So when should a dog’s good nutrition start? Right from the moment, they are born. In
fact, pups get an excellent source of nutrition and antibodies right from their mothers. In
the first 24 hours after they give birth, a female dog will produce a liquid called
Colostrum. This is the same liquid that women produce right after they give birth but
before their milk comes in. In this colostrum are antibodies that the mother has been
exposed to by the vaccinations she has received. So if you have a mother who is up to
date on her vaccinations, her pup will be protected at least until they are old enough to
begin their vaccine schedule. Usually, the antibodies will stay in a pup’s blood until
they are a few weeks old.
Without colostrum, a pup’s chance of survival can be drastically reduced. Colostrum is a
source of protection and nutrition and is also playing a part in maintaining the fluid level
in your pup. In order for a new pup’s heart to work, it needs a high volume of fluid.
Colostrum helps balance this all out.
After the first 24 hours and mother will start producing milk for their pups. Most experts
agree that a pup should just nurse for about 3 to 4 weeks until their puppy teeth start
showing. Once their teeth start coming through, the breeder should start adding in solid
food because nursing might start to become too hard for the mother with their puppy
teeth. If you have a pup or have experience with puppies, you know how sharp those
teeth are. Imagine the pain their poor mother must experience if she accidentally gets
nipped while they are nursing.
Most vets and breeders recommend that puppies are kept with their mother and their litter
until they are at least 7-8 weeks old. By this time they are old enough to be weaned from
their mother and ready to begin their new life with you. There are some questions to ask
your breeder (if that is who you are buying your dog from). Double check and make sure
the pup nursed for the first 24 hours. This way you can rest be assured that they got
colostrum. Also, ask your breeder or wherever you are buying your dog from what kind
diet the pup has been on. Find out what kind of kibble the pup has been getting. Most
of the time, a breeder will send you home with a bag of kibble and leave it up to you to
determine if you want to stay with that kibble or use a new one. Switching is your
choice. Some people switch because the kibble the puppies were on at the breeders have
had bad reviews, others switch to a cheaper brand. All I ask is that if you do switch, you
make sure they are still getting the nutrients they need to grow into the loving adult dog
they are destined to be.
If you decide you want to try your pup on different food for whatever the reason, what
kind of food should you buy for your puppy? Avoid canned food as they are made up of
main water, salt and sugar. Your pup does not need any salt or sugar so avoid the
canned and the semi-moist food. Plus soften food can also cause teeth problems down
the line for your dog. Stick with a dried food. To be more specific stick with a dried
kibble food that has a meat protein source as one of its first two ingredients. Included in
this kibble should be at least 28% of protein for your puppy to help them grow big and
strong. Not only that but the kibble will help the puppy’s teeth. Puppies’ teeth are
notorious for being sharper than adult teeth. Puppy kibble is designed for these teeth.
You will notice that puppy kibble is a little smaller and sometimes harder than adult
kibble. This is for your puppies’ teeth and to help his adult teeth come through.
If you are switching, the next step is to make the switch. Do not switch suddenly
meaning do not give your pup the food it is used to one day and then a completely
different food the next day. This will wreak havoc on your puppy’s stomach. Not only
that your pup might not take to the new food so kindly.
Your best bet is to mix the food in slowly to get them use to the new food. It can take up to a week to completely
transition the pup from one food to the next but in the end, it is worth it for your dog.
How often should you feed your puppy? Well, any puppy under the age of six months
should be fed at least three times a day. By the time they are six months, they should
eat twice a day, and once they hit a year, they should eat only once a day. Of course, that
is all depending on the breed and the amount of activity your dog gets. A dog that gets a
lot of activity and is a larger breed dog might benefit from being fed twice a day instead
of once. It is not a good idea though to leave your puppies or your dog’s food out all day
for them to eat whenever they may feel like it. This can lead to unwanted behavior down
the line and obesity in some dogs. Since you are feeding three times a day, which means
once in the morning, afternoon and night.
This does mean that if you work full time, either yourself or someone you know and trust will have to come to feed your puppy its lunch and make sure they are taking out immediately. A puppy’s intestinal tract is still
developing and they can not hold off on doing their business as long as adult dogs can.
Make sure though you stick to a feeding schedule with your puppy.
As always limited the amounts of table scraps you give your pup, in fact, try not to give
him any. Instead, go for the puppy designed treats if you must give him something. By
practicing good nutrition and diet right from the start you are creating an excellent blueprint
for your dog to follow through his life.