For dog owners, the puppy time is probably the best time with the four-legged friend. In order to properly feed the playful and curious puppy in the first few months, the choice of a high-quality feed is crucial. The puppy’s rapid growth phase takes place in the first six months of life. Even if the dogs usually remain playful for a long time, the body grows rapidly. A balanced and healthy diet is one of the most important things in puppy age. Malnourished puppies are more susceptible to health problems in old age, such as joint problems in larger breeds.
Especially with large dog breeds you will be amazed at what the little puppy can eat at this age. Due to the rapid growth phase, a puppy needs almost twice as much energy as in adulthood. In this guide you will find out what is important when choosing the right puppy food and what ingredients you should pay attention to.
How does a puppy food work?
The puppy food will already be supplemental feeding puppies when they are still drinking breast milk and commonly added to the ninth month of life, dog larger breeds should be given as early as six months of age adult food. The puppies are accustomed to the change in diet in small steps until the puppy food finally completely replaces breast milk .
Ingredients of a good puppy food
Small paws, small teeth, little muscle and a lot of energy – in a young dog the whole organism has to develop first , similar to a small person. The puppy food should contain sufficient vitamins, trace elements and minerals so that there are no disturbances or even defects during the course of growth. The following ingredients in the feed are particularly important for the first months of the animal.
- High meat content in the feed
- High quality proteins and fats
- Healthy carbohydrates (such as rice, potatoes)
- Vegetables and animal by-products
- Minerals (such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus)
- Trace elements (such as copper, zinc, manganese)
Dogs are carnivores by nature and therefore need as much meat as possible in their food. The bartenders are also aware that the food should not only consist of muscle meat. Animal by-products are also an important part of a species-appropriate and healthy puppy nutrition. The high-quality animal by-products include rumen, lungs, stumps, kidney, heart, carcasses, throat, poultry stomachs and liver.
These by-products contain important vitamins and nutrients, which are essential for a species-appropriate diet. But be careful, the term animal by-products encompasses much more than the listed organs. According to German law, hooves, udders, horns, furs, ovaries, testicles, intestines and skins can land in the feed. If these by-products are used, it can usually not be clearly identified from the declaration. Therefore, before choosing the food, find out about the ingredients of the food and pay attention to the declaration.
We have researched in order to be able to provide you with an overview, with existing puppy food test reports. In addition, you will also find a comparison of different puppy foods which we have created especially for this purpose.
Puppy food has a slightly different composition than normal food and contains important substances that dogs need during the strong growth they undergo during the first months of their lives. Puppy food meets, or should meet, these special requirements.
Puppy food comparison : dry food for puppies
The puppy food comparison takes into account the product properties, price, filling quantity, meat content and previous customer experience. For example, the price is just as important as the quantity or the number of packs. In this comparison, we only deal with dry feed. No practical test was carried out. The comparison is based purely on the manufacturer’s product information and existing customer ratings.
In addition to the individual details of the product, a common comparison criterion is the meat content. More meat means more protein, which in turn is extremely good for building muscle – perfect for puppies.
This is how puppy food is tested
The decisive factor for a good test score in a product test that examines the quality of puppy food is ultimately the tolerance of the food and the best price-performance ratio.
Comparisons show that tolerance is closely related to the composition of the feed. External tests have repeatedly shown that the higher the quality of the feed compared to other tested feed types, the better the tolerance.
The qualitative value of the meat contained in the puppy food therefore has top priority in the test.
Difference between puppy food and normal dog food?
Many dog owners wonder why they should give their puppy special puppy food? One often hears the claim that this is just money-making and that the composition does not differ from the feed for adult animals. However, this is not correct, because a puppy goes through an enormous development in the first year of life and therefore has a different need for energy, proteins, nutrients and vitamins than an adult dog.
If you were to supply a puppy with normal dog food , sooner or later there would be a high probability of deficiency symptoms. Puppy food therefore contains more calories to be able to grow properly. It must also contain more calcium, zinc and copper.
