There's a dizzying selection of commercially prepared dog food for you to choose from today, and that's great news for Fido, but it can be very confusing for you!
Feeding a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to make sure that your puppy, or dog, stays strong and healthy.
So spending a little time on research, and choosing the right food, is very worthwhile.
This page will help you negotiate the dog food 'minefield' and get it right.
Use these 'quick links' to jump to what you're interested in or simply scroll down to get access to all the information:
By the time you're finished reading, you'll be armed with all the information you need to make the right choice of food for your pet.
Good nutrition will help a dog reach it's full potential both physically and mentally.
It fights diseases, minimizes allergies, prevents obesity and overall helps your pooch to live a longer, healthier and happier life.
With all this at stake, doesn't it make sense to be careful when choosing the dog food that your pet is going to eat?
Commercial dog food manufacturers who want to produce food that provides 'a complete and balanced diet' have to make sure their foods meet one of two basic standards - the adult dog food standard or the puppy food standard.
Get help finding the best food for your puppy on these pages...
These standards are set by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).
If a dog food says it is suitable 'for all life stages' it is required to meet the puppy food standard, which is the tougher of the two.
When choosing the brand or type of food to give your little one, all the hype and advertising slogans on those bags, cans and pouches can make it seem a little (or even a LOT) confusing.
Dog food advertising is designed to appeal to HUMANS - because we're the ones paying for it - and what's on the outside of the bag doesn't necessarily reflect what's on the inside!
To make it a bit easier to decide which dog food/s are right for your particular puppy or dog, I've tried to simplify the whole process a little bit. Here's what to look for -
You can learn how to analyze and compare the ingredients in any brand of dog or puppy food using an innovative comparison system on my Food Comparisons & Analysis page.... or compare the main ingredients and balance of nutritional elements in some popular brands on my Comparison Charts.
The dog food market today is becoming more and more diverse in terms of the different types of diets available, and the specialty formulas are increasing. All-natural, organic, hypo-allergenic, grain-free, vegetarian... there are a LOT of different choices.
This is great news for dogs, because the quality of the food they eat is SO important. For pets with food allergies or sensitivities, this is especially good because there's bound to be a food that will suit just about everyone.
Both these types of food can give your puppy/dog what he needs, and one is not necessarily better than the other.
Quality can vary enormously from brand to brand and whether you're feeding a dry, crunchy kibble or a soft, moist canned food, the quality of the ingredients is what counts.
Pay attention to what is IN the food you choose, not every dog food (even those that meet the AAFCO) is good enough... far from it in fact!
So, in my opinion the bottom line is that which type of food you choose, dry or canned, depends mostly on the size/age/health of your puppy or dog and on your budget.
There's no one-size-fits-all formula to help you decide which is best, it's more weighing up the pros and cons and taking into account your budget, lifestyle and personal preferences.
Whichever you go for, just look carefully at the ingredients to make sure that they fit they the criteria of a premium food. If you take time to browse through all the pages on my site that talk about feeding your dog properly you'll find all the information you need to make that decision.
Not so long ago there were far fewer dog food choices, and most dogs and puppies ate basically the same food.
Today, the industry is much more specialized as scientists and nutritionists have come to realize that different dogs have different nutritional needs.
You'll find puppy and adult food for large breeds, small breeds; giant breeds; senior dogs; active dogs; overweight dogs; dogs with certain medical conditions; breed-specific dog foods and much more.
Each group has very unique and individual requirements which need to be met if they're to stay healthy. The following is a brief overview of just a few of those different needs -
See the 'Report Card' for dozens of popular and premium dog foods on the market.
When you're trying to figure out how much to feed your puppy or dog, to begin with it's best to follow the guidelines on the bag or can of your chosen brand.
The amount recommended is usually based on your puppy's age and weight, and is calculated according to recommended calorie intake.
It's very important to bear in mind that your pup will need less of a good quality, nutrient-dense, complete food than he will of a low quality one which is mostly 'filler'.
Because of this, cheaper foods of inferior quality don't work out less expensive in the long term. In addition to needing to feed more food per pound of your dog's weight, you may also find yourself paying higher veterinary bills to treat all sorts of health conditions caused by poor nutrition.
Every puppy is different and little Fido may need more or less than the average recommended amount. The best way to figure out how much to feed your puppy is to get a good estimate of the number of calories he needs per day, and to choose a food specifically formulated for his age/size. You can find all the information you need about this on my How Much To Feed Your Dog page.
If you want your puppy to grow up with good eating habits do not free feed (that is, leave his food bowl down and filled at all times). This can lead to all sorts of problems such as obesity, picky eaters, food guarding, housebreaking problems and more.
Instead, divide his daily food requirements by the number of meals he's eating per day and put his food bowl down at set times of the day. Leave it down for 10 to 15 minutes and then pick it up even if he hasn't eaten it all.
If Fido has gobbled the whole lot down in 2 minutes flat each time, you probably need to go ahead and increase the amount a little. Alternatively, if he's consistently leaving some food uneaten you need to decrease the amount just a bit.
The only real exception to the 'no free feeding' rule concerns extra-large or giant breeds, especially those who have deep chests (such as Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds etc.).
That's because gobbling down food too quickly can increase the likelihood of a dog developing canine bloat, and 'dhow hound' dogs are less inclined to eat this way if they have food freely available to them.
You'll soon find out what he needs, but be warned - like children puppies go through growth spurts and these needs will change often.
An adult dog is likely to be more consistent about how much food he wants/needs. But dogs of different sizes, ages, breeds and activity levels may vary quite a bit from each other - in terms of nutritional requirements and the amount they eat.
If you follow the advice on this page then you can feel comfortable that you're doing your best to give your pup or dog the nutrition he needs to stay healthy and strong.
When you look at him you'll know you've got it right if his eyes are bright, his coat is shiny, and he's full of energy and bursting with happiness!