With all the options regarding canine food, it’s a miracle to find one that resonates well with your furry little friend. The matter becomes a lot more sensitive when it involves puppies. Just like it is with human babies, a puppy’s system is not quite seasoned enough to handle everything, so you need to put in quite some thought when picking the right one. No doubt, as pet parents, wanting the best for your furbaby is a given, and as such, we’ve decided to make the search a whole lot easier. Below are some of the best puppy food on the market – you simply cannot get it wrong with any of the options below.
The 10 Best Puppy Food Recipes
- Brand: Blue Buffalo
- First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley
- Primary Proteins: Chicken
- Calories: 400 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Chicken and Brown Rice
- Life Stage: Puppy
What goes in your puppy’s mouth right from the beginning determines what kind of life they’ll ultimately lead. If the aim is to raise a happy and healthy furbaby, then the best route to take is the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Dog Food. You’ll definitely like that this top rated puppy food is specially made just for growing pooches. Whether you want to use it as small breed puppy food or for their bigger counterparts is totally up to you – it works great either way.
To further add, this puppy food specifically caters to developmental and health-related needs peculiar to puppies. For instance, it contains both Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Arachidonic acid (ARA) which are the core fatty acids present in their mother’s milk. This goes a long way to boost their all-around development, more specifically their cognitive function and vision. Even better, this best dog food for puppies comprises only natural ingredients that are sure to boost your pup’s immunity altogether. What’s more, there’s no grain, corn, wheat or soy present in this formula. So, food aversions and allergies won’t be part of the picture at all for both small and large breeds.
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley, Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Egg Product, Pea Protein, Fish Oil (source of ARA-Arachidonic Acid and DHA- Docosahexaenoic Acid), Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dried Chicory Root, Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, DL-Methionine, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
- Brand: Orijen
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Turkey Giblets, Flounder, Whole Mackerel
- Primary Proteins: Chicken, Turkey
- Calories: 475 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Turkey, Chicken & Fish
- Life Stage: Puppy
If you own a pet, then you should be no stranger to this brand, especially if you are on the lookout for a biologically appropriate diet. The nutrients contained in the ORIJEN Puppy High-Protein Dry Dog Food are practically unmatchable; which makes the fact that it is specifically made for the nourishment of puppies even better. This can also be credited to the fact that there is a precise blend of nutrient-packed ingredients in the mix that is suitable for small and large breeds.
Also included are raw whole animal ingredients that could be anything from free-run chicken to wild-caught fish as well as cage-free eggs. There’s equally the addition of animal organs, bone, cartilage and so much more. And what makes this even better is the fact that there is no wheat or grain contained in this formula. So, not only are the ingredients fresh and nutrient-packed, but you can rest assured that your large or small pup will lead an allergy-free life.
Chicken, Turkey, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Flounder, Whole Mackerel, Eggs, Chicken Liver, Whole Herring, Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Dehydrated Mackerel, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Peas, Chicken Fat, Lentil Fiber, Pollock Oil, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Navy Beans, Natural Chicken Flavor, Whole Chickpeas, Pea Starch, Chicken Heart, Salt, Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Collard Greens, Whole Pears, Whole Apples, Whole Cranberries, Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Freeze-Dried Chicken, Freeze-Dried Turkey, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Dried Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Citric Acid (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.
- Brand: Wellness
- First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Lentils
- Primary Proteins: Chicken, Peas
- Calories: 490 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Chicken & Salmon
- Life Stage: Puppy
Whether for a small or large breed dog, there’s nothing quite as effective as authentic ingredients. If you really want to see results in terms of your pup’s general well being, be on the lookout for rich and wholesome additions. The makers of the Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food took it up a notch here. Not only is this dry food packed with authentic ingredients, it further gives nutritional support to the entire body. Rest assured there’s everything a growing puppy needs, and then some when it comes to this healthy option.
Now let’s swiftly move on to what not to expect with this highly nutritious food option. For one, there’s no grain in its healthy food formula, there’s equally no wheat, soy, corn, meat by-product meal or even preservatives. So, your puppy can develop with minimal hitches along the way. Instead, this grain free puppy food is packed with healthy and delicious proteins that are sure to give your fur baby a much-needed boost. The combination of deboned chicken meal and Whitefish, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, is ample proof that this is one of the healthiest puppy food options out there for growing small and large breeds.
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Lentils, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Tomato Pomace, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Tomatoes, Natural Chicken Flavor, Salt, Carrots, Choline Chloride, Spinach, Vitamin E Supplement, Chicory Root Extract, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin A Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Garlic Powder, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract. This is a naturally preserved product.
