Puppy food is significantly different from the one for adult dogs. Young dogs have different nutritional requirements that is why the food needs to be adapted directly to them. Nutrition of a puppy is connected to some dilemmas: what substitutes for milk to choose, when to introduce solid food, how to feed?
Nutrition of a puppy
Dogs up to three months of age eat only mothers milk. Problem is when mother refuse to feed puppies, does not lactate, produces not enough milk or is passed away. Then, mother's milk need to be replaced with a substitute.
Substitutes for mother's milk
Mother's milk is priceless for a puppy health as it contains immunoglobines G which strengthen immunity and protect animals against infections. In case where puppies must be fed artificially due to lack of sucking reflex, it is worth to milk mother and give it to puppies.
In case when you can not get a colostrum from mother it needs to be substituted. One of them is milk for puppies. It is a balanced feed containing milk proteins, fats and vitamins: A, D and E and other components such as copper, potassium, selenium, zinc, calcium or phosphorus.
Other substitute for mother's milk may be a home made mixture. Basic ingredients are: goat or cow milk, yolk, plant oil, vitamin supplement. Mixture may be enriched with shredded cottage cheese and calcium carbonate. However cow protein is worse digested. Mixture is worth to be consulted with veterinarian or a canine dietician.
Substitutes can never be as mother's milk. They have few disadvantages. Firstly, they are always the same in composition when mother's milk may be different considering different requirements of puppies. In some periods of lactation mother's milk may have more calcium, copper and iron, it contains also a proper level of vitamin D3.
During feeding with a substitute, in puppies may occur problems from gastrointestinal system, such as: constipation, diarrhea, flatulence. To avoid gastric problems it is worth to massage the abdomen area.
For feeding special bottles may be used which can be found in pet shops. Bottle needs to be held bottom up, you should avoid to feed from a syringe as a possibility of choking is high. Dogs with distorted sucking reflex should be fed with a probe. Food has to be approx. 36 degrees worm and the dog should be in a position close to vertical. During a day puppy should have 9 meals. After approx. two weeks the number may be decreased to seven meals.
Solid food may be introduced in 3-4rth week of life. It is to be introduced gradually, with small portions. A one thing in a row may be introduced: meat, diary products and carbohydrates. After the 8th week of life puppy should not eat milk any more.