It doesn’t take puppies long to transition from mother’s milk and start gobbling kibble. With all the exploring ahead of them, they need lots of energy. A recommended puppy food contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to support your growing pooch.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body's tissues. Meat and vegetables are the two sources of protein. Animal protein has a higher biological value than vegetable protein, according to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. For optimal development, your pup's food should contain 25 to 30 percent protein. Meat should be the first protein listed. A dog food can tout it has meat protein, but the protein may be listed as "meat byproducts." Meat byproducts are the leftovers from the animal such as hooves, skin, feathers and even blood. A specific meat should be listed such as chicken or lamb.
Fats are derived from animal fats and the seed oil of various plants. Fats supply the most concentrated energy for your pup. They also transport fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats help your pup's skin and coat and play a role in cell structure as well as the cell's function. Too much fat can result in rapid growth, weight gain and developmental orthopedic diseases. Recommended puppy foods should have approximately 21 percent fat.
The energy needs of puppies are twice that of adult dogs, so pups need carbohydrates to prevent the body from using protein for energy. The highest percentage of ingredients in dog food are carbohydrates because carbohydrates are a direct source of energy. Carbohydrates consist of sugars, starches and fiber and are derived from grains and vegetables. Some quality carbohydrates include rice bran, brown rice, barley and oatmeal. Wheat, corn meal and soy meal have been known to cause allergies.
Vitamins are necessary for the body's chemical reactions, and minerals are needed for structural building. A complete and balanced puppy food has all the needed vitamins and minerals for your puppy's growth, so no additional supplements are needed. Complete and balanced dog foods will include a nutritional adequacy statement that the food meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials' nutritional levels.
Besides the recommendations of the AAFCO, your veterinarian and your breeder can advise you on choosing a quality puppy food.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.