Perfect Puppy Care Book – Chapter 5 – Feeding Your Puppy (Part 4)
Chapter 5 – Feeding Your Puppy (Part 4)
Setting Up a Feeding Schedule
Scheduled feedings are better than free feeding (free feeding is a method in which you leave the food bowl down all day and just fill it up as it empties). By setting up a feeding schedule for your puppy, you will better control what she consumes. Housetraining will be made easier as well, because puppies that are fed on a schedule will have to relieve themselves about the same time every day. If you leave food down for your puppy all day, she’ll have to poop all day, too. Scheduled feedings also help to prevent obesity by controlling the amount of food a dog consumes.
Puppies younger than six months of age should get three meals a day. Puppies and adult dogs older than six months should get two meals a day.
To train your puppy to eat on a schedule, fill her bowl and put it down for ten minutes. After ten minutes, pick it back up (unless your puppy has already inhaled it!). If food remains in the bowl, that’s okay. This will train her to eat when you give her food, not pick at it for hours on end. Don’t worry, your puppy is smart. She won’t starve. Just be consistent, and she’ll learn.
Here is a partial list of foods that are dangerous or toxic to dogs. Never feed your dog these items, and make sure that you store or dispose of these items safely. For more information, please visit the National Animal Poison Control Center at www.aspca.org/apcc.
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Chocolate (all forms)
- Coffee (all forms)
- Fatty Foods
- Macadamia Nuts
- Moldy or Spoiled Foods
- Onions (and Onion Powder)
- Products Sweetened with Xylitol
- Raisins and Grapes
- Some Forms of Mushrooms
- Yeast Dough
Keeping a Healthy Weight
Puppies are adorable when they’re short and pudgy, but it isn’t healthy for them to stay that way as they get older. Obesity is a leading cause of health problems among people in the United States, and our dogs are unfortunately following in our path.
How can you tell if your puppy is at her ideal weight? Simple, use your hands! Put your hands on her shoulders, on either side of her body. Run them down along her sides toward her rear. You should be able to easily feel her ribs. (Don’t squeeze, though!) If you can’t easily feel her ribs, your puppy is overweight.
Obesity can cause a variety of serious health problems for your puppy. It could lead to diabetes, heart disease, increased blood pressure, decreased liver function, cancer, and damage to joints, bones, and ligaments. It could reduce her stamina, make her more prone to heatstroke, and make it difficult for her to breathe, which will be even worse if she is a flat-faced breed, such as a Pekinese. If you have a puppy with a long back, such as a Dachshund or Corgi, being overweight puts serious strain on her spine. The bottom line is that your puppy won’t live as long if she’s overweight.
You may not be able to prevent all the health scares that may come up during your puppy’s life, but you can prevent obesity. Initially, feed your puppy using your chosen dog food’s label recommendations, but always use your hands to check your puppy regularly to see if she’s maintaining a proper weight. The food label’s recommendations may be too much for your dog. Puppies also experience changes in their caloric requirements depending on their age and on how active they are. So the amount that you’re feeding now will likely change several times as your dog matures. Keep her at a healthy weight so that you can enjoy her companionship for years to come.
How long should you feed puppy food before switching to adult? Opinions differ. Some recommend feeding puppy food until a puppy reaches physical maturity (one year for most breeds). Others recommend puppy food only for the first few months. Still others only recommend adult food for certain breeds, especially large or giant breeds. Talk with your breeder and veterinarian. Research respected sources. And most of all, keep a close eye on your puppy’s health. If she’s not eating well, her body and behavior can offer you clues that something’s wrong.
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