Hi everyone, Barb and Alfie from Doggy Treats here, and this week we want to talk about puppies and natural treats. If you have a puppy, you’re probably feeding it ‘puppy food’. Companies manufacture dog food specifically for puppies as they have different and more complex needs than older dogs.
Puppies need a balance of vitamins, minerals, fats and protein to help with growing bones, a healthy coat and building up a strong immune system.
In this article, we want to tell you what your puppy needs to grow into a healthy and strong dog. We’ll also give you examples of the best natural dog treats that provide those nutrients.
What Nutrients Do Puppies Need?
Dog treats are great for training or rewarding good behaviour. They also teach a dog what they can chew and what they can’t and help to keep teeth clean. But dog treats also provide vital vitamins and nutrients while you’re training your puppy.
Puppies grow quickly and have bags of energy. They need a lot of quality high-calorie food to sustain growth and energy levels. Dogs are mainly carnivorous, and protein makes up a larger proportion of their diet (or it should do).
Animal protein is one of the most important ingredients in your puppy’s diet. Protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are essential for a healthy body. They build muscle, repair body tissue, help with digestion, provide energy, boost the immune system, produce brain chemicals and maintain healthy hair and skin.
Humans need 20 amino acids and dogs require 22. 12 of those amino acids can only come from protein like meat, dairy, fish and eggs.
We know how important calcium is for humans, but dogs need it too. Calcium is the vital mineral needed to produce strong and healthy bones and teeth. Puppies need a whopping three times the amount of calcium as adult dogs.
Too little calcium in a pup’s diet can lead to bone malformation and weak muscle development. However, too much is equally damaging. Too much calcium can cause orthopaedic problems as the dog gets older.
Once ingested, we store calcium in our bones, but if a puppy lacks calcium, it leeches out of the bones to make up the shortfall. As a result, bones weaken, and dogs can become prone to hormone diseases such as hyperthyroidism.
Larger dogs need more calcium than toy breeds, but to give you an idea, puppies need over twice the amount of calcium (around 320mg) an average adult dog would need.
Puppies expend more energy than adult dogs in two ways; their rapid growth spurt and activity. Fat is an excellent source of energy for puppies as it allows the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Fat is so important you’ll often find high-fat content in puppy foods.
Fat has many useful roles within a pup’s diet. It helps maintain a healthy coat and skin. We need fat to maintain cell structure. It helps with neurotransmitters and is important for the nervous system and eyes.
However, there is a but. Too much fat in a dog’s diet can lead to diseases such as pancreatitis and cause a dog to become overweight. As with humans, there are good fats and bad fats. So, what types of fat are we talking about? Fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, are an excellent source of fat for growing puppies.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found initially in a puppy’s mother’s milk. DHA is the fatty acid responsible for the healthy development of the brain and vision. Fish oil is a wonderful substitute after weaning.
As well as fish oils, you can find these fatty acids in foods like chicken or beef fat and certain oils such as canola or flax-seed.
We do not recommend fats derived from processed foods like bacon or sausages for dogs. Single-source foods like chicken feet or dried sprats allow you to know exactly what’s in the treat.
It might surprise you to see carbohydrates on our list, but, as with fats, there are good and bad carbs. While it is true, dogs are mainly carnivorous, they would eat some carbohydrates in the wild from the stomachs of the prey they’d captured.
Like humans, carbohydrates provide energy and are a superb source of fibre for dogs. Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system. But what carbs should we give our puppies?
Natural carbs such as oats, brown rice, barley, sweet potatoes, bananas and millet are easily digestible by puppies. The best carbohydrates are the ones that release energy slowly. These are low-glycemic and don’t produce high sugar spikes. However, high-energy or working dogs may benefit from an additional source of energy and a high-glycemic carbohydrate.
We hope we have given you helpful information about why you should give your puppy natural dog treats. Remember, a balanced diet specifically tailored to puppies with a few natural dog treats in-between meals is sufficient for a healthy pup.