The Right Foods for Puppies

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: April 6, 2011
The Right Foods for Puppies

Puppies need certain nutrients to grow strong bones and muscles, to feed their developing brains, and to build their immune systems. There are a lot of foods on the market. Some foods are obviously made for specific life stages, and say so on the packaging, while other foods appear to cover all of life's stages of development. Keeping in mind that starting off well is important for long term health and long life, you will want to choose the food that is tailored to meet your pet's needs during this crucial stage, or you may have to pay for it in veterinary services, medications and special diets later in life.

Once you know what the nutritional requirements are for developing puppies, and what ingredients you need to look for, choosing the right food will be a snap.


Carbohydrates and Protein

Protein is vital for the healthy growth of muscle and tissue. They supply essential amino acids, which are considered the building blocks of tissues. Also important to consider is that dogs are omnivores, so their diets consist not just of meat proteins but carbohydrates like rice and vegetables too. Active puppies use carbohydrates as an energy source, giving them something to burn off as they go about the business of growing up strong.

Fats: They're Good for You – Really!

Fats are an important component in the diet of young pups, helping to absorb important vitamins, such as vitamin A, D, E, and K, adding flavor to the food to increase enjoyment, and adding oils to the body to maintain healthy skin and hair coats. Fats are also an excellent source of energy.

Far from being bad for the health, fats and fatty acids are necessary for strong development in puppies. For example, puppies need linoleic acid for a healthy inflammatory response, and studies have shown that the fatty acid DHA is helpful for the normal development of brain function.

Vitamins and Minerals

For the development of bones and teeth, vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D are needed. The ratio and amount of these nutrients is especially important for the growth of large-breed puppies in order to maximize skeletal density and stability. Lack of vitamin and mineral balance in puppy-hood often will result in bone and joint problems later, especially for the large breeds.

A Balanced Diet for Growth

Do your research and talk to an expert, if necessary. Your veterinarian or animal nutritionist can help you to select a complete and balanced commercial diet that will meet your growing pet's needs depending on the breed and expected growth potential. This may mean that a large-breed dog will have different nutritional needs than a puppy that is going to grow only to a medium or small size.

In addition, unless your veterinarian has explicitly advised it, do not give your pet vitamin or mineral supplements while she is still in the growing phase of her development. Over-supplementation can be dangerous, possibly leading to improper skeletal development. A complete and balanced puppy food should provide every nutrient necessary, without the need for added supplements.

Good luck, and good growing!

Image source: sanjoyg / via Flickr

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