When we got our first puppy many years ago, the last thing we worried about was what to feed her. There were literally hundreds of options for us to choose from. From rows of canned dog food at the local supermarket to speciality pet shops with more upmarket brands. Then of course fresh food suppliers with a whole host of supplements to ensure a complete nutritionally filled meal. Even if you manage not to become overwhelmed and make a choice, there's no guarantee that your little furry friend is going to eat it. And so begins the quest to find the perfect complete meal. So many of us end up with half a dozen different brands of dog food in the cupboard because our four legged friends takes one small bite and then turn their nose up and walk away. As good parents, we panic and rush out to find something else because we're scared to death, our pup is going to starve! This can go on for some time and cost a fortune.
Our dogs digestive system is not as robust as ours. Any dramatic change to diet can cause great distress for our canine friends. Everything from loose stools to chronic diarrhoea. When this happens, it's not only horrible for our pet but equally distressing for us! So what to do?
Before your pup arrives home, make sure you have a food plan. Pup will usually arrive with a dietary plan and it's a good idea to keep them on this to begin with. When you transition them onto a more regular puppy food of your choice, make sure you do it slowly. There's lots of great advice online nowadays about this but generally speaking add no more than a quarter of the new food to the existing diet for a least a week. You can then slowly increase the new food amount. This slow introduction will ensure that your dog's digestion can cope and slowly adapt to the change. Changing the diet too quickly will result in some upset tummies and aforementioned nasties!
Dry Food v Wet Food
Firstly, your dog might make the decision for you. Our miniature dachshund will only eat dry food. We've tried a number of wet foods with little success. We do supplement with home-cooked chicken, veg and rice a couple of times a week and this seems to provide her with the variety she needs. If your dog does prefer an all dry diet, then you must make sure they remain hydrated. Lots of water to help flush those kidneys.
What about treats?
Choose carefully! There are so many poor quality treats on the market, you need to do your research. Monitor your dogs reaction post treat. Licking and scratching can sometimes be a result of additives not agreeing with your dogs system. Some dogs can manage the venison, kangaroo dried tendons but others will find them difficult to digest and their poo will become dark and sticky. Raw Hides are generally quite popular but keep in mind that they do have a small amount of fat so this will contribute to your dogs intake for the day. Make sure you do the sums! Try and keep your treats as natural as possible. Once again, there are so many options on the market, that if you do your homework you're bound to find the right thing. Of course, you could always try your hand at homemade biscuits!
No need to go it alone
When designing your puppies food plan, make use of all the wonderful resources available. From the breeder to your local vet and of course online forums and blogs. Taking the time to learn as much as you can will help you support your pup to live a long, healthy, happy life.
All opinions, advice and observations are my own and based on my work as a teacher, facilitator, community development manager and owner and friend to Pixie, Sulu, Woody, Max and Daphne over a lifetime.