Your little furry bundle of joy is home, and hungry. That's OK -- he has a lot of growing to do. Over the next one or two years, he'll pack on the pounds and grow into a beautiful, mature dog. Good-tasting homemade food starts him off on the right paw.
Puppies need extra calories and nutrients to support growth. Dogs of all ages should also always have fresh water available.
Needs vary, so check all calorie requirements with your vet. But generally, a pup of 40 to 50 percent of his adult weight needs about 50 percent more calories than in adulthood. At 75 to 80 percent of his adult weight, he'll need about 25 percent more calories than his adult self.
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Once you determine your dog's adult caloric needs and then increase those numbers to match his puppyhood requirements, you can map out your buddy's menu.
Generally, a dog's diet should be 50 to 75 percent animal protein, 15 to 18 percent fat and 25 percent carbs. A puppy's diet should be at least 60 percent protein. When home-cooking, combine these nutrients throughout the day or within each meal.
Adding a high-quality multivitamin and mineral offers nutritional backup.
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Animal protein should form the base of any dog's diet. Good sources include meats like poultry, lamb, venison, bison and more. Try beef in small amounts; it can be difficult to digest and some dogs may experience intestinal upset. Serve cooked meats, especially in the beginning, as it safer and easier to digest.
Although meat should be the central source of animal protein, you can also offer small amounts of eggs, cheese, yogurt and other non-meat sources.
Fats and oils provide essential nutrients and a concentrated energy source. Certain fatty acids essential to dogs include omega-3, omega-6 and arachidonic acids. These are needed for cell-membrane maintenance, immune support and healthy skin.
Beneficial oils like cod liver, flaxseed, safflower and olive oils deliver fatty acids along with fat-soluble vitamins including D and E. Just drizzle on your dog's meal, and voila. Other sources include fat within the meats and other animal proteins in your dog's diet.
Carbohydrates include vegetables, fruits, grains and other starches. If you examine wolves' diets, you'll see vegetables and other plant materials are natural foods for dogs.
Back in the day, when our dogs' ancestors hunted, they consumed the entire animal, including partially digested plant material in its stomach. They also ate berries and other local goodies. So adding these to your pup's diet makes sense. Serve cooked veggies to start. Over time, experiment with raw vegetables and see how your dog does.
As you develop your dog's food plan, you will learn his individual preferences. He may like lima beans, but snub snow peas, for example. Also, he may be sensitive to some foods, so monitor him with new foods. Try new items one at a time, and if he experiences any problems, remove that food or reduce the amount.
Throughout puppyhood and into adulthood, serving homemade food is a wonderful way to support your best friend's health.