Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting event. Adjustments to your living arrangements and schedule may be necessary in order to accommodate the needs of your new family member. Moreover, it’s essential to buy things that your puppy needs like chew toys, a bed and a crate. By far the most important thing you’ll buy for your puppy is his food. One of the first things many people wonder is, “Can puppies eat adult dog food?”
Many people who bring home a puppy are tempted to purchase an adult dog food. It’s a natural inclination because adult dog food tends to be less expensive than puppy food. People who already have a grown-up dog are particularly susceptible to the idea of getting adult dog food for their puppy. They figure it makes good economic sense to buy one food for both dogs.
On the surface, this may appear to be a good strategy. The reality is that the nutritional needs of a puppy and those of an adult dog are vastly different. Puppies have a year or more of growing to do. This means that their bones, muscles and organs will undergo massive changes in the coming months. All of that growth and development requires special nutrition. Because adult dogs are beyond that stage, foods that are formulated for them are going to have very different contents.
Additionally, puppies have smaller mouths than grown-up dogs. Their jaw muscles are weaker and their stomachs tend to be more sensitive. This means that the size of the kibble in an adult dog food may be very difficult for your puppy to chew. Even worse, his sensitive stomach may not be up to easily digesting the ingredients that are found in an adult dog food.
By feeding your puppy a food that is made for adults, he’ll miss out on essential nutritional components that may stunt his development and lead to health problems throughout the course of his life.
All quality dog foods are nutrient dense. However, puppy food packs in even more nutrients than adult dog foods do. This is because the puppy’s body has so much work to do. Many puppy foods contain higher levels of protein along with larger amounts of vitamins and minerals. These ingredients assist your puppy to grow up healthy and strong. Puppy food is also designed to meet the higher energy needs of young dogs. If you compare puppies to adult dogs, you’ll quickly find that puppies tend to be much more physically active.
They are curious and adventurous, always getting into one thing or another. This exploration is healthy as it builds denser bones and stronger muscles. A high-quality puppy food is required to support this developmental stage.
Perhaps the biggest reason not to give adult dog food to your puppy is the size and hardness of the kibble. Giving a puppy adult food sets your young family member up for a host of physical problems. From broken teeth to dislocated jaws, chewing adult dog food can be really troublesome for puppies. That’s why puppy food is specially designed with smaller, softer pieces. These adjustments account for a puppy’s smaller mouth and weaker jaw, leading to less discomfort for him and fewer vet bills for you.
The First Eight Weeks
For approximately the first eight weeks of your pup’s life, the best possible nutrition comes from his mother’s milk. This milk is perfectly formulated to guarantee a healthy start with just the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It also features valuable antibodies that ensure your puppy starts building a strong and effective immune system.
Commercially prepared, formula milk can be substituted if there’s no way your pup’s mother can supply the milk he needs. However, no milk formula can wholly replicate the benefits that your puppy derives from drinking his mother’s milk. This makes it imperative that you do everything in your power to ensure that your new family member gets his mother’s milk for his early weeks.
Once your puppy is ready to start trying solid foods, it’s important to feed him in the appropriate amount. How much you feed him depends largely on how big of a dog he will be when full grown. For instance, a toy breed puppy may thrive on between one-quarter and three-quarters of a cup of food per day while a giant breed will need between two and four cups every day for optimum nutrition.
Between those two extremes are small breeds that come in at about one cup per day, medium breeds that need from one to two cups daily and large breeds that need about two-and-a-half cups of food. These amounts are merely suggested guidelines. Read the serving size instructions on the puppy food packaging and consult with your veterinarian to make certain that your dog is getting the right amount of nutrition. Remember that getting too little food can be just as detrimental as getting too much food.
Asking Your Bet
When you ask your vet about how much food you should be feeding your puppy, ask about how long it’s necessary to feed puppy food to your particular breed. Small or toy breeds usually reach their full size at between nine and 12 months while a giant breed can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to completely mature.
General guidelines suggest feeding your dog puppy food until he is at least one year old. However, large and giant breeds will still be growing at this point and will continue to need puppy food. Keep this in mind, and ask your vet if you have any concerns.
Another consideration when it comes to growing puppies is how often you should feed them. Their stomachs are small, and this means that serving a full day’s portion at once may not be a good idea. After weaning and through about the first six months of life, it’s advisable to feed your pup as many as four times a day. If you’re raising a toy or small breed, this may seem like a lot of feedings for such a small amount of food. In this case, you may elect to adopt a three meals a day schedule.
However, larger breed puppies can definitely thrive with four a day feedings. By the time your pup reaches six months of age, you’ll scale back to three meals a day. If you like, you can schedule these feedings for during or after your family’s meals to make them more convenient. As your pup becomes a full-grown adult, you can transition to two feedings a day. Most pet parents choose morning and evening feeding times that coincide with their own breakfast and dinner.
Once you’ve answered the important, “can puppies eat adult dog food?” question, you’re ready to choose a food for your pup. Generally, your choices are either a wet food or a dry kibble. Kibble is the most frequently recommended type of food for puppies and adult dogs.
That’s because it’s easy to digest and typically has the highest protein content. Moreover, kibble cleans your puppy’s teeth naturally, meaning he’ll get fewer cavities throughout his lifetime. Dry food also makes sense for pet parents because it is relatively affordable and easy to store. It doesn’t spoil quickly, so you can keep using a big bag for quite some time without worrying about it going bad.
Wet Puppy Food
Wet puppy food is also fairly easy to digest. However, it does have some drawbacks. It spoils fairly quickly, and that’s especially true if it’s not stored properly. In comparison to kibble, it’s a relatively expensive prospect. It also doesn’t clean your pup’s teeth.
In fact, wet food has a way of clinging to and between teeth, which can be bad news for your dog’s oral health. Wet food contains about 75 percent water, which means it simply can’t pack the nutritional punch that’s found in kibble. Nonetheless, it can be nice to occasionally mix a bit of wet food into your dog’s kibble.
Vets frequently recommend a puppy food that contains between 22 and 29 percent of protein and eight and 14 percent fat. The larger your puppy is likely to be in adulthood, the higher you should go with the protein percentage. Of course, even some toy breeds can do very well with 29 percent protein. Talk to your vet about what’s best for your puppy to make sure he’s getting at least the minimum amount of protein to help him grow healthy and strong.
The food you give your puppy is the best opportunity you have for ensuring that he has fewer health problems throughout his life. Moreover, a nutrient-dense, high-quality food that is formulated specifically for puppies translates to improved growth and development. When it comes to feeding your new family member, be certain to choose puppy food to give him a great start in life.