Feeding Your Puppy

Once your puppy is home and settled, choosing the right food for them is the first important step to prepare for your puppy. Initially you should always keep your puppy’s diet the same to ensure any upset stomach isn’t due to a change of food. In this article we’ll provide you with information on the best foods available for your puppy, as well as hydration and treats.

This includes:

  • Food and Feeding
  • Introducing Treats
  • Hydration

    Food and Feeding

    There are many different types of commercially available food for puppies and choosing the right one for your puppy can be confusing. We always recommend starting off feeding your puppy the food that they’re used to when they come home to ensure that while they’re settling in, their diet stays consistent. This can help to prevent stomach upsets. From there, we suggest feeding a Superior Nutrition puppy food in kibble form. These diets are made from high-quality ingredients and offer an excellent diet perfect for puppies. They are high in protein and nutrients that are vital for a growing puppy to thrive, and they also help boost your puppy’s immune system. Some contain extra fatty acids (such as DHA) to aid brain development – to ensure your puppy gets the best start it can.

    There are three different levels of food available for pets - Standard Nutrition (basic), Essential Nutrition (better) and Superior Nutrition (best). The higher the quality the food, the more nutritional value it will have for your puppy. All three options provide complete and balanced nutrition, meets AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards and meets the basic nutritional requirement for pets. However, Superior Nutrition is much more than just this.

    Superior Nutrition represents the best possible diet for your pet. Superior Nutrition for pets is a growing field that has millions of dollars invested in order to ensure the food produced is the best it can be for our pets. Through research and innovation, alongside veterinary and nutritional experts, Superior Nutrition contains top quality ingredients (with high quality control standards), extra vitamins and minerals and heightened palatability. This comes together to produce tailored nutrition for different age groups (puppy or kitten, adult, senior), breeds (e.g. Pug, German Shepherd, British Shorthair, Maine Coon) and for any health concerns (e.g. skin health, stomach health), all with the additional benefit of being readily digestible, with added gut, skin, coat and dental health support.

    Superior Nutrition is the right food to choose to see your pet thrive and flourish on the food they are being fed. At Animates the range of Superior Nutrition diets available are: Royal Canin, Hill's Science Diet, Eukanuba, Nutrience (excl Original), Nutro, Wellness, Holistic Select, Black Hawk Grain-Free, Ziwipeak and K9 Natural Freeze-Dried.

    When choosing your puppy’s food, ensure you pick the one that’s right for the size your puppy will be as an adult - toy, small, medium, large, and in some cases, giant breed. Each size has different age and/or breed requirements, which is why a Miniature Poodle has different nutritional requirements than a Labrador. If you’re unsure as to which food you need for your puppy, pop into your local Animates or Animates Vetcare and chat to a friendly team member about your pup.

    Transitioning your puppy to their new food should be done over 7 days to ensure they do not get an upset stomach. For the first two days of the transition period, feed 75% old diet and 25% new diet. If your pet is fed multiple times a day, ensure this split occurs at each meal. For day’s three to four, split the diets 50:50 – 50% old food and 50% new food. If at any time during the transition your pet begins to have a loose bowel movement, stop the transition and take a step back. This means if on day four of the transition, your pet begins to experience runny stools, go back to the previous step of the transition where for example your pet would then be back on 75% old food and 25% new food.This process doesn’t need to be finished within seven days if your pet’s stomach gets upset – take your time and work to what they can handle. If after day four, your pet is looking good, eating the food willingly and has normal stools, then for days five and six feed 25% old food and 75% new food. Then finally, on day seven, feed 100% new food.

    Your pet is now fully transitioned onto their new diet. After feeding the new food for 6 – 8 weeks, you should start to notice improvement in their overall health, with a shiny coat and even changes with their stools becoming smaller and less smelly.

    For optimal nutrition, feeding your puppy a wet food alongside dry food has multiple health benefits. Introducing a wet meal into your pet’s diet can be a great way to provide stimulation and excitement for your pet, through a variety of flavours and textures, as well as being highly digestible. Having a wet diet additional to their normal kibble will not only invigorate your pet’s desire to eat their food, but it also comes with added benefits.

    A wet meal is a great way to add essential hydration to your pet’s daily intake, where some pets may struggle to get enough water day-to-day, particularly in summer or in pet’s that are prone to urinary tract infections (cats and senior pets). The high meat content of wet diets, also means that they’re highly palatable – so if your pet is struggling to eat their dry diet, offer some wet food along with their dry kibble to encourage their eating.

    We recommend a mixed diet, rather than a solely wet diet, as kibble provides dental benefits, a compact nutritional form and additional texture and flavour variety. Most Superior Nutrition brands have a complementary wet diet to match their kibble. Where possible feed this to match their diet, as often the two are designed to be compatible. Remember, if you do supplement your puppy’s kibble with wet food, take this into consideration with regards to their daily nutritional requirements; feeding too much can quickly lead to weight gain in a young pup and should be avoided.

    Follow the feeding guides on the packet of food for your pup, or the advice of that of your Veterinarian. These are fully formulated diets, so you do not need to add anything – extra calcium, for example, dairy products should be avoided as this is additional to their daily requirements when feeding a complete diet. This means that your puppy does not require milk (pet or otherwise) in their diet.

