Like all kids, your puppy is growing and requires extra calories and nutrition. Increasing the amount of dog food he eats throughout the weaning process, and adjusting amounts to ensure weight gain, will help you see him through a successful puppyhood and strong adulthood.
The Weaning Period
In the beginning, your puppy's sole nourishment is mom's milk. Sometime between age 4 weeks and age 6 or 7 weeks, you can gradually ease him off milk and begin increasing the amounts of whatever diet you plan to offer him. By the end of his first two months, you will have increased his new food by 100 percent, fully replacing milk with the new diet. Generally, a puppy eating puppy food doesn't need as much as he would if he were eating adult dog food, so adjust accordingly.
From the time he's weaned until he's about half grown, he'll need around 1.5 times his adult requirement. For example, if his adult requirement will be 2,000 calories a day, you'll need to increase his food intake to about 3,000 calories for his first 6 months, or until he's half grown. He may have already hit this level at the end of the weaning process; nevertheless, make sure he gets at least 1.5 times the amount he'll need as an adult.
Increasing Food to Promote Weight Gain
There may be times when puppy parents see additional reasons to increase food intake. For example, if you are feeding the recommended amped-up calorie levels and he's not gaining weight as he should, he may need more food than originally estimated. If your pup isn't gaining as expected, visit your vet to rule out parasites or any other conditions that would hinder weight gain.
Increasing Food for Active Dogs
Just like humans, active dogs need more calories than couch-potato pups. If your puppy is highly active, you will need to increase his food intake. For example, if he is entering dog sports like agility classes, hunting endeavors, regular jogs with you, or if he just runs and plays nonstop, you will need to increase his food levels so he continues to get adequate nutrition. If his high activity levels continue into adulthood, adjust his adult calorie levels then, too.
- Dog Names and Breeds: Puppy Behavior, Growth and Development
- Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats; Kymythy R. Schultze
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.