Puppy Care FAQs


Welcoming a puppy into its new home is a very exciting time. However, your puppy will feel very unsettled at first so take time with your puppy to help ease him/her through this period. This information page will explain some of the stages your puppy will go through and the importance of a good quality natural diet.

As increasing numbers of us become health conscious we are slowly realising the extent to which unnecessary additives are used in foods today. As we become aware of our own diet we believe that, like people, pets are what they eat, or rather, what we feed them. Therefore, we should take as much care with our pet’s diet, as we do with our own. A good quality natural diet is particularly important during the early growth stages of a puppy in order to enhance the puppy’s health, performance and longevity and reduce the risk of infections and allergy related diseases as they grow and develop.

Neonatal Period


Puppies are reliant on their mother during their first few weeks of life. After giving birth the mother will lick her puppies and they will crawl towards her nearest nipple. It is very important they suckle as this first milk or colostrum contains essential nutrients and antibodies therefore transferring immunity from the mother to the puppies. If the puppy doesn’t find the nipple you can carefully place him onto the nipple and observe that he suckles. Puppies are born with their eyes and ears closed and do not begin to open them until they are around 10 days old. Therefore they are unable to see or hear but respond to touch and smell. They will cry out to their mother if they are hungry or cold. During these first few days and weeks of life it is important to check the growth of the puppies by weighing them regularly to ensure they are growing at the correct rate. If a puppy is weak and unable to suckle or not gaining sufficient weight you will need to contact your veterinary surgeon. By careful observation and monitoring of the mother and puppies you will be able to ensure that the mother is producing enough milk to satisfy the appetites of the puppies. If a bitch encounters problems during lactation or has a very large litter then you would need to contact your veterinary surgeon for advice. Puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature during the first 3 weeks of life and will lie close to their mother and littermates for warmth. It is important the puppies are in a warm area and away from any draughts so that they can keep warm. They are also unable to defecate or urinate without stimulation from the mother who will vigorously lick the puppy’s perineal area until urine and faeces are passed. Lactation is a very demanding time for the mother and she will require extra nutrients so that she can produce enough milk for her growing puppies. It is advisable to feed her a good quality high energy, easily digested food during this time such as a puppy/growth formula food. Naturediet Puppy-Junior can be fed to lactating bitches as it is a good quality high energy nutritionally balanced food. The added egg is a particularly beneficial and available protein source, and the diet has the appropriate quantities of protein, essential fatty acids and minerals that help to optimise milk production.

Feeding Puppies Before and Following Weaning


During the first 2 weeks of life the puppies will spend their time sleeping and feeding. Around 10 – 14 days of age their eyes and ears begin to open, although full vision and hearing takes time to develop. Food can be introduced to puppies between 3-4 weeks of age as they begin to lap at this age. A high quality puppy food can be mixed with either water or a canine milk replacement to make a porridge type consistency. Puppies will need some encouragement to lap at this food initially. Naturediet Puppy-Junior can be fed to puppies at this age as it is high in protein, tasty and easily digested. Cow’s milk has a higher lactose content than canine milk and may cause diarrhoea so shouldn’t be used to mix with the puppy food. Up to 3 weeks of age puppies will be receiving all their nutrition from their mother. Once they start to eat solid food the mother will spend more time away from her puppies and the puppies will obtain more nutrition from the solid food. Puppies have small stomachs so are unable to eat large quantities of food so frequent small meals are necessary. From 3 weeks of age the puppies are able to walk and play more with their littermates and they will learn valuable lessons from their mother and siblings. From this age it is important that they continue to be handled and are gradually introduced to everyday sounds such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners and TVs etc so they are aware of their surroundings and not frightened by them. However, make sure the puppy isn’t getting stressed or anxious by too much handling or external stimulation. Puppies are born without teeth. They have two sets of teeth just like people. The deciduous or milk teeth will erupt between three to six weeks of age and the permanent set of teeth will erupt later when the milk teeth start to fall out at around 3 months of age. Their food can become gradually less mushy and more solid in consistency as they get older and they are able to chew their food. Weaning and separation from the mother and littermates usually occurs around 7-8 weeks. If the mother has encountered problems during lactation weaning might have to occur earlier. The puppy should be fed several small meals daily as he/she cannot ingest large quantities of food at one meal. They require high levels of nutrients and at the time of weaning must be able to eat enough food to meet their nutritional requirements. It is important that the mother and puppies are wormed regularly to prevent a large worm burden developing. Your veterinary surgeon can advise a suitable worming protocol.

