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How To Make The Best Puppy Food Choices

puppy with dog food bowl

Making the best puppy food choices can be a real challenge, but if trying to decide what's right for your new pup has you thoroughly confused, don't worry...

..... it's easier when you know exactly what your puppy needs and what to look for in a food, and you can find that information right here!

The sheer number of different brands and formulas on the market, the claims of the manufacturers, plus conflicting, recommendations from experts and other dog owners all add up to a dizzying amount of information to process.

You want to do what's best for your puppy, and you know that what he eats is going to have a big impact on his future health.

So let me help you make sure that you pick the right food for your individual puppy without wasting a whole lot of time, effort and money in the process....

Best Puppy Food Ingredients

The most important thing to know about the puppy food you choose is what's in it!

The manufacturing process, and how the food is stored, also play a role, but the ingredients are the key to a good food, for puppies or dogs.

There are certain ingredients you want to see in a puppy food and others you don't. The best puppy food choices 'get it right'.

Ingredients you want.....

  • whole meat and grains that are 'human-grade' (USDA Grade A for meat, and USDA Grade 1 for grains). Organic, holistic or all-natural ingredients are also good.

  • The first ingredient should be an identifiable animal-based protein such as Chicken or Lamb (but not by-products). Chicken meal is fine.

  • Whole grains come next and the best ones include rice, maize, buckwheat and oats

  • Fats should come from a clearly labeled source ie. chicken fat, or vegetable oil (beef tallow is not acceptable)

  • Other ingredients which you want to see include Vitamins A, C and E, pro-biotics or microbials, Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils

Ingredients you don't want.....

  • No pesticides, antibiotics or growth hormones should have been used in any ingredients

  • No BHA (Butylated Hydroxysanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), Ethoxyquine (a preservative), Propylene Glycol, Hydrochloric Acid, synthetic Vitamin K (Menadione Sodium Bisulfite) or artifical flavors or colors

  • No blanket terms such as 'animal fat', 'by-products'

  • No sugar

  • No beef bone-meal or meat bone-meal, no grain hulls, no cellulose

Puppy Food Labels and Nutritional Information

measuring out puppy foo

When you're sorting through the best puppy food choices, it's not just the ingredient lists you need to look at.

Commercial dog food and puppy food are regulated by the AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) and you need a food that adheres to the standards set by AAFCO.

There are two different types of wording that you may see on a bag of puppy food...

  • '(Name of dog food) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food nutrient profiles for puppies.' This means that the food has undergone certain tests (such as chemical analysis and nutrient calculations) to make sure it meets the AAFCO requirements.

  • 'Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (name of dog food) provides complete and balanced nutrition for puppies.' This means that it's been evaluated using feeding trials to ensure adequate levels of nutrition that don't need supplementation.

Neither of these statements guarantee that a food is nutritionally complete, right for your pup, or that it's one of the best puppy food choices you can make.. but any food you consider needs to have them there at a minimum!

European dog food regulations are tougher than those here in the US.

Puppy foods that meet the 'APHIS' (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) guidelines are acceptable for export to Europe and should be of a superior nutritional quality.

You may also see this 'complete and balanced for growth'.. this means it's a food for puppies rather than for adult dogs.

How Do I Pick The Best Puppy Food For MY Pup?

Not all puppies are created equal (in physical size anyway!) and there's a HUGE variation in size between the smallest, and largest dog breeds.

Because of this, and because big dogs and small dogs mature at entirely different rates, your puppy has his own individual nutritional needs.

Most of the best puppy food choices are designed to meet these very specific demands, and are formulated with small, medium, or large sized puppies in mind.

A puppy of a mid-sized breed will have more moderate needs than his extra big or extra small counterparts. This is what you need to know.....

  • Medium sized breeds - A puppy who's going to mature to somewhere between 20 and 50lbs would be considered a 'middle sized' dog breed, and these pups won't have the special needs that extra-small, or extra-large, puppies do. The best puppy food for them will contain an approx. 22 - 25% protein and 8 - 10% fat .

  • Small/toy breeds - Small breeds (pretty much any dog that will mature to be under 20lbs) usually have a high metabolic rate, but tiny tummies! This means that they need to eat more often than larger breeds as they can only ingest so much at one sitting. They need a food with more calories and fat than a large breed pup.

    A small breed pup needs almost twice as many calories per pound, per day, than a large breed pup of the same age. The best puppy food for small breed puppies should have a minimum of 15% fat.

    Tiny breed pups also tend to get dehydrated more quickly, so adding a little premium quality canned puppy food (which has a much higher water content than dry puppy kibble) is a good idea if you have a 'little tyke'!

  • Large/giant breeds - These big puppies grow at a phenomenal rate, and they have very special nutritional needs. Too much protein, or too high levels of particular minerals can cause bone/joint problems. For a large breed puppy the best puppy food will have somewhere around 23 - 25% protein, and between 12 and 15% fat. Calcium should be no more than 1.5%

As well as having individual formulas, the best puppy food choices that have been designed for different sized breeds will have pieces that are the appropriate size too!

row of puppies of different breed

The small breed puppy food will have tiny pieces that are easy for these little guys to chew, swallow and digest.

The large breed puppy foods have bigger pieces so that your big boy (or girl) won't inhale, or choke on them.

Making sure your pup gets a premium food with the right balance of nutrition for his size/breed not only keeps him happy and healthy - but it can have a real impact on the long-term quality, and even the length, of his life.

So, although deciding which are the best puppy food choices for your little one can take time and effort, it's most definitely worth it!

Related pages............

› Best Puppy Food Choices

› Best Puppy Food Choices

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