Feeding Your Puppy IAMS? for a Healthy Start in Life

Proper nutrition for your new puppy is key to helping him live a long, healthy life.

Selecting a Puppy Food

Dogs are as individual as people. Large, small, young or old, despite their differences, they all need a well-balanced diet for good health. Yet, dogs of different ages and sizes have different nutritional needs. This is especially true when it comes to puppies.

The energy requirements of a puppy can be nearly twice that of an adult dog, and a puppy may not have the stomach capacity to eat enough food to meet his needs unless the food is specially formulated.

When choosing a food, select a formula 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, you may see these results:

  • Exceptional muscle tone
  • Shiny, luxurious coat
  • Healthy skin, bones and teeth
  • Clear, bright eyes
  • Small, firm stools
  • Playfulness
  • A happy, healthy attitude
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Feed Based on Breed Size

Puppies grow the fastest during the first six months of life and, because growth rates differ among breed sizes, you need to feed a formula designed to address the needs of your puppy's breed or size. Feed based on the recommended amounts for weight and age and feed this formula until your puppy 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 their diet promotes normal skeletal development.

Overfeeding and weight gain can actually 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.

Controlling the rate of growth to promote normal development is another reason to feed a large-breed diet. A formula with reduced fat and calories promotes optimum growth.

Medium-breed puppy nutrition

Medium-breed puppies have needs between those of large- and small-breed dogs. Medium breeds' nutritional demands can be satisfied by feeding a 100% complete and balanced formula that features moderate amounts of all the essential vitamins and nutrients.

Small-breed puppy nutrition

Small-breed puppies have unique needs due to their small mouths, small stomachs and their growth spurt to adult size in a short period of time. That's why it's important to pack a lot of nutrition and energy into a small amount of food. A poor-quality diet may fill a puppy's stomach before enough food can be eaten 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. There is also IAMS Small & Toy Puppy Food. It has concentrated nutrition for the lifelong health of your small or toy breed dog.

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Dry, Moist and Biscuits

Once you've decided on a premium formula, you have another choice to make: dry or moist. And what about biscuits?

Premium dry dog food gives you the best value and convenience, while fortifying your dog with high-quality nutrition. Premium dry foods come in a number of bag sizes and formulas suited to size, life stage and activity level. Dry food also helps keep teeth clean, and it stays fresh for a long time if you store it properly.

Canned foods from IAMS provide 100% complete nutrition. Puppy and adult biscuits make great treats and rewards and can add taste variety to your new dog's diet.

IAMS Select Bites provide a complete and delicious, balanced meal in a handy pouch. There's a variety your puppy is sure to enjoy. IAMS Savory Sauce is the perfect complement to Premium foods like IAMS Dry formulas. Savory Sauce can be mixed with your dry food for the ultimate in taste and variety.

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Value of Premium Food

Low-cost food may be better for your wallet, but it can be a raw deal for your dog, because he may not get the nutrition he needs. Premium food makes sense both nutritionally (because of consistent, high-quality ingredients) and economically because it provides:

  • 100% complete, balanced nutrition
  • High nutrient and energy density, which may allow smaller feeding portions
High nutrient and energy density

The investment in a premium food may initially cost more per bag, but because these high-quality formulas are high in nutrient density, your dog may need less food, which can offset the higher cost per unit of weight. On a cost-per-feeding basis, look at how much you feed each day as opposed to how much the bag costs, because nutrient and energy density will generally be lower for a low-cost food compared with premium foods.

With budget-priced formulas, the emphasis is on production and ingredient costs. Two bags of the same least-cost formulated food can have different ingredients and/or levels of ingredients. Plus, those ingredients may vary significantly in digestibility. This means, simply, that you may need to feed more just to equal the nutrition offered by a smaller amount of a premium dog food formula.

