Before taking your puppy home you should make sure that he is properly weaned. You can ask the breeder if you may see the puppy eat a little food. Breeders generally encourage a litter to begin taking some solid food from about three weeks of age, but it is unlikely that they will be completely weaned onto it before they are six or seven weeks old. It is not advisable to buy a puppy under eight weeks of age. When buying a puppy you should ask the breeder for a diet sheet and strictly adhere to it for a few days before introducing any gradual changes.
Puppies should be given four meals a day until they are three months of age because at this stage they cannot digest their total food ration in one serving. Breakfast may consist of a dry branded baby food mixed with milk and a little sugar and the evening meal could be an egg swished in milk. However, the other two meals should be primarily meat meals, for example lightly cooked, lean minced beef supplemented by puppy meal or biscuit in the proportion of three parts meat to two parts biscuit. Some dog owners prefer to rear their large dogs on raw meat, particularly guard dogs. This is a matter of personal preference. When a puppy reaches four months of age the evening meal can be omitted and at six months breakfast can be stopped. By the time the dog is one year old, when he is considered to be an adult, he should be receiving only one meal a day.
There are some large breeds which make particularly rapid growth during the first months of life and need to be fed constantly. If you are in any doubt as to your puppy's progress you should consult your veterinarian.
Puppies have the same basic nutritional requirements as adult dogs but their food must be easily digestible. The meal should also contain a large quantity of body building protein as well as minerals and vitamins to maintain the puppy's quick rate of growth. New puppies can sometimes prove to be finicky eaters. This problem can usually be overcome by a variety of methods ranging from pretending to offer the dish to another pet (when there is one) to adding an appetizer such as a vegetable extract to the meal. It is unwise to resort to drastic measures such as feeding only chicken pieces or you could find yourself with a pet which will turn down on a regular canine food.
Do not feed your dog scraps from the table. This habit will only result in a pet with a big waistline. He will also become a nuisance, constantly pawing for tidbits whenever there is food around. However,make sure that he receives his meal at the same time every day. Dogs are creatures of habit and look forward to their mealtime as much as we look forward to our own. It does not matter whether you give the adult dog his meal at midday or in the early evening as long as it is always done at the same time everyday.
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