From the moment you lay eyes on your puppy, you want to do what’s best for them. From stocking up on the right supplies to starting a training routine, your thoughts are consumed with what’s best for Puppy. But what’s the biggest concern of all for new dog parents? Food!
Good nutrition is the cornerstone of puppy care. But for first-time puppy parents, figuring out the best puppy diet can be a challenge. Read on to learn how to start your puppy off right with great nutrition to nourish their body and mind as they grow.
How puppy diets differ from adult dogs’
While adult dog diets are based on maintenance, puppy diets are based on growth. Puppies grow fast, and they need more of the nutrients and minerals that support muscle growth and strengthen bones. Puppy food typically has more protein, fat, and calories than adult maintenance diets.
Those extra calories supply all the energy they need to play and learn. In fact, according to the ASPCA, growing puppies require up to twice the energy intake of adult dogs. And the energy needs to be spaced out. That’s why your puppy eats three to four meals per day, whereas adult dogs typically eat twice.
Nutritional needs of puppies
Here are some components of nutrition for growing puppies:
- Protein to support optimal growth.
- Fat to provide essential fatty acids and energy.
- Calcium for developing bones and teeth.
- Digestible carbohydrates. Carbs fuel your puppy. While there is no AAFCO requirement for carbohydrates, a well-balanced diet is good for your little one.
Luckily, you don’t have to hold all of that in your head! In order to be marketed as “complete and balanced,” puppy food must meet standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
For puppies of any size, it’s important to feed a diet that encourages optimal growth, rather than maximum growth. In other words, you want them to get bigger and stronger gradually so their skeletons can keep up with their muscle and fat! Growing too fast can increase the risk factor for hip dysplasia and other developmental orthopedic afflictions.
Do puppies need supplements?
As adult dogs age, they may benefit from supplements added to their diet. However, puppies typically don’t require any supplements at all. High-quality puppy food will be formulated to meet all of your growing dog’s nutritional needs.
Adding unnecessary minerals or vitamins to your puppy’s diet can lead to a potentially-harmful nutritional imbalance. For example, although vitamins A and D are essential components of a well-balanced puppy diet, they can both be toxic in excess amounts. And as mentioned above, too much calcium can lead to issues with skeletal development.
You can give your puppy treats, of course! But in general, treats should make up less than 10% of your puppy’s total calorie intake. Let the puppy food do the work!
Choosing the right puppy food
Finding the right food for your puppy can feel challenging because there are so many types and brands to choose from. Plus, every puppy is different! But choosing the right puppy food doesn’t have to be hard.
Start by talking to your veterinarian, as they may have insight into your puppy’s breed and specific needs. In general, look for foods with high-quality ingredients as well as anything to fit your puppy’s special needs. For example, some dogs do better on a grain-free diet.
Nature’s Recipe™ Grain-Free Puppy Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Formula, for instance, uses real chicken as the first ingredient—and skips the junk, including artificial colors and preservatives (along with corn and wheat). Plus, it’s packed with wholesome sweet potato and pumpkin and additional nutrients like fiber for healthy digestion.
Once you choose a diet for your puppy, track their health and size as they grow. They should have a shiny coat and bright eyes. Their poop should be formed and brown; let’s face it, tracking poop is an important part of dog parenting!
And your puppy should gain weight and size gradually. You can find growth and weight charts online to help you keep track. Weigh your puppy every week or so, compare it to breed-appropriate growth charts, and adjust their food intake if they seem to be growing too quickly.
As your puppy grows, they’ll graduate from puppy food to an adult dog formula. Look for the next step up from Nature’s Recipe, with purposeful ingredients to fuel your dog’s big life at every stage.
Learn More about Nature’s Recipe
For more than 35 years, Nature’s Recipe has been providing pets with ideal nutrition drawn from nature’s inherent goodness. We believe that all pets deserve to live long, vibrant lives. When it comes to your pet’s needs, we craft our recipes to make every ingredient count.