|FEEDING BASICS ~ HOW MUCH TO FEED?|
|(NOTE: Individual puppys'/dogs' requirements may differ based on breed and activity level/climate, etc.)
The first Eight Weeks: Puppies should not be separated from their mother before they are 8 weeks old. Puppies who leave their mothers sooner have a tough time adjusting and a higher incidence of illnesses. It is not known if it is due to weakened immunity or mourning the premature loss of siblings/mom. Pup's mother's milk provides it with the nutrition and antibodies it needs to become a healthy dog. At three to four weeks, puppies should begin eating some solid food. You can try mixing three parts food with one part water or puppy replacement milk . This will make the food easier for puppy to digest. We begin weaning our pups using Gerber all-grain baby cereal, mixed with Just Born formula in a thin mixture. We thicken the mixture daily as the pups demonstrate that they can tolerate it. If you are having trouble with pups drinking water, this is a good way to hydrate them...add more liquid to the cereal, and let them lap it up. As the pups become used to eating the cereal, we thicken it to VERY thick oatmeal consistency, and add vanilla yogurt to flavor it, as well as to aid/balance their digestive tract. Finally, they are gradually introduced to dry kibble. Note: Puppies can CHOKE on dry kibble, just as humans choke on their food from time to time. Until your pup is well on its way, monitor its eating for this danger. Your puppies should be eating solid food and drinking water from a bowl before they leave their mother.
Six to Eight Weeks: Feed your puppy 3-4 times a day. Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs do. Choose a puppy food that provides the appropriate balance of nutrients your puppy needs. Feed your puppy the same kind of food every day. If you are mixing water to dry food you should mix 4 parts dry food to 1 part water. Unlike humans, a dog's digestive system cannot handle changes in food. It can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. We feed only premium dog foods, containing "human grade" ingredients. We recommend the following brands: Natura Products: Innova Large Breed, Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Duck and Potato (Allergy formula; for digestive problems/allergies), and Eukanuba Large Breed. These are all premium foods and will alleviate the need for you to buy expensive supplements or vitamins.
You can be sure your pup is getting the right amount of protein and calcium, and the proper amount of calories if you feed one of these brands. Check the label to determine if you are feeding your puppy a balanced diet, and discuss any special dietary issues your pup may have with your vet. Meat should be the first ingredient on the label of your premium dog food, whichever brand you use.
Any time you are switching to a new food, gradually transition pup/dog to the new food by mixing portions of both foods until you slowly phase the old food out. Your puppy/dog may experience diarrhea if its food is suddenly changed. Treats, as little as a single dog biscuit can upset your dog's stomach and digestion. So, if it has an upset stomach or runny stools, think about anything different/unusual you have fed during that day.
Don't be alarmed if your puppy's appetite changes. It is normal for your puppy to lose his appetite or experience digestive upset occasionally. If your puppy's upset stomach becomes severe or lasts longer than a day or two, contact your veterinarian. Pay attention to pup's stools. If too hard or too soft, this is a good indicator of needed diet adjustments, or impending illness.
After Eight Weeks: You may feed your puppy twice a day. We are home all day, so are able to feed our pups and young dogs three times daily. We do this until they are approximately one year old. We feed at approx. 8 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. Allow at least two hours following the evening meal, for your pup/dog to potty once more before retiring for the night.
At Three to Six Months: Your puppy will be teething. It may become a finicky eater or loose its appetite. Keep feeding it nutritious food 2-3 times a day. If it has an upset stomach for more then one or two days, take it to the veterinarian. Do not allow your pup to become listless and/or dehydrated from not eating. As soon as you notice this, feed the pup a mixture of vanilla yogurt (no low-fat with ASPERTAME!), with active culture in it, mixed into Gerber baby cereal. This works for grown dogs which are feeling puny too! Dannon makes a plain vanilla yogurt, as do some store brands. This will keep your pup/dog going until you can make it to the vet..but do NOT delay.
Six Months to One Year: This is a controversial subject in regard age to switch to adult food. Your puppy may look all grown up but he is still a puppy. We feel it should still be fed puppy food for the added nutrition, albeit a LARGE PUPPY FORMULA. Feed it the puppy food for the first year. We have even fed large puppy formula into the second year if the young dog was particularly active and thin..hard to put weight on. Ask your veterinarian when you should switch to adult food. Make sure the adult food you switch to is still a balanced PREMIUM diet with the first ingredient being meat. We are still 100% undecided about when to switch, and continue to monitor the growth differences in our dogs.
At Eight to Nine Months: Some breeders/companies suggest feeding only once a day at this time. We do NOT subscribe to this method. This, we feel, encourages GULPING of the meal due to increased hunger, and the increased possibility of BLOAT due to overfilling the stomach in a single feeding. Think about your own digestion/hunger/bile stimulation when you go all day with only one meal. We think the "once a day" plan grew out of the need for convenience in the schedules of double-income families of the baby-boom age, with both adults rushing out of the house in the morning; feeding only at night when it is CONVENIENT for them. This is OUR opinion only, and based upon our personal experience with more than one breed of dog, both pets and show dogs, over our lifetime.
Two Years and Beyond: Smaller breeds can start on adult food when they are about a year old. In some cases, the larger breeds can/should stay on LARGE BREED, specially formulated puppy food until they are fully mature which is usually about 2 years of age. Again, this is a controversial subject with breeders/vets, as is feeding raw versus manufactured foods. Ask your veterinarian when to switch your dog, and how they feel about the large puppy/dog formulas marketed in an ever growing number today. EVERY dog is different, with specific needs/metabolism and/or dietary issues.
Monitor your puppy's/dog's weight and activity level, and make feeding adjustments as necessary. We measure our dog's kibble with a dry measuring cup so that we know exactly how much to add or cut back.