Thank you for actively seeking to start your puppy’s life on the right
foot paw. We ❤ you for taking the extra step! Here are the 4 most recommended puppy food brands (and why).
Those of us who have had a puppy know how rewarding it can be to raise a little ball of fluff, but it can also be exhausting.
Between teething, house training, and setting the ground rules for your new companion, you may find yourself a bit overwhelmed.
But, at the end of the day, that’s your little ball of fluff, and you are his or hers.
You’ve entered into a relationship of sorts. Your new relationship partner loves to cuddle and loves to play. They will comfort you when you’re upset, and they’ll join you on some of your greatest journeys.
So it makes sense that they’ll look to you for guidance.
Although they can’t express it, they’re counting on you to keep them healthy, and as a new dog owner, it’s your responsibility to try your hardest to do so.
Finding the right food for your new puppy can be downright confusing and frustrating. There are hundreds of brands, all telling you that their dog food is the best.
In a consumer’s world, sometimes more isn’t always better. So who can you trust?
Let’s look at the basics that you should know and consider when it comes feeding time. We’ll look at what your puppy needs to grow into a healthy, happy adult as well as how to make sure you’re fulfilling your role as the other half in this harmonious dog/owner relationship.
What Does My Puppy Need?
Let’s start with the basics:
Dogs are first and foremost meat eaters.
Sure, Sparky might gobble up that baby carrot you drop on the floor, but that carrot and other grains and vegetables cannot sustain a dog alone.
Believe it or not, Sparky shares DNA with some of the most majestic of all carnivorous animals:
Sure, he’s more than a few times removed from modern day wolves, but his genetic material makes him primarily a meat-eater.
Evolution has allowed your dog to become more omnivorous in nature, but he still needs a good protein base. Check this article out for more information on the similarities and differences between dogs and wolves.
The two main nutrients that are essential for healthy growth in your new companion are:
1. Protein – Around 28% of your puppy’s diet should consist of protein.
This can vary between breeds and size of dog, but the important thing to remember is that protein is the most crucial part of their diet.
In puppies, proteins are needed to develop and grow, and once they transition to adulthood, their need for protein slightly decreases. But they’ll still need protein to keep their systems running smoothly, including their immune system.
2. Fats – Puppies generally need about 17% of their diet to be fatty.
This of course, also varies between breeds of dogs. Fats help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and might land them a role in a shampoo commercial.
As with protein, your dog’s need for fats will decrease as they grow into adults. It’s important not to overdo it on fats. Just like humans, dogs can become obese, which can lead to a host of medical issues.
Some of you who are quick at math may be saying, “28% plus 17% means I’ve still got 55% of Chichi’s diet to consider.”
Well, dogs also need lots of vitamins and minerals, most importantly calcium and phosphorus to keep their bones, teeth and joints healthy.
Also, lots of dog food companies add carbohydrates (plant-based) to their foods, and according to the European Pet Food Industry Federation, they need some of these carbohydrates to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. A lack of carbs in food can possibly be made up for in extra amounts of protein.
Some people choose to feed their dogs vegan and vegetarian foods, and if you’re considering this for your dog, let me just stop you right there.
You’ve made your own personal life choices, but your dog is a dog and looks to you for the nutrients it needs. They don’t share your convictions; they just want to eat.
Trust me, Fido isn’t sitting around during the day thinking about the benefits of going vegan (“Are cows sentient? Should I eat tofu instead of chicken? Oh who cares, I’m a dog!”- your dog, probably).
Puppies should absolutely not be fed a vegan or vegetarian diet, and it’s inadvisable to feed adult dogs an entirely plant-based diet as well. A vegan or vegetarian diet can lead to serious, potentially fatal medical issues.A vegan or vegetarian diet can lead to serious, potentially fatal medical issues for dogs. Click To Tweet
How Much Food does My Puppy Need?
Determining how much foods your puppy needs isn’t an exact science.
Basically, when you feed your puppy, pay attention to how much he or she is eating:
If they’re leaving kibble in their bowl, you’re probably feeding them too much. If they’re getting chubby, relax your kibble-scooping hand.
Also, keep an eye on their physical condition. If they’re eating well and appear happy, energetic and healthy, you’re probably doing just fine, champ.
Again, how much food your dog should eat at each sitting is also dependent on their breed.
If you’re totally unsure, use the directions on the back of their food bag as a place to start. Divide the daily requirement listed by the number of times a day you’re feeding them, and from there, adjust how much you give them as needed.
When Should My Puppy Eat?
The most important thing to consider when feeding your puppy is when you want them to eat.
That’s right, I said when you want them to eat.
Setting times when your pup eats helps them to set their own internal schedule, which will go a long way when establishing your rules of the house.
Your puppy is growing at an astonishing rate which varies between breeds.
As you might expect, the amount and duration of growth in a toy breed, such as a Toy Poodle, is drastically different that of a giant breed, such as the Great Dane or Bernese Mountain Dog.[See here for good growth comparisons across different dog breeds.]
Less than 4 Months Old
Puppies usually start weaning off their mother’s milk at around 4 weeks. Between 4 and 6 weeks, they can start eating solid food.
At first, to get Puppy used to solid food, moisten it up with water until it’s a bit spongy (until about 8 weeks old).
Puppies less than 4 months old should be fed 4 times a day.
