Puppies require about two and half times as many calories per kilogram bodyweight as an adult dog while they are growing.
Food for this age group should be higher in calories, protein and other key nutrients. Although many nutrients are needed in higher quantities, some nutrients may need to be adjusted in other ways.
For instance, large breed puppies are susceptible to bone problems if too many calories and calcium are given during this growth phase, so owners should always be aware of the risks of adding supplements to a carefully formulated puppy food. For a very young puppy the food needs to be easy to chew and eat.
The Kennel Club recommends feeding your puppy four meals a day up until the age of four months, and then reduce its feed to three meals a day until it is six months old, when you can change to two meals a day, and keep it on this regime for the rest of its life.
It is better not to leave food down (so throw away any uneaten food after 20 minutes) and not to give your puppy any variety, which could cause havoc with its digestion and toilet training regime. However, make sure that water is always available to your puppy, so never take its water bowl away.
Depending on the breed, a puppy may become an adult anywhere between 9 months and 24 months – large and giant breeds take longer to mature.
Puppies are typically weaned off their mother’s milk from around the age of 8 weeks. The goal of feeding growing puppies is to lay the foundations for healthy adulthood. Proper nutrition is required to achieve healthy growth, optimise immune function and minimise the potential for obesity and diseases. It’s important to note that a puppy’s nutritional needs are a lot different from an adult dog.
Some of the basic components necessary to the health and growth of a puppy are water, calories, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Water is the most vital nutrient for all mammals and makes up 75% of the body mass at birth. It has a major role in the functions of the body including the transportation and delivery of nutrients, regulation of body temperature and lubrication of joints, eyes and inner ear. If a puppy does not receive enough water then it will start to show signs of dehydration such as lethargy and dry skin.
One of the most important factors of a puppy’s diet is to ensure that there is a large number of calories that fits into a small stomach. It is advised that to feed puppies little of often which helps to fuel them until their next feeding.
Protein provides amino acids which are the building blocks to growth. Puppies require significantly more protein than adult dogs and this is particularly important during the rapid growth phase up to 14 weeks of age. An insufficient supply of protein can lead to poor growth and development.
This is an important source of energy for fuelling growth. It is estimated that fat has approximately twice as many calories per gram compared with protein or carbohydrates, making this an ideal component of a puppy recipe.
Puppies have specific vitamin and mineral requirements that differ from adult dogs. They require minerals that help develop healthy bones and teeth such as calcium and phosphorous, as well as zinc that play a role in skin health and protein metabolism. (from an article written by Matthew Aiken)