If you’ve ever had a pet then you’re sure to know that choosing a diet can be a pretty daunting task. It only takes one trip down the puppy food aisle to get completely confused. Unless you’ve already found a brand that you love and trust based on experience with previous pets than choosing the best diet for your puppy can be quite confusing. First off there are all these claims on pet foods “Holistic”, “Organic”, “Corn-Free”, “Grain-Free”, “Natural”, etc. It’s important never to choose a diet based on a single claim, the diet you choose should be tailor made for your puppy. How do you know what your best options are?
Ask for Advice
If your puppy gets diarrhea, vomits, or is scratching all over you would go to your vet for help, the same should be true with your puppy’s diet. Your veterinarian is the best source of expert advice when it comes to everything regarding your puppy’s health. For example, you have a 4-month-old German shepherd puppy, did you know that feeding too much calcium can contribute to retarded maturation of cartridge and bones? Or that your Chihuahua puppy actually needs more calories per pound than a larger breed? Your veterinarian team will take into consideration your puppy’s breed, body condition, lifestyle, and age and will educate and work with you to choose the best possible diet for your puppy to grow healthy and happy.
Choosing a Diet
What do you want from a diet? You want a diet that has a balanced nutrition designed specifically for your pet. One easy way to provide a balanced nutrition is to look for the “AAFCO” label printed on the packaging. AAFCO stands for The Association of American Feed Control Officials and is a good start in making sure the food you’re purchasing meets the minimum requirements for a balanced nutrition. However to get the best possible food for your puppy you might have to do some research of your own to choose a reputable brand. No matter what brand you choose it’s important that it can back up claims with scientific research. A good way to research a brand of food is by simply giving the manufacturer a call and asking them a few questions. A list of specific questions to ask the manufacturer are listed here: www.wsava.org. If any of the 8 questions cannot be answered then I would consider choosing a different brand.
Successfully Feeding your Puppy
So you’ve talked to your vet, you’ve done a little research and you’ve chosen a well-balanced diet with optimum nutrition for your pet, how do we make the most of it? It’s a good idea to stick with one puppy food once you’ve found one that works for your puppy and not introduce too many different types of food or treats, this could cause gastrointestinal problems or allergy related issues. It’s best to choose 1-2 treats and 1 diet food, which can be dry, canned, or both and stick with it. Remember that treats should only be 10% or less of total calorie intake, meaning if you’re giving treats, you need to reduce the amount of food fed. Feeding food from your plate is not a good idea. Human food is usually higher in calories, not a balanced diet, can cause diarrhea and promotes bad behavior. Feeding too many table scraps will teach your puppy that begging is rewarded and that there’s no point in eating the puppy food chosen just for him if steak is given at dinner time. Keeping your puppy on a schedule for feeding is ideal, whatever works for you works for your puppy. A set schedule for feeding will help you have a much easier time housetraining. Remember, your veterinarian and team will be able to give you all the information you need to successfully raise a happy and healthy dog.
Written by Erica Freeman
Receptionist, McLean Animal Hospital