ST. LOUIS, USA: A survey conducted in August 2020, found that while most puppy owners know dogs under a year old are considered puppies, the majority don't realise breed size determines how long their dog is considered a puppy and ultimately how long they need to eat puppy food.
"Puppies have specific nutritional requirements to help support their rapid growth and development. Similar to babies, puppies' bodies are fast-growing, but unlike babies, puppies pack all their growth into one to two short years," said Dr Callie Harris, DVM, veterinarian at Purina.
The 2020 Puppy Owner Survey by Purina engaged 1,000 puppy owners in the United States.
"It's important to feed a high-quality puppy food formula for at least the first 12 months and up to 24 months for large breeds. If you have a mixed breed or aren't sure where your dog falls in terms of breed size, it's best to consult your veterinarian. They can let you know when it's time to switch and help make it a successful transition."
As a general rule, dogs less than one year of age are considered puppies, but different breeds mature at different rates. Here's how long you can expect to feed your dog puppy food based on his breed size:
•Toy and small breed dogs weighing less than 13 kgs may reach full maturity between 9 and 12 months of age
• Dogs weighing between 13 and 36 kgs, or medium breeds, take 12 to 16 months to fully mature
• Large and giant breeds over 36 kgs can take up to 24 months to reach full maturity
Among other key findings:
• While 41% of puppy owners are aware that dogs up to a year old are considered puppies, very few realise breed size affects the length of time a dog is considered a puppy
• 47% of small breed owners didn't realise their dog needs to be fed puppy food for up to a year, and 92% of large breed owners didn't realise their dog needs to fed puppy food for up to two years
• Nearly half (46%) of puppy owners consider their puppy's current size when finding the right food, despite the fact that breed – not current – size dictates the length of time a dog is considered to be a puppy
• For puppy owners who have stopped feeding puppy food, the main reason is a belief that their puppy has already reached adult size (36%)
The survey also found that, even when they're not eating, puppies keep their little mouths busy while they wait for the next meal:
"Puppies like to chew. It's what they do. Although it may seem that they're more inclined to eat our slippers or furniture, it's our job to make sure we're helping them get the essential nutrients they need," said Dr Annie Valuska, PhD, senior feeding behaviour expert at Purina.
"A few ways puppy owners can do this is by establishing a quiet feeding area away from distractions and temptations, like food prep areas and dining tables, and setting up a feeding routine or schedule by feeding him the same amount of food at the same times each day.
"Doing so will help keep his digestive system regular, make housetraining easier and keep him happy and healthy. And, while adult dogs should be fed twice a day, puppies require more frequent feedings, ideally three times a day."
For additional puppy nutrition information and tips, visit Purina.com/puppy.