The Right Food for your Puppy
Congratulations on being a puppy owner! This is a special time for both of you, filled with opportunities to get your puppy off to a great start in life.
Just like a baby has different needs than an adult, puppies have different needs than the dogs they'll grow into. Giving your puppy a good start in life is the best thing you can do to ensure she'll be happy and healthy for years to come.
All puppies need the basics - precise nutrition, time to play and lots of love - but puppies have individual needs, as well. We tend to think of the early years as the "healthy years" and therefore may not give enough consideration to feeding practices. But because of factors like size, breed, age, environment, exercise, heredity and many others, a "one size fits all" approach to nutrition just won't work. Improper feeding can increase your puppy's risk of obesity, excessively fast growth, growth-related skeletal problems, poor muscle and bone development and poor immune response.
A growing puppy needs precise levels of essential nutrients to stay her healthiest. To meet the growth and development requirements of puppies, their bodies require a puppy food with increased amounts of energy, protein and calcium compared to adult dogs' needs.
Your large breed puppy (who will grow to be more than 55 pounds at maturity) needs a puppy food formulated to ensure proper bone and muscle growth and the right amount of energy.
Your small breed puppy's small mouth may enjoy a puppy food with smaller kibble.
Precise nutrition is key to any dog's health, so make sure your puppy is getting everything she needs from day one. Fuel her growth and energy with a Hill's® Science Diet® food specifically formulated for puppies.
How Much and How Often to Feed Your Puppy
Once you've found the best puppy food for your puppy, you're on the right track to providing the healthiest life possible.
It's important to feed your puppy the right amount of food at proper intervals, but that can be tricky, as feeding requirements vary greatly from one puppy to another. Feeding guides on the food can or bag are just a starting point. It's critical to your puppy's health that his physical condition be monitored regularly and the feeding amount be adjusted as needed.
Ask your veterinarian which of these three feeding methods is best for your puppy:
- Free Choice: Food is available to your puppy at all times.
- Time-Limited Feeding: Food is available to your puppy for a limited time.
- Meal Feeding: A measured amount of food is available to your puppy at specific meal times each day.
To help your puppy grow up healthy, we recommend following the simple steps in this cycle:
- Weigh your puppy.
- Feed him based on feeding guide and veterinary recommendations.
- Evaluate your puppy's physical condition using our body condition scoring system every two to three weeks for the first six months.
- Adjust the amount you feed accordingly.
- After the first six months, we suggest that you or your veterinarian evaluate your puppy's physical condition every few months. For some puppies, your veterinarian may suggest more frequent evaluations.
The Right Food for Your Adult Dog
Pet owners in the United States own more than 57 million dogs. And as with other dog owners, your dog is an important part of your household. So take care of him with love, exercise and precisely balanced nutrition - all of which are essential to maintain his health for a long and happy life.
For dogs that get an average amount of exercise through daily playing and walk, choose a dog food that provides the optimum balance of nutrition and energy for an adult dog. Ingredients should help your dog maintain healthy teeth, skin and coat. Smaller breeds may prefer a food with smaller kibble.
Dogs with low activity levels or who tend to gain weight easily need a dog food to help guard against obesity. If your dog is at risk for obesity, you should assess his activity level, body condition score and predisposition to fat. To control obesity, adult dogs need a food that is low in fat and calories and high in fiber to help them feel full without reducing their food intake. Reduced levels of sodium are important, as well.
Even if your pet does not show any signs of being overweight, it is important to have regular weight checks at the veterinarian are to make sure his or her ideal weight is maintained. Ask your veterinarian to record your dog's current weight, and take your dog back to the clinic for regular monitoring.
Active dogs, such as working, hunting or sporting dogs, need a dog food that meets their higher energy needs, preserves proper nutrient balance and promotes a healthy skin and coat.
Bad breath, caused by plaque and tartar buildup on your dog's teeth, isn't fun for anyone. If your dog has bad breath, choose a food designed to meet his oral health needs. The right food can help remove plaque and tartar, clean stains on teeth and freshen his breath.
For dogs with sensitive stomachs, choose a food that's easy to digest, but still delivers all the nutrients and energy he needs.
Itchy, flaky skin can be a sign that your dog has sensitive skin. Choose a dog food formulated with ingredients to soothe the itch and keep his coat shiny and healthy.
Ask your veterinarian about a pet food precisely balanced for your dog's specific needs.
The Right Food for Your Mature Adult Dog
As in humans, a dog's body and daily activity levels change with age. By altering the way you care for your older dog, you can maintain his optimum health into his golden years.
As your dog gets older, his nutritional needs change. Older dogs also have a greater risk of developing problems with their kidneys and heart. They may have special digestive needs, so a food with lower fat, phosphorus, protein and calories and with increased amounts of fiber is ideal.
Most breeds of dogs are considered mature by the time they are 7 years old. If you have a larger breed, you may need to change the way you care for him by the time he's 5 years old.
Your Overweight Dog
Did you know being just 20% overweight puts a dog at risk for developing many serious health issues? Weight gain indicates an increase in body fat and usually results when your dog eats too much and exercises too little. Other factors that may impact your dog's weight gain include:
- Age - older dogs are less active, have less energy, and require fewer calories
- Neutering/Spaying - studies have shown that neutered dogs have a lower basic metabolism and, consequently, require fewer calories
- Medical Problems - sometimes weight gain is associated with a medical disorder
Every dog has an ideal weight for its size and breed. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation or use this Interactive Weight Check tool to help determine your dog's ideal weight.
Signs of a problem:
- Ribs cannot be easily felt when running your hand along your dog’s side
- Loss of an obvious waist
- Collar needs loosening
- Difficulty walking
- Slow movement
- Sleeping more than usual
What can you do?
- Get with the program. If your dog is already overweight, a program like the Hill's PetFit™ Challenge can help. It's a complete plan of action - with tools and expert information - for optimizing your dog's weight. An active, healthy and happy life is the greatest gift you can give your best friend!
- Talk to your veterinarian. Take your dog for a thorough examination and health check. Ask your vet to recommend an ideal weight for your dog and tips for achieving that goal.
- Get active. Dogs gain weight when they consume more calories than they burn. Increase your dog's physical activity with longer walks and more play.
- Curb treats and snacks. The calories in treats and snacks can really add up. See the impact of those "little extras" with the Hill's PetFit™ Treat Translator. Reward your dog with non-edible treats, like a belly rub or a few minutes of playtime.
- Feed a lighter formula. The most effective way of achieving a healthy weight is to combine increased exercise with a change in food. Consider switching to a high quality food made just for dogs that are too heavy or are prone to weight gain.
Information taken from: www.hillspet.com