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Nutritional Needs for Growing Puppies

Nutritional Needs for Growing Puppies

Just as humans have evolving dietary requirements, our furry friends also have distinct nutritional needs as they grow from adorable puppies to mature adults. In this blog, we will focus on the nutritional requirements of puppies as they embark on their journey from playful pups to healthy adults.
Puppyhood is a whirlwind of growth and discovery, and proper nutrition plays a pivotal role in ensuring a strong foundation for your furry friend's future. As puppies are rapidly growing, their bodies require a balance of nutrients that promote healthy development, both physically and mentally. Their nutritional needs at this time are greater than for adults and feeding an appropriate diet is essential to set them up for lifelong success. 


Young puppies may seem to spend a lot of their time sleeping, but their energy requirements are proportionally greater than for adults due to the intense demands of their growing skeleton, muscles, organs and connective tissues. A carefully managed energy intake ensures smooth growth, avoiding lags (insufficient energy to support development), growth spurts (excess energy) or fat deposition (excess energy). It is critical to maintain puppies in a healthy lean body condition as the energy restriction required for weight loss is contraindicated during the growth period, so overweight puppies will become overweight adults before their energy intake can be safely cut back to regain a healthy body condition. It is very important to understand the growth period of puppies as well. Smaller breeds/types of dogs will reach their mature size faster than large and giant dogs, and each puppy must be fed accordingly to achieve their mature size within an appropriate timeframe to avoid lags or spurts in growth. Particularly for large and giant dogs, rapid growth and development can predispose to bone and joint malformations and put the dog at risk for painful orthopaedic conditions such as osteoarthritis.  


Protein is ubiquitous in the tissues of the body and in particular is the building block of muscles and organs. During development, puppies have a higher requirement for dietary protein than adults in order to maintain growth. Mismatches in protein and energy can result in fat deposition instead of lean tissue growth and can also lead to issues such as impairment of immune function later in life. As such, it is critical for puppies to be provided with sufficient protein containing an appropriate balance of essential amino acids. In a plant-based diet, this may be achieved by combining complementary protein sources such as those from legumes, yeasts and grains, and/or including concentrated proteins in the diet. You might also consider incorporating Vivus Pets' plant-based protein treats, available in BaconChick'n and Veggie flavours, into your dog's diet. These treats offer a complete profile of amino acids to support overall well-being and muscle development, ensuring your adult dog receives the essential nutrition they need.


As a puppy's skeleton develops, mineral is deposited to form hard bone tissue. As such, puppies have a higher requirement for minerals during their growth period. The most critical minerals required for healthy bone development are calcium and phosphorus - the main components of mineralized bone. Deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in calcium and phosphorus can lead to disastrous orthopaedic disorders such as deformations, panosteitis and pathological fractures. Smaller breeds/types of puppies tend to tolerate a wider range of calcium concentrations in their diet, but larger breeds/types require a very narrow range of calcium for normal skeletal growth, resulting in a specific industry recommendation for calcium content in growth diets intended for large puppies. There was at one time a myth that giant puppies should be fed an adult diet instead of a puppy growth diet, but this is not factual or accurate and can indeed be potentially harmful. Many typical food ingredients are rich in minerals, but supplementation of some key minerals is required, regardless of whether or not the diet is plant-based. In particular, calcium, and often phosphorus, must be added to achieve the concentrations required by growing puppies.


An appropriate provision of essential fatty acids and balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are required for healthy development of the immune system, skin and hair coat, brain and eyes in puppies. Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are often touted as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and they are indeed rich in the essential omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid. However, a pre-formed source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential as puppies lack the mechanism for converting alpha-linoleic acid into DHA. In a plant-based diet, algal oil can provide DHA and beneficial omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). 

Every wag of the tail, every heartfelt cuddle – our dogs bring us endless joy and unconditional love. Nourishing them with plant-based nutrition tailored to their specific life stages is our way of giving back. Vivus Pets is committed to providing you and your beloved furry family members with the highest quality plant-based nutrition at every stage of life's journey. Remember, consulting with a veterinarian is essential when making dietary changes, especially for dogs with specific health concerns. 

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