Puppies have growing, exploring and learning to do, and this requires a lot of energy. It is important to know what to feed your puppy to provide the nutrients they need to grow up strong and healthy.
Choose the right food. Puppies are not just small dogs; they require more calcium, protein and certain vitamins to grow rapidly but safely. For this reason, it is important to give puppy food designed for young dogs, rather than simply giving them the same food you’d give to an adult dog only more frequently.
Dry or wet? Wet food is easier for very young dogs to eat to begin with, but the same effect can be achieved by soaking dry food in warm water. Wet food can often be more palatable but dry kibble is generally better for teeth and gums. Dry food can be left down for 24 hours but wet or moistened food can easily go mouldy and should be removed after half an hour if it hasn’t been eaten.
How many meals a day? Puppies have small tummies but, on a weight for weight basis, need a higher food intake than adult dogs, so they need to have more meals per day – preferably 4 to 6, especially in the early months.
Large and small breeds
Dogs have been bred to grow to so many distinctly different shapes and sizes that it’s impossible to have a one-size-fits-all instruction manual for what to feed your puppy.
Smaller breeds mature more quickly and can switch from puppy food to adult food at around 12 months.
Medium and larger breeds take longer to reach adult status and benefit from having a junior food as a step from puppy to adult food. This is particularly important for large and giant breeds where it is really important to get the right balance between bone development and weight gain to avoid skeletal problems.
James Wellbeloved makes a Large Breed Junior diet specifically to cater for the additional demands that a growing large breed puppy with a specific balance of energy and minerals and an added joint support system.
What not to feed your puppy
We all want to feed our puppy treats from time to time, but do so sparingly to not upset their balanced diet. Your puppy’s daily meals should be reduced in accordance with any treats given, but treats and scraps should not make up more than 5% of their daily food intake.
Above all else, avoid giving your puppy certain foods which can be toxic to varying degrees. Chocolate, coffee, alcohol, raisins and grapes are definite no-nos and have actually caused deaths, but there is a long list of other foods that can sometimes cause problems, including avocados, garlic; onion; heavily salted or sweetened food and many others.
It is best to only give your dog food which has been specifically manufactured for dogs so as to avoid any potentially harmful foods.