How To Set Healthy Food Habits For Your Pup
When it comes to food shopping for your puppy, opt for a high-quality commercial kibble thats specifically designed for its growing needs. Most brands list puppy breeds and size details on the packaging, making it easier to narrow down your options. But before you add your pups food to your cart, scan the back of the bag, box or can for an AAFCO seal of approval, which means it has been thoroughly researched and tested for nutritional adequacy. Large, commercial-grade companies employ full-time veterinarians, full-time Ph.D.s, and its their job to make sure their diet meets all your pets needs, says Dr. Fox.
If youre planning on introducing your puppy to table food, Dr. Fox warns its a complete no-no! I wouldnt recommend that as a normal diet, she says. Its not a complete and balanced diet, and its not something that should be used to feed your dog throughout its life because your dog will definitely be deprived of nutrients and vitamins it needs. Table food can also cause gastro-intestinal upsets and pancreatic issues that can inadvertently lead to toxicity over the course of your puppys life, so youre better off sticking with wet and dry food options from large pet food brands.
Dr Marty Freeze Dried Dog Food
Image courtesy Dr. Marty
Dr. Marty’s Nature’s Blend is a nutritional supplement that aims to aid your dog’s youthful vitality, simple digestion, healthy teeth and skin, mobility, and long life. Each batch is made from high-quality meats, veggies, fruit and seeds with zero artificial preservatives, fillers, or synthetic additives.
Wolf Cub Bison & Oatmeal Puppy By Solid Gold
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% maxMOISTURE 10.0% max
Moving down the list of best dog foods for puppies, lesser-known among pet owners, Solid Gold deserves mention on the list as much as any others we’ve already picked out.
The company has a great reputation, albeit not very popular, and their pet foods are often made without any grains, gluten, meat by-products, corn, soy, wheat, or other fillers.
It’s the USA-made dog food for puppies with an average protein amount designed to fit dogs of all ages.
That said, the reason it’s ranked as the fourteenth brand even though it’s cheaper than a few above-mentioned formulas is that all life stages may not always be a great fit for puppies.
There are some talks regarding this among veterinarians, and you’d better consult your vet, too.
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Complete And Balanced Dog Foods
One of the first things you should look for on a dog food label is the statement is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles. This isnt just an advertising slogan. The Association of American Feed Control Officials has strict requirements to make sure that a product is in fact complete and balanced for dogs . Complete and balanced diets must contain the minimum amount of all of the nutrients necessary for dogs, which is also indicated in the guaranteed analysis. This analysis gives the minimum amount of crude protein and fat, along with the maximum amounts of water and crude fiber. The analysis does not, however, give the exact amount of these components, which means there is room for considerable variation. The manufacturers average nutrient profile is often a better tool for evaluating a product.
You can always contact the dog food company directly to get more information about its product. A reputable company that has your dogs interests at heart should be happy to answer your questions and in many cases will give you more information than what is available on the website or product label. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has a helpful sheet with questions you can ask a company representative.
The Best Dry Dog Food For Puppies
Puppy dry dog food is easy to store, and can be purchased in large quantities. If youve got an enthusiastic eater on your hands, dry kibble can be a lifesaver. Safe preservatives keep it shelf-stable. Do check the use-by date on the package, and store in a cool, dry place to maintain freshness.
The other dry food options listed among our recommendations are also great choices. These two hadnt been mentioned yet, however, and they certainly deserve inclusion.
Victor pet foods are sourced and made in the U.S. and boast a composition of 77% meat protein. This grain-free recipe is marketed for sensitive stomachs, thanks to Victors proprietary blend of supplements including prebiotics, probiotics, and selenium yeast. This particular food is good for adult dogs as well as puppies.
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Best Puppy Food For Small Breeds: Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food
Small breeds make for even cuter puppies because of their tiny size and big personalities. To support the nutritional needs of extra small, small, and toy breeds, you need a formula that features all the proteins, minerals, and vitamins needed to support them as they grow. These small-sized, tasty kibbles are designed for tiny teeth and picky eaters. If your puppy has an expected adult weight between nine and 22 pounds, this puppy dog food is ideal. Its tailor-made for puppies up to 10 months old because it meets the high energy needs of a small breed dog during their short yet intense growth period. Your tiny pup will get the immune support he needs along with an exclusive blend of antioxidants and vitamins. Plus, this formula promotes healthy digestion through highly digestible proteins and probiotics. Your pup gets to enjoy delicious flavors with this formula thats easy on his digestive system.
Should I Feed My Dog Wet Or Dry Food
Again, there is no cut and dry answer to this question because every dogs dietary requirements are slightly different. When it comes to choosing between wet dog food and dry kibble, there are numerous factors to consider. You must think about cost, convenience, quality, digestibility, and palatability. By comparing and contrasting these factors, you can make the right choice for your dog.
