What should I feed my puppy?


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Great question. It is one of the most common questions that puppy owners ask! We have an article on just this topic. Let's go through it as it should answer all your questions!

Your puppy needs good food and plenty of it. At this stage of his life, he's not likely to pig out, but he needs a balanced diet to nurture his growing bones, teeth and muscle, to maintain his hair coat and allow for developing organs. He also needs enough energy to see him through days of strenuous playing.

If your puppy is newly weaned, he needs about twice the maintenance energy requirement of adult dogs. As your puppy ages, his need for higher nutrient density decreases. When he reaches 40 percent of his adult weight, he'll require roughly 1.6 times as much as an adult dog; at 80 percent of adult weight, he'll require 1.2 times as much. These estimates may be off by up to 20 percent, depending on individual dog variation.
Commercial puppy food is best. This kind of a diet provides all the nutrient he needs, especially his energy and protein requirements. A diet labeled for "all life stages" will also provide sufficient nutrients, but because it is closer to a maintenance level, your puppy will have to eat more "All Stages" than puppy formula.

From three weeks of age up to 20 weeks, your puppy's growth rate is astronomical, and his food intake must keep up. During this period, medium-sized dogs, such as pointers and setters, require approximately 3 1/2 lbs. of dry food to put on one pound of body weight. Large breeds require slightly less, smaller breeds a little more.

Note: For puppies of large or giant breeds, look for special foods of lower nutrient density. With these dogs, rapid growth can exacerbate degenerative hip problems or joint disease. Although hip dysplasia is a genetic problem, overfeeding at a young age can contribute to it.

Our question this week came from Susie A. in Boca Raton, Florida.

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for PetPlace.com, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.