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Choosing the Right Food for Your Pup

Choosing the Right Food for Your Pup

Choosing the Right Food for Your Pup

There is no source of more contradictory information than trying to research dog food.  The reason why is simple – pet food was a $30 billion dollar category in 2018 according to the American Pet Products Association. So there are a lot of folks with a lot of reasons to convince you that their dog food is the best.

I strongly believe that science should guide any pup owner’s decision, and as a mom to 5 dogs of my own, I wanted to share my own personal research to help you make your choice.  I have been curious about dog food since earning my Animal Science degree with a focus in Companion Animals at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and have read studies as they have been published.  Science has come a long way in the past decade!

I also have the unique advantage of having met many dogs of many ages as the owner of Happy Pup Manor, and I can tell you that the spriest senior dogs we host are all own raw or dehydrated diets.  If you can afford it, the highest-end foods do make a real difference in their quality of life and longevity.

Food must meet or exceed AAFCO’s standards

 Just like people, puppies are what they eat, meaning quality food is important for the lifetime health of your pup.

Start your search by disqualifying any food that does not meet or exceed the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards.  The nutrition section of your pup’s foods should show how they compare to AAFO guidelines. If it doesn’t say there, you can always reach out to the pet food manufacturer, however, it usually means that the food does not meet or exceed AAFCO standards.

This also means that a home-made diet is likely not advisable.  Just like us, dogs have nutritional needs across several vitamins and minerals that you are unlikely to be able to balance in a homemade recipe without the help of some very complex spreadsheets and a food scientist.

How nutrition is delivered matters

There are 4 types of food commercially available for dogs – raw, freeze-dried, canned, and kibble.  I would personally rank them from best to worst:

  1. Best – Raw food
  2. Freeze-Dried / Dehydrated
  3. Canned food
  4. Worst – Kibble

Raw Food

Raw food mimics the diet that their ancestors – wild wolves – have evolved to ingest. The science on the lifetime benefits of raw is still out, but there are several compelling facts already established.  Far more of the food served in a raw diet is digested by the dog – which means less gas and poop, and their gut bacteria is observed to be far more biodiverse.  These facts, compounded with my own observations, make me believe this is the best choice.  We don’t bake chicken nuggets in the oven until they are hard lumps and then let them sit in bags for 6 months before we serve them to our human kids, so why should the furries eat any different?

I feed my own dogs Primal Pronto – the smaller cubes enable the food to thaw very quickly.

Freeze Dried and Dehydrated

These foods are a good option if raw is difficult for you to bring into your home.  The freeze-drying process retains significantly more nutrition than the baking used to produce kibble.  Nutrition matters to our pups the same as us – antioxidants give benefits to our dogs the same as us.

They can also be used in a 75/25 mix with raw food to introduce the benefits of raw to your pup’s biome without breaking the bank.

Our Recommended Items

When looking at food for your pup, we recommend checking out some of these great products, designed specifically for a happy, healthy puppy!


  • Primal is a leading brand in raw and freeze-dried nutrition. We feed our dogs their “Primal Pronto” mix as the diced cubes help the frozen meat to thaw faster for feeding.  They also offer Primal Freeze-Dried Dog Food, which is an extremely high-quality option that provides a balanced and complete diet for pups in all life stages. The formula includes naturally derived vitamins and minerals and is grain, grain, gluten, corn, wheat, and soy-free.
  • Honest Kitchen is a high-quality freeze-dried food. This is a good value option between raw and kibble – many guests enjoy their What we like about Honest Kitchen is that their food is 100% human grade and made with the ingredients you’d be using if you made it yourself.
  • Life’s Abundance Dog Food: This is a great option if you’re looking for kibble to feed your pup. This food is packed with wholesome ingredients and nutrients while also providing a taste your puppy will enjoy. There are a variety of options available for each life stage your pup is in, as well as the size of your pup.

Feeding Accessories

  • URPOWER Stainless Steel Dog Bowl and Non-Skid Mat: This super cute bowl is a great setup for your puppy. It comes with two bowl compartments, as well as a non-skid, silicone mat to help keep your pup from making a mess of your floor. They also come in some great colors, making it easy to find one that you like.
  • Airtight Storage Container: How you store your pup’s food helps keep it fresh to ensure they receive all of the benefits you paid for. Storing food in an airtight container, such as the IRIS USA, Inc. 3-piece container combo, helps keep pests and insects out while keeping the freshness in. The combo comes with two food BPA free rolling bins – one 33-quart container and one 12-quart container – as well as a scoop that makes giving your pup the right amount of food a breeze. These containers also come in a great variety of colors, so you can match your dog bowl and storage containers!
  • Wobbler Large Treat Dispenser: I love the wobbler as a great option to keep your puppy mentally active. Consider putting all of your dog’s kibble or treats in here, instead of a bowl. It will keep them busy for a while and happy!

Want More Help with Your Pup? 

Getting a puppy is a lot of work. You get so much information thrown at you at one time and it can be hard to keep track of it all. Luckily, the trainers here at Happy Pup Manor are trained professionals with the experience needed to help train your pup. When you’re in need of manners and command training or are looking to board your pup for a night or two, we are here for you. Contact us today to discuss your pup and the ways we can help you in the early stages of your relationship with your new puppy!

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