Feeding your miniature schnauzer puppy

MiniSchnauzer small dog food healthy diet

Bright-eyed and bushy-browed, your mini schnauzer puppy has arrived in your home and is looking at you expectantly. It’s mealtime! What (and how much) goes into your pup’s bowl and belly over the next several months will have a big impact on his future health. This feeding guide will answer all your questions on nutritional dos and don’ts for the next year. Getting it right now will not only keep your dog energetic and trim, but it will also head off health problems in the future.

How Did We Get Here?

Your mini schnauzer pup has come to you ready to eat kibble, but knowing how he got to that point is worthwhile. When mini schnauzers are born, they are tiny, weighing in at between four and nine ounces. Your puppy got his first nourishment from his mother’s milk, a high protein/high fat mixture that doubled his size over the first two weeks of his life. By the time he was one month old, he had weighed about two pounds and had started weaning, with his nursing time cut back and solid foods introduced through a soupy mixture of kibble and water or replacement milk. Eventually, he shifted over to dry food. 

From the time he was born to when he was eight weeks old, he doubled his size again and now weighed between three and five pounds. At this point, he’s a sturdy, energetic little fellow with a tubby puppy belly. It’s your job to keep him on a gradual path.

 

High-Quality Dog Foods Provide Optimal Puppy Growth

Miniature schnauzers need a specific nutritional mix designed to provide them with slow and steady growth. If a pup grows too quickly — usually a result of too much protein or fat — he’ll be at higher risk for obesity as an adult and more likely to suffer from diabetes and pancreatitis that often plague adult mini schnauzers. That’s why it’s so important to find a food that has a mix of nutrients suitable for the breed and that is specifically formulated to give puppies the extras they need to support a healthy future. 

The best way to achieve optimal puppy growth is by providing the right mix of freshwater, protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorous. Let’s look at each of these essentials, what they do, and how to achieve the best possible balance.

  • Water – It’s easy to overlook your puppy’s need for water, especially when housetraining recommendations suggest restricting water intake at night. But pups replace the hydration they got through their mother’s milk by drinking from their bowl. Water helps them digest their food and regulate their body temperature, as well as helping blood flow to optimize oxygenation. They usually need to drink about an ounce for every pound of weight each day. Change the water in their bowl regularly to make sure it’s clean. 
  • Protein –During the amazing growth that happens in the first year of a miniature schnauzer’s life, the protein in their food builds muscle, tissues, and organs and supports healthy levels of hormones and antibodies. Puppy food should contain a minimum of 26% high-quality protein, with the majority coming from animal proteins from chicken, beef, fish, lamb, or turkey, which have greater biological value and are easier for puppies to digest than proteins from plants. The right level of protein will provide your pup with optimal growth and weight gain, as well as a shiny coat.
  • Fat – Fat provides puppies with the energy they need and supports brain and nerve development, but too much of a good thing can lead to obesity and other health problems. Though all growing puppies need fat, as adults, miniature schnauzers are vulnerable to high cholesterol, pancreatitis, and hyperlipidemia, so even as puppies, they should consume less fat than other breeds. Their kibble should contain between 14% and 16% fat sourced from chicken fat, salmon oil, and flaxseed oil.
  • Calcium and Phosphorous – As miniature schnauzer puppies grow, they need calcium and phosphorous to support strong bones. Look for foods that contain a ratio of at least 1.2:1.
  • Carbohydrates – Though dogs don’t need large quantities of carbohydrates, sweet potatoes, peas, oatmeal, barley, and brown rice are high-quality ingredients that provide much of the energy that they need.
  • Other Nutrients – High-quality commercial puppy kibbles will contain all of the vitamins and fatty acids such as omega-3 or omega-6 that your pup needs for brain development and healthy eyes, skin, and coat.

 

When choosing a high-quality puppy food, take the time to read the label carefully, looking at the section of the label marked as “guaranteed analysis” for the percentages of protein and fat and at the list of actual ingredients. The first two or three items listed should be meat proteins, and you should try to stay away from those with fillers like corn, wheat, or soy among the first items on the list. Sugars and corn syrup are unnecessary and contribute to obesity, and chemicals and dyes serve no purpose and should be avoided. 

 

How Much Kibble Should I Feed My Puppy?

Puppies grow so quickly that they need two times as many calories per pound as they will when they become adults. That number decreases to about 1.6 once they are about half of their full-grown size, then decreases again to about 1.2 once they reach 80% of their expected adult size and then finally switch to adult food once they are at their adult weight, usually between ten months and a year old. This feeding schedule is determined by both their energy requirements and their growth requirements but aims to avoid allowing the dog to become overweight. 

It’s a good idea to weigh your puppy regularly and try to keep to feeding approximately 50 calories per pound when they are young (calorie count is found on the kibble bag’s guaranteed analysis), slowly reducing overtime to about 30 calories per pound when they are adults.

 

  • At eight to twelve weeks, a miniature schnauzer pup will weigh about 3 pounds and should eat just 1/3 cup of dry puppy food in a day based on a caloric value of approximately 450 calories per cup. This represents about 150 calories and should be split between two or three servings.
  • Between three and six months old, a miniature schnauzer puppy will weigh between six and 10 pounds and should be fed between 3/4 cup of food and 1 1/8 cup over two feedings a day, representing between 300 calories and 500 calories.
  • At six months, a miniature schnauzer puppy will weigh between 8 and 14 pounds. They are almost adult size but still have a good deal of maturing ahead. They still need puppy food twice a day, between 7/8 cup and 1 1/2 cup, depending on their weight. 

 

When your miniature schnauzer puppy is about ten months old, you can transition him to high-quality adult dog food.

Tips on Feeding Techniques for Miniature Schnauzer Puppies

Miniature schnauzers are enthusiastic eaters, and that is true from the time they are puppies through their entire adult life. Because they are prone to obesity, it’s important that you establish good habits for your dog and for yourself in order to give him the best possible chance for a long, healthy life. Here are some tips to help avoid health problems in the future:

  • Miniature schnauzers are healthiest when they are lean. The best way to keep them at a healthy weight is to limit treats and table scraps to 10% of their daily caloric intake. This can be a challenge when training these bright, food-driven puppies. Look for training treats that are only a few calories each and use high reward treats sparingly. You can also offer bites of carrot, apples, pears, and other healthy fruits and vegetables as treats.
  • It’s tempting and far easier to just fill your puppy’s bowl to the brim, but “free feeding” invites him to eat as much as he wants – and leads to overweight and eventual obesity. Measure out his food and take it away after twenty minutes. He will quickly learn to eat when he’s been fed. Feeding him on a regular schedule will also help establish a regular time for him to “do his business.”
  • If your pup doesn’t eat his kibble, you can supplement it with a spoonful or two of wet food, but do not put human food in his bowl.
  • If your puppy shows signs of intestinal distress, you can offer him a daily spoonful of unsweetened plain yogurt with live cultures and no artificial sweeteners unless the puppy is lactose intolerant, of course.

 

All miniature schnauzer puppies start out tiny, but as they grow, they develop their own physical characteristics and personalities. Some will be high energy while others will be laid back, requiring fewer calories to power their play. Likewise, some will reach adulthood, weighing just 12 pounds, while others will eventually grow to 20 pounds. To give your pup the best possible start in life, look for high-quality ingredients and make feeding decisions that reflect their individual needs.

Terri Klein