an appropriate feed that supports the prevention of plaque build-up increases the effectiveness of this action by half compared to feeding with moist foods. Remember, however, that brushing your dog's teeth regularly (2-3 times a week) is the most effective way to prevent oral disease.

When your puppy gets bigger

As puppies grow, their appetite also increases. They need more energy to support the next stages of rapid growth and development of muscle mass. Depending on the breed, a six-month-old puppy may need up to two times more calories per day than a two-month-old puppy. Always try to follow the feeding instructions and monitor your puppy's body condition, and if you are not sure how much to feed, ask your veterinarian.

What not to feed

Although it is advised not to feed your pet scraps and bites from the table, it is often difficult to say no! If you choose to succumb from time to time, there are foods you must avoid. Never serve raw meat and reduce the risk of food poisoning by cooking each fresh meat carefully (without adding salt) to kill pathological bacteria.

Watch out for small pieces of bone, especially brittle chicken bones and fish bones, as they can damage teeth and cause obstruction in the digestive tract. The same is true for large bones, although traditionally given to dogs, they are not recommended due to the incidence of intestinal obstruction. Meat and table scraps should never make up more than 10% of your dog's total diet, otherwise you risk disturbing the proper balance of the food being given. Finally, never give your dog chocolate, onions and grapes / raisins, nuts, some citrus fruits as these can be very toxic to the dog

Converting to adult dog food

Despite dogs of many breeds appearing fully developed between six and eight months of age (depending on the breed: later for large / giant breeds), on the inside they are still puppies. Their bones strengthen and their bodies mature. Do not switch to an adult formula too early. Only miniature breed puppies are ready for this transition right after their teeth change. For most breeds, a puppy ceases to need the extra energy and nutrients in puppy food and is ready to switch to an adult formula no earlier than 12-18 months of age (depending on breed: later in large / giant dogs). Consult your veterinarian if you are unsure of the age to change food. Switching should be done gradually as outlined above over a period of seven to ten days to avoid gastrointestinal disturbance.

Change of diet

Your puppy's digestive tract function can easily be disturbed if you change the food too abruptly, be it from wet to dry or from one brand to another. For new arrivals to your home, it's best to stick to the food recommended by the breeder or shelter at first, unless there is an obvious digestive problem, i.e. the food is not being absorbed well. It is recommended that your new arrival be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible and that you discuss the diet during this consultation. You can consult an animal nutritionist in consultation with your doctor. Depending on what your doctor tells you, if you want to change your puppy's diet after a few weeks, you should do so gradually. A long transition period (7-10 days) will help your puppy adapt to the digestion of the new food ingredients by gradually adapting the enzymes and gut flora in his digestive tract.

  • Mix a small amount of the new food with the one used so far, or give both food separately in two bowls next to each other.
  • During the period of 7 to 10 days, gradually increase the amount of the new food added, while reducing the amount of the old food until it is completely replaced.

If you are switching from wet to dry food, your puppy will chew on it more actively, it may take longer for him to eat it and of course he will need more water. If you are switching from dry to wet food you can expect him to drink less, and if he is used to chewing on dry food, think about mixing in a few cookies for consistency. It is worth remembering that a portion of dry food will look three times smaller than a portion of moist food, because dry food has a higher energy concentration than moist food. Therefore, your dog will need to eat almost 3 times as much wet food to get the same amount of calories.

If you want to serve both wet and dry food, remember to do it regularly at the right times. The dog's digestive tract will get used to secreting the right amount of enzymes, e.g. in the morning for dry food and in the afternoon for wet food. Do not surprise your dog with surprises in the form of sudden administration of moist food over two days (e.g. during the weekend) when I eat dry food on a daily basis. He will probably eat a tasty meal, but there is a chance that he will get more or less troublesome indigestion, which may lead to a deterioration of the digestive capacity of the digestive tract over time.

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