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Many new dog owners are overwhelmed by the many food options. Chicken or beef? Grains or not? The questions multiply with each additional click of the laptop or you walk down the pet store aisle.
At What Age Can Puppies Eat Food
One of the most frequently asked questions is about the differences between adult dog food and puppy food. Many new owners wonder if they should really buy puppy food or get by with standard adult food.
How Much Food Should You Give Your Dog?
The simple answer? Puppies should be fed puppy food and adult dogs should be fed adult food. They are both designed with different goals in mind.
On adult dog food, and your dog won’t get sick (except maybe a little indigestion) from eating the odd bowl of trifle or stealing bites from his big brother’s meal. But long-term damage
Adult dog food is prepared differently than puppy food, and these differences are important for your pet’s long-term health.
The whole reason puppies and adults have different nutritional needs is because they have important biological differences. They work differently, so they need different types of fuel.
Dog Feeding Rules By Size, Age, And Weight
For example, because of their small size, puppies have a higher surface area to volume ratio than adult dogs. This means they lose body heat faster than adult dogs. Puppies have to work harder to maintain their body temperature than larger, adult dogs (this is true for both small and large breeds). For this reason, puppies and small breeds love heated dog beds.
“Working harder” basically means that internal furnaces need to burn more calories to compensate for the body heat constantly being emitted into the environment. This means that puppies need more calories per kilogram of body weight than non-pregnant and lactating adults.
Plus, puppies grow up quickly; Dogs complete most of their growth in the first two to three years of their lives. This growth requires resources other than just life. In particular, puppies need more amino acids, the building blocks of protein and therefore tissue, than adults.
As you might expect, differences in the biology of puppies and adults translate into different nutritional needs.
A Guide To Feeding Your Puppy
Perhaps surprisingly, the nutritional needs of puppies and nursing mothers are quite similar. As a result, the Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO), the primary dog food regulator, has created two distinct food categories: “Adult Care” and “Growth and Reproduction.” We call them adults and puppies – you should know that dog food fur puppies are also suitable for nursing dogs.
The biggest difference between puppy food (recipes for growth and reproduction) and adult (parental) food is related to protein. A puppy’s diet should get 22.5% of its calories from protein sources, while an adult diet needs only 18% of its calories from protein.
Adults can certainly tolerate high amounts of protein in puppy food, but this can lead to weight gain due to the high calorie content of protein.
However, puppies can suffer from growth problems if they are fed adult food and do not get the protein they need.
Setting Up A Puppy Feeding Schedule
Remember: “Protein” is a soup of different amino acids. Because not all amino acids are created equal, AAFCO recommends different amino acid combinations for adults and puppies.
AAFCO puppy food requires about 2 times more of each of these amino acids than adult dog food. Because these amino acids are specific to the growth process.
AAFCO puppy food should be slightly higher in fat than adult food. According to the guidelines, adult food should contain only 5.5% of calories from fat, while puppy food should contain 8.5% of calories from fat. This is primarily to ensure that the puppy food is “high energy”.
Fat contains more calories per pound than protein or carbohydrates, ensuring puppy food is full of energy to fuel their inner fire.
What To Do If Your Puppy Isn’t Eating Enough
In contrast, adult treats are designed to be leaner, so they contain less fat and therefore fewer calories per bite.
The amount of minerals in puppy food is different from adult dog food. For example, according to AAFCO guidelines, puppy food should contain 1% calcium, while adult food should contain only 0.6% calcium. Similarly, puppy food should contain 0.8% phosphorus, while most adult dog foods contain only 0.5% phosphorus.
In addition to foods suitable for “growth and reproduction” or “adult care”, you may also see foods suitable for “all life stages”.
This food is suitable for more healthy dogs (not suitable for some older dogs) so you can feed it to your dog.
The Best Food For Puppies Is Fresh Food
These foods are designed to meet “growth and reproduction” and “adult care” requirements. However, since the nutritional requirements of puppy food are higher than normal adult food, this means that it is essentially puppy food.
Because they contain more protein and fat than most adult foods, you’ll want to monitor the body weight of adult dogs fed these recipes.
But as long as your kitty stays nice and slim, they’ll be fine even as adults. This extra protein makes puppy food or “all life stages” food a great dog food for weight gain if you’re trying to get a lean dog to a healthy weight.
As your dog ages, his nutritional needs change. She needs fewer resources in her diet to contribute to growth, but she needs more care. Consequently, once she makes these changes, you will need to switch her to a new adult dog food.
Everything You Need To Know About Feeding A Puppy
Check with your vet to determine the best time to switch from puppy food to big girl food, but most dogs are ready to switch between 18 and 24 months of age. The exact age at which your “dog” becomes a “dog” varies from person to person, but most small breeds mature at a fairly young age, while most giant breeds take 2 years or more to fully mature.
Regardless of your dog’s age at the time of the transition, it is important to make this transition gradually.
Start by mixing some adult dog food with regular puppy food. About 10-20% fresh food is ideal. If your dog tolerates it well (translation: no bowel problems), you can double the new food the next day. Always try to minimize bowel obstructions and don’t be afraid to slow down the transition if necessary.
It usually takes about a week to transition from 100% puppy food to 100% adult food.
Ways To Care For An 8 Week Old Puppy
Although puppy food and dog food differ in their exact nutritional requirements, there are several things you should look out for in any food you feed your precious family member. Some important qualities of a good diet are:
As you can see, it’s important to feed your dog food that meets his needs, but if you’re in a pinch it’s also a good idea to give your dog a meal or two of adult dog food. Although any new food may upset her stomach, small amounts of adult food should not cause illness.
Have you ever found yourself needing to feed your puppy adult food? How did she manage? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Ben is the editor-in-chief of Maine’s K9 and has spent much of his adult life working as a wildlife education and animal care professional. Ben has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. She currently resides in Atlanta, United Kingdom with her broken and rotten Rottweiler named J.B. She’s staring at him right now, begging him to go to the park. Creating a puppy feeding schedule will benefit you and your new pet for months and years to come. . Not only does this help you track how much and how often they eat, but it also helps prevent picky eating and other potentially problematic behaviors.
The Very Best Diet For Dogs, According To Vets
Exactly how much you should feed your dog depends on his age, breed, weight and the food you choose to feed him.
You may wonder if you really need a puppy feeding schedule, and in most cases the answer is yes. Dogs (and puppies) are creatures of habit, and helping to establish a feeding routine (and all parts of life in general) will help them go potty more consistently.
PS – We offer a 100% free and comprehensive online puppy training class by YouTube dog trainer Zach George. You can register here for free.
Although every puppy is different, it’s helpful to have a general idea
Puppy Feeding & Nutrition
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