How to choose the right food for your puppy

Getting a new member of the family, no matter how hairy they are, is an exciting time. Their chubby cheeks, wrinkly skin, wet noses and that puppy breath is the perfect recipe to melt hearts. Having had my share of puppies in the household over the years, I know how much time we invest in trying to get everything right before they arrive. Making sure that we have the crate ready, appropriate chew toys, plenty of fluffy beds, and of course the right puppy food. There are so many choices out there for the latter though, so how should you go about finding the right food for your new best friend?

It is important to remember that puppies only get one chance to grow up, and we want to give them the best chance for a happy and healthy life. Not every puppy is the same though, and we need to keep a few things in mind when choosing the best diet for them. Let’s cover some of these important topics to help you choose the right pet food.

Why is nutrition important?

Puppies are growing inside and out. It is important to remember that they are still developing and require extra care, including what we feed them. Did you know that puppies require two to three times the amount of energy that an adult dog does to help them grow? This is why a diet formulated specifically for a puppy is important to make sure they are getting the energy and nutrients they need.

The right food, in the right amounts

Unlike adult dogs, puppies lack the ability to control how much they absorb from their food. This becomes important with certain minerals like calcium or phosphorus. While calcium and phosphorus are important to help their bones develop to be 4 times stronger than concrete, more isn’t better in this case. Too much calcium can result in abnormalities like curved bones leading to lifelong problems. Puppy diets are specially formulated to have the right amounts of all the vitamins and minerals they need to grow safely.

They all need milk, don’t they?

Puppies will drink milk from their mother until they are weaned, anytime from 4 to 8-weeks of age. This is a natural process as their bodies begin to accept solid foods around this same time. Puppies lose the ability to digest lactose around this same time of weaning. Therefore after 6 to 8-weeks, milk is no longer needed and can cause an upset tummy if it is continued to be fed.

Size Matters

Not all puppies will grow at the same speed. Did you know that giant breed dogs like a Great Dane will take up to 2-years to reach their adult weight and size? Compare that to a small breed dog like a Chihuahua which will be full-size between 8 and 10-months of age. As all breeds will have their own unique growth rates, it is important to support them with an appropriate diet throughout their whole growth period, no matter how long or short that is.

When do I need to change their food?

Once your puppy has reached their adult weight, then they should be transitioned onto an adult diet. As mentioned before, this timing is different for each breed, and a good question to ask your veterinarian. Additionally, getting your puppy spayed or neutered will reduce their energy requirements. A diet with lower amounts of energy, like a neutered diet, might be used before they stop growing to help prevent them from becoming overweight. It is important that any diet change be slow over 7 days, allowing them to adjust to their new food and helping prevent diarrhoea.

What should I look for in pet food?

There are three key questions you should consider for any pet food: Is it safe? Is it nutritious? Is there science behind it? Having a veterinary or animal nutritionist employed by the company is important to make sure that pet food is complete and balanced to safely support your puppy’s growth and development. You should be able to find out more information on whatever pet food you choose via their website or speaking to someone in the company that can help you answer these three questions.

Our dogs rely on us to look after them, and this starts from the very beginning. By making sure that you find the right food for your puppy, you will be able to help them with the best foundation possible for long and happy life with you. To find out more about specific diet recommendations for your puppy, make an appointment with your local veterinarian to determine that perfect fit.