Dog Food Reviews

Getting a Healthy Start – Choosing the Best Puppy Food for Your New Dog

Written by Rachael Sando

Welcoming a puppy into the home is exciting (and a little terrifying). As pet parents, we know that the choices that we make early in our dog’s life can influence his/her health for years to come. Many factors go into helping a puppy become a healthy and well adjusted member of the family from behavior training to choosing the right diet.  

Food Factoids

One of the comments that we regularly hear from people is how much things have changed since the last time they had a puppy. Things aren’t as simple as just grabbing any old bag of kibble off the shelf!

Pet parents are now faced with countless options when choosing what to feed a puppy

Now more than ever pet parents are looking at what is in the food that they feed their beloved family pets. As the knowledge of pet nutrition grows, phrases such as “Raw Feeding”, “Grain-Free”, “Rotational Feeding” have entered the common lexicon. Unfortunately, with all of this information flying around it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and have trouble keeping up.

Step-By-Step, Day-By-Day…

We always encourage pet parents to do the best they can at any particular point in time This means taking in as much information as possible, and striving for balance between their preferred choice, budget and lifestyle. We believe that dogs belong in every family and we never want pet ownership to be cost prohibitive!

Raw beef mixed with Dr. Harvey's Canine Health

Our personal dog food journey took many years and is still evolving. While we now feed a combination of raw and homemade meals to our dogs, this did not happen overnight! Just like most pet parents we started with standard kibble. As allergy issues crept up over the years, we would switch foods and find only temporary relief.

It was not until our finding out about Dr. Harvey’s (who now sponsor this blog!) that things really began to change. This move to a whole food diet has paid of in spades – giving us dogs with improved mobility, more energy, and even lower bills due to fewer vet visits!

A Healthy Start for Puppies

When we heard that close friends of ours were welcoming a new puppy into their home, we wanted to share some of what we have learned over the past few years. We reached out to our friends at Dr. Harvey’s asking if we could start Lucy on the right track, eating the best dog food that they had to offer. Sure enough, they were on board! What a lucky pup!

I Love Lucy!

After saying goodbye to their beloved senior Boxer, Chewy, who passed away over the winter, Lucy’s family longed for the love and companionship that a dog brings into the home.

Lucy - our friends late Boxer

This spring, they knew their home was desperately missing having a dog and by the end of June, it was time for 8 week old Lucy to come join her forever family.  

Determining the best puppy food is one of the most important decisions you will make early in your dogs life!

With two children, full time careers, and lots of hobbies, interests, and activities, Lucy’s family, like the average American family, is BUSY! Having a puppy and young children in the home creates a whole new level of chaos, but it wasn’t long until this sweet, smooshy-face pup had snuggled right into the heart of her family, puppy antics and all!

No Prior Experience Required

With their first dog, Chewie, the family had fed a commercial brand of kibble which was considered the standard among many dog owners at the time. Just 10 years ago-times were different, people questioned things a lot less, and we believed that the food that was out there and being advertised to us was optimally healthy for our dogs. More than 10 years later, Lucy’s family wanted to do even better for her and decided to feed her a premium grain-free kibble. Though Lucy was healthy, strong, and energetic, they noticed a few problems early on:

  1. Lucy was grazing-never eating all of her food when it was set down.
  2. Because Lucy was grazing, her bathroom habits were unpredictable, making housebreaking that much harder!

Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health

Wanting to provide the best nutrition possible for their growing pup, Lucy’s family agreed to embark on a homemade feeding pilot with MyDogLikes and share their experiences along the way.

What would sweet Lucy be eating? Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health Formula and Formative Years Supplement!

Dr. Harvey's Canine Health can form a great base for a home made or raw diet for dogs.

Canine Health Formula

Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health Formula is a holistic blend of 6 organic grains and 9 dehydrated vegetables. As with all other Dr. Harvey products, this all natural formula contains no dyes, chemicals, or preservatives. The Canine Health Formula is an easy to use pre-mix that helps pet parents make healthy, customizable, homemade meals in a matter of minutes. Following the easy to use feeding guide, pet parents simply add water, wait a few minutes, and add the protein and oil of their choice to create a complete and healthy meal.

Formative Years Supplement

The Formative Years Supplement is a powdered herbal formula that provides vitamins and minerals for puppies and young dogs and can be added right to their food. Using a base of whole foods, this all-natural diet this supplement can help a puppy stay on track during those crucial early weeks, months and years. With ingredients you can read and recognize from your own kitchen (Spirulina, Lecithin, Nutritional Yeast, Garlic, Flax Seed Meal, Alfalfa Leaf, Kelp,Oatstraw, Fennel Seed, Marigold Flowers, Chamomile Flowers, Dandelion Root, Red Clover Blossoms, Yellow Dock Root, Fenugreek Seed, Celery Seed) this supplement is designed to promote optimal health.

We recently interviewed Lucy’s parents to see how the whole family has adjusted to their new diet:

Homemade Feeding Challenges:

“The biggest challenge has probably been setting aside time for food prep, planning, and shopping for Lucy’s weekly protein, cottage cheese, and yogurt.  It’s not terribly labor intensive, but an extra five minutes in the morning when you have two children that you are trying to get out the door can be challenging to come by.”

Follow along as Lucy's parents search for the best dog food for boxers

“To compensate for this we prepare batches of food, mixing up and refrigerating three days of meals for Lucy on Sunday and then again on Tuesday evening.”

Homemade Feeding Tips:

1.) Experiment and Rotate – “We have experimented with different protein sources and have been rotating them regularly.  Lentils are by far the most affordable protein source and we use them every other week.  She has also had baked chicken (we shredded this in the food processor made it super easy to mix up and way better than cutting it), ground turkey which we cooked, hamburger cooked, tofu cooked, and eggs both raw and scrambled.  The only item she seemed to not absolutely love was the raw eggs. We have been utilizing raw hamburger meat this week, which grosses us out a little bit, but avoiding some prep time has been nice.  Lucy loves the raw burger!”

Due to a recent warning from the FDA we would caution against using lentils as a primary ingredient in a homemade diet. “Dogs fed “grain-free” food based on peas, lentils or potatoes are developing an unusual condition that can cause an enlarged heart, the Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.” We will keep an eye on this story and update when more is known.

Boxer eating homemade dog food

2.) Prepare Batches of Food – “When we went camping we froze three days worth of meals and kept them in our camping cooler in single serving bags, we would bring them out and let them thaw and serve them to her.  It was convenient and easy to manage (we went with the lentils that week).”  

Boxer puppy sitting on fold up chair

What Lucy’s Veterinarian Says:

“At her most recent check-up, her veterinarian stated that she looks absolutely perfect!”

What Lucy’s Family Sees:

“Lucy LOVES Dr. Harvey’s!!! She eats all of her food in one session instead of grazing as was the experience with our old boxer and when Lucy was eating kibble. This makes predicting times to go out much more regular which has been very helpful with house training.”  

Charlie and puppy Lucy have become fast friends!

“Her coat is soft and glossy and she is growing really quickly; seems like all legs at this point 🙂 “

Interested in jumping in giving Dr. Harvey’s a try?

About the author

Rachael Sando

Rachael is a School Psychologist with degrees from the University of Rochester and RIT. Though a lifelong dog lover, this passion has taken on a new direction through the utilization of therapy animals in her day job. Charlie, our Golden Retriever, works with Rachael as a school therapy dog in a local primary school where he brings comfort and support to students and staff on a daily basis.