puppy treats

How to Choose the Best Food and Treats for Your Puppy, According to a Vet

With so many puppy food options out there, here’s what you need to know about picking the right one for your pup—plus a few we think he might enjoy.
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Welcoming a new puppy into your family is an exciting experience. He's burning off his energy with zoomies, learning every day, and adapting to his new home. One day, he's a fluffy puppy, and the next thing you know, he's full grown! As a pet parent, you could probably relate to the motherly saying: "They grow up so fast." And that's all with the help of the nutritious food and treats you'll feed to help him reach optimum health.

"Puppies have specific needs that are different from an adult pet. A big part of this is the fact that they are growing and developing, so it is important that puppies have foods that have the nutritional requirements to allow for this growth to occur," says George Melillo, VMD, and co-founder and chief veterinary officer of Heart + Paw.  

"Key differences in puppy foods as compared to adult dog foods include additional protein for muscle development, fats, and minerals for brain, teeth, and bone development," he says. "As important as the type of food is the feeding schedule. Puppies should be fed 3–5 times a day for the first several months depending on the breed or size of the dog. This is important to provide adequate fuel for energy and to avoid low blood sugar in a young pup."

How to Choose the Best Food for Your Puppy

With so many brands of puppy foods and treats out there, it's best to consult with your veterinarian on what to feed your puppy, Melillo says. 

"There is a tendency to take the current thought in human diets and try to market for pets, but this doesn't always work," he says. "There can be risks in raw diets or grain-free that may sound appealing but, in fact, can be risky for your pet."

When it comes to choosing the best puppy food, Mellilo recommends:

  • Looking for a complete and balanced pet food that you know will have all of the nutrients necessary.
  • Checking for a nutritional claim or "Nutrition Adequacy Statement" by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that verifies if a puppy food is complete and balanced. 
  • Considering breed-specific brands that formulate the food based on not only the nutritional content but also the size and shape of the food.

Your vet will be able to make recommendations on your puppy's individual needs. As with anything, please check with them to see if your puppy can have these brands. 

Our Top Picks for Puppy Food and Treats

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Homemade Puppy Treat Recipe 

If you prefer to bake homemade puppy food treats for your young canine companion, consider using simple, wholesome ingredients to easily fix up a batch of delicious treats. Whip up a batch of cranberry oatmeal dog cookies, fresh breath mint dog treats, or watermelon mint dog popsicles perfect for hot days. And don't forget the dog birthday cake for your puppy's first birthday!