Understanding Puppy Food

What’s different about puppy foods?

Dog food for puppies, or any food labeled for “growth and gestation” are required by the FDA to have higher levels of protein and fat than foods labeled for adult dogs. More specifically, puppy food must have a dry matter minimum of 22.5% protein and 8.5% fat, compared to minimum 18% protein and 5.5% fat for adult dogs.

Many dog food brands will cut the amount of protein and fat in their adult formulas because nutritionally-dense ingredients are expensive. These companies can use less expensive ingredients and still meet the FDA requirements. However, just because dogs can survive with these nutrient levels doesn’t mean they will thrive.

Instead of taking this approach, at The Happy Beast, we recommend quality brands and foods for puppies that are labeled for ‘All Life Stages,’ meaning the diet is appropriate for dogs from puppyhood all the way through their senior years. Instead of replacing high quality meat with less expensive fillers for adult dogs, the brands we recommend choose to promote a high protein diet in line with the nutritional requirements of a canine for the entire life of the dog.

Special Consideration for Large Breed Puppies

The term ‘large breed’ is generally used for dogs that are at least 70 lbs when they are full grown. Conservatively, we can lump puppies who will be 50 lbs or more into this group when we look at feeding requirements. The most up-to-date research tells us that we need to control calorie and calcium intake to make sure these puppies don’t grow too quickly. While many hip and joint problems are caused by genetics, slow and consistent bone growth throughout puppyhood is thought to reduce the severity of conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis, and developmental orthopedic disease.

If you have a large breed puppy, carefully regulate how many calories are consumed on a daily basis, including bones, chews, and treats. Check your puppy’s weight frequently. You should be able to feel his ribs without using too much pressure when you run your hands over his sides.

Fresher is always better!

Incorporate as much fresh food into your puppy’s diet as possible, which will naturally include a variety of beneficial nutrients and enzymes, which help promote digestion. There are a variety of fresh food options, but a few of our favorites include:

  • Treats: Air-dried or freeze-dried like The Real Meat Co, Smallbatch, and ZiwiPeak
  • Raw Goat Milk: Bark n’ Big, Pure, or Answers
  • Meal Toppers: Rehydrated Sojo’s or Grandma Lucy’s

In summary, puppyhood is a critical time for your dog to develop a healthy digestive system, which helps build and strengthen your dog’s overall immune system. While there can be a lot of hype around “puppy food” labels, we recommend you simply choose a balanced, raw food (frozen, air-dried, or dehydrated) as a simple way to ensure you’re giving your puppy everything he needs to live a long, healthy, and happy life.

Got a new puppy at your house? Stop by the store to talk more and we’ll help you figure out the best option for your pup.

Eight Things Your New Puppy Needs | The Happy Beast

Eight Things Your New Puppy Needs

We’ve been getting a daily puppy-fix at The Happy Beast! Spring and summer are popular times to get puppies and we LOVE meeting your new furry family members. Here are eight smart and useful buys for you and your new puppy.



1. Inexpensive (but Still Cute!) Leash & Collar

Most likely, your new puppy will either quickly outgrow his first collar or chew through his first leash. That’s why I always recommend starting out with a basic, inexpensive option.  I especially love these neoprene collars from Sublime!


2. Kong Classics and PetSafe Squirrel DudessquirrelPTY00-13745_e

I call these stuffable, rubber toys “puppy babysitters.” Fill with peanut butter or canned food and freeze. Keep a couple in your freezer and pull one out when you need a break.


3. Rope Toysrope-toy

Ideal for teething puppies. Ropes are inexpensive and help soothe the gums when those sharp puppy teeth start falling out.


4. A Snuggly Bed


I got a Midwest Bed for my dog when she was a puppy and four years later, it’s still her favorite place to sleep. Perfect fit for a kennel, easy to travel with and it holds up well to frequent washings.



5. Training Treatspuppy-training-treats

Reward good behavior with lots of praise and tasty rewards! Variety keeps your new pupppy interested. Try Tricky Trainers, RealMeat Treats and Waggers’ My Little Wolf.



6. Sheepskin Toyspetsafe-sheepskin-bone-dog-toy-medium-6

Tuck one of these in your pup’s kennel and she’ll feel like she’s sleeping with a littermate. As she gets older, the toy will stand up to sharp puppy teeth and rough puppy play.



7. Tendons, Cheeks and Earsp-5406-16762

Stock up on natural chews! We prefer chew things that are made of edible materials as opposed to plastic or rubber chew toys. (It can be hard for a puppy to distinguish which plastic things are ok to chew on and which ones are not…like a tv remote.)



8. Fizzion Pet Stain & Odor Remover5b85a0e3-303d-4b16-a548-ed904e576954_300

We’ve tried all of the pet stain and odor removers, and this one is our absolute favorite! Totally safe to use around animals and humans and the toughest at cleaning up after potty training accidents. I’ve even used it to get a red wine stain out. (From an especially enthusiastic tail-wag!)



9. Bonus! Looking for a new puppy friend?

Be sure to check out our local shelters and rescue groups! is an awesome resource if you’re looking for a certain breed, mix, age or just want to browse cute puppy faces.