What to Look For when Choosing a Food
The Quick Sniff
A Risk-Free Taste Test
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The Full Sniff
Getting a puppy is one of life’s most exciting moments. We all want what’s best for our new family member, and new puppy parents often need guidance on topics ranging from nutrition, to socialization and training. There is an endless learning curve to owning and developing a healthy and adjusted pup. Dogs are an incredible source of joy, but they also require a commitment to ensure their safety and well-being. Puppies are especially vulnerable to life’s everyday challenges and proper nutrition should be an important area of focus.
Most new puppy owners ask a very good, very basic question: “What should I feed my puppy?” Some answers can be overwhelming with technical information, while others can leave us with more questions than when we started. Online research is a common place to begin your education, but there is as much bad advice as there is good. Luckily, there are other resources available to you. A holistic veterinarian with a solid background in canine nutrition can provide excellent guidance. Your local pet store also has employees generally more educated than the average Joe. Even some branded pet food companies, like us, provide objective advice worth listening to. So here goes…
Puppy Food 101
AAFCO has established two dog food nutrient profiles:
These are not either-or categories for pet food. Well formulated foods can fit into both profiles at the same time. Confused? You’re not alone. Dog food manufacturers do their best to overly-complicate things so unsuspecting new dog owners buy expensive products they don’t need. Claiming that only puppy-specific foods can properly nourish a young dog is like saying only a sports car can drive fast. Here in Boulder, CO our wagons and trucks get us from point A to point B plenty fast and they do so quite safely, comfortably and affordably.
Key Puppy Nutrients
|Ingredient||Benefit||BIXBI RAWBBLE||High-Quality Protein||Helps develop strong muscle tissue||We only use fresh meat and never add rendered meat meal powders. Our approach delivers an especially delicious, nutritious protein source with industry-leading protein digestibility. RAWBBLE Dry Foods = 90% average protein digestibility RAWBBLE Freeze-Dried Foods = 95% average protein digestibility|
|High-Quality Fat||Helps develop brain and nerve tissue, and proper vision||RAWBBLE uses salmon oil as a very high-quality fat source, providing plenty of absorbable Omega-3s like DHA and EPA.|
|Minerals like Calcium and Phosphorus||Help develop strong bones and teeth||High-quality fresh meat used in RAWBBLE foods is loaded with naturally occurring phosphorus. Calcium comes from various sources including ground bone or by simply adding it to the recipe (shown as dicalcium phosphate on the ingredient panel).|
|Antioxidants||Help strengthen the immune system||Salmon oil, pumpkin and raspberries provide excellent antioxidant support in RAWBBLE foods.|
How Often should I feed my puppy?
After a puppy is fully weaned (anywhere from 6-9 weeks old) they should eat between 3-4 times a day. Keep in mind that you should be feeding the recommended amount, just spread out over the day. The smaller meals are easier on the puppies digestive system and help the puppy keep more consistent energy levels throughout the day. Once your puppy hits 8-9 months you can transition to a typical 2-3 times a day feeding schedule.
Pro Tip: Use meal time for training
There is nothing better than a new puppy. But a new puppy requires a lot of training to learn those new tricks and good behaviors. Training can be hard, so it is always good to positively reward the wins. What you need to avoid are too many extra calories from too many extra treats. That’s why is can be a great idea to turn one of your pup’s meal times into training time. A few pieces of RAWBBLE Dry or Freeze-Dried can be a high value reward for a job well done.
Technical Puppy Nerd Stuff
Puppies need absorbable nutrition. Their growing bodies need highly digestible foods to maximize nutrient uptake. This is not a complicated concept. What is complicated, however, is determining digestibility ratings for other dog foods. BIXBI shares its digestibility test results on our product pages, because it’s important…and because we rock! Good luck getting that info from other brands. AAFCO does not require dog food brands to test for digestibility. Even if a brand does the testing, 99% of them won’t share the results. Why? We’ll give you one guess.
Back to the nerdery…
Protein digestibility is a key measure of quality, but there are other considerations as well. AAFCO has set the following minimum and maximum nutrient levels for puppy foods. Note that maximums are only set for a small number of nutrients because these have safety issues beyond a certain level. We have not included every AAFCO nutrient level on the below chart. We have picked the ones most relevant, and often discussed, for puppy nutrition. The entire list is viewable here.
|Nutrient||AAFCO Min.||AAFCO Max.||BIXBI RAWBBLE Chicken Dry Food*||Crude Protein||22.5%||N/A||30.0% min.|
|Crude Fat||8.5%||N/A||15% min.|
|Selenium||0.35 mg/kg||2.0 mg/kg||1.14 mg/kg|
|Iodine||1.0 mg/kg||11.0 mg/kg||2.21 mg/kg|
|Vitamin A||5000 IU/kg||250,000 IU/kg||19,000 IU/kg|
|Vitamin D||500 IU/kg||3000 IU/kg||1369 IU/kg|
* Note: every dog food recipe has its own specific nutrient levels based on its formulation. We use our RAWBBLE chicken dry food for the example above because it is our most popular food for puppies.
** 1.8% includes diets for large breed puppies. Max is 2.5% for diets that exclude large breed puppies
Puppy vs. Adult Dog Food
A quick review of the above info tells us two key things:
- AAFCO mandates that puppy appropriate foods meet certain minimum nutritional requirements
- Meeting these requirements doesn’t necessarily mean the food is healthy
Most manufacturers suggest switching from a puppy specific food to an adult-specific food because they make higher profit margins on adult food. Since AAFCO sets lower nutritional levels for diets considered “Adult Maintenance”, ingredient panels can be less robust. Manufacturers can include less protein, less phosphorus, less calcium. They can replace beneficial nutrients with much cheaper fillers like rice or corn or wheat. Consider the same AAFCO nutrients listed above, but this time let’s compare the requirements for each type of AAFCO defined diet.
Does anyone believe that an 18% crude protein level is enough to maximize a dog’s nutritional well-being? AAFCO’s own guidelines use the words “nutritional adequacy.” Do you want your dog’s diet to be “adequate,” or would you prefer it to be at rock star levels? What does it say about any pet food company if their recommended diets for adult dogs are worse than the diet they recommend for puppies? Again…one guess.
|Nutrient||AAFCO Min. for Growth & Reproduction||AAFCO Min. for Adult Maintenance|
|Selenium||0.35 mg/kg||0.35 mg/kg|
|Iodine||1.0 mg/kg||1.0 mg/kg|
|Vitamin A||5000 IU/kg||5000 IU/kg|
|Vitamin D||500 IU/kg||500 IU/kg|
Large Breed Puppies
Who is the “we” you ask? Who creates this magical formulation of which we speak? Glad you asked. There is a team of experts with decades of experience in canine nutrition behind our proverbial curtain. It’s not enough to say “vet formulated.” That would be puffery (see above). Our R&D team includes a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist and a Ph.D. in Companion Animal Nutrition. We take this seriously. And of course, we want to be a successful, profitable company in the process. But we don’t start from there. Rather, we hope to end there.
Don’t say good. Be good.
Job Well Done
As a reward for being an educated responsible puppy owner, here’s 30-seconds of puppies.