Puppies are adorable pets. Most of us simply don’t want them to grow up in pretty much the same way that we find human babies really cute and adorable that we don’t want them growing up. But to grow and develop is an essential aspect of life. Nutrition plays a very important role in growing up and in developing into one’s optimum health and fitness. Nutrition for puppies is crucial as it lays the foundation for a dog’s future. Knowing which puppy food to give is important in ensuring normal growth and development among these young pooches. Good thing we made an exhaustive research into the 10 best dog foods for puppies so you’ll be more certain about your pup growing up to become a healthier, happier mutt.
Best Puppy Food Buying Guide and FAQ
Choosing the best dog food for puppies is crucial to ensuring that it grows and matures into healthy dogs. We have prepared a comprehensive and detailed buying guide of the best puppy food brands to help you make the right decision as to purchasing the appropriate product for your pet. Additionally, we’re sharing some of the questions that most pet owners have in relation to puppy feeding.
- What are the nutritional needs of puppies?
Puppies require lots of proteins for tissue and organ building processes. Depending on their activity levels, they will also need sufficient amounts of carbohydrates. Carbs are what provides pups with the energy they need to be active at play. Proteins are essential for the building and maturation of tissues as well as the production of hormones and other vital substances in the body, especially those related to the immune system. Fats are integral components of cell membranes particularly those found in the brain and the rest of the nervous system. However, healthier versions of fats should be ascribed to and not just any other type of fat.
In addition to these, young pooches will benefit from vitamins and minerals as well as other micronutrients necessary for development. Docosahexaenoic acid, for instance, is needed for optimum development of the eyes and the brain while calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D will be needed for stronger bones. Folate and iron are essential, too, for healthier red blood cells while zinc and selenium can help in the maturation of the immune system.
- Until when should I keep feeding my dog healthy puppy food?
There really is no golden rule when it comes to how long you should keep feeding your young pooch its puppy chow. Generally, experts recommend feeding your puppy with the appropriate food until it reaches about 80 percent of its expected or standard adult size. However, as we have already mentioned, this is just a general guideline. If your pet pooch is growing at an unusually fast rate, then you may have to stop feeding it with puppy food much sooner.
- How frequent and how much should I feed my puppy?
The frequency of feeding your pup depends on its age. Typically, less than 3-month old pups will need to feed 4 times a day. This gradually decreases until it reaches its ‘adult’ stage where it feeds on 2 half-servings each day. As for the amount of food that you have to give, manufacturers have their own recommendations so you’d better check these out. However, you will still need to consider the growth rate of your young pet. The faster it grows the more nutrients it will need.
- Should I give my pups dry kibbles or wet food?
As we’ll explain later, it is a lot better to give pups dry kibbles for a variety of reasons. First, it’s more nutrient-rich than wet food since the latter is mostly water. It’s also beneficial for its budding teeth. This is not to say that wet food is not good either. It’s best reserved for sick pups as well as young mutts that don’t drink enough water.
Related Post: Best Dry Dog Food
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Puppy Food
Buying the right food is crucial to seeing your puppy grow as healthily and optimally as possible. This can only happen if you know what you need to look for when buying good puppy food. We have listed some of the more important items for you to consider before making that all-important purchase to help you choose the optimum puppy food for your pet.
- Activity level of your pet pooch
You might think that all puppies are generally active. They love to play, jump, run, and explore their surroundings. They’re mostly described as little bundles of endless joy that the only time you will see them actually not playing is when they are asleep. The fact is that different pups also have different activity levels. While certain breeds are more ‘active’ or playful than others, you should not base your decision on breed temperament standards alone. It is thus, important to observe your own pooch and try to determine its own unique activity level.
Now why is this important? Highly active mutts will require tremendous amounts of energy, otherwise they will not be able to play as much and as often as they would like. If this happens, they may develop behavioral problems as they grow older because their inherent need for play has not been met.
As such, if you have a highly active young mutt, make sure to consider giving it carbohydrate-rich doggie food as this will be its principal source of energy. If your pet is not really that active, you can choose a puppy chow that has considerably less proportion of carbs.
