How to Feed Your Puppy

Your puppy will be eating TLC Puppy food. TLC can only be bought directly from the company. Click on this link and then click on order puppy food: TLC Dog Food.

In the past, we’ve started puppies out on high-protein grain-free dog food. We changed to a lower protein food with some grain in fall 2016 and we have been much happier with the results. Many young puppies’ digestive systems are too immature for a grain-free diet. We have started litters out on almost all of the 5 star foods most recommended for large breed puppies and have talked to many breeders as well as vets. We’ve come to the very definite conclusion that foods that are high in protein are good only when puppies are over 6 months of age. Before that age, puppies need a little grain to keep firmer stools. Once puppy’s digestive tracts have matured a bit, feeding higher protein without grain actually yields smaller stools.

I use dog food for treats. I also keep boiled chicken cut up in appropriate sized pieces and frozen for our adult dogs. This makes a super healthy treat for both at home and at obedience classes. If you need to use packaged treats occasionally, I do have some favorite store bought treats that I keep on hand. I like the TLC treats. They also serve as a glucosamine supplement if you give the correct number of treats according to the size dog. Give 2 treats per day for an 8 week old puppy. Break them into thirds. I also like Grizzly Super Treats for training at home. Both of these treats are crunchy and some dogs or puppies will drop crumbs as they chew crunchy treats. Anything on the floor can be a distraction if you are training and treating several repetitions of an exercise in a row. For repetitive training or if you are going to an obedience class, I recommend soft treats that don’t crumble such as the Tricky Trainers or Off Leash treats. There are times that you’ll want to use these more high value treats, but if you do as much treating as I do during the early puppy years, kibble is best. If you are treating this often, it needs to be well balanced.

For the life of my dogs, I like to change foods every few months or every one or two bags (30-40 pound bags). If you change foods, do it gradually. Start off with ¾ old food and ¼ new on the first day. Second day, do ½ and ½. Third day, feed ¾ new food and ¼ old. On the fourth day, your ready to feed all new food. If your dog is sensitive to the change, slow the rate of change down staying at each level for two days. Giving probiotics during a food change will help. The reason dogs have trouble with food changes is because the beneficial bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract adjusts to whatever the dog eats. If the dog eats only chicken and you change to beef, he will be missing the bacteria needed to digest the beef. Rotating often will keep your puppy’s digestive system accustomed to a bigger variety of foods so that over time, changing foods will not be an issue and you can change quicker with no stomach upsets.

If you prefer to keep your dog on the same food instead of rotating, the TLC is a good food for long-term use.

Your puppy will be eating 3 meals per day at my house. At 5-6 months, you can feed twice a day. We feed our adult dogs twice a day and feel that this is best, but once a day is okay after 1 year of age.

Your puppy is accustomed to eating his/her food in water. I water down the food of all of my dogs for their entire life if I am feeding dry food. Dry food has had the food’s natural moisture taken out of it and dogs do not naturally drink enough to make up for the lack of water by drinking more. It is more likely for dogs on a dry food diet to have kidney problems than one fed a natural diet or canned food because they don’t drink enough. Also adding water will slow down a dog’s eating and most Goldens tend to eat too fast. (Using a Durapet stainless slow-feed bowl will also help to slow eating down.) Though dry food might help keep teeth clean better than soaked food, this can be made up for by providing appropriate things to chew. You don’t need to soak your puppies food. Just cover it with water for as long as you feed dry dog food. If you feed the powdered Honest Kitchen food, you must soak the food for a minimum of 3 minutes.

Some puppies have loose stools when first moving to a new home and adjusting to life without their littermates. Most of ours do not but if yours does, canned pumpkin is a good source of fiber which helps. Give one tablespoon with each meal. Just mix it in with their dry food. This should clear up within a few days. Also give 1/8 tsp probiotics every day for the first week in your home. If your puppy has diarrhea, double to ¼ tsp. I use a product found at (See our supplements document for more details). This helps their digestive system to cope with the stress of change. Loose stools are common and of no concern but if the loose stools are accompanied by vomiting or it doesn’t clear up within a couple of days, you need to see your vet. I suggest waiting a week or two before starting any other supplements besides probiotics to make sure their system has adjusted to your home. Vitamin C and all forms of omega-3’s are healthy supplements but I don’t give these two to a dog with any type of stomach upset.

Also I wanted to touch briefly on a condition called Bloat which is a possibility with any large breed dog. Bloat is a sometimes fatal condition where a dog’s stomach will flip over. It often occurs when someone has exercised their dog shortly after feeding. I always recommend waiting at least 2 or 3 hours after a meal before taking your dog to do anything strenuous.

There are several supplements that I suggest you have on hand. The most important supplement for a growing puppy is glucosamine which supports the healthy development of their joints. I like the glucosamine product sold at TLC dog biscuits are a good treat and are also a good source of glucosamine. See the package for the number of biscuits to give per pound of dog. I give some form of glucosamine to all dogs under 2 years and over 8.

Another important supplement is a good probiotic. Always add probiotics when changing foods, when your dog is under stress, and especially if you should need to give your dog an antibiotic. Our puppies have been on the Natures Farmacy digestive enzymes since the day they were born. We especially suggest that you have it on hand for the first few days in your home.

I like to give my dogs vitamin-C if they are going to a dog show or somewhere that they might be exposed to sickness. I also recommend giving vitamin-C to dogs that have any type of sickness or injury except for common puppy or dog loose stools (vitamin-c can actually make loose stools worse). You can safely give up to 5000 mg to a full grown Golden Retriever but 1000 mg. is plenty for preventive purposes. Dogs manufacture their own vitamin C but they do not produce enough needed to combat illness or to heal little injuries that naturally occur during puppy play.

I also add apple cider vinegar once a day. Use ½ TBS daily for puppies under 6 months and 1 TBS for dogs. Apple Cider Vinegar slightly changes the PH in the blood making dogs less attractive to fleas. (This also works for people making them less attractive to mosquitoes!)

If you choose to feed something different than TLC, here are a few guidelines. For puppies under a year, choose a food with a calcium level under about 1.8 and a calcium/phosphorus ratio less than 1.4/1. Large breed puppies need lower calcium levels than most puppies to encourage slower bone growth. Fast bone growth can lead to several different skeletal problems. However, you don’t want it too low either. Minimal calcium levels are taken into consideration by AAFCO when labeling a food as either a puppy food or an “all life stages” food. Make sure food for puppies under a year of age are labeled as such. Make sure the food is 4 stars or above on and until your puppy is over 6 months, I suggest using foods with under 30% protein and with a small amount of grain. Never feed your puppy foods with corn, wheat, or soy. There are a number of good foods out there for puppies over 6 months. See our dog food page for a list of those that we like.