What Is The Best Food For Puppies?

What Is The Best Food For Puppies?

By Serene Chooi

Just as a human baby or child has different nutritional needs from that of a grown adult, so do puppies likewise. Puppies tend to require a higher percentage of proteins and fats not only because their bodies are growing and developing but also because their smaller size requires burning more energy to maintain their body temperature.

Some larger breed puppies (e.g., Doberman Pinscher, Labrador Retriever) may need slightly less fat, protein and certain minerals like calcium and phosphorus to sustain healthy growth rates and avoid over-developmental orthopedic diseases.  

So, by the time a puppy is typically weaned off its mother's milk at about six weeks old, it is time to start introducing solid foods to its diet. 

Types of Puppy Food 

1. Dry* (Kibble) 

Dense in calories but lowest in moisture content (10%) so do provide fresh water to your puppy separately. Also, chewing kibble may not be as effective as raw bone in reducing tartar build-up in your puppy's teeth. The higher amount of carbohydrates (about 30-50%) found in dry puppy food is also, not nutritionally ideal. However, kibble is easiest on the wallet. 
* Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods (both < 5% moisture content) are dry foods that are nutritionally superior to kibble but also more expensive. 
2. Wet (Usually canned) 

Lower in calories compared to dry food but softer and certainly more palatable due to the flavored jelly or gravy holding the chunks of ingredients together. Wet puppy food is generally more nutritious than kibble due to the higher protein and fat content.  

The major disadvantages are of course the higher price and higher moisture content (about 75-80%) which means having to feed your puppy a larger amount as compared to kibble.   

3. Semi-Moist 
This is more expensive than the above and is not recommended by veterinarians due to the higher salt and sugar content as well as artificial ingredients/flavorings. Even if your puppy is a fussy eater, this food is only meant to serve as an occasional treat.  

4. Raw 
Raw food includes meat with bone, organ meats, small amount of fruits and cooked vegetables and is deemed to be a 'traditional' balanced diet.  

However, the major concern is food safety; improper raw food handling will result in foods carrying pathogens/parasites which can cause serious illnesses in puppies.  Some owners have resorted to sourcing raw meats directly from their butchers rather than purchasing commercial ones.  

(Home prepared meals be it raw or cooked is challenging and requires knowledge to achieve the correct nutritional balance). 

How Much to Feed My Puppy? 

The amount of food to feed your puppy depends on its size and weight and can be divided into three or four feedings a day, reducing to two as it approaches adulthood. 

A general rule of thumb is that you should be able to see your puppy's waist but not its ribs!  

In summary, we should:  
  • Buy the best that we can afford.  
  • Source for foods that are minimally processed and free of artificial ingredients. 
  • Get puppy's food (not adult's) that comes with nutrients and in bite sizes that suit the puppy's breed.   

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