Feeding Puppies – What You Need To Know
All puppies are adorable, but they’re all different – in size, temperament, breed, activity level and so much more.
Of course you knew that, right?
But you may not know that when it comes to feeding puppies, the nutritional needs of these pups can vary tremendously… or that feeding large and giant breed puppies is different to feeding small/tiny/toy breeds.
Puppies at either end of the size spectrum have the most specific and unique needs in terms of diet and it’s important that, as a new Rottweiler puppy owner, you know exactly what your little girl (or guy) needs.
Your Rottweiler puppy may be small right now, but that tiny puppy is going to grow up to be a BIG dog in a suprisingly short space of time. This rapid growth and development is what makes the puppy food she now eats so important.
Rottie pups (and other large or giant breed puppies) who don’t get the right balance of nutrients are at risk of developing serious bone/joint problems as they grow.
A diet that is lacking in quality nutrition or is too calorie-dense can cause problems, as can feeding puppies too much food or adding unnecessary supplements.
The best puppy food for your pup is a premium quality food, preferably one with holistic/all-natural/organic ingredients. The first ingredient should be a high quality source of protein – meat. It shouldn’t be a meat by-product, meat meal or grain.
Rottweilers are a breed that often seem to have problems with allergies, and so it’s important to avoid foods that contain chemicals, fillers, colorings and ‘junk’. As long as you stay away from generic or store-brand dog foods, and choose a premium puppy food with quality ingredients, you should be able to minimize any problems caused by dog food allergies.
Bear in mind too, that human food generally suitable for dogs! If you want to feed your pup a raw or homemade diet, it’s important to follow the proper guidelines and recipes. Just feeding your dog table scraps, or what your family has for dinner, won’t work – no matter how nutritious it is for us.
Also, feeding puppies cows milk (either to drink, or mixed with food) isn’t a good idea. Most dogs can’t digest it and it can cause diarrhea and tummy upset. For very young pups who are being weaned, or still need milk, the correct puppy milk formula is best.
When feeding puppies who are going to be large or giant-sized at maturity, you need to choose a food that is within the ‘moderate’ range when it comes to calories, and has the correct ratio of protein, fat and calcium.
These are the sort of figures you should be looking for…..
- Protein – between 23 and 25%
- Fat – between 12 and 15%
- Calcium – between 1.2 and 1.5%
Large breed pups grow rapidly, but they take a long time to reach adulthood. Tiny and toy breeds are often considered mature by one year of age, large and giant breeds are usually at least 18 months – 2 years old before they become adults.
During puppyhood and adolescence, your Rottweiler puppy should continue to eat the high-quality puppy food you have chosen. Only once his body has finished growing and developing should you switch over to an adult food.
When feeding puppies, never give them a food designed for adult dogs. It simply won’t meet the demands of their growing bodies.
Some premium dog food manufacturers have ‘all-life-stages’ foods that are suitable for puppies, but in general you need to choose a food that has been formulated for puppies only.
Puppy Feeding Tip:
If you need to change the food your little guy is eating, be sure to do it s-l-o-w-l-y!
Feeding puppies one food, and then suddenly switching to another, causes tummy upsets, diarrhea and sometimes even vomiting.
If you need to change diets (putting a new puppy on a healthier food, dealing with allergies etc.), then phase in the new food a little at a time.
Add just a small portion of the new kibble to the familiar one at first, then gradually over about 7 days or so increase the new and simultaneously decrease the old.
It’s worth taking the time to do this, I promise!
Puppy Feeding Schedule
One of the things that often worries new puppy owners is how often, and how much, they should be feeding their puppies.
Of course, once again, this varies depending on the size/breed of dog.
Here’s a sample schedule for large breed pups like your ‘little’ Rottweiler.
- 3 to 8 weeks – 4 meals per day
- 8 to 16 weeks – 3 meals per day
- 16 weeks to maturity – 2 meals per day
- Adult dogs – 1 meal per day
As for how much food to offer, a lot depends on the specific food you are using, and the individual puppy.
Some pups are just ‘chow hounds’, who gobble down every piece of kibble in their bowls. Others are picky eaters who nibble at their food and never seem satisfied with what you’re offering. I own both varieties and I’m not sure which is more of a challenge!
To begin with I’d recommend feeding puppies according to the guidelines on the bag of food you have chosen to use. These generally are calculated according to the puppy’s weight/age and are a good starting point.
Don’t ‘free-feed’ (leave the food bowl down all day), but instead offer your pup the appropriate amount of food at mealtimes only. Leave the bowl down for around 10 – 15 minutes then pick it up – whether your pup has eaten all the food or not.
