Just as the right food plays such a big part in your health and wellbeing, the same is certainly true of your little puppy. This is the stage when they need to get all the vitamins and nutrients they need for their transition from puppyhood into adult doghood. This food will give your dog the energy they need for their daily playing, the support they need for growing muscles, and the nutrients they need to maintain strong health. But these days, there are an awful lot of different options to choose from, which is why we have come up with this guide of the best puppy food, along with an overview of their key features.
The Best Puppy Food
At the top of the list, we have this dry puppy dog food from Iams, which contains chicken as the number one ingredient. This is important as growing puppies need protein as a major source of their growth and energy, as well as building up strong muscles.
But protein isn’t everything, which is why it also includes the 22 nutrients that are found in a mother’s milk. Another important feature is the high level of antioxidants, which are important in the development of the strong immune system of your little pooch.
Contains quality protein
Omega DHA promotes healthy cognition
Fits the wellness and nutritional needs of puppies
- Weight15 pounds
Next on the list, we have this high protein puppy food from leading brand Blue Wilderness. Real chicken provides the main source of protein, while there are also the patented LifeSource bits that consist of a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
It is also sometimes important to talk about what dog foods do not contain, and there are no grains that contain gluten in this one. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives to speak of.
Real chicken provides the protein
Contains LifeSource bits
Contains fine natural ingredients
- BrandBlue Buffalo
- Weight24 pounds
Based on the kind of food that your little dog would have enjoyed in the wild, this food offers a combination of venison and bison. The high levels of protein ensure the development of lean and strong muscles.
As for the kibble size, it has been designed to be of a smaller size, which makes it more manageable for your dog’s little mouth. It has also been crafted in a way that ensures a high level of digestibility. No grain, wheat, artificial colors, preservatives or flavors have been added.
High protein ingredients
Trusted, sustainable sources used
Highly digestible with proprietary probiotics
Added vitamins and minerals
- BrandTaste of The Wild
- Weight30 pounds
Our premium pick is one that is based on a real chicken and sweet potato formula. There is no corn, soy, wheat, or gluten to speak of. When it comes to Merrick’s food, real meat is always the number one ingredient, which is one of the reasons why it is so popular amongst dog lovers.
Everything is cooked in the USA, which is a reassurance for many owners. And the whole formula is entirely grain-free, which is an increasingly popular choice in the modern age of dog ownership.
Cooked in the USA
Nutrients from sweet potatoes
No corn or wheat
Highly rated brand
- Weight25 pounds
This brand of dog food is well-known for crafting their dog food based on science, so if you are looking to start your little pooch on a wet food diet, this is a great option. All of the ingredients are easily digestible, while there is also a powerful blend of antioxidants.
Made using natural ingredients, this wet dog food is cooked up in the USA and it has been highly regarded amongst veterinarians. The balanced minerals help to promote the formation of strong bones and teeth.
Promote and maintain strong, lean muscles
Thoughtfully sourced ingredients
- BrandHill’s Science Diet
- Weight9.79 pounds
Natural Balance create their dog food with limited ingredient philosophies, which are based on the fact that your dog would not consume too many things in the wild. Of course, protein forms the cornerstone of their recipe. In this case, it comes from duck.
With your puppy in mind, the kibble has been created in a smaller size to ensure that your little dog does not have trouble consuming it. To help support your pup’s neural development, the formula includes DHA.
Smaller kibble size for easier eating
Single protein source from duck
No artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors
- BrandNatural Balance
- Weight12 pounds
Next up, we have these trays of healthy puppy food, which are made with entirely non-GMO ingredients. This one has beef as the main protein source, but this is backed up by peas and carrots, which offer the vitamins and nutrients.
As has become common in many modern wet puppy foods, this one does not contain any grains. And there are also no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, which your pup’s digestive system cannot handle as easily.
Protein from real beef
Made using non-GMO ingredients
Created in the USA
- Weight6.22 pounds
Another top rated puppy food, Purina has created this formula with chicken as the number one ingredient, giving your little dog the protein they need for healthy functioning and muscle development.
Other positive features of this best large breed puppy food include the fact that it is a natural source of glucosamine. And it also contains DHA, which is majorly useful in the development of your puppy’s brain.
Real chicken is the top ingredient
Supports developing cartilage and joints
DHA from fish oil supports your dog’s brain and vision
Designed for large breed puppies
- BrandPurina Pro Plan
- Weight34 pounds
One of the world’s premium dog food brands, the sources of the food have been carefully chosen. The protein comes from various sources including chicken, turkey, wild caught fish, and eggs. In fact, 85% of the formula comes from animal ingredients.
You may now be wondering about where the remaining 15% of the food is coming from. Well, you will be reassured to know that vegetables and botanicals make up this remaining percentage – which also means that there is no room for grain.
Grain-free dog food
85% from animal ingredients
Fresh and raw ingredients used
- Weight4.4 pounds
Finally, we have the wet canned food, which promises to offer complete and balanced nutrition to your little dog. The pate is made with quality proteins including premium salmon and chicken. Plus, it includes DHA to support the development of a healthy brain and pair of eyes. On top of all this, it is made in North America where certain standards are maintained.
