Expert advice from Bailey’s nutritionist Katie Lugsden on keeping your pet in peak condition

Q. I am getting a 10-week-old Labrador puppy and have read that puppies should have a special diet. Why is this necessary and what sort of food should I be using?

Charlotte Simpson, Wiltshire

A: You’re absolutely right that a puppy needs a special diet. Growth requires a lot of energy and nutrients and these have to be supplied in the diet. Severe dietary deficiencies can lead to stunted growth and deformities that can affect a dog for the rest of its life.

Most of the leading dog food manufacturers now have an extensive range of feeds to meet the requirements of dogs throughout their lifecycle. It is worth contacting some of these companies to discuss your puppy’s requirements in greater detail. However, when choosing a puppy food there are some basic principles to consider.

  • The nutrient levels provided in the feed are very important. A good quality puppy food such as Buckeye Prokennel Puppy or Eukanuba Puppy will typically contain between 25 and 30% protein and 16 to 20% fat which are sufficient to meet most puppiesrequirements.

  • It is also important to look at the ingredients used in the feed as this will indicate whether the food is easy for the puppy to digest and therefore of good quality. Many good puppy foods are based on chicken by-product meal as this provides a good quality protein source. Rice is also usually included as it provides a digestible carbohydrate source, which helps to keep stool volume low.

  • A very important part of feeding a puppy is following the manufacturer’s feeding quantity recommendations. Feeding too little will result in a shortfall of nutrients, which may compromise the health, and development of the puppy.

    Taking on a puppy is always a challenge but there is a lot of information and advice available. Taking time now to plan your puppy’s diet will help him/her to develop into a fit and healthy dog.