What’s the Best Food for my Growing Puppy?
There’s nothing like the excitement of making a new puppy part of the family! Those first few weeks often feel like a happy blur of making memories and building a routine. Yet, researching and deliberating every choice - from toys to toilet training to feeding schedules - can feel daunting.
One of the biggest decisions owners need to make? What they’ll put in their furry friend’s bowl. So, we’ve put together some feeding fundamentals to help you give your latest family member the best nutritional start in life.
Why Growing Pups Need Different Food
You might be asking yourself: is puppy food really all that different from adult dog food? Or is it just another sneaky marketing ploy? Whilst we’d be the first to point out a gimmick, the truth is that puppies do have specific nutritional needs. This comes down to the huge biological differences between growing puppies and adult dogs.
After weaning, which usually happens when a puppy is 6-8 weeks old, puppies need all the same nutrients in their diets as adult dogs. Yet, puppies are growing around 20 times faster than a fully-grown canine. To fuel all that growth, their food needs to be more nutrient-dense than their grown-up brothers’ and sisters’.
First up, as puppies are constantly running, jumping and zooming around, they need more calories in relation to their body weight. Yet, to support growth, these calories need to come from a nutrient-dense food that’s rich in protein and fat.
When it comes to protein, meat is the best source for puppies as it tends to be easier for them to digest and utilise than other forms of protein, like those coming from plants. Amino acids found in high-quality meat sources are also essential building blocks for a puppy’s healthy development.
Pups also need a higher concentration of certain vitamins and minerals. For example, complete puppy foods should contain the higher amounts of calcium and phosphorus that puppies need to grow strong, healthy bones.
Because omega-3 fatty acids are essential in supporting brain development, vision, and skin health in growing pups, many puppy-specific foods contain elevated levels of Omega-3 fatty acids - often from a fish or fish oil source.
Finally, puppy kibbles are smaller. This makes it easier for tiny - yet very hungry - mouths to chew safely. By being easier to break down, a smaller-sized kibble will pass more easily through the digestive system and be less likely to cause tummy upset or discomfort.
What to Consider When Choosing a Food?
Perhaps your first question is: should I choose wet food, dry food, or a mixture of the two? Deciding on food texture will likely come down to your new pups’ preferences. There’s no need to mix dry and wet food if you opt for a complete puppy food.
One factor to consider is convenience. For the first 6 months of their lives, puppies need to be fed more often than an adult dog; in fact, it’s recommended that they’re fed 3-4 times each day. Also, the smallest of puppies can make the mightiest of messes at mealtimes.
Because of this, a complete dry food will be most convenient. It doesn’t take time to mix or prepare, is easy to store, and is easier to clean off dirty bowls and the area where your pup tucks in.
Yet, easily the most important factor to consider isn’t food texture but food ingredients. There are a few things to look for when investigating puppy food labels.
First up, owners should look for foods that have a high protein content to fuel all that rapid growth. A high-quality puppy food should include meat - preferably fresh - as the first ingredient, making up a good proportion of the food as a whole.
Next, look for natural ingredients and be wary of artificial flavours and antioxidants. Some have been linked to health problems in canines, and a chemical cocktail is likely to be harsh on your pups’ small tummy.
Finally, consider choosing a food that’s not only designed for pups, but also for your breed’s size. This isn’t just about the size of each kibble - large breed puppies have different nutritional needs than their smaller breed pals.
According to several studies, large-breed dogs are more likely to develop chronic joint or skeletal problems when they get older if they’re overfed. Because of this, large breed puppy food is often lower in calcium to prevent bones from growing too fast.
Feeding Your Pup With McDug Nutrition
McDug knows how important it is for growing pups to get off to the best, zoomiest start. That’s why we’ve created a selection of meat-rich puppy foods that are formulated with high-quality natural ingredients and packed full of vitamins and minerals.
Perfectly balanced, our recipes include all of the Omega-3, calcium and phosphorus puppies need for healthy development. Many of our recipes include at least two lean protein sources and plenty of fresh meat sourced from trusted farms and fisheries.
As different sized pups have different dietary needs, we have specific recipes for large and small breeds. Our delicious Nourish Grain Free Turkey with Duck, Sweet Potato, Dill & Camomile is designed for smaller tummies, whilst our Nourish Large Breed Grain Free Salmon with Sweet Potato & Vegetables is a well-rounded choice for large breeds.
So, whichever recipe you choose, you can rest easy knowing that you’re giving your newest furry friend everything they need to thrive!