- Brand: Nutro
- First 5 ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Split Peas, Rice Bran
- Primary Proteins: Lamb, Chicken & Rice
- Calories: 326 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Lamb & Brown Rice
- Life Stage: Puppy
Now, if you have more than one dog breed at home, you’re bound to love this one. Not only is it a highly nutritious option, as the name implies, but it also gives you an avenue to specifically show some love for your large breed puppies. All in all, the NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Puppy Dry Dog Food offers large breed pups a whole lot more than a generic option would and here’s how. First and foremost, the main ingredient here is pasture-fed lamb which is packed with nutrients such as glucosamine and chondroitin.
That’s not all, there’s also the addition of calcium and Omega 3 fatty acids such as DHA in this dry food. As a result of this, you can rest assured that your small or large breed puppy is developing healthy bones and equally has all they need to develop cognitively. Even more, there are essential antioxidants added to the mix with the likes of Vitamin E at the forefront of this dry puppy food. As a result, your pup’s immunity is bound to be fortified against all sorts of attacks.
Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Brewers Rice, Split Peas, Rice Bran, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potato Protein, Natural Flavor, Lamb Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Salt, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Citric Acid (preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (preservative), Chia Seed, Dried Coconut, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Egg Product, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Kale, Dried Spinach, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin E Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
- Brand: Taste of The Wild
- First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes
- Primary Proteins: Salmon & Potatoes
- Calories: 408 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Smoke Flavored Salmon
- Life Stage: Puppy
With salmon as the first ingredient here, this puppy food is an option that your pup is sure to love. But it’s not just the salmon you should be impressed by here, even better is the fact that only ingredients vital to the health and development of your puppy are used. A range of authentic ingredients such as high-quality protein, probiotics, prebiotics, and vitamins are part and parcel of this formula that works efficiently to meet the nutritional needs of your puppy.
Even more, the formula from Taste of the Wild pet food used here provides benefits holistically, taking into account everything your large and small breed puppy needs during their vital foundation year. As if that’s not enough, this option is completely grain-free as well as soy, wheat, preservative, and artificial flavor-free. So, there’s really no getting it wrong here. This nutrient-rich dry dog food from Taste of the Wild is all your puppy needs and then some.
Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Tomato Pomace, Smoke-Flavored Salmon, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (A Source Of Dha), Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.
Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.
- Brand: Hill’s Science Diet
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Oats, Whole GrainSorghum, Corn Gluten Meal
- Primary Proteins: Chicken & Grains
- Calories: 394 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Chicken Meal & Oat Recipe
- Life Stage: Puppy
Finding the right puppy food for a large growing dog can be tough – the right formula should be higher in calories, packed with healthy fats for proper brain development, as well as quality protein for that much-needed muscle development. Thankfully, with options like Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Puppy Food you can rest assured your pup’s dietary needs are being adequately met.
In a nutshell, this can be considered as the epitome of good puppy food. It’s infused with a tasty chicken meal flavor that is sure to have your pup coming back for more. Also, it contains the right amount of calcium to enhance bone growth specifically for large breed puppies. Where strong bones thrive, you’re sure to find strong teeth too and a healthy immune system this is all part and parcel the Hill’s Science promise. The natural ingredients along with vitamins and minerals are used here to ensure that your pet develops the way mother nature intended.
Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Sorghum, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Fat, Whole Grain Corn, Chicken Liver Flavor, Flaxseed, Dried Beet Pulp, Pork Liver Flavor, Fish Oil, Lactic Acid, Iodized Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Choline Chloride, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Oat Fiber, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.
- Brand: CANIDAE
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Lentils, Peas, Garbanzo Beans
- Primary Proteins: Chicken, Lentils & Peas
- Calories: 521 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Chicken, Lentil & Whole Egg
- Life Stage: Puppy
When it comes to food for your puppy, this is definitely one of the giants. As such, you can expect nothing short of excellence from the CANIDAE PURE Puppy Recipe Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food. Seeing as this is a limited ingredient formula, it’s no surprise that this pet food contains a maximum of 10 ingredients in each bag. So, best believe there are no fillers here – each ingredient is something your puppy needs for their all-round development!
You’d also be pleased to know that there’s an array of flavors available in this pet food for you to pick from. So, your pup does not have to settle for one over the other, variety is the spice of life. What’s more, the six different proteins used here are lamb, chicken meal, salmon, boar, duck, and bison, all of which cater to the nutritional needs of your larger breeds as well as small breed pups. Taking this up a notch, there are some ingredients that just didn’t make the cut. You can already guess that grain is one of them; however, there’s also meat meals, by-products and soy excluded from the mix. To crown it all up, every bite here is infused with a mix of probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, as well as omega 6 & 3 fatty acids.
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Lentils, Peas, Garbanzo Beans, Suncured Alfalfa Meal, Flaxseed, Dried Whole Egg, Chicken Fat, Salmon Oil, Natural Flavor, Salt, Threonine, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Tryptophan, Mixed Tocopherols (A Preservative), Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable) Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.
