Puppies are one of life's greatest joys, but what are you supposed to feed them?
Did you just bring home a new puppy? First off, congratulations! Being a doggy parent is exciting, fun, and tiring. It can be hard to stay one step ahead of that mischievous cutie with boundless energy and curiosity. But when you're done hiding your shoes, you may realize you have lots of questions about puppy care. The biggest one, of course, is "What's the best pet food for puppies?"
Puppies become adult dogs at around their first birthday, with the largest breeds, such as Great Pyrenees and St. Bernards, taking up to 24 months to reach full maturity. Until then, what you feed your new forever friend is important, emphasizes Callie Harris, DVM and veterinarian at Purina. "When welcoming a puppy into your family, it's important to ensure you select a high-quality puppy food formula that provides your new pup with the nutrition they need to provide a head start toward a lifetime of health," she tells Wide Open Pets.
Exactly what makes puppy-specific food so special? It has more protein, fat, and calcium than food for adult dogs, explains Dr. Harris. Calcium helps support teeth and bones, and protein supports growing muscles. Fat, meanwhile, is a source of essential fatty acids. It's also a concentrated source of energy and carries fat-soluble vitamins, according to an article by Krista Williams, DVM and Robin Downing, DVM at the VCA Hospitals website.
While many pet owners have adult dog food lying around the house, often made with high-quality protein, it's still important to make sure your growing puppy's needs are met. Regular high protein dog food is fine for active dogs of the adult variety, but the protein content can be difficult for puppies to digest. Many puppy formulations have probiotics and other add ins perfect for this life stage.
Not only do puppy food formulas address the important developmental nutrition puppies need, but they also account for other puppy-specific needs, informs Dr. Harris. "For example, the size of the kibble, which is often scaled down due to the smaller sizes of their mouths."
So now that we know puppy-specific food is a must, the next question becomes "Which puppy food is the best?" We're ready to help. Here are a few solid, well regarded options to consider, all garnering the highest reviews from experts and experienced pet parents.
High Protein Puppy Food
It's a household name for a reason, with parents of dogs of all ages making up Purina's incredibly loyal following. Their options for puppies can be narrowed down based on your dog's size. This chicken and rice formula, with AAFCO certification, is a popular pick. This high calorie, nutrient-rich formula meets all young dog needs, with real chicken as the main ingredient.
Royal Canin makes puppy food personal, with dry food options made especially for popular breeds, including Yorkies, Frenchies, Labs and more. The brand serves up wet dog food as well. While those varieties are less specialized, they're still packed with all your newbie needs to grow healthy. With minimal fillers or artificial flavors, this is a high protein diet you'll be proud to feed your pup.
This long-time vet favorite offers puppy food geared towards large and small breeds, but perhaps lesser known among their offerings is this no-corn, soy, or wheat food option for tiny little guys with sensitive tummies. Of course, you'll want to check with your vet if you suspect your puppy has a sensitive stomach, but this nutritionist-recommended, limited ingredient food might be just what your puppy craves.
Merrick puppy food reviews are phenomenal, with a 4.6 average rating from thousands of pleased reviewers on Amazon. The USA-made blend's ingredient list leads with deboned chicken instead of the chicken meal often found in other dry foods. It also delivers sweet potato, and the vitamins and minerals your pupper needs to jump right into his brand new world.
You may not have heard of this brand of dog food, but Nulo consistently earns high marks from experts and dog parents. Their puppy food is formulated to fuel appropriate growth, with plenty of meat protein. The first five ingredients are deboned turkey, turkey meal, salmon meal, chickpeas, and chicken fat, making this high animal protein dry food perfect for your little carnivore.
Blue Buffalo supplies a range of puppy foods, all free of artificial additives and meat by-products. This variety is geared towards larger breed sizes. It's enriched with the brand's LifeSource Bits, which are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help boost a puppy's developing immune system.
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