The aim is to offer enough food that your puppy walks away within 10 minutes or so, satisfied. If your puppy practically inhales the entire contents of his bowl inside 3 minutes, you need to give him more next time. If he walks away and leaves his bowl half full, and doesn’t return within 15 minutes, offer him less at his next meal.
One important point involving feeding puppies who tend to be picky, is to resist the urge to spoil them or pander to their whims!
If you start to add tasty tid-bits, gravies and so on to their food bowls, they will soon get wise to this and refuse to eat anything that hasn’t been ‘gussied up’. Rottweilers are very smart dogs, and if you think that little puppy of yours isn’t going to be able to manipulate you, think again.
Nature will not allow a healthy puppy to starve him/herself, and although a finicky eater may not be eating as much as you would like, she will eat enough to get by.
Just continue to offer a highly nutritious food at mealtimes and allow her to choose whether or not to eat. You’ll be surprised to see that she will soon be attacking her bowl with gusto.
I know that this can be worrying, because I have a huge male Rottie who was the pickiest eater in the world as a pup. I made all the mistakes I’ve just mentioned above, but eventually followed my own advice and within a couple of weeks he was eating normally.
He grew to be a 130lb+ adult with a very healthy appetite, so I do know of what I speak :o)
With large or giant breed puppies it’s also especially important to resist the urge to overfeed!
A Rottweiler puppy will grow up to be a big dog, and his bones and joints shouldn’t stressed by carrying too much weight around.
Feeding puppies like this too much or too often will only make them fat, not big and strong as they should be. Be patient, and you’ll find that your baby Rottweiler will be all grown up soon enough.
Although feeding puppies involves a bit of trial and error to begin with, you will soon see a pattern emerging and will learn how much your individual puppy needs.
If you make sure to use only the best puppy food and follow the guidelines above, you’ll be taking a big step towards giving your Rottie pup the best chance of growing up healthy and strong. Good luck!
The Best Food Dishes For Large & Giant Breed Puppies
I also want to say a few words about the best bowls to use when you’re feeding a Rottweiler.
Rottie puppies are notoriously clumsy, and they can eat/drink a lot. They’re also a breed that can be susceptible to Canine Bloat.
For puppies, a heavy good-quality spill-proof dog bowl that’s also ‘non-skid’ is highly recommended!
There are also some excellent, heavy-duty raised dog bowls that work well to keep food and water in the dishes and not on your kitchen floor.
Elevated dog bowls are not just convenient for you, they can also be much more comfortable and healthier for your Rottweiler. Rotties are big dogs, and like most large and giant breeds, they often have to bend uncomfortably or splay their legs to reach down to floor level.
This puts unnecessary strain on their bones, joints and ligaments and can cause problems for growing puppies and older dogs in particular.
Raised dog bowls may also help prevent another, very serious, condition – bloat. One of the contributing factors to a dog developing canine bloat (or torsion) is swallowing too much air, and elevated bowls can help minimize this by improving the alignment of your dog’s esophagus, making swallowing smoother and more comfortable.
But, it’s important to mention that there is a study which suggests that if a dog has a family history of bloat, or has suffered from it previously, then using elevated dog bowls may actually increase the risks.
Try to remember that your little Rottie pup is constantly growing and changing… and so is his appetite!
Puppies are like human kids, and they go through phases and stages. Some weeks they act as though you haven’t fed them for days, other weeks they barely take a mouthful before running off to play.
This is a normal part of their development and nothing to worry about.
Just keep an eye on your pup’s week-to-week appetite and make sure you’re offering what he needs.
The ‘jury is still out’ on this one, but it’s a good idea to take all factors into consideration. Rottweilers are a large breed (size can be a risk factor), but they’re on the low end of the scale with only a 1.1% above-average risk.
However, they are prone to bone/joint/ligament issues, so when deciding what kind of bowl is best for your puppy or dog, do and weight the pros and cons and look at your Rottie as an individual when making a decision.
For greedy eaters, getting them to eat at a more acceptable pace is another important part of preventing bloat, and other digestive disorders. And in this instance the answer is pretty clear cut…… slowing them down really can help!
The easiest way to get a dog to eat more slowly is to use a ‘go-slow’ or ‘no-gulp’ bowl. There are a handful of different brands and styles, with the Brake-Fast Dog Food Bowlbeing one of the most popular.
Puppies are often not great at sharing and sometimes they’ll growl, or even snap, if someone tries to touch their food/bowl/treat/toy or whatever.
This is NOT okay and is a behavior that needs to be strongly discouraged early on – before it leads to someone getting hurt!