It's good you're researching how to compare puppy food products. It means you recognize the importance of proper nutrition and you're willing to make the effort to figure out what's best for your new furry companion. The number of puppy food options out there is staggering. Fortunately, many commercial products today are carefully designed for optimal nutritional balance. Still, you'll need to be sure your puppy's meals provide everything she needs to thrive and to remain happy and healthy. Don't forget to talk to your veterinarian about your puppy's individual needs, which vary a bit by breed, health conditions and other factors.
Select puppy foods that specifically say they're nutritionally balanced for your pet's current life stage. Confirm that the word "feeding" is used in the nutritional adequacy statement on the label's life stage claim; that guarantees the product is proven to be nutritionally adequate for this phase of your pup's growth and development, according the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Search the label to see if puppy foods are AAFCO approved. Products given approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officials are known to be nutritionally adequate.
Read the ingredients list. Are they mostly natural, whole foods? Does the food contain high-quality meat or mostly less-desirable animal byproducts? Is there a confusing list of hard-to-pronounce chemicals? Are there lots of artificial colors or flavors? In general, the more natural, the better. There's a trade-off where preservatives are concerned, though; while natural preservatives are more trusted by animal health professionals, synthetic preservatives -- all of which are generally recognized as safe, of course -- are more effective. Those with natural preservatives don't last as long, especially once the package is opened.
Look to see whether puppy food packaging includes a phone number and email address for contacting the manufacturer. Manufacturers are required to include their name and address; those that opt to include more direct contact information are often easier to deal with if you have questions or concerns.
Confirm that each puppy food you're considering is free of any allergens, ingredients you prefer to avoid and ingredients your veterinarian recommends you avoid. Likewise, confirm that they contain any particular ingredients you prefer or your veterinarian suggests would be beneficial.
Compare the guaranteed analysis on the package labels to be sure you're getting a puppy food with a high protein content.
Note the number of calories per serving in each puppy food. Your veterinarian should tell you how many calories your pet needs each day. Make sure your puppy can get all the nutrients she needs without exceeding her recommended daily caloric intake. Otherwise, your puppy will either become malnourished or overweight.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.