- Brand: Blue Buffalo
- First 5 ingredients: Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Potatoes
- Primary Proteins: Turkey & Chicken
- Calories: 425kcal/can
- Flavor: Turkey & Chicken Grill
- Life Stage: Puppy
If your dog is more into wet puppy food, then boy have we got the best option for you. Not only is this an incredibly healthy option, but it’s also one super high protein puppy food. The Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Puppy Wet Dog Food speaks to the innate nature of the entire canine population, be it small or large breeds. As such, it is packed with meat to really appeal to their wild side. Alongside chicken meal and turkey, there’s also a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables and additional vitamins and minerals.
There’s so much in here, but you can rest assured that not all ingredients are welcome in this wet food. There are no gluten packed grains included here, there’s no wheat, soy or preservatives either. You’ll be pleased to know that there’s not just one way to eat this wet dog food, there’s a whopping three. Not only can it be given as a treat, but you can also either add it to your puppy’s dry food or have them eat it on its own. Either way, this meal is as delicious as it is effective especially for growing puppies
Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Potatoes, Pea Protein, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Fish Oil (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Dicalcium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Guar Gum, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols.
- Brand: Iams
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Corn Gluten Meal
- Primary Proteins: Chicken
- Calories: 373 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Chicken
- Life Stage: Puppy
Here is another product made for both large breeds and small breeds. You can really get behind this one thanks to the fact that it comes highly recommended by vets. Altogether, the Iams Proactive Health Puppy Chicken Dry Dog Food is made using only natural ingredients and the first one used here is farm-raised chicken meal. Yes, there are grains included in the mix, but this is no reason to shy away from this option. There’s nothing but healthy, wholesome grains as well as vegetables added to the mix.
Even better is the fact that all the ingredients here are quite easy to digest while also building the immune system of your puppy. Now, here’s something else you will appreciate if you’re looking to raise a smart and intuitive dog: an ample amount of Omega 3 DHA. This will ensure your puppy’s cognitive development will be nothing less than off the charts!
Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Corn Gluten Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Brewers Yeast, Dried Egg Product, Carrot, Potassium Chloride, Caramel Color, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide) Choline Chloride, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), L-Lysine, Fructooligosaccharides, Calcium Carbonate, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract.
- Brand: Canidae
- First 5 ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Vegetable Broth, Lamb Liver, Ocean Fish
- Primary Proteins: Lamb
- Calories: 494 kcal/13-oz can
- Flavor: Lamb & Rice
- Life Stage: All Life Stages
Last but certainly not least is the Canidae Life Stages Canned Dog Food for Puppies and it is nothing short of the best when it comes to holistic development. What makes it such a convenient food for your puppy is the fact that it’s well suited for all life stages and breed puppies. So, if you operate a multiple pet household, this brand of puppy food is the ultimate choice. It is still a great choice for single dog households because it limits all that switching. There’s no need to switch to more age or breed appropriate options with this one!
The first ingredient used here is lamb, and to ensure it’s bioavailable and incredibly tasty, it is slow-cooked in broth. Based on this alone, both small breed and larger breeds will be all over this dog food and even looking forward to meal times on a regular basis. Altogether, this dog food offers up a healthy and balanced diet for your puppy, especially during those crucial developmental years.
For a full list of our favorite options, see our round-up of the Best Lamb Dog Foods.
Lamb, Lamb Broth, Vegetable Broth, Lamb Liver, Ocean Fish, Brown Rice, Peas, Dried Egg Product, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Agar-agar, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Kelp, Dried Cranberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Iron Proteinate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Manganese Proteinate, Potassium Iodide, Riboflavin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Rosemary Extract.
Best Dog Foods for Puppies: Buying Guide & FAQs
It should be evident that whether you have a healthy dog down the line or liability depends largely on what they eat as puppies. Truly, there are tons of food options to pick from in the market, but you have to be cautious not to get overwhelmed by these, so you don’t make the wrong choice. The article below will guide new pet parents on how to best navigate their growing babies through puppyhood regarding nutritional needs. It also answers some of the questions most puppy owners ask.
What to Look for in a Puppy Food
Puppies have distinct needs for food, which differ even more based on their breed, age, and more. While some things may vary, some remain the same, like their general need for a well-balanced diet. Be sure to scour puppy food reviews to ensure that the below features are in place:
Proteins are the OGs of your puppy’s diet and should make up at least 22% of their whole meal. As humans, dogs require amino acids, the primary building blocks their organs and systems need to form properly. While their body can produce half of the amino acids they need, the remaining half should come from what they eat. Proteins derived from animal sources like chicken meal, fish, duck, etc., are the best because your puppy will find them yummy and loaded with all the essential nutrients needed for proper development.