Greater than 6 Months Old
After 6 months, begin your dog’s feeding schedule that they’ll have for the rest of their life. This means feeding them twice a day.
You can also transition from puppy-specific dog food to adult dog food.
Smaller dog breeds can make the transition to adult food a little earlier (around 7 to 9 months) and larger breeds should make the transition right around the 1-year mark.
How Much is Too Much Money for Dog Food?
I have a simple philosophy on the subject of money and your pet, and depending on your situation, you may not like it.
You sign an invisible but binding contract the day you take your dog home. You have made a decision in your life to take in an animal that will love you unconditionally for its entire life. You have said to yourself, self:
“Yes. I can take on this responsibility. I have the means and willingness to care for this animal.”
Your dog’s face will be the first thing you see when you wake up and will most likely be the first thing to greet you after a long day.
No matter the breed, most dogs operate on an enormous amount of loyalty to their humans. By getting a dog, you have made a life-long friend and family member, no matter what life throws your way.
They’ll be with you for it all.
Dogs deserve all we can give them in return for their undying loyalty, and here’s where the money part comes in.Our advice is simple: Spend as much money as you can allow on your dog's food. Click To Tweet
If you have the means to afford expensive, healthy dog food, buy it! Don’t fool yourself into buying cheaper, less nourishing food just because you can save some money.
Do not cut corners when it comes to your dog’s health. They are your family. Would you settle for anything less than the best for your family?
How do I Know if My Puppy is Eating the Best Dog Food for Them?
Take a long, hard look at Spot’s poo and think about how you ended up doubled over in your back yard, sniffing and prodding his poo with a stick.
You heard me, get in there and assess it!
Am I asking you to take out some rubber gloves and asses it under a microscope?
Of course not.
A good visual assessment is all you need.
Just have a look after he makes his daily deposit. Is it firm, slightly moist, crinkly, and a little but not too stinky?
That’s standard, healthy dog poo for you. Who said you wouldn’t learn anything new today?
Your dog’s poo says a lot about what they’re eating. Don’t panic after temporary bouts of diarrhea or unusual looking poo. There’s usually an explanation for it, and if your dog goes back to crinkly, good-lookin’ stools, you’re in the clear.
Consider taking a trip to your vet if the strange stools persist and if your dog appears to lack energy or just generally seems sick (fatigued, warm to the touch, changes in behavior, etc.)
The 4 Most Recommended Puppy Food Brands
No matter the breed or size, there is a food out there for your dog. Here’s a list of the 4 most recommended puppy food brands on the market today:
As it stacks up against its competitors, it has an above average protein and fat content.
The fat-to-protein ratio is 46%, it’s grain-free and meat-based and earns the title of “enthusiastically recommended.”
I’ve personally been feeding this to my adult dog, and he not only loves it, but is full of energy and is completely healthy.
Others, I find, would be quick to agree with me.
2. Taste of the Wild
Taste of the Wild earned 4.5 stars on the dog advisor’s website, which combined with its customer satisfaction rate makes this food a top choice for your little fuzzy bundle of joy.
It’s also an above-average dry food product, although this kibble is plant-based. The fat-to-protein ratio is 57%.
It has an above average protein and fat content just like Orijen listed above and received the title of “highly recommended.”
This food drives dog owners absolutely bonkers, in a good way.
Owners the world over are holding these 30 pound bags of dog foods over their heads and screaming “THIS ONE! THIS ONE!”
(Not really, but it seems like it.)
Almost all the reviews I’ve read on this product glow with satisfaction and praise.
3. Blue Buffalo
Blue Buffalo products are also highly regarded in the dog food world.
Not only are its foods wildly popular amongst consumers, but it’s also incredibly healthy for Fido.
With an above-average protein content and near-average fat content, Blue Buffalo is mainly meat based.
The fat-to-protein ratio is about 41% and is “enthusiastically recommended.”
Consumers are wildly crazy over this brand. I’ve noticed through my research that those who love Blue Buffalo are extremely loyal to the company, and pour their hearts out when advocating that you feed this to your dog.
4. Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost – Large Breed Puppy
This food is also meat-based, and contains above average fat and protein.
The ratio of fat to protein is about 53%.
It earned a five-star overall review and is great for your new best friend.
Consumers seem to love it, although sometimes they do note an inconsistency between the “raw” bits and actual kibble. But as one wise man once said, “individual results may vary”.
To Sum Up
You are now the most important living thing in your dog’s life.
They are counting on you to feed them healthy, protein-rich meals that will not only help them to grow, but enrich and lengthen the time you have together.
They will always be by your side, regardless of any mistakes you make or troubles you run into.
Therefore, it’s critical that you feed them the right and most nutritious food you can get you dog-loving hands on.
As mentioned above, individual results may vary.
No breed of dog is the same, and even dogs of the same breed can be extremely different. The most important thing to remember is that you should do what feels right and what appears best for your dog. Watch them closely to determine what they need and want.
As always, if you’re very concerned about what you want to feed your pup, consult your veterinarian. They, of course, hold the best answers.
But just remember, a healthy dog is a happy one.
Have you had any experiences (positive or negative) with any dog food brands? Which do you find suits your dog the best?
Leave a comment below to help other dog owners in their quest to find the best food. We’re here to separate the bogus from the brilliant! The hazardous from the healthy! Let us know your suggestions below.