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by Russ Kelley, Scientific Services Nutritionist – Royal Canin US

As a breeder, you play an important role in ensuring your puppies start on the right nutrition to give them a healthy start. And while Royal Canin provides you with tools to recommend a dog food, nothing can replace having a real, one-on-one conversation about nutrition. Below are five key questions to ask your customers to help them choose the best nutrition for their new puppy.


Five Questions to Ask New Pet Owners to Guide Your Nutritional Recommendations

  1. What will your daily activities be? (Will the puppy be home alone for most of the day or will he accompany you to work?)

Activity level is an important consideration for identifying the right diet and feeding volume. (For example, if the puppy will be accompanying his new owner to work, he’ll need a slightly higher level of calories than if he’s staying home, where he may be crated and thus have more idle hours. Those office visitors coming by to greet the puppy will increase his overall activity level!)


  1. How much will you and your puppy travel?

The more travel, the greater importance of recommending a diet that supports the immune system, since travel means exposure to more environmental conditions and greater reliance on public access sites such as dog parks and rest areas. (Using these sites doesn’t necessarily equate to an increased health risk, but unfortunately, we don’t know the health status of the other dogs using them.)


  1. What special activities do you have planned?

Obedience classes, agility and other companion sports can influence the diet recommendation. Involvement in a sport or working activity may involve a multi-layered recommendation – an initial one, based on a size- or breed-specific puppy diet to build a solid foundation, and then a more nutrient-dense diet once training begins.


  1. Are there other pets in your home?

While the presence of other pets may not influence a puppy’s nutritional needs, it sure can add complexity to the feeding process! For example, if an existing pet is accustomed to grazing (eating small amounts) throughout the day, that pet’s bowl could be accessible to the puppy – which could certainly add to his daily intake of calories and minerals while reducing the existing pet’s nutrition. This becomes even more complex if pets are contrasting in size (say, the existing pet eats a small breed formula and the new puppy is a large breed.) In these cases, it may be best to consider a puppy food that aligns with the existing pet’s nutritional needs or devise a plan for feeding the puppy separately.


  1. What are your breed traits and sizes?

It’s very important to consider breed traits and sizes before making a formula recommendation. Is the breed prone to certain health issues?

  • If the breed is prone to oral health issues, it’s important to recommend formulas with dental technologies including an appropriate kibble size to promote puppy chewing.
  • Breeds with skin and coat issues can benefit from a diet supplemented with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Breeds prone to weight issues, such as Labradors, should be fed puppy formulas to help support a healthy growth rate. (As adults, they may need to be transitioned to a weight-control formula.)


Keep in mind that large breed puppy formulas are uniquely designed to support a large breed puppy. These formulas have reduced caloric density to help support healthy growth, along with adjusted mineral content to promote healthy skeletal growth.

For additional guidelines to help you make a successful nutritional recommendation, contact your Royal Canin sales representative.