Americans adopt over 3.3 million dogs from shelters each year. Bringing a puppy home is like bringing home a new family member. You make sure everything is perfect for them, from the best toys to water bottles for their walks.
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Like any good dog owner, you worry about your puppy’s nutritional needs as much as you worry about their happiness. But what exactly should you look for when you’re selecting dog food for your puppy? Read on to learn about finding the best dog food for puppies!
Yes! Puppies have unique nutritional needs since they grow at such a rapid pace. Adult dog food is formulated to provide the proper nutrition to dogs whose body isn’t changing and growing and simply cannot provide the same nutritional benefit puppy food can.
When you first start looking at puppy food, you’ll notice that there’s a broad price range for different brands of food. You might wonder why some food is so much more expensive than other brands. When it comes to puppy food, there is some truth to higher quality puppy being more expensive.
While price isn’t the be-all, end-all in terms of quality, puppy food that costs more tends to have higher nutritional values and better quality ingredients. Lower priced dog food has more filler ingredients, so you actually end up having to feed your dog more to meet his nutritional needs. Look for food that balances quality and price — you don’t need to buy the most expensive food on the market to keep your dog healthy.
Specifically, keep your dog’s breed size in mind when selecting a puppy food. Large breed dogs have completely different nutritional (and exercise) needs than small breed dogs, they even grow at completely different rates! Giant breed dogs like Great Danes can take up to two years to reach full size, while smaller breed dogs are done growing in less than a year.
Small and medium-sized dog breeds are well-suited for regular puppy food, but if you have a large or giant breed dog, you should feed them large breed puppy food. Large breed puppy food balances ingredients like calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and protein to help support proper growth and deter common ailments like hip dysplasia and wobbler syndrome.
Keep in mind, too, if you have a giant breed puppy, that they need to be fed puppy food for a longer period of time than you would feed a small or medium-sized breed of dog. This is because of their extended period of growth. Expect to keep them on puppy food for 1.5 to 2 years, depending on their size.
Why not both?
The battle between dry and wet food has been going for ages, but they both have their benefits. Dry dog food is great for your dog’s teeth and wet dog food is super tasty and helps picky eaters get their nutrition.
The truth is, a combination of both dry and wet food might work best for your puppy. Try picking a high-quality dry puppy food to serve as the main component of your dog’s meal, and then add a pour-over to boost nutritional content and make the meal feel like a treat!
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding grain-free dog food recently. Grain-free dog food is meant for dogs who have a sensitivity to grains, but it also works well for pet owners who want to make sure that their dogs aren’t getting food with a lot of filler. However, recent studies have linked a heart disease with the feeding of grain-free dog foods.
The heart disease, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), is caused by a lack of taurine that is found in grains, and it is primarily associated with specific breeds like Golden Retrievers, Boxers, and Doberman Pinschers. If you have one of these breeds, then be sure to select a dog food that contains grain.
You should keep in mind that the study lists brands, not individual types of dog food with DCM. The majority of the brands listed produce high-quality dog food, but if you’re concerned about the risk of your puppy developing DCM, then opt for a line of food from those manufacturers that contain grains. You can also buy grain-free dog food and add rice to your puppy’s food to make sure she’s getting the nutrition she needs from the grains.
When you’re poring over ingredient labels, the first thing you want to look at is the ingredients at the beginning of the list. These are the primary ingredients in the food, so you want to make sure the list doesn’t start with fillers like meat by-products, corn and rice bran, oat hulls, and cereal by-products.
Instead, look for whole-food ingredients like fresh meats, fish, fruits, and veggies. Still concerned about deceptive labels? You can actually make your own puppy food out of human food, but be sure to do your research on balancing their nutrients to help support their growth.
Over time, you might notice that your puppy is sensitive to their dog food. For example, if they’re becoming prone to hot spots, you might consider transitioning to grain-free dog food. If you suspect your puppy is having issues tolerating his puppy food, you should consult with your vet or your local holistic pet food store to see what your options are.
All the research in the world isn’t going to guarantee that your puppy will eat the food. Be prepared to try a few different types of foods if your puppy doesn’t automatically take to the first food you picked. Don’t forget pour-overs to help increase palatability and get your puppy excited for mealtime.
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