So you have a new furry family member! Whether you’re an experienced dog parent or not, a big congratulations from us to you! You cannot feed your puppy adult dog food because they have special needs. We need to help them build a strong foundation to grow up to be big and strong!
Only the best puppy food packed with lots of vitamins and minerals that are easy to digest is the best for their delicate tummies. Puppies grow quickly, and the right amount of nutrition is vital to developing their immune system, bones, joints, organs, and muscles.
- Certified content. This article has been fact checked and verified by our veterinary advisor.
Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM
Notes from our DVM, Sara Ochoa: “Make sure to feed your large breed puppy a large breed dog food. This helps make sure that their fast-growing bones have all the nutrients that they need.”
Table of Contents
Our team has spent hours researching products to find the best puppy food for your dog, read our in-depth reviews below. Learn more about our 10 point inspection checklist.
Best Dog Foods for Puppies
1. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Dry Dog Food
We start off with one of the largest and most well-known brands, Purina Pro Plan. They offer the options of toy, small, and large breed puppy dog foods, or you can go with the generic choice that is good for all breed sizes. Puppies need high protein, and with the Purina Pro Plan Puppy Lamb & Rice Formula, they will be getting premium animal protein from real lamb. Check the Purina Pro Plan dog food review to learn more about this brand.
The DHA content is from fish oil that helps with brain and vision development. As for the immune system, it’s strengthened with antioxidants. And last but not least, for their bone growth, Purina has decided to go with Phosphorous, Calcium, and other minerals to boost their development.
Why We Like It – This dry food is formulated to meet the needs of a puppy up to a year old. There are a variety of flavors to choose from, show your puppy you care about their health as well as their tastebuds.
+ Real lamb as the #1 ingredient
+ With DHA for brain and vision development
+ High-quality protein for lean muscle support
+ Formulated with live probiotics for digestive and immune health
+ No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
+ Designed to meet your puppy’s nutritional needs
– Contains chicken by-product meal
2. Hill’s Science Diet Small Bites Chicken meal & Barley Recipe Dry Puppy Food
This Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Chicken Meal & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food is the best dog food for supporting puppies’ overall growth and development. Its nutritional value is suitable for pups up to a year old. This high-quality food is also recommended for pregnant or nursing dogs. The medium-sized kibble fits all sizes of puppy breeds and is formulated to support heart health.
DHA and minerals are basic ingredients that are included to support eye, brain, and skeletal development. Vitamins C and E are also in the mix to provide antioxidants to boost the immune system. What’s most important is there are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives added to this dry food. You can be sure your furry best friend is getting the best quality with no unwanted ingredients.
Why We Like It – Your furry little one deserves the best. Make sure your pooch puts their best paw forward by giving them the nutritional blend of Hill’s Science Diet vet-recommended puppy food! This is one of the premium dog foods for your puppy that contains all the essentials they need to grow up healthy and happy!
+ Made with natural and highly digestible ingredients
+ High-quality meat protein for lean muscle support
+ With DHA to support brain and eye development
+ No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
+ Complete and balanced diet for puppies
– Not recommended for dogs with grain and poultry allergies
3. ’I and Love and You’’ Naked Essentials Grain-Free Puppy Food
Grain-free diets, like this “I and love and you” Naked Essentials Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food, are better for dogs that can be more sensitive or have allergies. This formula also contains DHA and calcium for brain, vision, and bone support. Not only is it a grain-free food, but it’s also one that’s suitable for all life stages no matter what breed size they are!
The I and Love and You puppy formula has 32% protein from high-quality real meat from Chicken, Menhaden Fish, and Turkey for maximum muscle growth. As for the brain, bone, and eye health, we have the DHA and calcium support. Better for and more suited to sensitive puppies, the pre and probiotics in this mix keep your puppy’s tummy at 100%.