As proteins do the base work, building cells that develop into tissues, organs, hormones, and immune systems, among other things, healthy fats provide the boost these structures need to be efficient. DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is a must-have ingredient in puppy food as it plays a pivotal role in their brain and eye development. Healthy fats should make up at least 8% of your puppy’s balanced meals.
Puppies are generally very active, so they use a lot of energy. Proteins and fats supply ample calories, but carbs provide a more substantial amount that ultimately fuels their escapades. While proteins serve as energy reserves, carbs are a more immediate source because of how quickly they get converted and used up. However, it is advisable to go for safe options like rice and potatoes instead of corn, wheat, and soy, which some puppies may have issues with.
Vitamins, Probiotics, and other Micronutrients
Vitamins, probiotics, and micronutrients play such vital roles in your puppy’s body that they should not be overlooked. Probiotics help transition from their mother’s milk to other food smoother, while elements like calcium and phosphorus are responsible for healthy bone development. Then, vitamins help boost their immune systems, among other functions.
Check out our review of Probiotics for Dogs.
What to Avoid in a Dog Food for Puppies
Fat itself is not a problem, but the quality of the fat should be a concern when it comes to your little furry friends. Rendered fat does more harm than good as it contains little or no nutrients and can be a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms that can cause health problems like pancreatitis and liver damage.
It is preferable to skip preservatives altogether, but if you must, go with natural alternatives like vitamins C and E. Artificial preservatives should be avoided at all costs because they are made of chemicals known to be extremely toxic to dogs. Some chemical preservatives to avoid are BHA, BHT, Propylene Glycol, and Ethoxyquin.
Just as it is for humans, fresh food is richer than processed food for a puppy. This is because the latter is often cooked at such high temperatures that the protein content ends up denatured, and the number of beneficial nutrients in the food is significantly reduced.
Should You Feed Your Puppy Dry or Wet Dog Food?
Both dry and wet dog foods are great choices as long as necessary precautions are taken. On the one hand, wet food has higher water content, which is excellent for hydration, and your puppy will naturally be drawn to it because it’s fresher and smells better. On the other hand, dry dog food tends to be less expensive and easier to preserve but may contain fillers, artificial flavors, and preservatives and can be hard for puppies to chew. Ultimately, the choice is yours. That said, feeding your growing puppy dry and wet food is a good idea.
Best Puppy Food Brands
- Merrick Grain-free recipes– This brand’s puppy foods feature real deboned chicken and meat as the first ingredients and whole foods that are completely grain-free to provide quality nutrients for all puppies with less risk of common allergies.
- Wellness – With a team that includes veterinarians and experienced animal nutritionists, Wellness puppy food recipes guarantee natural nutrition. Rest assured that it contains only the good stuff in sizes just right for your puppy’s little mouth.
- Blue Buffalo – Your baby pet wants food it enjoys, but you worry about the quality because you know better. Affordable yet rich, Blue Buffalo makes food that meets both the pet’s and the parent’s needs.
- Purina Pro Plan – By the demands of vets and pet owners, this brand specially formulated puppy food to meet the nutritional requirements of all breed sizes. Even better, it is further applicable at different stages of their development and at budget-friendly prices.
Our Top Pick
Made with the best natural ingredients and enhanced with the brand’s exclusive LifeSource Bits formula, the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Dog Food is our top pick. This dry puppy food recipe balances vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from fruits and garden-grown vegetables with real deboned chicken meal and non-allergenic meal whole grains as its primary ingredients. It also contains a combination of Omega-3 (DHA) and Omega-6 (ARA) fatty acids found in mama’s milk to support the cognitive skills of your puppy. It is the perfect small-breed puppy food suitable for large breed sizes. Importantly, it contains no artificial additives or poultry by-products, making it suitable for all growing puppies.
You may also like our article on popular dog food brands.
Frequently Asked Questions
Start by determining the amount of food your puppy needs daily, then divide the food equally into 3 or 4 servings. For those between 8 and 12 weeks old, it is generally recommended to feed them four times daily, while those between 3 – 6 months old can be fed about three times per day.
Breed size and calorie content, among other things, should factor into how much food you give your puppy. Nevertheless, food packages usually come with a recommended feeding amount based on a dog’s weight. You can start with that and then adjust later to keep your dog from undereating or overeating.
While once or twice may not be harmful to their growth, it is not advisable to steadily feed your puppy regular adult dog food. Puppy food is specially formulated to meet their nutritional needs at that stage and feeding them regular dog food trumps that. Even worse, feeding adult dog food to a growing pup long-term may cause your furbaby certain health issues down the road.
This is entirely dependent on your puppy’s breed. While it is safe to transition smaller animals to adult food between 9 – 12 months, medium to large sizes should begin at 12 – 18 months. When in doubt, consult an animal nutritionist or vet, and keep in mind that it is safer to switch late rather than too soon.