Got the puppy? Check. Found a vet? Check. Now you just need to figure out what to feed them! One of the most common questions we come across with young pups is whether it’s okay to give them adult dog food, or if their nutritional needs are different. We spoke with Richard Patton, a New Mexico-based animal nutrition consultant. He helps us clarify what’s the difference between puppy and adult dog food and what does your puppy really need?
Do puppies and adult dogs have different nutritional needs?
It’s less about the content of the food, and more about the amount. Puppies will need more protein, fat and micronutrients than adult dogs, Patton says, because they need to gain weight. That can be accomplished by increasing the volume of the food. Most puppies need twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult dog, Patton explains.
How do you determine how much food to feed a puppy?
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, at least 28 percent of your puppy's food should be protein, while at least 18 percent of an adult dog’s food should be protein. Another way to look at it: a 10-pound puppy who is estimated to grow to about 33 pounds needs about 990 calories daily. About 53 grams should be protein, and there should be 21 grams of fat, according to the council.
How can you tell if your puppy is getting enough food?
This one can be tricky! Some pups are food motivated and will jump at the chance to enjoy a delicious meal or snack. Allowing your puppy access to food at all times is not recommended as it can lead to excess weight gain.
When your pup is actively growing (and puppies grow fast), they might be really hungry. It's hard work to grow and learn! To keep your puppy well fed, create a feeding schedule that offers 3-4 smaller meals throughout the day. Your puppy will need a lot of sleep, so the first few weeks you have your puppy they will probably be eating or sleeping for most of the day.
If your puppy is still acting like they are starving or doesn't seem to have enough energy try increasing portion sizes a little. If you're not sure how much is ok, check with your vet. As puppies grow so quickly when they're small, you will want to ensure they are getting enough nutrition.
Are there some ingredients that are better than others for puppies?
Animal proteins are better than plants for puppies, Patton says. But within meats, there isn’t much difference: fish, lamb, chicken and beef will all nourish them. To meet the rest of your puppy’s nutritional needs, you’d need to add fat (fish oil is a healthy one), nutritious carbs to give them energy and dietary fiber (oats, barley and rice), along with vitamins (A, D, E and K, specifically) plus minerals including potassium, phosphorus and calcium. All can be found in a high-quality dog food. Bonus: find one you like, and you won’t have to switch companies when your pup gets older.
At Ollie, we make a delicious and nutritious food that is approved for dogs at all life stages. From puppies to senior citizens, we will make sure your dog is well fed over the course of their entire life. When you join Ollie, you'll take our onboarding quiz. We'll ask you about your dog's breed (if you know), age, size, current and expected weight as well as how active they are. You'll be able to adjust your pup's portion size easily as we provide guidance on calories, not volume. Keeping your pup's profile up to date as they grow will help us make better recommendations on the serving size and best Recipe for your pup. Have any questions? Our awesome support team is available to help!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.