A nutritious diet is undoubtedly a major factor behind any canine's well-being, puppy or otherwise. If you feed your puppy a well-rounded and healthy diet, however, you won't have any need to supplement it with vitamins -- unless your veterinarian specifically recommends otherwise.
Until puppies are old enough to start weaning, they need only their mother dog's milk. If their mother's not around, a commercial milk replacer designed to manage puppies' nutritional needs is a must. Some milk replacers contain colostrum, which is the concentrated "first milk" that mother dogs give off during nursing. Colostrum is full of antibodies that protect puppies from diseases during the first few weeks of their lives. If the puppies are 12 hours old or less, milk replacers with colostrum can offer them those antibodies. After the 12-hour period, however, their bodies lose the ability to digest colostrum. Outside of a mother's milk or puppy formula, the little guys do not need anything else in their diets, according to the ASPCA. Puppies are typically ready to begin weaning -- and consuming some softened solid foods -- once they get to the 3 or 4 week milestone. They're typically ready to change over to "full time" solid foods once weaning wraps up, perhaps at the 7 or 8 week marker.
When puppies become old enough to consume solid foods, their dietary requirements aren't the same as those of mature dogs. They should not eat adult dog food. Whether you offer your puppy dry food or canned food, make sure it is not made for adult dogs. If it doesn't say "puppy" on the labeling, it isn't appropriate for your pup. Puppies' bodies call for significantly higher levels of energy than adults, for starters, and more protein for growth.
Puppies and Vitamins
A healthy puppy diet consists of the right amounts of water, fats, vitamins, proteins, minerals and so forth. If a specific commercial puppy food indeed satisfies your little guys' dietary demands to a T, the packaging should say either "balanced" or "complete." If a puppy is consuming these kinds of balanced or complete meals regularly, he does not need to take vitamin supplements, according to the experts at the veterinary teaching hospital for the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. If you have any questions regarding planning an appropriate diet for your pooch, consult your veterinarian before you make changes.
Adult Dogs and Vitamins
As puppies grow into adulthood, they need to eat complete and balanced diets -- for mature canines. Just as with youngsters, adult dogs who feed on complete and balanced dog food usually do not need to take in vitamins from supplements. If you are concerned about deficiencies, however, consult your veterinarian. Vitamin overload can lead to a variety of problems in dogs, so never make any decisions regarding your pet's diet before getting the approval of your vet.
Dietary deficiencies are uncommon in dogs, but sometimes do pop up, whether in puppies or senior dogs. Vitamin E supplements are occasionally recommended in elderly dogs for their antioxidant purposes. Antioxidants can be effective in strengthening aging pets' immune systems. Developing puppies might also sometimes need vitamin supplements, such as those that contain B vitamins for energy.
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