Puppies are guaranteed an optimal diet while they’re exclusively fed on their mother’s milk, but after about twenty days they already show an interest in certain solid foods and are able to swallow them. It’s very important that the transition from breast milk to solid foods takes place gradually so that the pup’s organism can segregate the necessary enzymes and that their digestive system modifies the bacterial flora to make them accustomed to swallowing solid food. To achieve this, there really should be an intermediate phase of bottle-fed semi-solid food, in which milk specially designed for puppies is mixed with prepared food appropriate to their size, breed, etc. There are two options for this:
- The food can either be left to soak in the milk until it softens; or
- It can be mashed up in a blender and added to the special milk for puppies.
This transition phase is very important to prevent the puppy from developing food allergies and/or digestive problems.
Once this phase is over, we should choose a high-quality feed specially formulated to feed puppies according to their ultimate size when they’re adults.
Diet is very important throughout our furry friend’s life, as we’ve seen in other articles, due to the importance of the biological value of proteins and the importance of antioxidants for health in general and a strong immune system. However, all these aspects play a particularly important in the growth phase, for the following reasons:
- We could say that proteins are the ‘building bricks’ of the future dog. They have to be of a high quality, contain the essential amino acids that the puppy’s body cannot produce and guarantee a very high biological value, both in terms of digestion and metabolism.
- The ratio between macro- and micro-minerals and vitamins must be exact because, for example, a vitamin D3 deficit will prevent stop calcium from being properly absorbed, or an excess of vitamin A can lead to bone malformations.
- Essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid and linolenic acid are essential for skin health and for a shiny coat, but can also even influence the ability to learn. I know this may come as a surprise, but breast milk (both human and canine) contains docosahexaenoic acid, which has a major influence on the central nervous system and plays a vital role in creating neuronal connections during the puppy’s brain development.
These examples underline the key importance of choosing a high-quality prepared food to guarantee that our puppies ingest the essential nutrients for a correct development not just of their musculoskeletal system but also of their immune system. This also ensures the optimal functioning of their central nervous system, which is so decisive for issues related to cognitive processes and learning. That’s why our nutrition experts are creating increasingly specific formulas that meet the individual nutritional needs of puppies based on their ultimate size and/or their specific breed, providing an intake of nutrients that guarantees an optimal development of all the systems that will make up the adult dog.
There’s nothing more rewarding for dog lovers than watching a puppy grow and seeing its milestones each day, so we should play a role in what’s actually down to us: selecting a quality diet proven to help our puppy to develop their body and grow in the best possible conditions.