Did you get a new puppy? Congratulations!
Here at Blue Door Mobile Veterinary Services, we love puppies! If you live in or near Portland, Oregon, we can help you get your puppy started the right way and help them live a long, healthy life. Follow us to find out about your new family addition and how to treat them right. Today we will talk about finding the right puppy food for your new friend. Later, we will discuss vaccinations, behavior, potty training, and much more!
Let’s start with a the basics – FOOD!:
- What do you feed the newest member of the family?
The short answer is, puppy food! Just as babies are not miniature adults: puppies are not miniature adult dogs. Just being a puppy is hard work and requires different nutritional levels than adult dogs. Puppies generally require more calories than adult dogs. A commercial dog food that is labeled as a “puppy food” will have more calories per cup than adult dog food, so it is important that your new pet get the right food. The differences don’t stop with calories though, so keep reading!
- What are the other special nutritional needs of puppies?
We already know puppies require more calories, but they also require higher amounts of amino acids, minerals, more protein and different levels of fats. Small and medium breed puppies may be okay with a higher fat content to get those calories, but large breed puppies are at risk for developmental orthopedic diseases and require lower fat content to carefully regulate the rate of their growth. Quality puppy diets contain high levels of certain types of omega 3 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and a glossy coat as well as optimize brain and eye development.
- How do I know what I am looking for?
First off, you want to look for an AAFCO label: American Association of Feed Control Officers. You can usually find their seal on the nutritional adequacy statement of the bag of food. If the bag you’re looking at isn’t certified by AAFCO, it means the company hasn’t met the nutritional standards for complete and balanced nutrition which show that the diet supports the good nutrition they are claiming on the label.
Example of AAFCO statement on dog food label – look for “all life stages” or “puppies” instead of “adult dogs”
Next, look at the ingredients list: look for diets that are made from wholesome, natural ingredients, but don’t be scared away by the terms “by-product” or “meal” – those simply mean that the food may contain parts of the animal which aren’t used in human foods – ie lungs, spleen, and kidneys. Use of hair, horns, teeth, hooves, blood, manure or stomach contents is not allowed. Check out this website for more definitions – aafco.org/Consumers/What-is-in-Pet-Food. Contrary to popular advertising campaigns, pets can also get nutritional value from some grains (corn, wheat, potatoes, barley, etc) and vegetables – they aren’t just carnivores like their wolf/wild cat relatives.
Last and most importantly, pick a food that is labeled specifically for puppy growth and development. Like we said above, puppies have some very specific needs and puppy foods are formulated to meet the needs of growing puppies. Make sure to pick a large-breed puppy diet if you have a puppy who is likely to be over 50 pounds when he/she is full grown.
- How much do I feed my new puppy?
All foods have different nutritional value. You should check out the feeding guideline on the bag. This is usually written as a per day amount. Most puppies should be fed 2-3 times daily. If you have concerns that the bag suggestion is too much or too little, call your vet for a recommendation.
When do I switch him/her to an adult dog food?
When your puppy’s growth in height slows, you should begin switching to an adult formula. This usually occurs around 9-10 months for small breeds, around 12 months for medium breeds and 12-24 months for large breeds.
Did you adopt a kitten instead? Check out our “What to feed my new kitten” blog.