Going to a New Home


This is a stressful time for a new puppy as not only has he/she been separated from his/her mother and littermates but has also been transported to a new environment. It is important that this transition is as stress free as possible and that you give your puppy time to adapt to his/her new home. Make sure you have time to spend with your puppy during his first few days to relieve the stress of the move. He will be very inquisitive and will want to explore his new surroundings. He can’t play with his littermates so you will need to spend time playing with him when he wants to play. He/she will need a new bed which should be placed in a quiet area of the house. He can then go to his bed when he needs some peace and quiet and rest. He may whine during his first few nights in his new home until he becomes accustomed to his new surroundings and his routine. If you have children ensure they respect your puppy and that they know he shouldn’t be disturbed if he is lying in his bed asleep. We wouldn’t want to be disturbed if we were asleep in our beds! Your puppy will need to be toilet trained and there will inevitably be accidents in the house until he is fully toilet trained. There are puppy toilet training mats available for this purpose however, newspaper may also be used. It is important not to become angry with your puppy if he does mess in the house. After a few days you will need to take your puppy to a veterinary surgeon for a full examination and vaccination as the immunity the mother has passed to her puppies wanes as the puppy ages and they are therefore vulnerable to infection. It is therefore important to protect your puppy from diseases such as Parvo virus and have your puppy vaccinated. Your veterinary surgeon will advise on a vaccination schedule which usually consists of two vaccinations and also on a regular worming regime. Full immunity to the vaccinations doesn’t occur until after the last vaccination. It is essential that a puppy is socialised at this age to help prevent future behavioural problems. Take him to puppy training classes so that he mixes with as many other puppies as possible and is taught basic commands. Introduce him to social situations without stressing him and groom him regularly so he is accustomed to being groomed. It is advisable your puppy becomes used to travelling in the car. Start with short journeys and if your puppy is travel sick ask your vet for advice. Keep him safe in the car in a specific dog crate or behind a dog guard. Another person in the car may be helpful for reassurance. Dogs need to be accustomed to being left on their own. Therefore, as a puppy leave him/her for short periods so they learn to cope with solitude otherwise a puppy that is never left may develop problems when you do need to leave him/her. When your puppy arrives he is likely to be eating 4 meals per day. To help his transition to his new home you can feed him the same food your breeder was feeding him however, once he has settled in you can gradually change him onto the food you would like to feed him.

Nutrition


A dog requires different nutritional requirements depending on its age. A puppy grows very rapidly and requires more nutrients than an adult dog. Food for growing puppies should be specific for this purpose. It is important to feed a complete nutritionally balanced high quality, high energy puppy food that provides all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a puppy needs to give your puppy the best start in life. Naturediet Puppy-Junior is a high quality, high energy, complete, nutritionally balanced food developed for puppies and juniors. It is not necessary to add vitamin or mineral supplements if feeding a complete nutritionally balanced food as this may be detrimental and may lead to developmental skeletal problems especially in large/giant breed dogs. Feeding a diet that is easily digested is particularly important. If a puppy is fed a poorly digestible low quality food they will need to eat larger quantities of it. Well-nourished puppies may have a greater resistance to disease. It is important to monitor the growth rate of your puppy and ensure that he is not growing too rapidly or becoming overweight. Overfeeding in large breed dogs can result in a rapid growth rate which may predispose to skeletal problems and in smaller dogs overfeeding may lead to obesity. Puppies of different breeds will grow and develop at different rates. Larger breeds of dogs take longer to become fully grown than smaller breeds. If you are not sure your puppy is growing at the correct rate contact your veterinary surgeon for advice. For the quantity to feed see our feeding guide. This is a guide only and it is important to monitor the growth rate of your puppy and adjust the amount of food accordingly. As young puppies only have small stomachs they need several small meals, however as they grow their stomach enlarges so they can then consume and digest larger quantities of food. At 8 weeks old you’ll probably be feeding your puppy 4 meals a day. This can be decreased to 3 meals per day when he is around 4 months old decreasing to 2 meals per day when he is around 6 months old. If you are unsure about how many meals you need to feed your puppy each day then either ask your breeder or vet for advice. Naturediet Puppy-Junior is nutritionally balanced and contains all the nutrients your puppy needs for healthy growth and development. We recommend that when your puppy reaches approximately 8 months of age depending on breed, they are changed onto one of our adult ranges. Giant breeds take longer to mature and would need to be fed puppy food for longer. Naturediet Senior-Lite is not suitable to be fed to puppies and growing dogs. Always make sure that clean fresh water is constantly available for your puppy.