Finding the best dog food for puppies can be a challenging task. It’s hard enough to worry about whether your untrained pup is about to tear apart your favorite pair of flip-flops without also worrying about whether they’re getting the nutrients they need. With all of the options stocking the shelves, how do you ensure that you’re buying the best food to keep your puppy fit and full of energy?
Don’t Cut Calories
Puppies are growing fast, and tearing around your home all day takes a lot of energy. So puppies need more calories than adult dogs, a fact which should reflect in their diet.
“They have a faster metabolism,” said Arlianne Velez, a doctor of veterinary medicine. “So if you have a faster metabolism and you’re growing really fast, you need more nutrients…puppies are running around and jumping around. They’re burning calories so fast.”
For large-breed dogs, focus on a food with a lower calorie density, which helps puppies to grow at a slower and steadier rate. To do this, select foods with high protein content but lower fat content. For smaller-breed dogs, which are generally more active and eat less, scan the shelves for a food with a slightly higher fat content that will give them the extra calories they need to play through the day.
Pack It with Protein
For puppies, protein is essential because it helps with tissue growth.
According to Dr. Velez, proud puppy owners should look for pet food with about 20-30% protein, but the amount of protein that your puppy needs will vary depending on the size and breed of the dog.
There’s no single super-ingredient when it comes to a protein source. Whether you choose to feed your pup chicken, lamb, beef or salmon, what’s important is that your latest furry addition is piling on the protein.
Keep Up the Calcium
Especially for puppies of a larger breed, make sure that the calcium content of your puppy food is about 20% higher than the phosphorous content. An excess of calcium, without the phosphorous to balance it out, can cause abnormal bone development in puppies, according to food scientist Kasra Farsad.
Avoid Ash, Adult Dog Food and People Food
Ash, which is usually processed bone and other content that is non-digestible, doesn’t give puppies those key nutrients and can also keep your pet from digesting the nutrients that they do need. While ash content is difficult to detect on a pet food label, Farsad suggests steering clear of pet food with a high protein content and a comparably high fat content, which indicates a lower-grade meat.
Also avoid feeding your puppies people food, because the way humans cook food doesn’t usually agree with a dog’s stomach. Adult dog food should also be banned from your puppy’s bowl, since adult dog food generally has fewer nutrients and calories and less protein than a puppy needs.
“Adult dog food is going to have a lot of deficiencies…and your puppy isn’t going to grow and it’s not going to be as healthy as it’s supposed to be,” Dr. Velez explained.
Puppy Food May Vary by Puppy
All puppies are different. So there are few hard-and-fast rules regarding your puppy’s food. If you have questions regarding the amount of calories, protein and other nutrients that you should be feeding your new pet, ask your veterinarian.
Finding the right pet food will pay off in the form of a healthy and happy pup. Shop smart, and enjoy this special time in your puppy’s development.
They grow up so fast.