Puppy nutrition and feeding
Diet is extremely important during the growing months of a dog’s life. We recommend a NAME-BRAND FOOD made by a national dog food company (not a generic or local brand) and diet MADE FOR PUPPIES. This should be fed until your puppy is about 12-18 months of age, depending on its breed and size. We recommend that you only buy food that has the AAFCO certification. Usually, you can find this information very easily on the label. AAFCO is an organization that oversees the entire pet food industry. It does not endorse any particular food, but it will certify that the food has met the minimum requirements for nutrition. Most of the commercial pet foods will have the AAFCO label. Generic brands often do not have it. In Canada, look for foods approved by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).
Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of dog food is acceptable. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive. It can be left in the dog’s bowl without drying. The good brands of dry food are just as nutritious as the other forms. As a rule, most veterinarians will recommend dry food for your puppy.
Semi-moist and canned foods are also acceptable. However, both are considerably more expensive than dry food. They often are more appealing to the dog’s taste; however, they are not more nutritious. If you feed a very tasty food, you are running the risk of creating a dog with a finicky appetite. In addition, the semi-moist foods are high in sugar.
Table foods are not recommended. Because they are generally very tasty, dogs will often begin to hold out for these and not eat their well-balanced dog food. If you choose to give your puppy table food, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial puppy food.
We enjoy a variety of things to eat in our diet. However, most dogs actually prefer not to change from one food to another unless they are trained to do so by the way you feed them. Do not feel guilty if your dog is happy eating the same food day after day, week after week.
Commercials for dog food can be very misleading. If you watch carefully you will notice that commercials often promote dog food on the basis of TASTE. Nutrition is rarely mentioned. Most of the “gourmet” foods are marketed to appeal to owners who want the best for their dogs; however, they do not offer the dog any nutritional advantage over a good quality dry food, and they are far more expensive. If your dog eats a gourmet food very long, it will probably not be happy with other foods. If it needs a special diet due to a health problem later in life, it is very unlikely to accept it. Therefore, we do not encourage feeding gourmet dog foods.
How often should I feed my puppy?
There are several “right” ways to feed puppies. The most popular method is commonly called “meal feeding.” This means that the puppy is fed at specific times of the day. A measured amount of food should be offered four times per day for 5-12 week old puppies. What is not eaten within 30 minutes is taken up. If the food is eaten within 3-4 minutes, the quantity is probably not sufficient. Puppies fed in this manner generally begin to cut themselves out of one of those meals by 3-4 months of age and perhaps another one later. If a meal is ignored for several days, it should be discontinued.
“Free choice feeding,” means that food is available at all times. This works well with dry foods and for some dogs. However, other dogs tend to overeat and become obese. If there is weight gain after the optimal size is reached, this method of feeding should be discontinued.