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How long should I feed puppy food?

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  1. Regina

    This is an excellent article, I often tell people the “general rule of thumb” and also note that there are always variations, just as people grow at different rates, so do dogs.

    The one caveat to this article is that old standard “ask your veterinarian” about which food is best for your puppy. MOST vets out there will push the brands they have agreements with, as in Hills (the makers of Science Diet) and Royal Canin. Neither of these foods are what I would consider good enough for my pets. Most veterinarians get very little nutritional training in their schooling. The nutrition classes they do get are taught by the pet food companies that want their food sold in their offices. So, I do not trust most vets.

    If you’re going to ask a vet, find a holistic vet, even if it is just for while the puppy is young and growing, to get a more balanced (more informed!!) view of nutritional needs. I know that some people are not able to stick with a holistic vet for any number of reasons (cost, location, availability, etc), but at least get some unbiased nutritional information to get your puppy of to the best start possible.

    I wish more people would use the power of the internet to really investigate the options and information out there to educate themselves.

    1. Christine

      I wish she had been willing to give guidelines for how much calcium is ideal for LB puppy foods. Manufacturers vary quite a bit, and it would be handy to say “look for a LB puppy food with no more than X% calcium” to empower pet owners to do their own research

      1. Diane Richardson

        “Ideal” cal/phos levels for large breed puppies and for pregnant bitches is as close to 1:1 as you can get. Very few are a perfect 1:1 so in general aim for as close as possible. It is possible to raise pups on higher levels (I’ve done so often) but you really have to monitor growth daily to be successful

      2. Diane Richardson

        oh and “large breed” foods are a marketing gimmic. They are actually not good for pups because high energy pups will need to over consume to get the calories they need to hold weight and grow and then take in too much nutrients. Far far better off with a normal puppy food and ration the amounts to match growth levels

  2. Judy Miller

    There is really no such thing as puppy food, other than perhaps the size of the kibble. A puppy/cub in the wild, eats the same, exact food that the adults eat, only more of it, to meet the demands of growth and energy. A balanced food is a balanced food. Eating more of it will give the puppy the extra nutrition it needs.

    If an adult food is not adequate for a growing puppy, then the adult food doesn’t have enough nutrition in it and your adult dog is getting short-changed also.

    Large breed puppy foods are really bad, because not only are the minerals not balanced but they deprive a growing puppy of the protein and fat needed for proper growth and brain development.
    And now, the marketing genius’s have come out with a “Large Breed” food for adult dogs also. yuck!

    I don’t believe in puppy food, let alone large breed puppy food! I have raised many large breed dogs with perfect bone development and conformation using basic adequate nutrition. This means protein and fats coming from meat. I find many foods on the market are deficient in fat.

    1. Jill Copenhagen

      Thank you for your remarks (with which, I add, I totally agree). My girl eats our food which means very little grain, sugar, and with extra meat and bones. At a little over a year, she’s one of the best looking dogs in the park when it comes to coat, muscle, strength, and energy. I got her from the Humane Society where I know they do what they can. I was given a tiny bag of science diet to go home with her. Her ribs were showing, but sub-cutaneous fat hung off her belly. She had mange among other things. I changed her food after one meal of the SD which she gulped. She gulped the new food as quickly. Between Honest Kitchen base, human quality meat, veggies and some fruit, diatomaceous earth inside and out, she was noticeably healthy-looking in weeks to the amazement of the parents of her playmates. Feeding her well wasn’t all I did, but after 6 months she is in amazing shape.

    2. Tina

      You are absolutely right! And on fat too! We feed wild game raw diet and deer for example is very lean, not much fat, so I actually had to add beef fat or pork fat to their diet when I was feeding primarily deer/elk/antelope meat. Occasionally we would get fat in the deer scraps, but not enough. Dogs do need protein and fat and our dogs look amazing. I am in the process of changing web site hostings so my site is not up right now, but has lots of info regarding diet, natural remedies, etc. as well as pictures of our raw fed gsds.

  3. Tina

    Sorry, I disagree with this article. #1 we only feed a raw diet, primarily wild game scraps feeding a ratio of 80% muscle meat, 10% bone and 10% organs (half liver half kidney); secondly, when I did feed kibble, we have German Shepherds, and only fed puppy food until they were 6 months of age then switched to adult food. Large breed dogs grow until they are 2 years old and there is no reason to feed puppy food for 2 years. The idea I know is to provide growing puppies with extra nutrition, however, if you research the nutrition they add to puppy food, it is not good to continue to feed it longer than the first 6 months; it can cause too rapid of growth for one.

  4. Diane Richardson

    I have had Rottweilers nearly 30 years. I have and will always feed a high end puppy formula to my youngsters until males are 24 months and females 18 months.
    The problem with puppy food (or any high end food to be honest) is NOT the fact that it is puppy food OR higher calorie or higher protein or whatever people use for a complaint. It is because humans seem unwilling or unable to monitor their pups growth in larger breeds especially.
    Feeding more calories per day than a pup requires causes problems. It is that simple. fat pups are pups waiting for a problem to happen. I monitor visual weight, visual growth and wrist heat and growth DAILY. Along with stool output. I often adjust a pup’s food inteke every week to keep them lean, fit and growing evenly without big growth spurts or wrist heat, and loose stool (barring illness or parasites) is often a sign of too much food too. Never had any problems at all.
    Bag feeding amounts mean little feed according to what your puppy needs-everyone of them is different

  5. Pet Owner

    Well this is good advice for people who have access to holistic vets but most people don’t. They probably don’t even know what “holistic” nears unless they come across a “recommendation” for one. Imagine the number of people using puppy food, just because it says “puppy food” and they have a “puppy?” Or the people who are sent home by the breeder saying to use a puppy food? Most people don’t even know that hip dysplaysia can be nutrition related, as they are led to believe it is poor breeding or hereditary. Better advice (I would think) is to feed (or at least augment an existing diet) with whole food and raw, especially for large breeds. And to make sure the young pup has enough good fat and extra calories for the additional energy that is spent. Even better is to refer owners to do a little research for healthy puppy diets. Fortunately the internet is such easy access and people should be encourage to read a range of articles for a well balanced diet long term.

  6. Drew

    There is no such thing. It’s all a sales gimmick to hook you with a expensive fees for a year and then switch you. I have been in the feed industry and worked closely with many big name dog food companies and they will all tell you the same. Take victor for example there kibble size are all the same. The protein and fat percents can be meet with there “adult” feed and there is no extra vitamins.

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