Helping your puppy grow healthy and wise

Last time we spoke about the nutritional needs of your new puppy and all the things that you have to think about regarding your puppy’s diet without breaking the budget.  And as you heard me say, the more expensive food is not always the best.

Quality puppy foods are made by the four US major manufacturers, Iams/Eukanuba, Hills Pet Nutrition, Royal Canin/Waltham, and Purina.  These companies have their own manufacturing facilities that manufacture their pet foods according to strict internal regulations to provide a quality pet food that follows the claims on the bag.  They also give legitimate amounts to feed the average puppy according to its size.  In that group of companies you can find the names, for example – Purina puppy chow, Iams puppy food, Eukanuba puppy food, Science Diet puppy food, Royal Canin puppy food.  And you can buy these puppy foods in big box stores or in grocery stores (except for Science Diet).  They are also available for online purchases with home delivery from and many others.

Many other pet foods are made at generic pet food manufacturing companies for example, in South Carolina and Pennsylvania where quality control may be questioned and the diet that is produced may not meet the claims on the bag.  More than one generic brand of dog food has been told by the FDA to change its claims on the can or bag since the dog food did not meet the claims stated.  All this information is important to know when you are selecting a puppy food for your puppy’s formative years.

Healthy treats

You are undoubtedly going to want to give the puppy treats as part of his nutrition.  This is only natural as we love and bond with our puppies and want to make them happy.  A happy fur-child is a happy pet parent.  And it stands to reason, when they are growing they can handle the extra calories in their diet.  Treats also serve as wonderful training aids for housebreaking our puppies, rewards for fetching a ball, or just because we love them.  So, as we are asked today to provide healthy choices for snacks for our children, the same rule applies to our fur-children.  Healthy snacks are the best.

What is healthy? Many trainers and fellow veterinarians agree – veggies are the best.  Baby carrots, apple slices, and broccoli really work well.  Compare the price of a large bag of baby carrots to a small bag of pet treats and you will see what I mean.  Puppies and dogs love them and they are a low-calorie, healthy choice for the puppies.   I am also a fan of the Waltham/Royal Canin treat called Greenies.  They were reformulated a few years back to eliminate any worries of digestibility or swallowing issues.  The puppies love them and if your puppy is used to them, you can use the companion product, Greenie pill wraps to give your puppy a pill or tablet without your puppy knowing it.  Like feeding your puppy, moderation is key.

As I said in last week’s article, when we spay or neuter our puppy, the puppy’s metabolism decreases by at least 50%.  Therefore, the puppy does not need to be fed as much after they have been spayed or neutered and should be switched over to a quality maintenance diet.  The example I use with my clients is in cattle.  We purposely castrate bull calves to make them into steers so that they gain weight fast and on less food because we want to let them grow large before we send them to market.  Well, in puppies and dogs you do not want them to bulge out or get “fluffy.”

The importance of ideal weight

It has been clinically proven that a dog maintained at its proper weight will live two to three years longer, have less disease entities, and the owners have lower vet bills over the life of the dog. Yes, lower vet bills.  Want to save on your vet bills? Keep your dog at its idea weight.  What is an ideal weight?  If you can gently, and I mean gently, rub your hand over the outside of your dog’s chest and feel its ribs, the dog is at its ideal weight.  Also, remember to take him or her by your vet’s office, weigh the dog and compare it to the weight charts on many of the vet office walls.  Don’t cheat by pressing hard through the layers of fat on the dog’s chest and say “ah, good.”  You are shortening the life of your dog by having it overweigh. There are many charts online that show diagrams of an ideal weight dog for you to consult [like this one and this one] as well as ideal breed standards to compare your dog to.  An ideal-weight puppy and dog are going to cost you less in the amount of food you feed per day, increase the longevity of your dog, and finally, that really nice idea, healthy dogs have lower vet bills while living longer.  I want my dog to live forever, don’t you?

Dr. Manda is a nationally-renowned doctor of veterinary medicine who has taken on many roles in the veterinary industry over the past 30 years. Dr. Manda possesses a unique mix of clinical skills in veterinary medicine, combined with an extensive background in business and marketing in the veterinary industry.

Dr. Manda has been an appointed member of the Management Committee for the American Animal Hospital Association, one of the charter members of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Management and Past-President and Charter Member of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association. He has made media appearances on the Leeza Gibbons show, had a successful talk radio show in the Philadelphia listening area entitled “Talking About Pets.”

Dr. Manda is currently a consultant to the global pet, pet food, veterinary and animal health industries and is a full time Emergency Medicine veterinarian in Pennsylvania.

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