Pamper your growing pup by providing the best dog food for puppies. The choices are endless and it can be overwhelming.
Semi-moist puppy food, wet puppy food, high protein puppy food…
We provide a guide so you can buy the best puppy food to keep your little canine happy and healthy.
Table of Contents
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Below you’ll find in-depth reviews of each of the above products.
For growing and developing puppies, special nutrition is required.
Calories. For starters, puppies need more calorie-dense food compared to a typical adult dog. These extra calories are very important in the long term for proper development. They need extra energy and nutrients to build strong bones and muscles.
Nutrients. Reputable manufacturers produce dog foods that follow the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The following table compares the AAFCO minimum requirements for some vital nutrients:
AAFCO-verified pet foods can be marketed for either “adult maintenance” which is food for adult dogs or “growth and reproduction” which is for puppies.
As you can see from the condensed table, puppies need more nutrients such as amino acids, minerals, protein, and fat than adult dogs. Without these extra nutrients, they are at risk for nutritional deficiencies and health-related issues.
Feeding guidelines for your puppy will be based on the type of food you provide. Decide if you want to feed your puppy canned wet food, dry kibble, semi-moist kibble, or a combination of food types.
Dry Food: Dry food is the most popular category of pet food in many countries, including the USA. Many pet owners prefer dry food because it costs less than wet semi-moist dog food and refrigeration of unused portions is not needed. Additionally, some dry food may also provide beneficial massage of the teeth and gums to help decrease periodontal disease.
Canned Dog Food: Many of the same ingredients are used in canned pet foods as in dry-extruded dog food. One big difference is canned dog foods contain more water. According to Merck Vet Manual wet food has 68%–78% water and 22%–32% dry matter. An advantage of wet dog food is it has a long shelf life in a durable container and most dogs really like the taste and consistency.
Semi-Moist Dog Food: Soft-moist dog foods contain 25%–40% water and 60%–75% dry matter making it soft. The advantages of soft-moist foods include convenience, dogs really like the taste, and high energy digestibility. However, like wet food, soft-moist food is costlier than dry food.
Regardless of which option you choose, make sure you provide a high-quality diet that is balanced and nutritious for the early life-stages of a puppy’s growth.
Many inexpensive dog food products on the market that contain useless fillers such as corn-gluten meal and low-quality animal by-products.
Essentially, you should start by following the daily feeding recommendations provided by the manufacturer of puppy food you are serving. It is listed on the packaging, usually on the back of the product. Then, modify the amount based on a continual evaluation of your puppies weight, condition, skin and coat, overall well-being, and general attitude.
Several factors contribute to the correct calorie levels or amount of puppy food served such as metabolic rate, age, size, and specific breed. Most likely, a very active puppy will need more calories for proper development than a lethargic puppy. Therefore, the amount of food that you are serving needs to be viewed as an estimate only.
Carefully read the dog food product labels for suggested serving size portions so you do not overfeed.
General recommendations are that puppies between weaning and 6 months of age should be fed three times a day. Growth slows in many breeds around the age of six months. Unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise, you should reduce her meals to twice a day at 6 months.
Recognized organizations such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provide pet food manufacturers with standards for feeding guidelines. The AAFCO specifies what ingredients a commercial dog food label must contain in order to claim complete and balanced nutrition. Consumers can safely rely upon these guidelines to provide their puppy optimal nutrition.
Some pet owners prefer to prepare their puppy’s meals at home. Properly formulated home-cooked diets that include high-quality ingredients can provide a puppy with appropriate nourishment.
The disadvantages of preparing home cooked meals are preparation time, controlling diet quality, higher cost, and preparing a diet that is nutritionally complete. Nutritional problems occur most commonly when dogs and are fed imbalanced homemade diets resulting in health issues.
Nutritional needs of puppies will vary depending on the specific breed of the dog.
Large and giant breed puppies grow rapidly and longer than smaller dogs. If large puppy breeds grow too rapidly, it may lead to growth abnormalities such as panosteitis, hip dysplasia, arthritis and elbow dysplasia, to name a few.
Overnutrition plays a large role in this extreme growth. There are dog foods available for large breed puppies containing the nutrients they need such as Holistic Large Breed Puppy Food or Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed. These recipes are formulated differently than regular puppy diets by usually being lower in fat, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D.
Providing your growing puppy with good puppy food can help to prevent problems later in life. If the diet is lacking in essential nutrients, your puppy is more prone to disease and sickness, just as is the case with humans.
Obesity. Obesity in dogs and puppies is very common, and many ingredients in low-quality dog food, such as corn and soy contain many calories that offer little nutrition. Puppies will end up eating more food in order to get enough nutrients which lead to obesity. Also, try to avoid the temptation to give your puppy too many snacks. This can easily lead to obesity
Poor Skin and Coat. Dull, weak coats and dry skin may be signs that your dog isn’t getting enough fatty acids. These fatty acids often come from fish and flaxseed which your puppy needs for healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Diminished Immunity. Poor nutrition can affect your puppies immune system. A poor immune system leads to wounds not healing, infections that don’t heal quickly, and allergies. Strengthening the immune system with proper nutrients can alleviate these potential issues.
Malnutrition. Lack of a proper diet with essential nutrients can lead to malnutrition. Despite the wide availability of commercially complete and balanced diets for dogs and cats, malnutrition still occurs. Unknowingly, pet owners that make home cooked meals for their puppies do not provide all the nutrients they need causing their puppy harm.
According to PetMd, dogs are considered puppies until they reach an adult size which is typically one year old for most dogs. At one year of age, you can typically start feeding your dog adult dog food, unless your veterinarian suggests otherwise.
If your puppy is developing too quickly and your veterinarian is concerned about health issues, you may need to stop providing puppy food sooner.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is a popular, highly rated puppy food formulated with proteins including buffalo and bison. This grain-free recipe also includes veggies such as peas and sweet potatoes and fruits that provide the highly-digestible energy and antioxidant support. This is a complete and balanced nutritious food that puppies crave!
Taste of Wild is a favorite of our staff. Dogs love the taste, it is highly nutritious and a favorite among pet owners. There has been some pet food recalls over the years, though.
Start your big puppy off right with the best dog food for Large Breed puppies. Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Puppy Health Lamb Meal & Oatmeal Recipe is formulated with a unique Digestive Health Support System, including active probiotics, healthy fiber, and digestive enzymes. It works to improve your puppies total health and digestive system.
If you have a large breed puppy such as a Great Dane, you may want to seriously consider a large breed puppy formula. Holistic is formulated specifically for the needs of a large breed puppy. Some puppies did not care for the taste of this formula. Other than that, this is a solid, quality puppy food.
Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Recipe is formulated to promote the unique health needs of smaller puppies.
Made with nutritious turkey, oatmeal, and salmon, the smaller kibble size is perfect for small breed puppies!
This formula contains an extra boost of glucosamine and Omega 3 fatty acids for a healthy coat. It’s a balanced blend of antioxidant-rich fruits & veggies and vitamins & minerals to help support healthy growth and encourage a healthy digestive system.
BLUE Basics makes this limited-ingredient diet formulated to minimize food sensitivities. This recipe is great for gentle digestion. Real turkey is the first ingredient in this recipe and potatoes are added which is an easily digestible carbohydrate. Since the puppy stage is important, this recipe features ingredients that support healthy growth and development.
If your new puppy is having digestive issues and loose stools, you may want to give this food a try. The limited ingredients may benefit a dog that is sensitive. Most consumers who have tried this formula say that it has helped their puppy significantly. However, a few picky eaters do not like the taste of this food.