Feeding your new purebred or designer puppy properly is essential to their health and well-being. While it’s easy to pick up a bag of cheap dog food at the corner store, you may end up with kibble that’s lacking in nutrients but high in fillers. Spending a bit more on high-quality dog food is worth the expense, as it minimizes the chance of stomach upset and intestinal problems. The proper diet also contributes to health, energy, and a shiny coat.
Most dogs are fed a healthy diet of high-quality kibble (dry dog food) supplemented with wet dog food or occasional dog treats. Dogs are omnivores, which means they can eat both plant-based foods and meats. However, this doesn’t mean they can eat all foods. Some foods are fine for humans that canines can’t process correctly. Some of these are poisonous. Among the most toxic of these are onions, avocados, and chocolate.
The First Year
When you bring your designer or purebred puppy home, they’ll need an appropriate puppy diet. During the first few months, puppy food is a must to provide all the nutrients for healthy development. Most puppies are fed small portions four times a day. Between three and six months, you can reduce feedings to three times a day. Your puppy should start to look leaner and lose their potbelly by three or four months.
You can cut back to two meals a day at six months, switching from puppy food to adult dog food. Most smaller breeds can start eating adult food at around nine months, while larger dog breeds shouldn’t change to adult dog formulas until 12-14 months. As adults, most dogs get two portions of food a day. Feeding once in the morning and once in the evening can help them sleep through the night.
When switching from puppy food to adult food, transition slowly. Try mixing ¾ puppy food with ¼ adult food for a few days, then gradually increase the amount of adult food. This minimizes the risk of an upset stomach.
How Much Should My Puppy Eat?
The AKC recommends paying attention to your dog’s body shape and weight for their breed rather than what you place in the bowl. Some dogs will always gobble down whatever you give them. Other dogs will pick at what’s in their bowl throughout the day. Whether your dog is a grazer or a chowhound, adjust the amount of food so that your dog is a healthy weight and stays active. If you use treats during training sessions, cut back slightly on your dog’s meals, so they don’t gain too much weight.
Can I Feed My Puppy Table Scraps?
It’s best not to offer your puppy table scraps because they’ll develop a taste for them. They could become picky eaters, turning their nose (snout?) up at their regular dog food. Unfortunately, a steady diet of table scraps, or even daily scraps as a treat, can lead to obesity and nutrient deficiencies. Dogs who eat table scraps may also end up with an upset stomach or diarrhea.
If you really must give your puppy an occasional bit of human food, associate it with a special treat, and never offer it from the table while you’re eating. This can turn your dog into a begging pro. Instead, put a bit of peanut butter into a Kong or offer a bit of mashed sweet potato mixed into their regular food.
Foods You Should Never Give Your Puppy or Dog
Although not a complete list, here are some foods you should never give your dog because they are toxic. Many of them are poisonous to canines; others can’t be digested properly and could cause an obstruction:
- Almonds or peanuts (unsalted)
- Grapes or raisins
- Ham (can cause pancreatitis)
- Nutmeg or cinnamon
- Ice Cream: many dogs are lactose intolerant, and ice cream has lots of sugar (try frozen strawberries or pineapple instead)
- Anything with xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener that’s deadly for dogs
- Chewing gum
- Cooked bones of any kind. They can splinter and cause internal damage.
What About a Raw Food Diet?
Raw food diets for dogs have become more popular in the last few years. A raw diet consists of a balanced blend of raw meats and organs, raw bones, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. It is meant to resemble more closely what a canine would eat in the wild. While a balanced raw food diet can be healthy, there are concerns about food-borne illnesses. It is an expensive diet and requires a lot of time and preparation. You can purchase raw dog food that is appropriately balanced and frozen for convenience if you wish. Because many homemade raw food diets aren’t nutritionally balanced, we recommend consulting with a veterinarian and using only commercial raw foods.
If you have any questions about what you should or shouldn’t feed your puppy, consult with your dog’s veterinarian. They can guide you in choosing the right food and help you establish healthy eating guidelines for your designer or purebred puppy.