Puppy food, when should you change it
Life stages

Puppy food, when should you change it?

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Your puppy’s diet is vital to his development. That’s why it’s essential to feed him the diet that’s best adapted to his needs. This way you’ll make sure he grows up to be a strong, healthy dog! We’re going to answer all your questions about food for puppies. In this post we explain when’s the best time to make the transition from milk to solid food, and then later to kibble for adult dogs. And we’ll give you some tips for choosing the best food at this key stage of his life.

Guidelines for feeding your puppy

Puppies have different nutritional needs to adult dogs. For optimum growth and development, it’s essential to make sure that those needs are met. Furthermore, you must take into account your puppy's breed, age and weight, as these are influential factors.  

There are three basic aspects that should be taken into account when you’re choosing the ideal food for your puppy:

1. Nutritional requirements

Puppies are constantly developing. So their needs are different to those of an adult dog who’s already reached maturity. 

Remember that your puppy will grow really fast, much faster in fact than a human baby. So diet is of maximum importance at this stage of his life, when you need to make absolutely sure that he gets all the nutrients he needs to help him to grow up strong and healthy. 

If you’re looking for a quality kibble for puppies, be sure to choose one that’s rich in essential nutrients. It needs to have a high content in proteins, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. And it absolutely must cover your puppy’s very high energy needs. Ingredients such as rice can be very beneficial here as they’re a source of energy that’s both easily accessible, and easily digested. 

At Ultima, our recipes for puppies are formulated to guarantee that all the basic nutritional requirements during this important life stage are covered. This is why the Ultima Junior range contains high quality proteins, Omega-3 essential fatty acids to support the development of vision and of the brain, together with vitamins and minerals for strong teeth and bones. 

2. Energy needs

In general terms, your puppy needs more energy than an adult dog. However, not all puppies grow at the same speed. If yours is a smaller size or breed, then he’ll grow much more quickly, so his energy requirements will be greater than those of a larger dog who develops more slowly and progressively. 

What does this mean? It’s very straightforward: you simply need to adjust the number of calories, which also means avoiding overfeeding. Remember that either too many or too few calories can have a negative impact on his development. But don’t worry, our kibble recipes for puppies calculate energy requirements based on size, breed and weight.

To make sure your puppy isn’t consuming too many calories, bear in mind that you need to control portion size on a daily basis, and not simply allow him to eat however much he wants to. Follow the instructions you'll find in the table on the puppy food pack on how much to feed your puppy.

3. Reduced digestive capacity

Your puppy’s digestive system isn’t yet fully developed. Remember, he’s still growing.

Simply explained, puppies have lower digestive tolerance in comparison with adult dogs because: 

  • The capacity of some of the enzymes involved in the digestive process such as amylase and chymotrypsin is much lower in a puppy than in an adult.
  • The intestine isn’t yet fully developed: it’s still growing, in terms of both length and surface area.
  • Puppies defecate more frequently than adults: gastric emptying is relatively fast.
  • Puppies are more exposed than adults to viral diseases and intestinal parasitosis precisely because their immune system is still developing.

For all these reasons, it’s essential that the food you choose for your puppy is one that’s fully adapted to his digestive needs. The recipe must include easily digestible sources of proteins and carbohydrates, such as chicken and rice, for example.  

When should you start introducing puppy kibble into his diet?

For the first three weeks of their lives, puppies generally feed exclusively on milk, preferably their mother’s, or if that’s not possible, puppy formula milk prescribed by the vet. After this they’ll move on to the next stage, and start the transition to solid food. We explain how.

From the age of three weeks

Milk teeth start to come through. This is the time to start the dietary transition from milk to solid foods with your puppy. We recommend doing this by gradually introducing semi-solid food:

  • Dilute the portion of kibble you're about to give your puppy with warm water to form a paste.
  • Later you’ll need to gradually reduce the amount of water you add, so that he starts getting used to a more solid consistency.
  • It’s a good idea to feed several times a day (5-6 times) between milk feeds. This way you won’t overburden your puppy’s gastrointestinal tract, and it’ll be easier for him to digest and absorb nutrients.

From  6-8 weeks

From this point on, your puppy will have his full set of milk teeth. What a change! Now you can wean him completely.

He’ll now eat solid puppy food only, divided into 3 or 4 feeds a day.

If your dog is a miniature breed, it’s best to choose a special kibble designed for small dogs, because they have very specific requirements. You might like to try  Ultima Mini Junior, a small kibble adapted to the size of your dog’s jaw. 

And of course, you should always make sure that he always has access to clean, fresh water. 

From 4 months 

It’s around this time that you can establish a new feeding regime for your puppy.

However, it’s a good idea to check with your vet as well as following the manufacturer’s indications on the pack to understand exactly what the right portion size for him is.

When and how should you switch from puppy food to food for adult dogs?

The transition depends on how fast your puppy grows, which in turn depends on the breed or size. Do you know when your puppy will be fully grown?

  • If he’s a small breed or size: at around 7-9 months.
  • If he’s a large breed: between 12-15 months.
  • If he’s a giant breed: between 18-24 months.

Once your puppy is fully grown, his energy needs will change. There are several ways to manage the transition from a puppy kibble to one formulated for adult dogs.

Ideally you should do it gradually, feeding her a mix of puppy food and adult dog food, to help him adapt, and to avoid possible gastrointestinal problems. One option is to do this over the course of a week. 

You could gradually introduce the change in the following way:

  1. For the first two days, give him 75% her usual puppy food, plus 25%  the new kibble for adult dogs.
  2. The following days, make it 50%-50%.
  3. For the last two or three days feed him just 27% puppy food plus 75% kibble for adult dogs.

You could introduce this change over a longer period of time. In fact the more gradual the process, the better she’ll adapt.

The puppy stage is the most critical one. Your puppy has specific nutritional needs that must be met. Check with your vet so that s/he can advise you on your own four-legged friend’s particular needs. 

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