What does the growth life stage cover?
Puppies grow about 20 percent faster than adult dogs, so Growth and Reproduction (puppy food) is generally is higher in protein, fat and calories and enriched with vitamins and minerals.
It’s important to remember, however, that the manufacturer only needs to meet the minimum AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) requirements so brands can vary greatly. Some companies do go above and beyond, testing their products to make sure they meet those minimum standards, so it’s more important than ever to read labels.
The real question is, therefore, what do you want in your puppy’s food?
Some manufacturers add extras, such as digestive enzymes and probiotics to accommodate the relatively common puppy diarrhea. Taurine, an essential fatty acid, aids heart health in both dogs and cats. A food might even be wheat or gluten-free to address allergy possibilities.
Many pet experts recommend puppy food with a minimum protein percentage of 30 percent; and a minimum fat count of 18 percent with also the right calcium-phosphorous balance.
Calcium is essential in the body for many functions including bone formation, blood coagulation, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse transmission. The calcium content of food ingredients varies widely. Bones, dairy products, and leguminous plants contain large amounts of calcium, whereas most cereal grains, meat, and organ tissues contain small amounts.
Phosphorous is the other dietary mineral required in a relatively high amount in the diet and it works with calcium to maintain the growth and structure of the skeletal system. Deficiencies or excesses of both can create skeletal problems especially in young puppies. It is very important that the calcium and phosphorous be fed in the correct ratio. Problems with calcium and phosphorous rarely occur anymore due to the easily available commercial pet foods that are properly balanced. When problems arise, it is when owners feed a homemade diet or over-supplement, especially with young, rapidly growing puppies.
Also, dried food may have smaller, easier-to-chew grains to accommodate baby teeth or a small mouth.