Why do puppies eat food

The best nutrition for growing dogs

Give me food - but please, something good! © iStockphoto.com/ CountryStyle Photography

Puppy food

Above all else, puppies want one thing: to grow up quickly! But growing too quickly is unhealthy and can lead to lifelong health problems. Read here how to avoid feeding errors and provide your puppy with all the nutrients.

Do not change the feed immediately

The arrival in the new home means a huge change for your puppy. In this situation, you should not give him any new food for the time being. It is best to have the breeder or animal shelter give you some of the food that your little dog knows and likes. When the excitement of the first few days has subsided and you want to change the food, mix some of the new food with the old one every day. The following mixture has proven itself:

  • Day 1 and 2: 3/4 old and 1/4 new lining
  • Day 3 and 4: half old, half new food
  • Day 5 and 6: 1/4 old and 3/4 new lining
  • from the 7th day: only the new lining
Dr. Hölters tip, if your puppy shows diarrhea in the first few days in the new home: Support his gastrointestinal health with Dr. Holy jolostrum.

Puppies should eat several times a day

The gastrointestinal tract of your tiny baby is already adapted to solid food at 8 weeks, but at first it can only cope with small amounts of food. At the same time, the puppy needs a lot of energy to grow and romp around - on average twice as much as an adult dog of the same weight. Therefore, it is important not only to feed puppy food, but to do so several times a day.

  • In the beginning it should be four meals a day,
  • at six months, three.
  • At one year old, when most dog breeds (excluding large breeds) are fully grown, one meal is usually enough for small and medium-sized dogs.
  • It should be two meals for larger adult dogs and three for giant breeds.

Ask the dog breeder about the Feeding times and keep the times your pup is familiar with unchanged for at least the first week. With fixed feeding times you prevent begging and scientists have been able to prove that the production of digestive juices increases shortly before the usual feeding time: Your dog then digests its food better and faster.

Please be sure to divide the amount of food your puppy needs according to his or her age and weight! Don't let him eat as much and as often as he wants!

How to recognize a suitable puppy food

Dog food that is specially adapted to the needs of puppies and young dogs is also called puppy food, puppy food or junior food. If the package says it is not intended for growing dogs, do not buy it.

Pay attention to whether it is a complete feed or a supplementary feed. Complete feed are labeled as such and contain everything your puppy needs for healthy development. With a complete feed you do not need to give any further nutritional supplements and should not do so in order not to upset the nutrient balance. If you add minerals (calcium, phosphorus) to a complete food for puppies, you can seriously damage your dog's bone development.

Dog foods suitable for the growth phase are characterized above all by a high level Energy content, adapted to the needs of the puppies Mineral content and high quality, easily digestible high qualityEgg whites out. An oversupply of protein has long been considered harmful and was suspected of causing skeletal diseases such as panostitis or OCD (osteochondrosis dissecans = cartilage damage). Scientific studies have refuted this theory in the meantime, even if the fear of high protein levels in puppy food persists in some dog places.

It makes sense to send one to the size the breed of dog Buy adapted puppy food, as small breeds of dogs grow differently than large breeds. For example, at the end of the first year of life, a Dachshund weighs around 25 times as much as on the day it was born, while a Great Dane increases its weight 100 times over the same period and will continue to grow for another year until it has reached its final size.

As a rule, manufacturers both Puppy food (Puppy) as well Young dog food (Junior) offered for the first year of life. This separation by age also makes sense, because the energy and nutrient requirements of an eight-week-old puppy are significantly higher than that of a six-month-old young dog based on body weight.

How the feed affects growth

The food for your puppy must provide everything it needs for its development. Above all, of course, energy, but also all nutrients such as high-quality protein, calcium and phosphorus for building muscles and bones. Therefore it is definitely the best to feed a balanced puppy food or growth food for young dogs —— in the right amount.

The more energy and nutrients your puppy gets, the faster it will grow.

So an overfed puppy doesn't get fat at first, but rather big!