Why We Like It – Higher in protein than the average puppy dog food, you can be sure your puppy will be big and strong! Considering a puppy’s sensitive tummy and immune system, this is an excellent choice for puppies prone to digestive and skin issues.
+ First ingredient is high-quality animal protein from real Chicken
+ Promotes muscle growth and heart health
+ Special blend of prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion
+ For small-breed puppies, medium-sized, and giant breed puppies
+ With Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for a shiny and healthy coat
+ No by-product meals, wheat, corn, soy, rice, artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors
– Hard and crunchy kibble may be hard to chew; add a little water to make it softer and chewable
4. Nutro Ultra Puppy Dry Dog Food
Giving you a choice between large breed puppies and average puppies, Nutro Ultra Puppy Dry Dog Food features protein from chicken, lamb, and salmon. The kibble is made with the highest quality ingredients. It comes in a complete and balanced bowl of nutrition with every meal. Go with the large breed puppy food option if you have a large breed puppy as this one is designed to support their specific needs more.
Along with the high-quality protein, Nutro Ultra has also blended 15 superfoods into the mix, including coconut, chia, kale, and blueberries. It promotes brain development and provides overall nutrition to support a thriving puppy’s needs. Specially formulated for puppies, this is another great dog food for puppies.
Why We Liked It – We expect our pups to enjoy delicious food with nutritional benefits just as we do. GMOs are one of the top things we don’t want. Nutro Ultra has thoughtfully crafted this blend to exclude all GMO ingredients. (Except for trace amounts due to cross-contact.)
+ Trio of premium animal protein from Chicken, Lamb, and Salmon
+ With a blend of 15 superfoods to support digestive health
+ Complete and balanced nutrition for puppies
+ No chicken by-product meal, corn, soy, or wheat, and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
+ Non-GMO ingredients
+ Includes calcium for healthy teeth and bones
– Kibble size may not be ideal for puppies or small dogs
5. Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Formula Dry Puppy Food for Large Breed Puppies
We finally came to an option for large breed puppies. These little rascals need more than the average baby. The #1 ingredient in Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Large Breed Formula Dry Puppy Food is real Chicken, considered one of the most easily digestible protein options. High protein content means healthy muscles and a healthy, happy heart.
Purina has added a touch of calcium and glucosamine from natural sources for their bones and joints that support their strong muscles. A combination of tasty morsels with dry kibble, this is food with a unique texture your large pup will love! The ingredients are all-natural with added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Why We Like It – This large breed puppy mix will prevent your dog from sorting through the kibble and only eating the meat. This dry and wet blend gives your large baby the perfect amount of nutrition needed.
+ High in protein for muscle and heart health
+ Easily digestible and natural ingredients
+ Supports brain and vision development with DHA
+ Specifically tailored for larger breeds
+ Promotes shiny coat and healthy immune system
+ Great price and good nutritional value
– Not recommended for dogs with sensitive skin
6. Hill’s Science Diet Toy & Small Breed Puppy Food
Toy breeds and smaller dogs need less than the average puppy. It’s important not to overload their digestive systems. Is your puppy a toy or a small breed? If they do not exceed 25 lbs as an adult, your fur baby fits into this category. This Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food is tailored for small breed puppies and their needs.
Containing most of the same ingredients the standard blend has, including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, this premium dog food is 100% made in the USA. Being a puppy option, the kibble is smaller and is designed to fit into your dog’s smaller mouth. With each size option, the ingredients and formula are tailored and balanced for every dog.
Why We Like It – Pet parents are natural animal lovers. We love all animals and not just our own. With every purchase, Hill’s donates food to shelters across the country to help homeless pets through their Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love program. How amazing is that?
|Calcium||95 mg/kg min|
+ Developed by nutritionists and vet-recommended
+ Uses DHA for brain and eye development
+ High-quality protein from chicken to help build lean muscles
+ With a balance of minerals to promote bone and dental health
+ Antioxidant blend for immune health support
+ No artificial additives
– Has a strong smell
– Not recommended for dogs with grain allergies
7. Fromm Family Foods 15 Lb Gold Puppy Food Farmer’s Dog
Fromm Family Foods is a trusted brand that focuses on what’s best for our pups as a family-owned company. This Fromm Family Food Gold Puppy Food only uses the best ingredients with no controversial contents. Just from the bag, we can see a ton of protein contained in one meal sourced from duck, eggs, chicken, lamb, and real cheese!
