So you’re on the lookout for a puppy. Your first consideration has to be that it should be at least eight to ten weeks old before it leaves its mother’s care for your home. This is because it first has to wean off its mother’s feed before advancing to semi-solid and solid food at about five weeks and an early separation can cause behavioural disruptions as the years go by. 

Nutrition Planning

Before the puppy is home, you should have decided and planned its nutrition for the next twelve weeks. It cannot be stressed enough that food cooked for humans and table scraps are off the menu and the entire household has to be in agreement with the decision and implement it without exception. 

Keep the portions small and frequent, balanced with protein carbs, fats, minerals and vitamins and constant supply of freshwater in their bowl. Avoid impulsive and “pity” feeding and resist giving in to those “puppy dog eyes”. Pups can be the consummate con artists; so don’t fall for those innocent charms. Use this period as the first step in training and keep them away from the dining table. 

By and large packaged pet foods provide a balanced diet. The order of the list of ingredients and their proportions will determine its premium. Take the nutritionists’ advice and decide what is best for your pet.

Feeding Frequency – The First Year 

8 to 12 weeks

There are packaged foods that are specifically formulated for puppies. These contain all the necessary nutrition for foundational growth. A lot of dogs are lactose intolerant, please check with your vet before giving your dog milk. The same goes for wheat products, as there are reports of dogs developing allergies with gluten consumption. To enhance protein intake add a plain egg white or boiled soya granules. Gradually move to dry food by week 10 or 12 depending on the breed and prescription. 

3 to 6 months

Observe the consumption patterns starting at this stage. If your puppy is shunning a feed or leaving a bit behind in the bowl, it is ready to come down to three feeds with the same proportions. It should have started to shed its baby fat but continue with puppy formulations that have been recommended. 

7 to 12 months

Large dogs can be shifted to being fed twice a day at 12 months and smaller ones at about eight to nine. The timeline of adulthood for breeds varies. Large dogs take about 18 months to reach their full size and smaller ones usually within one year. This has a significant impact on the number of calories that each type will consume. 

Different size breeds have different nutritional requirements. Be watchful of the mineral content (especially calcium) and vitamins as overdosing these supplements can lead to abnormal growth, weight gain, skeletal deformities and lead to complications. 

All shifts in pup to adult diets and quantities and frequencies have to be carried out in phases.

Weight and Health Management

It makes sense to track the puppy’s weight and keep monitoring its progress. Check with your nutritionist what weight and dimensions are ideal for your dog depending on gender and breed. Any change in diet has to be prescribed by the them. 

Do not overfeed your pet. Pups and dogs can be gluttonous. They do not know when to stop eating. Make it a practice to weigh out the day's meal and divide it from heavy at the start of the day to light at the end. An expressive dog can nudge its bowl or even carry it to you to show it wants to be fed. Don’t deviate from the diet plan. Distract it by playing and hopefully it will tire out and rest in its favourite corner. Uneaten food should be discarded within 30 minutes. Set the discipline from the outset.  

Your pet should have completed its training within the first twelve months. During this period you will have to work with treats to reward it for learning and executing tasks and commands. Feed them only bite-sized treats at all training sessions in the right quantities. Small pieces of banana, apples, cucumber or carrots make for a great change. Treats should not exceed more than 10% of its prescribed diet. 

Fresh water should be available at all times and bowls must be washed after every meal. Indian summers can be particularly harsh. Place bowls in multiple locations around the house. 

Teething is particularly painful in puppies and if you are keen on giving it a bone, be careful. Cooked chicken and pork bones are dangerous as they splinter easily and ingesting them can be potentially lethal. Use chews instead as they are great for dental hygiene as well. Kibble also addresses some part of teething issues and has the requisite balance for all puppies. 

To sum up, what a puppy eats at the growth stage will have a direct impact on its lifespan and quality of life. Even before deciding on its nutrition plan, find the right nutritionist to partner with you to bring up the canine.