Sporting breed puppies are bred and trained to work. As a result, they have very different nutritional needs from those of a future house dog. Puppy formulas are typically more nutrient dense when compared to most adult formulas, to meet the demands of growth. However, it is not uncommon for sporting dog owners to utilize a performance formula or an “all-life-stages” product for their sporting breed puppies. These formulas are usually more nutrient dense and, in theory, sufficient to support the growth period. However, there are other nutritional options available today specifically designed for active puppies that may offer advantages that help promote a solid nutritional foundation for future performance.
What’s the Difference Between Puppy and Adult Dog Food?
Russ Kelley, Eukanuba’s Scientific Services Nutritionist says, “Owners who compare nutrients in adult and puppy food may see a lot of similarities. That can lead them to believe that the two aren’t that different. However, there are significant differences in the amounts of specific nutrients, and sometimes adjustments in ratios of certain nutrients. For active puppies that will develop into working and sporting dogs, selecting a puppy food designed with an optimal nutrient profile can help fuel their active lifestyle and help sustain healthy growth and development.”
How Does Puppy Nutrition Support Growth and Activity?
“Compared to pet puppies, it is anticipated that highly active sporting breed puppies will have greater demands placed on their developing bones and joints, due to early outings and introductory training sessions,” says Kelley. “It’s important that their diets have a balanced calcium-to-phosphorus ratio to support healthy bone growth rates. Puppy diets containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate help support healthy cartilage as well. The addition of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid, can also be beneficial to joints by supporting cartilage.”
How Does Puppy Nutrition Contribute to Healthy Brain Function and Learning?
Sporting breed puppies have a lot to learn. Puppy diets that include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) help support healthy brain function and learning. “A puppy’s brain and nervous system experience rapid growth during the formative two- to eight-month period. DHA helps supports that development,” says Kelley. “DHA is initially supplied by the dam during gestation and lactation. Post weaning, it is important for the puppy to continue to obtain optimal levels of DHA in their diet.”
How Does Puppy Nutrition Support Digestive Health?
“The amounts and types of nutrients provided in a puppy’s diet are very important for his developing digestive system,” says Kelley. “In particular, fiber plays an important role in supporting and promoting gastrointestinal health. For our Premium Performance Puppy Pro formula, we developed a unique fiber complex including FOS, mannanoligosaccharide (MOS), dried plain beet pulp, and psyllium. Beet pulp and fructooligosaccharide (FOS) are excellent prebiotics that help promote digestive health and serve as nutrient sources for the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Psyllium is important in a puppy diet because it helps form a proper stool.”
Kibble size and shape are also important to digestive health. “Puppies with higher energy can be rapid eaters,” says Kelley. “To help promote chewing, Eukanuba’s Premium Performance Puppy Pro is cylindrical in shape with a hollow center. This unique shape is designed to help promote chewing, thereby slowing the rate of consumption, which helps to optimize intake and digestion. The increased surface area also leads to greater ease of rehydrating the kibble, which can help contribute to water intake.”
How Does Puppy Nutrition Support the Immune System?
Sporting breed puppies tend to have increased environmental exposure as they are introduced to fields, woods, and bodies of water—their future work sites. Selecting a puppy diet with a tailored antioxidant complex can help provide an extra layer of immune support. “Our Premium Performance Puppy Pro formula contains a combination of Vitamin E, Vitamin C, beta carotene, lutein, taurine, and beta glucan. This complex helps support the immune system and aids recovery from age-appropriate exercise,” says Kelley.
While sporting breed puppies can eat adult dog food formulated for all life stages, Kelley recommends feeding a puppy formula designed with your sporting breed puppy’s unique needs in mind. You only have one chance to support your puppy’s development. Providing nutrition with comprehensive benefits from the start helps unleash their future potential. To learn more about Eukanuba Premium Performance Puppy Pro, visit eukanubasportingdog.com/premium-performance-puppy-pro.