Watch your puppy grow quickly with all the nutrition consumed in every bite! Many consumers have said their breeders recommend this brand that leaves your pup with high energy and a glossy coat!
Why We Like It – As a top breeder recommended brand, all the protein and grain-free ingredients with no controversial additives assist your puppy during the pivotal developmental stage.
+ Maintains a shiny coat with the help of salmon oil
+ High in protein from chicken, lamb, and duck
+ Designed for puppies, pregnant, or nursing dogs
+ Contains healthy fats
+ Includes nutritious vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
+ Special blend of probiotics to aid digestion
– Other options may be more affordable
8. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Dry Dog Food
A lot of Hill’s puppy options are nutritious enough for even pregnant or nursing dogs! Puppies grow rapidly during their first year, so a good foundation must be laid with their diet. The abundant amount of clinically proven vitamins and minerals from Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Bites supports your fur baby’s growth and development.
With your choice of wet or dry options, Hill’s also makes puppy treats to aid you in the training process. Hill’s is a brand that uses a scientific approach when sourcing and selecting ingredients for puppy meals. If you’re still on the fence, the reassuring 100% satisfaction guarantee might just be what you need to give you a push in the right direction.
Why We Like It – Hill’s is a well-established brand in the pet food industry. They take the time to specifically examine each ingredient to ensure its safety and only accept ingredients from suppliers that have met stringent quality standards. Have you clicked ‘order’ yet?
|Vitamin C||95 mg/kg min|
+ Complete and balanced diet for puppies
+ High-quality and natural ingredients
+ With DHA for healthy brain and vision development
+ Gives to shelters and helps homeless pets
+ Blend of antioxidants and Vitamins E and C for the immune system
– No larger bag option
9. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition X-Small Puppy Dry Dog Food
For those of you with extra small pups, don’t feel left out! This Royal Canin X-Small Puppy Dry Dog Food is made specifically for you! If your puppy were 8 lbs or under as an adult, they would be considered an XS. How cute! Make sure to switch to an adult option after 10 months of this kibble rather than the standard 1 year.
This option will meet the high-energy needs of your smaller baby, packed with enough nutrients needed during their shorter but more rapid growth period. Even the kibble size is tailored to be extra small for your mini pooch’s cute little mouth. Most puppies need the same vitamin and mineral support; the difference is the amount. Rest assured, this formula is perfectly tailored for your mini-pooch.
Why We Like It – Your tiny baby will have a big and happy heart and an even happier and fuller belly after a taste of this perfectly balanced meal. This Royal Canin puppy food has everything x-small puppies or small breed adult dogs need to maintain their health and high energy. Its kibble size is specially designed to fit a small pooch’s mouth for easy digestibility.
+ Extra-small kibble for smaller dogs
+ All natural
+ Fiber blend improves digestion and stool quality
+ Blend of antioxidants and vitamins for immune health support
+ Meets high energy needs of extra small puppies
– Not suitable for dogs with poultry or grain allergies
10. Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Puppy Chicken & Salmon
All-natural and grain-free, Wellness Natural Grain-Free Pet Food also includes delicious proteins in the blend. The choice of protein sources in this grain-free puppy food includes deboned chicken and whitefish combined with vitamins and minerals for a perfect formula.
Everything included is natural, so you won’t find any sources of wheat, grain, corn, by-products, or artificial flavors and preservatives. Being made in the USA, this brand guarantees to meet safety standards administered by the FDA. Aside from ingredients to benefit your pup internally, this formula is also fortified with fatty acids to help your pup’s skin and coat.
