Bringing home your first puppy is exciting, but making sure they have everything they need to lead a healthy and happy life can sometimes feel overwhelming – especially as a new pet owner.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “There are lots of things to consider when bringing your puppy home, and ensuring they are set up for the best start in life is essential.
Start as you mean to go on – feeding your pup the right amount of high-quality puppy food and making time for the correct amount of exercise from day one will help them stay a healthy weight and grow into a happy, fit adult dog.
Factor in breed and size
“Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so understanding your pooch’s specific nutritional needs is crucial.
“Larger breeds mature more slowly, so they need puppy food that supports their bone and joint health throughout their growth into adulthood – which can take up to two years.
On the other hand, smaller breeds mature earlier and have smaller teeth and can have weaker jaws, so they need special puppy kibble containing a different nutritional blend.
Deciding on the right dinner
“Puppies need a good quality, balanced, complete food which has been developed especially to meet their nutritional needs.
“Look for the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) label which is found on brands that meet extra quality standards, such as Royal Canin, which offers a range that will ensure your pup is supported through each stage of their development and help prevent issues in later life.
“Wet food can be more palatable and provides additional moisture – which means less calories for the same volume of food – while biscuits or kibble can help to keep teeth clean, as well as being handy to use as treats.
Avoid human scraps
“Though it can be tempting to share leftovers with your pup, many human foods are high in fat, sugar and salt, which can result in your puppy lacking vital nutrients and throw their diet off balance.
“Some food such as chocolate, grapes, onions and garlic are highly toxic to dogs, so keep these well away from curious little paws!
Keeping fit and active
“Exercise is essential for your puppy’s health and well-being, supporting their muscles and bones to develop properly.
“The amount of daily exercise your pup needs depends on their breed, age, health, fitness and personality.
Your dog’s breed plays a large part in their natural energy levels – for example, a Border Collie, initially bred to work, will have higher energy levels than a Shih Tzu.
“Once they’ve had all their vaccinations and the go-ahead from your vet, start taking them out for short, gentle walks, and schedule a few sessions per day for some fun and interactive playtime!
“This is important for nurturing your relationship too, as young puppies need lots of time and attention in their early stages, and you can start some simple reward-based training too.”