If there is anything you shouldn’t scrimp on, it’s your puppy’s food. Good nutrition is very important for a growing puppy, which is why it’s important to give your puppy the right start in life.
It’s very important to understand that puppies have different nutritional needs from adult dogs. Since they are going through a fast growth phase, they need the correct levels of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and calcium for optimal growth. This is why you should feed your littles ones a high-quality dog food that is especially formulated for puppies. Small dogs also have different nutritional needs from large dogs, which is why you have to make an informed choice.
Thankfully, there are now a good number of puppy food options that are available in the Philippines. Since people usually ask me what puppy food I recommend for mini schnauzers, I’ve made this list based on what has worked well for my dogs.
Just to explain, my preference is for a high-quality diet with high protein levels and just enough fat for puppies’ optimal growth. I also look at the ingredients – I prefer fresh meats and animal protein sources, with as little extenders as possible. Of course, palatability is important for me, because puppies have to love the taste of their food for them to eat it. I also check out the stool after – I want small, firm stools to indicate that what the puppy ingested has been used by his body, and not passed on as bulky stool. Finally, I also look at availability – it can be very frustrating to start your puppy on a certain brand, only to find out that it is not available when you come back for replenishment.
Let me share with you the brands that I’ve tried with good results on my puppies. I am not saying that the other brands out there are not good. I am simply listing down what I have tried on my mini schnauzer puppies, and which worked well for us:
Royal Canin Starter Mother and Baby Dog – I highly recommend starting with this kibble. As you can see from the name, this is for both the pregnant mother and young puppies. I feed RC Mother and Dog to pregnant and lactating mothers, as well as their puppies as they are weaned up to two months of age. As you can imagine, this is so convenient — what mom eats is what the young ones eat too as they start to discover solid food. It comes in different sizes (mini, medium, maxi) for various breeds, but for mini schnauzers, I use the medium variant. Soak it in warm water and it becomes soft and mushy, making it easy for small dogs to chew. Puppies love it and will easily finish it. The medium variant has a protein level of 30% and fat is 22%. There is also a canned variant which puppies find irresistible. Of course, wet food has a lower protein level than dry food. After the second month, you can easily switch to Royal Canin’s Medium Puppy (protein 32%, fat 20%) without a hitch. My vets are always impressed with the way my RC-fed puppies grow and develop, and I am too.
Orijen Puppy (small breed) – Check out the ingredients in Orijen Puppy and you’ll be comforted to see that it’s all fresh chicken, fish, and meat. Orijen Puppy is grain free. Its protein level stands at a high 38%, while carbohydrates are at 17%, reflecting the brand’s definition of a biologically appropriate diet. Puppies love its taste, and you can look forward to seeing strong bones, shiny hair, and a healthy, happy dog. If you’re very particular about where your dog food is manufactured (and you should be), you’d be pleased to know that Orijen is made in Canada using all Canadian ingredients.
Acana Puppy – Acana has two puppy variants – one for small and another for large breeds, so make sure you pick the right one based on your dog’s adult size. Mini schnauzers, of course, would need the small breed variant. Acana is made by the same company that manufactures Orijen, and is also grain and gluten-free. The company puts a premium on using fresh, and not synthetic ingredients and you’ll see that it lists poultry, herring, and vegetables among its top ingredients. Acana is also very tasty for dogs, and has a protein level of 33% while fat stands at 20%.
Go Nat Puppy (all sizes) – This is another one of my big favorites for puppies. They have the Grain Free Chicken, Turkey and Duck Puppy Recipe, a grain-free formulation, that gives puppy a healthy start in life. The small kibble sizes make it easy to chew especially for small dogs. It’s made from fresh chicken, turkey, trout, duck and salmon. Protein is at 36%, while fat is at 18%. They also have the canned variant if your puppy likes wet food. As your puppy grows, Go Nat has many excellent choices for adults depending on your dog’s needs.
Now Fresh Puppy (small breed) – Another great choice, this is made with turkey, salmon and duck, and has no grains. Protein is at 28%, while fat is at 18%. Puppies devour it happily, and you would love how nicely they will grow with this formulation. On the downside, it’s not always available.
Eukanuba small breed – I also come back to Eukanuba because it’s that one brand that has given really compelling results over the years – nice muscles, good bone, and overall good health for my dogs. Sometimes, I get put off by stools which I find a little too stinky, but hey, what am I thinking? Crude protein is at 32%, while fat is at 21%. (We’ve also had excellent results with Eukanuba for our large breed dogs, but it’s been ages since I’ve had a large breed puppy, so I won’t discuss this part.)
Before you decide on what to feed your puppy, make sure to check what your vet has to say. Your vet would have an idea if your puppy has specific health needs that might be addressed by another type or brand of dog food.
Remember that each puppy is different, and what is good for my puppies may not be ideal for yours. Our puppies may have different activity levels, breed requirements, and health issues.
Hope you find the right choice for your pup!