A healthy pet is a happy pet, and there’s certainly no better way to keep your beloved dog in tip top shape than by feeding him/her a healthy diet which is why finding the best dog food for puppies is so important! Just like people, canines who gorge on junk food, whilst the taste might be pleasing, will suffer ill effects on their health.
What should I look for in the best dog food for puppies?
What is it that makes a certain dog food product a healthy choice for your puppy? As young dogs, puppies need all the nutrients they can get to grow up big and strong. Here are some key things to look out for in a dog food prospect:
- High levels of meat-based protein
- High levels of natural fats and oils
- Low amount of carbs
- Named animal source
- No vegetable or animal by-products included
- No artificial flavoring or preservatives
- Good source of all essential vitamins/minerals
As you may be able to tell, the list looks strikingly similar to what we imagine constitutes a healthy meal when shopping for ourselves! It’s no secret that artificial chemicals are almost universally considered diet damagers. One other thing to consider is calcium levels, if you own a larger breed of dog it is a good idea to keep calcium levels around the RDA, and take care to avoid excess.
Ensuring nutritional balance
Too much/too little of any nutrient or vitamin can lead to problems in your growing pups! The best dog food for puppies is one which gets the balance just right. Performing rigorous checks of every single dog food product’s nutritional values can be a struggle, which is why the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) provides labels for dog food which passes its tight regulation criteria. The “Nutritional Adequacy Statement” provided by the AAFCO is total assurance that the product contains nutritional values perfectly balanced for a dog’s diet. This may depend on which phase of life the product is targeted at. For example, dog food targeted at puppies will have different target nutritional values than a product aimed at fully grown (adult) dogs.
Whilst giving adult dog food to your puppy may not cause harm directly, your puppy may end up severely lacking in nutrients required for his or her growth and development. It’s for this reason that you should solely feed your dog on meals targeted towards the phase of life he/she is currently in.
You should feed your puppy at regular intervals. Don’t overfeed him or her as giving your growing dog too much to eat may cause their stomachs to stretch. Typical advice states that you should feed your pup 4 times a day for the first four months of their life, then three times daily until he or she is six months of age, until finally decreasing to 2 meals a day for the rest of their lives.
Dry vs. wet foods
When buying dry dog food you should keep health at the forefront of your decision making process. As mentioned earlier, you should look for AAFCO approval notices and labels if you are in the United States. Dry dog food labelled as “premium” tends to be of a higher quality, and are often based on chicken, rice and corn. Whilst premium food may be more expensive, it is actually a lot more filling so in the long run it may work out cheaper than feeding your dog higher amounts of low nutritional value meals. The best dog food for puppies will be AAFCO approved.
It is possible that your dog will not want to eat dry food. If this is the case, you may choose to mix the food with very small amounts of warm water, or mix with moist or tinned dog food until they accept dry food entirely.
As above, you should put quality first if you really care about your puppy’s health and look for meals which provide everything your puppy needs for growth and development. Chicken and rice based meals are easily digestible and healthy for dogs. Once your puppy grows accustomed to a perfectly balanced diet it is best to avoid any changes.
- Find one high quality brand of dog food and stick to it!
- Avoid giving your puppy supplements unless advised to do so by a vet
- Avoid feeding your puppy an hour before or after excercise as this could cause bloat, a serious condition in dogs
Even if you have the best dog food for puppies ignoring the above fundamental dietary rules could lead to serious problems.