A puppy's diet to a large extent determines the course of its growth and can have an impact on its entire dog's life.
THE DIET IN THE FIRST FEW WEEKS
When a bitch has offspring, there is usually no need to worry about the puppy's diet for the first few weeks. An exception would be if the bitch does not produce enough milk or a puppy noticeably falls short. Usually everything works like clockwork and the puppies are suckled every few hours. Breast milk contains all of the nutrients that the little ones need in the first few weeks. But they grow quickly and after about four weeks you can see for the first time that one or the other puppy is using its mother's food bowl. Then the time has come to provide the puppies with their own bowl of puppy food.
SOLID FOOD FOR THE FIRST TIME
As soon as puppies show an interest in solid foods, they should be offered high quality puppy food. This is important for their growth process. They are now becoming more and more agile and, due to their strong growth, have an increased energy requirement. Their requirements for protein and minerals differ from those of an adult dog. A special puppy food provides young dogs with all the nutrients they need. In addition to the composition, it also depends on good tolerance, because it is not easy for the organism to switch from liquid to solid food. This happens more or less automatically between the 4th and 8th week. Because the bitch's milk production decreases more and more, so that the puppies have no other choice, than turning to the food bowl. Of course, every puppy should have its own bowl so that there is no scuffle about the food and it can be monitored how well and how much each dog is eating.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD PUPPIES BE FED?
Adult dogs are fed twice a day by most dog owners. That would be far too rare for a puppy due to its small stomach. In this case, the amount of food offered per feeding would be too large, so that there is a risk of vomiting. Puppies need four meals a day for the first few months of life. From the 5th month of life it can be reduced to three feedings, at the earliest at six to seven months to two. There is nothing wrong with sticking to three meals a day until the dog is fully grown. There are big differences in this regard: With small dogs this can be the case as early as 12 months, with medium to 14 months, and with very large dogs only with 24 months. Until then, you can feed your young dog some puppy food.
HOW MUCH FOOD DOES MY PUPPY NEED?
The right amount of food is extremely important when rearing a puppy in order to achieve optimal growth. An undersupply or oversupply of certain nutrients can quickly lead to growth damage. If puppies are fed too generously, you run the risk of growing too quickly and thus serious health problems for the growing dog. Bones, articular cartilage and muscles do not develop at the same rate in this case. Feeding should therefore strictly follow the feeding recommendations on the packaging of the puppy food. Calculate the daily ration and divide it by the number of feedings. Treats (with a certain amount) should be considered accordingly.
WET FOOD OR DRY FOOD?
You can feed your pup wet food as well as dry food. The choice of food type should depend on what food the puppy has previously received from the breeder or the previous owner. In the delicate initial phase - after the separation from his mother and siblings - there should not be a change of feed. Breeders usually inform future puppy owners exactly about their previous habits. If the feed does not suit you, wait at least 14 days before changing the feed and then change the feed gradually over a longer period of time. Mix a slightly larger amount of the new feed into the previous one every day until the change is complete after about 10 days. You should do the same when the time comes
PREPARE THE FOOD YOURSELF
Preparing food for a puppy yourself is not recommended. Because it turns out to be relatively difficult to meet the special needs of the growing dog with a self-prepared ration. Appropriate basic knowledge is necessary for this. However, if the feed is prepared yourself, the feed should be put together in consultation with an experienced veterinarian. It is much easier and safer to use high-quality puppy food that is precisely tailored to the needs of a young dog in the growth phase .