Best Puppy Food
Best Puppy Food
When it comes to choosing the best puppy food, there are a lot of factors to consider. On this page we'll discuss some of the most important things to look for when selecting appropriate pet foods for your new furry friend. We'll also provide information on some of the top brands of puppy food on the market today.
So whether you're just starting to research what's best for your pup or you're looking for an update on the latest and greatest options, read on for information that will help you make the best decision for your four-legged friend!
Our Top Pick of High Quality Puppy Foods
We are Reassuringly Fussy About Dog Food
We, as dog owners, have a moral obligation to make the best choices for our dogs who rely on us to care for them.Unfortunately, the market is saturated with choice, and thanks to clever marketing it makes it increasingly more difficult to know that you are making the right choice. It is easy for us to say "Hey, buy the food we sell", so we are going to take the time to explain why we are reassuringly fussy and will only ever sell high quality puppy foods to back up our range of products.
Pet Food Options for Puppies
Whether you're a new puppy owner or have been taking care of dogs for years, it's important to understand that there are different types of food available. In the most basic sense, there are three categories: dry, wet & raw.
Dry Dog Food
What is Dry Dog Food?
Dry food is the most common and comes in either kibbles or pellets.
If you're looking for an easy-to-digest and nutritious diet for your new puppy, we typically recommend dry dog food for it's ease and lower cost compared to the other options. These options are designed to appeal to dogs' natural carnivorous appetites with a formula that includes real meat as the first ingredient. Lower quality foods will be far more likely to have a grain or other carbohydrate rich ingredient as the first ingredient.
Aside from being easy on their digestive system, one of the best benefits of dry food is that it comes in convenient, pre-packaged bags. This makes it easy to keep your pup's food bowl full all the time!
Many of the most popular dog foods on the market today are available with a grain free formula, which is made without corn, wheat or soy. There are also several options that use real meat as the first ingredient, with no by-products or artificial additives.
How is Dry Dog Food Made?
Dry dog food is made by taking the ingredients that are high in protein and fat, then mixing them together. These ingredients are typically ground before being added to the formula. Next, different binding agents are used to form this mixture into kibbles or pellets, which will keep for an extended period of time without spoiling. Once formed, these kibbles are then baked at high temperatures to ensure that they're safe for your pup, as well as easy to digest.
Wet Dog Food
What is Wet Dog Food?
Wet dog food is similar to dry, in that it's a cooked complete meal. One of the main benefits of wet food is that it contains even more moisture than dry food does. So when your furry friend is dehydrated or under the weather, this type of food can help him rehydrate more quickly.
One of the downsides of wet food is that it doesn't have a long shelf life outside the refrigerator once opened. It can also get very expensive, as it typically comes in smaller cans or pouches.
How is Wet/Canned Dog Food Made?
Wet dog food is made by using the same ingredients as dry food, then cooking them in their own juices. After that, they're packaged into containers of varying sizes, with some also including sauce or gravy on top. It's important to note that wet food typically has added salt and sugar compared to its dry counterpart.
Raw Dog Food
What is Raw Dog Food?
Raw foods are just that: unprocessed meat and vegetables in their natural state. It contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives and has many of the nutrients and enzymes found in fresh, whole foods.
How is Raw Dog Food Made?
Raw dog food is made by processing meats and vegetables together, so they retain all of their nutrients. This mixture is then placed into a dehydrator at low temperatures to preserve the raw state of the recipe. Once finished, this type of food must be refrigerated or frozen until your pup is ready to eat it.
While this type of diet has been shown to provide many health benefits, it's also more expensive on a per-pound basis than any of the other options on this list.
Grain Free Dog Food
What is Grain Free Dog Food?
If you're trying to decide whether or not your pup should eat grain free food, it's important to understand that there are different types of grains. When people talk about grain free dog food, they typically mean foods that do not contain corn, wheat or soy. But if your pup does not have sensitivities to these ingredients, they are completely fine to eat.
