Basic Puppy Feeding Guidelines

You are what you eat. The same is true for puppies. Feed a puppy on thoughtfully prepared food such as EukanubaTM, and you can expect to raise a dynamic, inquisitive, energetic pet that sports a dense, thick coat. What you'll see is an external articulation of all that's happening inside: The skeleton is developing properly, muscles are building, and neural pathways in the brain are expanding. If Eukanuba designed his meals, he's also getting the antioxidants he needs for his developing immune system. This also helps combat common canine diseases such as distemper and parvovirus. Understanding the nature of canine nutrition may sound daunting, but we'll break it down for you, because it is imperative information for you to understand. Here's a primer:

The Critical Puppy Years

Nourish him as a pup, and you'll build an excellent foundation for his life as a healthy dog. That's because his first few months are critical to the development of his body and mind. In fact, puppies experience their most rapid period of growth during the first six months of life. It is no real surprise, then, that puppies expend nearly twice the energy of adult dogs. The catch is that puppies don’t have the stomach capacity to eat enough food to meet their energy requirements in two meals. Therefore, it's important he's given multiple meals a day with an enriched formula.

See a Noticeable Difference with Eukanuba

Our scientists have calculated the ideal blend of protein, carbohydrates, and fat necessary to ensure good health. Eukanuba puppy foods (and dog and cat foods) are considered premium nutrition. However, because these foods are nutrient dense, your puppy will actually consume less per meal.

Here's a sample of the nutrients that are in Eukanuba puppy foods:

  • Highly digestible carbohydrates, such as barley and grain sorghum (for sustained energy)
  • Dense fiber, such as beet pulp (to maximize energy and minimize waste)
  • Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (to keep skin supple and your puppy’s coat shiny)
  • Antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamin E (to boost immune system)

One Puppy Food Does Not Fit All

While all Eukanuba foods contain the above ingredients, we know it is also important to consider your pet's size when mixing our formulas. You see, not all puppies have the same nutritional needs. Small breeds develop faster and require higher levels of protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus; large breeds must be given a less-nutrient-dense formula to make sure they don't overeat. Medium breeds, of course, have their own concerns.

Deciphering Pet Food Labels

Read the labels of any puppy-food brand you are considering very carefully so you know exactly what you're putting into your puppy's system.

  • The name of the food can tell you how much of a particular ingredient is in it. Brand names that include the animal-protein source—"beef formula,” for example — indicate that 25% of the product is that animal protein. Names that include "with” (for example, "with chunky chicken") or "flavor" (for example, "turkey flavor") contain as little as 3% of the ingredient.
  • Labels on the back of puppy food also can clue you in as to how much product you'll receive in the food. Those listed first, second, and third are present in higher quantities than those listed fourth, fifth, and sixth (though this order is determined according to weights taken before cooking).
  • The product also should include a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
  • The law requires that the manufacturer's name and address be listed on the package, but beware of products that read, "Packed for or distributed by," because these foods aren't made by the store whose name may be on the front label.

For more information about understanding dog food labels, please read Deciphering Dog Food Labels

Puppy Feeding Tips

After you've purchased your puppy's food, it seems it would be simple to feed him. But there are a few things you can do to turn his food into a meal.

  • Think like a dietician and measure portion size correctly. To determine the proper portion, start with the daily amount recommended and divide by the number of times you'll feed your puppy (usually breakfast, lunch, and dinner; after 4 months of age, feed only in the mornings and evenings). Remove the bowl after it’s been made available to him for 30 minutes. This helps prevent overfeeding, which leads to unhealthy weight gain. (While puppies need to chew frequently, they shouldn't snack like humans.)
  • Serve his meals at room temperature.
  • Resist the urge to mix in additional food such as cottage cheese, hamburger, or eggs. Such foods can interfere with the absorption of minerals provided in dog food.
  • Always provide your puppy with fresh water. Just one dropped kernel of kibble can contaminate his bowl quickly.

The Teething Puppy

Between 3 and 6 months of age, puppies’ teeth loosen and are expelled. During this time, your puppy’s gums will be very sensitive; he may even refuse food. This is normal. Try easing him through this stage by:

  • Mixing his regular dry food with canned food
  • Soaking dry food in water for 10 to 15 minutes to soften it
  • Loosening teeth by feeding crunchy food and biscuits
  • Sticking with his current food, as switching it could cause intestinal upset

Switching to Adult Dog Food

Just when you've gotten used to taking your puppy outside to go potty every hour, your little one will surprise you by growing up. When you turn this corner, buy him his first bag of adult dog food. The big indicator will be his size: He'll stop growing in height and weight. For small- and medium-breed puppies, this happens around 1 year; large breed puppies don't mature until they're upwards of two.

When you make the switch, follow these guidelines:

  • Consider whether your dog gains weight easily, and if he has a high activity level or any other special needs. Many premium brands, including Eukanuba, offer unique formulas.
  • To avoid an upset belly, gradually incorporate the new type of food with the current kibble over a four-day time period. For more information about how to do this properly, read How to Switch From Puppy to Adult Dog Food.
  • Portion sizes can be determined by dividing the total daily amount by the number of times you feed him (usually twice).
  • Periodically check his weight by moving your hands along his sides. You should be able to feel his ribs. Furthermore, you should also be able to see his waistline if you peer down at him from above. If you suspect your puppy is overweight, try increasing his exercise routine.

If you feed your pet a high-quality premium food such as Eukanuba right from the start, you'll be laying the groundwork for a healthy, happy life for your dog.