While a Maltese puppy can be free-fed from a large bowl of food, it's not easy to monitor your pup's food intake this way. The Maltese is typically an active little dog, but a hungry pup, with free access to food, can easily become overweight if his portions aren't controlled.
A Maltese puppy need about twice the amount of calories per day as an active adult Maltese, to meet his increased energy needs due to growth. The ideal weight of a full-grown Maltese dog is between four and six pounds, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Therefore, following the guidelines of the National Research Council of the National Academies, a Maltese puppy needs about 400 calories per day. According to "The Maltese," this amount can be decreased to one and a half times that of an adult dog, or 300 calories, by the time the pup reaches six months of age. Once your Maltese reaches a year, he is considered fully grown and can eat around 200 calories each day.
The feeding requirements for nursing Maltese puppies differ from those already weaned onto solid foods. Pups from birth to four weeks require milk from their mothers or a milk replacement formula every two hours. Give your puppy formula until he is full at each feeding. Typically, a Maltese puppy will drink about four to five ml of formula per ounce of body weight each day, according to Mella Malta Maltese. From four to eight weeks, your Maltese can be transitioned from formula to solid foods. Mix equal parts solid canned or dry food and formula, slowly decreasing the amount of formula over a four-week period. Feedings can be decreased from every two hours to every four to six hours, until he's weaned.
Dry or canned food can be fed to your little Maltese puppy; they can also be mixed together. Dry food can be free-fed throughout the day and helps to deter plaque and tartar on your pup's teeth, reducing any dental problems, which can affect toy breeds like the Maltese, according to Dog Channel. Canned foods contain a majority of water, up to 75 percent, states the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The higher water content can help prevent bladder stones, which can also affect the Maltese. A mix of the two types of food gives you the best of both worlds, but be sure to add up the calories to determine the ideal portion sizes for your Maltese furbaby.
Maltese are small, toy-breed dogs that need a lot of nutrition packed into their little meals. Manufacturers must list ingredients in descending order, according to the FDA, so look for foods that list whole meats as the primary ingredient. Meat is a high-quality source of protein for your Maltese furbaby. Foods whose ingredients follow the nutrient profiles of the Association of American Feed Control Officials contain all the necessary proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits, vitamins and minerals needed by your pup. Feeding quality foods labeled as "for growth and reproduction" ensures that your little guy isn't just eating empty or unhealthy calories, but rather is getting all the nutrition he needs.
Feed your Maltese pup four times per day. Divide his daily calories by the amount of feedings you give him to determine his portions. For example, a Maltese fed 400 calories per day would get 100 calories per feeding if fed four times each day. Frequent feedings are important for a Maltese because this breed tends to suffer from hypoglycemia, especially during the first three months of life, according to PetPlace. Feedings throughout the day help to maintain your pup's blood glucose level. If you notice your little one developing signs of low blood sugar, such as loss of appetite, weakness, lethargy or seizures, rub some corn syrup on his gums to stabilize him. Bring him immediately to your veterinarian, who may need to give him intravenous glucose.
When choosing foods for your Maltese, you may want to avoid those containing artificial dyes and food coloring, which can stain your little guy's long white fur.
If you think that your little one is starting to look a bit thin or rotund, consult with your veterinarian to determine if any dietary changes are necessary. Each dog is different, so your pup may simply need more or less food based on his activity level. A health check also helps to rule out a health issue affecting his weight.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Selecting Nutritious Pet Foods
- National Research Council of the National Academies: Your Dog's Nutritional Needs [PDF]
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pet Food: The Lowdown on Labels
- American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Maltese
- PetPlace: Maltese
- Association for Pet Obesity Prevention: Ideal Pet Weight Ranges
- PetPlace: Learn about Maltese Diseases
- Dog Channel: Maltese Health Issues
- Mella Malta Maltese: Puppy Care
- The Maltese; Diane Morgan
- bichon maltese puppy image by Lombok from Fotolia.com