Why Feed Grain Free Puppy Food?
Some pups have an allergic reaction to certain grains, while others may have a hard time digesting them. In these cases, avoiding any foods that contain them means their owner can feed them a food with fewer ingredients and lower cost.
Also, grains are higher on the Glycemic Index which means they can affect blood sugar levels. This is especially true in older dogs.
Lower quality foods will use carbohydrates (such as grains) to bulk out the food and provide energy that way, instead of relying on proteins and fats as an energy source.
Benefits of Feeding Grain Free Puppy Food
There are many benefits you can gain by feeding your furry friend a grain free diet. For example, they don't contribute to the overfeeding of carbohydrates in our pets' diets. This can help owners avoid obesity and diabetes in their pups among other issues.
What is Hypoallergenic Dog Food?
The term "hypoallergenic" refers to a type of puppy food that's unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in dogs who are prone to them. Hypoallergenic foods typically contain only one protein and one carbohydrate source, rather than several. Great for a sensitive stomach and managing food allergies.
High Quality Puppy Food
What Does "High Quality Food" Mean?
When we talk about high quality puppy foods, we're principally talking about what the first few ingredients listed on the side of the bag are along with the quality of the ingredients used. We are talking about its nutritional value.
Sadly not all puppy food is created equally... We have a general rule of thumb to help understand this:
"A salad is far more expensive than a chocolate bar in terms of calories."
Now, just let that sink in...If you were to feed any animal (including dogs, or humans for that matter) a poor diet, they would have an increased risk of health problems. You are what you eat!
However, there are some exceptions to our rule though and you don't always get you pay for. There are some foods out there that still cost a pretty penny but don't quite cut the mustard nutritionally with fewer natural ingredients, so it is still important to understand what goes in to your pups food so you can make an informed choice.
High Quality Dog Food Brands
Nutritional Requirements for a Puppy Using a Logical Approach
Puppies generally require around twice as much of a high quality complete food than an adult dog would at the same weight because they require more proteins, acids, vitamin and minerals to support their continued growth.
Canagan dog food is a great example of this.
Their complete dry dog foods are suitable for all life stages, so let's compare the feeding guidelines for these life stages on their best seller, Canagan Free Range Chicken.
Dog > 10kg dog = 120g/day
Puppy > 10-25kg (expected adult weight) 4-5 months old = 235g/day
Same food, just feeding them more!
1. We don't rely on science on a day to day basis to feed ourselves or our children.
2. We know we need a balanced and healthy diet - all well-known brands are balanced based on 'scientific recommendations'.
3. You can feed adult dog food to a puppy - adjust feeding accordingly as explained above if there are no puppy feeding guidelines.*
4. Our bodies take what they need and dispense of the rest - unless it's sugar.
5. We know that too much sugar is bad for us and if it is not used, it can (and most likely will) turn into fat.
6. Dogs do not 'need' carbs. (More on this below...)
*Whilst most high quality adult foods cover the nutritional requirements of a developing puppy, they may not have been vetted for puppy consumption. The point of this is to explain that it is easy to become reliant on marketing/labelling and forget about common sense and reason. A good way of looking at it is, before our daughter had teeth, we would whiz up some roast dinner in the blender (amongst other normal human foods) and none of those foods had 'baby' written on the labels. It is also important to think about choking. A larger kibble may present a chocking risk if the puppy is too small to swallow it unchewed. But this is also true for adult small breed dogs, hence the option of small breed dry foods. Some small pups prefer their dry foods soaked to help them swallow it anyway.
Composition of Puppy Food
Here we take a look at the main nutrient groups to help you understand how they fit in with a dogs needs and their foods.
Protein is a macromolecule comprised of amino acids and is essential to all living things. Protein is required for all phases of development and growth, including the immune system, since it helps enzymes and antibodies function.
The evolution of canines has led them to rely on proteins and fats as their major energy sources.
