How to Feed a Growing Puppy

It takes a lot to grow up big and strong, and puppies are no exception to this rule. Feeding high-quality food will help build a strong foundation for your puppy’s entire life. The weight of a puppy can double in a short period of time, and a lot of that will go directly to building muscle. Your puppy will need twice the amount of protein needed by an adult dog in his diet, and it should come from lean sources of meat. In comparison with other animals, puppies are born with low amounts of minerals in their skeletons. In the first year of life, your puppy requires two to three times as much of most minerals in his diet than his adult counterparts. Vitamins, in comparison, only need to be supplied in slightly larger quantities than for full-grown dogs.

The growth of a large-breed puppy needs to be slowly encouraged over 18 months to 2 years. While most vitamins and minerals are supplied in the same amount as for other breeds of puppies, those that help build a strong skeletal system must be provided in controlled amounts to prevent overly rapid growth. Throughout their long puppyhood, large-breed dogs should be kept lean, without being too thin.

Although puppies have those cute, pudgy bodies that are nice to cuddle with, maintaining an appropriate weight is important to reduce stress on their developing bodies and prevent obesity later in life. After they are about two months old, puppies should begin to develop a lean body with a slight covering of fat over the ribs, just like adults.

To determine how much food to feed your puppy, weigh your puppy at the beginning of each month. For the following recipe for Powerful Puppy Food, the average amount that should be fed per day based upon your dog’s current weight and age are estimated in the next table. Your puppy may need a little more or less depending on his breed, body type, and the amount of exercise he gets each day.

2 to 3 months

larger breeds weigh an average of 21% of their adult weight.

At 3 months, a small-breed dog weighs an average of 45% of his adult weight; larger breeds weigh an average of 36% of their adult weight.

Puppies should be weaned between 6 and 8 weeks. Feed solid foods in three or four meals.
At 8 weeks, a puppy has completed his largest growth phase and his coordination has vastly improved. He is ready for his vaccinations now that he is no longer supported by his mother’s milk.

Teething starts in the third month; have plenty of toys available.

4 to 6 months

At 6 months, a small-breed dog weighs an average of 69% of his adult weight; larger breeds weigh an average of 59% of their adult weight.

Zinc and copper are required at higher levels during this phase of growth.
Many dogs begin to exhibit a second fear stage around the sixth month. Encourage him rather than console him to help him grow into a big, brave dog.

This is a good period to begin training and extend socialization outside of the home.

7 to 9 months

At 9 months, a small-breed dog weighs an average of 80% of his adult weight; larger breeds weigh an average of 70% of their adult weight.

Permanent teeth are still settling into your dog’s jawbone, so remember to keep a variety of soft and hard toys available.

With a puppy out of his rebellious teenage period, this is a good time to introduce more advanced training. Try occasionally feeding your puppy one-quarter of a meal in training, and the remainder in the bowl.

Daily portions can now be divided into two servings per day.

10 to 12 months

At 11 months, a small-breed dog weighs an average of 87% of his adult weight; larger breeds weigh an average of 78% of their adult weight.

At 12 months, a small-breed dog weighs an average of 91% of his adult weight; larger breeds weigh an average of 82% of their adult weight.

Most dogs will reach their adult height in this stage but will continue to fill out. By now, dogs should have lost their cute puppy pudginess and resemble the standard for their breed. Check your pup’s body condition and adjust feeding size as necessary.

It takes a large amount of food each day to turn a puppy into a healthy adult dog. For the first 6 months of a puppy’s life, divide the amount into three to four meals per day. After 6 months, puppies can be fed twice a day.

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