What do I feed my new puppy?
This is a common question that many new dog owners have when they finally have the new puppy or adult dog that they have been waiting for. Hopefully you have asked this question in advance of actually picking up your new puppy or dog and have their food ready at home before you collect him or if you buy your puppy from a business, then it is important that you buy some food from them before he gets home.
Initially your new puppy should stay on the same diet that he or she is already eating. This is important for two main reasons. The first is that your puppy has become accustomed to his diet and his sensitive digestive system is obviously able to process and handle the diet that he is on. This means that not only does he accept the food when given to him and that he finds it palatable, but also it most likely does not upset his tummy. The second important reason to keep him on the same diet initially is that as he will also be used to eating this diet, he sees this diet as a familiar part of his day and life. This is important as your puppy coming into your home is a massive change to his so far short life and having familiar things around him will help him adjust to this change quicker and with less stress. A familiar diet is one of the best ways to reduce the enormity of this change to his life as the tastes and smells of his usual diet that he gets multiple times a day help to let him know that not everything has changed.
Always make sure that your puppy or dog has access to clean fresh water that is in a bowl that he cannot tip over.
Ask the previous owner what they have been feeding him before you pick him up in order to make sure you have the exact food waiting for him at home when he gets there. This is particularly important if you are picking him up at an odd hour of the day or night when many shops may be closed. Be sure to ask for the exact brand and variety of any commercial food he is eating but also how many times per day he is fed and what size portions he should eat. This will differ depending on his size and age as a Cavoodle or Beaglier puppy will eat considerably less than a Groodle puppy of the same age. If you are picking your puppy up at 8 weeks old then he is probably eating about 3 times a day but if you are bringing home an older puppy of about 6 months old, then he probably eating twice per day. Even if your puppy is 8 weeks old when you bring him home, he can probably eat only twice a day from the start if there is no one at home to feed him his midday meal. Just don’t feed him only once per day when he is 8 weeks old as your puppy has a small stomach at this age that is suited to multiple small meals rather than one large meal per day.
For the first 2 weeks or so it is important to keep his food the same as what he has been eating for the reasons outlined above, but then you can gradually change his food to a diet that you would prefer to feed him. You may want to change his diet from reasons such as the diet he was previously on was made up of cooked food that took a long time to prepare and you would like to feed him a commercial puppy food or vice versa. It may be that you or your vet feels that his previous diet was of low quality food and you wish to feed him a more nutritious diet. Whatever the reason, just remember to make this change gradually so not to upset his tummy with a sudden diet change.
If you do feed your puppy a commercial dry food ( it’s generally recommended that commercial wet/canned food be avoided for its low nutritional content and often leading to soft and extremely odorous stools), always opt for the highest quality you can afford. Generally with the better quality dry foods, they will have a higher protein content to ensure that more of your puppy’s calorie intake comes from protein rather than carbohydrate. Your puppy will need to eat less of it as the higher quality foods will also contain less filler in the form of corn or wheat that just passes through your dog without being utilized by the body, again meaning less mess to clean up after your dog. A good balance is to base your puppy’s diet on a premium quality puppy dry food with some human grade raw beef mince. If you are feeding your puppy a premium quality puppy dry food then there is no need to add any vitamin or mineral supplements to your puppy’s food unless directed by your veterinarian.
Raw large beef or lamb bones should be given to puppies when they reach 12 weeks of age as this is the time that they are starting to go through teething and just like human babies they enjoy chewing on things during this period. Always make sure that the bones you offer are raw and are large and chunky so there is no way your puppy could swallow them. Also offering raw meaty bones that keep your puppy interested in chewing will keep their teeth and gums healthy as well as providing a favourite new activity for your puppy to alleviate boredom. Just don’t feed bones everyday as this can lead to constipation and avoid feeding your dog or puppy bones if they show any signs of constipation. Puppies over the age of 12 weeks can also be slowly introduced to some cooked vegetables such as pumpkin and carrots, but just introduce vegetables into your puppies diet a little at a time.
Foods not to feed to your puppy or dog
Foods to never feed your puppy or dog are chocolate, coffee or caffeine products, onions, peanuts (avoid all nuts), and small bones such as chicken or fish bones which may get lodged in you puppy or dog’s digestive tract. Foods that should be avoided include bread dough, avocado, grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants, fruit pits such as mango seeds, apricot stones, avocado stones as well as fruit seeds, corncobs; green unripe tomatoes and raw mushrooms. There is some debate as to whether dogs should be fed garlic so if you do feed your dog garlic, then wait until they are at least 6 months old and start by feeding small cooked amounts. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian before feeding any foods other than commercial dry puppy food.
Always remember to feed your dog or puppy at least an hour (or preferably two) after exercise to reduce the risk of bloat. Breaking your dog or puppy’s food into multiple meals will also help to reduce the chances of bloat as it will reduce the likelihood of overfeeding at one meal time which is a contributing factor of bloat in dogs.