The protein in puppy food can be supplied by animal sources, plant sources, or a combination of the two. Common animal-based protein sources used in pet food include chicken, lamb, fish, egg and beef. Common cheaper plant-based protein sources used in pet food include legumes, corn-gluten meal and soybean meal.
Not all protein sources are created equally either. Whilst there is no evidence to say that 'freshly prepared' meat is better than meat 'meal', it is widely accepted that fresh meat is more easily digestible and of a better quality.
Fats and oils are a necessary component of a dog's diet. Maintaining optimum health normally requires that 9-15% fat (for normal, healthy adult animals) be consumed in the diet. When dogs have too much fat and calories (such as over treating), without getting enough walkies, may start to cause pressure on their kidneys to excrete more fats.
Although dogs are technically omnivores, they have a significant carnivorous bias within their genetics receiving very little benefit from carbohydrates (starch) over energy provided by proteins and fats. They are just cheaper at the end of the end of the day.
Carbohydrate sources such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash and parsnip are far better than sources higher up on the Glycemic Index, such as rice, maize and wheat.
How did dogs ever survive without humans being able to cultivate and process grain for them?
What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly food increases blood glucose or blood sugar levels. Foods with high glycemic index numbers (over 70) cause sharp spikes in blood sugar and are the types of foods that many people trying to lose weight try to avoid. Foods with low glycemic index numbers (under 55) increase blood sugar slowly. Low GI foods have more complex carbohydrates.
This chart demonstrates how sugar levels perform depending on where the source ingredient sits on the index.
• Lower GI = slower releasing energy = more likely to be used efficiently = lower risk of weight gain
• Higher GI = faster releasing energy = less likely to be used efficiently = higher risk of weight gain
|Common Ingredients||Glycemic Index**|
*Carbohydrate constituents are not required to be labelled on bags so a bit of maths is required normally. More on that below!
**Source - GlycemicIndex.com
Whilst it doesn't appear to be a typical food content, all foods will have an element of moisture within it and water is essential for all life so it is the most important thing of all.
Typically, a wet food will have a higher moisture content and dog owners will probably notice that wet fed dogs will likely drink less water than if they were fed on dry dog food.
Always make sure there is clean, fresh water available for your four legged friend!
Conclusion on Puppy Food Composition
Sure, dogs can 'survive' on carbohydrates, but us pet parents just want our dog to thrive, have a healthy life and try to avoid unplanned visits to the vets, right?
What Does Vet Approved Dog Food Really Mean?
Vet Approved means that the manufacturer has presented their formula and post production scientific analysis to a specialist independent vet for their agreement that the food at least meets the requirement of FEDIAF and PFMA.
Whilst it may be reassuring to know that this extra step has been taken and the bag labelled for consumer confidence, all reputable pet food manufacturers should have carried out post production scientific analysis to make sure their product's recipe meets the same requirements and comply with legislation anyway.
Specialist foods for particular health conditions will require approval based on case studies which often last months (if not years) to support their claims.
What Information Should I Expect to Find on Dog Food Labels?
Legally, all labelling must be truthful and contain the following information
Analytical Constituent (% of):
• Crude proteins
• Crude oils & fats
• Crude fibre
• Moisture (if it exceeds 14%)
• Crude ash
*Notice how carbohydrates (sugars) are not legally required?!
The components must be listed in descending order of weight. They can be identified by using regulated category names, such as 'meat and animal derivatives', 'cereals', 'derivatives of vegetable origin'. Ingredients can also be named using their own individual names. When an ingredient does not come under any of the regulated categories, it must be listed per item.
Also required are:
• 'Best Before' Date
• Batch Number
• Net Weight
• Name and Address
Should I Worry About Feeding My Dog Carbs?
Let's get back to this whole carbs thing...
Dogs can require 'carbohydrate rich' ingredients in their balanced diet as a source of vitamins, minerals and fibres such as vegetables and fruits which are very important for a dogs' health.
A dog fed on a good quality kibble, however, will not need grains or other starches for their essential nutrients.
