What to Look for in Best Dry Dog Food for Puppies

Yellow Labrador puppy enjoying their dry dog food

When you adopt a puppy, you’re committing to keeping that lovable ball of fur healthy, active, and living their best dog life. And, as a new pup parent, you’re most likely wondering how to choose the best dry dog for your puppy. The first few months of their first year are vital for your puppy’s health, after all.

If you’ve scoured the internet and learned that most companies care more about sales than the health of your pup, we understand. Choosing your dog’s food can be tricky when there’s so much information out there. This is why we’ve written this article, dedicated to understanding the ins and outs of puppy food.

What’s the Difference Between Dry Dog Food for Puppies and Adults?

Many new pup parents are surprised to learn that food formulated for puppies exists. Shouldn’t dogs and puppies have the same general nutritional needs? Well, when your puppy is growing into a dog, they can benefit from higher levels of certain elements such as protein and fat [1].

Here’s a breakdown between the different requirements mandated by the AAFCO for a food to be labelled as a “puppy” dry food formula versus adult dry dog food [2].

Nutrient (%) Puppy Formula Adult Formula
Protein 22 18
Arginine .62 .51
Histidine .22 .18
Isoleucine .45 .37
Lysine .77 .63
Methionine + cystine .53 .43
Phenylalanine + tyrosine .89 .73
Threonine .58 .48
Tryptophan .20 .16
Valine .48 .39
Fat 8 5
Calcium 1 .6
Phosphorous .8 .5
Sodium .3 .06
Chloride .45 .09

As you can see, there’s quite a shift in your dog’s needs as they reach adulthood. This is because your puppy is growing, and needs elements, such as protein, for the creation of new cells.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the AAFCO regulates the bare minimum of what dogs need to thrive.

What Else Should You Look for in the Best Dry Dog Food for Puppies?

Litter of puppies scattered over the floor eating dry dog food

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA)

Experts agree that puppies also need omega-3 fatty acids in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) [3]. Before you panic, we know that DHA can sound overly scientific, but it’s not as complicated of an ingredient as it sounds.

So, what is DHA? DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid. It comes from eggs, some organ meats, and cold-water fish. While this omega-3 fatty acid is pivotal in the development and maintenance of your dog’s brain, your dog cannot produce DHA on its own. It must come from an external dietary source [4].

How Does DHA  Benefit Puppies and Dogs?

A dog’s brain is composed of various elements–50% of these elements are fats [5]. Of these fats, an average of 15% are DHA. Furthermore, 90% of the fats that play a vital role in the immune system, blood clotting, neurotransmitters, metabolism, and membrane phospholipids in the brain and your dog’s eyes are composed of DHA [6].

And while this is all quite complex, it’s important to know that your puppy’s body needs DHA to function at an optimal level.



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