For the absorption of calcium and healthy growth, the body absolutely needs enough vitamin D. It is also important for the puppy to have a high protein content and the supply of sufficient high-quality fats.
Possible test criteria
If the puppy food contains a lot of high-quality muscle meat , the food is expensive. With inexpensive puppy food, it cannot always be guaranteed that it is the best choice for your dog, even if it contains all the necessary nutrients .
Declaration and advertising statements
The more detailed a food is declared, the better. Only in this way can be reasonably calculated, whether the comparison is a good feed, or not.
Feeding instructions provide information about the value of the feed, but at the same time should be easy to understand.
It should be immediately apparent from which individual components the feed has been composed.
This analysis subjects the declaration to a check as to whether the vitamins, minerals and trace elements it contains are in the right proportion for a puppy food .
For many dog owners it is important in which container and can sizes the food is available.
In external tests , attention was paid to the absence of pollutants and exposure to heavy metals to ensure that the dog is not unnecessarily burdened.
A complete feed contains all the necessary nutrients and it is not necessary to add other ingredients. A good feed should meet these requirements.
How long to give puppy food?
Of course, it takes different times from dog breed to dog breed until an animal is fully grown. For this reason, puppy food must always be given long enough, because if you switch too early, you risk abnormalities in joints and bones.
Puppy food is so popular until the dog has reached the necessary physical maturity. The development of the animals progresses individually, but there is a rough rule of thumb.
Small and medium-sized breeds should receive puppy food for 9 to 12 months, large breeds 12 to 15 months and very large dog breeds even 18 to 24 months. If you are unsure, you should better discuss the diet with the veterinarian.
Puppy food: dry food or wet food?
There are both special wet and dry foods for puppies. What you ultimately decide on depends on the animal’s preferences and personal everyday life.
Both variants have their individual advantages and disadvantages, but the most recommendable is a mixed feeding with both, so the dog’s menu is also more varied.
Special variants of puppy food
The composition of puppy food varies depending on the manufacturer and variety. Some dog owners want to do without certain ingredients because they can be harmful to health. No problem, because there are also special feeds for puppies
Sugar-free – Sugar has basically lost nothing in puppy food, because it has no use, only disadvantages. It benefits the manufacturer in that it naturally improves the taste, which increases sales.
Sugar is just as harmful to puppies as it is to humans, with the same consequences. It damages teeth in the long term and promotes obesity. Fortunately, there is also puppy food that does completely without added sugar.
Without grain / corn
In principle, grain is not a bad thing, because it provides the puppy with a lot of energy from carbohydrates. Unfortunately, there are also animals that do not tolerate gluten or other components of the cereal grains well and develop a kind of allergy.
In this case, giving puppy food without grain or corn makes sense. In many feedstuffs, grain is only used as a cheap filler anyway, the dogs can also get the necessary energy from high-quality meat.
Carbohydrates occur predominantly in the form of cereals and sugars in puppy food. So if you want to avoid carbohydrates in dog food, you must look for feed that does not contain these ingredients.
Do you have to mix and soak puppy food with water?
Basically, you don’t have to soak puppy food in water. However, there are a few reasons that speak in favor of this approach. Some young dogs have difficulty chewing with milk teeth or chewing teeth. Often, young dogs also do not consume enough water, so that soaking can help prevent a lack of fluids.
Soaking is also recommended for puppies with a sensitive digestive system, because then the food swells up beforehand and not just in the stomach. If an animal tends to be overweight, the feeling of satiety tends to occur with swollen dry food .
High or low protein content better?
A puppy generally has a much higher protein requirement than an adult dog. This is due to the rapid growth in the first 12 months. A good puppy food should definitely meet this need, as a rule the content is up to 30 percent.
For large dog breeds, however, it is not so ideal if they grow quickly, because this puts enormous strain on the bones and joints and, in the worst case, can lead to abnormalities in the skeleton, which are then irreparable and will cause problems for the animal throughout life.
