From the moment he was conceived to the time he is born, a puppy is being fed directly by his mother and without any effort on his part. From the time of birth until about 6 to 7 weeks later, his mother’s milk will be his primary diet that will provide him with the energy and will fuel his growth. By the time the puppy turns 6 weeks old, his mother will start to discontinue her role as the main source of food and turns over the job to you, the dog owner.
The first six months of your puppy’s life is the time when rapid growth takes place. Depending on his breed, a healthy puppy will gain an average of 15 to 40 times his birth weight during this period. By his first birthday, he will have gained about 30 to 60 times his birth weight!
As the puppy grows and reaches his mature age, the amount of energy and nutrients that his body needs will gradually decrease. He will display a change in behavior such as reduced appetite, decreased activity, and less curiosity of the world around him. These changes, however, are perfectly normal and inevitable as the puppy approaches the end of his growth stage and the beginning of his mature stage.
These changes in his behavior also serve as an indicator to the owner that it is time to change the dog’s diet. The dog no longer requires the kind of food that was suited for him during his growth stage. What he needs now is a diet that will enable to support him as he reaches maturity.
The adult dog needs several nutrients in order to live, have energy, and maintain a healthy life. These nutrients are found in the food he eats. There are six types of nutrients that the dog must have in order to remain healthy and maintain a strong body. These are: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.
He must meet the Minimum Daily Requirement (MDR), which is the least amount of nutrients that his body needs in a 24-hour period that will enable him to stay healthy. The MDR changes as the dog goes through different stages of life. These stages are: the growth stage, the maintenance stage, the work stage, the pregnancy stage, and the lactation stage.