In terms of cost, dry food is generally the most cost-effective option based on serving size. Keep in mind, however, that the cost of dry food goes up with quality. If youre feeding your dog a bottom-shelf product, it will be much cheaper than a top-shelf product. You should also consider the convenience factor. Dry food is more shelf-stable after the package has been opened and you have the option of filling your dogs bowl with an entire days worth of food without worrying that it will go bad.
Quality is a major factor to consider with any dog food, wet or dry. The cost of either type of food will go up as you increase the quality. Digestibility is also a concern. If your dog has dental problems or certain health issues, wet food may be easier to eat and to digest because it is soft and because the moisture content is higher than for dry food. Dry food does, however, have the advantage of helping scrape plaque and tartar off your dogs teeth and it is generally easy to digest as long as it is made from high-quality ingredients.
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Best Overall: Purina Pro Plan
Wide range of formulas for all life stages
Brand employs team of nutritionists and vets
Products made in USA
Can be pricey
Purina Pro Plan offers more than 80 dog food varieties and Dr. Frione often recommends them for her patients. In addition to wet and dry options, Purina Pro Plan formulas include food nutritionally designed for adult dogs, puppies of various sizes, senior dogs, and specialized diet support for overweight dogs, sensitive stomachs, and more.
Various formulas also include up-to-the-minute nutritional research, incorporating ingredients such as gut-health promoting probiotics, vitamin A and omega-6 fatty acids that can help promote a healthy coat. Purina Pro Plan’s puppy formula incorporate extra calcium for bone health, while its “Performance” formula for active dogs incorporates a 30% / 20% blend of protein and fat, designed to maintain lean muscle mass.
In addition to well-researched and certified formulations, Purina Pro Plan also incorporates high quality ingredients, with real meat often appearing as the top ingredient.
Purina Pro Plan dog food meets FDA regulatory standards, and also adheres to nutritional guidelines laid out by the Association of American Feed Control Officials . The brand also uses responsibly sourced ingredients and makes 99% of its pet products in Purina-owned facilities in the United States.
Be Careful About Which Puppy Food You Choose
With all the above considered, and if you follow the outlined criteria that we’ve used to pick these puppy foods, you’ll be able to pick and choose your own formulas that will be specifically designed for your own puppy’s growth and contain only high-quality ingredients.
In summary, it’s important to reiterate how every dog is different, and you should always seek the best food for your individual pup.
With so many variables to account for, its generally impossible to pick an ideal puppy food brand that would be the optimal choice for all dogs .
Instead, what you can do is consider your personal situation, all the puppy food ranking criteria mentioned above, pay attention to organizational requirements, and use your critical thinking.
Heres the formula I recommend you use if you want to choose your own puppy foods
Personalize + Critical Assessment + Requirements + Company’s Reputation = Best Puppy Food
This should give you a good start, and you can do your own due diligence.
That way, you know that you’ve chosen something good for your specific puppy rather than rely on something that may be.
To wrap this up, for pet owners who are looking for a selection of top-rated foods for puppies in one place, after doing hundreds of dog food reviews myself and getting help from other experts to plow through hundreds of puppy foods available today, we have managed to make a list of twenty-five dog foods for puppies, listed below.
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Criteria For Ranking The Best Puppy Food
Ultimately, from an objective point of view, there’s an abundant amount of criteria to consider to picking a good puppy food in any category.
But according to research, canine nutritionist, and veterinarians, ten factors will help you determine the best dog food for puppies.
In order of importance, use this to pick your ideal puppy food:
Other criteria can and should be considered, but the above ten factors will bring up some of the top-rated puppy foods with great quality ingredients and are safe for puppies.
Use the above criteria to find the best dog food for puppies yourself, or scan through our list below for recommendations.
Value. Although we believe that reputation and quality should always be primary considerations, we know that for most pet parents, cost and value for money are also deciding factors when choosing puppy food.
Ingredients To Choose And A Few Claims To Avoid
Just like human food, the ingredients listed on dog food packaging are ordered from the highest components used to smaller amounts by the end of the list. Following this logic, looking for real meat at the top of the ingredient list is key.
