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Feeding Your Puppy

Brought to you by: Purina Dog Food

Genetics, care and nutrition are the key factors influencing the development of a puppy. Because the genetic potential is determined at birth, this cannot be changed. However, you can provide the proper care for your puppy including housing, regular veterinary visits for vaccinations, parasite checks and physical examinations. You can also ensure the nutrition your puppy needs by the food you choose and the feeding habits you establish for your puppy.

Most puppies are ready to be weaned when they are six weeks old. If they have started to eat solid foods from their mother's dish, it is not unusual for puppies to begin to wean themselves at about four to five weeks of age. For the first few weeks after they are weaned, puppies require about twice the amount of nutrients per pound of body weight as they do when they are adults.

The Feeding Schedule
The nutrient requirements to support the normal growth and development of young puppies are greater than those of an adult dog. For this reason, a puppy should be fed a diet specially formulated to meet its special nutritional needs. For example, Purina@ Puppy Chow@ brand puppy food contains higher levels of protein, iron and other nutrients in a highly palatable combination of ingredients to help puppies get off to a good start nutritionally.

A puppy's stomach is simply not large enough to hold sufficient food in one feeding to provide its daily requirement of needed nutrients. For this reason, young puppies should be fed at least three times a day until their food requirements, per pound of body weight, begin to level off as they mature. You can reduce their feeding schedule to twice a day when they are four to five months old and once a day when they are eight to nine months old. For some large and giant breeds, you may continue to feed twice a day throughout their life.

A puppy's food should be fed moistened during the first few weeks after weaning to encourage adequate food intake - mix one part warm water to four parts dry puppy food and mix thoroughly. This makes the food tastier and easier for the puppy to eat. Allow about one hour for the puppy to eat, discarding the uneaten portion.

Moistened dry food or canned food left at room temperature can become unpalatable and may even spoil if left out for several hours.

At about four months of age, temporary puppy teeth will fall out and gradually be replaced by permanent teeth. At this time the water used to moisten the dry puppy food can be reduced or gradually eliminated. You can continue to serve the food moistened if you prefer. However, the role a dry diet plays in dental health should be considered. The chewing action employed by the dog acts as a toothbrush to help keep the teeth clean. Feeding a dry dog food is usually more convenient and generally costs less per serving than other types of dry foods.

The recommended daily amounts on a Puppy Chow package will help you determine the amount of food to feed your puppy. However, puppies are individuals. The amount of food offered to a puppy will vary depending upon its size, activity, metabolism and environment. Puppies should not be allowed to become overweight. An overweight puppy not only presents a poor appearance, but the excess weight can cause bone abnormalities. If your puppy seems to be gaining too much weight, reduce its food intake. If the puppy seems to be too thin and there are no health problems, increase its food intake. If you have questions about your puppy's body condition, consult your veterinarian.

Table 1
Water Is Essential
Fresh water in a clean dog bowl should be available to puppies at all times. Place the puppy's water dish next to the food dish for convenience. Even if the Puppy Chow or Pro Plan is fed moistened, the puppy still needs fresh water daily.

Establishing Good Eating Habits
As you feed your puppy, you are establishing his eating habits. Feeding the puppy in the same place and at the same time(s) to aid in housebreaking is recommended. While feeding the puppy in the evening helps quiet him for the night, it tends to make him more inclined to urinate or defecate. A morning feeding will give the puppy the opportunity to urinate or defecate before you leave for work or begin your morning chores.

Offering a puppy food from the table encourages begging and may create a finicky eater.

When puppies are fed a nutritionally complete and balanced diet, they do not need supplemental vitamins, minerals or meat. Although it is not necessary, milk can be a useful food for newly weaned puppies and may be used to moisten the dry food. However, too much milk can act as a laxative and cause digestive problems for some puppies and adult dogs.

If puppies are fed a complete and balanced diet, they do not need supplemental vitamins, minerals or meat. In a study of Labrador retriever pups at the Purina Pet Care Center, researchers examined the effect of adding a vitamin supplement to Purina Puppy Chow. The pups were studied from the time they were weaned until they were one year old. The results are given in Table 1.

Table 2
Other studies at the Purina Pet Care Center together with studies - by other researchers suggest that oversupplementation can be detrimental to proper development as Table 2 illustrates. This study of the effects of calcium and phosphorus supplementation show that high levels of minerals in the diet could slow or even stop growth.

Note: If the food you choose for your puppy is different than the food it received at the time of weaning, a 7- to 10- day gradual changeover should be made. Add a small amount of the new diet to the diet presently being fed. Each day increase this amount and decrease the amount of the present diet until the changeover is complete. This procedure will help avoid digestive upsets which may occur when a sudden diet change is made.

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