What food to choose for my puppy?

brown and white short coated dog on brown textile

The importance of feeding the puppy.

We all know how important it is for our health to have a balanced diet. Well, the same goes for our furry ones. Their diet provides them with the necessary nutrients to grow strong, and its quality will not only help prevent infectious and/or bone-related diseases during this period, but will also strongly influence their health throughout their lives. More importantly, the better the quality of your pup’s food, the fewer vets they will visit.

However, the market bombards us with a lot of information and alternatives that end up confusing us. In parallel, we have learned of cases of food poisoning from well-known brands in Chile. So which one to choose? How do I know which puppy food is of good quality? Here we talk about basic points to guide you.

But first let us give you 7 basic keys to keep in mind when choosing your puppy’s food:

1. The food must be specifically formulated for puppies.
2. Do not trust commercial phrases such as “Premium” or “Super Premium”.
3. The first ingredients on the list that appears on the food bag must be based on meat of animal origin.
4. Avoid those whose list of ingredients begins with cereals such as corn or wheat or that use expressions such as “and/or.
5. Avoid preservatives considered as possible carcinogens such as BHA and BHT.
6. Find out what you can about the reliability of the manufacturer.
7. Consider additional benefits added to food such as tartar control, prevention of joint problems, among others.

Now let’s look at these issues a little more in depth.
Raw and/or homemade diet?
What food to choose for my puppy

The essential thing is to understand that we have different needs than puppies, so feeding them based on the criteria of our own diet can cause long-term damage (they may lack or exceed nutrients, causing health complications). But if raw or homemade food is supervised by a veterinarian who knows the subject, nutritionally speaking it can be very beneficial as long as we care about its conservation. Fresh food decomposes quickly and we must also follow a strict deworming protocol, since we must remember that raw meat can carry many parasites.
What should I look for to know if a dry food is good and suitable for my puppy?

The information on the packaging is not enough to evaluate a food. It is always best to consult with the veterinarian who sees your puppy, since they will consider, firstly, the characteristics and specific needs of it, secondly, the characteristics and quality of the food on the market, and thirdly and very importantly, your “pocket”. However, there are some things that we can look at to get an idea.

That the food is specifically for puppies.

Puppies, adults and old people have different nutrient needs, so a food formulated for their age will consider these important differences. For example, the puppy needs more energy and protein because he is growing. There are even some brands that are more specialized and formulate not only by stage, but also consider the differences generated by the size of our furry dogs (small, medium or large breeds). The latter, contrary to what many people think, has not only to do with the size of the kibble but also with the caloric concentration and added supplements. By way of example, small dogs, having a higher body surface area ratio, lose more heat and need more calories to compensate, but, on the contrary, large breed dogs need fewer calories but more joint supplements due to their rapid growth ( glucosamine and chondroitin).

Do not trust the phrases “Premium”, Super Premium and the like.

There is no regulation for this classification, so it does not say anything about the quality of the food.

The key is in the ingredients.

When choosing a food for our puppy we have to pay special attention to 5 aspects that appear in the food bags:

1.- List of ingredients: It must always be written in such a way that the first ingredient that appears is the one that is found in the greatest quantity in the food and, conversely, the last ingredient is the one that is in the least quantity (it is in Descending order). A good quality food will always start with a protein of animal origin and never with one of plant origin. In other words, make sure that the first ingredient that appears is meat (chicken, beef, pork, etc.) and not corn or rice, for example. Avoid foods that have high levels (i.e., that are at the beginning of the list).


list of ingredients) of difficult-to-digest carbohydrates such as corn and wheat. Between meat and meat meal, your pup will make better use of meat. Between meat meal and by-product meal, you will get better use of meat meal.

What food to choose for my puppy?

2. Avoid foods in which the expression “and/or” appears in the list of ingredients. This means that its formulation is not fixed, so the ingredient used will depend on the price and availability of the market, and this is one of the reasons why food poisoning accidents can occur. We will not be certain if the ingredient comes from a safe place and it may happen, for example, that it brings some toxin; It’s unusual, but as we’ve seen this year, it can happen.

3. Avoid foods that contain preservatives in their list of ingredients considered to be possible carcinogens, such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). Although they are authorized, it is necessary to ensure that the company that manufactures them is responsible and reliable enough to regulate them. These are usually at the end of the list highlighted in “bold”.

4. The company must be reliable: For this, you can consult your veterinarian or contact the manufacturer directly (you will see the contact information on the food packaging) to find out where the food is produced and manufactured, how the food is processed (how ground or how much heat they apply influences the real use of the nutrients), what are the quality control and safety measures they use, if they have studies as backup, among other things.

5. Additional benefits: Some food brands go beyond meeting your puppy’s nutritional needs to survive, and add technology and/or functional ingredients to keep it in optimal condition. For example, they can use prebiotics, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, joint supplements and even to prevent tartar (very common in small breed dogs). This is undoubtedly an addition that we can consider and you can find this information in its list of ingredients or in its “special statements” (it usually appears on the front of the food bag or on its website).

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By Lee Chun Hei