Nutrient Requirements for Growing Puppies
So, you’ve decided to welcome a cute new puppy into your life? Firstly, congratulations! For the foreseeable future, life is going to be full of love, licks, and excitement as you navigate the world with your small furry friend. As a new pet parent, however, you may be wondering what healthy puppy development looks like? Or, perhaps you’re keen to educate yourself on the nutrient requirements for puppies? We cover what you need to know so you can choose the right diet for your growing pup.
What Does Normal Puppy Growth and Development Look Like?
As adorable as they are whilst tiny, puppies generally don’t stay this size for long. By the time your puppy is six months old, they will have gone through their fast-growing juvenile stage, which happens between three to six months.
At six months, your puppy is now an adolescent. Physical growth starts to slow as energy levels increase and your puppy’s personality comes to the fore. All adult teeth should be formed at this stage, and your puppy should hopefully have the hang of house training to the relief of all pup owners! This is also the point where your pup reaches sexual maturity, so you may want to consider getting them spayed or neutered. The change often occurs a little later, typically between 9 to 15 months for large breed dogs.
How Growth Development Looks Different for Every Breed
No breed of dog is the same as another, meaning that puppy development stages can look pretty different depending on the adult size of your furry friend.
Suppose you are the proud new owner of a Pomeranian, for example. In this case, chances are your pup will have completed its growth around the six-month mark. Having said that, some Poms continue to grow until their first birthday. There really is no right or wrong way when it comes to puppy development!
On the other hand, perhaps you fell in love and opted to become a pet parent to a large breed dog, such as the giant and cuddly Newfoundland. In this scenario, your puppy typically won’t finish growing until the two-year mark. As they grow into their frame, many large breed puppies may look somewhat awkward and lanky between six to eight months. This is nothing to worry about; it’s a normal and adorable stage of their development.
What Are Nutrients?
Nutrients are chemical compounds found in food necessary for the body to perform its basic functions. Dogs of all ages need nutrients to survive. However, getting the right balance of nutrition is extra important for your growing puppy.
Why Are Nutrients Important in a Puppy’s Diet?
Nutrients directly impact the immune system and composition of the body, meaning that your puppy won’t achieve optimal growth and development without a healthy diet. What’s more, puppies cannot regulate nutrients and vitamins the same way as adult dogs.
What Are the Nutritional Requirements For Growing Puppies?
You may be asking yourself, what nutrients does my puppy need? When selecting foods for your puppy, it’s key to understand that certain nutrients and vitamins are required for a balanced diet. We offer a wide range of top brand dog food, so you can choose the best product to cater to your growing puppy’s needs. If your pup has additional health demands, skin, or food sensitivities, we also provide high-quality vet products tailored to your fur baby’s condition. Without further ado, let’s cover the most important nutrients for puppies.
Puppies need fat in their diet to fuel their high-energy lifestyle and build up muscle. A source of essential fatty acids, which the body is unable to produce alone, this nutrient also carries fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Integral to a healthy functioning puppy body, protein provides essential amino acids that benefit skin and hair, plus tissue repair. Along with fat, puppies especially need more protein than adult dogs for strong bone formation and muscle growth.
As most of us know, calcium is crucial for teeth maintenance and healthy bone development. However, this nutrient is also an essential building block for puppy muscles, namely the cardiac muscle, and helps form a well-functioning central nervous system.
Excellent for stamina, carbohydrates, especially from whole grains, can supply a slow-release source of energy that will keep your puppy fuller for longer. Being carnivores, puppies have next to no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates. Despite this fact, carbs are still helpful for glycogen stores, the primary fuel used by canines.
Lastly, puppies need a variety of vitamins from a well-balanced diet to aid their development. Water-soluble vitamin C and B-complex are required for connective tissues, bones, and teeth. As they are flushed out, they need to be continually topped up with a healthy diet.
Onto the fat-solubles, vitamins A, D, E, and K are absorbed via the intestines and stored for future use. Vitamin A enables good eyesight and vitamin D calcium absorption. On the other hand, vitamin E helps red blood cell production, and vitamin K is essential for blood clotting.
What Is the Recommended Daily Intake for These Nutrients?
Puppies grow at a remarkable rate, during which time they’re building strong muscles and bones, all whilst expending lots of energy. As you may expect, your puppy needs a higher daily intake of nutrients than adult dogs. Percentages are calculated on a dry matter basis, meaning the number of nutrients reported if all moisture were removed from the food.
The recommended fat level from the diet for puppies is 8%, compared to just 5% for fully grown canines. For protein, the advised range is 22 to 32%.
The recommended daily intake of calcium is on average 1%, almost double the 0.6% requirement for an adult dog. There is no specific amount for carbohydrates, but 20% is thought to boost energy and promote good health.
Vitamins-wise, the recommended daily intake for vitamin C ranges from 125mg for a small breed puppy up to 1,500mg for the largest. For vitamin B-complex, your puppy requires 100mg daily per kilogram of body weight, and the advised upper limit for vitamin A 12,500 IU per 1,000 calories. Great for controlling inflammation, the recommended range for vitamin D is 500 to 3,000 IU per kilogram of food, whilst only 50 IU of vitamin E is needed. Finally, 25mg of vitamin K is required from diet for a puppy weighing from 11 to 22lbs, so divide or multiply as necessary.
What Does a Healthy Puppy Diet Look Like?
Nutrient requirements for puppies can differ wildly depending on the breed of your fur baby. Some puppies will develop faster than others, and that’s just the way it goes. There really is no singular approach for feeding your growing puppy. For peace of mind, however, you may want to choose a puppy labelled food whilst double-checking that it adheres to the individual nutritional requirements for your pup. Lastly, don’t forget that puppies have a very healthy appetite and should be offered a meal at least four times a day, with a gradual reduction in frequency as they reach adulthood.
Be Sure to Consult Your Vet First
Before tailoring the perfect diet to your puppy, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment with the vet first. Your pup may have additional health needs that require altered nutrient intake, or perhaps you feel you could benefit from advice on the best food brands for your puppy’s breed. Also, you may be considering incorporating raw foods into your puppy’s diet, in which case it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice.
The initial months of puppy ownership is a rewarding but also hectic period. With research into your puppy’s nutritional needs, however, you’ll be able to get them on the right footing for lasting optimal health. Remind yourself that there is no firm set of rules for growth and development, but with your help, your puppy will reach maturity successfully in its own way and time.