March 11, 2016


Giving your puppy the right care and attention early on will help to ensure they live a long and healthy life, giving you years of enjoyment and companionship. The first few months of your puppy’s life play a crucial role in their long term growth, development and health.

Your puppy's health should be your priority. Make sure they are vaccinated properly (remember to schedule all the puppy vaccinations in the early weeks of ownership), keeping them wormed and treated for ticks and fleas – your vet and breeder can advise you on this.

There are three key areas of puppy health that can make all the difference to their on-going growth and development:

  • Brain and eye development
  • Digestive health
  • Natural immunity

This article is features information about puppy care, talks you through the importance of these health issues, and explains how you can help to support your puppy’s growth and puppy’s development through the right nutrition.

Helping puppies to learn and train better

One of the key areas that affects your puppy’s ability to learn new tasks, helps them cope with the exciting world around them and makes them easier to train is their brain and eye development.

Omega 3 oils, and in particular one called Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA for short), play a vital role in the proper development of your puppy’s brain and eye tissues. Puppies develop about 70% of their brain by six weeks, and 90% of their adult brain by 12 weeks, so keeping this rapid growth well fed is very important. Indeed, supplementation of the puppy’s diet with Omega 3 DHA has been shown to improve the puppy’s ability to learn new tasks, and has been shown to improve their eyesight as well.

In one study, puppies receiving higher levels of DHA before (via the mother) and after weaning (via their puppy diet) significantly outperformed puppies fed with typical levels of this Omega 3. In fact, in a shape-recognition test, the success rate among puppies receiving enhanced DHA was twice that of those receiving typical levels of DHA in their diets.

In another study, the visual response of puppies fed a high DHA diet was compared to puppies fed a normal diet. A number of different visual tests were carried out and it was shown that puppies fed the higher level of DHA had better visual development than puppies fed the lower DHA diets.

These study results show that supplementing your puppy’s diet with DHA can help to ensure your puppy is receiving enough DHA to help brain and eye development, which could provide several benefits for future life with your puppy, including:

Better socialisation of the puppy with other dogs and the family.
The puppy more quickly grasping training and obedience challenges.

Promoting healthy digestion and growth

Puppy care

Nurturing healthy digestion is crucial for on-going growth and your puppy’s development. Your puppy is growing very quickly, but their digestive system is still developing and mustn’t be overloaded with large volumes of food. Feed little and often by dividing the daily amount of food into 3 or 4 portions as guided on the pack. Also make sure you are feed your puppy at regular intervals – their internal body clock will start the digestive juices flowing at exactly dinnertime, so do your best to stick to a routine!

A puppy’s healthy digestive system will help to ensure that your dog is getting all the nutrition they need out of their food so that they can grow and develop as well as possible. And when it comes to the other end, a healthy digestion makes clearing up after them much easier too!

The first few months of your puppy’s life can be difficult for their young digestive system, and it is quite common for them to suffer with upset tummies. This can be caused by overeating, the stress of moving to a new environment, or simply bugs that they’ve picked up from their surroundings.

You can help your puppy’s digestive system by supporting the good bacteria in their gut. The good bacteria play an important role in your puppy’s gut. They help to keep bad bacteria at bay, and also produce nutrients that support your puppy’s health. One of the most visible benefits of having a healthy gut flora is that your puppy’s stools will be firmer rather than the soft or loose stools associated with digestive problems.

There is a special type of prebiotic called an Oligosaccharide, which helps to feed the good bacteria in your puppy’s gut. These Oligosaccharides, called Mannan-oligosaccharides, help to encourage good bacteria, promoting a healthy digestion in your puppy, so they can cope with the digestive challenges in their environment, and get the most out of their nutrition.

It is also thought that these Oligosaccharides can help the special nutrient-absorbing structures in your puppy’s gut to develop properly, which makes them better able to absorb all the critical nutrients they need for healthy growth.

Supporting your puppy’s immune system.

The immune system is a network of specialized organs, tissues, cells, and chemicals. All dogs have various mechanisms to protect against pathogens, ranging from physical barriers to specific immune defences.

Puppies are born with what is called innate immunity, which consists of physical barriers such as skin and mucous membranes to protect against entry of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. However, once those barriers are overcome, an effective immune system is required to clear the infection and protect your dog.

When your puppy is born, they emerge from a safe, protected environment into the big wide world full of pathogens and bugs. At this stage, their immune system is not fully functional, often described as ‘immature’, which can make them more susceptible to infection. They often need assistance in order to survive. In their first few weeks, this assistance comes from their mother, who transfers immune cells and immune components through her milk. Looking after puppies is much like looking after a child.

Their immune system requires time to mature to its fully functional capacity and can take up to 5 months to mature. Whilst one of the most risky stages is immediately after birth, some puppies are badly affected immediately after weaning. This is often due to the puppy’s immature immune system being unable to cope with disease. So encouraging a stronger immune system as early as possible can help puppies develop into healthy adult dogs.

This is why it is so important to ensure that your dog receives all their puppy vaccinations at the right time. Vaccination helps to ensure that your puppy is protected against some of the most dangerous diseases that could otherwise kill them.

Much of your puppy’s immune system is localised around their gut. The gut is one of the main areas of entry for pathogens into your puppy’s body, so it makes sense to have a lot of the defence systems built in there. And the good news is that it is possible to include components in your puppy’s diet that can help to support this immune system to help the development of your puppy’s natural immunity.

Beta-glucans are thought to interact directly with the immune system in your puppy’s gut, helping to develop a natural immune response. Beta-glucans has also been shown to mop up bad bacteria such as E.coli, helping your puppy to get rid of these pathogens.

Protecting the immune system

As well as helping the immune system to develop, it is also important to ensure the developing immune system is well protected. Immune cells are especially susceptible to Free Radical damage because their cell membranes contain high levels of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, which are more easily damaged.
The natural anti-oxidant, Vitamin E, helps mop up these Free Radicals to protect the cells of the immune system.

Supplementing your puppy’s diet for ultimate health

You’ve now seen that your puppy’s diet can really affect their ongoing health, growth and development. You can use products like YUM Puppy to provide key ingredients to support important areas of your puppy’s health, such as digestion, immunity, and brain & eye development.

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