Message Us

Top 6 Nutritional Needs of Puppies

By PatrickMahaney. | Dog Info Cool Dog Products

Puppies can be a lot of fun, but their nutritional needs aren't as easy as you'd expect.

Here are my top 6 recommendations as a veterinarian for the unique nutritional needs of puppies:

1. Complete and Balanced Meals

DogsPuppies and Their Important Health Needs can't grow on meat alone. They need an appropriate combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and more. Most commercially available puppy foods have been formulated to be nutritionally complete and balanced for puppy growth and will include a statement that such foods have met requirements of the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). "Nutritionally complete" means that all the required nutrients are present in a particular food and are included in quantities that suffice a puppy's playful and energetic needs. Although nutritional completeness and balance according to AAFCO is important, there are many foods available to dog owners that meet such requirements but use poor-quality ingredients, some of which don't even exist in nature, are deemed inedible for human consumption (feed-grade), and are vastly different from the manner by which canines are biologically intended to eat.

2. Quality of  the Ingredients

Always consider the source of the ingredients you are feeding your dog during the months of puppyhood and the early years of adulthood. If you're feeding commercially available, processed (i.e. non-whole food) puppy diets containing ingredients that are piecemeal (i.e. protein and grain meals and by-products, rendered fat, etc.) instead of those appearing an a form identical or very similar to how they naturally exist (i.e. whole foods), the body will utilize such nutrients less-efficiently than whole-foods. Additionally, when the diet or treat components are feed-grade, there's a higher likelihood that they may contain man-made and environmental toxins (pesticides, mold-produced aflatoxin, etc.) and potentially be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Human-grade ingredients are higher quality and less likely to contain harmful toxins.

3. How Many Calories They Eat

Anyone who's had a puppy knows how active they can be, which often alternates with periods of heaving napping. All that growing merits greater daily intake of calories than older or less-active dogs. Puppies should be fed a number of calories that supports average growth rate (but not a maximum growth rate) to decrease the risk of developmental problems with bones and other musculoskeletal structures (ligaments, tendons, discs, etc.). Increased daily caloric intake to fuel growth should continue until a puppy reaches approximately 80% of mature size, which is something your veterinarian can help determine through the regular physical examinations that occur as a puppy develops.

4. Protein Intake

Puppies' muscle growth needs higher levels of protein than adult and senior dogs. The AAFCO suggests a minimum of 22% protein for puppy foods while giving no maximum quantity. Diets having very high protein levels have been linked to developmental abnormalities, including osteoarthritis, growth plate deformities, and obesity. Therefore, it's important that protein is not excessively high and is paired with fat, carbohydrates, fiber, moisture, and other food components. Protein should be fresh, human-grade, and come from real meat. I don't suggest my patient's puppies eat protein meals (lamb meal, chicken by-product meal, etc.), even though they are very dense in protein. My belief comes from the source where such meals are obtained, which are from feed grade ingredients instead of those consumed by humans (human grade).

4. Fat Intake

Puppies need more energy to promote growth and the most dense form of energy available is fat. AAFCO suggest a minimum of 8% fat for puppy foods while giving no maximum quantity. Many commercially-available puppy foods have significantly more, which is fine provided the puppy consuming the food does not become overweight or obese. My recommendation is that fat sources should originate from the piece of protein being fed, such as the marbling in beef or the skin from fish or poultry. Unfortunately, the fat that goes into most kibble and canned foods is rendered fat that comes from the process where viable material is extracted from animal tissue (i.e. rendering, which can include the tissues of deceased, disabled, diseased, or dying animals.the 4Ds).

5. Carbohydrate Intake

Like fats, carbohydrates provide a source of energy that helps fuel growth and provide more readily-available calories than protein. Carbohydrates from vegetables (carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, etc.), fruit (berries, coconut, etc.) and whole-grains (oats, barley, brown rice, etc.) not only provide great energy sources but also antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins essential for growth and development. As a common trend in my veterinary practice, when puppies eat whole-food diets and treats they are generally healthier. I've witnessed fewer episodes of mild to severe chronic diseases, slimmer body condition, and improved outward appearance of overall health. I recommend whole-food diets that have human-grade ingredients like The Honest Kitchen for all of my patients, but especially for puppies who are just starting out in life.

patrick_mahaneyPatrick Mahaney

Dr. Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA, CVJ is a veterinarian and certified veterinary acupuncturist providing services to Los Angeles-based clients both on a house call and in-clinic basis. Dr. Mahaney's unique approach integrating eastern and western medical perspectives has evolved into a concierge house call practice, California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness (CPAW), Inc. Additionally, Dr. Mahaney offers holistic treatment for canine and feline cancer patients at the Veterinary Cancer Group (Culver City, CA).


Signup/Login to post a reply


Reviews From 4Knines Customers VIEW MORE »

The best evaluations of our products come from the people who’ve bought them.

Puppy misadventure

My 8 month old lab puppy ate something and it required a trip to the vet. They administered peroxide to induce vomiting. He seemed unaffected by the entire experience and after waiting 45 minutes with no results, we were sent home. Naturally, he threw up in the car on the way home. I had recently bought the split rear seat cover. It saved the back seat of my car and cleaned up beautifully. I can only imagine how the cloth seat would have absorbed the odor and stain without the protection of the seat cover. Buying your seat cover was the smartest decision I've made. Love the hammock option.

Christine Cooley

XL rear seat hammock cover

I own a 2015 Toyota Tundra CrewMax. I was concerned that the XL seat cover wouldn't be big enough for our pups. However, after installing it easily, our pups took to it immediately! Ellie loved the hammock part that comes off the seat a little and slept in it on one of our most recent road trips.

JP Nelson

Perfect Fit!

We had fallen back to just putting a sheet over our seats as our Bernese Mountain Dog and our cars never found a perfect match with any of the seat covers we tried until this front seat cover. We immediately put in an order for the backseat cover from 4Knines to give our BMD more room.

Erin Allen

Service dog approved

It works awesome and my dog Mr Malachi S.D loves it and 4 me being disabled it's so much easier to keep my seat clean now. thank you awesome product..

Dave Clark

Perfect seat cover- just what I was looking for

I ordered the Split Rear Back Seat Cover - Grey Regular Fitted - Non Hammock option for my 1999 Ford F-150 pickup truck. It fits perfectly in the front seat. Easy to take off and on and looks beautiful.

Miriam Hudgins

Great product awesome customer service

Well made look forward to many years of use. Door protectors do there job. Thanks

Danny Medinas

Geeat fit, great product, great service

Got these much faster than other products I have ordered online. The fit is wonderful, even in my little Corolla, and the installation was really easy. Hair does NOT stick to these covers.I love them!


Customer Service

I ordered a dog cover for my rear seat. When I placed it, one of the straps was not holding tight so I sent an email to the company that day. I received an immediate response and an immediate replacement. I was so impressed! I love the no hammock cover. It's perfect!

Sylvia Morrison

For all general inquiries, please call or email us
Phone: 888.602.2509

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Nothing but the best for your best friend!
© 4Knines. 2017. All rights reserved | Terms | Privacy

Message Us