Puppies have dietary needs that differ from adult dogs, so you should always choose a food that’s specially formulated for young dogs. Your puppy still has a lot of physical growth and brain development ahead of them, so a balanced diet is vital for their long-term health. This article will help you to ensure that you are feeding your puppy correctly.

Signs Of Nutritional Deficiency

Your puppy will display a number of physical symptoms if their diet is lacking in key nutrients. Be aware that your puppy may not have had the best diet before they came to live with you, so try to be especially vigilant during the settling in period.

One of the first indicators of nutritional deficiency is digestive problems. Constipation or diarrhoea can be a sign that your puppy’s digestive system is not coping well with their diet. They may have food allergies, which can prevent them from absorbing some nutrients, so track how long it takes for them to experience digestive upset after eating and discuss their diet with your vet.

Dramatic changes in weight can also indicate there’s a problem with your puppy’s diet. If your puppy is gaining weight and is constantly hungry, they may be overeating because they are lacking in key nutrients. Nutrition can also suffer if your dog just doesn’t like the type of food you are giving them. In this situation, they will not consume enough calories for the growth and development they have ahead of them, which can lead to weak bones and impaired cognitive functioning.

Essential Nutrients

Your puppy requires a diet rich in the following nutrients:

Protein

Puppies require more protein in their diet than older dogs as protein supports the development of new tissue. Healthy skin, nails and hair are all dependent on consuming enough protein, and the best type of protein for puppies is meat as they can’t absorb vegetable protein as easily.

Calcium

Calcium is required for the development of healthy teeth and strong bones. Opt for puppy food that contains calcium, but don’t be tempted to give your dog synthetic calcium supplements as they can upset digestion. If you feel your puppy needs a calcium boost, you can stir a finely ground eggshell into their food once a week.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants play a key role in strengthening the immune system. Natural antioxidants found in dog food include citric acid, vitamin E and rosemary. Some brands use synthetic antioxidants, which may include butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and ethoxyquin. Consider whether you want your dog to have access to natural antioxidants, and ask your vet how you can support your puppy’s immune system.

Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids promote healthy brain development and have anti-inflammatory properties, but are only available to dogs through diet. Check that you’re feeding your puppy a brand of food that contains evening primrose oil or fish oils. If your puppy’s diet is lacking in essential fatty acids they may develop a red rash or dry patches of skin.

High-quality food is a necessary expense when caring for a puppy as their diet will have a direct impact on their long-term health. A vet like Warnbro Veterinary Hospital can recommend a brand of food that will provide the best nutrition for your puppy based on their breed and age.