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Feeding Your Puppy

by puppy on October 15, 2010

When it is time to select a food for your puppy, choose one that is specifically formulated for young dogs. Puppy food has more calories per cup than adult food because pups need a lot of energy to grow, but only have a small stomach.

It doesn’t matter whether you choose a dry food or a canned food for your puppy. Canned or moist foods are often more palatable, and are a good way to start if your pup is a bit fussy. Canned foods contain over 75% water while dry biscuits and kibble have very little water in them. To effectively compare the amount of each nutrient in each food irrespective of water content, the nutrients are listed as a percentage of the food’s dry matter.

The ingredients in a dog food are listed on the packet in order from highest to lowest amounts. If the packet lists grains and cereals first, it indicates that this food contains more grains than meat proteins. Price can also give you an idea of food quality. Grains are cheaper than meat, which means it’s safe to assume that cheaper puppy foods have higher cereal content than meat content. Foods that contain predominantly cereals may cause a dry coat and loose stools.

When it comes to expensive foods that have meat products at the top of their ingredient list, there are still differences between meat and meat by products . Meat is lean muscle from livestock including poultry, large ruminants like cattle, sheep and goats and in some countries, horses and kangaroo. Meat by-products include liver, kidney and bone. These ingredients are cheaper than lean muscle meat but they are still beneficial to your pup.

Puppy foods also have a specific balance of calcium and phosphorus to make sure your pup’s bones develop properly. Growing bones need calcium, but too much of this mineral is as harmful as too little. Too much dietary calcium has been associated with serious orthopedic conditions such as osteochondrosis dissecans. If you are feeding your pup a good quality puppy food, don’t add any calcium supplements.

You may prefer to cook your puppy’s food yourself and that too is fine providing you make sure you meet all his nutritional requirements. This can be tricky, so make sure you ask your veterinarian for advice. There are several online services that will formulate a home made diet for your pup that is balanced and contains all the nutrients your growing dog needs.

Most dogs enjoy some table scraps, and it’s fine to give your pup leftovers, with a few notable exceptions. Never give your dog cooked bones, or anything of a size that may get stuck in their intestines, such as corn cobs. If you are in any doubt whether a particular leftover is safe for your four legged family member, err on the side of caution and put it in the trash.

Dogs have always enjoyed chewing on bones, and this is particularly the case when a pup is teething. However, veterinary dentists don’t recommend feeding pups any bones at all because of the risks to their teeth and gastrointestinal tract. There are safer alternatives, such as rawhide chews, that will allow your pup to chew safely.

For more information on feeding your puppy visit: ASPCA.

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