Getting a new puppy is such an exciting time. You’ve either found your new fur baby at your local shelter or from a reputable breeder. You have a few days before you bring your puppy home, and you’re sure to be out shopping for a leash, collar, crate, fluffy bed, cozy blankets, fun toys and training treats. But perhaps your most important purchase will be the puppy food.
Ultimately it is in the best interest of your puppy to stay with mom and be fed by her until eight weeks of age. It is during this time that being fed by mom will allow the puppy to receive much needed nutrients and antibodies, which will help protect the puppy from disease while they grow during their first few weeks of life. Once your puppy reaches the eight-week marker, you can gradually start to wean her off momma and toward solid puppy food.
During the weaning period from milk to puppy food, decide which type of food you will be feeding her. Ensure that it is high-quality food. Ask the shelter or breeder about which food, if any, they had introduced to your puppy, since any drastic changes may cause an upset stomach. (If you change food brands, be sure to do it gradually.) Your growing puppy will require a high caloric intake and unique nutritional needs. Your food choice should contain high-quality protein and calcium and be high in calories. Avoid food that contains corn and meal by-products, and keep in mind meat should be the first item on the ingredients list. You’ll most like want to buy food specifically made for puppies.
How to wean your puppy
If your puppy has not started on puppy food yet, you’ll need to wean him off of milk. To begin the weaning process, mix milk replacer with the puppy food you have chosen. Then create a gruel. Simply blend the mixture. This will allow the puppy’s tummy to gradually adjust to the change in their diet and become accustomed to the puppy food versus the milk diet. This should be fed to the puppy three to four times daily for a few weeks. Then gradually taper the milk mixture until you have weaned the puppy off the milk and feel they are accepting the puppy food.
How much food
Once weaned off milk, your puppy can begin to eat about a half cup of food three times a day until they reach six months of age. Smaller meals throughout the day is much easier on the puppy’s tummy as well as a wonderful way to ensure proper digestion and maintenance of energy levels throughout the day. Once your pup has reached maturity, he will then need to be switched to adult dog food. Dependent upon the breed and size, maturity will be reached at different times. Most dogs reach adulthood between 10 months and two years for large breeds.
Remember to use your own judgment when feeding your dog. The guidelines on the dog food bags are just that. Guidelines. Each dog is different and has different needs associated with size, breed, and lifestyle. Consult your pet-care professionals for assistance in developing the best meal plan and schedule for your puppy.