So you just got a new puppy! Congratulations! Puppies make everything better in our lives, and there’s nothing that beats having a little wriggly ball of fur to keep you company. If there’s one thing that we can do to give back to our pets that add so much to our life, it’s setting them up for a lifetime of health and happiness by feeding them the best food. Today’s blog focuses on what your should keep in mind when choosing your puppy’s food.
Why Do Puppies Need Puppy Food?
You might be thinking, “Is it really necessary for me to feed my puppy special puppy food?” The answer is absolutely yes! Puppies have very different nutritional needs from adult dogs, so if you stocked up on regular dog food thinking it would be fine for your pup to eat, you’ll have to keep in in storage for a while. Not only do puppies need more calories compared to adult dogs, but they also need different ratios of nutrients like phosphorus, protein, fat, and calcium. Puppy foods are designed with these ratios in mind, so you won’t have to worry about anything going wonky with your puppy due to improper nutrient balance.
If you have a medium breed puppy (20-50 lbs when she’s fully grown), then you’ll be fine feeding your dog a generic puppy food, but if you have a small, toy, large, or extra-large breed puppy, you’ll have to take this into account when picking a puppy food.
- Small and Toy Breed: Small breed dogs need a more calorically dense food compared to medium and large breed dogs. Confused? Well, if you think about it, small dogs have very high metabolisms, but very small stomachs. Unless you want to be feeding your small breed puppy every other hour, you’ll need to find a high calorie food that packs plenty of energy into a small portion size. Not to mention the logistics of having a small breed puppy—their mouths are very small, so getting a small breed specific puppy food will ensure that your dog can actually fit the food comfortably in his mouth. Because small breed dogs also tend to dehydrate quicker than medium and large breed dogs, you might want to think about incorporating a wet puppy food into your dog’s diet, too.
- Large and Extra-Large Breed: Is your dog on the other end of the size spectrum? You’ll also need to get a large-breed specific puppy food for him. These dogs will actually need less calorie-dense foods. Again, this might seem counterintuitive, but large breed dogs are susceptible to joint and bone problems. If your dog grows faster than his bones and joints can keep up, there might be too much weight put on immature joints, which can lead to issues later in life. Large breed puppy foods have specially adjusted ratios of nutrients like phosphorus and calcium in order to slow the growth of your dog so that his joints can keep up. He’ll still reach his full size potential, just not as quickly as he would if he were fed a generic puppy food.
Nutrients to Look For
Which nutrients are most important for a developing dog? Here are a few that you’ll want to make sure your puppy’s food includes:
- DHA: This is important for healthy brain development. It’s an essential fatty acid that supports eye, ear and brain development. Studies have even shown that puppies who eat diets high in DHA have better memory and are more trainable, which is always a good thing!
- Instead of looking for specific nutrients, which can take a while, you can look for this phrase on your can or bag of puppy food:
- “(Name of Food) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth"
- This takes all of the guesswork out for you in wondering whether or not your puppy’s food will have all of the nutrients he needs. The AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, and they have certain requirements that foods must meet to be certified for growth. As long as your puppy’s food has this on the label, you won’t have to worry about trying to find every single vitamin, mineral, and macronutrient your puppy needs.
As always, consult your vet to discuss what food is going to be best for your growing pup. No two puppies are the same, so you’ll want to make sure you’re aware of all of your puppy’s specific needs before choosing a dog food. Once you know that, you’ll be able to start your dog off on the right paw by giving him a food that will nourish and fuel him to reach his full potential!