How to Choose the Best Puppy Food and Treats, According to a Vet
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 Puppy Food
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.
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
- Best Puppy Food: Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food
- Best Puppy Food for Small Breeds: Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food
- Best Puppy Food for Large Breeds: Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food - Natural, Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato
- Best Breed-Specific Puppy Food: Royal Canin Medium Puppy Dry Dog Food
- Best Canned Puppy Food: Hill's Science Diet Puppy Chicken & Barley Entree Canned Dog Food
- Most Affordable Puppy Food: Purina Puppy Chow Complete With Chicken & Rice Dry Dog Food
- Best Puppy Treats: Blue Buffalo Bits Natural Soft-Moist Training Puppy Treats
Best Puppy Food: Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food
Best Puppy Food for Small Breeds: Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Food
Best Puppy Food for Large Breeds: Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
Best Breed-Specific Puppy Food: Royal Canin Medium Puppy Dry Dog Food
Best Canned Puppy Food: Hill's Science Diet Puppy Chicken & Barley Entree Canned Dog Food
Most Affordable Puppy Food: Purina Puppy Chow Complete With Chicken & Rice Dry Dog Food
Best Puppy Treats: Blue Buffalo Bits Natural Soft-Moist Training Puppy Treats
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!