- Overall health condition of your pet
We did mention above that certain medical conditions can affect the way your young mutt feeds. It might even affect the way it is able to digest, absorb, and metabolize the different nutrient molecules that are present in the chow that you give it. For example, intestinal parasitic infections, coccidiosis, heartworm disease, parvovirus infection, or even kennel cough are very common among puppies. If your mutt happens to be affected with these conditions, its feeding will also be affected.
Technically, if your young dog is sick, its appetite decreases, much like humans do. In such cases, giving it dry kibbles may not be appropriate because of the rather dry and distinct taste of kibbles making it quite unpalatable. A more appropriate solution will be to choose canned puppy foods as these contain lots of moisture to help facilitate the more efficient swallowing of the bolus. Additionally, the moist consistency of wet dog food allows it to pack more flavors which can help entice your pet to eat.
If your mutt is also not drinking properly, wet puppy food is a good choice. But, if your young pooch drinks well, then a dry kibble is an excellent option. This is also advisable if you want your pup to develop stronger teeth while also preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, wet dog food, even those formulated for puppies, contains too much fat which might not be healthy for the young mutt.
- Food allergies and intolerances
Allergies and food intolerances are also quite common. So if you still have a puppy and you’re not sure if it is allergic to a specific type of chow, then you might want to get something that only has one primary ingredient. This way, you can be certain that, should your pet develop a reaction, it is allergic to such a substance.
Caution should be made with products that eliminate grains from their formulation yet include other protein sources that can be allergenic as well. In case you don’t know yet, wheat, corn, and soy are almost always considered as allergenic for dogs. However, beef, chicken, fish, dairy, and lamb are equally allergenic.
What we would like to emphasize here is that don’t believe so much in the label saying grain-free chow is best for your dog. If it still contains protein-rich ingredients like chicken or beef, then the risk of allergy is still present. It just so happen that dog food manufacturers are jumping into the human health bandwagon that wheat gluten is bad for one’s health.
Science has already shown that wholesome grains are beneficial for dogs, especially for puppies as these contain amino acids necessary for optimum development. These are also excellent sources of energy as well as other nutrients. If you really want to eliminate the allergenic potential of puppy food, then choose one that doesn’t have any of these ingredients.
- Dietary requirements specific to your breed
Different breeds require nutrients in varying amounts and types. Larger breeds of canines typically require more protein and minerals as their anatomy will need these nutrients to grow and develop to their optimum levels. Smaller canine breeds, on the other hand, will often have sufficiently smaller amounts of nutrients compared to their larger cousins.
Additionally, long- or thick- coated mutts will benefit more from a diet that is rich in vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids as these substances can help provide for a much healthier coat. Thin- or sparsely- coated pooches may not really need too much of these substances, although they will definitely need DHA for brain development.
Can I Feed My Puppy Adult Food?
Many pet owners are quite perplexed as to why there needs to be a classification of pet food according to the animal’s age. This is often raised by those households that may have multiple pets in various stages of development. For example, they may have several pups, a few adults, and one or two senior dogs. Should you feed your pup with food designed for adults?
The answer is simple. No! Just look at it this way. Do you give your less than 1 year old baby the same food that grownups in your family eat? Do you give your baby slices of Thanksgiving turkey even though he or she is only 10 months old? Do you give him or her coffee, wine, fatty fried foods, and even junk foods that you and everyone else in the family absolutely adore? If your answer is ‘no’, then put this line of thinking into your young pet.
Puppies are still growing, still developing. As such, they require a different set of nutrients in slightly different amounts compared to adult canines. The goal of nutrition in puppyhood is to build tissues and to ensure the successful maturation of these tissues and organs. In other words, the right nutrition in puppyhood is very important as it lays the foundation for the health and wellbeing of your dog once it grows up.
For example, if you don’t give it enough calcium, do you think it will have strong bones when it grows? If it doesn’t have strong bones, will it be able to move as efficiently as other canids? Now, if you give more calcium to your adult dog, do you think it’s healthy, too? Too much calcium in an otherwise healthy mature adult dog can also create problems such as thickening of the bones. A bone that is too thick or too dense will be very heavy, making it quite difficult to move. Once your pooch has reached old age, it will again need more calcium. Why? As it ages, it loses some of the density of the bone. That is why it needs to replenish it.
