Your puppy is changing in so many ways. In fact, the most rapid growth will take place in these first months of his life. His immune system is developing. Bones are growing. Muscles are getting stronger. All of this requires a nutrient-dense diet, formulated to support a medium-breed puppy's rate of development. To make sure your puppy is getting optimal nutrition to protect and maintain health and well-being, here are some key points to keep in mind.
Feeding Your Puppy
From the time your puppy is weaned until 4 months of age, you should feed your puppy two to three meals a day, with the daily amount based on the guidelines of the food label. After 4 months of age, he should be fed twice a day on a regular schedule. Always have fresh water available.
More Energy, More Protein
Research shows that puppies need up to twice as much energy as adult dogs. Dramatic growth at this stage means your puppy requires an energy-rich, nutrient-dense complete and balanced diet. Puppies also require more protein than adult dogs. High-quality animal-based protein will help your puppy create new body tissue.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Not all puppies have the same nutritional needs. Medium-breed puppies actually have slightly higher metabolism rates per pound than large-breed puppies. And your puppy will reach his mature adult weight at about 12 months, sooner than larger breeds that reach adulthood as late as 24 months. Your puppy needs protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus to support growth and development of bones, muscles, and other tissues. So giving him a food that supports his medium size is the easiest way to help make sure he's getting the right balance of nutrients for his metabolism and growth rate.
Remember, puppies have small stomachs. Make sure his food is nutrient-dense so he'll get a complete and balanced diet even though his stomach can only handle what seems like a small volume of food.
Choosing Puppy Food
Aside from energy and protein, there are other important nutrients and ingredients vital to 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 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.
The Switch to Adult Food
A medium-breed puppy reaches adult weight by about 12 months. You can begin feeding an adult dog food at this time, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult MiniChunks. Your dog might not welcome 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 his puppy food, then gradually change the proportions over the next three days until he's eating 100% adult food.
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Does your mature dog sniff at his bowl and walk away instead of digging in? You may think he’s just being picky, but it’s important to keep an eye on how much he’s eating — especially if he’s a senior. While age-related diminishment of the senses of smell and taste may account for some of his disinterest in food, appetite loss can also indicate a serious medical problem.
“It’s important to give your dog enough calories because weight loss can be debilitating to senior pets,” says Wendy Brooks, D.V.M., who warns that a loss in appetite should be mentioned to your vet. A good rule of thumb: If your pet hasn’t eaten in a day, make a visit to the vet. Here are six ways to entice your canine friend with a nourishing meal.
6 Ways to Encourage Your Senior Dog to Eat More
1. Mix Dry Food with Moist Food
Many animals find canned food more palatable because they like the taste and texture, Brooks says. You can top their favorite dry food with room-temperature wet food.
2. Warm It Up
Dogs like a warm or room-temperature (not hot or cold) meal. Avoid serving him day-old wet food from the refrigerator, and keep his food away from heat. Another reason he might not be eating: It's too hot outside.
3. Try a Change
Dogs prefer consistency when it comes to their food. Don't change every day, but try a new flavor, such as lamb or chicken, and see if he responds (it may trigger his sense of smell). To avoid an upset stomach, introduce a new food by mixing it with his old food in equal increments each day.
4. Stay Close
Common mature-dog health issues, such as arthritis or joint pain, can make it difficult for him to access his bowls. Keep food and water where he spends most of his time. Put a water bowl on all floors of the house, too.
5. Keep the Fresh Water Flowing
Older pets are at a higher risk of dehydration. Provide a clean bowl with fresh water at all times. It will help prevent disease, such as a kidney condition, and aid in digestion.
6. Offer Praise
Dogs are people pleasers. If you see him eating, give him a little verbal reward. He'll know it makes you happy and will repeat the behavior.
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