There’s an old saying that “you are what you eat.” This is true for puppies, too. If you want your puppy to grow up to be a healthy adult dog, then it’s important to start him off right with a good puppy diet. This introduction to puppy feeding should help you choose a proper diet for your puppy.
Your puppy will be growing rapidly during the first year of his life so it’s particularly important that he receive the right balance of vitamins and minerals in his diet. You should try to feed your puppy a very good quality food at this time with good quality protein. Not all protein is the same so even if a puppy food looks like it has a high percentage of protein, it could come from a less desirable source. For instance, even an old leather shoe contains protein but it certainly wouldn’t make a nutritious meal for your puppy!
Puppies will do well on a protein percentage that is around 22 to 27 percent on a dry weight basis, though some people will feed a slightly higher percentage. Large and giant breed puppies should always stay on the lower percentage side to prevent rapid growth. Rapid growth in these breeds as puppies can predispose them to musculoskeletal problems such as hip dysplasia as adults.
You don’t have to feed your puppy a grain free diet but the trend today is toward dog foods that have lower carbs. Dogs (and puppies) are able to digest carbohydrates much better than wolves but they don’t need them in large amounts. (Technically they don’t need carbs at all but carbs do provide some nutrition in the diet and keep a dog from getting hungry again right away.) Many of the grain free dog and puppy foods contain better quality ingredients than some of the supermarket foods that have a lot of carbs.
The calcium percentage in puppy food is also very important since it relates to bone development. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in the United States recommends 1 to 2.5 percent. Large and giant breeds should have a food that with a calcium percentage that is at the lower end of this range to keep bones from growing too rapidly.
Puppy foods are suggested to have a fat percentage between 9 and 12 percent. Puppies should stay slim and active. If puppies are allowed to become overweight or roly-poly, the excess weight can cause joint problems later in life. Keep your puppy slim and fit. Obesity in pets is a worldwide problem.
Finally, always feed puppies a food that is approved for growth or an all life stage food. These are the only foods that provide the acceptable level of vitamins and minerals your puppy needs. Other diets will not meet his growth needs.
As you can see, you will need to look at the label on pet foods in order to see what’s in them and in what percentages. You can also check a manufacturer’s web site. Most of them will list the ingredients and nutritional information for their foods.