There's nothing like bringing a new puppy home and welcoming it into your family. Their adorable faces could melt just about any heart, and - oh! - taking a deep breath full of new-puppy smell is certain to make you smile.
To top it off, there's also all the funny things that puppies do as they learn about the world around them. They make funny little hopping movements when surprised by something new and there's the sweet snuffling noises as they learn to use their noses to see the world in the olfactory way dogs do.
Of course, you only want the best for your puppy, so you buy him a nice soft bed and some top-quality toys. You make an appointment with your trusted veterinarian to get the little guy checked out and started on his vaccinations and other preventative care. You read up on the best training methods, keep a bowl of fresh clean water out all the time and make sure you provide plenty of attention and play time.
But what about your pup's nutrition? Giving your puppy the right kind of food and the proper amount is essential for him to grow up to be a healthy adult dog.
According to the UK Kennel Club, puppies grow about 20 times faster than older dogs, and since your pup's brain, bones and muscles are still developing, it's essential that his diet aids this development.
Trusted brands like Arden Grange dog food, James Wellbeloved and Royal Canin all offer specially-formulated puppy foods that will give your little bundle of fur everything he needs to grow up strong and healthy, and if you're choosing one of these brands, be sure to check the size of the breed each food is designed for. After all, a Great Dane puppy is going to have different nutritional requirements than a young Yorkie, for example.
Before you bring your puppy home, it can be a good idea to find out what the breeder or animal shelter was feeding them, and to get a small amount of that to start your puppy on. Remember that dogs have sensitive stomachs, and sudden changes in diet can cause unpleasantness like vomiting and diarrhoea. Wean your puppy on to the new food, first with a 25/75 mix, then a 50/50 mix, then a 75/25 mix before moving on to your chosen food entirely.
The Kennel Club says you should try to feed your pup four regular meals a day up until the age of four months. Then you can reduce this to three meals a day until the dog is six months old. Two meals a day should suffice from six months of age, and for the rest of the dog's life.
They also say that it's best to not leave the food down all the time. Instead, simply pick up the bowl after 20 minutes and throw away any uneaten kibble. In addition, they remind us that fresh water should be available at all times.
Finally, be sure to consider how much food you're giving your pet. The right measurement will depend on your dog's size, as well as his activity level. By reading the food packaging, you should get a good idea of a starting point, and this can be adjusted depending on how your pet's weight fluctuates.
If you have any questions about your pet's diet or overall health, be sure to check with your vet.
Written by: Hannah