How to Choose the Best Puppy Food for Weight Gain
Puppies that are having difficult gaining or maintaining weight can be at serious risk of illness and can even succumb to death. When a puppy is not gaining weight as it should, there are many different factors that could be at play. Some puppies are simply highly active, expending more calories than they consume. Other puppies seem to lack interest in food either due to the busyness of enjoying life as an active baby or perhaps as a result of the food being disagreeable to their digestive systems or not suited to their personal tastes.
On rarer occasions, a puppy may refuse to eat because there is an underlying medical condition that needs to be examined further. Regardless of the reason why a puppy is not gaining weight as it should, owners should take this problem very seriously. One of the best courses of action a family can take is scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian for a wellness exam to rule out any medical problems which may be preventing the puppy from eating and/or gaining weight appropriately.
When a puppy is not interested in eating or does eat but does not seem able to gain or maintain weight, there are several different approaches owners can take to remedy the problem. These include:
- Switching to a food that is calorie-dense
- Feeding smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to stimulate appetite
- Making a change to a different diet that is more flavorful or easy to digest
- Providing food for the puppy separately from any other household pets to encourage focus
- Making use of nutritional supplements such as Nutrical to boost calories consumed
Some caveats should be considered when trying to help a puppy to gain weight. The best puppy foods for weight gain have a concentrated number of calories in smaller portions. This appeals to puppies with poor appetite or that lack the attention span to devote to eating by allowing them to consume more calories without having to up the dog’s meal size. This is a particularly important strategy as increasing the size of a puppy’s meals can lead to a more rapid growth rate than is ideal, leading to later problems.
If owners opt to switch to a different type of puppy food in the hopes that the pup will like it better, and thus, eat more, it is crucial that time be spent examining labels to ensure the new diet is rich in quality ingredients that have been specifically selected for their high nutritional value. Processed or filler foods will add weight over time but will also detract from the puppy’s health.
Sometimes the easiest solution to the problem is changing the diet to something the puppy finds more appealing. This could be another commercially prepared diet or even home cooked or raw foods. Some dogs simply don’t eat because they don’t like the taste of the diet selected for them, and in other cases, the ingredients contained in a food may upset their stomachs, causing them to avoid meal times.
Making the change to a home cooked or raw diet or even to canned food is an excellent way to add additional calories without having to increase meal sizes. These diets also tend to be packed with flavors and fragrances that entice even the most reluctant eater to take a bite or two.
Increasing a puppy’s activity level marginally can also help to encourage better eating habits. Through regular exercise, the puppy will develop more muscle which thus increases the dog’s weight.
Though free feeding is not normally encouraged in dogs, it is a good idea for puppies that are struggling to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
If none of these strategies prove effective at getting a puppy to gain weight, a trip to a veterinarian is in order to rule out any potential medical problems. Among the reasons a puppy may struggle to maintain a proper body condition include:
- Liver disease
- Thyroid issues
- Dental problems
- Insufficient nutrition
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Foods that help Puppies Gain Weight
In puppies that struggle to maintain weight properly, it is vitally important that their portion sizes of the best puppy food for weight gain be correct. The best method to achieve this is to use the suggested serving size on the bag as a starting point. This may need to be adjusted until the dog’s body condition is in keeping with what is appropriate for the dog’s breed and age.
Care should be taken not to feed so much that the puppy begins to grow at too a rapid a rate. This can be affected both by the amount of food fed as well as foods that do not contain the correct ratio of calcium to phosphorus. When the calcium to phosphorus balance is not calibrated properly, bone growth can occur too quickly, leaving the muscle development unable to keep pace with it. When this occurs, it leads to future structural problems that are often irredeemable.
Any puppy food that is optimized to meet the needs of a young, developing dog should contain a minimum of 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat.
Dietary Requirements for Foods that help Puppies Gain Weight
Puppies that need to gain weight should do so at a pace that is slow and steady. Too much growth, too quickly can lead to future issues including structural problems with the dog’s musculoskeletal system and even organ failure.
The best course of action to help a puppy gain weight in a natural and healthful way is to select a diet that has a very high concentration of calories. These calories should be derived from only the best and most natural ingredients to ensure optimal health and wellness. Diets that are high in calories but that obtain them primarily from fats or simple carbohydrates are not nutritionally balanced and will increase the dog’s amount of fat instead of muscle tone.
Proteins should be obtained from meats. Whole meats are preferred, but meat meals are also an excellent concentrated source of protein that puppies can benefit from. Higher protein foods are desirable for puppies that need to gain weight.
The best puppy foods for weight gain avoid by-products and plant-based proteins such as wheat, corn, and soy as they are difficult to digest and are only of sub-par nutritional value.
Among the most desirable meats to look for in a puppy food to help with weight gain are beef, chicken, bison, and fish.
Ingredients such as artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives offer no nutritional value to a food. These can trigger allergic reactions in some dogs, and thus, diets containing them are best avoided entirely.
Carbohydrates can be derived from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. The primary importance of any of these ingredients is their focus on ease of digestibility and their high antioxidant profile to support a strong immune system.
Healthy fats are a critical component of any diet for a dog. These are best derived from animal origins and include such items as chicken fat and oily fish. Healthy fats encourage good coat and skin health and also help provide puppies with the energy they need to remain active.
To aid with digestion, foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics are also excellent choices for puppies.
Things to Look for in the Best Puppy Food for Weight Gain
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in the best puppy food for weight gain:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list
- Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
- Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
- Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
- Contains healthy amounts of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support coat and skin health
- Includes the correct ratio of calcium to phosphorus