Congratulations on getting a new puppy. There must be some trepidation and excitement with regards to a furry ball of joy being brought home. To make sure the dog stays healthy, you will need to ensure that it is getting the right amount of food and nutrition.
The best way to avoid a malnourished puppy is having a guideline on how to feed it. Feeding a small dog is crucial in ensuring its survival and life in the long run. For this to work effectively, you can use the following tips.
First 6 to 8 Weeks
During this time, the puppy should stay with their mother. This move allows them to feed breast milk, which is crucial for growth and development. Antibodies and nutrition from the mother’s milk ensures it grows properly while providing protection from infection and diseases.
If you are unable to keep the pup with the mother during this duration, there are some options you can use. Look for milk bottles and replacers in a pet store. Alternatively, you can get the same from a veterinary in your location.
Weaning To Solid Food
Your dog will not move to solid food overnight. The process should take 14 to 21 days. Begin by selecting a brand of food that is best for your puppy. A high quality brand is recommended due to the fact that such dogs need a high quality food to maintain their nutritional and caloric needs. Generally, a good source of food should have calories, calcium, and protein.
The best time to start feeding your puppy solid food is when they are a month or more in age. A good way to go about this would be feeding them a mixture. For example, mixing the food with a milk replacer can be a great way to start the process. Give the food several times a day. Each day, reduce the amount of milk replacer in the gruel. By the time your puppy is two months old, they should be eating solid food.
Frequency Of Feeding
Generally, puppies should be fed four times a day. If you offer ¾ a cup of puppy food two times in a day, then you should space out the food. You can try giving ½ cup of food for three times a day. This will ensure you maintain the daily food requirements.
Puppies find it easier to digest smaller meals. At the same time, energy levels do not fall and peak intermittently when frequent meals are provided. At six months of age, you may start feeding the puppy twice a day. However, you should consider feeding it three to four times a day if it is a mixed breed. This will minimize or prevent the risk of gastric dilation volvulus.
Moving On From Puppy Food
Nutritional supplements and calories are high in puppy food. You will need to switch to adult food as soon as your puppy starts to mature. Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific age for the switch. It will all depend on the individual dog and its breed.
Generally, smaller dogs tend to reach maturity at a faster rate. Breeds that are 30 pounds or less have a higher probability of maturing within a year or less. Some toy breeds have been known to mature earlier. Medium breeds with more than 30 pounds and less than 80 pounds tend to mature for longer durations, sometimes up to two years.
Switching to adult dog food should be done at a slow pace. Ideally, the switch should involve mixing less puppy food with more adult food gradually. Such a move will ensure the puppy is introduced to adult food effectively, while making sure he/she does not suffer from gastric upset.
Foods To Avoid
Avoid any food listing meat by-products or corn as the major ingredient. Ideally, any food you choose should have meat as the first ingredient. Also, make sure your puppy does not consume puppy food for longer than the recommended duration.
Orthopedic and obesity problems are commonly caused by feeding a dog puppy food for longer than usual. A good sign of feeding puppy food for long is when your dog starts to eat less of the same portions. Another sign would be the dog gaining too much weight.
The best way to determine how much food your dog should consume is gauging its body condition. Dogs, just like humans, will experience health problems if they are overweight or obese. Recommendations you find on dog food labels are guidelines. They should not be considered as the ultimate guide. Feeding should be done by adding a little less or more depending on the dog’s condition score.
One of the best ways to determine the chubbiness of a dog is seeing the ribs. It is done by looking straight down at the dg while he/she is standing. A recognizable waist is a good sign of a healthy dog. Additionally, make sure your veterinary checks the weight of your dog during your next visit. The veterinary will be able to give you advice on how to feed your depending on their weight.