Plus, by feeding grain free, you are able to rule out any gluten allergies (which are quite common in dogs) and cutting out the added risks that higher GI sugars can bring.
Why Should I Feed a Commercial Puppy Food?
Look, there is no hard and fast rule that says you should.
We don't feed ourselves complete meals, but you will have the confidence that:
• it is regulated to suit the scientific needs of your dog
• it has a long shelf life and readily available
• you won't have the fuss of thinking about how you are preparing your dog's meals every day
• you won't need to learn much more than what is on this page... when it comes to choosing dog food that is!
• you can have the confidence that whatever foods we sell are always of the highest quality and highly nutritious.
Does My Puppy Need a High Protein Diet?
Protein is the main building block for growth in dogs, so puppies do require a higher percentage of protein in their diet when they are growing compared to an adult dog.
And, as mentioned above, high quality proteins are a healthier choice.
How Does the Food My Pup is Already on Stack Up?
Our favourite subject.... how to read dog food labels.
We covered the legal requirements of a label above, so let's work out what's really going on here with a couple of dry dog foods.
Freshly prepared meat vs. meat meal
We covered the nutritional perspective on this above, but it is important to know that to make sure you are making a quantifiable comparison, two-thirds of freshly prepared food is moisture, whereas, meat meal is only ~5%.
Let's work this out on an animal protein content basis.
10% chicken meal protein is equivalent to about 30% freshly prepared chicken.
Typically, carbohydrates are not recorded on dog food labelling. Sometimes NFE (Nitrogen Free Extract) is included which mainly consists of starches and sugars... aka. carbohydrates.
When Sugars, Carbohydrates or NFE are not on the labels (which is more often than not), you will have some maths to do;
Add up all the Analytical Constituents (protein, fat, etc...) percentages on the label. This should be well below 100% If moisture is not listed, add between 5-8% depending on how dry you think the food is to the number you already have.
Now all you have to do is take that number away from 100% to give you roughly the percentage of carbs/NFE.
You will always find some carbs within a more balanced diet, but the key to this is understanding how many carbs are within the food as we have just done, then understanding how the carbs fair on the Glycemic Index.
Puppy Kibble Size
When it comes to choosing the best puppy food, one of the most important things to consider is the size of the kibble. Puppy foods that are designed for small breeds tend to be smaller in size so that they can easily be chewed and swallowed. Large breeds, on the other hand, may require a food with larger kibbles to encourage chewing which can help dental hygiene and ready stomach acids.
Dogs go through different life stages, each of which has its own nutritional needs. Puppies, for example, need a diet that is high in protein and calories to help them grow big and strong. Adult dogs, on the other hand, need a diet that is lower in calories and higher in fibre to help keep them healthy and trim. Senior dogs, as they age, may need an adult food that is lower in protein to help protect their kidneys and joints.
Small breed dogs have a longer life expectancy than large breeds, so it is arguably even more important to get large breed dogs on a high quality diet to avoid health complications sooner.
Do I Need a Breed Specific Puppy Food?
Although each dog's genetic make up is different, a complete food will provide all the nutrients your dog needs. Then your dog's body will take what it needs from that complete food no matter the life stage as long as you are feeding it the right amount of food.
Other Benefits from Feeding a Healthy Diet With High Quality Pet Food
Healthy Digestive System
Healthier and more nutritious foods will inherently support digestive health.
Gentle on a Sensitive Stomach
Some dogs cannot tolerate some of the harsher ingredients found in cheaper pet foods. High quality foods, however, are much gentler and avoid upset tummies.
Healthy Coat & Skin
A diet full of healthy, nutritious ingredients will help maintain your dog's coat and healthy skin.
A high quality diet is essential for keeping your dog's body and mind healthy. Dogs that consume a poor diet are more likely to experience cognitive decline and other health problems earlier on. Choosing a high quality puppy food and/or supplementing with fish oil will support their brain development.