Feeding Your Puppy

Before venturing into the subject of feeding a puppy it is important that we understand what we mean by "puppy". You will say that, it is obvious that a puppy is the baby of a dog. Granted! But we are not talking of, one day old, two week old or even five week old puppies. A responsible, breeder WILL NOT separate a puppy from its mother till it is at least seven or eight weeks old.
And there are good reasons for this. First of all it is advisable that for the first 3 weeks, the puppies should have as little intervention as possible from the breeder as the mother is in the best position to cater to all its needs at this stage. After all, we are not dogs. Following the first
three weeks, the mother and other litter mates, will teach your pup basic social, survival and hygiene skills. This training is very important to the future dog's ability to settle well in your home. Many breeders, are in a hurry to pocket your money and get rid of puppies as quickly as possible, caring little for how the pup does later in life.

So when we say "puppy" we are hoping you have received your pup at the age of eight weeks or more. This way you are more confident that the dog has been, properly weaned and knows how to control its bladder and bowel movements. Many breeders will advise you to feed your eight week old puppy four times a day, then at three months reduce the feeds to three times a day, and by five months reduce again to twice daily. Some advise to keep the feeds to twice a day, while others feel it is fine to reduce further to once daily from the age of ten months.

This will depend on each individual dog and how well he adjusts to a single meal a day. Some dogs prefer twice a day. Those feeding their dogs a complete dry food often just leave the food out all day for the dog to help himself when and as he feels. As concerns how much to feed, the rule of thumb is that if the dog has eaten up every scrap of his food, it is possible that he is still hungry. You should therefore ensure that the quantity is such that he leaves just a little bit on his plate after every meal. It is unlikely that a healthy, properly weaned puppy will overfeed or
underfeed itself. These guidelines alone will however, not give your puppy all he needs if the quality of his food is poor.

Below are some of the recommended nutrients of the Association Of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). It will guide you in your choice of food, depending on your dog's stage of growth, activity level, if it is a pregnant bitch or just a pet with a sedentary lifestyle.

Three Steps to Determine How much to Feed your Puppy

To determine the amount of dog food to begin with when you start feeding a growing puppy, apply the following steps:

Step 1: Find a dog nutrition chart ( Just go online and type in dog nutrition chart) and determine the number of calories per pound of body weight your puppy should have for his age. For example, a 7-week-old pup weighing five pounds needs 400 calories every day.

Step 2: Divide the number of calories contained in a pound of the food you are feeding into the number of calories your puppy needs every day to find out how much food you should offer to begin with. For instance, if the 7-week-old pup is being fed a dog food containing 600 calories per pound, he needs about 400/600 cal per Ib. or 0.66 pounds of dog food each day.

Step 3: Divide the amount of food needed each day into the appropriate number of daily feedings, according to the following rule: If the puppy is from six weeks to four months of age, feed him four times per day. If the pup is from four months to 12 months, feed it three-times daily. When the pup is over 12 months, feed him twice daily for the rest of his life, 1/3 in the morning and 2/3 in the evening. These are guide lines to give your puppy the correct amount of dog nutrition.

Puppies do not need to be fed six to eight times daily. although such frequent feedings may improve slightly the efficiency with which the puppy uses the dog food, but it is to such a small degree that the extra time spent in preparing and feeding many meals is not worth the effort. Puppies have been raised successfully with only two or three daily feedings immediately from weaning, but four seems to be the number that provides the best growth for the least effort by the dog owner. If a puppy cleans up every bit of food offered for three days in a row, add 5% more dog food to the daily feeding.

If he continues to eat everything he is offered for three more days, add 5% more dog food. Continue to add dog food at this rate until the puppy leaves a tiny bit at each meal. It is entirely possible in a growing puppy, that you may never reach a point at which he will leave any food, until he is almost grown.

There is no need to worry as long as the puppy gains about he same amount of weight each week as he did the week before. Between 10 and 12 months of age, the rate at which a puppy grows starts to slow down. At the same time the dog's food consumption also begins to drop. This is a normal occurrence, brought about by the reduction in the dog's need for extra nutrients and
energy required for growth.

The reduction is simply an indication that the puppy is reaching maturity. Some dog owners may mistake this reduction in food consumption as an indication of illness but providing he has been fed the right dog nutrition there is no problem. This fear becomes even more pronounced when the maturing process makes the dog less active, as well. Novice dog owners usually forget that human adolescents go through the same steps on their way to becoming adults. Other dog owners may forget the fact that the maturing process in the dog requires only about 12 months to complete, while in humans it usually takes 20 years!

By: John Mailer
For more by John Mailer visit www. ilovedog.org


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