Why We Like It – The foundation year of your puppy’s development is the most essential. With a strong base, the chances of diseases and illnesses it acquires as an adult are greatly minimized. Its the best puppy food you can find with high-quality ingredients made for food-sensitive puppies.
+ Grain-free and all-natural ingredients
+ Chicken is the first ingredient for optimal energy
+ Calcium and phosphorous for muscle and bone development
+ DHA for brain support
+ With Omega-rich flaxseed oil for skin and coat health
+ Promotes digestive, immune, and dental health
– May cause bad gas smell but improves stool quality
11. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Dry Dog Food
Canidae also has a variety of choices for small breeds and seniors to puppies and diet pet food. The CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Dry Dog Food for puppies is limited to 7-10 ingredients only for sensitive dogs. With every option, they guarantee to be high in protein with a taste your pooch will love.
This recipe is formulated to meet the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for optimal nutrition. If your puppy has food allergies, this is the best puppy food for them. It has no corn, wheat, soy, or meat by-products, ensuring the quality of your puppy’s diet.
Why We Like It – Canidae uses simple ingredients and nothing you won’t recognize on the label. Support your sensitive dog with this grain-free all-natural formula.
+ Grain-free and all-natural
+ Made with 9 simple ingredients including chicken and menhaden fish meal
+ For sensitive dogs who loves grain-free foods
+ Probiotics added to support digestive health
+ Glucosamine and Chondroitin to promote strong joints
+ With Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
– Not suitable for dogs with poultry allergies
12. AvoDerm Natural Dog Food for Puppies
In every 15 lb bag, Avoderm’s main choice of protein is from chicken. What’s special about the ingredients used is they incorporate California avocadoes with healthy fats to promote healthy skin and coats, rather than the traditional fish oil. Also, the AvoDerm Natural Puppy Dry Food is an all-natural choice. You won’t find any unwanted artificial ingredients inside.
Why We Like It – Made in the USA and with 30 years of experience to back up the product, AvoDerm is a choice that will appeal to your dog’s natural canine senses.
+ Grain, corn, and soy-free
+ Nutrient and protein-rich
+ Promotes healthy skin and coats
+ Avocado special ingredient
+ With antioxidants to support immune health
+ DHA for healthy brain development
– Other options may be more affordable
13. Solid Gold – Wolf Cub with Real Bison and Oatmeal – Natural Large Breed Puppy Food
The Solid Gold Natural Large Breed Puppy Food is one of the best dog foods for larger breeds. Made from real Bison and Ocean Fish Meal, this formula is protein-rich, designed to support muscle health for large breed dogs. Allergy-free ingredients with a superfood blend include pumpkin, cranberries, and almond oil for their sensitive stomachs. Each ingredient has its own purpose, and probiotics are added to help with digestion.
Why We Like It – Big pups need more protein and nutrition. With this mix, your cubs are bound to grow into the strong canines they’re meant to be. Especially with its superfood blend of 20 nutrient-rich foods, it’s designed to provide overall immune support for your puppy.
+ Fiber-rich prebiotics for the digestive system
+ Patented probiotics blend
+ 100% satisfaction guaranteed
+ 20 nutritious superfoods blend
+ Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health
+ Designed to support a large breed puppy’s gut health
– Other options may be more affordable
14. Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Large & Giant Breed Puppy Recipe
Larger puppies need larger kibble to feel the satisfaction with every chew. And with the Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Large & Giant Breed Puppy Recipe, your large breed puppy is not only getting quality kibble but also whole-body health nutrition. The main protein source is lamb combined with a mix of probiotics, natural fibers, and digestive enzymes for added digestive protection.
This puppy food is formulated by nutritionists, veterinarians, and animal lovers who carefully select each ingredient to sustain your dog’s wellness. It’s got everything to support your puppy’s nutritional needs, from immune and joint support to skin and coat nutrition.
