We recommend a good quality, complete, dry puppy food from brands such as Arden Grange, Burns, Eden and James Wellbeloved (this is by no means an exhaustive list – there are lots of good brands of dog food.
The main things to look for are natural ingredients, no additives or colourants, and a high protein content). You can add puppy wet food to the dry food if they are really fussy but if you can get them eating just dry food it is far better for their teeth. It’s also cheaper, more hygienic and more convenient to be on a complete dry food! Once you have found a brand your puppy is happy with and their stools are a normal consistency, stick with that brand and be careful when changing flavours to introduce them gradually because a sudden change may upset their tummies.
New puppies should be kept on the same food the breeder or rescue centre has been feeding them for at least a week after you take them on. It is too much of a disruption to take them away from their litter mates, mum and familiar surroundings, and change their diet all in one go. The exception to this is if the breeder was giving the puppy unusual mixtures of goat’s cheese/yogurt/Weetabix etc. You can wean your puppy off this over a period of a few days as the puppy is not benefiting from this kind of diet and it is an unnecessary hassle for you as a new owner.
We do not recommend a raw diet for any animal, especially puppies, for various medical reasons including the risk of foreign bodies and food-borne diseases such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. If you are considering a raw diet, please talk to a vet or vet nurse first. At the very least, we can give you pointers on how to make sure your dog gets the right balance of nutrients for growth, bone health etc.
How much to feed depends on the breed of your dog and its age, as well as the brand of food you choose. Follow the guidelines on the back of the food packet and talk to a vet if you think your puppy is not growing as it should, or is getting too podgy! Puppies should be fed 4 times daily until they are 12-16 weeks old, then 3 times daily until they are about 6 months old. We recommend twice daily feeding throughout adulthood, as once daily feeding is a lot for their digestion to cope with and also predisposes to obesity. At what age to swap your puppy onto an adult food depends on a number of factors including breed, weight gain, age of neutering, activity level etc. Talk to a nurse if you are unsure when to swap from a puppy to an adult food.
Remember dogs do not have to be fed from their bowl all the time. You can use their food as a reward when you are doing training sessions, out on walks to get them to come back to you, in Kongs to keep them occupied or simply thrown on the floor or across the garden so they use their natural scenting and hunting instincts to look for their food!