How to feed your puppy

So you’ve got a hungry pup on your hands and you need a little guidance on how and what to feed them. Well you’ve come to the right place! Puppies require a diet that’s a little different than their adult companions. For the first year of life, puppies need a unique balance of nutrients to help them grow and mature.

What should puppies eat?

A growing puppy needs more fat, calories, protein and a different balance of vitamins and minerals than adult dogs. According to the National Research Council, a growing pup needs about twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult dog. Puppies use these extra nutrients to grow bones, build muscle and create the energy they need for playing and exploring.

What to feed your puppy: 1-6 weeks

Puppies who are fresh out of the oven rely on their mothers for food. From 1-6 weeks, puppies will be getting all of their nutrients from momma’s milk. Milk is high in fat, calcium and protein which are essential for a growing pup, especially at these early stages.

 Mother’s milk also plays an important role in developing a puppy’s immune system. When a puppy is born and they first start drinking milk, they consume a substance in their mother’s milk called colostrum. Colostrum is a source of nutrients and immune molecules that help puppies to fight off diseases. 

Around the 5-6 week age mark, puppies can start being weaned off of milk and on to solid food. Start by making a “gruel” which is a mix of equal parts solid food and warm water. This makes food easy for weaning puppies to chew and digest. Slowly start to increase the proportion of solid food and decrease the amount of water until they are fully transitioned.

What to feed your puppy: 6 weeks-12 months

Now that your puppy is all about solid food, it is time to decide what type of food to feed them. First, make sure you feed them a diet that is balanced for their correct lifestage. Look for food that’s formulated according to AAFCO guidelines for the “growth and development” lifestage or for “all life stages”. 

When it comes to dog food there are MANY different types and brands of food to choose from.

  1. Kibble

Readily available, kibble is the most common option for pet owners. With kibble, all nutrients are packaged into dry, extruded food. It is an easy form of food for pet owners to portion and store. Contrary to popular belief, kibble can be a healthy option for your puppy and some dogs even prefer the crunchy texture. When it comes to kibble, it is important to read the label and avoid filler ingredients, as well as artificial colours and flavors. Furthermore, avoid diets with grains like corn or wheat, listed as the first ingredient. Ideally, protein ingredients should be the first ingredient listed on any form of dog food. 

At Kabo, we provide 3 tasty kibble options that are more than suitable for a growing puppy. Our kibble is made with fresh, quality ingredients and is balanced to meet AAFCO requirements for all life stages.

  1. Canned

Canned food can be extremely tasty to dogs and it offers a high protein content. Similar to kibble, canned food is easy to store, readily available and nutritionally balanced. However, canned food does usually contain a higher proportion of protein and fat than kibble. If puppies are overfed, the extra protein and fat can easily promote obesity. Over feeding canned food is quite common as it is a little more difficult to portion. Since it is low in plant ingredients, it also lacks some of the nutritional benefits that fruits and vegetables bring.

  1. Raw

Raw dog food is designed to provide your puppy with a more ancestral diet, composed of raw meat and bones. This type of diet may be highly palatable to dogs because of the high protein content. Some drawbacks to raw food include potential for bacterial contamination and nutritional deficiencies. If you are purchasing raw food, ensure that the label specifies that it is nutritionally balanced according to AAFCO guidelines and is packaged and stored in a safe way that reduces the risk of microbial contamination. Like canned food, it lacks some of the nutritional qualities provided by fruits and veggies.

  1. Fresh-cooked

Fresh-cooked pet food elevates the option of homemade food. Less common than other traditional commercial dog foods, fresh food takes whole foods and processes them in a way that destroys bacteria but preserves the integrity of vitamins and nutrients. Fresh food combines the nutritional variety and balance of kibble with the palatability of wet food. Fresh food also contains a higher moisture content than most other forms of pet food. This can help reduce the incidence of renal and urinary stones, as well as boosting overall hydration!

Kabo fresh cooked food is formulated to meet nutrient requirements for puppies while providing a tasty, healthy meal. Packed with digestible ingredients, puppies will love the taste! 

Balance nutrients

Puppies need more protein and fat in their diet than adult dogs to grow and develop. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), puppies need at least 22.5% protein and 8.5% fat in their food. Protein and fat can come from a variety of different ingredients such as chicken, beef and fish. Even some plants can provide protein! In addition to protein and fat, a puppy also requires a higher content of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. This differs from adult dogs, as puppies need these extra nutrients for brain, muscle and bone growth.

Since dogs are not true carnivores, fruit and vegetables can also provide some nutritional benefits as well. Plant ingredients add vitamins and nutrients that help keep your dog healthy in the long run. Vitamins and antioxidant compounds found in fruits and vegetables help to reduce damage to cells and degradation of internal tissues. This inturn can potentially prevent debilitating diseases like diabetes and cancer.

How much should to feed a puppy

There are several factors to consider when thinking about how much to fill your puppy’s bowl. Below are a few things to ponder when deciding how much food to provide your new puppy:

What is the activity level of my puppy?

An active puppy will need more food in order to supply energy for play and zoomies. A lazy puppy will not be burning as many calories during their lengthy naps and will require less food

Male or female puppy?

Male and female puppies have different nutritional needs based on their size, metabolism and activity levels. Male puppies will often require slightly more food than females of the same age. 

Body condition score?

It is difficult to determine how much a puppy should be fed based solely on weight. A puppy may be a target weight for its age but if they have an overall larger body size, they may actually still be underweight. The same is true for obesity. This is why it is also important to consider body condition score. Below is a chart outlining puppy body condition score. Taking into account weight and body condition score, food should be proportioned accordingly. 

Kabo portions all meals according to a dog’s age, lifestyle and size, to ensure that puppies are not being over or under fed.

How often to feed a puppy

While some dogs prefer grazing or eating at their own leisure, it is important to have an idea of how much and how frequently your puppy is eating. This can help to monitor any changes in health. Ideally, puppies older than 4 months should be fed 2-3 meals per day. This will help to reduce over feeding and promote satiety.

Accepting a new pet into your family is always an exciting time. Proper nutrition and the correct diet can go a long way in ensuring that your new puppy will live a long and healthy life.