This is exactly where the problem lies: at first you do not even notice that your dog is oversupplied because it is not getting "fat". Only when you compare it with littermates will you see the difference. Too fast growth, however, leads to skeletal diseases, especially in large dog breeds, which can affect them for a lifetime. For example, you are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. Dogs overfed in puppyhood also tend to become overweight as adults, which has been shown to reduce life expectancy and quality of life.

You can avoid growth that is too fast or too slow by using one that is individually created for your dog Growth curve orientate. It is best to have such a growth curve printed out when you visit the vet for the first time. In order to create the most accurate curve possible, your vet needs to know the weight (and breed) of the parent animals - so ask the breeder.

Measure the amount of food according to the target weight of your dog given in the growth curve.

Weigh your dog weekly during its first year of life (longer for large breeds) and compare its weight with the growth curve. If he's on the curve, everything is fine. If it is significantly (more than 10%) above or below it, please discuss with your veterinarian how you should adjust the amount of food.

  • One to heavy puppy should be given less food, but not have to "starve to a great extent".
  • To tender puppies only need to feed if they are significantly too small or too skinny (ask your vet). Otherwise they just grow a little slower and reach their genetically predetermined size a little later.

Dog owners often look at the food packaging and then feed the amount recommended for their puppy's current weight. This means that puppies that are too heavy get too much food, while puppies that are too light are unintentionally put on a diet. That is why it is so important to orientate yourself on the target weight of the growth curve.

Do not be put off if other dog owners find your young dog too thin. Many dogs that are spot on on the growth curve look lanky. If in doubt, ask your veterinarian.

The most common mistakes when feeding puppies

Mistake number one is actually over-energizing growing dogs. You can avoid these by:

  • Orientate yourself to the growth curve of your dog and measure the amount of food according to its target weight.
  • Do not feed your puppy "ad libitum" (at will), so do not serve him an "All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet".
  • Set up a treat box into which part of the daily amount of food is diverted. Treats are then only available from this can. In this way you ensure that your puppy does not get more calories than it should and that it is nibbling on delicacies that are healthy and do not disrupt its nutrient supply.
  • Remember that chews have calories too, and quite a few. An average chewing bone made from cowhide (190 g) contains 699 kcal, a dried pig's ear (50 g) 216 kcal and an ox pizzle (dried beef penis, 65 g) 276 kcal. For comparison: according to McDonalds, a hamburger contains 255 kcal (as of April 2012).
    Young dogs like to chew extensively on such chewing articles and should be allowed to do so too. You just have to keep in mind that you must not add more uncontrollably here either.

In collaboration with specialist veterinarian Dr. Natalie Dillitzer's calorie table for popular dog snacks can be found online on the Royal Canin website (calorie table treats).

The second most common mistake is a calcium and phosphorus supply that is not adapted to the increased needs of growing dogs. Both undersupply and oversupply lead to serious damage to health. You can actually avoid this mistake quite easily with ready-made feed:

  • To begin with, choose a balanced complete food for puppies and, according to the manufacturer's instructions, switch to a young dog food after a few months.
    Do not feed adult dog food until your dog is fully grown - for most dog breeds this is the case at 12 months, for large breeds and giant breeds it may not be until 18 to 24 months.
  • Opt for premium manufacturers who provide detailed analysis data on their products so that you can see protein, energy and mineral content at a glance.
    The number of manufacturers and their advertising promises often make it difficult to identify real premium manufacturers. You play it safe with manufacturers such as Royal Canin and Hills, who sell their special feed through veterinarians. For example, there is the Vet Care Nutrition series from Royal Canin and the VetEssentials series from Hills.
  • Do not give any mineral supplements if you are feeding your dog a complete food for puppies or young dogs!

If you would like to prepare the dog food for your dog in the growth phase yourself, you should obtain suitable recipes from your veterinarian or a veterinarian who specializes in animal nutrition. He will calculate a ration adapted to the individual nutritional requirements of your dog and adjust it several times during the growth phase. Although this veterinary service costs money, it saves you from the high treatment costs that you will have to pay later if your dog is incorrectly nourished as it grows.