Support Your Puppy growth with proper nutrition

Support your puppy growth with proper nutrition

Breeders recommend a slow transition from the food they gave the pup to what you plan to feed your furry friend. But do you know what this new food should be? Here are some of the most vital nutrients to look for in puppy food.


Puppies have different nutritional needs to adult and senior dogs. “They need a food specifically formulated for young dogs. They also have size-specific needs,” says Katy Nelson, DVM, a Virginia-based emergency veterinarian in the USA. Small breeds need more protein and calories. Large-breed puppies must have a more controlled calorie and calcium intake to avoid joint and bone problems as they grow. Here’s Nelson’s top ingredients to look for when choosing your new best friend’s food.

Prebiotics: are very special non-digestible ingredients (oligosaccharides) that are active in the digestive system to help good bacteria thrive, which is essential to maintaining good digestion. One example is fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Without them, the body could lose nutrients and develop gastrointestinal tract irregularities. “We see it all the time in dogs, particularly puppies, because their immune systems are still weak,” says Dr Nelson. Prebiotics are especially helpful to pups as they are naturally nervous. Events like thunderstorms, vacuuming, or mom and dad leaving town cause quite a lot of stress. This leads to the release of cortisol, which changes bacteria in the system. Prebiotics help balance your puppy’s system, promoting good bacteria over bad.

Fish Oil: Want to teach your new dog old tricks? A food containing fish oil, which is naturally rich in the fatty acid docosahexaenoic (DHA ) may do just that. Numerous studies show that when pregnant and nursing mothers take DHA, their puppies also gain this fatty acid and become more trainable. “It’s brain food,” says Dr. Nelson.

Fish oil also helps keep a puppy’s skin and coat healthy. Additionally, it benefits the joints and intestinal tract by reducing inflammation. “It helps with all body systems,” she explains. “I don’t think we’ve reached the tip of the iceberg in understanding its benefits.”

Antioxidants: Thought to protect cells from harmful chemicals called free radicals which are produced due to normal metabolism in the body. Heart disease, cancer and ageing have all been linked to free radical exposure. Early consumption of foods containing antioxidants is thought to help protect puppies from potential health issues and to promote health in later life.

High-quality protein:
helps maintain skin and coat health as well as lean muscle mass, but the jury is still out on what constitutes “high quality”. Puppies need a good-quality protein source, whether human grade or just below this grade. Look for high quality proteins, like chicken, turkey, lamb and egg in the ingredient list of the food you wish to feed.

Vitamins and Other Nutrients: Like human infants, puppies have specific nutrient requirements. A balanced intake of calcium and phosphorus is essential for healthy bone development. The same is true for amino acids and vitamins. “The proper ratio is key,” says Nelson. Look for a commercial food that is labeled “complete and balanced” and that comes from a reputable manufacturer.

Don’t let the rows and rows of dog food intimidate you. You now know what to look for when choosing your puppy’s food. Once you’ve established a sound nutritional foundation, you can enjoy watching your pup develop from a wobbly fur ball to a bouncy best friend.

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