Thursday, February 28, 2013

Puppy Diets

Meet Bailey.
She comes in tonight for her first puppy exam...
and to be smothered in kisses from everyone in the building.
The first puppy visit is a long one, because there is so much to talk about...
and soo many kisses!
'An important part of your puppies first visit to the vet is to discuss the food you are feeding. We call it discussing the 'diet'. (I know that sounds confusing, because on the human side 'diet' is so synonymous with weight loss, but on the veterinary side we use diet to talk about food. And if your dog needs to "go on a diet" we call it a 'weight loss plan').

I have said it before, "we are what we eat, and you get what you pay for." It is imperative to feed good food so your puppy grows up to be strong and healthy. A good diet is one of the single most important things that you provide your puppy.

I know that many breeders recommend a specific food. I also know that in many cases they provide you with a starter pack. It is important to remember that your puppy is coming to a new home which is stressful, and  this stress often manifests as a soft stool for the first few days that your puppy is with you. If you are also changing the diet concurrently then this can cause even more stress on their sensitive delicate system. Because of the stress that a new home can cause I usually recommend a gradual diet change. The way we recommend to gradually change the diet is to add 1/4 of the new food to 3/4 of the old food for a few days (sometimes even for a week), then switch to 1/2 and 1/2 for a few days, then 3/4 new with 1/4 old for a few days. This should help their gastro-intestinal system acclimate easier and lessen the chance of diarrhea. D

When I meet a new puppy I always ask about what they are being fed. If I am asked what I recommend I always reply "a high quality commercially available puppy food, small breed for small breed dogs and large for large breed, for their first year."  I have my commercially available preferences and I discuss them. We also review how often to feed, (I say three times a day if they are under four months old, and twice a day from four months on). If you have your own preference we talk about that. I also remind new parents to not let some kid at a big box store convince you that their brand is better, and for god’s sake don’t let a t.v. commercial do it. Get credible advice from credible people. Ask lots of questions, let your puppy guide you on kibble size, and taste preference. Feed twice a day forever, and monitor to make sure that they are eating an appropriate amount daily. I can't even tell you how many clients bring their dogs to me saying things like, "I think its been a few days since he ate, I don't really know, I just leave food down." Wouldn't you know if you hadn't eaten in days? Wouldn't that concern you? It concerns me. I want to know every 12 hours how much and how well my pups are eating. I worry after 1 missed or partially eaten meal. I go to the vet after 2 poorly eaten meals and start looking for a reason why.

Ask about whether your puppy is underweight or under muscled. It is important to be feeding for a healthy weight and then to maintain that weight through their senior years. Obesity is becoming a huge problem in America's dogs and people alike, so we vets are very careful to not let our dogs and puppies become overweight. We assess whether a pet is overweight by the loss of taper at the waist (see the blogs about waistline at ). She should have a waistline whether you are looking at her from above or from the side. Your vet can help you with this. Keep fresh water available at all times. I wash the water bowl and every morning, and the food bowls after each meal. I also add a little wet food with the dry for breakfast and dinner. I do this simply to keep the pups interested in their food. But wet food isn't necessary. I actually have no preference over wet or dry, just stick to a high quality food. (Wet food diets stick to teeth so remember to brush teeth daily). I recommend that you leave the food down for about 30 minutes. If they don't finish the food in this time throw it away and repeat the same for dinner. I discourage leaving food out all day for few reasons. First, wet food will spoil. Second, it attracts ants. Third, it encourages over eating (because you aren't measuring and ALL of us over eat if the buffet bar stays stocked and available all day. And lastly, you always want to know how much they are eating at every meal. If you find that she isn't eating well, or at all, you will know sooner versus later.

If your pup isn't eating well, or if it appears that they are getting bored with their food try to add a little more wet food, or you can add a little bit of boiled skinless boneless chicken or rice. I always hesitate to say add anything, because before we know it your puppy will only eat chicken and rice and your well formulated nutritionally complete food has been replaced by foods that are not appropriate by themselves for a growing puppy.

A few last bits to mention. Treats. Use a very good high quality treat, or use the puppy food. Remember that treats also have calories, and if you are doing handfuls of them it might discourage them from eating a good daily diet, or cause excess weight gain. Raw hide, I am not apposed to them, but they are empty calories, and they are choking hazards, so only use them infrequently and don't use them as a pacifier. If your puppy is so rambunctious that you find yourself offering a raw hide chew to quiet them, then I would suggest it is time to go out in the yard and play. A tired puppy is a happy pacified puppy.

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad I found your blog! I am enjoying reading it and I am learning so much! The last few posts have been like you are reading my mind-- I am thinking of fostering puppies with a local rescue and I am spending a lot of time gather info to make sure I do this right. Your posts have really reminded me that I have to find a vet I trust and respect and feel comfortable with-- not just the one who is close and convenient.

    When you say "I have my commercially available preferences and I discuss them", any chance you might hint to us what these brands might be? Or perhaps you could tell me if they lean toward the ideas over at I know for humans, food makes all the difference in how WE feel... but it seems impossible to find a real, straight answer about dog foods.