Many pet nutrition companies now sell specific puppy food. These foods have required a lot of research and testing in order to calculate accurate volumes and concentrations of specific nutrients for your pet’s diet. Some brands have even developed specific diets for different breeds of dog. This blog is going to explain why these diets are beneficial to your puppy.
Table of contents
- Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals
- Macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fibre and fat, amongst other larger molecules
- Puppies should usually remain on puppy food until the age of 12 months old
- If you’re not sure…
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Puppies need different amounts of micro and macronutrients compared to adult dogs. The incorrect balance of nutrients can adversely affect your pet’s health. So finding a ‘complete’ diet which fully meets their daily requirement makes feeding your puppy simple and effective.
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals
These are essential for an array of bodily functions; including developing a strong immune response, forming strong bones, and absorbing and metabolising macronutrients.
The Ca:P Ratio
With regards to micronutrients, two of the most important whilst your puppy is growing are calcium and phosphorus. These are very important when your puppy is growing because the correct balance of these two minerals is required to facilitate the body’s ability to develop strong bones, and to enable them to grow at the correct rate. If growth is too slow, obvious problems can occur. But in large- and giant- breed dogs, excessively high growth rates are also a problem. It can cause bone disease such as Moller-Barlow Disease, as well as increasing the risk of joint problems.
To make life more interesting, even if the correct amount of calcium for optimal bone growth is included, if the phosphorus levels are wrong, the body cannot use the calcium… This of course leads to problems, potentially even including a form of osteoporosis in the puppy’s developing skeleton.
Micronutrients are more commonly too low, rather than too high in our pets’ diets. It is worth noting that although micronutrients are normally safe in high dosages, due to the body’s ability to eliminate them via urination, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble meaning they are absorbed and stored in your puppy’s fat. Over supplementing these vitamins can become toxic and therefore should be avoided.
Macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fibre and fat, amongst other larger molecules
They are used by the body for many processes including energy, storage, muscle growth and recovery.
Unlike micronutrients, macronutrients are commonly overfed to our pets
The most common disease caused by this is obesity. We need to ensure our pets are on a controlled calorie diet to avoid them from becoming overweight. Human foods are particularly high in calories compared to canine foods and therefore should not be fed to dogs. Overweight pets are much more likely to suffer from arthritis and the onset of arthritis occurs much earlier on in their lives. Other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, become much more likely in an overweight animal. It is quite hard for owners to help their pets to lose weight. Therefore, it is best to prevent your pet from becoming overweight in the first instance.
Different breeds will require different nutrients and calories
This is due to many different factors. Different energy levels will burn varying amounts of calories during the day. A very active dog who gets walked often and enjoys running around the garden is likely to burn many more calories than a dog who enjoys sleeping for the majority of their day. The active dog will need more calories in order to remain a healthy weight compared to the dog who enjoys sleeping. Larger dogs will also need more calories than smaller dogs. Larger dogs have a higher body weight, meaning just moving their body around requires more energy, as does maintaining a larger body at rest. Even dogs of the same breed, activity level and sex may need varying diets due to their own metabolic rates and ability to absorb different nutrients.
The final adult size is also key – as we have seen, excessive growth rates are a problem for large – and giant – breed dogs. So calorie control is important, without sacrificing all the other nutrients required for healthy growth.
Puppies should usually remain on puppy food until the age of 12 months old
Then at 12 months old, your pet may move onto adult food. However, this is a very rough rule of thumb, and for many medium and larger breeds, manufacturers now recommend an “adolescent” diet, as a stepping stone through the difficult growth spurt adolescent years, rather than relying on the puppy diet all the way. How long a dog needs them depends, of course, on how long their adolescence is. After all, a Chihuahua may well be physically adult by 12 months; a Great Dane or a NEwfoundland will probably take another year or more to reach the same level of maturity.
If you change your puppy’s diet, you should do so very gradually to avoid causing gastritis – inflammation of the stomach. Adult food will contain a balance of micronutrients and macronutrients suitable to a dog of a more stable weight and growth rate.
If you’re not sure…
…of how much to feed your puppy, you should monitor what you are feeding them and record how their weight changes. If your puppy is putting on weight, this is good, we expect them to grow until they are 12-18 months old, roughly, depending on their breed. If you feel your puppy is putting on too much weight, too quickly, you could try to body condition score them. This allows you to assess how much fat they are carrying and therefore makes it easier to analyse whether an increasing weight is optimum or whether your puppy is becoming overweight. You can then decide whether or not to alter their food intake accordingly.
However, in practice…
It’s better to get them regularly checked out by your vet or vet nurse! Regular health checks are useful for monitoring your puppy’s growth, as your veterinary team will have a good idea of how it’s going, as well as providing an opportunity for you to ask questions about any aspect of their development, health and behaviour.
To conclude, puppies should be on a specific puppy diet in order to facilitate optimum growth and prevent developmental diseases later on in their lives.