Why We Like It – Being made in the USA, Holistic Select’s highest priority is offering consistent safety with high-quality natural dog food. Featuring the best dog food for your large breed fur baby. This Holistic Select Puppy Large Breed Formula has carefully selected ingredients formulated by dog and nutrition specialists.
+ Digestive enzymes and natural fiber for enhanced digestion
+ Salmon and Flaxseed oil supports healthy skin and coat
+ Includes antioxidants and Taurine for immune and heart health
+ Formulated by nutritionists, veterinarians, and pet lovers
+ With Glucosamine for joint support
+ Optimal protein and fat levels for growth and muscle development
– Needs gradual change in diet
15. Solid Gold – Love at First Bark – Natural Dog Puppy Food
The Solid Gold Natural Dog Puppy Food provides balanced nutrition for all growing fur babies to support their needs. Specially formulated with chicken and 20 superfoods to give your growing pup enough it needs to develop into a healthy adult. No fillers are added, only highly digestible and safe ingredients. Solid Gold promotes healthy cognitive development with supportive DHA and Omega-3 fatty acids.
It has the perfect nutrient blend of superfoods such as carrots, pumpkin, and blueberries that supplies your puppy with antioxidants and fiber for immune and digestive support. The first ingredient in this Solid Gold formula is real chicken to give your dog fuel that lasts for the whole day.
Why We Like It – This recipe is the perfect blend with balanced vitamins and minerals. Your pup will understand the meaning of ‘Love at First Bark!’ with one of Solid Gold’s best puppy foods. One dog owner says that they love this for their dog, who has a sensitive stomach. Know more about this brand through the Solid Gold dog food review.
+ 100% satisfaction guarantee
+ No fillers, wheat, corn, or gluten
+ Made with natural chicken and 20 core superfoods
+ Highly digestible and limited ingredients
+ Contains DHA, Omega-3 fatty acids for brain development
+ With probiotics and fiber-rich prebiotics for gut health
– Kibble may be hard to chew for some puppies; we suggest adding some water to make it more chewable for them
16. Pedigree Puppy Chopped Ground Dinner with Lamb & Rice Wet Puppy Food
This Pedigree Pedigree Puppy Ground Dinner Wet Canned Dog Food is a great wet dog food option if you’re looking for one. Canned dog food or wet dog food is easier for your puppy to absorb. Made with the same ingredients included in the dried kibble recipe, these hearty meals provide more texture and a flavor your dog will fall in love with.
Formulated with DHA this wet food for puppies is made to support your pooch’s cognitive function. Your dog will love the rich flavor of the real lamb in this recipe. It’s a 100% complete and balanced diet that you can feed as a food topper or a meal itself.
Why We Like It – This Pedigree wet food is a great option to mix in with your baby’s dry food to give them extra texture and a more favorable taste.
+ Irresistible real lamb flavor
+ 100% complete and balanced
+ Made in the USA with the world’s finest ingredients
+ Made with real lamb
+ With DHA for brain support
– Contains meat by-products
– Not recommended for picky eaters
17. Eukanuba Puppy Chicken Small Breed Puppy Food
Smaller breeds have a shorter but more rapid growth period. During this time, they need more energy than an average-sized pupper. The high protein and fat content in this Eukanuba Small Breed Puppy Food accommodates the metabolism of these smaller breeds. Of course, for their tiny stomachs, we need it to be highly digestible with no fillers. Treat your little baby to this chicken-flavored kibble today!
Why We Like It: Eukanuba considers your puppy’s health with this careful blend suited to fur babies under 12 months old. Fur parents and vets alike like it because of its nutritional value!
