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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Pet Professional Tip

Feeding a puppy a premium diet is important for helping elimination training. Higher quality diets are more digestible, produce less waste = less clean-up= less for puppy to control (hold).
Recommend quality diets for pets. Diet plays an important role in both health and behavior. Feed a high quality food to boarding pets, Tell clients that you provide the same food in the clinic that you recommend and sell. 

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Introduction to Nutrition

There are a vast number of factors that influence dietary needs. There are also a large variety of types of food and manufacturers. As a matter of fact, there is now even a prescription "Brain Diet" (BD) to keep the brain healthy in older dogs. The best possible nutrition is recommended by the veterinarian supervising the health of the dog. Veterinarians are trained in nutrition. When they exam the pet, they evaluate health factors including coat condition. The following information is intended for normal, healthy pets. It should not take the place of a veterinary recommendation. 
Dogs tend to overeat more when fed canned food. Provide dogs plenty of exercise and limit food, as needed, to maintain healthy weights.

Food selection

When providing food for a puppy or an adult dog, it is recommended to choose from what are called the "premium quality" food brands. These tend to be the most expensive available and sold in specialty pet food stores and veterinary clinics. They are not usually sold in supermarkets. The difference in premium quality foods is primarily the quality of the protein and fat. These more expensive raw materials are higher in digestibility and quality of proteins and therefore explain the increased cost. The higher quality raw materials allows the dog to grow and develop stronger muscle, hair fibers, and all other parts of the body. Another big advantage is that increased digestibility results in smaller stools.

Feed a premium food when housetraining a puppy.  You will have less input and output which is easier for both of you!


When selecting a brand, it is generally better to stay with a name brand like Science Diet, IAMS, Waltham, ProPlan, Nutro, and Nature's Recipe. The "off-brands" might be divided into 3 categories: Price-point, Designer, and All-Natural. The least cost price point foods use the lowest class of raw materials and should be avoided. The designer and all-natural brands often have a compelling story, but usually do not have the feeding trials and science to back them up. Rely on your veterinarian or do some deep research if going off the beaten track of a high quality name brand premium food.

Canned vs. Dry

Most dogs do great if fed only dry food for meals. That means having the food available at distinct intervals and removing the food when the dog walks away from the bowl. Canned food is indicated if attempting to increase coat condition, part of a medical prescription, to increase body weight, or as a special treat for the dog on an as intermittent basis. It is more efficient (and better for the health of the dog!) to feed a high quality, expensive dry food rather than a lower expensive dry plus canned food. Dogs tend to overeat more when fed canned food. Provide dogs plenty of exercise and quality food to maintain ideal weights.


In healthy dogs with nice coats, nutritional supplements such as a multiple vitamin are optional since the high quality foods contain vitamins. Many humans take a multiple vitamin as a safety factor or for insurance reasons and in dogs this is permissible and encouraged. If attempting to increase coat condition, an Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) supplement is also suggested, although it is best to check with your veterinarian for dosage and quality.

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