Puppy Nutrition: What is the Best Puppy Food & More

Vladimir Negron
Apr 13, 2011
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank


Nowadays, there are literally hundreds of brands and types of dog foods to choose from, which can make it doubly hard for a pet owner to know which is best. While it is all but impossible to create a comparison of each pet food brand out there, there are a few fundamentals that you can use as a guide for choosing the right food for your puppy. 

What Exactly is Puppy Food?

Puppy food is designed specifically for the nutritional needs of young and still growing dogs, with twice the daily nutritional requirements that a mature dog needs. Puppies are growing and developing rapidly -- in their bones, muscles, joints, internal organs and immune system, to name but a few of the developmental needs that are being met by nutrition. A well balanced puppy food contains those nutrients that a puppy specifically need for this purpose, nutrients that are not necessary once the puppy has finished growing into a dog and that are not added to adult formula dog foods. For example, to build a strong body, puppy food contains about 30 percent protein, as well as the vitamins and minerals that are needed for a puppy to be healthy. Puppy food also contains a high fat content for energy, which is why it is not recommended for adult dogs.

How Do You Know How Long to Feed a Puppy Puppy Food?

Dogs are considered puppies until they reach their expected adult size. Ideally, a puppy should be fed puppy food until he reaches 80% of his expected adult size, which is is about a year old for most dogs. There are rare instances when you may need to stop giving puppy food before then; especially if the puppy is developing too quickly and your veterinarian is concerned of complications (e.g., long bone disease and panosteosis are two growth diseases of concern). In cases such as this you will need to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations.  

What is the Best Puppy Food?

Dog food is divided into three types: moist, semi-moist, and dry kibble. Among the three, the best one to use would be the dry type of puppy food because it contains more meat protein. It is also more practical, cost-effective, better for keeping the teeth clean, and easy to digest. Moist puppy food is also easy to digest, but it is more expensive and spoils more rapidly if not stored properly. In addition, moist foods are commonly composed of 75 percent water, so they contain fewer nutrients. Another concern with moist puppy food is its affect on the teeth. 

The best option is usually to feed your puppy a combined diet of dry kibble with moist dog food. You may either mix them together or vary them from meal to meal.

Semi-moist puppy food is also a good option, as it is easy to digest and practical to use (i.e., it has measured packaging and does not need to be refrigerated). The downside is that it can be expensive and does not have any dental benefits. Semi-moist food is also believed to lead to obesity and hyperactivity in some dogs because it contains high levels of salt, preservatives and sugar.

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