As your puppy's bones, brain and immune system are still growing and developing they need more nutrient-dense foods than adult dogs. For this reason, you should feed them a specially-formulated puppy food suitable for their age and size, but you should also be aware of how to recognise signs of nutritional deficiencies. Here's an overview of four signs of nutritional deficiencies in puppies:
You may be feeding your dog a premium brand of puppy food, but what if they aren't absorbing all of the nutrients in their food because they have food allergies? Food allergies cause inflammation in the digestive tract and lead to diarrhoea or constipation. Your puppy only has to be allergic to one ingredient in the food such as soy to experience digestive upset.
If left untreated, inflammation in the digestive tract can lead to malabsorption, which can affect your puppy's growth and cognitive development. If your puppy is experiencing digestive upset on a regular basis, ask your vet to test them for food allergies and switch to a brand of hypoallergenic food.
Dry Or Inflamed Skin
Dry skin with or without red patches can indicate your puppy isn't getting enough essential fatty acids, which play a vital role in skin and brain health. Dry skin can cause your puppy discomfort and some dogs will scratch areas of dry skin until they bleed, which leaves them susceptible to infections. Not all brands of puppy food contain essential fatty acids, so check the ingredients list and opt for a brand that contains evening primrose oil or fish oil.
Dramatic Weight Change
Rapid weight gain or weight loss can be a sign of nutritional deficiency. An insatiable appetite can indicate your puppy isn't having their nutritional needs met by their current brand of food, so they are consuming more calories than they need in an attempt to make up for the nutrients they aren't getting. When this occurs, extra protein is often what's required to support your growing puppy. Look for the source of protein in your puppy's current food. If it comes from a vegetable source consider switching to a meat source, which is easier for your puppy to digest and absorb.
Weight loss accompanied by a lack of appetite can indicate your puppy doesn't like their food, but eating too little can leave your puppy with weak bones. If your puppy is underweight, try switching to a new brand of puppy food and have them checked over by your vet in case there's an underlying condition such as worms causing their weight loss. You can boost your puppy's calcium levels and support their growing bones by grinding up one eggshell each week and mixing it in with their food.
Puppies are naturally more susceptible to illness than adult dogs as their immune systems are still developing, but if your puppy seems to pick up bacterial or viral infections frequently they may not be getting enough antioxidants in their diet. Antioxidants support the immune system and can boost resistance to infections, so choose puppy food with at least one type of antioxidant such as citric acid, vitamin E or hydroxytoluene.
If you have any concerns about your puppy's diet or overall health, have them examined by your vet. You can also get advice on selecting nutritionally complete puppy food from your feed supplier. Contact a company like Geelong Farm Supplies to learn more.