New puppy, help!

Hi there!

This group is SO helpful and I've learned so much from all the posts, but I still feel really overwhelmed when it comes to feeding my new pup. I want to do things right when it comes to nutrition and diet, but don't know where to even begin.

My little guy (standard goldendoodle) is coming home soon at 8 weeks and the breeder has been feeding him 4Health (link below).

I've read not to transition off the breeder's food for at least 2-3 weeks, but I have so many questions! I would be so appreciative if someone could help steer me in the right direction, because from what I've read, I'm not sure I can rely on the vet to give me good food options.

- What's a good option to transition to from 4Health? I've read a lot of good things about Orijen and I'm open to grain-free, though his current food has grain in it and don't want to upset him.

- What's a good process to slowly transition foods, should I be mixing to start?

- Should I gradually mix or add anything to his food? A topper, or mix in some raw nuggets like Primal? I've read so many benefits of raw. I also know some people use pumpkin. If so, how much and how often?

- Should I wait to give my pup any training treats in the beginning, and for how long?

I appreciate any help or insight to make sure I make the best choices - thanks so much in advance!

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  • Okay, take a deep breath and relax. This is not that hard, lol. And it's not a matter of life and death, not even close. There is no one "right" way to feed a dog, there are a lot of options, and most of them will work just fine for most dogs. 
    Let's take things one at a time. 
    You are correct that you must not change your puppy's food for at least two weeks after he comes home. So, you have at least two weeks to figure things out. A lot of what you choose to transition to after the two weeks are up is going to depend on how he does with the breeder food, and how healthy his digestive system is. You may even be dealing with giardia or another intestinal parasite, it's not uncommon in doodle puppies, and in that case you'll be doing things very differently than usual.
    You are also correct that the vet is not a good source of information or guidance on food or nutrition. They are not educated in nutrition, they are educated in medicine. Just like our human doctors. 
      The current food is a lamb and rice based food with a not-so-great macronutrient profile, and it is low in calories. So, if he does well with it, that tells us that he does fine with lamb and grains, and we will choose a lamb diet with a better Omega 6:3 ratio, a bit more fat, and a higher calorie content. Maybe one of Fromm's formulas. If his digestion is not that great, i.e. loose, bulky or too frequent stools, we may want to look at a grain free food with a different protein source and higher protein. Maybe Orijen, or Wellness Core. He may even need a limited ingredient diet. There are a lot of options, and your choice may also depend on cost and availability. Some of us like to be able to buy our dog's food locally and not have to depend on delivery. Others feel the opposite. These are things you will need to explore before deciding on a new food. 
    How you will transition also depends on how similar the new food is to the old food. That makes a difference. In some cases, you're better off just switching cold turkey. In other cases, you transition over a period of 4-5 days. Slow transitions are rarely necessary.
    I do not recommend adding anything to your dog's food. No toppers, for sure. Pumpkin is used for dogs with loose stool & diarrhea, it's just fiber, and a healthy puppy eating a good diet should not need it. Adding a bit of freeze-dried raw (I like Stella & Chewy's Meal Mixers) is fine, I do it myself, but I would not start that right away. There really are not "so many benefits of raw". It's just minimally processed food with a higher moisture content than kibble. It's fine, and it makes some of us feel good to include it in our dogs' diets, but what you read on the raw feeding websites is mostly baloney. Raw food of any kind is not going to prevent allergies or any other health issue. So hold off on that. You have two weeks minimum on the 4 health food, and then 5 days of transition, and then you want to see how he does with whatever food you choose for a couple of weeks before adding things. 
    As for training treats, ask the breeder what she uses. If she doesn't use anything, get some plain freeze dried or dehydrated 100% chicken or liver treats for training, and don't introduce anything else in the way of food or treats for that first few weeks. We have a list of recommended treat brands here. I like Pure Bites, and most of the better small pet supply stores (not the big box stores) will have some other options. I recently discovered Pupford training treats, and I highly recommend them, but you do have to order them online.
    Hope this helps. 

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  • Oh, and you didn't ask about this, but there is one thing about feeding your puppy that is going to make a huge difference in your relationship with him for the rest of his life, and that's HOW you feed. No matter what else you do, do not free feed. Have set meal times, have a feeding routine, and stick with it. Three meals a day, 10 minutes per meal, maximum. 

    • Thanks Karen! Feeling a lot better now lol. Appreciate you taking the time to explain. Will see how he does!

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