I received the following question from a dog-loving reader:

Why do life stage-specific dog foods exist? Is this a marketing gimmick or should I really feed my new puppy special dog food?

How puppies differ from adult dogs

Pups can eat complete dog food when they are about 3-4 weeks old. To aid chewing digestion you could start with canned food. When the pup is 6 weeks old you can switch to a canned food mixed with soaked dry kibble. Gradually have the pup adjust to dry kibble only if this is the kind of dog food you want to be feeding when he?s an adult.

Because pups grow very fast they need more protein, calcium, and energy but… a pup eats relatively more than an adult dog (about twice as much in terms of percentage of body weight).

There is no real need for special puppy dog food as your pup will have more of everything by just eating more (balanced) food. Special puppy food is more compact in energy so avoid overfeeding and pay careful attention to the dog food label.

The amount of dog food to feed a puppy depends not only on his age but is also determined by the expected weight of a full-grown dog of the same breed (hint: ask the breeder about the weight of his parents).

Spread the total amount of dog food in 4 portions that are fed during the day.

IMPORTANT: Puppies should not grow too fast to avoid joint problems at a later age. As people tend to have a preference for soft round forms overfeeding of puppies is a true risk. Especially large and giant dog breeds are at risk.

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