Feeding Your New Puppy 



General Info on Diet and Feeding

 

What kind of food should you feed your puppy?

Our opinion on what diet to offer has been evolving as we have learned more about the impact of a good quality diet on the health of our dogs. Historically, our dogs had been fed Purina brand dog foods. However, Purina diets are typically corn based with meat by-products. Our kennel dogs are currently fed Diamond Naturals dog food. Other brands that we like and/or have used include Tractor Supply's 4-Health, Nutrisource, and Wellness. Nowadays, there are many high quality pet foods available through pet stores and other outlets. You are welcome to transition your puppy to a diet of your choosing. We just ask that you do not use store brand dog foods – the protein sources are often not adequate and you will likely end up needing to supplement your dog.  Additionally, we do not generally recommend home-cooked, home-recipe dog meals, as they may be lacking in the full nutritional content that is required for dogs to live a long and healthy life.  If you choose to feed home-cooked meals, you should consult with a veterinary nutritionist or a vet who is well-educated on customizing a balanced diet.  

While your puppy is under 1 year of age, or, up until he or she is fixed, your puppy will require a large amount of high quality, high fat, high protein food.  For this reason, you should use a food made specifically for puppies.  You will want to use the recommended feeding amount on the bag as a guideline, but may need to adjust this amount depending on how hungry your puppy is.  Because puppies grow in spurts, much like children, you may notice that the amount of food your puppy eats fluctuates from time-to-time.  Often, right before a growth spurt, your puppy's appetite may suddenly increase.  For growing puppies, if in doubt about how much to feed, lean towards feeding a little extra.  A young puppy should never be put on a calorie restricted diet unless directed to by a veterinarian.

 

Diet changes

Any change in diet should be done gradually to avoid upsetting your puppy’s stomach (true for adult dogs as well).  Example:  Begin feeding your puppy the food we provide you for the first several days home, as his or her body may already be stressed due to the change to a new home.  Then for 2 days, give your puppy ¼ portion of new food and ¾ portion of old food.  Next do half and half for 2 days.  Then do ¾ portion of new food and ¼ portion of old food for 2 days.  Finally, switch your puppy over entirely to their new food.

 

Feeding an adult dog

As your puppy reaches adulthood (around 1 yr old for beagles), you should switch the dog over to an adult food.  It is ideal to split the feedings between 2-3 meals, although one meal daily is acceptable for some dogs.  For most beagles, it is not advisable to provide food free choice as they tend to be chow hounds and will overeat.  Instead,  you should exercise portion control for your dog.  Decide how much food to feed on a daily basis using the amount recommended on the bag as a guideline.  Then adjust the amount of food you offer, based on your dog's activity level and metabolism.  You may need to play around with the amount a little bit to get it just right.  Remember that the feeding amounts listed on the bag are suggestions and not set in stone!  Every dog is different.  Our indoor beagles normally get 2/3 c to 1 c of food per day.  On the other hand, during rabbit hunting season, we frequently feed our kennel beagles 3 c of food per day (the bag would never tell you to use this much for a 20-25lb dog!).  Keep in mind that beagles are prone to obesity, especially ones that are kept indoors.  An overweight beagle is more likely to develop health problems, much the way that overweight people are.  We ask you to PLEASE keep your beagle trim.  If you have any questions about how much to feed or what the proper weight for your dog is, please consult with your veterinarian.

 

Dry food or wet food?
We feed dry dog food for convenience and due to having multiple dogs. It is a common misconception that feeding a dry dog food helps reduce the build-up of plaque and tartar on your dog's teeth due to texture. The best way to reduce tartar accumulation on your dog's teeth is to brush his or her teeth. Feeding canned food is perfectly fine and in fact may be healthier for your dog, as quality canned foods have a higher meat content and their protein sources have not been altered by the high cooking temperatures and drying processes that are used to prepare dry kibble. However, quality is the key word. Canned food like Pedigree, Cesar's, Mighty Dog, and other brands that are typically carried in the grocery stores tend to be high in fat and are essentially junk food.

 

Table scraps and "People" food

Limit snacks and table scraps where possible (or don't feed them at all if you can help it).  If you choose to feed occasional table scraps, please realize that certain foods are particularly bad for your dog's digestive system, especially spicy foods such as peperoni and sausage, while other foods can actually be toxic to dogs.  Foods that are toxic to dogs in varying amounts include garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, and chocolate (especially dark chocolate, cocoa, and baker's chocolate).  For more information on food toxicity in dogs, please click on the following link.

 

A word on bones

As a general rule, you should not feed your puppy or adult dog bones, even those sold in the meat department of the grocery store for that reason.  The bones can potentially splinter and, once ingested, they may puncture your dog’s digestive tract or cause intestinal blockage, which will result in an expensive surgery at the best and the death of your dog at worst.  Your best bet is to offer “bones” such as Nylabones or treat your dog with dental chews made specifically for dogs.   As a precaution, all dogs should still be observed when they are chewing on these items.