Diet and Nutrition
I am really beginning to enjoy writing these diaries it gives me a chance to reflect on Nell’s progress and in turn helping me to enjoy her puppy days even more.
This is Nell’s 12th week and on 6th Feb she will be 3 calendar months old. 12 weeks is quite a milestone in a puppies life, and crucially important to Nell’s development. Things that Nell experience at this time are in the forefront of everything I do with her. I want to be there to see as many of her firsts as I can, and very importantly I want to be there when she experiences things she is afraid of or wary of , I need Nell to know that absolutely, I have her back, that she can turn to me. Wherever our adventures take us in the coming years, she will follow me because we have built up this trust during these important developmental weeks.
Nell has had her final vaccinations; we have made each vet visit a positive one often staying for some time before any treatment or vaccines to allow Nell to process the new environment and by asking the vets to give treats before any treatment. Whilst the vets were injecting her I would be getting her attention and creating a positive experience using her favourite treats and food. I will continue to visit the vets with Nell and especially to associate it with nice things. Popping into the vet and just sitting and getting fuss and treat’s for a young puppy will pay dividends in the future if ever your puppy require any urgent vet care.
Speaking of Food I’m going to talk a little about food this week. One of the issues that customers often come to us about is scavenging whether its puppies or adult dogs, some will try eating everything and anything they are exposed to. This can have disastrous consequences that can be life threatening. There are many reasons for dogs scavenging but having seen a few dogs in my time, I have been able to put link with the dogs that do not eat well at home have a higher prey drive and scavenge during their walks more frequently.
Nell like most other puppies has a very healthy appetite. With help from Heather we decided to up Nell’s food as she was starting to display small subtle signals toward food aggression. We also created a strong positive association with hands near food bowls; feeding Nell from our hands into her bowl. It was only at the freeze stage when we came near to her bowl, but that was too much for us. So we decided to up Nell’s food a bit, not concerning ourselves about weight increase as she has a lot growing to do. This time of a puppy’s life is when they are really growing rapidly and need calories!! I am happy to report that the days of Nell hoovering up her food are gone, and she even walks away from food in her bowl now. There is no scavenging at all and she now weighs 6.5 kg with a healthy covering of ‘puppy fat’. Once Nell is fully grown she will be given enough for her size to maintain her body weight.
Which food to choose?
Well this is a largely debated topic, however in my opinion and many years of experience in feeding dogs. I have found that feeding raw meat (complete raw diets such as Nutriment) has increased the health and vitality of my dogs. Raw diets may sound scary to some of you; however these days we have some awesome companies that make raw feeing so simple. Raw diets do not suit everyone though my old Dane Alfie couldn’t stomach it as much as he did love it and many people just cannot commit to feeding raw with their lifestyles. Remember every dog and person is an individual and you must do what’s best for you and yours. I have also always fed my puppies cooked boiled eggs for breakfast until they got to about 8 months old, more often than not I would mix this with bio yogurt, This was Alfie’s favourite and made him constantly have a YOGURT TASH!
In my opinion the BEST diet for a canine would be a home prep diet; however I do not have the time or lifestyle to make sure that my dog’s are fed the right balance with a homemade diet. I would be interested to know if any of you do and are able to maintain the balances of meat, veg, nutrients and vitamins without it taking up all of your time.
If neither of the above works for you and you prefer kibble, start to read labels on the packets, try a high meat content kibble with little or no grain, wheat, salt and sugar. One thing I always remember a good friend told me look at the first 4 things listed ingredients on the food packet and this will give you the main components of that food. Labels can also be deceptive, some will say meat meal or meat and animal derivatives; this is not the same as listing the actual meat, so don’t be fooled. We won’t talk about meat and animal derivatives!! There are some amazing groups on Facebook regarding food, I urge you to do some research on this yourself and find a diet that you and your pooch are both happy with. Rodney Habib is a fantastic start, an un-biased pet nutrition blogger who has been in search of the best diet for his own pet dogs.