Dog food bag labels are confusing, and many of the ingredients impossible to pronounce let alone recognize, while each one claims to be the ‘perfect’ food for your precious pup.
The intermittent dog-food scares and recalls just add to the confusion!
And of course, your puppy isn’t too picky about what he eats at all.
He’s quite happy sinking his little teeth into your belongings – sneakers, rugs, table legs, cardboard boxes……they’re all fair game. So the responsibility of making sure he eats properly is all yours!
Luckily, there are some basic principles that can make choosing the right puppy food for your little guy or gal much simpler.
Once you know what is best, and what to avoid, you’ll be able to make sure that your pup gets the sort of nutrition she needs to grow up healthy and strong.
In This Article You Will Read About
- Puppy Food Research
- Best Puppy Food Ingredients – Large Breed Puppies
- Choosing A Food For Small – Medium Breed Puppies
Puppy Food Research
I’ll start off by saying that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ puppy food that will suit every puppy!
Puppies of different breeds, different sizes and different ages have unique dietary requirements and your aim is to find the best puppy food for YOUR puppy.
A Rottweiler puppy is a large breed pup, and this means that she needs a food that gives her chubby little body everything it needs to grow and develop properly.
A puppy food designed for a small breed pup won’t fit the bill, neither will an adult dog food, or a generic ‘low quality’ food full of fillers and chemicals.
Researchers have spent a lot of time investigating the effects of specific nutrients on the growth and development of puppies. In particular, what happens when there is too much, or too little, of them. Unfortunately, not all the studies agree on all of their findings!
Rottweilers, like other large and giant breed puppies, grow very rapidly, but mature slowly, and this rate of development makes it very important that they get the right balance of nutrients in order to prevent growth-related problems from developing.
Many researchers believe that a diet too rich in protein can cause conditions such as ‘knuckling over’, hip dysplasia and various other musculo-skeletal problems. Others aren’t convinced, and argue that too little protein has even more of an adverse effect on a growing puppy.
In the past, adding Calcium supplements to a large-breed puppy’s diet was encouraged, but it has been fairly conclusively proven that this causes much more harm than good. Too much Calcium can result in abnormal skeletal development.
Another point that seems to be universally agreed upon is that overfeeding puppies can cause many of the bone/joint and hip problems seen in adult dogs.
Perhaps more than an excess (or lack of) certain nutrients, the sheer stress of carrying too much weight due to overfeeding (sometimes combined with too little exercise) is what causes many growth-related problems in our big dogs.
These three simple steps will help you to make sure that your puppy gets what she needs to develop properly.
- Choose a puppy food that is formulated from premium natural ingredients, in the correct ratio.
- Feed the right amount of food
- Make sure your pup has the right amount of daily exercise
Now you’ve got a grip of the basics, let look in more detail at the first point on this list…. the importance of making sure you choose a food that has the right ingredients.
Best Puppy Food Ingredients – Large Breed Puppies
This is where it can get confusing!
There are literally hundreds of different dog and puppy food manufacturers, most of them with a huge range of different product lines.
The choice can be quite overwhelming, and if you’ve spent hours wandering up and down the dog food aisle in your local petstore you’ll know what I mean.
Of course, just because a food is advertised on TV, or is on the shelf at the local pet superstore, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best puppy food for your little guy or gal.
In fact, most of the best puppy food and dog food choices, aren’t found in regular petstores (and definitely not at the supermarket or big-chain giant).
Feed stores, veterinary offices and online retailers are actually the best places to find the best rated puppy food. But, there are also a few premium foods to be found at Petsmart or Petco etc., and you’ll find them included in the list further down this page.
These are what you should be looking for in the puppy food you choose –
- A good source of identifiable animal-based protein as the first (or second) ingredient. Chicken, turkey, lamb or beef are the most common and should be identified as the source.
- More exotic animal-based protein choices such as duck, buffalo, rabbit, salmon and so on are a good choice for pups/dogs with dog food allergies.
- All-natural, organic, or human-grade ingredients are preferred.
- Not to many grains. These are difficult for dogs to digest and can trigger allergies. The most suitable ones are corn, maize, rice, buckwheat and oats.
- No artificial additives such as colors and preservatives like BHA, BHT or ethoxoquin. Also avoid foods with artificial sweeteners such as corn syrup or sucrose.
- No animal ‘by-products’ – most of these have no nutritional value and many are indigestible.
When it comes to the ratio of ingredients in the best puppy food choices for a Rottweiler or other large breed pup, there is some disagreement between professionals. But these figures are a good place to start…
- Protein (from clearly identified animal sources) – between 23 and 25%
- Fat (again from identifiable animal sources) – between 12 and 15%
- Calcium – between 1.2 and 1.5%
In terms of calorie intake, the best puppy food choices are likely to be within the ‘moderate’ range.
Somewhere around 350 – 380 k/cal per cup (the terms ‘calories per cup’ and ‘kilocalories per cup’ mean basically the same thing, and are interchangable).
But because there’s no shortage of conflicting evidence and opinions, many excellent large breed puppy foods have a higher caloric density!
Here are a couple of large breed foods that I think are among the best choices available:
Precise Holistic Complete Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
Orijen Large Breed Puppy Food
Wellness Complete Large Breed Puppy Health Recipe
If you want to find out more, visit my Best Large Breed Puppy Food page!
You’ll get a close-up look at a selection of top quality puppy food formulas especially designed for the ‘big guns’.
Choosing A Food For Small – Medium Breed Puppies
Smaller breeds mature more quickly than the larger ones, and very tiny breeds have very fast metabolisms and tiny tummies.
This means that their bodies ‘use up’ their food much more quickly than large breed puppies do.
Choosing a food that is more calorie dense is better for the ‘little guys’ because they need almost twice as many calories per pound, per day than the big pups.
They also need higher percentages of protein and fat, and tiny puppies can get dehydrated easily, so adding a little premium canned puppy food to their meals is a often a good idea.
You’ll also need to feed a small or tiny breed pup more often than you would a medium or larger breed. This helps to prevent hypoglycemia. Even as adults, tiny and toy breeds should be fed twice a day to help regulate their blood sugar levels
Feed at least 4 times a day for the first 6 months, and then 3 times a day until your puppy reaches maturity (usually at around a year old).
Medium breed pups (such as Cocker Spaniels, many shepherd breeds, Bulldogs etc.) don’t generally have the issues of either the extra-large or extra-tiny ones and have less specific needs.
The best puppy food for these guys is an ‘all life stages’ or ‘all-breeds’ dry puppy food, fed three times a day until around 6 months old, and then twice a day until mature.
At that point one meal a day should work just fine.