Puppy Playbook



What do I feed this puppy?

Nutrition is an extremely difficult topic to study and understand. There are several thousands of products and foods available. 

Short answer: Any commercial puppy formula diet with an AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) label will provide the required nutrients needed for your puppy. 

  • If you have a large breed pup, be sure to feed a large breed formula

Most of what you know is based on advertising. Click here to learn the truth about commonly stated "facts" on nutrition. 

Fresh water at all times and clean bowls are also essential

How much do I feed?

Look for a label on your puppy’s food. It will have directions specific to that diet.

How often should I feed?

More frequent feedings can be beneficial and required for some small breed pups 

  • If you have a small breed, it is important to feed frequently because they can have problems maintaining their blood sugar
    • Concerned that your pup is at risk? Schedule an appointment with a vet to discuss if your pet is at risk
  • If your pup is less than 6 weeks, disc with your vet the need for possible milk replacers and increased frequency of feedings 
  • Typically can transition puppy to twice a day feeding around 4 months old
    • Each puppy is different, discuss with your vet the appropriate number of meals

How do you transition to new a food?

While switching diets should be avoided if your puppy is doing well on its current diet, occasionally a diet change is necessary.

Transitioning to new diet

  • Best to do it slowly, over at least one week
    • First day 25% new food 75% old food
    • Day 2: 25% new, 75% old
    • Day 3: 50:50
    • Day 4: 50:50
    • Day 5: 75:25
    • Day 6: 75:25
    • Day 7: 100% new food

· It is not uncommon to see mildly loose stool during a diet change, consult with your veterinarian if diarrhea persists during the transition.

The Truth About Nutrition

Much of what you see in the store and on TV are based on one thing... advertising. Very few claims mean much of anything and the truth can be difficult to find. Here are few common truths that you should be aware of when shopping for a dog food:


"By products"

  • Are safe ingredients for dog food
  • May include liver, lungs, and heart
  • Provide valuable sources of energy, vitamins and minerals


  • Provide valuable nutrition to your pet
  • Source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Many grains are highly digestible

"Grain Free" is better

  • This has been a large movement, but not based on any scientific evidence

"Wheat gluten"

  • Is 80% protein and is highly digestible

"Chicken Meal"

  • Chicken meal is dehydrated and defatted chicken
  • A very digestible source of protein

"Flax seeds"

  • Contain a precursor to EPA and DHA, but not efficiently converted to EPA/DHA
    • Omega-3 fatty acids should be supplied from marine plants and fish


  • Does not directly correlate with quality of the material
  • Currently no scientific data to prove the materials/ingredients are better for the pup
  • Watch for flax seeds… discussed earlier

"Raw diet"

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states raw meat diets are not consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks particularly when such products are brought into the home and/or used to feed domestic pets” 
    • FDA Issues Final Guidance on Raw Meat (Feb 2012)
      • Risk of salmonella, extremely difficult to balance nutritionally

“Human Grade” and “Holistic”

  • Not defined by AAFCO 
  • Just marketing schemes that are not being controlled by any industry


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