    Split your puppy’s meals between three to five feeds a day, depending on their breed, age and size. Most puppies work well with timed feeding schedules - putting their food down for them at set times of day (typically morning, lunch and dinner), with the bowl being removed after 10 minutes if they don’t eat it. This trains your puppy to eat within this time frame so there will not be wasted food. While this works for most dogs, others, most commonly small breeds, may need to be offered food more regularly as young pups, to ensure they have their daily caloric intake met and to avoid puppy low-blood sugar, which can be dangerous. While it may seem like your puppy is bored with their food, it’s important not to change their diet unless it is extremely necessary. Changing a puppy’s diet too frequently can lead to a dietary imbalance as they won’t be reaping the benefits from any Superior Nutrition food due to a dietary inconsistency. If you do think your puppy is bored, try offering a small amount of wet food alongside their kibble, warming the food up or offering it to them in an interactive feeder – which should help to increase the palatability of their current diet, without the need to change to a different food.

    Remember, if you do supplement your puppy’s kibble with wet food, take this into consideration with regards to their daily nutritional requirements; feeding too much can quickly lead to weight gain in a young pup and should be avoided.When giving your puppy a bowl of food, practicing good manners from a young age is important. Ask your puppy to sit first and take this opportunity to reinforce the positive behaviour using their kibble as a reward. After you have given your puppy their food, begin training to encourage good behaviour around food. Make sure practice swapping treats for a toy, then give it back to practice exchanging high value items.

    Things to consider:

  • What food was your puppy being fed before you got them?
  • What food do you want to feed your puppy?
  • Do you want to feed your puppy wet food as well as kibble?
  • Have you talked to your vet about how much to feed and how often you need to feed your puppy?
  • Are you ready to train your puppy with appropriate manners around food and treats?
  • Remember, don’t change their food very often – try introducing flavour stimulants before rushing to change their diet!

    Introducing Treats

    Feeding your puppy treats is going to help significantly with training, but deciding which treats are right for your puppy can almost be as daunting as deciding which food is right!

    First, you need to pick what the treat is for. Is it for training? For teething or dental benefits? For your puppy to eat as a boredom buster while you are watching TV? Or a general treat? There are many different treats available depending on what your preferred use is, so ensure you have a clear idea of what sort of treat you are looking for. It is also important to note that you shouldn’t use a treat every time you praise your puppy, your can use your voice alone to praise your puppy too.

    Training treats need to be high-reward and small. High-reward treats are those that they are limited to only for training and are typically of a novel protein source (one they don’t eat day-to-day, e.g. venison or duck) or high in fat if needed to be extra palatable. They also need to be small, so your puppy can eat the treat and be ready to keep going with their training in no time.

    Teething and dental treats are designed specifically to be good for your growing puppy’s gums and teeth – ensuring they clean and help with dental defence in the process. While chew treats, such as pig’s ears, can be great distractions for your puppy always ensure your pup only has these while they are supervised.

    There are also other things to consider when purchasing treats for your puppy, including what the treats are made from. There are grain-free treats, dried meat treats, biscuit treats and a variety of other treats available. Some have higher palatability and are well suited to fussier pups, while others are a great treat for bigger dogs. We recommend trying a variety of treats to find our what your puppy prefers, otherwise have a chat to your local Animates team who should be able to point you in the direction of a few popular choices.

    Introducing new treats slowly to your puppy’s diet is the best way to decide which treats are best for them. Don’t forget to ensure that the treats you feed your pup are for canines – human and cat treats are not suitable for dogs as they have different dietary requirements. Try one treat type at a time while ensuring their main diet remains stable; this way you will be able to determine if they have an upset stomach indicating that maybe the treat isn’t right for them. Don’t forget, as with any additional meals you feed your puppy – treats are counted towards their daily nutritional needs, so adjust their kibble as required to ensure your puppy doesn’t become overweight.

    Treats are an important factor in your puppy’s life, so take the time to ensure you select the right ones for your puppy, and don’t be afraid to try a couple of different ones along the way. Your puppy will quickly tell you what their favourite treat is!

    Things to consider:
  • What is the treat for?
  • What do you want the treat to be made of?
  • Is your puppy’s diet relatively stable so you can safely introduce a treat?

    Hydration

    Water is essential for all life on Earth, and ensuring your puppy is adequately hydrated to ensure they are able to function and grow. Dogs pant to cool themselves down, and in doing so lose water. Puppies need almost-constant access to water before and after play and feeding time, after a walk, and depending on where you are with toilet training (i.e. if they’re being crate trained), and during bedtime may also be fine.

    We suggest cleaning your pup’s water bowl daily and ensuring they have a full bowl all the time. If you have multiple pets who share the same bowl, you may need to look at getting a bigger bowl to match the increased water take of your puppy, or you may need to offer more than one bowl if your other pet decides it does not want to share. This also allows your puppy to have another source of water if one gets spoiled or knocked over.

    Some dogs can be messy drinkers, slurping the water all over themselves and the floor, or depending on their breed (i.e. Spaniels) alternative bowls may need to be offered to ensure their ears don’t get too wet. Some puppies also like to “dig” or play in their water bowl. If your puppy is a ‘digger’ then consider offering multiple water bowls, so that in the event they do this, they still have water to drink. Don’t forget to put towels down around the water so you don’t slip on the spills!

    In warmer weather, consider putting ice cubes in your pup’s water bowl to cool both the water, and your puppy down. Some dogs even love to take the ice out of the bowl and will play with it! Don’t forget that as the weather warms up outside, your puppy will need more hydration to stay cool!

    Things to consider:
  • Puppies need water for survival and growth
  • Dogs pant to cool themselves down and lose water this way
  • Ensure your puppy has constant access to water
  • Some pups can be messy drinkers, so you may need to cater to this
  • Ice cubes in summer are a great way to keep your pet’s water cool

    If you have any questions, pop into your local Animates or Animates Vetcare; we know that picking the right food and treats for your puppy may seem challenging, but we’re here to help and provide you with guidance to ensure you have a satisfied and happy puppy.