What Foods Are Okay to Give to Puppies?

That cute pup needs food rich in protein and calories for proper growth.
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Once weaned, puppies need a diet consisting of high-quality food designed specifically for younger dogs. These foods are nutritionally balanced to meet the higher demands of a growing pup's body, as compared to those of an adult dog. Whether it's dry or canned food, it needs to contain proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals in amounts that encourage healthy growth for your furry friend.

Food for Puppies, not Adults

Puppies need twice the amount of calories than adult dogs, according to the National Research Council of the National Academies. Puppy food is higher in calories from healthy fat and protein, which is why you need to feed your little guy food labeled "for growth" and not for "adult maintenance." To get the building blocks and amino acids your little one needs, the primary ingredient of this food needs to be a meat-based protein, like poultry, beef or fish. The minimum amount of protein that food for a puppy needs to contain is 22 percent. This amount has been established by the nutrient profiles of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Healthy Snacks

While the majority of a little pup's nutrition needs to come from his regular diet of nutritionally-based puppy food, there are certain foods that you can safely feed your furry friend as treats. Bone-free, cooked meats like chicken, fish, turkey or beef are all safe for your pup. Veggies and fruits, like small pieces of sweet potatoes, green beans, apples, melons, pumpkin, carrots, cauliflower or broccoli make tasty, healthy treats for your little puppy. Not only can you use these foods as snacks, but also as positive rewards for desired behaviors. Keep in mind, though, that treats really shouldn't make up more than 5 percent of your pup's diet, so that his puppy food makes up the majority of his nutrition, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Food Safety

When giving extra treats to your pup, while you might think a bone would be something safe for him, it's actually something to avoid. Bones can either become lodged in your pup's throat or may splinter, causing damage to his digestive system, warns WebMD. Other things to avoid include avocado, chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic, which can all be harmful or even fatal if ingested. Candy, sweets or dairy products can also cause some gastric distress for your pup; those containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can be fatal if eaten. Uncooked meats may contain pathogens that can sicken your pup, so always make sure that he eats only cooked meat.


Whether it is canned food or dry food, feed your little pup a commercially available puppy food, which includes meats, fats, fruits, vegetables and grains. Follow the manufacturer's directions in terms of portion sizes and look for foods appropriate for your puppy's breed and size. Puppy food should be your little one's main diet until he reaches 1 year old in most cases. Consult with your vet about the proper nutrition for your little one, especially if he is a larger-breed dog. Overfeeding a pup, especially a larger-breed one, can result in rapid growth, obesity and skeletal issues in growing babies, according to the May 2010 issue of "Compendium." Remember, puppies under 4 weeks of age need their mother's milk or puppy formula if she's not available, not solid foods. They should be slowly weaned onto puppy food over a period of three to four weeks.