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DOG / nutrition

What to Feed Your Growing Puppy

Food basics and best practices for puppy parents

Overview

With a mind-boggling array of puppy food to choose from, how do you make sure your new little pup’s diet is healthy? Start with a few common-sense rules.

Choose a quality puppy food

Look for food specifically made for puppies (not adult dogs) and choose a premium brand. Although lower-quality foods can be cheaper, the ingredients may lead to digestion problems, bowel problems or obesity.

Decide between wet and dry food

Soft, canned puppy food tends to be more palatable, but hard kibble helps keep those puppy chompers clean by cutting down on tartar buildup. How about a little bit of both?

Fresh is best

Check the expiration date on the food package and only buy as much as your puppy can eat before that date. Store pet food somewhere cool and dry and keep it in a tightly sealed container. After every meal, throw out whatever your puppy doesn’t eat.

Portion control

The amount puppies eat should depend on their age, size and ideal weight. Talk to your vet about the portion size that makes sense for your pup and check the label on the food you buy for more information about portions.

Set a schedule

Regular mealtimes will help you regulate your puppy’s potty times, which means fewer accidents. Though it is best not to give a puppy unlimited access to food — that little dog will overeat — do feed puppies more frequently than adult dogs. They’re very active and their bodies are growing, so puppies need to eat more than once a day. Small puppies and very active dogs can also suffer life-threatening drops in blood sugar if they’re not fed frequently enough.

Your veterinarian can help you develop a feeding routine for your puppy, which you can adjust as your dog gets older.

No people food!

Table scraps can upset a puppy’s stomach or even lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous condition that can be caused by eating fatty foods. Feeding puppies from the table also teaches them to beg, a behavior you probably don’t want to encourage.

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