The adult health of a dog depends, to a large extent, on its nutrition during the puppy stage. That is why it is so important to be clear about the best diet for puppies and what it should contain.
An adult dog’s health depends to a large degree on the diet it had as a puppy. That’s why it is so important to know what the best kind of puppy food is, and what it should contain.
Puppies need approximately twice as many calories as adult dogs. Their bodies are in a state of growth and they need those calories to generate new tissues and neural connections, as well as for the brain to process large amounts of new information.
All of this means that, when it comes to finding the right puppy food, the most important thing is to make sure it meets all the calorific needs of this developmental stage.
What a good puppy food should contain
Protein: Protein is essential for all puppies because it forms part of the structure of their muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, fur, etc. Therefore, during this developmental stage, in which all these parts are either being formed or are growing, protein is key. Cell growth and reproduction could not take place without protein. It is also essential for the immune system.
So, one of the basic features of any good puppy food is that it must contain sufficient protein. But beware! Some proteins are better for your puppy than others. If they’re not digestible, they won’t be much use.
DHA and fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6: DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is an essential fatty acid that helps promote brain growth in puppies, which is why it is recommended as part of a puppy’s diet. Fish oil is a natural source of DHA.
Vitamins and minerals: Both vitamins and minerals are essential ingredients in any puppy food. Each vitamin plays a different role.
Minerals are inorganic elements that have a role in several of the body’s processes, such as the formation of bone and cartilage, maintenance of the acid-base balance, the functioning of muscles and nerves, and hormone production.
Antioxidants: Natural antioxidants are essential for a strong immune system in puppies. That's why a good puppy food should always contain natural antioxidants such as tocopherols, which act in the same way as Vitamin E.
And remember that as well as these, a quality pet food should be as digestible as possible to ensure optimal weight gain and development in puppies. Digestibility in puppy food is key.
Do puppies need extra calcium to supplement their food?
Although in the past it was thought necessary to supplement puppy food with calcium, we now understand that an excess of calcium during the growing stage could lead to conditions such as skeletal disorders, inflamed joints, abnormal posture and osteochondritis.
Choosing the right kind of puppy food
Not all puppies grow at the same rate. Small-breed puppies grow and develop at a much faster rate than those of larger breeds. So a Great Dane will reach its adult size at between 18 and 24 months old, while a Chihuahua will do so at around 6 months. That’s why it’s important to choose a puppy food that is specially designed for the specific characteristics of each type of dog and feed puppy food for the entire growth period of your puppy.
The recommended daily amount of food should be divided into at least three portions per day until your puppy is six months old, taking into account the fact that, at this age, the puppy’s digestive system still has a limited absorption capacity. Eating too much could lead to diarrhoea and vomiting in your puppy.
From six months onwards, you can cut this down to two meals per day. You need to keep a close eye on how much your puppy eats each day because – particularly with large breeds – consuming too many calories may lead to excessively rapid growth and, as a consequence, problems with osteoarthritis. It is important that their rate of growth is controlled.