How to Choose the Best Pet Food for Puppies

To help keep your puppy at a healthy weight, measure food (level cups, not heaping!) and feed at specific mealtimes instead of leaving food out all the time. The recommended amounts on the bag are a starting point, but every puppy is different. Don’t be afraid to cut back a little if he’s getting chunky or add more if he’s on the skinny side.

Read the Label

Everything important you need to know about a puppy food can be found on the label. An appropriate food will state on the label that it is formulated for growth or for all life stages. The label will also indicate whether the food is appropriate for large-breed dogs or comes in a kibble size that’s easy to eat. Some puppy foods note on the label that they contain omega-3 fatty acids. Those help support proper brain development in pups, so that’s a good thing. The main thing you should look for, though, is the nutritional adequacy statement so you know the food is complete and balanced.

I like foods that have been proven in feeding trials approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). That means puppies ate the food for a given amount of time and grew appropriately. Look for a statement on the label that says something like this: “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Brand A provides complete and balanced nutrition for growth.”

Some foods state on the label that they are “formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for [puppies or all life stages].” They may also meet a puppy’s nutritional needs, but the manufacturer has not conducted actual feeding tests.

What about output? Pups who are eating right form firm stools that aren’t too big or too small.

More than that, you’ll know you’re feeding the right food if your puppy has a gleaming coat and loves to play.

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