Summing it up, calcium needs to be increased in puppies and senior dogs while it should only be maintained at the right levels in adult dogs. And this is just for calcium. Can you imagine how many nutrients are there that all puppies need?
So, can you feed your pup adult food? Of course, you can. But should you? The answer is you shouldn’t.
How to Properly Feed Your Puppy
Knowing how to properly feed your puppy is as important as knowing what type of food is best suited for it. Regrettably, not everyone is well-versed on some of the essential guidelines when feeding pups, especially in the first few days that it is in your home. Here’s how.
- Know the feeding recommendations that are appropriate for your puppy’s age.
For pups between 6 weeks and 3 months old, you will need to feed it with an appropriate puppy chow. You also need to feed them about 4 times a day. By the time a large breed pup reaches 9 or 10 weeks, it should only be fed with unmoistened dry kibbles. For small breeds, they should start feeding unmoistened dry kibbles by around 12 or 13 weeks.
If you have a pup that is between 3 and 6 months of age, you can reduce the number of feedings to 3 per day. Once your young pooch reaches 6 months, you can further reduce the feeding frequency to just two. You can then start switching to adult dog food starting 7 months for small breeds and 12 months for larger breeds. Experts actually recommend extending the puppy food feeding to a few more months as the different nutrients they need will help them grow healthier.
- Slowly switch your new puppy to its new food in its new home.
If you happen to bring home a new puppy, make sure to feed it with exactly the same food that it has been fed with prior to its arrival in your home. Over a period of about 7 to 10 days, you will have to slowly introduce your kind of puppy food into its diet until it can be fully switched from its previous diet. For instance, you can make a mixture of 25% ‘new food’ and 75% ‘usual food’ in the first few days, say 3 days. On days 4 to 6, you can make it 50-50. On days 7 to 9, you can add 75% ‘new food’ to 25% of the ‘usual food’. By day 10, you should already be able to completely put your pup on the new food.
In the process of slowly integrating a recommended puppy chow to its usual diet, your new pup might vomit, appear constipated, or even has loose stools. If this happens, you might want to reduce the proportion of ‘new food’ you’re introducing and go even slower. Additionally, you really have to supervise its feeding to watch out for any reaction.
- Go for high quality dry kibbles.
Feed your pups high quality dry kibbles formulated specifically for puppies. Most veterinarians rarely recommend wet or even semi-moist foods as these are essentially filled with moisture and have high fat content. They are very expensive and you are only getting about 20 percent of the actual nutrients since 80% of it is water. Unless your pet has issues drinking from its bowl or water dispenser or may have problems biting and swallowing, you’re better off with a dry kibble.
Do remember to feed a puppy with only the highest possible quality of dry kibble. Don’t go for cheap ones as these often have questionable protein quality, not to mention poor digestibility. You may think you’ve saved a few dollars by feeding them low quality food, but if they do get sick, you’d typically end up with a heftier vet bill.
- Avoid giving table scraps; leave this for later.
Remember that the goal of puppy nutrition is to provide them with the nutritional foundation necessary to build, grow, and develop a canine body that will last many years. While your Thanksgiving turkey or even that antioxidant-rich apple looks appetizing and truly nutritious, giving these to your pup now will only make them to want more of it. Soon, they will no longer be eating their puppy chow. If that happens, they will no longer be able to obtain all the right nutrients necessary for their development.
- Give treats sparingly.
Experts recommend giving treats to pups during obedience training or as a reward for good behavior. It can also be given to keep puppies entertained. However, it should not comprise more than 10 percent of the caloric intake of your puppy. Again, the purpose of puppy nutrition is to build and develop a healthier dog. This can only be obtained with the correct nutrients at the right amounts and this can be satisfied only by a high-quality puppy food.
- Don’t forget to give them fresh drinking water.
Nutrition is never complete without water. In fact, even if you put all the nutrients into your puppy, but if its cells and tissues are dehydrated, they will still not be able to utilize all these nutrients. As such, it is important to provide your pet pooch with safe, clean drinking water.
Feeding your pup with the correct nutrients in the right amounts is important in ensuring their optimum growth potential. By learning what to look for in a puppy food including how to properly feed them, you can help guarantee a brighter future for your young pets.