Puppy Basics: Nutrition for Small and Toy Breeds
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Your small- or toy-breed puppy grows rapidly in the first months of their life: Their immune system is developing, their bones are growing and their muscles are getting stronger. With all this growth, they need the right mix of nutrients to support their development. To make sure your puppy is getting the proper nutrition to protect and maintain their health and well-being, keep these key points in mind.
What Food Should You Feed Your Small-breed Puppy?
Research shows that puppies need up to twice as much energy as adult dogs. Because they are growing so quickly at this stage, your small-but-mighty pup needs an energy-rich, nutrient-dense small-breed dog food like IAMS™ Puppy Small Breed. Puppies also need more protein than adult dogs. High-quality animal-based protein will help your puppy create new body tissue as they grow.
Aside from protein, make sure these other important nutrients and ingredients are a part of your puppy's diet:
- Vitamin-rich fish oils to support overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help your puppy stay healthy during this critical stage of growth
- Animal-based protein sources to help nourish growing muscles, vital organs and your puppy’s skin and coat
- A fiber source that will help keep your puppy’s sensitive digestive system healthy, so more nutrition stays in your puppy
- Ideal levels of calcium and phosphorus to help your puppy develop strong teeth and bones
These are important building blocks of nutrition. Look for them when you choose dry or canned dog food and when you select treats.
Why Do Small-breed Puppies Need Specialized Nutrition?
When it comes to feeding puppies, one size does not fit all. Small-breed puppies have higher metabolism rates per pound and reach their mature adult weight faster than larger-breed puppies. And small-breed puppies need high levels of protein, fat, calcium and phosphorus to support the growth and development of their bones, muscles and other tissues. So, giving your puppy a food that supports their breed size is the easiest way to make sure they’re getting the right balance of nutrients for their growth rate.
And remember: Small-breed puppies also have small mouths and stomachs! Make sure your puppy's food has small kibble for easy chewing. A nutrient-dense formula will help your puppy get a complete and balanced diet even though their stomach can only hold what seems like a small amount of food.
How Much and How Often Should You Feed Your Small-breed Puppy?
From the time your puppy is weaned until 4 months of age, you should feed your puppy two to three times a day. Check the food label guidelines to feed them the proper daily amount. After your puppy is 4 months old, feed them twice a day on a regular schedule. And make sure they always have access to fresh water, too!
When Should You Switch Your Puppy to Adult Food?
A small-breed puppy reaches adult weight faster than larger breeds. You can start feeding an adult dog food, such as IAMS™ Adult Small Breed, when they are around 9 to 12 months old.
Your dog might not be thrilled about the change at first, but don't worry. You can help ease the transition by gradually introducing the adult food. Try mixing 25% of the new food with 75% of their puppy food, and then gradually change the proportions over the next three weeks until they are eating 100% adult food.
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- adp_description_block377Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
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Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
Choosing a Food for Overall Health
To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:
- Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
- A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
- A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels
These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.
Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage
Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.
Guarding Against Weight Gain
Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.
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