What Ingredients Make Up the Perfect Puppy Food?

by Betty Lewis
    The "perfect" food for Pal is the one that helps him grow strong and healthy at a proper pace.

    The "perfect" food for Pal is the one that helps him grow strong and healthy at a proper pace.

    Russell Illig/Photodisc/Getty Images

    So many questions come with a new puppy, what to feed your new pooch is one of the most common. With the wide variety of puppy foods available, choosing the perfect food for Pal can be confusing. The perfect ingredients in his food provide him all the nutrition he needs.

    Proper Growth Rate

    Puppies do a lot of growing during their first year, so it’s a fine balance to ensure your new pooch grows at the proper pace. Too much too fast can result in bone development problems, however he’ll need sufficient nutrition to build strong bones and muscles. If you’re looking for the perfect ingredients in Pal’s food, look for ingredients that meet his nutritional requirements.

    Protein

    Protein is vital for Pal’s growth, and should comprise between 21 percent and 26 percent of his diet. If you’re feeding him dry food, look at the ingredient label and aim to feed him a food containing two or more animal sources of protein in the first five ingredients. This means the bulk of his protein is coming from meat protein, such as chicken, turkey or lamb or chicken meal, which has a higher biological value than plant-based proteins, such as soy. Feeding Pal a food relying on plant-based protein means he'll have to eat more to meet his daily protein requirement.

    Carbohydrates and Fat

    Carbohydrates and fat aren’t all bad for Pal. Without them, his body converts protein into glucose for energy, depriving him of important building material for his body tissue. Carbohydrates provide energy and dietary fiber, and should account for about 42 percent of his diet. Rice and potatoes are good sources of carbohydrates for dogs, as they have more nutritional value than other sources, such as corn. Pal’s diet should have around 8 percent fat. If you’re looking for the perfect fat source, look at chicken fat, fish oil or sunflower or canola oil.

    Vitamins and Minerals

    Vitamins and minerals are critical for Pal, allowing his body to gain the benefit of his food’s nutrients and helping him use energy efficiently. Minerals help his body function normally. If you’re feeding Pal a commercial pet food, you won’t have to worry about supplementing his food with vitamins and minerals; his prepared food is manufactured with his needs in mind. Unless your vet directs you to give him supplements, resist the temptation to give him an extra boost; too much of these goods things can hurt his health.

    Home Cooking

    If you decide to cook for Pal yourself, consult your vet or nutritionist to confirm your chosen recipes will meet his nutritional requirements, in puppyhood and beyond. Like commercially prepared food, there’s no ideal list of ingredients; your homemade diet will be perfect if it uses quality ingredients and meets his needs. Pal may decide chicken is his perfect protein source, with a side of carrots and peas rounding out his perfect supper.

    Ingredients to Avoid

    Sometimes it’s easier to determine what isn’t perfect. No matter what food you decide on for Pal, you’ll want to avoid certain foods altogether, such as chocolate, onions, raisins and grapes. Caffeine and bones that can splinter and choke him, such as cooked chicken bones, are potentially harmful. Finally, pay attention to preservatives. As BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin come under increased scrutiny, more pet food manufacturers are relying on natural preservatives such as vitamin E, called tocopherols, and vitamin C, known as ascorbate, which are considered safer alternatives.

    Photo Credits

    • Russell Illig/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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