How do I pick the best puppy food for my new puppy?

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Answered by: Megan, An Expert in the Care for Dogs and Puppies Category
A Guide to Picking the Right Dog Food for Your New Puppy

So you've made the decision to get a new puppy. Congratulations! Just like with a new baby, it is essential to ensure proper nourishment for this newest member of your family so that it can grow up to be healthy, happy, and strong. This can be a difficult decision to make; after all, there are so many products and brands out there. So how do you know which is the best puppy food for your puppy?

First off, it's important to understand what makes puppy food different from typical adult dog food. Puppies grow quickly — both in physical size and developmentally — and therefore need more of certain nutrients than adult dogs might in order to be properly nourished. Puppy foods contain more of these necessary nutrients, and the best puppy foods strike the best balance between what puppies need and what they may not need as much of. Puppy food generally has more calories than adult dog food, as puppies spend a lot of calories simply on growing up. It is generally recommended that a dog is fed puppy food for the first year of its life.

Now it's important to determine which of the multitudes of dog food brands have the best food for your puppy. The first thing to look at on puppy food packaging is the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) nutritional adequacy statement. This ensures that the food has been tested and proven to meet basic nutritional standards.

It is also important to remember that what might be the best food for a large breed dog such as a Saint Bernard, may not be the best for a small dog like a Chihuahua because they grow at such different rates. Also, the size of the breed plays a factor in what nutrients may be necessary for the long-term health of the dog. For example, a large breed of dog is more susceptible to joint issues later in life, so a specific ratio of calcium to phosphorous is necessary for proper joint development. Therefore, it's important to be informed of the specific needs of your puppy's breed in order to make note on which dog foods contain the proper nutrients. By the same token, it's also important to consider the size of the kibble or chunk (with wet dog food) and what is appropriate for your puppy's size.

To ensure that your puppy is getting the best possible nutrition, it's important to look beyond AAFCO requirements. Sure, if a food is not AAFCO-approved, it's likely not a good choice. But if it is, it's a good idea to look a little bit deeper than that. The ingredients are likely the best indication of a puppy food's quality. Your puppy will thrive on food that is rich in meat-based protein and quality carbohydrates. Many generic brand foods are loaded with starches and corns and lower-quality carbohydrates like wheat whereas some of the higher quality foods get carbohydrates from oats, barley, and rice. A decent puppy food also contains around 15 to 20 percent fats and preservatives to give your puppy energy and to keep its coat shiny and healthy, as well as adequate vitamins and minerals to help with basic body functions.

Of course, getting a professional's opinion never hurts, either. Contact your new puppy's vet for an expert look at your puppy's individual needs and an informed recommendation for what might be the puppy food that suits your puppy the best. Your puppy deserves the best nutrition to grow up healthy and strong, so you can enjoy making fun memories with your new furry pal for as long as possible.

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