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Nutrition, Skin, Coat

Feeding studies have shown that dogs thrive on high-quality animal proteins from chicken, fish, lamb and eggs. IAMS Formulas are made with these highly digestible proteins, which promote excellent skin and coat condition and enhance your dog's overall health and well being. When your dog's coat looks good, the rest of the body is likely to be well nourished, too.

The role of fatty acids

Fat also plays a key role in keeping your dog's skin and coat in top condition. Fat not only provides energy, it's a source of essential fatty acids that are necessary for the skin's healthy structure. Fatty acids in the diet keep the skin moist and supple. They also contribute to a thick, lustrous and healthy coat. The lack of or imbalance of fatty acids can cause dry, scaly skin and brittle hair. A diet with vitamin-rich fish oils is vital to your puppy's coat health and appearance.

Although there are many kinds of fatty acids, a few are important to coat health and appearance:

  • Linoleic acid is an essential omega-6 fatty acid for dogs and is necessary for healthy skin. It is found in beef, pork, chicken and some vegetable oils.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids, including linoleic acid, can be found in the fat or oils provided in ingredients such as chicken and corn in your dog's food.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish oils and in flax. Although not essential to a dog's diet, they have been found to help manage skin and coat conditions and promote a shiny coat.
A proper fatty-acid balance

An appropriate balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids helps maintain your dog's healthy skin and coat. An optimal range of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty-acid ratios is between 5:1 and 10:1, to enhance skin and coat quality and help nutritionally manage skin and coat conditions.

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Natural DHA Supports Proper Brain Development

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is a key nutrient found naturally in breast milk and is important for a baby's neural development. And, just like babies, a puppy's ability to learn depends upon healthy brain development.

At 6 weeks, a puppy's brain mass is approximately 70% developed. At this stage and in the months ahead, feeding your puppy a diet rich in DHA can help support neural development. Premium puppy foods, such as IAMS Smart Puppy provide DHA in their formulas.

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Understanding Labels

Five sections of a dog food label reveal what is in the food you're buying. Here's what you need to know to understand the information on a dog food label.

1. The ingredient panel

This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients must be listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. A key ingredient in dry food should be a source of high-quality, animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins, but may not do as well on diets high in vegetable proteins such as soybean meal.

Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins may be saving money at the expense of a dog's overall well being. Other ingredients to avoid are artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.

2. The guaranteed analysis

Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the "guaranteed analysis." These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.

3. The manufacturer's name and address

This information must be on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address may also be listed. Manufacturers like IAMS, who list a phone number, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 1-800-525-4267.

Beware of products that read, packed for or distributed by. These foods aren't made by the store whose name may be on the front label, but are from a manufacturer whose quality and consistency controls may not be monitored closely.

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Feeding Instructions

Your new dog's first meals at home are very important. Find out what formula your dog has been eating and continue feeding this food for a day or two after you bring him home. If you want to change his diet to a premium food such as IAMS, gradually move him from the old food to the new formula and help avoid intestinal upsets by using the following steps:

Day 1: Fill your dog's bowl with 75% of his old food and 25% of IAMS Premium Formula.

Day 2: Mix the old food and IAMS Smart Puppy Premium Formula in a 50/50 ratio.

Day 3: Feed your dog a mixture that's 75% IAMS Smart Puppy Premium Formula and 25% old food.

Day 4: Feed 100% of IAMS Smart Puppy Premium Formula.

Feeding tips

To feed a puppy from weaning to four months of age, offer a 100% complete and balanced premium puppy formula such as IAMS Smart Puppy. To determine each serving size, start with the daily amount recommended by the feeding guidelines on the pet food label and divide that number by the number of times a day (usually 3 times) you plan to feed your puppy.

Serve the food at room temperature and remove the bowl within 30 minutes after he's done eating. After four months, you can feed a puppy twice daily on a regular schedule.

