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If you were to walk up to 20 people, it wouldn’t matter if they were vets, trainers, or just pet owners, and ask them which puppy food they thought was best you’d probably get 20 different answers. Whenever you try to find the “best” of something you run up against the issue of opinion. One person believes one thing, and someone else knows something else to be true. Who’s to say who’s right or wrong? The easiest way to approach finding the “best” puppy food is by doing two things. One, talk to your vet; and two, figure out what good characteristics your “best” puppy food needs to have.
With a thriving industry, makers of dog and puppy food are creating more varieties of puppy chow than ever before. Gluten-free, lactose-free, wet, dry, raw; the options are seemingly endless. So which formulas are worth the hype and which ones are falling flat?
Your puppy needs good food and lots of it. During the puppy stage of his life he’s going to need a balanced diet to nurture his growing bones, teeth, muscle, to maintain his hair coat, and allow for developing organs. He also needs enough energy to see him through days of playing and exploring. It’s a pretty tall order.
How Much Should You Feed Your Puppy
Let’s start with the numbers. Your puppy might be little, but he needs a lot of energy to power his growth spurts and transition into adulthood. From the time you bring him home to when he turns 20-weeks-old, your puppy is going to shoot up like a weed, and he’ll be relying on you to provide his body with fuel for this exciting time of his life. During this phase of a puppy’s life, medium-sized dogs, such as spaniels and setters, require approximately 3 ½ lbs. of dry food to put on one pound of body weight. Large breeds require slightly less, smaller breeds a little more.
If you’ve brought home a large or giant breed puppy, we recommend checking out a large breed puppy food formulated especially for their needs. These foods tend to limit calories by cutting back on fat, making the overall formula have a lower nutrient density. This will help to keep your puppy growing at a consistent rate as opposed to sudden and expected growth spurts. Rapid growth can exacerbate degenerative hip problems or joint disease. Although hip dysplasia is a genetic problem, overfeeding at a young age can contribute to it.
Overfeeding is a serious problem for puppies, and one of the most popular culprits of puppy obesity through overfeeding is free feeding. Free feeding is what it is called when you leave a large bowl of puppy food available to your puppy at all times. This also includes automatic feeders that automatically replenish themselves. Free feeding can have serious lifelong negative health effects on your puppy and is discouraged by most vets.
How Often Should You Feed Your Puppy
Your vet will need to weigh in on this, but most breeds do well with a three or four times a day feeding schedule. The amount of food you serve at each meal and the number of meals you serve each day will change as your puppy grows. Luckily, nearly every bag of dog food has a chart on the back that allows you to calculate how many cups of food your puppy should get at each meal based on his current weight. You’ll need to do a little math to find your final amount depending on how many times a day you plan on feeding your puppy.
What Should Your Puppy Food be Made of
Most vets agree that a “good” puppy food will contain at least 30% protein, but beyond that, your puppy’s food can be up to you to determine. This might seem silly, but a good guiding principle to finding high-quality puppy food is that if you wouldn’t eat the ingredients, then neither should your dog.
Here are some ingredients that you should try to avoid:
- Poultry by-products
- Artificial colors
- Artificial flavors
Here are some ingredients that most of the “best” dog foods include:
- Real lean meat- chicken, lamb, duck
- Carbs- rice, potato, oats
- Sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals
Taking Care of Your Puppy With PetPlace
At the end of the day, what your puppy eats is up to you. We encourage you to dig around and sniff out the right fit for your pup. Remember, you might not get it right the first time, so maybe start by only bringing home small bags of kibble. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your vet for recommendations, they’ll be able to factor in your puppy’s individual needs and help you find your perfect puppy food match.