Puppy Food vs Dog Food
The first year of a puppy’s life is a time of tremendous growth. The puppy will basically attain its full size in that period. The puppy can go from a weight of less than a pound, depending on breed, to 100 pounds or more. Even smaller dogs have a tremendous growth rate, and the nutritional needs of a puppy must be met if all the body’s systems are to develop properly. Puppy food nutrition is important for your puppy’s growth and development.
Anyone acquainted with puppies will know how lively and energetic they are. A puppy always seems to be in motion and all that activity will burn more calories than an adult dog will. Combining liveliness with a rapid growth rate means that a puppy needs a food designed for its nutritional needs. An adult dog food simply cannot supply the proper balance of nutrients to allow for maximum growth and development.
Puppies will usually be ready to start nibbling at dry food when they are about three weeks old. Milk or water can be added to the dry food, but this is not absolutely necessary. I found that the puppies we had preferred the food dry, although I also offered moistened food at the same time. As long as the kibbles are small, the puppy should have no trouble with them. Our pups were French Bulldogs and were quite tiny when they started in on dry puppy food.
The major difference between puppy food and dog food is the level of protein and fat available in both. Due to the rapid growth rate of the puppy, higher levels of both fats and protein are needed to ensure proper development of the bones, muscles, organs, and the neurological system. A good puppy food should provide about 30% protein and 15% fat. Anything less than this might deprive the puppy of what it needs to grow. Dog food, by contrast, usually will supply about 21% protein and 12% fat. This is fine for the adult dog, as it will be burning less calories, but will not do for the puppy. For strong bones and teeth, a good puppy food will also supply adequate phosphorus and calcium.
It is better to spend a little more on a premium puppy food than to try to skimp by on a bargain brand. Most premium puppy foods will have meat as the first ingredient, rather than grain. I have found that the more expensive brands of puppy or dog food actually are cheaper in the long run as the pet does not need as much to be adequately nourished. Emptying half a bag of cheap dog food into a bowl is not going to result in any saving.
Although your puppy will seem to be fairly well grown by the time it is 7 or 8 months old, the pup still has quite a bit of development and growing to do. The switch from puppy food to dog food should not take place until the puppy is a year old to make sure that growth is mostly complete. Some of the larger breeds, such as Mastiffs, St. Bernards, and Newfoundlands, should continue to be served puppy food until they are about 18 months old. Your veterinarian is the best source of information about when you should switch your large breed puppy from puppy food to dog food.
When your puppy is about a year old, you can probably begin to change from puppy food to dog food. Bear in mind, though, that your puppy has been eating one kind of food for an entire year and its system has adjusted to that diet. When switching to a dog food the owner should do it gradually. It would probably be a good idea to stay with the same brand of food that you have been using, it will make it easier for the dog to adjust. Let the process of adjustment extend over a week or so to allow the dog’s body to get used to the new food. If a sudden and complete change in diet is made, it can upset the dog’s system and cause diarrhea and nausea. It is much better to take a little time, you and your dog will both be much happier.