Learning to read labels and identify endorsements is essential when comparing the best-rated puppy food. The ingredients and the order of the ingredients are key elements in determining what food is best for your growing and developing pup. Knowing that the Association of American Feed Control Officials endorse the product will give you added peace of mind. A complete and well-balanced puppy food will help your pup grow into a healthy, active adult dog.
Look for the Association of American Feed Control Officials' (AAFCO) approval. The AAFCO is a non-profit organization that sets the standards for pet food. The approval is usually on the back of the puppy food as a statement indicating the puppy food is formulated to meet the nutritional needs established by the AAFCO. In order to meet the AAFCO standards, the puppy food must be validated through laboratory analysis.
Identify the first ingredient listed on the puppy food. Meat protein should be listed first. Meat protein, the building block for tissues, has a higher biological value than vegetable protein. Look for a specific meat, not a byproduct. Byproducts are the leftovers such as beaks, feathers and even bone meal.
Check the percentage of protein. To meet the AAFCO requirements, a puppy food must have a minimum of 22 percent protein.
Study the type of carbohydrates in the ingredient's list. Carbohydrates supply your puppy's energy needs and prevent the body from using protein for energy. Not all quality puppy foods contain rice bran, brown rice, oatmeal and/or barley, which are more digestible than other grains. Some puppy foods contain wheat, cornmeal and soy meal – known food allergens.
Identify how much fat is in the puppy food. Fat provides concentrated energy, transports fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and keeps your puppy's skin healthy and coat shiny. Puppy food should have a minimum of 8 percent fat.
- The minerals and vitamins in the puppy food are complete and balanced if the puppy food has the AAFCO statement of approval.
- Puppy food containing natural preservatives has a shorter shelf life than foods with artificial preservatives.
- Higher-priced puppy food does not guarantee better-quality food.
- Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images