Top Tips For Feeding Your Puppy

Puppy Diet And Nutrition

When it comes to feeding your puppy, it's important that you get it right; feed your puppy healthy dog food and it will help him to grown into a strong-boned, healthy adult Cocker Spaniel.

Little cocker spaniel puppy, feeding your puppy good kibble is important

Cocker Spaniel puppies grow so quickly during those first few months that they need a special puppy diet to ensure they receive all the essential nutrients their little bodies need to grow to their full potential.

Your breeder may have supplied you with a small amount of puppy food and instructions to help you with feeding your puppy.

It's recommended that you continue with this food because, apart from being specially formulated to help your puppy's growth and development during his early months, your puppy's tummy and digestive system will already be used it.

Should you decide to change your puppy's food at a later date, it's advisable to do it gradually by mixing in a little of the new food at each meal time, otherwise you risk upsetting your puppy's tummy.

Gradually increase the amount of the new food whilst decreasing the old food, over the course of 7-10 days, until the change has been made.

Feeding your Cocker puppy nothing but healthy dog food will give him the best start in life!

How Often Should I Feed My Cocker Puppy?

It's best if you feed him small amounts regularly throughout the day so as not to over-stretch his little tummy.

Golden cocker spaniel puppy eating his kibble

A typical feeding regime for your puppy could look like this:

  • Up to 4 month of age - 4 meals each day;
  • Between 4 months and 6 months of age - 3 meals each day;
  • Over 6 months of age - 2 meals each day, morning and evening.

Don't allow your puppy to 'free feed'; if he doesn't eat all his food within 15 minutes take it away from him. Your puppy will soon learn that if he doesn't eat his meal at the designated time he'll have to wait until the next meal time.

Feeding Your Puppy - Which Will You Choose?

There is a wide variety of commercial puppy food available, ranging from tinned and organic dog food to dry dog food in the form of small bite-sized kibble.

When you buy commercial dog food you may notice it's sometimes labelled "complete" or "complementary".

A 'complete' dog food usually contains all the nutrition your puppy will need, whereas a 'complementary' food is one which accompanies a complete food to achieve best results.

If you are feeding your puppy a complementary food, this should never be used as your puppy's only source of nutrition - it's vital that the puppy diet is complete.

Feeding Your Puppy Dry Dog Food

Dry food is a specially formulated complete meal in the form of a small, bite-sized, biscuit known as kibble.

It usually comprises lamb, salmon, rabbit or chicken and contains rice or oatmeal, essential oils, vitamins and minerals.

Large stainless steel bowl filled with kibble

Kibble doesn't smell, it's clean, easy to use, and it lasts longer than an open tin of wet food - once opened, tinned food needs to be used within a day or two.

Feeding your puppy a dry food diet is also better for your puppy's teeth as the crunchy texture can help to remove plaque before it has a chance to build up.

Puppies who have been recently weaned may refuse dry kibble.

If this happens, simply moisten the kibble with a little warm water and let it stand for a few minutes to soften before feeding it to your puppy.

A dry food diet may seem more expensive than other dog food but, because it's a complete meal and there's no waste, it can be quite good value for money.

Always ensure your puppy has access to plenty of fresh drinking water as dry dog food contains very little moisture.

Personally, we prefer the dry food diet - not only because it provides Max with all the essential nutrients and vitamins he needs to keep him fit and healthy but because kibble needs no preparation, it's clean, and doesn't smell!

We even use a small handful of kibble as a training treat or as a reward for good behaviour!

And, most important, Max loves it!

Feeding Your Puppy Tinned Dog Food

Tin of dog food

If you choose to feed your puppy tinned dog food, ('wet food') be sure to check the label for nutrition levels. Some tinned dog foods are meant to be mixed with biscuits, to add texture and to ensure it's a 'complete' meal.

Tinned dog food can be messy, can sometimes smell, and needs to be refrigerated when opened.

Once in the food bowl, if not eaten, wet dog food can dry out. It can also attract flies and other insects, especially in the summer months - not very hygienic!

However, the smell of tinned dog food, to dogs at least, can be very enticing!

Feeding Your Puppy Organic Dog Food

If you prefer not to use commercially prepared dog foods, you might like to consider feeding your puppy with home-made organic dog food.