+ Natural fiber and prebiotics to aid digestion
+ Vitamin E to help develop a strong immune system
+ Provides balanced levels of fats and carbs for thriving puppies
+ With calcium and phosphorous to promote bone and dental health
+ High-quality animal protein from chicken to support muscle growth
+ Complete and balanced nutrition for small breed puppies
– Includes chicken by-product meal and fillers like corn and wheat
18. Orijen Grain-Free Large Breed Puppy Food
Orijen cares about where their ingredients come from. The chicken is all free-range, fish all wild-caught, with regional fruits and vegetables to ensure freshness. The ratio of all the ingredients is appropriate for large breed puppies specifically. Each Orijen Grain-Free Large Breed Puppy Dog Food package is free of preservatives and loaded with protein!
Why We Like It – Orijen puppy food mirrors what puppies are intended to consume in nature. Give your puppy the best, what Mother Nature intended.
+ Sustainably farmed ingredients
+ 85% premium animal ingredients with every bag
+ Infused with freeze-dried liver
+ Protein-rich diet from fresh chicken, turkey, and fish
+ Made without corn, wheat, or soy
– Not for picky eaters
19. Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Easy on your puppy with a grain-free, gluten-free, and potato-free mix, this Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is an optimal choice for your pup’s brain development and growth. Other than looking out for your dog with Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, they also care for the earth with BPA-free packaging that is recyclable through their ReBorn/TerraCycle program. With its high protein recipe from a chicken meal and whitefish meal, your pupper will have strong muscle development. Most of all their daily energy needs will be met with this diet.
Why We Like It – We love when brands are not only amazing to your pups, but are also environmentally aware and work to help the earth through recyclable packaging.
Related Review: Earthborn Holistic Dog Food Review
+ Grain, gluten and potato-free mix
+ DHA supports brain development
+ Recyclable packaging
+ Wholesome nutrient-rich carbs
+ Premium protein sources for lean muscles
+ Balanced levels of Omega fatty acids for healthy coat and skin
– Not recommended for dogs with pea allergies
20. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Mini Starter Mother and Baby
How great is it when we can kill two birds with one stone? This dog food is optimal for your baby pup and the puppy’s mother! This Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Starter Mother and Babydog Dry Dog Food is part of Royal Canin’s BIRTH PROGRAM which meets the nutritional needs of the mommy and the pup during gestation, lactation, and growth. The perfect two-in-one deal!
Why We Like It – Looking at the pros list, you can see this dog food recipe takes everything into account and concocts the perfect recipe suited for mom and pup.
+ Fitting for the mom and the pup
+ Facilitates the transition from milk to solid food
+ Kibble can rehydrate to a porridge-like consistency
+ Developed from scientific research
+ Easy to chew kibbles
– Contains chicken by-product meal, corn, and wheat
How We Chose The Best Dog Food for Puppies
We’ve decided to compile a list of not 10 but 20 of the best puppy foods there are available to help you with your decision. However, before anything else, you need to know what makes a great puppy’s food.
Complete and Balanced Nutrition – For puppies to thrive and grow healthily, they need a complete and balanced food that can sustain all their nutritional requirements. The #2 on our list, Hill’s Science Diet Small Bites Chicken Meal & Barley Recipe Dry Puppy Food, has all the necessary nutrients that your growing puppy needs.
High Protein – Generally, the best food for your pup would consist of 21-30% protein with a high-fat and carb content to give them the energy they need. Since puppies are highly active dogs, they need a high-protein diet to compensate for daily energy consumption. Check out our top 1, the Purina Pro Plan Puppy Dry Dog Food, with a high protein source from real Lamb to help your pooch build lean muscles.
Infused with DHA – Besides developing muscles, your puppy’s brain and vision development are also important. DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid, will help improve your pup’s cognitive and retinal function, which will be even more beneficial as they grow older. Try the Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Formula Dry Puppy Food for Large Breed Puppies with DHA from fish oil to support your puppy’s brain and eye function.
