Ensuring your new furry family member grows up happy and healthy starts with proper nutrition. During the first twelve months, puppies and kittens undergo significant growth in both body and mind. The right nutrition is essential during this stage to support the development of strong bones, joints and muscles whilst providing the energy necessary for them to play and learn.
Let’s take a look at the nutritional needs, optimal food choices, and feeding habits that will set your pet up for a healthy, energetic life.
Essential nutrients for puppies and kittens
Puppies and kittens have specific nutritional needs during their rapid growth phase. Their diet should include the following essential nutrients:
- Carbohydrates: They help to power the brain and nervous system and are found in rice, oats and corn.
- Lipids: Essential fats found in meat, chicken, fish and oils. While providing energy, they also help to keep their skin and coat as healthy and luscious as ever.
- Vitamins and minerals: These are a great source of magnesium for muscles, iron for healthy blood, calcium for strong bones and vital vitamins. Vitamins help with blood clotting and keeping healthy vision. The food to look out for here includes vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and grains.
- Proteins: The benefits of proteins include strong and healthy muscles, skin and coat, and helping the immune system to fight infection. Proteins are found in meat, fish and chicken.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Particularly one known as DHA, found in oily fish like anchovy, mackerel and sardines, are critical for development of the eyes and brain in puppies and kittens.
- Omega-6 fatty acids: Found in vegetable oils, they also help promote a strong immune function.
- Calcium: These days, excess calcium in puppy food is more common than a deficiency. High levels of calcium and too many calories may increase the risk of certain developmental bone and joint diseases; particularly in large and giant dog breeds (dogs weighing over 25kg as an adult). Ask your vet how much calcium your puppy needs.
One pet food brand that provides a well-balanced diet for puppies and kittens in Hill’s Science Diet. Their puppy and kitten foods have meat as the first ingredient; are highly digestible; contain a clinically proven combination of antioxidants including vitamin E and vitamin C shown to promote a healthy immune system in puppies; contain high levels of DHA from top-quality fish oil for brain and eye development, balanced minerals for strong bones and teeth, and overall provide the correct balance of nutrients for your pet. If you have a Best for Pet Wellness Plan membership, you can get 10% off Hill’s Science Diet pet food sold at your clinic.