The most important time to look after your dog’s diet and nutritional needs is when he’s a puppy. By the time your puppy is two months old he enters a period of extreme development. His skeleton and muscles seem to add bulk over night and he starts to build an effective immune system. These changes require the perfect balance of nutrients. Any deficiencies at this point can severely affect his future health. That’s why he needs a nutritious diet that’s specifically formulated for puppies.
Keep the following points in mind as you research the right diet for your puppy.
Feed a high-quality food designed for growth
Until your puppy is twelve to eighteen months old, his diet should consist of a high-quality dog food designed specifically for growing puppies. Exactly how long your dog should eat puppy food will depend on his breed and the advice of your veterinarian. You should make sure that the manufacturer of the puppy food you choose has conducted feeding trials to ensure that the balance of nutrients is right for the growth stage of development. Check the label for a statement that the food has been tested in accordance with the procedures established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). In Canada look for foods certified by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).
Don’t add nutritional supplements to your puppy’s diet
Not only is it unnecessary to add nutritional supplements, it could be detrimental to your puppy’s health. High-quality puppy food is specifically designed to contain all the nutrients he needs during his growth phase. If you add extra vitamins and minerals, you can upset this nutritional balance. Overdoses of certain nutrients can cause serious health problems.
Establish a regular feeding schedule
Now is the time to setup a regular feeding schedule for your puppy. If you teach him proper eating habits now, you’ll ensure that your puppy has the proper nutrition to keep him healthy well into old age. See our dog feeding schedule for specific guidelines on when and how much to feed your dog at different stages of his life.
Do not overfeed your puppy
Just like people, dogs that are overweight as puppies are more likely to develop health problems as they age. Obese puppies are particularly prone to bone disorders like hip dysplasia. Their skeletons are growing so quickly that any excess weight can cause serious imbalances. This is another reason to avoid free-feeding your puppy and get him to eat on a proper schedule. You need to find the right amount of food to keep your puppy lean and energetic.