Understanding Dog Food Better – The Choice of the Right Food for Adult Dogs vs Puppies

Understanding Dog Food Better - The Choice of the Right Food for Adult Dogs vs Puppies

Dogs are perhaps one of the most amazing nonhuman friends one can have in their lifetime. An affectionate companion and an ever-loving buddy, they are also one of the most preferred choices of pets to have.

With thousands of years of history of human interaction and companionship, today dogs are implemented as assistance guides for various day to day requirements in healthcare, defense, and much more.

An English Cocker Spaniel Puppy is eating puppy food from his bowl
An English Cocker Spaniel Puppy is eating puppy food from his bowl. Image from Pet Central by Chewy

However, one of the most common mistakes people make when they bring a new puppy home is the food. A healthy puppy needs different dog nutrition than an adult dog. Researching and understanding the food classification specific to dogs of various ages is very important.

Puppies have a growth curvature that is different from an adult dog, so supplementing their diets in a specifically customized way is important, unlike older dogs. Just like human babies, it is important to teach them to eat their veggies from an early age alongside the meat, to promote overall balanced dietary requirements.

Can Puppies Eat Regular Dog Food?

No, absolutely not. Puppies cannot eat adult dog food. Do we feed small human babies with adult food or rice or pasta? No, we do not feed them adult food ever… 

Why may you ask?  Because :-

  • Pups do not have the physical ability to digest adult dog food just like human babies cannot have pasta or curry. Biologically an adult dog has a different built and nutritional metabolism ability than a puppy. 
  • The diet of an adult dog is often designed to promote specific functional abilities unlike that of a puppy. Puppies burn calories at a very rapid rate, so compensating the fuel lost requires a much higher nutrient addition.

If at all they do eat adult food accidentally once in a while, that’s a different story altogether.  However, if an adult dog food is their dietary fulfillment every day from such a young age, the damage will be a lasting one and quite disastrous as a whole.

Puppy Food and Adult Dog Food – The Similar Stories with a Different Theme and Concept

A dog looking at the dog food in a bowl.
A dog looking at the dog food in a bowl. Image from Chief Outsiders

We cannot relate an adult human being with an infant. That is the same in regards to pups and adult dogs. A pup and an adult dog have a physical ecosystem that is different even though they belong to the same species and breed.

  • The Calorie Burn vs Calorie Gained

Puppies are at the growing phase of development. They burn a very disarmingly large quantity of calories every day. They also tend to build their bones and muscles equally fast. Normal adult dog food cannot accommodate the nutritional needs of such fast development.

  • Processing of the Nutrients

Puppies cannot process the nutrients in their food as fast as adult breeds of dogs. Puppy meal has to be easily digestible, and high in nutritional value.

The Nutritional Supplement Requirements of Puppy Food

  • Protein 

Puppy food should be able to supply 22 to 25 % of the calories from the protein content alone. In the case of adult dog food, the calorie derived from the protein content accounts for only 15% to 18 % of the total calorie count.

  1. The lack of protein in the adult dog food can result in developmental issues and disabilities in the puppy. 
  2. Amino acid contents like Thereorine, Histidine, Arginine, Leucine, Phenylalanine, etc are required in almost double the concentration in puppies in comparison to adult dogs.
  • Fat

Puppy food will account for 8 to 12% calorie count from fat content while adult dog food will account for 4 to 6 % calorie count. Fat is not a bad thing contrary to popular belief. It is an essential need for the healthy growth of a puppy

  • Minerals

The calcium and phosphorus content of puppy food are way higher than adult dog food. This is done to help promote better development of the body functions and hormonal developments.

  • The All Life Stage dog food

Some dog food is classified with a tagline of “all life stage” written in bold on the packaging. These foods are prepared with a balanced concentration of all the nutrients to suit both adults and puppies alike.

Though this category of dog food is regarded as optimal and safe for feeding most of the growing puppies, additional supplementation of nutrients can be needed. Consulting the vet with a thorough examination of the growth chart will help in assessing and rectifying any additional requirements.

Can puppies be fed homemade food?

A chocolate labrador sitting in his food bowl with puppy food
A Chocolate Labrador puppy sitting inside his food bowl. Image by iStock/Getty Images

The confusion of choosing between a homemade meal and the vet prescribed packaged puppy food is a very common query for most new puppy owners. Puppies and human babies are similar in many surprising ways.

They both need only milk to survive the initial few days. After that, it is again a prescription food authorized by experts. However, after a certain period of time, it is safe to assume that homemade food can be fed to puppies just like babies.

However, what makes the situation slightly tricky is the preparation of food.  The puppy food prepared at home should be a correct balance of every required nutrient and equally easy to consume and digest for the puppies.

While preparing homemade puppy food a few requirements must be mandatorily included. These are

  1. Protein inclusion like  Meat of any type of fish
  2. Carbohydrates in the form of rice or potato
  3. Vitamin and Mineral Supplement in the form of tablets, syrups or food soluble mix
  4. Fat in the form of oil or lard 
  5. Vegetables in small portion for roughage and minerals like Carrots and beans
  6. Fruits like Watermelon and Oranges for vitamin and minerals and as a body coolant

There is nothing as healthy and safe as homemade meals. Homemade Puppy food can actually help in better physical development if all the nutrients included are well balanced.

Knowing the Fundamentals of Feeding the Puppy

Two poodles sitting on chair and having best puppy food in the world
Two cute poodles sitting on the dinner table to eat their puppy food. Image from Ugarsoft

There is a very famous quote used by Vets all over the planet. They often advise the pup owners, “Watch out for the dog and not the dish in which you serve the food”

The type and quantity of food should be changed in segments. This time frame breakdown includes-

  • The initial infant period of 4 weeks of age to 12 weeks of age was specially formulated high nutrient diet should be fed 4 to 6 times a day depending on the size and breed.
  • 12 weeks to 24 weeks age is the second phase of growth where the puppies start to lose the baby fat. They should be fed 3 to 4 times a day max during this phase.
  • 6 months to 12 months of age is perfect for reducing the feeding to twice a day. Since this is the transition phase, the dietary requirement should have a high percentage of nutrient value.

Things to Keep in Mind While Buying Dog food

The dogs require a huge amount of protein in their dietary supplement. So it is important to note that the primary essential component of any good dog food is a meat-based protein like salmon, pork, beef, or chicken.

The best quality puppy food will be devoid of any artificial flavoring or coloring agents. Dogs are highly sensitive to synthetic additives. The presence of these artificial products can result in adverse effects and allergies.

A healthy puppy is a happy puppy” – There is a reason why this saying is preached by pet lovers, owners, and experts. The right food is what makes a puppy healthy and happy.

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