Rachel Beck, Certified Veterinary Technician at Banfield Pet Hospital, says, Quality pet foods contain a scientifically balanced ratio of ingredients that delivers key nutrients, protein, vitamins and minerals, critical carbohydrates, and more. And ideally, they come in a flavor and form that your pet will enjoy. She adds that pet labels can have by-products, and some of them are actually healthy for your pet. For example, beet pulp, tomato pomace, and certain organ meats can be a good source of nutrients and protein in pet food.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration determines guidelines for healthy dog and cat foods, just like they do for humans, and the Association of American Feed Control Officials also gives consumers guidelines, such as this report on selecting the right pet food. But this doesnt mean all claims on dog foods are true. Beck says you can ignore labels such as gourmet, holistic and similar terms because they are simply marketing tools and not regulated by a governing body overseeing the meaning of such terms.
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Rachael Ray Nutrish Hearty Beef Stew
Hearty Beef Stew is one of 6 wet recipes included in our review of the Rachael Ray product line.
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken broth, beef, chicken, dried egg product, egg white
- Type: Grain-free
- Best for:All puppies including large breeds
Rachael Ray Nutrish Hearty Beef Stew acquires the better part of its animal protein from fresh beef, fresh chicken,dried egg product, and egg whites. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 41% protein, 23% fat and 28% estimated carbs delivering a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.
This fully balanced formula contains zinc amino acid complex and 3 other chelated minerals superior nutritional supplements typically found in higher quality dog foods.
Budget priced. Highly recommended.
Sample buyer reviewI think Ive finally found the perfect food for my two shih tzus. They are both very picky eaters and one was constantly itching and licking her paws. I believe the grain free food has helped tremendously in stopping the itching. I use both the Rachael Ray grain free dry and wet food for them and watch them clean their bowls every time. Great stuff!
Wellness Core Large Breed Puppy Food Dry
The Wellness CORE range almost exclusively on most of our dog food related buyers guides and with good reason, they make quality food with proper ingredients which are super tasty and super healthy in this case, we wanted to highlight their chicken flavour designed for large breeds.
Grain-free, hypoallergenic and with meat as the number 1 source this is pretty close to what a puppy would need if they were in the wild as it supports their massive growth period. Despite being chicken-based, Wellness has thrown in salmon oil to ensure their joints get plenty of attention as well as their eyes and brain.
The kibble is bigger for larger jaws but still easy to chew and swallow. The flavour is good enough to be eaten on its own or mixed in with your choice of wet food if theyre a little on the fussy side.
The price is above average but the quality is also above average so you really do get what you pay for your loved puppy. Highly recommended puppy food.
IngredientsCOMPOSITION: Chicken 61% , Peas, Dried Potatoes, Beet Pulp 4%, Full-fat Linseed, Salmon Oil 2%, Carrots, Apples, Dried Chicory Root 0,5% , Yeast Extract 0,5%, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Spinach, Cranberries, Blueberries, Glucosamine Hydrochloride 100 mg/kg, Chondroitin Sulfate 100 mg/kg, Yucca Schidigera.
Wagg is somewhat of a household name that provides adequate nutrition for those on a budget. No artificial, colours or flavours included and overall its a pretty healthy mix for any pup big or small.
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Sportsmans Pride Professional Formula 30/20
Sportsmans Pride is a dog food line geared towards canine athletes and is billed as supportive of the endurance and energy requirements of working dogs and active pups.
While that sounds good, we need to take a look at the recent recall of one of its products and the ingredients it contains.
On June 3, 2021, the FDA issued an alert regarding one lot of Professional Formula 30/20. Sunshine Mills, Inc., which manufactures Sportsmans Pride and the brands Sprout, Intimidator, and FRM Gold Select , issued a voluntary recall of this recipe for potential salmonella contamination.
But looking past the recall alert, wed have to say that this recipe doesnt meet our standards either. The main ingredient in this food is chicken byproduct meal, a rather dubious ingredient with regards to quality.
Chicken byproduct can mean any leftover part of the chicken, and not just its organs. With quality recipes, manufacturers generally state chicken liver, chicken heart, and so on.
When a manufacturer lists byproduct only, that means its probably a combination of a lot of unsavory things that wont sound as good when listed down and specified.
Lastly, this food uses more carbs than protein to supply the energy needs of dogs because there are three grain and corn ingredients within the first five slots.
The potential for contamination was noted after a sample of 5 lb. Sprout Sporting Dog Food product was collected and tested positive for salmonella during routine surveillance.
Ultimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Complete
Image courtesy Ultimate Pet Nutrition
Nutra Complete is a high-quality supplement containing nutrient-dense vegetables and necessary vitamins freeze-dried raw for maximum nutrition. Each delicious bite includes 40 ultra healthy compounds that boost energy, digestion, coat, and longevity.
Nutra Complete may be used as a mixer to boost the amount of freeze-dried raw food in your dog’s diet if you don’t want to replace their current food. To avoid overeating, merely reduce the amount of your dog’s meal and add the required quantity of Nutra Complete instead of overfeeding.
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