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puppy food packaging lineup

Understand What Your Puppy Needs to Grow & Thrive

Cute collar and leash combo? Check! Coordinating food bowls? Check! Squeaky toys, tennis balls, and a plush bed for nap times? Check, check, check!

Welcoming a new puppy home is an exciting moment for all pet parents. Choosing all the accessories you’ll need to help your new buddy grow and thrive is fun. But selecting the right puppy food can be a daunting task. With so many choices available, it can be overwhelming to know which food is the right choice. Making the selection is much easier with just a few considerations.

What’s Most Important for Growing Puppies?

According to veterinarian, Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, “growing puppies have specific nutritional needs for healthy development. Puppies grow fast, building bone and muscle and develop their immune system along the way.” Puppy food is specifically formulated to help them meet their nutritional needs and keep them healthy and happy as they grow. You’ll want to look for DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid, which is critical for healthy brain and vision development. Omega fatty acids also play an important role to support healthy skin and coat, and glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health as your puppy grows. Additionally, puppies need a diet that has the right balance of calcium and phosphorus to make sure their bones develop at the correct rate. You’ll find all these essential nutrients in every Merrick dry puppy food recipe.

How Much Food and How Often Should I Feed My Puppy?

“All growing puppies require more protein than an adult dog,” Dr. Lobos added. “In the early stages, they need to gain weight, and to do that their food needs to have high nutritional value. They need more protein, fat, and nutrients than an adult dog.”

Puppies are ready for solid foods around 4-6 weeks of age, but a veterinarian should always be consulted before making this transition; it often helps to moisten dry foods with water for the first few weeks. A complete and balanced wet recipe like Merrick Puppy Plate is a good option, as well. Not only is wet food delicious and nutritious, but it also provides added moisture for your puppy.  

Feed several smaller meals throughout the day for the first 4-6 months depending on a puppy’s size. After that, you can feed twice a day. Most puppies have an adorable amount of baby fat, but make sure to consult your veterinarian and follow the feeding chart found on the bag to help them grow into a healthy weight. If you are feeding a combination of wet and dry food, be sure to include all calories in your calculations. Every dog is an individual with their own specific metabolism and unique lifestyle, so it’s critical to maintain close contact with your veterinarian to determine the right quantity and frequency of feeding.

So How Do I Choose Which Dry Food is Right for My Puppy?

The choice of animal protein is really up to you—and your pup. Chicken or beef are popular choices for pet parents. Most recipes will also include fish (like salmon) or fish oils to help provide Omega-3 fatty acids that are important for development. Choosing the type of protein such as chicken or beef and main carbohydrate source such as sweet potatoes or healthy grains, is really a preference of the pet parent and the puppy’s palate.

When looking for the perfect food for your puppy, we offer a variety of diets that are formulated to be complete and balanced and meet the nutritional levels for growth established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO):

Merrick Signature Recipes in Grain Free or Healthy Grains Options

Our Merrick Grain Free recipes are available with deboned chicken or real Texas beef as the number one ingredient. Merrick Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe is made with deboned chicken as the first ingredient. Both options have high levels of high-quality protein—important for healthy energy levels and supporting developing muscles. Our signature recipes are an excellent choice for all your puppy’s growing needs.

Merrick Backcountry With Freeze-Dried Raw Pieces 

Merrick Backcountry features high protein kibble along with freeze-dried raw pieces, providing the nutritional benefits of an ancestral diet in a convenient recipe. Real deboned chicken is the first ingredient for puppy formulas, with both grain free  and with healthy grains options. It’s a high protein choice that also tastes great.

Merrick Lil' Plates for Your Small Breed Dog 

While all our puppy recipes are appropriate for dogs of all breeds and sizes, if your dog is a small breed you might want to choose Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Puppy Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe or Pint-Sized Puppy Plate in gravy. We start with real deboned chicken for a great tasting meal for even the finickiest of small dogs. It also delivers all the quality nutrition your new little sidekick needs in just the right bite size.

Teaching Your New Dog Old Tricks

Treats are one last thing to consider. You want to instill healthy habits in your pup from the beginning, so don’t offer too many treats; they should be less than 10% of a pup’s daily calories. Training can be a fun time to bond, but also the perfect time to treat your pup. Try our Merrick Oven Baked Biscuits or Merrick Power Bites to help motivate your new dog to learn some old tricks. Both are appropriate for dogs of all ages. Tip: Break them into bite size pieces for a puppy’s smaller mouth.

When Should I Switch My Puppy to Adult Dog Food?

The best news is, when it’s time to transition to adult food—usually around your pup’s first birthday—it’s easy to make the switch to one of our diets formulated for adult maintenance. Talk to your veterinarian about the best time to switch. If you need help choosing your puppy’s food, or transitioning them to an adult food, one of our Pet Parent Relations Specialists will be happy to help guide you to making the best choice for your dog! 

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