Your puppy may look a lot bigger now than in his or her baby days, but your pet is still growing and needs a correctly balanced diet. Dr Marjorie Chandler, animal nutritionist, has compiled this guide to ensuring your pet gains all the nutrients needed to develop into a healthy, happy and energetic dog...
1. Twice daily
From six months your puppy can have two meals a day, setting a habit for the rest of their life. However, three to four meals a day may be more suitable for toy or giant breeds.
Carefully measure out the correct amount recommended on the packaging. Weighing is more accurate and reduces the temptation to add a bit extra for luck, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight makes dogs vulnerable to health issues such as arthritis or diabetes.
Dog chews can help keep your puppy amused but be sure they can’t splinter.
2. Ask your vet for advice on the best type of dog food
You need a product that’s high in biological protein value (a nutritious type of protein), which contains good quality ingredients to deliver the nutrients needed for health and strength. Home food diets are rarely complete or balanced.
There’s no need to give young dogs any additional supplements as these can unbalance their diet.
3. Look carefully at the labelling on food packaging
Puppies’ dietary requirements change as they develop. Between the ages of nine and 12 months their calorie requirements decrease because they are growing more slowly.
Calorie and nutritional needs are further determined by your dog’s body weight, and whether they are a small or large breed.
The product’s calories and nutrients should be calculated to ensure they are complete and balanced for healthy growth at your dog’s stage of life.
4. Cater to your dog’s taste
Your dog can be fed on formulated wet or dry foods. Both are equally nutritious so experiment to see which they prefer, introducing new tastes and textures gradually.
Diarrhoea or vomiting can be caused by a diet that does not suit your dog. Stop immediately if this happens and consult your vet for advice.
5. Healthy treats allowed
Keep treats healthy and within your puppy’s daily food allowance or your pup could start gaining unwanted pounds. You could keep back some of his or her daily dry food to use as treats or stick to low-calorie treats such as small pieces of cut-up carrot, cucumber or unbuttered popcorn.
Avoid giving leftovers or scraps. These could contain ingredients that are not good for dogs (such as raisins, onions or garlic) or have a high fat content.
6. Check your dog’s body score
At around nine months old you can check your pet’s weight against a body conditioning score. This will help you detect any early signs that your dog may be becoming too heavy.
Your dog’s ribs should be easy to detect, and feel like pencils in a soft pencil case, and their chest should be the widest part of their body.
Remember, a younger dog carrying too much weight is more likely to become an overweight older dog. Nip weight issues in the bud for a healthy, happy future for your dog.