A puppy’s nutritional requirements are far different from those of an adult dog. So if you want your pup to grow healthy, you need to do all you can to ensure that he gets the right amount of all the essential nutrients.
Normally, a puppy can be weaned from his mother’s milk between three to four weeks of age. The process usually takes up to seven weeks before you can transition your pup away from milk. Once your pup is ready to eat food, make sure he receives a balanced meal.
A balanced diet gives your furry little pal the energy and nutrients that keep his brain and body active. Don’t know which puppy food is the right one? A dog food delivery service lists down the following key nutrients that should be in the quality dog food you choose.
As the building blocks of life, proteins aid in developing your pup’s tissues. Moreover, as a macronutrient, it supplies energy throughout your canine’s body.
Proteins provide amino acids that are essential to your pet’s health. They also give the body structure and are integral in creating antibodies, enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters that keep your pup’s body functioning optimally. Your pup must receive the essential amino acids through his diet as his body can’t produce them at the required levels.
Pregnant, lactating female dogs, as well as growing puppies, need about twice as much protein as adult dogs do for maintenance. Common sources of protein include:
- Lean-muscle meats
Fats are essential for keeping the brain, hair, skin, and vision healthy. With more than twice as many calories as carbohydrates and proteins, fats supply the most concentrated source of energy.
Other than that, fats also:
- Provide essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Protect internal organs
- Regulate body temperature
- Enable absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
- Promote a healthy nervous system
However, take note that too much fat can also trigger gastrointestinal issues and pancreatitis. Avoid giving your pup fatty table scraps. Instead, give him the best quality puppy food brand with healthy fats like fish oil and plant-based oils.
Your pup needs vitamins in small quantities for his proper metabolic function. They can either be soluble in fat (Vitamins A, D, E, and K) or in water (Vitamins B and C). Your furry pal can’t synthesize vitamins in adequate quantities, which is why these must come from his diet.
Vitamins are essential as they play critical roles, including:
- Boosting the immune system
- Acting as antioxidants
- Enabling blood clotting
- Regulating calcium and phosphorous levels
- Maintaining nervous system function
You can usually find vitamins in puppy foods that contain organ meats, muscle meats, and plant-based nutrients.
Your pup needs minerals to maintain proper metabolic functions. Since his body can’t manufacture minerals on its own, he must get them from his food.
Minerals have two categories:
- Macrominerals: Calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium
- Microminerals: Copper, iron, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc
Although the body needs macrominerals in higher levels compared to microminerals, both are equally important.
Other functions of minerals that are essential for supporting your pet’s life include:
- Carrying oxygen all throughout the body
- Constituting a major part of the bones such as calcium and phosphorus
- Assisting in the healing of wounds
- Providing antioxidant support
- Regulating fluid balance
- Aiding in nerve transmission
You can get minerals from different foods like meat, which is high in phosphorus, and bone, which is high in calcium. Organ meats give iron and copper, while shellfish provide zinc.
A Crucial Component: Water
On top of these four essential nutrients, water is also a crucial part of your pup’s diet. Make sure your pup always has clean and fresh water available.
Water actually makes up about 70-80% of an adult dog’s lean mass. Its important functions include:
- Helping in regulating body temperature
- Dissolving and transporting nutrients to cells
- Hydrolyzing carbohydrates, fat, and protein for digestion
- Cushioning organs and the nervous system
- Flushing out waste from the body
A canine’s water requirement depends on his individual health, activity levels, and environmental temperature. You don’t have to worry about whether you are giving enough water, as most canines self-regulate their intake of water to meet their meets. If you feed your pup high-moisture pet food, he will typically drink less compared to when he eats kibble.
Read the label
Every time you buy food for your pup, make sure to read the labels and look for words like “complete and balanced nutrition” or “meets the nutritional requirements of puppies.” Pet foods that contain these words are designed to give your canine pal sufficient amounts of the protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals he needs for his optimal growth.
Now that you know which nutrients are essential for your pup’s healthy life, make sure to look for these the next time you shop for pet food.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a BSc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.