What Is The Best Puppy Food For Your Puppy?
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With so many choices, finding a good puppy food can seem outright daunting. Well, it’s about to get a little easier. Watch as Dr. Katy Nelson takes you through the ins and outs of puppy nutrition with information on everything from age appropriate dog food, to the importance of feeding schedules.
Hi, I'm Dr. Katy Nelson with IAMS. Today we're going to talk about dog nutrition, and what you should look for in your puppy's food. Just like infants, puppies require different levels of nutrients than older dogs. Physically, puppies grow fastest during the first six months. The right nutrition is critical to support this rapid growth. That said, your puppy should only receive premium puppy food until he reaches his adult height and weight. That's typically in the first year for small and medium breeds, and can be up to two years for large and giant breeds. One more thing to consider is that a puppy's energy requirements can be nearly twice that of an adult dog. And since their stomachs are smaller, they need more nutritionally dense food formulated just for puppies to help them meet their energy needs. There are three types of food: dry kibble, semi-moist—which comes in sealed packages—and moist or canned. Most veterinarians and trainers recommend dry kibble food, because of its fat content, and the fact that moist food can spoil. Dry kibble also helps with tartar control, which is particularly important for his developing teeth. When you're shopping for food, there are a couple of things you want to look for and keep in mind. Number one, look on the label for a statement that says, 'Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food Nutrient Profiles for growth.' Number two, read the ingredients list on the back of the package, and look for real meat as the first ingredient. Puppies grow the fastest during the first six months of life, and because growth rates differ among breed sizes, you need to feed a formula designed to address the needs of your puppy's breed and size. Ideally, puppy food should also contain animal based protein for strong muscles. The protein requirement for growing poppies is higher than that for adult dogs. High quality protein is critical for puppies to create new body tissue as they grow. Calcium for strong bones and teeth, iron for healthy blood, DHA for the brain, central nervous system, and vision. DHA is a key ingredient found naturally in mother's milk, and is important for a baby's neural development. Just like a baby, your puppy's ability to learn depends on healthy brain development. Prebiotics for healthy immune system, because 65% of your puppy's immune system is in his digestive tract, and high in calories for all the energy a puppy burns. The nutritional needs for puppies differ for different breeds sizes. Large breed puppies grow more quickly. Because of that, they actually need less calcium, so their bones don't grow too fast. Medium breed dogs need a careful balance of calories and nutrients to be sure that they don't gain excess weight, while small breed puppies need nutrient dense food in small bites, because their metabolism tends to be faster, and they have different energy needs than larger dogs. Another important thing to know is that what is good for humans is not necessarily good for animals. Because proper nutrition is critical for optimal development, and because human food doesn't offer the proper balance of nutrients puppies need, it is important to teach your whole family that feeding your puppy or your dog table scraps is a big no-no, and a major health hazard. Now let's talk about feeding schedules. Just like babies, puppies do best on a regular schedule. Schedules teach them that there are times to eat, times to play, and times to potty. Obviously, the feeding schedule will largely be dictated by your own personal schedule. But no matter what, it is critical that puppies younger than four months be fed multiple times per day. Depending on your puppy's breed size, at around six months, you can start to limit feedings to twice a day. Also, keep in mind that eating is soon followed by the urge to go to the bathroom. If you work away from your house and are unable to feed and walk your puppy as often as needed, think about hiring a dog walker, or ask a neighbor to help you keep your puppy on his schedule. For more information on house training, watch 'How to House Train Your Puppy.' Another important nutritional determinant is how much you're supposed to feed your developing puppy. Even though the back of the puppy food bags usually have suggested portion sizes based on weight, they are not always right for your puppy. So it's best to pay attention to your puppy's body and talk to your veterinarian. Remember, a fat puppy is not necessarily a healthy puppy. Just as childhood obesity can lead to adult health issues in humans, monitoring a puppy's weight is very important to ensure proper development. Treats are another food source to consider when determining portion size. It is important to limit treating to less than 10% of your puppy's daily caloric intake. When selecting treats, hard chew treats are ideal, because they improve dental health through gnawing. Also, try to save treating for training sessions to reward good behavior, but be careful not to overdo it. For more information on training, watch our video 'Puppy training basics.' The last part of puppy nutrition we are going to talk about is water. Puppies need fresh, clean water available at all times. Like us, it is their most important nutrient. You should change your puppy's water often, at least once a day. Providing fresh, clean water greatly reduces the risk of disease, and therefore keeps your pet happy and healthy. I'm Dr. Katy Nelson for IAMS, and I hope that you found this helpful as you welcome your new addition into your family.
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- adp_description_block164Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
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Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
Choosing a Food for Overall Health
To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:
- Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
- A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
- A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels
These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.
Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage
Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.
Guarding Against Weight Gain
Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.
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