Growing Pets

How to feed your growing puppy or kitten is a very popular question. It is also one of the most confusing topics for pet owners. Everyone seems to have an opinion. Even vets, scientists and nutritionists cannot seem to agree.

growingpetcat.jpgHopefully, all newborns start out with mother's milk and the essential colostrum needed to provide temporary immunity from disease. After being weaned from this perfect diet, the responsibility of fulfilling your pet's nutritional needs becomes yours. Mother Nature is a tough act to follow.

growingpetsdog.jpgIn the first few months of your baby pet's life, there will be many growth and development changes.  Bones, joints, internal organs, muscles, the brain and the all-important immune system need optimal nutrition. During this rapid growth stage, puppies and kittens have much higher metabolic rates. They require more calories and more frequent feedings than adult pets. While levels of nutrients are generally much the same as for their adult counterparts, there are still some important pediatric differences.  

For example:

You want to encourage steady growth, but not rapid growth so as not to strain bones and joints. According to Lew Olson, "The calcium balance is very important for puppies, as they need calcium to help with the development of bones and teeth. But equally important is not over supplementing with calcium. Never add calcium to a commercial dog food and do not feed more than the recommended amount of calcium (900 mg per pound of food served) in a homemade diet".

Now, as cute as a pudgy puppy is, you MUST refrain from overfeeding! Growing babies should be kept lean and well muscled, with their ribs easily felt but not easily seen. Do not leave food down continuously. Feed 3-5 smaller meals per day, depending on the age and the size of the pet. Feed at fairly regular intervals. Appetites wax and wane as youngsters go through growth spurts so be aware of this. An occasional disinterest in food is not a cause for alarm.

Should you purchase ‘puppy food' or ‘kitten food'?  Not necessarily. The most important thing to keep in mind is the quality of the ingredients. Avoid any food with chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin. Avoid low quality proteins as well, such as meat by-products or an excessive amount of plant proteins.

Commercial food is an easy option but certainly not the only one. Puppies and kittens thrive just as well as adults do when fed a biologically appropriate raw diet from the start. In fact, raw feeders say they take to it like a ‘duck to water'!  

Notice the following comparisons in three popular commercial foods:

Canidae All Life Stages Innova Puppy Purina Puppy Chow, Healthy Morsels
Ingredients: Chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb meal, brown rice, white rice, rice bran, peas, potatoes, oatmeal, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), millet, tomato pomace, natural flavor, flaxseed meal, ocean fish meal, choline chloride, suncured alfalfa meal, inulin (from chicory root), lecithin, sage extract, cranberries, beta-carotene, rosemary extract, sunflower oil, yucca schidigera extract, probiotics, Vitamins, Minerals   papaya, pineapple. Ingredients: Turkey, Chicken, Chicken Meal, Barley, Brown Rice, Rice, Chicken Fat, Herring, Flaxseed, Natural Flavors, Apples, Tomatoes, Carrots, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Potassium Chloride, Herring Oil, Sea Salt, Sunflower Oil, Egg, Cottage Cheese, Alfalfa Sprouts, Dried Chicory Root, Direct-Fed Microbials, Lecithin, Rosemary Extract, Vitamins/Minerals Ingredients: Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, whole grain wheat, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soybean meal, brewers rice, meat and bone meal, barley, beef, sugar, propylene glycol, animal digest, fish oil, tricalcium phosphate, salt, phosphoric acid, dried yeast, sorbic acid (a preservative), potassium chloride, dried carrots, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, dried peas, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2), Vitamins, Minerals,   menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity)…
Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein (min)   24%
Crude Fat(min)        14.5%
Crude Fiber (max)    4.0%
Moisture (max)        10%
Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein(min)   28%
Crude Fat (min)        16%
Crude Fiber (max)    2.5%
Moisture (max)        10%
Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein (min)   27%
Crude Fat (min)        12%
Crude Fiber (max)    4.0%
Moisture (max)        14%

From reading each food’s ingredient label and comparing that with the Guaranteed Analysis, notice the protein content in Purina Puppy Chow. Compare that with the protein sources listed in the ingredients panel. The majority of the protein in this pet food comes from plant sources, which are generally inferior when compared to animal sourced protein. Puppies and kittens require animal proteins to be optimally healthy just as their parents do.

For more information about growing pets and their requirements, ATG would like to refer readers to two experts in the field of pet nutrition – Lew Olson, PhD of and Dr. Wysong of Their websites have a wealth of information about a variety of topics.

Against The Grain Pet Nutrition is a company that does things differently. We are a small business that is excited about offering pet owners better choices in pet nutrition. We believe that choosing appropriate pet food (be it commercial, raw or home prepared) is the most important factor in any pet's preventative health, convalescence and longevity.  Our name - Against The Grain - reflects our strong passion to provide pet owners with the knowledge to make healthy decisions about pet care even if we go ‘against the grain' of popular thinking.

To contact us:
1024 County Road 109
Montevallo, AL 35115

Phone: 205-665-9026
Fax: 205-665-5683
[email protected]