What Should My Puppy Eat?

So you are getting a puppy and your house is all puppy-proofed. You have toys, a crate, their bed, a blanket, and tons of love prepared for this dog. But the most important thing that you should know about is the food that you will be feeding your puppy. This article goes over the type of food you should and should not) feed your little furbaby. Of course, this depends on several factors: their age, size, and breed. Read on for more information!

Foods for Puppies

You probably already know that most food is separated by puppy and adult mixes. Still, it is good to know when you should be switching your pet from puppy chow over to regular adult food. The reason there is a difference is that puppies need ingredients to grow up strong. Meanwhile, older canines need to stay healthy as they age. Therefore, puppies need more calories and protein to support their developing bodies.

Generally speaking, small-breed dogs (weighing 20 pounds or less) mature quicker than large breed dogs. They are ready to transition when they are between 9 and 12 months old.

Medium breeds (20 to fifty pounds) can transition when they are between 12 and 14 months old.

Large breed puppies (over 50 pounds fully grown) can transition at 1 to 2 years old.

It can be stressful to find a type of puppy food that your dog will like. At first, it might be a good idea to purchase the small bag sizes. Sometimes you can return dog food if your dog does not like it. Just in case though, it is less waste and also cheaper to buy the smaller bags.

Find Food based on Sizes

There are different types of dog foods for different sized dogs. Smaller breed pups typically metabolize their food more quickly than bigger breed dogs. As such, they need a well-mixed diet of digestible carbohydrates and proteins to ensure a steady and constant flow of energy all day long.

In addition, larger breed dogs tend to have more musculoskeletal problems than smaller breeds. This means they require a different balance of nutrients (namely calcium and phosphorus). Their food is meant to address these issues before it becomes a problem. Not to mention, smaller breed dogs have smaller mouths. Dog food that is designed for larger dogs are typically bigger in bite size.

Food for Specific Dog Breeds

It sort of makes sense, from a visual point of a view, that a chihuahua eats something different than a German Shepherd. Larger breed puppies want food that provides fewer amounts of energy and calcium while still being enough to support growth. All in all, if growth occurs too quickly, immature bones can be at risk of damage. Then again, if energy is not sustained, Fido may get sick and malnourished. If the kibble is too large, your pup may choke and die. Some dog breeds, like Labrador retrievers, do not know when to stop eating. Studies have shown that this dog breed contains a gene that is associated with food satiation, so it is harder for them to know when they are full. It is a good idea to not leave food in the bowl for your lab, but rather, feed in portions and regularly.

Other dogs are susceptible to eating disorders as a result of physical ailments and diseases (like hypothyroidism), or stress. Therefore, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the bowl as their eating to be aware of any bad eating habits. Help your puppy out by staying mindful of the food you are putting in their bowl, and feed them calmly and lovingly.

Foods to Avoid

You are probably well aware of the health and wellness trends that we humans are exposed to every day. Natural foods, organic foods, non-GMO foods, gluten free, dairy free, plant-based, grain free. The list goes on and on. The same applies to pets.

A lot of processed foods contain fillers and harmful chemicals that can cause indigestion and upset tummies. In addition, they can make your dog get sick over the years, and symptoms might not always be present. It is a good idea to feed your dog the food that you would want to eat yourself.

A lot of dog food manufacturing companies are trying to go back to what dogs naturally eat. A lot of times, this means less grain. Unfortunately, the FDA has not defined the term “natural” when it comes to pet food. Therefore, if you are especially concerned about what your puppy might be eating, it is a good idea to read the ingredients.

There are some foods that your puppy should avoid at all costs. Let’s look at a couple of them:

Chocolatethe theobromine leads to seizures and death
Xylitola sweetener in candy, gum, baked goods, peanut butter, and some diet foods. It can lead to seizures and liver failure
Avocadoscontain persin and causes diarrhea and vomiting
Alcoholleads to coma and death
Onions and garlickills your dog's red blood cells and causes anemia
Caffeinewhether it's found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and even painkillers, can be fatal
Grapes and raisinsresults in kidney failure
Dairy productspotential to create an allergic reaction and cause indigestion
Macademia nutscause muscle shakes and fever
Fat trimmingscause pancreatitis
Bonessplinter and cut your dog's digestive system, while adding an extra risk of choking
Fruit with seeds and pitsblock the intestine
Raw eggslead to salmonella
Raw meat and fishcontain parasites, causing food poisoning and be deadly
Saltsodium poisoning
Sugarlead to diabetes
Yeast doughexpands in the abdomen and can also cause alcohol poisoning
Human medicine without a vet's permissionthis could be highly toxic for your pooch!
Baking powder and baking sodahighly toxic, as are other spices like nutmeg

Though this list is extensive, it is very important to be aware of the foods that your dog cannot eat. If you have a big puppy who can reach the kitchen counter or table, be sure that food is put away. For the most part though, it is fairly uncommon for dogs to ingest these foods. Still, if it happens, or you notice your dog is sick and could be poisoned, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately.

Human Foods Your Dog Can Eat, but Probably Should Not!

If you want to feed your puppy human food, there are better choices to make than others. Human foods to Fido include:

  • well-cooked lean meats (no fat or bones)
  • fresh fruits like apples
  • bananas, oranges
  • watermelon (no seeds!)
  • some vegetables like carrots
  • green beans
  • cucumber
  • zucchini

In addition, you can feed your dog a baked potato. If you have a garden though, keep your dog away from raw potatoes. Also, some human foods might even help when your dog is sick. Plain white rice or pasta with boiled chicken is one idea.

Can I feed my dog peanut butter?

Now that we have gone over the list of foods to avoid, peanut butter might very well be on that same list. Look at the ingredients. Does it contain salt, sugar, and xylitol (some peanut butter brands made the switch from sugar to xylitol in attempts to be healthier). If so, then do not feed your dog this type of peanut butter. The healthiest type is unsalted, or homemade, which is better for you too. Peanut butter with salt and sugar is okay in moderation, but if the peanut butter contains xylitol, do not feed this to your dog.

What does healthy and unhealthy weight gain look like?
Puppies that grow too fast may have issues later on down the road, like joint problems. Healthy weight gain is observed by your dog’s vet, but you can also check by seeing if you can feel the spine and ribs beneath a light padding of muscle and fat. Your puppy should not look chubby. As discussed previously, fast weight gain, especially in large breeds, can lead to musculoskeletal issues later on.

Wrap Up

Owning a puppy is a wonderful experience, though a big responsibility. Knowing how and what to feed your puppy is of utmost importance to keep them happy and healthy for years to come.

About the Author
Paige Jirsa – I work with Top10.Today, a shopping comparison site, where we strive to help consumers find the best quality and priced products.

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