  • Always provide your dog with clean, fresh water.
  • Discard uneaten wet food at the end of the day.
  • Don't add nutritional supplements to your dog's diet. Adding commercial dietary supplements or "people food" such as hamburger, eggs, cottage cheese or cow's milk is unnecessary and may even do more harm than good.
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Feeding Tips for a Teething Puppy

Feeding Tips for a Teething Puppy Puppies grow quickly and have special nutritional needs. The most noticeable time is known as the rapid growth stage, which occurs between two and six months of age. From about three to six months, most pups will lose their puppy teeth (you may find a tooth near his dish or on the floor this is normal).

During this phase, however, his mouth and gums may be very sensitive, which could cause him to be a bit picky when it comes to eating. There's nothing you can do except to wait it out, even if his appetite is low for a couple of days.

Helpful hints

Don't switch to a new formula to stimulate your puppy's appetite. Changing food at this time can cause additional stress and intestinal upset. The tips below could help your puppy make the change:

  • Mix his regular, premium dry food with a premium canned puppy food to soften the dry and make mealtime even more appealing. Try adding IAMS® Savory Sauce to his dry food, which may inspire him to eat. Or try some moist food, like IAMS® Select Bites, to help him through this sensitive period.
  • Soak dry food in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Feeding a dry food and biscuits loosens the teeth so pups can get through the teething process quicker. If his appetite loss persists, see your veterinarian before you switch food.
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    On Into Adulthood

    Depending on his breed size, at some point between 12 and 24 months of age, you should re-examine your puppy's nutritional needs and choose the right adult formula. His adult food could depend upon his metabolism: Does he gain weight easily? His activity level: Is it low, normal or high? These factors can help you find the ideal food for your dog.

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    Switching to Adult Food

    The transition to a premium adult formula should begin when your dog approaches adult height and weight. The kind of dog you have will determine the time to switch. When you do switch to adult formula, follow the same four-day process as you did when introducing your puppy to premium puppy food.

    Small-breed dogs tend to mature physically much sooner than large-breed dogs. Follow these guidelines to help you decide when to switch formulas:

    Small-breed dogs (20 pounds or less when fully grown) are usually ready to transition to an adult formula when they are 9 to 12 months of age.

    Medium-breed dogs (between 20 and 50 pounds when fully grown) normally mature at around 12 to 14 months of age.

    Large-breed dogs (more than 50 pounds when fully grown) might not be ready to switch to an adult food until they are between 12 and 24 months old.

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    What Premium Foods Provide

    High-quality, complete and balanced premium dog foods such as the IAMS® brands are specifically designed to provide your dog with a food that has:

    • High-quality ingredients
    • High total diet digestibility
    • Balanced, optimal levels of protein, fat, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which make costly nutritional supplements unnecessary
    • A nutrient-dense formulation appropriate for a particular life stage
    • Calibrated fatty-acid ratios to help maintain healthy skin and coat
    • Great palatability (taste) based on feeding trials
    • Product guarantees

    To determine how much food to give your dog, check the daily feeding recommendations set by the pet food manufacturer and read the label. To calculate portion sizes, divide the total daily recommended amount by the number of times (usually 2 for adult dogs) you plan to feed your dog.

    To tell if your dog is at a healthy weight, move your hands along his sides. If you can feel his ribs, he's about right. Or, look down at him when you're directly above him. You should be able to see a waistline.

    If he's gaining or losing a lot of weight, slightly decrease or increase his daily intake and weigh him in another week. If you have specific concerns about your dog's weight, talk to your veterinarian. He or she can assess your dog's needs and make a feeding recommendation.

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    Why Switch to an Adult Formula?

    As your new puppy quickly matures into adulthood, he needs nutrition appropriate for his "new" body. That means a high-quality, premium adult formula.

    Though your puppy is nearly full-grown, good nutrition is still important. Most veterinarians agree that feeding a complete and balanced premium food like IAMS® throughout your dog's adulthood can promote a better-quality, longer, healthier life.

    Read more about Dog Food Nutrition.

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