ST. LOUIS — Nestlé Purina PetCare highlighted discrepancies and misunderstandings among pet owners when it comes to purchasing and feeding puppy formulas in a survey released Aug. 24, showing many pet owners are unaware that dog maturity varies by breed size.

According to Purina, toy and small dog breeds that weigh less than 30 lbs take between nine and 12 months to fully mature, while medium-sized dogs weighing between 30 and 80 lbs can take up to 16 months to fully mature, and large and giant breeds weighing more than 80 lbs can take up to two years to reach full maturity.

"Puppies have specific nutritional requirements to help support their rapid growth and development,” said Callie Harris, DVM, veterinarian at Purina. “Similar to babies, puppies' bodies are fast-growing, but unlike babies, puppies pack all their growth into one to two short years. It's important to feed a high-quality puppy food formula for at least the first 12 months and up to 24 months for large breeds.”

The survey, which included 1,000 puppy owners in the United States, revealed 92% of large breed dog owners were unaware that they should feed puppy food for up to two years, while 47% of small breed dog owners did not realize their dog should be fed puppy food for up to one year.

Pet owners are more likely to determine an appropriate diet based off their dogs’ size (46%), but do not account for breed differences and their effects on size and development.

Purina released these survey results as it preps for a “Pup-Up” livestream event through Facebook on Wednesday, Aug. 26, in which the company has collaborated with North Shore Animal League America to discuss puppy nutrition and health.

Annie Valuska, Ph.D., senior feeding behaviorist for Purina, and Harris will speak on puppy nutrition and healthy transitioning to adult formulas during the livestream.

Adoptable puppies currently sheltered by North Shore Animal League will be shown during the livestream in honor of National Dog Day.

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