Dog Food Options for Your Puppy - dummies

Dog Food Options for Your Puppy

By Sarah Hodgson

Settling on what kind of food to feed your puppy is an important decision. When deciding on your puppy’s diet plan, do you choose food from a can, a bag, or your own kitchen? These choices can make a huge determination in your puppy’s lifetime. The following sections outline just what you need to know about dietary choices to help you make the right decision for your puppy.

Dry versus wet dog food

Dry food and wet food have some key differences that you need to know about before you can decide which is right for your puppy:

  • Wet (canned) food often uses fewer preservatives (due to airtight packaging) and carbohydrates, and is generally more palatable to dogs. But it’s more expensive, and it can grow bacteria and become contaminated relatively quickly, so you shouldn’t leave it out for more than an hour or two.

  • Dry food (kibble) is cheaper and more convenient, but it has more preservatives and is less appealing to dogs.

You may want to consider mixing wet and dry food, because many veterinarians recommend a mixture of 75 percent dry and 25 percent wet.

Dry food

Dry kibble requires processing to blend the various ingredients, and its cereal-like consistency is unlike anything a dog would be attracted to in the wild. Dry food uses lots of chemical preservatives to keep it fresh and prolong its shelf life. When you hear in the news of dry food being recalled, most cases are because the fat in kibbles has turned rancid and deadly.

Wet food

Wet food, which comes canned, has many nutritional benefits. Canned food preserves the food naturally, limiting chemical additives. For dogs with sensitive digestive systems or allergies, wet food can make a huge difference. Canned food also retains more water and uses less cereal-type grains than dry food, which can also dramatically affect your puppy’s processing because few dogs would nosh on rice or wheat stalks if allowed to scavenge for food. The soft gushy consistency of wet food as well as its pungent meaty odor is often more attractive to both dogs and owners.

Read the label before you buy. Low-end wet foods often use by-products, discarded meats, and additives to enhance the smell and color. Although the wet food may look okay for your plate, low-end foods can wreak havoc on a dog’s overall health.

Semi-moist: A combination of wet and dry

In supermarkets you may see a third option: semi-moist dog food. Although often packaged with alluring labels, these bright red patties are highly processed and created with the lowest-quality ingredients. Packed with food dyes and preservatives, this choice is likely to offend — not befriend — you puppy’s digestive tract!

Home-cooked doggy dinners

Home cooking, like commercial food, allows for a lot of variation, from the types of meats you choose to the extra additives that meet the requirements for vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.

Some dogs, regardless of breed, suffer when they eat commercialized dog foods. The natural homemade diet can solve problems related to this condition. The drawback to feeding your dog naturally is that you must commit yourself to prepare balanced meals and to shop for products regularly to ensure freshness.

If you’re considering going this route, make sure you think it through carefully, because feeding your puppy a well-balanced and nutritious diet is important, especially if you’re meeting the special needs of a puppy, who requires more protein than an adult dog to support her development. Followed responsibly, the home diet can be modified for your puppy’s age, breed distinctions, and individual needs.

Your recipe may demand some tinkering until you get a formula that best suits your puppy’s everyday needs. How will you know? Just look to your puppy: How does she act? Are her stools firm and regular?

Following a raw-food diet plan

Another option for feeding your pup is the raw-food diet: a mixture of raw meat, uncooked bones (often pulverized), veggies, fruits, and a few other raw ingredients that strive to mirror the foods a dog/puppy would eat in the wild.

Specialty pet stores sell pre-made raw-food diets, or you can research how to make well-formulated meals right in your kitchen (of course, safe storage and careful handling are musts when handling any raw food, so remember to wash those hands!).

Sticking to organic cuisine

Wherever you turn these days, you see organic products. To earn this label, the foods or all the ingredients in them must be grown or raised without the use of steroids, chemicals, artificial colors, or flavor enhancements.

For organic dog food, you have several options, but they are costly. If you can afford this option and deem it is the best for your puppy, then go for it. Most dogs, like most people, can tolerate low levels of dyes and additives without ill side effects, though — remember, these same preservatives and food colorings are in processed foods for humans, too.

If your puppy is prone to allergies or has a highly sensitive digestive system, you may want to consider the organic option seriously. You may end up spending as much or more at the veterinarian and on medication as you would on organic food, only to find out that the solution is to change to an organic diet anyway.