Nutrition is a vital part of taking proper care of your dog. If you are raising a puppy, it is important to ensure she is receiving the right nutrients for optimal growth. Either underweight or overweight during this time of growth can lead to developmental problems, including orthopedic diseases and skeletal abnormalities. If your puppy is underweight and otherwise healthy, feeding the proper amount of a good puppy food should take care of the problem.
Poor weight gain
If your puppy is failing to gain weight, the first step should be to have him assessed by a veterinarian. There are several medical conditions that could be affecting optimal growth, and even the best foods will not work unless the underlying cause is addressed. For instance, a puppy that is eating well and not gaining weight may have a heavy parasite infestation, developmental abnormalities, bacterial or viral infection, malnutrition or intestinal blockage, according to San Francisco veterinarian Erich Barchas. To get your pup off to a good start in life, have him checked by a vet as soon as you acquire him.
Prescription Puppy Foods
If your puppy is found to have a medical condition that is causing him not to thrive, your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet. Hill's P/D for instance, contains natural DHA, a fatty acid responsible for the development of the brain and nervous system in puppies. This food also contains a balanced ratio of calcium and phosphorus, along with high levels of proteins and minerals intended to aid a puppy's recovery from acute or chronic debilitating diseases and parasitism.
Commercial Puppy Foods
If your pup is healthy, feed a premium puppy food enriched with vitamins, minerals, fats, balanced ratios of calcium and phosphorus, and other important nutrients a growing puppy requires. Stay away from cheap dog foods that mostly contain lots of grains and little nutritional value. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says high-quality brands to consider include Iams, Eukanuba, Hill's Science Diet, and Purina Pro Plan.
If your puppy needs to gain some weight, don't overfeed him in your concern. Feed him properly, and he'll put on the weight if he is clear of other health problems. Divide a pup's daily nutrition into two or three feedings per day, depending on the age of the pup. Don't overload a young pup's digestive system. If you are unsure how much to feed, use the feeding guidelines on the bag, or ask your veterinarian. The amounts fed may need to be adjusted a little if your puppy is very active or is still not gaining weight. Look at any dog of any age when you feed it, and notice if it is gaining or losing weight. Special attention is required in feeding large-breed puppies during periods of rapid growth. A large-breed growth diet that has passed Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) animal-feeding tests should be fed until the puppy has reached about 80 percent of its expected adult weight, says Jennifer Larsen, a veterinarian specialized in Small Animal Clinical Nutrition.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images Dean Golja/Digital Vision/Getty Images