There’s nothing quite like the simple joy of welcoming a growing puppy into your family. In those vital months of healthy growth, you experience a whirlwind of emotions and special moments as you raise, teach, and bond with your pup. In exchange for love and companionship, your growing puppy depends on you for their overall health and well-being; it’s your duty to become aware of what puppies need in pet nutrition in order to nurture them into adulthood. It’s an exciting time that demands you take on new responsibilities. As such, there are several important decisions you’ll have to make to ensure that your puppy grows into a healthy adult.
As a new pet owner, the onus is on you to create a healthy lifestyle for your dog. Along with critical tasks such as daily exercise or regular visits to the vet, creating a healthy puppy feeding pattern for your puppy is crucial for the healthy growth process. By crafting a pet nutrition plan tailored to your dog’s nutritional requirements, you’ll ensure that they live a long and vigorous life. So, if you want your puppy to grow strong and healthy, read on to discover the nutritional needs of growing puppies during this critical stage.
The Puppy Stage: Nutritional Needs for Puppies
Most pedigree or rescue animals won’t arrive at their new home until they are at least 6 weeks, but if you’re raising a puppy from birth, then it’s vital that you understand the dietary needs of the initial stage. As with any newborn baby, the first month of puppy eating and drinking is where you lay the foundations for their health and early growth.
Dogs typically start to wean from their mother’s milk at around 3 to 4 weeks. While they may be mature enough to no longer depend solely on natural milk, their bones and body condition is still fragile. By week 4, their puppy teeth will begin to emerge, and they’ll start gnawing and chewing. If you notice that your animal is weaning early, you might want to consider feeding your dog a calcium supplement to make sure that they’re receiving all the dog nurtition that milk would otherwise provide.
The Power of Protein
When you reach the one-month milestone of puppy ownership, you’ll already be neck-deep in the adventure. At this stage, your puppy is a bundle of fun and energy. To sustain this verve and physicality, it’s essential that you feed your puppy a well-balanced diet that is high in proteins. The ASPCA recommends that when you feed your puppy, each meal should be made up of at least 25-30% protein. This puppy food recommendation might mean supplementing your puppy’s food with an additional source of protein like raw meat to ensure that you are hitting exactly the mark you need for optimal puppy nutrition.
The best-recommended sources of raw meat protein include:
The above are not only high in protein but also tend to be more easily digestible for developing puppies.
Moving on to Solid Ground
By week 6, your puppy should be fully weaned and gradually introduced to solid food. This solid food change can be somewhat of a shock to their digestive system, which can lead to some unpleasant dog digestive issues and bodily responses. Don’t worry, it’s normal, they’re simply adjusting to their new adult dog food diet. However, there are measures you can take to ease the shift to solid foods in your dog’s diet. Consider giving them nutritional supplements to keep their digestive tract healthy:
- Zinc and Magnesium – Both have a bountiful positive effect on their maturing digestive systems
- Vitamin D – Helps to strengthen bones and teeth, allowing them to chew more comfortably and naturally
Foods to Avoid
On top of knowing what nutrients to value, it’s also crucial that you know which foods should be avoided in a balanced diet. Remember that our human stomachs have an entirely different composition than a puppy’s. Beyond behavioral training, the reason we discourage feeding your puppy from the dinner table is that common human foods such as garlic, onions, chocolates, and raisins can have a highly damaging effect on their digestive systems.
A Healthy Pup is a Happy Dog
It’s essential that you put as much emphasis on your dog’s health as you do their training and inclusion into your family. Knowing what active dogs need to stay healthy is hard. Providing your puppy with essential nutrients and a healthy and raw diet is the best way to set them on the path towards growth and happiness. High-quality dog food ensures that their muscles, organs, and bones grow as they should. At Vetericyn, we believe nurturing proper growth will keep your vet bills down and promote a long and happy life.
Reviewed by Dan Richardson, Veterinarian
Dan Richardson has been a practicing veterinarian for over 10 years. He specializes in surgery and orthopedics. Dan is originally from rural western Nevada and attended the University of Idaho for undergraduate study and Oregon State University for Veterinary School. The Richardson Family enjoys camping and spending time on the water fishing, paddle boarding, or digging their feet in the sand somewhere warm.
- ASPCA. People foods to avoid feeding your pets. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets
- PetMD. Your Puppy: Weeks 12-16. https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/your-puppy-weeks-12-16
- ASPCA. Dog Nutrition Tips. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-nutrition-tips