Puppy Basics: Selecting the Right Food
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Dogs are as unique as people, but despite their differences, they all need a well-balanced diet for good health. However, dogs of different ages and sizes have different nutritional needs, and this is especially true for puppies. When you factor in developmental needs, ingredients and your puppy’s size and breed, choosing the right food can be difficult.
How to Select a Puppy Food
The energy requirements of a puppy can be nearly twice those of an adult dog. This means that a puppy might not have the stomach capacity to eat enough food to meet his needs unless the food is specially formulated.
When choosing a puppy food, select one that provides a highly digestible, nutrient-dense, 100% complete premium formula for growth. Such high-quality formulas contain the vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates your dog needs for sound and healthy development. With a premium formula, your puppy may have:
- Exceptional muscle tone
- A shiny, luxurious coat
- Healthy skin, bones, and teeth
- Clear, bright eyes
- Small, firm stools
- A happy, healthy attitude
Puppies grow fastest during the first six months of life, and because growth rates differ among breed sizes, you need a formula designed to address the needs of your puppy’s breed or size. Feed your puppy this formula based on the recommended amounts for his weight and age until he is an adult.
Large-breed Puppy Nutrition
Although large-breed dogs have bigger bones than medium or small breeds, large-breed puppies do not need more calcium. University studies have shown that:
- Rapidly growing large-breed pups are more inclined to exhibit developmental bone problems.
- Controlling the rate of growth is more beneficial than promoting rapid growth.
- Moderating calcium, phosphorus and calorie levels in the diet of large-breed puppies promotes normal skeletal development.
Overfeeding and weight gain can contribute to developmental bone problems. This makes managing food intake even more critical. Puppies are at greater risk for developmental bone problems if they are overfed.
A formula with reduced fat and calories promotes optimum growth. Controlling the rate of growth to promote normal development is another reason to feed a large-breed diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Smart Puppy Large Breed.
Medium-breed Puppy Nutrition
Medium-breed puppies have needs between those of large- and small-breed dogs. A medium-breed puppy’s nutritional demands can be satisfied by feeding a 100% complete and balanced formula that features moderate amounts of all the essential vitamins and nutrients, such as IAMS ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original.
Small-breed Puppy Nutrition
Small-breed puppies have unique needs due to their small mouths and small stomachs, as well as the rapid growth spurt they experience when growing to adult size. That’s why it’s important to pack a lot of nutrition and energy into a small amount of food. A poor-quality diet might fill a puppy’s stomach before he can eat enough food to satisfy his nutritional needs. The result can be improper muscle and skeletal development and growth impairment.
IAMS™ puppy foods are formulated to be energy- and nutrient-dense to meet the needs of growing puppies. The IAMS™ formula for small and toy puppy breeds, IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Smart Puppy Small & Toy Breed, has concentrated nutrition for the lifelong health of your small- or toy-breed dog.
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- adp_description_block430Puppy 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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