Puppies are like babies. They need certain foods in certain amounts and at certain times to thrive. Puppy diets are the best choice because they are specially designed to provide your puppy with the nutrition that he needs to grow and thrive.
When you first bring your puppy home, make sure you have found out what food your puppy was eating. If you are getting your puppy from a breeder, you might have been given a package of food to get your puppy started. Sometimes you cannot find the same diet that your puppy is accustomed to. If this is the case, make sure that you have enough to mix with a new diet that you are able to purchase readily. Mix the two diets together for at least 3-5 days, 7-10 is even better. Start by mixing only a small portion of the new food in with your puppy’s previous diet. Gradually increase the portions of new food while decreasing the portions of the previous food, until your puppy is eating only the new diet that you have selected. If your puppy has vomiting or diarrhea during the transition, make sure to call your veterinarian.
It is best to feed your puppy meals. You will know exactly how much your puppy is eating, which is important because a lack of appetite may be a sign of illness. It is also important to know when your puppy eats, because he needs to be taken outside to go to the bathroom after he eats.
Make sure that the diet you are feeding is a balanced diet for growth. The AAFCO statement on the package will give you this information. Many puppy diets are labeled for “All life-stages” because they can be fed to pregnant and nursing females. This is an appropriate choice as long as the package has a feeding guide for puppies. Growth diets will contain more calcium and phosphorus than diets that we typically recommend for adult dogs. For small breed puppies, the amount is usually between 1.0% and 2.0% calcium. For large breed puppies, you should be feeding a diet with a maximum calcium of 1.5%.
Because a puppy’s immune system is not fully developed, it is important to be careful about your puppy’s diet.