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Who can resist the temptation of an innocent and sweet little puppy? Just see how after the first spark of affection, it won’t be long before you will take it in your arms and spend hours playing with it. But before you decide to take this cute bundle of joy home, you should stop and look over the various responsibilities which would come along with the pup. This blog post aims to give an overview regarding the way one needs to look after the feeding needs of one’s dog.
Helping the puppy deal with separation
A puppy should not be separated from its mother and siblings before 6/8 weeks of birth. Mother’s milk in the initial days is critical for the life of the sensitive puppy, as it supplies the vital nutrition and antibodies; and the play time with the littermates constitutes a solid framework for its future social behavior. An early separation can cause behavioral issues like excessive barking, tail chasing and decreased learning ability, besides poor physical health.
Moreover, at 2/4 weeks, it is desirable that some solid food should be given to the puppy, preferably, mixing ¾ of food with ¼ of water, to make it easy for the puppy to digest the food. If the puppy gets accustomed to solid food while still getting its mother’s feed, it becomes easier for the puppy to adjust its food habits once the separation takes place.
One may feed homemade meals to one’s puppy/dog but it should be as per the recipes recommended by an expert canine nutritionist so that the diet is healthy and nutritious. Those who feel like it is too much of a stretch, they can always go for commercially manufactured foods. There are many ready-made pet foods in the market, like Royal Canin puppy food and Drools puppy starter, which are suitable for the growth and development of puppies. Choose them carefully and feed them as per a meal schedule.
How to feed
It is advisable that a puppy should be fed by hand. This has many advantages, the first being that the puppy would identify you as the provider and would form a certain level of respect for you. The gesture would also help create a bond between you and your pet, marking the beginning of a long and loving relationship (the tactic can also be used over an adopted adult dog).
Hand feeding would stop the dog from becoming aggressive as well as possessive at a later stage of life.
When to feed
It is highly recommended that a puppy be fed as per a fixed schedule, every day, and that too for a specified period of time, say for 20 minutes. The puppy usually would like to relieve itself 20/30 minutes after a meal, so having a fixed eating schedule would help you determine the time when the puppy needs to be taken to its designated place or area of excretion. Some dog owners may be tempted to put food in a bowl all day long, refilling it each time it is empty, without keeping track of the amount of food they have already offered. This kind of free feeding can lead to obesity related health issues.
For a puppy, 3/4 meals a day are sufficient to meet the requirements of its growth rate. Gradually, after 8/12 weeks, the number of meals can be reduced to two.
A fixed schedule would not also deter your dog from becoming a fussy eater. Persuading the dog to eat may make it more difficult; thus the best thing would be to stick to the meal schedule – place the food at a specific time and remove it after some (fixed) time. Hunger would bring the dog back on track. Hence, a timetable approach to feeding would help inculcate discipline in the dog and would also help you manage the health of your dog in a better way.
One should note that one reason for missing a meal can be illness. If loss of appetite is accompanied by other symptoms, like diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy then a vet should be contacted immediately.
How much to feed
The amount of food you give to your dog is also important, as it would help the dog maintain an ideal weight without compromising on its energy and nutritional needs in any way. The pet food package would give you a rough guide about the quantity of food based on the age, size or breed of the dog. A veterinarian can also be consulted to suggest the daily calorie intake of the dog.
Based on the activity level of your dog and the recommended diet, you can fix a quantity for your dog. But your responsibility doesn’t end here; you need to monitor its weight and energy levels and if need be, make further modifications in the amount of food.
Fruits and Vegetables
You can feed your dog fresh fruits and vegetables, which would be no less than a treat for the canine, and also add lesser calories. But there are certain foods that you don’t feed dogs, like a dog should not be fed stuff like onions, which may cause anemia, and grapes and raisins, which may cause acute kidney failure.
Therefore, before feeding any new food, consult a vet or seek information from other relevant sources.
Variation in a dog’s diet is not really needed unless the change is critical to the health of the dog, like when the dog goes through the life cycle from puppy to adult to senior. Certain specific needs or ailments may also necessitate change in the diet. Occasional feeding or treats is not a problem, but a sudden change in the diet may lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea.
The best way to bring in change is to do it gradually; begin by giving the old food along with the new one. And during a period of one or two weeks, slowly, start increasing the quantity of new food and reduce that of the old one till it is completed eliminated from the diet.
• Clean and fresh drinking water should always be available at a designated place at home.
• The food and water bowls of the dog should be regularly washed, and if they are made of plastic than they should be replaced from time to time.
• Be in touch with a good veterinarian to consult about the puppy’s vaccinations, ideal diet and other health related concerns.
The relationship with the dog would be a long one; to support this precious companionship you have to think whether you have the financial resources to bear the expense of its physical well being; whether you would have enough time to shower your love and affection on it; whether you have the relevant information related to the breed with respect to its diet, its peculiar strengthens and weaknesses and so on. Gather information about the breed your dog belongs to and think how well you can accommodate the best interest of the dog with your situation in life.
Thus, before welcoming a new furry member into your family, give proper thought to all its possible needs. If you do that, you will be surprised how your lovely friend flourishes in health and blesses you with its unconditional love and loyalty.