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Mother’s milk may be the gold standard for newborn dogs, but when they wean at around 3 to 4 weeks of age, a new gold standard is required: a high-quality commercial puppy food. Luckily, it’s not hard to find.
“The pet food companies do a remarkable job with products that address overall nutrition,” says Dr. James Cook, a veterinarian and professor at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. “The science that goes into commercial pet food these days is comprehensive. It’s great as a veterinarian, because it makes advising clients about food easy.” Read on to learn what other docs have to say about feeding your pup for growth.
Choosing a Solid Food
“Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult and senior dogs,” says Katy Nelson, a Virginia-based emergency veterinarian. “Puppies need a food specifically formulated for young dogs. They also have size-specific needs.” Small breeds need higher protein and higher calories. Large-breed puppies, on the other hand, must have less of both to avoid joint and bone problems as they grow. Make sure then to select the right chow for your pup.
Introducing Solid Food
When puppies begin to wean at 3 or 4 weeks, they’ll consume both mother’s milk (or a milk replacement) and solid food, which should be mixed with water and initially provided once or twice daily. “Mix water with puppy formula to make gruel,” says Amy Dicke, a technical services veterinarian with Procter & Gamble. “Typically, more food will end up on them than in them. Slowly, they’ll make progress, and by 5 weeks they’ll be eating more skillfully. Slowly decrease the water as the puppy adjusts to eating kibble. By 8 weeks, they should be ready for weaning and dry food consumption.”
The Nine Key Ingredients
Feed your pet right from weaning and into adulthood (one year, in dog time) and you’ll ensure it has a healthy foundation to grow on.
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Rose Springer is a New York City-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to The Dog Daily. She has been writing about pets for a decade.
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