Puppies need more calories than adult dogs to provide them with the energy they require to support healthy growth. In general, the calories in a pup's diet come from the protein, fats and carbohydrates in his food. By feeding your pooch a diet designed for puppies, which contains more of these ingredients than one formulated for adults, little Fido will be sure to get the proper amount of calories he needs.
Until your pup reaches his first birthday or so, he'll need around twice the amount of calories per pound of weight each day than an adult dog, recommends the National Research Council. The average adult pooch needs approximately 35 calories per pound of weight each day, according to Dogster. So, if your young pooch is 10 pounds, he'll need around 70 calories of food per pound daily, or 700 calories. As your puppy grows, increase his portions to account for his higher caloric needs. As a general rule, the amount of food your pooch can eat in 10 minutes, three times a day, provides him with the calories he needs, recommends Jennifer Larsen, DVM of the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Because the amount of calories in different puppy foods vary, it's best to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for daily servings. Generally, the average cup of dry puppy kibble contains around 400 calories, according to Petfinder. The average 13.2-ounce can of wet puppy food also contains around this same amount. Based on the calorie recommendations for a 10-pound pup, you'll need to feed little Fido around 1 3/4 cans of food or cups of kibble to your pup daily. If you feed your pup a combination of the foods, incorporate both of them into the calorie count. For example, if Fido eats 1 can of wet food each day, feed him 3/4 cup of dry food daily in addition, or vice versa.
In addition to being rich in calories, your pup's food itself needs to contain the right balance of nutrients for a puppy to encourage proper growth. These nutrients, including protein, fats and carbohydrates, provide the food with healthy, rather than empty calories for your pooch. Proteins encourage muscle and tissue growth, while fats and carbohydrates provide your pup with energy and help with the absorption of vitamins. Puppy food should contain 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat at minimum, recommend the feeding profiles developed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
While your puppy needs calorie-rich foods to encourage proper growth, feeding your pooch too many calories can actually cause obesity or even skeletal issues in larger breeds. Keep an eye on your pup's body and, if you can't feel his ribs anymore, he may be getting too many calories daily. Speak to your vet about your pup's weight and ask for her recommendations regarding his necessary calorie intake if your pup appears overweight or underweight. Avoid free-feeding your pooch, instead providing him with two to three meals throughout the day. To determine his portion sizes, divide his daily amount of food by the amount of feedings you provide.
- National Research Council: Your Dog's Nutritional Needs
- Petfinder: Dry Dog Food Calorie Count
- Petfinder: Wet Dog Food Calorie Count
- University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine: Optimal Feeding of Large Breed Puppies
- Animal Medical Center of Chicago: Daily Calorie Requirements for Dogs
- The Bark: Weight Management Made Simple
- Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine: Maintaining A Healthy Weight For Your New Puppy
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Feeding Your Puppy
- Dogster: Causes of Dog Obesity
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Selecting Nutritious Pet Foods
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