There are thousands of dog food brands to choose from. This overwhelming number makes it easy to pick the wrong food for your puppy. Confusing labels and appealing marketing are other contributors to the problem.
To find the best puppy food for your four-legged family member, you have to sort through the misconceptions and do a lot of research. Here is a guide to choosing the healthiest dog food.
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Many people have their own ideas about dog food ingredients, and these ideas aren’t based on science. When you go online to start researching food brands, ignore the ratings.
Although some of the ratings may be from people who see through the misinformation about ingredients, a good portion lack scientific evidence to back up how they rate the brand.
There are certain myths and misconceptions about what dogs and puppies shouldn’t or should be eating.
Grain-free diets have become a trend, even though they aren’t harmful to dogs. The only reason your puppy shouldn’t consume grains is if they have an allergy to them.
Grains don’t trigger allergies, and they’re actually full of nutrients. The ingredient can aid skin, hair, and immune system health. A puppy’s diet is more balanced with grains.
Meat by-products don’t sound appetizing and that could be why there’s such a strong stigma around them. In reality, by-products are any meats that aren’t muscle meats, which are what humans eat. This includes entrails, liver, heart, kidney, and other organ meats.
Many by-products are more nutritious than muscle meat, so you could be doing a favor for your pet by choosing food made with by-products. The use of this ingredient in dog foods is strictly regulated to prevent hair, manure, hooves, intestinal contents, and trash from contaminating the food.
Another myth is that the best puppy food has a high percentage of meat in it. Dogs are not carnivores like cats. They require a balanced diet, and feeding your puppy mostly meat is not balanced.
Protein and amino acids are the most important nutrients found in meat. They are vital to the health of a growing puppy. These can also be found in various grains and vegetables, which dogs can consume.
There’s no reason to give your puppy food with trendy or exotic ingredients. Foods such as quail, bison, and pheasant won’t help you avoid allergies and they don’t differ in nutrition.
These trends are recent, so often the ingredients aren’t thoroughly tested. Many companies want to make use of popular exotic foods even if it’s rarely been used in pet food.
It may seem like overkill, but you should figure out the history and procedures of a brand before you purchase it. You can research online or directly call the company.
Research or ask how they test their grain free low fiber dog food. Manufacturers aren’t required to feed their product to dogs before putting it on shelves. However, brands that have tested their food for years feel more trustworthy than ones who don’t.
What are the company’s quality control steps? Quality control keeps every batch is of the same quality. The steps should make it easy to find defective or contaminated products.
Does the brand make their own food or do they have a contract with someone who makes the food for them? There’s nothing immediately wrong with a company hiring an independent manufacturer, but problems can arise.
The company has no control over how the food is made. They can decide on the ingredients, but that doesn’t mean the product can’t get contaminated in some way. Ingredients may even be spoiled or left out of the food.
Finally, who is coming up with what the food is made of? They should be experts in the pet food industry who have extensive knowledge of animal health and pet food ingredients.
Advance Dog Food for puppies has a list of ingredients on their website. The benefits of each ingredient are explained.
Reading the Label
Dog food labels can be misleading. Here are four things you should look for when reading a label.
1. AAFCO Statement
Every pet food has a Nutritional Adequacy Statement, which is also called an AAFCO statement. This statement is based on nutritional requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) yearly. It ensures that the pet food is nutritionally complete and balanced.
An AAFCO statement can say one of three things:
1. The product meets AFFCO’s nutrient profiles for the animal at a specific life stage.
2. AFFCO procedures were used to test the product. The product is “complete and balanced” for the animal at a specific life stage.
3. The product is only for intermittent and supplemental feeding.
The first two options verify that the food’s nutritional value is complete and balanced. The last option means your puppy isn’t getting all of the nutrition they need.
Proof that the brand is following AAFCO guidelines is the guaranteed analysis. This analysis lists the amount of crude fiber, water, crude protein, and crude fat.
2. Contact Information
All companies have to put their mailing address on the label. Search for a brand that includes an extra way to contact them. Adding an email, phone number, or website could mean they’re more open to your questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask every question you can think of.
3. Product Name
A product’s title will give you an idea of how much of what is in the food. Something simply titled “chicken” or “beef” has at least 70% of that meat in it. That number goes down to 10% when food has “entree,” “dinner,” or “platter” in its name.
A food ending in “with chicken” is at least 3% chicken. It’s less than 3% when it’s called a flavor.
4. Ingredients List
The largest components of any food are at the top of the ingredients list. Some companies will divide ingredients into groups to make it seem like there’s less of the food in the product.
They may do this with grains and vegetables. If a dog food contains three kinds of grains, the label could list each one instead of simply putting “grains.”
Understanding Puppy Growth
Puppies have to eat special puppy food until they grow into adults. They grow more quickly and burn energy faster than adult dogs, so their food has to contain more nutrients.
It can take anywhere from 9 months to three for a puppy to fully grow. That’s why there’s a huge difference between small breed and large breed puppy foods. Large breed puppy foods have the highest calorie content.
Puppies need a balanced diet of water, protein, fat, carbs, minerals, and vitamins. Protein and vitamin D are essential because they provide your pet with amino acids and fatty acids. These chemicals aid skeletal growth, eyesight, memory, and more.
Make sure you give your puppy a balanced amount of fats, proteins, and carbs to avoid future obesity.
Dry or Wet Food?
Both dry food and wet food have pros and cons. Kibble isn’t messy, it’s less expensive than wet food, it takes longer to spoil, and you won’t have to buy it as often as wet food. Dry food also helps puppies clean their teeth.
On the other hand, there isn’t much moisture in kibble. This is a problem if your puppy doesn’t like drinking water. Eating kibble can be painful for teething puppies and it can still spoil.
Kibble usually has a lot of carbs. Too many carbs can throw off balanced nutrition.
Wet puppy food can have up to 80% of moisture and you don’t have to worry about your puppy hurting as they eat. However, wet food spoils more quickly, it doesn’t clean your puppy’s teeth, and it’s more expensive. Some brands of wet food have more sugar then kibble.
Finding the Best Puppy Food
There are so many options for dog food, we haven’t even discussed raw dog food, an alternative in which the food is virtually unprocessed containing high protein, nutrients and minerals. You shouldn’t feed your puppy the first bag or can you spot. Debunking myths and researching companies will give you the information you need to decide on the right food for your puppy.
Use this guide to find the best puppy food.