Growth is the most delicate period in a dog’s life: arrival at the new owner’s home, vaccinations, etc., all these events that take place during this critical time might indeed as well condition the rest of the animal’s life.
And during this growth phase, various demands intermingle:
- Behavioural development
- Growth itself: weight gain, gain in size and speed of growth
- Acquisition of the conformation and the various characteristics of the adult. This development is related to the speed of development enabling the adult stage to be reached more or less quickly.
All dogs might belongs to the same species, but we all know that genetic selection has produced various breeds ranging from 1kg to 100kg. Obviously, because of these huge differences that can be found, nutritional requirements from one breed to another might vary! This is true during the adult’s life. This is true as well during growth.
Growth is in fact the phase when these differences are most noticeable. Important to keep in mind that whatever the puppy’s breed or size, it always has greater energy and nutrient requirements than an adult per kilogram of body weight. It needs energy for maintenance but also for making new tissue (bone, muscle, blood, skin, hair), which makes it bigger. Its protein, mineral, and vitamin requirements are also greater than an adult’s. As a matter of fact, feeding a puppy a food formulated for adult dogs is not risk free.
Many people think a growing puppy should look like a smaller version of the adult dog. That’s certainly why then, they tend to display what we could term “protein fright”. Without good reason. Think about what we just say before. Think also about the fact that, for an organism, proteins are THE building blocks. Because of that, puppy food MUST contain a higher protein content, and the more so in the case of large breeds (for sure quantity is not enough, it must come with quality). That’s the only way to support an harmonious growth. And that’s why dedicated puppy formulas exist.
Young dogs are much more sensitive to insufficient protein intake than adults, and there is a long list of potential consequences in case of deficiency: stunted growth, irreversible conformation, anaemia, antibody deficiency resulting in a higher sensitivity to infectious diseases… To sum up, the way you feed your puppy during growth can influence the rest of its life. Think about it!
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