Feeding A Boxer Puppy During Growth And Beyond

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Typically by the time an owner brings home a puppy they should have already been started on a premium, high quality kibble. Dry food is always recommended over wet or semi-moist foods for several reasons. Dry food is better for the Boxers digestive system, is more nutritionally balanced, and is also important in dental care as the food scrapes the plaque and tartar build up off the teeth and gums while the dog is chewing. Canned or semi-moist foods must be fed in very high quantities to match the nutritional needs of the Boxer plus they can contribute to digestive problems, allergic reactions to the preservatives as well as other nutritional imbalances.

WHAT TYPES OF FOODS ARE BEST?

Many Boxer breeders feed a BARF diet or Bones and Raw Foods diet. This is a good alternative although it does require additional attention to ensure that the diet is balanced and it will take time for the puppy to adjust. During the change from dry food to BARF diets expect additional flatulence, digestive problems and possibly additional problems with housetraining as the dog’s system adjusts to the difference in food. Some Boxer breeders strongly recommend the BARF diet for the breed, as they believe that is helps many of the digest problems that are common with Boxers. Usually these breeders will have already started the puppy on a BARF diet so there will be no transition problems when he or she arrives at your home.

High quality premium kibble that is designed for active growing puppies is always a good choice. Talk to your vet or breeder about their recommendations, then carefully follow all label information on feeding. The food should contain at least two sources of meat products, not meat by-products, in the first five ingredients on the label and grains should be brown rice or ground grains, not corn or any corn type products.

The first five ingredients should not contain corn or wheat, as these are high in gluten which can be a real problem for the Boxer to digest and can be a cause of food allergies. Dogs do need vegetables in their diet and also enjoy some fruits such as apples, so be sure to provide a variety of foods for the dog; you may be surprised at the vegetables that your dog will enjoy.

Meaty knuckle and joint bones are a great option for a Boxer that is kept outdoors, but they tend to be very messy inside. Always remove the bones when they begin to splinter or become small enough that the dog may swallow them and possibly choke.

WHAT FOODS TO AVOID

Since Boxers are prone to food allergies and digestive upsets, there are several rules that should be put in place immediately upon bringing your Boxer home. The first rule should be absolutely no table scraps at all. Many owners love to give their dog a bite or two or all the leftovers from the human dinner, but this can really cause problems for the Boxer both with regards to food allergies and digestive problems.

In addition Boxers – like any other dogs – can have severe and fatal reactions to different types of foods. Some of the foods that must be strictly avoided in the Boxer’s diet include chocolate, raisins, grapes, raw fish, large quantities of raw eggs, onions and garlic, gluten containing items such as breads or pastas, corn products, macadamia nuts, any type of yeast dough that is uncooked, tomatoes or any type of alcohol or tobacco products. Any foods with high amounts of sugars or caffeine should also be avoided. Artificial sweeteners or candies or sodas with artificial sweeteners should be stored well out of the reach of the dog or puppy.

HOW MUCH TO FEED

Between the ages of eight and sixteen weeks the Boxer puppy should have at least three small meals a day and ideally spreading this out to four meals can help the puppy and reduce hunger and gulping food. Feeding is done by weight of the puppy or by age, and depending on the type, brand and preparation of the food that you are feeding the actual amount will vary.

;Follow the manufacturers suggested feeding schedule that should be clearly provided on the side panel or the back panel of the dog food. Do not overfeed a puppy or feed too high of a carb or protein diet as this can affect bone growth and development and lead to both short and long term health problems.

After 16 weeks of age the Boxer can drop down to morning and evening feedings. Always feed at least one hour before any strenuous exercise and avoid feeding just before bed, as there is a greater risk for accidents in the house with this type of schedule. In some cases Boxers may be provided free choice food after they are fully matured, but this will only work if you are feeding dry food and if the dog will control food intake. In houses with multiple dogs free choice feeding can be a problem if one dog “guards” the food and prevents the other dogs from accessing it.

With their high energy and activity level adult Boxers are not prone to obesity problems; however it is important to monitor their weight and adjust their food intake accordingly. Any dramatic changes in weight, eating patterns or energy level should be checked by a vet immediately, as these are key indicators of several metabolic health conditions that can be problematic for a Boxer.

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