Feeding Your Puppy in Their First Year


Good nutrition is essential for all dogs, but it’s especially important for growing puppies. The first year is critical to your puppy’s development. During this time, your puppy needs the best possible nutrition to strengthen his bones and teeth, ensure proper development of his body functions, and provide him with clear eyes and a thick, lustrous haircoat.

What to Feed Your Puppy

Not sure how to feed a puppy? Here are some of the most important things to consider when you’re choosing a puppy food.

Think about your puppy’s breed and size.

Your puppy’s size can have a big effect on his growth and nutritional needs. When you’re feeding a puppy, consider a food formulated specifically for his size. If you have a small or toy breed puppy, look for a food with easy-to-chew, bite-sized kibble. If you have a large or giant breed puppy, consider a formula made with natural sources of glucosamine to support developing joints.

Look for essential nutrients your puppy needs.

Because your puppy is growing so fast, he has different nutritional needs than an adult dog, so his food should have everything he needs to promote healthy growth, like:

High-quality protein to support growing muscles

Minerals like calcium and phosphorus to support growing bones and teeth

A healthy level of fat to support growth and energy

Antioxidants to support your puppy’s developing immune system

DHA, an omega fatty acid found in mother’s milk, to support brain and vision development

How Much to Feed Your Puppy

At certain times during the first year of your puppy’s growth and development, your puppy will require up to twice the amount of most nutrients needed by an adult dog (per pound of body weight).

At six to eight weeks of age, he requires as much as three times the adult caloric requirement per pound of body weight. This amount declines to twice the adult caloric requirement by the time the puppy is 16 weeks old. The rate at which the caloric requirements of puppies decrease to adult levels depends on the breed.

How to Feed Your Puppy

Transitioning your puppy to a new food.

The stress your puppy experiences by entering a new home can often lead to digestive problems. If you change your puppy’s food when you bring him home, or at any other time, be sure to do so gradually over a 7 to 10 day period. This will help alleviate an upset digestive system. Learn more about how to transition your dog to a new food.

Set up a place to feed your puppy.

Make sure to place your puppy’s food and water bowls in a quiet, clean place that he can easily reach. Find a place that’s out of the way, so he won’t get distracted, and feed him away from places with human food like the stove, the refrigerator, or the dining table.

Establish a regular feeding routine.

Feeding your puppy the same amount of food at the same time every day can help keep his digestive system regular — and it’ll also help make house-training easier.

Don’t overfeed your puppy.

When you’re feeding a puppy, it’s extremely important to not over feed and to keep him at a healthy weight. Our research has shown that keeping your puppy at his ideal body condition can encourage proper growth and help prevent future health problems related to obesity. To maintain his ideal body condition, monitor your puppy’s weight and adjust his food intake as necessary.

Most puppies reach adulthood in just one year, but large or giant breeds can take up to two years to reach maturity, which means that different dogs will need to switch to adult foods at different times.

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