Getting a puppy can be super exciting! There are a lot of responsibilities that come along with dog ownership, from housebreaking and training, to providing them a comfy bed, and even, of course, to their nutrition. As you try to be a good puppy parent, how can you tell which dog food is right? With so many options, how do you choose which food is going to be right for your pup and which won’t be healthy for it? Don’t worry; choosing a dog food isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem. There are four important things to keep in mind as you research your dog foods: brand, size, calories, and ingredients.
You may not think brand matters as much as ingredients, but it’s very important! It’s so important because of the AAFCO feeding trials. Some dog food companies come up with a dog food recipe, make the food, and sell it to the pet stores, all without ever feeding it to actual dogs. These brands are untested and may contain nutrient deficiencies for your puppy.
The best brands use the AAFCO feeding trials and do scientific research to make sure they are selling healthy food. They also consult with veterinary nutritionists, providing a balanced food in nutrients. However, since AAFCO is a private company, they can only do so much and most of their requirements are just the minimums. It’s also important to look at the other three factors.
There are two size factors that are important: breed size and kibble size. Breed size for your puppy matters as each breed grows at a different rate. You will want to make sure the nutrients in your puppy food matches what your puppy needs. For example, a larger breed, such as a Labrador, will need more calcium and phosphorus for proper bone growth than a small breed, like a chihuahua. Researching what specific nutrients your puppy breed needs to grow will help you find the best dog food.
Kibble size also matters. Smaller breeds and puppies may not be able to eat big kibble chunks or even big chunks in wet dog food. Keeping the dog food the right size will keep your dog safe from choking hazards or not being able to eat. You may look for dog foods made specifically for your breed’s size, such as a toy breed or small breed puppy formula.
Everyone knows how energetic puppies are! They grow up fast and need a lot of calories to keep up. Puppies need about a third more calories than adult dogs. While you could give your puppy more food, it is more advisable to pick a higher calorie dog food, especially one specifically made with the dietary needs of puppies in mind. As your pup grows, make sure to increase the calorie intake as well.
One of the most important things to check before choosing the best dog food for your puppy is ingredients. For any dog, the number one ingredient on the list should be a type of meat, not a meat meal or grain like corn. While people are fairly controversial about which grains a dog can and can’t eat, the consensus is that any grain should not be the first ingredient. You should also avoid ingredients like artificial sweeteners like fructose or dextrose, chemical preservatives like BHT and BHA, animal byproducts, and fillers, especially cellulose, which is essentially sawdust.
Puppies need a few important nutrients for their bodies to grow properly. They need more calories and more protein than adult dogs. They also need more fat, but be careful what type of fat is listed. Puppies need the omega fatty acid DHA for their developing brains and diets higher in this fatty acid have shown increased memory and trainability in puppies. Puppies also should consume their daily vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E and selenium. These focus on building the puppy’s immune system. As talked about before, each puppy breed needs a certain ratio of calcium to phosphorus so it’s important to research what your pup needs.
Finding the best dog food for your puppy doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you keep these four things in mind. With so many options, you will choose the healthiest one for your new pup in no time and then you can focus on more enjoyable things, such as playing with your puppy! With love and the right nutritious food, your puppy is sure to grow into a great, happy dog.