No Animal By-Products, Fillers, or Artificial Additives – It’s best to avoid unnecessary or low-quality ingredients when it comes to your dog’s food. To ensure your puppy is getting the best nutritional value, avoid foods with meat by-products, artificial ingredients, or fillers. Coming on top 3, the’ I and Love and You” Naked Essentials Grain-Free Puppy Food is made without artificial preservatives, fillers, or grains.
Dog Food for Puppies Buyer’s Guide
A new puppy is very similar to a new baby. There is no manual, and even the most prepared parents learn new things as they go. Food is no doubt one of the most important factors when it comes to raising a new baby. Hopefully, our top 20 picks are helpful and informative for your next trip to the animal food aisle. However, to properly care for your new fur baby, much reading and research will be required.
We had so many options to expand our usual top 10 choices to our top 20! So we can only imagine the kind of work that goes into reading up on other areas of puppy care. Below we’ve compiled even more facts and information to help lessen the burden.
What to look for when buying puppy food?
Image by Chiemsee2016 from Pixabay
Why does my dog need ‘puppy-specific’ dog food?
In this section, we’re going to tackle the question of “Why?”. Why should I feed my dog puppy food instead of adult food? Well, first of all, puppies have very different nutritional needs compared to adult dogs. They generally need more energy and calories. When I say more, I mean at least twice as much! Their first year is when they’re developing muscles, joints, organs, and bones, so you need to ensure their nutritional needs are adequately met.
All of the ingredients we mentioned above, such as protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals, are plentiful in puppy foods but not in adult food. You will have one malnourished baby pup if you don’t opt for the puppy food options.
Types of Puppy Dog Food
Image by Patrick Zbasnik from Pixabay
As mentioned earlier, we have different kinds of dog food to choose from. Each one has various benefits, and you might need to try them all out to determine which fits your dog’s needs.
Moist Food (Wet Food)
Moist food tends to spoil a bit faster and has higher water content, which means fewer nutrients. But since they are soft, they are much easier to absorb, chew and digest for your pup. Not to mention the great smell and added flavor for those of us with picky eaters.
Dry food tends to have a higher amount of protein content. It is also cheaper than the other options, helps clean teeth, and isn’t hard to digest.
There is an option that is not too hard, not too soft, but just right. This option has the best of both worlds. It’s easy to digest and has a good amount of protein. However, the downside is it contains high amounts of sugar and preservatives.
A good option to achieve semi-moist Food is to mix moist and dry food together, creating your own blend minus the downsides.
Is Brand Important?
Contrary to what some might think, the brand actually matters. Ensure the brand has undergone AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) feeding trials and/or ones that have met FDA standards. If a brand has passed AAFCO trials, it means it has been tested and fed to dogs to make sure there are no nutritional deficiencies. Better brands invest in the research of ingredients and create optimal blends and recipes. A lot of nutritionists and vets also work hand in hand with these companies.
Contents of the Puppy Food
Make sure the food you choose has enough nutrients for your pup’s proper growth. Some important ingredients to look out for are calories, vitamins, minerals, DHA, protein, and probiotics.
Does Size Matter?
By size here, we mean the size of your pup, not the size of the food. As introduced in our top 20 list, there are specially formulated doggy foods for XS pups to giant breeds. These recipes will be tailored to your pup’s nutritional needs. Other than the number of nutrients, the size of the kibble will also vary in foods for differently sized pups.
Ingredients To Look For
Let’s talk a little more about the ingredients we want in puppy food so you can make fast decisions next time.
What We Do Want in Puppy Food
- Natural Preservatives. If preservatives are necessary, look for natural ones or none at all.
- Whole Meat or Lean Meat. Premium meat protein is good for puppies so they will have lean muscles as they grow up.
- Whole Grains. Oats and brown rice are two examples of whole grains you want in your puppy’s diet.
- Identifiable Animal Protein. Proteins are the main ingredients and should be among the first listed on the back of the packaging.
