Welcoming a new puppy to the family

3 May 2019

Welcoming a new puppy is an exciting time for a family. There are several things to consider when raising your new pet and one of the most important is proper nutrition.

During the first three to four weeks of a puppy’s life, they are entirely dependent on their mother – through milk - to provide them with the nutrition they need to survive and thrive. Once beyond this stage, the milk no longer provides enough energy or essential nutrients to meet the growing puppy’s needs. This is when pet owners should start introducing supplemental food.

By four and a half weeks of age, the puppy should be able to consume semi solid food, and at five to six weeks of age, puppies should be able to consume and chew dry food. At seven to eight weeks of age, the puppies should be weaned from milk, allowing them to go to their new homes.

Transitioning a puppy to a new food

Any new food should not be introduced within the first few days the puppy is in a new home. Breeders often will often include a small package of food with the puppy to help with the transition. This should be fed the first few days and then a gradual transition should be made to the new food over the next 10 days. Start with 10% of the new food on day 1, and finish with 100% of the new food by day 10.

What to look for in a diet

The energy requirements of puppies can be nearly twice that of an adult dog. If fed a formula that is intended for only adult dogs, the puppy may reach their stomach capacity before attaining the energy requirements needed for their demanding growth stage.

Nutrient requirements of growing puppies are different from that of adult dogs. Specific amino acids from proteins, essential fatty acids from fats, vitamins and minerals are required during growth.

Look for:

  • A diet that is 100% complete and balanced for growth or all life stages.
  • A diet that is highly digestible and high quality food.

Why portion controlled feeding is important

Meal monitoring allows pet owners to monitor food intake. Feeding too much in early life can lead to an increased number of fat cells and may predispose the puppy to obesity later in life.

  • Up to 5 or 6 months of age: 3 to 4 premeasured meals/day
  • Over 6 months of age: 2 meals/day

Owners should customize their feeding programs with their veterinarian to ensure an optimal growth rate for their breed of dog and its activity level.

When feeding a large breed puppy

Hip dysplasia and osteochondrosis are skeletal abnormalities that are common problems associated with the rapid growth of large and giant breed dogs. Although genetics play a role in occurrence, it is not solely responsible. Environmental factors such as nutrition and exercise should be monitored closely as well.

Energy needs are dependent on the puppy’s individual traits – breed, age, environment, and activity level – and the puppy’s rate of growth is directly influenced by its energy intake. A diet that is lower in fat is recommended for large and giant breed puppies, in order to control the rate of growth.

Large Breed dogs have a narrow range of tolerance for dietary calcium. A diet that is formulated with calcium should be fed to large and giant breed puppies throughout weaning and growth.

Regular periods of exercise are also important for growing dogs, as it helps with energy balance and supports development. Build a bond with your new puppy through regular play and training.

Whether you have a toy breed or a large breed puppy, Trouw Nutrition Canada has a formula that will help meet your needs. Visit our website www.LifetimePetFood.ca/products for a complete list of diets. You can also search our store locator to find a retailer of Lifetime®, Wholesome Blend® and Naturally Fresh products near you.