What To Feed Your Puppy?
We all adore puppies. They’re small, cute, furry and so much fun to play with. But they are also at their most vulnerable, fragile state for the first few months. Caring for a puppy so young requires an immense amount of patience, love, and nurturing. This may seem intimidating at times but have no fear as this article takes you through some of the ways to identify the approximate age of a puppy and what to feed them as they grow!
The easiest ways to identify the age of a puppy are to observe their teeth and behavior.
At the 2-week mark, your furry babies should be incredibly tiny and most likely haven’t opened their eyes and seen the world just yet. It’s normal for them to want to sleep and not move around too much. A strong attachment towards their mother will be present as they will be entirely dependent on her who in turn will be dependent on you!
3 to 4 weeks in and their eyes have finally opened and encouraged a newfound curiosity. This will cause your puppies to start to move around slowly and hesitantly. They are likely to tire quickly and sleep a lot due to their lack of energy. Here you will notice that their playful nibbling will begin to sting as they develop very sharp canines. Two on their upper jaw and two on their lower jaw.
Between 4 to 5 weeks, more teeth will grow into your puppies’ mouth. The incisors on the upper jaw will emerge between the two canines first and later by 6 weeks, the same should be seen on their lower jaw. To help them transition from weaning to solid food, their premolars will erupt on either side of the canines on both the upper and lower jaws. Touching 8 weeks, the growth of their baby teeth should be complete. The head and jaw of your pup will grow. Its teeth may have spaces and be visibly too small for its face. Getting strong toys and chew sticks is a very good idea as chewing and playing with drastically increase. Don’t worry if your pupper is restless and whines as his teeth grow, however, if this persists, the dreaded vet visit is due.
In the case of male dogs, at 7 weeks, your puppy’s genitals will develop and will become more prominent.
From 8 weeks to 16 weeks, your puppy will have a dramatic growth spurt and will no longer look like the tiny, fragile being it did merely 5 weeks ago. Strong changes will take place in your pup up until the 12-month mark. Their baby teeth will all fall out within 5 months and adult teeth will replace them by 8 to 12 months. The older your puppy grows the further back in their mouth will be the transition from milk teeth to adult teeth be seen. Most puppies will reach their full size but larger breeds may continue to slowly grow for the next 2 years.
Just like us, humans go through an adolescence period, so do our beloved pooches. Between 6 to 12 months, the rebellious nature of your pupper will make a grand entrance. They will want to explore and test their boundaries as much as possible. It’s very likely for them to entirely ignore you and all their previously learned behavior. Their curiosity is not backed up with immense energy that needs to let out! This angst fill behavior does calm down pretty fast but their puppy-like qualities are retained for up to 2 years.
Female puppies will experience their first heat at any point between 6 and 24 months. Some early signs to look out for include her being nervous, very alert, and easily distracted. She may also have a swollen vulva with blood-tinged or straw-colored vaginal discharge.
(We strongly encourage you to spay/neuter your pups to prevent chances of infections and ensure the well-being of your pooch!)
As your pup grows older, watch out for a change in the texture of their coat. Puppies generally have a very soft, smooth coat whereas adults have thicker, denser coats.
Now that we know how to identify the age of a puppy, let’s take a look at what we should feed them.
Puppies require very nutrient-rich foods as they grow very fast and need this process to be started off the right way to ensure they grow to be big and healthy. The nutrients from the food they consume will provide energy for them to play with you all day and learn new tricks.
At 6 weeks, your puppy will be weaned off milk and transition to eating solid food. In order to make this easier for them, it would be a good idea to moisten dry food with warm water or milk until it has a spongy consistency. During this period, the nutrient needs of your pup will vary constantly and a vet visit is suggested to get a customized meal plan for your fur baby’s specific needs.
How often should I feed my pup?
When weaning, if you are bottle-feeding your pup, ensure that they are fed every few hours for the first few weeks. Gradually reduce the frequency of the feeding to three times a day for the next 4 to 6 months. After this, feeding your pet twice a day is ideal and makes sure their nutrient needs are being taken care of without being overfed.
How much should I feed my pup?
The calories that your pup consumed should be appropriate for its growth. These are usually twice as many calories required by an adult dog because puppies grow the fastest in the first 5 months. There are many feeding charts available on the amount of food to be given to you pupper based on its age and weight. With their rapid growth, their nutrition plans may have to be altered very frequently, sometimes even every week. After the first 8 to 10 weeks, your puppy’s ribs should be visible with no fat felt when you touch the rib area. Their backbones should be visible along with a visible waist and an abdominal tuck from the sides. At 5 months, your pup will be looking lean and healthy!
Large dogs do not require more food, they simply require different nutrients. Overfeeding them increases their chances of getting ailments like hip dysplasia and skeletal and joint problems like arthritis. Their food is usually lower in calcium and phosphorus with an increase in fiber to fill up their tummies.
How many treats should I give my pup?
Treats should be given only to prove 5% or less of their total calorie intake. These treats contain very few nutrients and fill up your puppies resulting in improper meal requirements being fulfilled. It is best if pets are trained against begging for table scraps as their consumption may lead to digestive problems and pancreatitis.
When should I make the change from puppy food to dog food?
Once your puppy has reached 90% of their adult dog weight is a good time to make this change. For small dogs, the time taken for this to happen in 9 to 12 months, and for bigger dogs, 12 to 18 months.
There are three main types of dog foods: Canned, Semi-moist, and Kibble. Canned foods are usually the most expensive and sometimes focus on all meat programs that do not provide your pet with sufficient nutrients but are adored by dogs. Semi-moist food is contained in single-serve packages. Kibble is the most economically friendly and dog-friendly option available. It provides your pet with a balanced diet and can be fed to them directly. Home-made alternatives to these include boiled chicken and lamb without salt or any spices and vegetables like cooked pumpkin or carrots. Fish can be given to your pooches to but only occasionally.
Some dangerous foods for dogs and pups that must be avoided are:
Raw bread dough with yeast
Milk and large amounts of dairy
Coffee and caffeine
Salty foods like potato chips
Xylitol (artificial sweetener)
In return for all the love our furry friends give us, ensuring their health through the food we give them is an easy task. This article does not only apply to our pets who live with us at homes but also to our beloved strays who live out on the streets. A single nutritious meal is enough to get them through the day and provide them the energy to exercise and play. We hope this article provides you with a better insight into taking care of adorably tiny puppies to make sure they grow into big healthy dogs!