- Essential Fatty Acids. Natural fats from a clear source (omega 3 and 6)
- Fruits and Vegetables. They provide the necessary vitamins for your pup.
What We Don’t Want in Puppy Food
- Corn. Grains aren’t generally preferred unless they are whole grains. Corn is definitely a grain you do not want.
- Wheat Gluten. Gluten isn’t great for us as well as our pets. Some manufacturers use gluten as a meat substitute.
- Meat By-Products. As you probably know, meat by-products mean meat waste that is unwanted and ground up.
- Cellulose. This carb is a no-no. This is found in building materials. What is it doing in your dog’s food?!
- Rendered Fat. Fat is good, but rendered fat is generic fat leftover from roadkill, diseased livestock, and expired meat products. EW!
- Dyes, Chemical and Artificial Additives. Remember, natural–good, processed–bad.
- Corn Syrup. No sugars! Your pup doesn’t need any sugar. This is only added to make the food more delicious and appealing but unhealthy.
- BHA. Don’t confuse this with DHA. DHA is good for your pup. BHA is a preservative. Remember, go with natural preservatives if they are necessary.
- Synthetic Vitamins. Anything that is not natural, processed, or synthetic has no place in your pup’s dinner bowl. They are considered toxins that can cause irreparable internal damage.
Best Puppy Food Brands
Let’s review some of the brands we’ve seen in our top 20 list and break down the best puppy food brands in no particular order.
Canidae only uses 7-10 simple ingredients with nothing hidden that could harm your pooch. Chicken is their number 1 source of protein made for sensitive pups. It’s gentle on the digestive system and contains nothing harmful.
2. Holistic Select
Being holistic and natural, this is a great selection for your baby and is gentle on the digestive system. With natural fibers, botanicals, pre, and probiotics, it’s an excellent choice for any puppy.
3. Wellness Complete
The protein sources from this brand are chicken, salmon, and oatmeal, all easy to digest. It has 100% of the nutrients your pup needs daily. DHA is also added to promote eye and brain development.
4. Orijen Puppy Food
They offer a very balanced recipe for nutrition. 43% protein, 23% fat, and about 26% of carbs, the ratio is above average compared to other brands.
5. Hill’s Science Diet
Hill’s has vets and nutritionists working closely to produce different types of dog food for different pups and dogs with other needs. Everything included in the mix is high quality with no artificial additives.
When looking for a brand of dog food, first identify the size of your pup and whether they are of a sensitive nature or allergic to something. What you should look for next is the content and ingredients. The breed also comes into play, as some breeds have specific dietary requirements. Hopefully, our concise list will help you with your next dog food mission. Remember, adult food does not contain sufficient nutrients to nourish your new fur baby.
Carbohydrates are actually extremely important when it comes to energy. Carbs are what give your pup the energy it needs to play and frolic. As we have stressed incessantly, food is important throughout this article, but food would be nothing without water.
Give your pet enough fresh water, so they aren’t dehydrated. Water activates all the nutrients and allows them to do their job for the development of your pooch. Give your dog the best, so they can put their best paw forward and have a bright and healthy future!
Found a new brand of dog food you like? Good! You might not know that you need to slowly transition your dog from the old food to the new one. It’s a gradual transition that will take some time. Make sure the food is mixed carefully, and start with 75% old food and 25% new.
Feed this ratio to them until their stool is firm (can be helped with these dog foods for firm stools). If there never was any change, you can continue on to the 50/50 ratio, then the 25/75 and eventually go all out with the new food.
Did You Know?
It’s very possible your dog might not like the food you purchased. They have preferences just like we do when it comes to food. A good way to ensure you don’t waste your money is to purchase a small bag of sample food first, or use sample packets some pet stores may hand out to you.
See which one your dog accepts, and then go from there. It’s also possible your dog likes the food but his or her stomach doesn’t agree with it. If that’s the case, sorry Rover, the food has got to go. Keep at it until you find the perfect fit!