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What is the best dog food for my puppy?

Updated on May 13, 2011
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Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing, and healthcare.

Dog Food

In general the best food to feed a puppy is going to be a premium brand dry food. A puppy would need to eat a one and a half times semi-moist food, or even twice as much can food to get the same nutritional value as in dry food.

Dry dog food will, also, help a puppy's teeth. Where can and moist food can soften the teeth.

When chosing a new dog food brand, make sure to gradually change your dog, or puppy, over to the new brand by adding it to the previous brand, It should take about a week, give or take, to fully graduate your canine to the new premium dog food brand of your choice.

Premium Dog Food

As for brand, you want to stick with a premium dog food brand, meaning no grocery store brands. That does not mean that you can't purchase good, or decent, food at a grocery store. It means you want to stay away from brans like Alpo and store brand items.

The premium brands include Hill's Science Diet, Nutro Natural Choice, Castor and Polluc, Natural Balance, Solid Gold, Wellness, EVO, and other natural dog food brands. These are readily available at many pet stores.

By purchasing a premium dog food, your dog will get less fillers and more nutrition from each and every bite. Less fillers, also, means that the dog will not need to eat as much to get the same nutrition, meaning less goes in, so less comes out.

Premium dog foods ensure that your dog is getting the best foods that you can afford. But many premium brands can be pricey. Do not purchase Purina Puppy Chow, Purina Beneful, Alpo, Ole Roy, Pedigree, etc.

Dog Food Ingredients

You do want to check the back label of a dog brand that you're not sure of. Make sure that the first ingredient is not a filler such as corn, grain, or something therein. But, if the label reads a rice and chicken flavor, you might see rice as the first ingredient; in this case, you want to check the other ingredients in the top 5, making sure that the second ingredient is a protein based ingredient.

You want the first ingredient to be a meat product, like chicken, beef, pork, etc.

In terms of the first ingredient being a meat, you still have to be careful as to what the ingredient actually is. You don't want the first ingredient to be (for example) "poultry" becuase you still don't know what it is. Poultry is a broad category of bird and could include many things. You don't want you pup eating beaks and feet.

You also want to make sure that the dog food does not contain by-products, such as "beef by-product," or meal, such as "meat meal."

Not to call out a few brands, but Beneful, although it looks health and inviting, really isn't. The first few ingredients are a grain or filler. Kibbles and Bits, Alpo, and Puppy Chow, are all along the same or similar tract.

So, if you're not sure, check the label. You carefully read what is in the food that you eat, so you should do the same for your dog.

Dog Food Kibble Size

If you've found the brand you want to use, but are still confused about what kind to get. There are going to be three basic kinds of dry foods, labeled between small bites, large breed, and original, but of course there will be beef and rice, lamb and rice, and chicken and rice, as well. As for the flavors, that's up to you and your dog. Otherwise, you may want to consider:

  • Small Bites: If you dog is going to be a smaller dog, usually sized up to 30 pounds, give or take, but you can feed a small bite formula to medium sized dogs, as well.
  • Large Breed: For puppies that will be over 50 pounds. Large breed foods are forumlated for healthy growth of bones and muscles for dogs that will be of a larger stature.
  • Original: The original forumla can be feed to dogs of any size, for the most part. But you do want to consider a dogs size when picking a particular type of food.

You don't want to feed a 6 week old chihuahua puppy a dog food that has kibble bigger than his mouth. So be careful of the size of the food, as well as the brand and ingredients in the food.

Breed Specific Dog Food

For the most part when choosing a dog food for a particular breed, whether a purebreed or a mix breed dog, it doesn't really matter as long as the brand and size of the kibble is appropriate. Again, as I have just mentioned, you don't want to feed larger kibble to a very small puppy.

Some brands, like Eukanuba and Royal Canin (both great premium brands), have specially formulated doog foods for certain breeds, such as German Shepherd, Yorkies, Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Bulldog, Dachshund, Labrador Retriever, etc. So, if you want to go with a breed specific food, you can, but I, personally, am not sure of the difference.

Avoid Dog Food With High Content of the Following Ingredients

1. Wheat

2. Corn

3. Soy

4. By-Product Meal

5. Digest

6. Ethoxyquin

7. Egg Product

8. Brewer’s Rice

9. Preservatives

10. Cellulose

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