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Puppy Power Demands Proper Fuel and Maintenance

“Puppies should also eat more often with three or four feedings a day.”

Put a shine on the chassis! Fine-tune the engine! Fill up the tank! Get your puppy’s motor running on all cylinders right from the beginning with the proper nutrition meant just for baby canines!

Puppies definitely go-go-go and all that energy requires a great deal of nourishment. Much like the support and maintenance needed to keep a car running well, puppies need their own special fuels and additives to stay in tip-top shape into adulthood.

Power Eating for Power Building

Puppies demand different nutritional needs than adult dogs. They need more calorie-dense food with more frequent feeding to grow. Just like babies, every part of their body, internal and external, from bones, muscles and joints to brain, teeth and fur is developing at a rapid pace. Many experts believe a solid puppy food formula will contain about 30 percent protein with additional vitamins and minerals. Most puppy food will also be high in fat content because this increases the animal’s energy level so growth is maintained. However, what is great food for developing puppies is not such a good option for adult dogs. High calorie, fatty food for grownup dogs can lead to obesity and other associated health issues.

Puppies should continue to eat puppy food until they are almost grown. For most dogs it means after they reach 1 year of age. Small breeds (less than 20 pounds) may hit this goal sooner while larger dogs like Mastiffs, Great Danes, Labrador retrievers and Doberman Pinschers may take longer. Work with your veterinarian to decide when to move on to adult maintenance food.

Puppies should also eat more often with three or four feedings a day, but this can slow down to two or three as they age. By six months, feedings may slow to twice a day in most cases. Discuss this feeding schedule with your vet to get his or her recommendations. Once young dogs leave behind puppyhood, the transition to adult maintenance food may require a mixed bowl of familiar puppy and adult feed. Gradually, less puppy food would be used until the young dog has switched entirely to the new feed.

So Many Puppy Food Options, So Little Time

Puppy owners often face a huge dilemma in trying to pick just the right eats because there are about as many kinds, brands and varieties of puppy food as there are automobiles in a super-size car dealership. Dry? Organic? Moist? Brand Name? New baby canine parents may feel overwhelmed as they try to find the one, right, perfect, nutritious chow for the puppy. The truth is many options can and will work and dietary guidelines on the packaging can provide some answers.

As WebMD explains, look for the name Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on labels. This group sets nutrient guidelines that most pet food manufacturers follow. Quality puppy and dog food will have a statement on the label saying, “…the food is formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines for complete and balanced nutrition, or that feeding trials following AAFCO guidelines have substantiated that it provides complete nutrition.” The packaging should also tell the buyer the life stage the food is designed for in canines; puppies should say “For Growth” or “For All Life Stages.”

Puppy parents can also find out what their fur baby was eating while at the breeder or animal shelter. A veterinarian may also weigh in on his or her recommendations for the best puppy fuel. Weaned puppies will eat one of three types of food: moist, semi-moist and dry kibble. Each has its merits and disadvantages. Puppies may start out with the moist or semi-moist food and this can gradually be mixed with dry. Some dogs will convert to eating dry food only. Some owners and vets prefer dry food because they feel it may offer a bigger bang for the buck with more protein, less cost and better dental benefits. They also believe it is also more digestible, which makes for easier elimination and pooper scooper pickup. However, not all experts agree that dry versus wet is the best option so make sure to ask your vet these questions. Packaging information on puppy food should also list proper amounts to feed the animal. Most experts recommend puppies and dogs be feed on a regular schedule, but not to leave access to food available continually. Food dishes should be removed about 10-20 minutes after feeding. This way the dog recognizes the owner as his pack leader and boss.

Conditioning your dog to not expect food immediately upon your arrival home from work or outside outings will lessen problems with separation anxiety in many cases. Take a few minutes to play or groom the dog first and then feed him.

Premium food will come with higher price tag, but it will also factor in some solid benefits. A higher nutritional density will translate into using less food to reach proper nourishment levels. It will also have stable ingredient profiles over bargain brands because it will not vary from batch to batch. Premium dog food manufacturers also spend extensively on on-going research and development to keep upgrading formulas for a dog’s best interests. This can mean cutting edge canine nutrition above and beyond those of competitors.

Bad for the Big Bones

Owners of large breed puppies must consider another risk for their fur babies connected to developmental orthopedic diseases like hip dysplasia (an improperly developed ball and socket joint that rubs and grinds rather than sliding smoothly) and others. An abnormal, rapid growth rate in these animals can increase the chances of acquiring these conditions. Pet owners should look for puppy food designed by reputable companies, especially for these breeds. This food will have a lower fat content, less calories and lower calcium and phosphorus levels. Genetic predisposition to orthopedic diseases is believed to be the primary cause of this ailment, but certain diet decisions can also factor into the chances a puppy or adult dog may experience mobility issues. One recent study emphasizes large breeds are more likely to develop skeletal and joint problems and overfeeding increases these odds. Evidence suggests keeping control of a large breed puppy’s weight from the start may help prolong arthritis and orthopedic issues until much later in a dog’s lifespan.

Related Article: Good, Quality Canine Nutrition Makes a Difference >>

Treat With Care

Training a new puppy to live in a human world requires many lessons. Praise and treats will go a long way in helping him master this job, but make sure to account for the mini morsels on a puppy’s food limits. The bulk of a baby canine’s nourishment should come from his regular food. A good rule of thumb is to provide only about 5 percent of a puppy’s daily food intake from treats. Pet parents need to “puppy size” these motivational nuggets, too. A Chihuahua puppy does not need a large dog bone every time she sits on command or tinkles outside.

Stock your refrigerator with low-calorie, healthy treat options like fresh vegetables (pieces of bell peppers, carrots and green beans) because they also provide digestible fiber. They also benefit the human pack leaders, too, if puppy feels like sharing.

Just as important for a new puppy owner is learning what NOT to feed a dog. Many foods humans like are dangerous for canines. Keep dogs away from grapes, raisins, avocados, chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, chives and raw bread dough made with yeast. Consuming too many dairy products, salty foods, coffee and caffeine can be life threatening. No dog should ever be allowed or taught to consume alcohol either. The sweetener additive, xylitol, often used in candy and baked goods and even toothpaste can also jeopardize the animal’s health and well-being. Severe cases can cause liver failure.

Don’t fall for those sweet, sad eyes either at the dining room table. A puppy that has been trained not to beg at the dinner table and be rewarded with tasty bites will not suffer from an upset stomach later. The puppy will also be less likely to become overweight in later years from overfeeding.

Since puppies and dogs simply love pleasing their owners, sometimes just paying attention to them is the best reward so forgo too many treats, calories and the expense with proper training.

Live In the Moment/Share the Experience

You love that little fur baby like no other so monitor his health and progress. Find a handy, online weight chart and record his size each week. No need for special scales or such. Just weigh yourself and the puppy and then step on the scales alone. Once you subtract the difference, you have the baby canine’s weight.

You can also create your own online blog, including pictures and weight chart with comments about your puppy’s achievements, firsts, events and all the cute things he does. A unique, one-of-a-kind scrapbook could also satisfy more conventional puppy parents and allow them to share with friends and family the latest news on the puppy front.

So gear up for puppyhood with all the right tools and it will be one enjoyable cruise. Accelerate for a great experience and crank up the canine engine with less friction for your fur baby and you with some sound advice. Full speed ahead for puppy power!