With so many food choices available to puppy owners, it can understandably become a daunting task to decide what you should feed your puppy. Start by choosing whether you want to feed him wet, dry or raw food, or a combination, by weighing up the health benefits for your dog and convenience for you.
Benefits of each
According to Suretha van Breda, Technical Manager at a pet food nutrition company representing the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI), wet food is very palatable and can be given as is (complete) or with dry dog food (complementary). “This is ideal for senior pets or pets who can’t eat sufficient dry kibble due to illness or old age. On the other hand, apart from being a complete pet food, dry food also assists with general teeth maintenance, as the kibble mechanically cleans the teeth.”
Monique Hodgkinson, CEO of Raw Gold Foods, says that raw diets shouldn’t contain any processed ingredients, which can be bad for your puppy. Raw food is combined with healthy ingredients for a balanced meal. “The ‘complete’ diets are required by law to include vitamin and mineral premixes, and some of these ingredients could be synthetic.”
Dry food is very convenient, as you can just scoop out the correct amount from the bag or bin. It should be stored in a dry, airtight container out of direct sunlight.
Wet food is also convenient, as you only need to open the can and dish up the required quantity. “But keep in mind that wet food should be kept in the fridge once opened,” says Suretha.
Monique advises: “Raw food is not the most convenient of choices, as it has to be thawed and stored appropriately to preserve the quality of the food. The food cannot stay in the bowl for long periods.” Therefore, pet owners who feed their dogs raw food might need some extra time to prepare the food.
There is a broad range of specialised diets available in dry food, depending on the pet’s requirements, for example his age and size, or for a specific health issue.
For wet food, there are only a limited amount of specialised diets on offer. Currently, a lot of wet food diets only provide three options – food for puppies, adult and senior dogs.
“Raw food companies firmly believe that since raw food is more biologically suitable, there are very few health problems that cannot be supported by a balanced raw diet,” says Monique.
Whether you feed your puppy dry, wet or raw food is ultimately your choice. Do your research and, whichever type of food you choose, feed your fur-baby the best food that you can afford. Ask the breeder or your vet for advice, and if you want to change your puppy’s diet, do it gradually.
How to change your dog’s diet
Make the change from the original food to the new food over seven days:
Day 1 and 2: mix 70% of the usual diet with 30% of the new food.
Day 3 and 4: mix 50% of the usual diet with 50% of the new food.
Day 5 and 6: mix 30% of the usual diet with 70% of the new food.
Day 7: feed only the new food.