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Puppy Nutrition

Welcome to Part 3B of our series: Getting a Dog

Puppy nutrition is central in overall puppy health.  The puppy food you choose to provide your puppy will go a long way in keeping him happy and energetic.  In recent years, scientists have made leaps in knowledge of what types of nutrients are best to include in your puppy’s diet.  Puppies are going through rapid bone and muscle growth as well as brain development and they need a formula or puppy food to reflect that. 

Proteins are important for overall growth of bones, muscles and organs.  Protein provides the basis for all tissue building and makes your puppy strong.  Good sources of protein are from meat such as chicken, fish and lamb as well bone meal and beef or vegetable proteins.  Often puppy food will contain a mixture of proteins from dairy and meat sources as well as vegetable, grain and legume sources.

Carbohydrates are an essential part of your puppy’s diet because it enables the powerhouse of activity puppies engage in throughout the day.  Good sources of carbohydrate are grains, fruits and veggies.  Cereals are great and so are different types of breads.  Generally you will find a puppy food that includes rice, barley, wheat or corn as the source of carbs.  A safe guideline for a healthy puppy diet is for carbohydrates to make up about twenty percent of the overall meal.   

Fats are vital in a complete and balanced dog diet, contributing to beautiful skin and fur, functioning immune system, digestive system, and healthy development overall.  Omega essential fatty acids and linoleic acid are important fats to include in a puppy’s diet.  Good sources of fat can be from both animals and vegetables, with common fats being from chicken, pork, beef, sunflower, corn or soybean.

Fibre provides ‘roughage’ for your puppy’s intestines.  This allows them to pass food through their bowels more easily which is important for bowel health.  Some good sources of fiber that are seen in puppy foods are the pulp from beets, hulls of peanuts and wheat bran.

Minerals such as calcium and phosphorus play a big role in the development of healthy bones and teeth, among other things.  Good sources of calcium and phosphorus are in bone meal, a number of vegetables and legumes and are often added to commercial dog food as supplements.  An important note, however, is that large breeds of dogs may require more calcium and phosphorus as puppies because of the fast growing periods.  Inadequate or too much calcium or phosphorus can cause problems in your puppy’s health and therefore should be discussed with your veterinarian ahead of time.  Other minerals such as potassium, iron, zinc, copper and sodium contribute to your puppy’s health as well and should be part of a well-balanced diet.

Many vitamins such as A, E, C, D and folic acid, among others, play a role in your puppy’s growth and development period.