Dr. Marjorie Chandler - DVM, MS, MANZCVS, DACVN, DACVIM, MRCVS

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Should I feed my puppy dry or tinned food?

Dr. Marjorie Chandler - DVM, MS, MANZCVS, DACVN, DACVIM, MRCVS
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Wet or dry? It can be difficult to know which type of food to give your puppy. To help take the confusion out of feeding. The following questions and answers can help take the confusion out of feeding.

Q: Which is better for puppies, tinned or dry food?

A:  There is no clear benefit to choosing wet or tinned food over dry food, or vice versa. As long as your puppy’s diet is complete and balanced, it’s entirely up to your personal preference. A complete and balanced diet should contain all of the 37 nutrients that dogs need in the right amounts. The Pet Food Manufacturers Association’s website (pfma.org.uk) provides a list of all the PFMA member companies that have agreed to meet these nutrient standards.

Q: Why might some owners prefer to put their puppy on an all-dry food diet?

A:   Dry food has longer shelf life, so some owners prefer it for that reason, and it may be more convenient to feed as it can be left out for a bit longer.

Q: Is dry food better for developing teeth and keeping them clean?

A:  Dry foods may decrease tartar and make a dog’s teeth look better and cleaner. But the real dental problem is plaque, which can lead to periodontitis (gum disease) and tooth loss. There is minimal evidence that dry food can help with plaque removal. It’s always better to go with a specially formulated dental diet for plaque prevention if you want a food that helps to keep teeth clean, although these are mostly formulated for adult dogs. Ideally you should brush your puppy’s teeth. These diets and home dental care should be used in addition to professional dental care and cleaning, just as for people.

Q: Why might it be better to feed puppies an all-wet food diet?

A:  Overall, there’s no real nutritional difference for puppies to be fed on either a wet or dry food diet – again, as long as it’s complete and balanced. If your dog develops bladder or kidney stones, your veterinary surgeon might recommend that they have a wet food diet to increase their water intake.

Q: Is wet food more enticing for fussy eaters?

A:  It’s possible that a fussy eater may be more interested in wet food over dry because it has a stronger smell. Sometimes we can inadvertently train our puppies to be fussy eaters if we’re too quick to offer something else, especially when a young dog looks at us with those big eyes! Don’t jump too quickly to offer something ‘nicer’, otherwise your pup will learn that they can turn their nose up at certain foods and get something different – or better.

Q: Should dry or wet food be given at different times of day?

A:  The actual times of day don’t matter, as long as you keep to a consistent routine. Many dogs will eat whatever is in front of them and grazing (free choice feeding) could potentially lead to over eating. Puppies should be fed three to four times a day, and feeding at least twice a day is recommended for many adult dogs, especially toy breeds, giant breeds, and working dogs.

Dr. Marjorie Chandler - DVM, MS, MANZCVS, DACVN, DACVIM, MRCVS

Dr Marge Chandler is an independent consultant in small animal nutrition and internal medicine, and Clinical Nutritionist for Vets-Now Referrals, Glasgow, Scotland. She has a BS from California State University, and a MS (Animal Nutrition) and DVM from Colorado State University (CSU). After several years in mixed practice, she did residencies in small animal medicine and clinical nutrition at CSU and Massey University, NZ. She is a diplomate of ACVIM and ACVN, member of the ANZCVS (SAM) and the FEDIAF Scientific Advisory Committee, WSAVA Liaison to the AAVN, founding member of the European Veterinary Nutrition Educators Group, and Co-Chair of the WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee.

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