Complete and balanced nutrition
Made using quality proteins
All natural content
- Weight10 pounds
Best Puppy Food Buying Guide & FAQ
The Ingredients to Look for in Puppy Food
There are a few essential components of your puppy’s food that they require for healthy functioning. Let’s look at an overview of these here and now.
As you may have already been able to deduce from reading the guide so far, protein is absolutely essential in your dog’s diet. It plays a central role in growth, development, and the functioning of your dog’s immune system. Protein content should be between 21 and 26 percent. While some of the protein can come from plant sources, the majority should come from real meat ingredients.
Carbs provide an essential source of both energy and dietary fiber. Some lower quality foods make up this content with foods like corn and wheat, but many high-quality dog food is grain-free and will make up the content from other sources such as rice and potatoes.
Your little dog needs a certain percentage of fat in their diet. Generally, this should stand between 15 and 20 percent. The function of fats in your dog’s diet are numerous including the healthy maintenance of coat and skin, mobile digestion, and stable temperature.
Next up, you have the vitamins, which are organic additives needed by the body. The first set are those that are fat soluble including vitamins A, D, E, and K stored in the liver and fatty tissue. There are also those that are water soluble such as vitamins B and E. These are flushed through the body on a daily basis.
And then there are the minerals, which help in the daily functioning of your dog’s body. While mineral deficiencies are more common than vitamin ones, you should only supplement your dog’s diet if you are directed to by the vet.
The Ingredients to Avoid in Puppy Dog Food
Just as there are ingredients that are positive, there are also those that can have a negative effect on your pooch.
- Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
The best quality dog foods will not contain any of the above as they don’t have nutritional benefits to your pup and you don’t know what sort of negative impacts they could have too.
Grains are a controversial subject in dog food, but one that is certainly not beneficial is corn. It is often used as a cheap filler with no nutritional value. Not only this, but some pets are allergic to it. Plus, it can ramp up the sugar content.
- Wheat flour and gluten
Dogs did not eat grains in the wild, so their bodies are not adept at digesting them. Wheat flour has no nutritional advantage to your pet and the same it true of wheat gluten too.
Nutritional Needs of Growing Puppies
Puppies have some specific nutritional needs that are different than adult dogs. They need plenty of protein to support the development of their bodies, but they also need higher than normal carbs as they tend to have a lot more energy than adult dogs. So, you can expect to see a higher calorie count in puppy food than adult dog food. Calories are spent in essential areas such as the growth and development of essential tissues. The right blend of vitamins and minerals are also essential. Antioxidants are majorly useful in the development of strong immune systems. And then you have substances like DHA which can help to improve your pup’s brain functioning.
Wet vs Dry Dog Food for Puppies
The choice between wet and dry puppy food can be a tough one to make. There are pros and cons involved in both, so let’s look at these in closer detail.
- Wet food
One of the main advantages of wet food is that it keeps your puppy well-hydrated. It is also easy to eat, which is particularly helpful for puppies who are going through the teething process when sore teeth and gums are common. On the downside, this type of food does nothing for teeth cleaning. It is also at the more expensive end of the scale, and there tends to be a higher sugar content than with dry food. So, you need to stay on top of your puppy’s consumption to prevent them from becoming obese, which is a common problem in domesticated dogs these days.
- Dy food
Dry food tends to be the more affordable option, and its easy storage means that it lasts for quite a while after it is open. If you are planning on taking a free feeding approach, dry food is better. The best dry puppy food is also more useful in keeping your dog’s teeth clean. On the downside, it does not contain as much moisture, so you need to ensure that your dog has plenty of water down. During teething, it can cause more pain when eating. Also, carb levels can be higher, so you need to keep an eye on this.
Best Puppy Food FAQ:
Q: When should my puppy stop eating puppy food?
A: There is no definitive agreement of when you should switch your little dog from puppy to adult food. However, when your dog reaches around 80% of their adult size is a rule that some owners choose to follow. If your dog grows more quickly than expected, you may choose to stop feeding them puppy food sooner.
Q: When, and how much, should I feed your puppy?
A: The number of times to feed your dog depends very much on their age. If they are under three months old, you can feed your dog up to four times a day. Over the next months, you can reduce this to three times a day, before dropping down to twice a day in adulthood. Generally, one feeding in the morning and another in the afternoon/evening is normal.
Q: What if my puppy leaves food in the bowl, or eats too quickly?
A: If your dog has lost their appetite, the first thing to do is rule out medical issues with your vet. If there is no issue here, you can try increasing the palatability by adding in some wet food, soaking it in warm water, or gently microwaving it. You could also try changing the dish. If your dog is eating too quickly, you can offer their food gradually using a slow feeder.
Q: Can I feed my puppy a raw food?
A: Starting your puppy on a raw food diet needs to be done with care, ensuring that you get the nutritional balance right. You should always observe them closely, monitoring their health and taking a gradual approach until they are used to it.
Our Top Pick
Back on our number one choice, it is this dry dog food from Iams, which contains chicken as the primary protein source. It features the 22 nutrients found in their mother’s milk. Plus, healthy cognition is supported thanks to the Omega DHA. For these reasons and more, we have ranked it as the best dog food for puppies.