Special dog breeds and what to consider
There can also be very large differences in puppy food, which is why not every product is equally suitable for every dog. There are a few dog breeds where you should consider a few essential criteria when buying puppy food.
The growth of the German Shepherd takes around 14 months, then it is considered fully grown. The growth of the German Shepherd must not go too fast because the muscles and skeleton could be damaged.
Under no circumstances should these dogs be overfeeded, the rations must be divided precisely. Shepherd dogs should generally not get the puppy food for longer than six months, and it should not contain too much protein.
When a boxer is growing, he needs a lot of energy. The puppy food must also have a balance between phosphorus and calcium so that the bones can develop optimally.
There is special puppy food for boxers, this should be offered exactly according to the feeding recommendations of the manufacturer. The switch to normal dog food must not be made too early. With Boxer, however, it is important that it does not grow too quickly, as this could put a great strain on its musculoskeletal system.
The French bulldog has a very special anatomy and physiology by nature, so that a normal body weight is particularly important in order not to aggravate these deficits. A puppy food for this dog breed should not be too high in calories. Special puppy food for French bulldogs is on sale.
Sufficient minerals such as calcium and phosphorus must be available for the optimal development of the skeleton. The amount of food in the French Bulldog must be adjusted to the level of activity, because there are very lively but also sluggish contemporaries.
Labrador puppies also have very special demands on their diet, if you want to be on the safe side, choose a puppy food that has been tailored to the needs of this dog breed.
Since the Labrador is one of the large dog breeds, growth must not progress too quickly. For this reason, it is often recommended that the puppy food be used for a maximum of the first six months, then you can switch to a high-quality junior or adult food.
Conclusion on the puppy food test
The right puppy food to find is sometimes easier than expected. Manufacturers are often only a cheap advertising bag if a special puppy food is advertised. A high-quality wet or dry feed is generally suitable for all ages. No matter whether it is a puppy or a dog in the senior age . When feeding a puppy, it is not just a question of the right food, but also the way in which it is fed.
From the fifth week you can start feeding a puppy food . The mother must take care of the care beforehand. The feed should be easily digestible, bite-sized and of high quality. The daily amount of feed should initially be divided into up to four to six meals . Because the digestion of the puppy works better at first, the smaller the portions. Earlier in the text, we listed carbohydrates as an important part of puppy food. The feeding and especially the addition of flakes or the like should be enjoyed with caution. Only from the 12th week did the puppies fully develop the enzymes necessary for the digestion of carbohydrates.
How to find the right puppy food
There are various clues to finding the right puppy food. 1. The size of your puppy: There is puppy food for small, medium and large dog breeds. 2. Complete food (both dry and wet food) contains all the nutrients your dog needs for growth, in addition he only needs water. 3. Sugar and preservatives are superfluous. Your dog only needs gluten-free puppy food if he cannot tolerate gluten. Buying advice: How to find the right puppy food for your four-legged friend 2.1. The composition of breed puppy food often depends on the expected final size of the dog. The ideal dog food for your puppy depends on its breed and its expected size. The manufacturers usually give recommendations for which breeds a particular feed is suitable.
How often do you have to feed puppies?
Puppies should be fed 4 times a day, then 3 times a day (morning, noon, evening) and from the 5th month of life only twice a day (morning and evening). You can leave it at that. Fixed feeding times are recommended. It is important that a water bowl is available throughout the day and that the feed is at room temperature.
How long should you feed puppy food?
The manufacturer Pedigree gives the following recommendations for how long you should give puppy food: dwarf breeds, small and medium-sized breeds: 9 – 12 months, large breeds: 12 – 15 months, very large breeds: 18 – 24 months.
Should puppy food be without cereals?
Cereals – such as wheat or barley – are often suspected of causing intolerance or allergies. Grain also contains many carbohydrates. The enzymes necessary for digestion, however, did not fully form puppies until around the twelfth week.
A dog’s entire digestive system is designed for animal food. In this way, proteins of animal origin can also be used much better than is the case with vegetable proteins. The reason for this is not least the comparatively short intestine of the dog.