How To Choose The Best Puppy Food
Puppies require different levels of nutrients than older dogs. During the first six months of their life, puppies grow the fastest physically. They need the right nutrition to support their rapid growth. You should feed your puppy premium puppy food until he reaches his adult height and weight. Adult height and weight is usually reached in a year for small to medium breeds and can be up to two years for large and giant breeds.
Another consideration is a puppy’s energy requirements. They can be almost twice that of an adult dog.
Puppy’s stomachs are smaller than adult dog’s stomachs. Because their stomachs are smaller, they need more nutritionally dense food formulated just for puppies. Kibble formulated for puppies helps them meet their energy needs.
There are three types of dog food:
- Dry kibble
- Semi-moist that comes in sealed packages
- Moist or canned
Most veterinarians and trainers recommend dry kibble food for your puppy. They recommend dry kibble because of its fat content and also because moist dog food can spoil. Dry kibble also helps with tarter control which is important for developing teeth.
When you are shopping for dog food there are a couple of things that you want to look for:
- Check the label for “Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food Nutrient Profiles for Growth”
- Read the ingredients list on the back of the package and look for real meat as the first ingredient
Puppies grow the fastest during the first six months of their life. Because growth rates differ among breed sizes you need to feed your puppy the formula designed to address the needs of your puppy’s breed and size.
Puppy food should contain animal based protein for strong muscles. The protein requirement for puppies is higher than that for adult dogs. High quality protein is critical for puppies to create new body tissue as they grow. Puppy food should also contain calcium for strong bones and teeth. It should contain iron for healthy blood and DHA for the brain, central nervous system, and vision. Puppy food should also contain prebiotics for a healthy immune system and it should be high in calories for all the energy a puppy burns.
Nutritional needs differ for the different breed sizes. Large breed puppies grow more quickly. Because they grow more quickly, they need less calcium so that their bones don’t grow too fast. Medium breed dogs need a careful balance of calories and nutrients so they don’t gain excess weight. Small breed puppies need nutrient dense food in small bites because their metabolism is faster and they have different energy needs than larger dogs.
What is good for humans is not necessarily good for dogs. Proper nutrition is critical for a puppy’s optimum development and human food doesn’t offer the proper balance of nutrients that puppies need; therefore, it is important to not feed your puppy table scraps.
Puppies do best on a regular feeding schedule. Schedules teach them that there are times to eat, times to play, and times to potty. It is critical that puppies under four months are fed multiple times a day. Depending on your puppy’s breed size, at around six months you can start feeding your puppy twice a day. You should set a schedule and stick to it. Keep in mind that eating is soon followed by the urge to go to the bathroom.
It is very important to monitor your puppy’s weight. A fat puppy isn’t necessarily a healthy puppy.
Treats are another food source to consider when determining portions of food that you should feed your puppy. It is important to limit treats to less than 10% of your puppy’s caloric intake. Hard chew treats improve dental health through gnawing. It is a good idea to save treating for training sessions.
Puppies need fresh, clean water available at all times. Water is their most important nutrient. You should change your puppy’s water at least once a day. Providing fresh, clean water greatly reduces the risk of disease keeping your puppy happy and healthy.