Organic dog food shaped like a heart

Organic dog food is food that is grown using environmentally friendly practices and is free from herbicides and pesticides.

An organic dog food diet can have some great benefits for your dog - apart from keeping him looking in tip-top condition, it can also add precious years to his life.

It's not essential to feed your puppy organic food, but it is essential to use good quality ingredients - if it's not good enough for human consumption - it's not good enough for your Cocker Spaniel!

Feeding Your Puppy Treats And Other Extras

Treats are very often given as a reward for good behaviour or when training your puppy, however, I recommend that you check the label so that you are aware of their ingredients as some shop bought treats can contain excessive amounts of salt and sugar, colourings, or fats.

You may want to consider making your own healthy dog treats, in which case you might like to try these home-made dog biscuit recipes - this way, you'll know exactly what they contain!

Feeding your puppy treats like this is OK

During the course of a day's training, your puppy may be rewarded with a sizable amount of treats, in which case, be sure to offset these against his daily food allowance to avoid your puppy becoming overweight.

Alternatively, small amounts of cooked chicken or liver, chopped into little pieces, make great training treats for dogs or puppies and are much healthier too.

Dental sticks are also a healthy option if you want to reward your dog for good behaviour as they help to clean the plaque off his teeth.

Avoid feeding your puppy table scraps - apart from upsetting the well-balanced diet his kibble or wet food provides, feeding him from your table will teach him to beg and the extra calories will also make him fat!

It's important to note that there are many every-day human foods that can be poisonous to dogs - chocolate is just one of them; just one large bar can kill a small puppy - don't leave chocolate lying around where curious little puppies can find it!

Feeding Your Puppy - Dog Food Aggression

Feeding your puppy can sometimes trigger dog food aggression.

If your dog believes that you are a threat to his food he may become aggressive - discover the early warning signs of dog food aggression and how to remedy it.

Feed your puppy in a quiet place where he won't be interrupted while he eats. If you have more than one dog, always feed them separately to avoid fights.

It's important to ensure any children in the family understand the importance of leaving the dog alone while he eats.

Food Allergies and Intolerances

Some dogs can develop an allergy to particular foods or become intolerant to certain ingredients or additives, and this can cause a variety of problems.

Learn more about dog food allergies and how to deal with them.

Summary - Top Tips For Feeding Your Puppy

The following top tips may help you with feeding your puppy.

  • Always ensure your puppy has access to plenty of clean fresh drinking water - especially if he's fed a diet of dry food.
  • Always keep tinned dog food covered until required.

  • Never feed your puppy with chilled food from the refrigerator; always allow the food to come up to room temperature so that it doesn't chill his tummy. The food will taste better too!

  • If you feed your dog wet food and he doesn't finish it, don't be tempted to top it up at the following meal time. This is not hygienic, can attract insects, encourage harmful bacteria, and upset tummies.

  • Try to avoid feeding your puppy table scraps. This is a bad habit which may teach your puppy to beg, and will almost certainly make your puppy fat.

  • If you can't feel your dog's ribs - your puppy is overweight! overweight dogs are unhealthy dogs!
Golden american cocker spaniel sitting by dog treats
  • Always take into account any treats given to your puppy and offset them against his daily food allowance.

  • Puppy feeding - feeding your puppy small but frequent meals during the day is best. Always follow your breeder's or food manufacturer's instructions.

  • If you decide to change your puppy's diet - do it gradually, over a period of 1 to 2 weeks so as not to upset his digestion.

  • It's always sensible to check your puppy's stool regularly as it can be an indicator of health. If your puppy's stool is very loose or he has diarrhoea, his diet may not be suitable for him or he may have a digestive problem.

  • If you're worried about your puppy's feeding or digestion, ie., he won't eat or drink, or his stool is very loose or contains blood, don't hesitate to speak to your vet.

We hope you've found this article on feeding your puppy helpful.

If you decide you'd feel better feeding your puppy with homemade dog food, organic or natural, and you'd like to prepare your own, we strongly recommend that you speak to your vet or dog nutritionist first as puppies need a well-balance diet to aid their growth and development.

› Feeding Your Puppy

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