About feeding a puppy
Your puppy needs nutrition of the highest quality that will favor its development.
Breast milk is the first ideal food for your puppy because it’s rich in all the nutrients that are necessary for it to grow up healthy and strong. Although puppies are ready to be weaned at between six and eight weeks of age, most begin to show interest in solid foods at three or four weeks old.
This is the best moment to start feeding it with puppy formula. If you choose dry food, add water and crush it to make a porridge. As the puppy grows, add less water progressively. Avoid the temptation of weaning too soon, since switching to an exclusively solid diet too soon may harm your puppy’s immature digestive system.
HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD FEED YOUR PUPPY
Very often, puppies eyes are bigger than their stomachs! To maintain an adequate balance between what it needs and overfeeding it, give it small amounts of food frequently. This will depend on its age, size and vet recommendations. Start with a spoonful of food five times a day while your puppy is still being nursed, and follow these general guidelines:
- From introducing solid food until fully weaned (normally two months): 4-6 meals a day.
- From two to three months: 4 meals a day.
- From four to six months: 2-3 meals a day.
- After six months: 2 meals a day (depending on the breed).
Do not overfeed your puppy, because too much food can harm its digestive system or place unnecessary pressure on its skeleton if it gains too much weight in a short period of time. Neither of these are good for your puppy's health, so be careful when planning its meals.
Always read the package’s consumption guidelines as they offer a good starting point. The exact amount of food you feed your puppy may vary depending on its age, breed, state of health and energy level: the most playful puppies burn more energy, so they need more fuel!
Weighing your puppy periodically will allow you to be sure that it has the appropriate weight for its age, size and breed. You can do this at home, but if you're not sure how, ask your vet to teach you or to do it for you during a checkup.
FOOD AND EXERCISE
Avoid feeding your puppy immediately before or after exercising: allow at least an hour between food and exercise. A good idea is to make your puppy used to resting for a while after eating to avoid the risk of digestive discomfort or more serious disorders, especially in large and giant breeds, whose stomachs can flip over. This phenomenon is known as "Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus" and constitutes a medical emergency that requires urgent veterinary attention.
WHERE TO FEED YOUR PUPPY
Feed your puppy in a quiet place away from the household hustle and bustle, where it can eat quietly without being interrupted. Choose an easy-to-clean surface, such as a ceramic floor, and always serve your puppy's food in a clean bowl.
Keep children away from your puppy while it’s eating to prevent it from devouring its food or becoming protective over it. If you have other dogs at home, feed them at the same time but somewhere else, to avoid fights and prevent them from stealing each other’s food.
HOW TO FEED YOUR PUPPY
Knowing how to feed your dog is just as important as knowing what to feed it.
In the case of wet food, it’s best to serve it at room temperature, since it smells better and is easier to digest. If you keep the food in the fridge, remember to take it out an hour before serving it. You can warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds, but make sure it’s not hot.
While wet foods spoil quickly once the container has been opened, dry food stays in good condition throughout the day and does not spoil. Most puppies like the crunchiness of dry food, but if yours prefers it moist, or if there is some medical reason preventing it from eating dry food, leave its food in a bowl with water for a maximum of 30 minutes before serving it.
YOUR PUPPY’S DEVELOPMENT
As your puppy grows, so will its appetite. To provide it with the additional energy needed to grow quickly and build up its muscle mass, you will have to increase its rations.
Depending on your dog’s breed, a six-month-old puppy may need twice as many calories a day as a two year old dog. As a general rule, start increasing the size of its meals from six to twelve months of age in small dogs, after which you can switch to adult food. When dealing with large breeds, you should start increasing the size of their portions at six months and then reduce it again at 12 months (after its growth has peaked). With larger breeds you should start feeding it adult formula later, at around 18 to 24 months.
WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT GIVE TO YOUR PUPPY
The expression "puppy dog eyes" exists for a reason: your dog knows exactly how to convince you into giving it what it wants! Your puppy must stick to a healthy and balanced diet, and you must avoid feeding it with leftovers. You can however, give it snacks specially formulated for dogs. Snacks shouldn’t take up more than 10% of your dog’s total caloric intake, since you run the risk of upsetting the nutritional value of its pet food formula. Also, keep in mind that there are some foods that you should stay away from:
Never feed your puppy raw meat. Never give your dog chocolate, as it is toxic. Onions and grapes/raisins can also be very toxic to dogs.
SWITCHING FROM PUPPY FOOD
Switching to an adult dog formula
Even though your dog may appear to be totally adult (between six and eight months in case of small breeds and around 24 months in giant dog breeds), they are still puppies on the inside, so try not to feed them adult formulas too soon.
Most dogs will still need the extra calories and nutrients provided by puppy food up to 12-24 months of age (or even more in the case of large or giant dogs). Only then will they be ready to move on to an adult formula. If you are not sure at what age to switch your puppy’s diet, consult your vet.
SWITCHING YOUR DOG’S FOOD
Your puppy's stomach is very sensitive, and can easily be altered if you change its food suddenly, whether from wet to dry food, a change of brand, or from a puppy formula to one for adults.
If you have just brought it home for the first time, it’s a good idea to continue feeding it whichever formula is recommended by the breeder or the reception center, unless there is a particular reason not to do so.
If it is necessary to modify your dog’s diet, you must give the digestive system time to adapt. Over a period of 7-10 days, gradually increase the amount of new food, while reducing that of its previous food, until the latter has been completely substituted.
If you switch from wet to dry food, your puppy may take some time getting used to it.
It will have to chew more, and it will take longer for it to eat, as well as needing more water. If you switch from dry to wet food, your puppy may drink less water and feel somewhat surprised at the absence of crunchiness.
Remember that a serving of dry food may seem smaller than one of canned food. This is because dry foods tend to have a higher caloric content, so that your dog can get the same amount of energy from a smaller portion of dry food than wet food.
If you follow our recommendations on how to feed your dog, you will have a healthy and happy puppy with lots of energy for play with.
Learn more about PURINA® Dog Food
INTRODUCING SOLID FOOD INTO YOUR PUPPY’S DIET
Puppies want to get to know the world around them and need a lot of energy to explore it. When it comes to feeding a puppy, industrial puppy food is designed to provide it with a fully balanced combination of the nutrients it needs. Puppy food formulas contain more calories per serving, so they provide that extra energy boost needed for the development of their bodies and brains without overloading their delicate little stomachs.
High quality formulas for puppies contain a large amount of easily digestible proteins in order to promote healthy tissues and organ development, and higher levels of essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and iron, as well as vitamin D to help their bones and teeth grow strong. Therefore, unless your vet recommends otherwise, it’s not necessary to give your dog any supplements if you are feeding it with a complete puppy food formula.
Furthermore, puppies have smaller mouths than adult dogs, so the smaller sized kibble facilitates chewing and releasing all those essential nutrients. Puppies love the crunchiness of these formulas, which help keep their teeth strong, clean and healthy.
When you have found a puppy food that both you and your dog are satisfied with, it’s best not to change it. Puppies can suffer from digestive discomfort if their diet is modified; which is why, unless there is a problem with its current diet or your vet recommends you to change it, it’s better to stick to the same food brand.