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Feeding a puppy

We all know that puppies are not just small dogs and they have different dietary requirements. A puppy’s diet should be tailored to help with growth and development to help build strong bones, teeth and muscles for a life of exercise and fun. You should only feed a puppy diet which is described as ‘complete’ meaning that it contains all the vital nutrients your puppy needs. Find out what our vet says is this article.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet


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First diet change - weaning a puppy

Puppies begin life taking nutrition from their mother’s milk, the first challenge is to wean them onto solid food. This should be done at the correct age. When you are buying a puppy, please be aware that they should leave the mother no sooner than 8 weeks of age. Further information on weaning can be found here.

Breed and size of puppy

Puppy food should be fed from the weaning to between nine months to two years old, depending on the breed and size of the dog. All puppies grow at an individual rate and different breeds will have differing nutritional requirements, think of a Chihuahua compared to a Bernese Mountain dog for example! As a general rule, small dogs reach their adult weight more quickly and large to giant breed dogs are the slowest to finish their growth with our medium breeds somewhere in between.

How much to feed a puppy?

Large breed dogs are susceptible to overfeeding stress. By feeding too many calories the pet can grow too quickly and this can lead to problems, particularly with the musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones). Choosing an appropriate food for a large or giant breed, feeding a complete diet at the recommended amounts should ensure that there are no problems. On the other hand, small breed dogs need good quality protein and a higher calorie food to meet their high growth rates, again a complete diet targeted at small breeds can help to meet their needs.

When to feed a puppy?

Puppies need to eat large amounts of food for their size in order to grow. Feeding little and often can help maintain a healthy digestive system during this time. Puppies should eat at least four times a day until they are four months old and then at least three times a day to the age of six months.

When to move a puppy to adult food?

As your puppy reaches adulthood, a change in feeding is required. Adult food should be introduced when the puppy weighs 90% of the expected adult weight. Weighing your pup regularly can help to chart growth, remember to keep a record of the date of weighing too. Transition between diets slowly. Learning to body condition score your dog as they become an adult can be really useful to help guide future feeding. More information on body condition scores can be found here. It is very important to re-evaluate your dog’s nutrition and body weight after neutering as this changes your pet’s metabolism. It is also recommended that if your dog is a working or high performing breed such as an agility competitor that you may choose a specific working dog recipe.

When to see a vet?

+ Vomiting
+ Diarrhoea
+ Not gaining weight

Still have questions?

If you would like more advice on feeding your puppy or dog, please book an online video appointment to have a chat with one of our FirstVet nutrition vets.

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