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Puppy nutrition made easier

Puppies require nearly twice the amount of nutrients that older dogs need. These nutritional requirements are best met with commercial puppy diets that contain higher amounts of the essential nutrients and protein that are necessary for growth and bone development.  

Investing in a good quality diet for your puppy during the growth phase is essential to minimise the risk of developmental diseases of the bones and joints.  Most commercial puppy diets come in a dry kibble form. It is best to start puppies on a dry food at a young age to ensure that their dental health is well maintained. Dry foods are also easier to store, and help satisfy your puppy’s instinctive need to chew. 

The difference between puppy and adult dog food

There are a number of differences between puppy and adult dog food, owing to their different nutritional requirements.  Puppies require higher amounts of protein to sustain rapid growth, whereas a fully-grown dog only requires enough nutrients to maintain its body condition and provide energy for exercise.   Puppy food should therefore contain a high amount of protein between 28-30%.  Puppy foods also contain adjusted levels of calcium and phosphorus (these vary greatly depending on the breed of puppy). 

Choosing the right type of food for your puppy

Puppies of differing adult sizes (ie. different breeds) require different foods when they are growing.  Large breeds are more prone to skeletal developmental disorders compared with medium and small breeds, particularly if overfed. Overfeeding large breed puppies means that too much energy is available for the growth of bones and muscles. We therefore moderate the amount and types of nutrients available to large breed puppies during their first year to eighteen months of life to minimise the risk of these disorders occurring. By comparison small breed puppy foods are relatively energy-dense. For these reasons it is important to make sure that you select a food appropriate to you puppy’s breed. As the choice is overwhelming we do recommend that you consult your vet when making this important decision. 

Making the transition to adult food

It is important to make sure that your puppy is changed over onto an adult diet at the appropriate time. The recommendations regarding when to do this vary, but generally the change should be made when the puppy has reached between 90 and 100% of its full adult height and weight.  Recommendations about when to make this transition often depend not only on the brand of food but often on the specific type of food you have been using.  You should always follow the advice of your own vet, in conjunction with the advice of the manufacturer regarding the use of the specific food your puppy is on.