Feeding your Puppy
The First Week
Feeding: When, Where, How, How Much, How Often
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As soon as you bring your new puppy home, the first thoughts that will likely strike your mind are - What to feed, when, where, how and how much! The first thing to remember is that like a child your puppy is totally reliant on you for his food. He might love particular foods and abhor some, but he does not know what is good for him. It is up to you to ensure that he does not get too fat and that his calorie intake meets the amount of energy he expends or he will be too thin. A lean muscular dog is a joy to behold, and is the first step towards building a happy and healthy dog.


THE FIRST WEEK

It is a good idea to know what the pup was eating at the breeders, so you can continue on the same nutritional theme, at least for the first few days. Your puppy is already having a lot of adjusting to do, to its new home environment. The last thing needed is a simultaneous diet change. When you plan to change make a diet change, do it by gradually mixing the new food into the old food. Do this over at least a week's time until you are feeding all new food. This will help encourage your puppy to keep eating, minimize stress, and prevent stomach upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea. The best way during the first week is to feed little and more often.

FEEDING: WHEN, WHERE, HOW, HOW MUCH & HOW OFTEN

WHEN

  • Do not feed your puppy immediately before or after exercise. Always allow at least an hour to pass between feeding and exercising to prevent the risk of Bloat (a dangerous condition that swells and twists the stomach.)
  • Also, feed your puppy after you eat so your dog feels part of the 'pack' but knows you're the head of that pack.

WHERE

Where is not a difficult question - just find a quiet place where your puppy is undisturbed while eating. It is best to feed your puppy in a quiet place away from interruptions, perhaps the kitchen will be a good place to feed. Any other convenient place in your home like the living room is also fine to feed the puppy as long as he is allowed by other family members and children to eat uninterrupted. Place the bowl in a location (on tiles, a washable mat, etc) where it can be cleaned easily in case of spillage.

Stay with your puppy during his meal and talk to him, occasionally bend down and stroke him.  He should become accustomed to being approached while he has food.  This will put you in control, and ensure that he will always allow you near him when he has food. 

If you have other dogs in the household feed them separately to avoid bullying, stealing of food and fights.

HOW TO FEED

Food served at room temperature will build the puppy's appetite, given the aroma of the food. Four parts of dry kibble can be mixed with one part of warm water to make it more palatable. Canned food should be taken out from the first a couple of hours before and micro-waved or heated to room temperature.

HOW MUCH?

A puppy will eat everything put in front of it - so that 'How Much' to be determined by you. Otherwise, very soon you will have an obese puppy on your hands. The amount of food offered to a puppy will vary depending upon its size, activity, metabolism, and environment.

In case you are feeding a brand of dry food, the manufacturer's label instructions can be your first guide. If the pup woofs his food down within 2 or 3 minutes, his meal size may need to be increased. If there is still food left in the bowl after 15 or 20 minutes, the meal size should probably be reduced.

Another way is to observe the puppy. If he is gaining excess weight, then cut down his intake of food, if he looks a little on the thinner side increase his food by 25% volume. Just like with people, caloric requirements for one puppy may not be the same as for another with the same body weight. The ultimate gauge as to whether you're feeding too much or too little is the pup's size and condition. A normal pup should have a waist that is evident particularly when the pup is viewed directly from above.

Do not be tempted to over feed your puppy to make them grow more quickly - this could lead to painful bone problems in the future.

HOW OFTEN

Feeding frequency depends on your puppy's age:

Two months to three months:     4 meals a day 
Three months to six months:      3 meals a day 
Over six months:                       2 meals a day

The best guide as to when to cut out a meal is your puppy, he will reach a point where one meal is being eaten less enthusiastically.  The best meal to cut out initially is a mid day one.  Avoid the temptation to cut out the night meal. 

DO YOU NEED A SUPPLEMENT?

Another thing new puppy owners are tempted to do is give additional vitamin, calcium and mineral supplements. If you are feeding proper puppy food that is complete and balanced, additional vitamins and minerals are not only unnecessary but could also be harmful under some circumstances. Discuss with your vet, and only work on his or her advice when it comes to giving your puppy supplements. Follow their instructions to the 'T'.

ESSENTIALS FOR GOOD HEALTH

Water - this is the most important nutrient and is responsible for regulating body temperature, transporting other nutrients, removing waste in the form of urine and helping with chemical reactions and digestion. 
Protein - these are the building blocks of the body that create and repair muscle, skin and hair. 
Fats and oils - these are an excellent source of energy and they also improve the palatability and digestibility of your dog's food, as well as ensuring your dog has a healthy skin and glossy coat. 
Carbohydrates - these are a good source of slow-releasing energy. Dogs can survive without carbohydrates. 
Minerals - these are important in the functioning of balancing body fluids, metabolic processes and the structure of bones and teeth. It is essential that these are balanced as too much of one can lead to deficiencies in another. 
Vitamins - these are components or catalysts for body enzyme reactions. An excess of vitamins can be harmful and a deficiency can lead to health problems.

FEEDING TIPS

  • Feed your puppy the same kind of food every day. Unlike humans, a dog's digestive system cannot handle changes in food. It can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Also eating the same food everyday will make less of a finicky eater.
  • When switching to a new food, gradually transition him to the new food by mixing portions of both foods until you slowly phase the old food out. Your puppy may experience diarrhea if his food is suddenly changed.
  • Feed your puppy at the same time every day. Feeding at the same time will keep your dog on a bathroom schedule.
  • Don't over feed your puppy.
  • Always have fresh drinking water available.
  • Keep food and water bowls clean.
  • Follow the guidelines on the puppy food package for recommended feeding amounts. Monitor your puppy's weight and activity level, and make feeding adjustments as necessary.
  • Don't be alarmed if your puppy's appetite changes. It is normal for your puppy to lose his appetite or experience digestive upset occasionally. If your puppy's upset stomach becomes severe or last longer than a day or two, contact your veterinarian.
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