What’s Important for a Puppy’s Diet to Help Them Grow and Thrive?

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This is a featured guest article from Now Fresh. Their idea is simple - pets deserve food that is made with the same love, care, and thoughtfulness as we put into preparing meals for the human members of our families.

Author: Natalie Asaro, Nutrition Manager, NOW FRESH

German Shepard Puppy happy next to Now Fresh puppy food

Meet Brynlee - or Bryn as her mom calls her -  a six month old German Shepherd mix rescue pup!

If you’ve decided that adopting a puppy is right for you, congratulations! Adding a new furry family member can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. In addition to the mental health benefits of bringing home a new companion, the energy and excitement will always keep you on your toes. While you’re definitely in for a lot of affection, it’s also important to understand it’s your job as a pet parent to teach them good habits and care for them properly.

One of the most important parts of doing that is ensuring they have a balanced and proper nutrition. So, if you’re considering puppy adoption, here’s a few tips on what you need to get started:

Choosing the Right Food is Important.

First off, it's important to select a recipe that is specifically formulated for the unique needs of puppies, not adult dogs. This is because puppies are growing and use energy at much higher rates than most adult dogs. Puppies also require a balanced diet formulated with higher levels of protein and essential fatty acids to support healthy growth and development.  

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key nutritional requirements for a puppy’s diet:

  • Quality sources of protein (plant and animal) are important for building healthy muscles in developing puppies, which in turn can support the growth of bones.  
  • Omega 3’s such as DHA and EPA are essential fatty acids for puppies that support cognitive and eye development. Omega 3’s and 6’s can also have positive benefits for a growing puppy’s skin and coat.
  • Vitamins such as Vitamin A and Vitamin D are involved in many important processes for growing puppies. Vitamin A supports vision and nerve function, while Vitamin D plays a vital role in bone health. Unlike humans, puppies are unable to produce sufficient Vitamin D with sunlight exposure, so it is important for it to be supplied in their diet.  
  • Minerals such as calcium and phosphorus support healthy bone development, iron and copper are important for the production of healthy blood cells, and zinc plays a role in protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

The easiest way to determine you’ve chosen the right food is to look for confirmation on the package the recipe meets the nutritional standards for puppies established by the AAFCC which you can read about here. Also, quality brands like NOW FRESH for example, will state clearly that the recipe has been formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for puppies.  

Consistency is Key.

Puppies can be fed three to four times per day until six months old, and meals should be consistently scheduled and spaced out evenly throughout the day to help them learn routine. With their small size and high energy needs, puppies sometimes cannot meet their daily energy requirements in just two meals. When they reach six months, you can consider narrowing that down to two meals per day. It’s also important to allow time after eating for a bathroom break. Again, this is about learning the routine.

Most puppies will reach maturity after one year, though some larger breeds take up to 24 months because they grow at a slower rate. It’s best to do research on your specific breed and be sure to talk with your vet to make sure you’re on the right track.

What about the Water Dish?

Like humans, puppies need adequate water in their diet. As long as you leave a bowl of clean water out during the day, this shouldn’t be an issue. To help with house-training, it’s best to remove the water a few hours before bedtime. This gives you the chance for one last bathroom break outside before shutting off the lights. And just like it’s important to keep a consistent feeding schedule, it’s also important to do the same with access to water. 

If your puppy struggles to drink enough water in the day, you can also incorporate wet food recipes with their kibble, which can help improve hydration when they eat. Just make sure you stick to your daily feeding schedule and balance any wet food with their kibble to avoid overfeeding.

The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Weight.

Going hand in hand with good nutrition is the need to ensure your puppy maintains a healthy weight. A puppy should start gaining weight as soon as you bring them home. Their biggest growth spurt typically occurs before six months of age, with each breed varying in their growth patterns. A general rule of thumb is that you should be able to feel their ribs easily without pushing hard, and there are no rolls of fat.  Even though a chubby puppy might seem cute, if they are overweight when they’re young, they’re more likely to stay overweight as they age, which can lead to health complications down the road. Also, too much weight can impact the healthy development of joints in a growing dog. 

Doing what’s right for your puppy’s diet is one of the best things you can do to help them live a long and happy life. Even though it might be tempting to give a little extra food, or feed them from the table, it’s your responsibility as a pet parent to keep things on track.

Pets rely on humans to make decisions about what’s best for them, and in return, they’ll be sure to provide you with a constant source of love and companionship for years to come.

For more information about good nutrition for puppies, visit www.NOWFRESH.com

Want to give Now Fresh a try with your pup? Purchase a sample size (3.5lb) bag from Chewy.com!

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This is a featured guest article from Now Fresh. Their idea is simple - pets deserve food that is made with the same love, care, and thoughtfulness as we put into preparing meals for the human members of our families.

Author: Natalie Asaro, Nutrition Manager, NOW FRESH