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Is Your Pup Getting A Complete Dog Diet?

Yellow Lab Being Fed Out Of A Stainless Steel Bowl

A dog’s diet is the base of their overall health. With it being so important for their wellness, it can be tough to know if you are giving them the nutrition that they need. In this article, we’ll discuss the fundamentals of a nutritious diet, and how to make sure that you are giving your pup the best!

What makes a quality dog food?

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a diet for your furry friends. Ingredients and quality of food can impact your pup’s health, here are some things to look for when considering a specific diet. 


Quality ingredients are essential for a well-balanced diet. The main ingredients you should search for specifically in food are a good source of protein, vegetables or fruits, carbohydrates, and essential fats.

  • Protein: Look for specific mention of animal tissues such as chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, etc. If the first ingredient listed is a type of grain or soy, then it’s possible that most of the food’s protein is from plants.
  • Vegetables and fruits: Fruits and veggies are responsible for giving food several vitamins and minerals.
  • Carbohydrates: Dogs source a large amount of energy from carbohydrates. Some beneficial carbs to look for include corn, rice, barley, or oats.
  • Fats: Fats encourage the absorption of minerals in a dog’s body. Some essential oils and fats to look for in food are a vegetable oil, cottonseed oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, and fish oil.


One thing to search for in a diet is the label stating the food is approved by the AAFCO. This organization is responsible for ensuring that each approved diet meets the specific guidelines for dog and cat health. Also, the search for quality ingredients such as those listed above.

How to check for good quality

Yellow Lab Eating Out Of A Metal Dog Bowl

When choosing a diet for your pup, there will be a few signs that help quality food stand out. 


A nutritional diet will include whole ingredients. Make sure to look for the specific ingredients listed above, and make sure that a diet is veterinary approved. Make sure your dog does not have any food allergies as well.

Intended animal species 

Each animal has specific dietary needs. Make sure that you are only offering your puppy a canine diet. 


Puppies require more calories and nutritional values than a growing dog would. Feeding your puppy an adult diet could result in improper nutrition. 

Intended size and weight

Many brands of quality dog food offer a diet for large and small breed puppies. Since each puppy will grow at a different rate, they will need specific nutrients for the process. A small dog will require a different diet than a large dog.

Feeding guidelines

Most high-quality puppy food will come with a guideline to feeding your puppy based on their age and weight. If not, you can refer to the tips below for feeding your puppy. 

Feeding A Puppy vs Feeding An Adult

Beagle Eating Dog Food Out Of A Bowl

Growing puppies will have different requirements from a diet. Since their bodies are working overtime to develop, they will need a diet that is geared specifically for their stage of life and their specific breed. Some specialized diets for different stages of a puppies life include:

Puppy formula

Puppy formula, or puppy milk replacer, is needed for puppies without a nursing mother. Typically, formula is needed for puppies up to 6 weeks old, before you begin the weaning process. Tiny puppies under 6 weeks old require this specialized liquid diet due to their lack of teeth, their developing gastrointestinal systems, and their requirements of certain nutritional factors. Another tip to keep in mind when bottle feeding a puppy, is to only feed them formula labeled as a puppy milk replacer. There will always be controversy surrounding different options of milk replacer, but puppy formula is the only option that fits each of their dietary needs. Goat and cow milk can lead to gastrointestinal upset and do not contain phosphorus and calcium needed for growing puppies.

Breed and size

Luckily, there are now puppy food options made specifically with each breed and size of the dog in mind. A food company that understands the difference between a growing chihuahua and a growing Great Dane understands their vast physiological differences, and that says wonders for the quality. If you have a small breed puppy, pick a diet that offers a diet for small breeds, and vice versa.

How much and how often do I feed my puppy?

French Bulldog Looking At Its Food Bowl On A Wood Floor

Since puppies need more calories than the average adult dog, they will need to be fed more often. They also run the risk of low blood sugar due to their fast metabolism, so frequent feeding is essential.

The recommended amount of feedings for a puppy under 6 months of age is 3 times a day; morning, lunch, and dinner. Though it’s tempting to feed them each time they seem hungry, it’s important to establish a schedule from the start or they may gain weight. Feeding your puppy 3 times a day will cover each drop in blood sugar, and will properly aid in their growth.

Some puppy owners feel it’s easier to just offer food at all times of the day by keeping their bowl filled at all times. While it’s tempting, this can lead to over-eating, which can cause an upset stomach. This can also create picky adult dogs, which can make it difficult to get them on a proper feeding schedule.

Once your puppy reaches 6 months of age, you can then switch to 2 larger meals a day; once in the morning and once in the evening.

For a specific guideline of food amounts for each size and weight range, you can refer to theMerck Veterinary Manual.

First year timeline

Chocolate Lab Puppy Spilling Dog Food Out Of Its Bowl

Your puppies feeding schedule will change throughout their first year of life. The appropriate feeding schedule for each stage include:

  • 6-12 weeks old: It’s recommended to feed your pup a puppy diet a minimum of 3 times a day at this age. Once you know the recommended amount of food per day for your pup, you can divide it throughout the day to fit your schedule best.
  • 3-6 months old: At this point, your puppy should be eating a puppy diet no more than 3 times a day. An appropriate feeding schedule would be breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • 6-11 months old: A 6 month old puppy can now eat a puppy diet twice a day, in the morning and at night.
  • 1 year: Your puppy can now be switched to adult food at the same twice a day schedule with treats if needed.

At this time you can also introduce any supplements you may need for your dog such as salmon oil or CBD oil. Make sure to check with your veterinarian to ensure you are doing the best you can for your dog.

Sold out

Discourage Begging

It’s important to discourage begging from the start of your puppies life. By allowing this habit at a young age, dogs will often grow up continuing to practice this inappropriate behavior. By discourage begging and not giving your puppy table scraps, you can help to prevent:

  • Gastrointestinal upset from human food (vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • The development of inappropriate manners
  • Being disturbed while you are eating

When you bring a puppy into your life, it’s important to make sure that you are giving them everything they need to grow into healthy adult dogs. Make sure you understand your puppies' specific needs and research which diet fits your furry friend best!

Complete dog diet By: Amber LaRock

Amber LaRock
Amber is a Licensed Vet Tech with a degree in Veterinary Technology. Recently she has specialized in veterinary and animal-related content creation and social media management. When she is not working she loves spending time with her furry friends exploring the outdoors.

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