If you are a dog lover, you will definitely be happy to welcome a puppy into your home. Just like how parents care for their children, pet owners are expected to provide their pups with the same kind of love, which basically starts with the food they prepare for their buddies.
Due to the availability of several options nowadays, it is truly tough to find the appropriate dog food for your four-legged friend. Feeding him/her with the wrong one not only makes your puppy feel uncomfortable but may also mean devastation to his/her health and body development.
After careful research, I have successfully compiled a list of the best puppy food in the market. You may use this list to figure out the most suitable option for your buddy. If you want to know in detail, please continue to read.
I. Puppies and Dogs Have Different Nutritional Needs
Keep this in mind: Puppies’ nutritional needs differ drastically from those of adult dogs.
Given the fact that the most important growth of your pooch’s body occurs during his/her first year of life, the food you feed a newborn dog with must be richer in nutrients and calories.
According to a research conducted by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), good puppy food must contain 22-30% protein (adult dog food only provides 18%) in order for an infant mutt to fully develop his/her tissues. The reason for this is that protein includes 10 amino acids that are critical to an infant dog.
In addition, your pup’s meals must also include enough vitamins and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus to strengthen his/her immune system, internal organs, and bone structure.
Below is AAFCO’s nutrition guideline chart, which may help you figure out the best puppy food for your beloved companion.
II. Here are the best puppy food products in the market
1. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food
Given the opportunity, I would like to give this product the title “The best dry puppy food”. The dog food truly lives up to its name thanks to being made from real roasted venison and bison, which offers strong “taste of the wild” that your buddy will surely enjoy.
The high-protein ingredients are extremely beneficial for your pup’s body development. Besides, Taste of the Wild is made from a wide range of vegetables and fruits, including potatoes, peas, tomatoes, and berries. These ingredients are supplemented with numerous vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids, which are crucial to maintaining your buddy’s health.
The dog food is made from natural, trusted ingredients with no artificial colors or preservatives added. No grains, corns or wheat are included, so pet owners will have no need to worry about their pup getting overweight or displaying allergic signs.
The high cost is its minor drawback, though. However, due to its nutritional richness, the amount of food you need to feed your pup can be cut dramatically, which renders the cost factor omissible.
Overall, if you are looking for grain-free, healthy puppy food, Taste of the Wild is the top pick. Just dry it – you will not be disappointed at all.
2. Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Dry Puppy Food
Purina Pro Plan is the runner-up in my list. Like Taste of the Wild, this dry puppy food boasts exceptional nutrition value thanks to being made from real chicken, lamb and salmon, which provide protein, phosphorus, calcium, and DHA to nourish your buddy’s body growth, bone development as well as promote his/her brain and eyesight.
The feature I find most lovely is the wide array of options that are specifically tailored to meet unique dog needs. Purina Pro Plan Focus is available in variously specialized formulas, including Life Stage, Breed Size, Weight Management, and Sensitive Skin & Stomach. For instance, the Life Stage formula is supplemented with vitamins to promote a growing pooch’s development. On the other hand, the Weight Management formula is recommended if you want a high-protein puppy food for your obese companion.
The dog food is offered in 4 size-specific formulas (Toy, Small, Large and Giant Breed), so you may choose whichever option that best suits your pup.
With all of the above-mentioned features, Purina Pro Plan truly deserves the attention of those who wish to provide their buddy with the best puppy food possible.
3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
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Blue Buffalo is a worthy pick for those looking for high-protein puppy food. It is made from high-quality chicken and lamb to promote healthy muscle growth. Besides, the dog food contains BLUE’s Lifesource Bits – which is a combination of vital nutrients and antioxidants to further protect your pup’s wellness. This exclusive feature helps secure it a spot in my best puppy food list.
Blue dry puppy food is made from natural ingredients, with no by-product meals, corns, and artificial preservatives added. The small kibble size makes it suitable for dogs with tiny teeth.
That being said, Blue Buffalo food does have its cons. Its high amount of protein means that some puppies may suffer from diarrhea when being fed with this dog food. In addition, if your pooch needs more fat in his/her diet to promote weight increase, Blue Buffalo alone may prove to be not enough for his/her dietary requirements.
4. Iams PROACTIVE HEALTH Puppy Dry Dog Food – Chicken
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“An affordable, yet healthy puppy food” is the term I would use to describe this product. Why you may wonder? Well, my pup used to suffer from frequent diarrhea, which could not be resolved despite changes in the food I give him – that is until I try Iams. Much to my relief, the problem was solved, which was the reason I put Iams in my best puppy food list.
The dog food is made from farm-raised chicken to provide your pup with a high amount of natural protein for his/her muscle development. The ingredients also include fruits and veggies, which are enriched with fiber and minerals to strengthen your buddy’s digestion and immune system, as well as give him/her healthy skin and bones. One more bonus: this food provides your puppy with Omega-3 DHA, which is crucial to brain growth.
To sum up, Iams Dry Puppy Food is really good in terms of health friendliness. I only wish that the manufacturer offers a wider range of flavors, not just chicken as they do now.
5. BLUE Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Puppy Dry Dog Food
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Well, another Blue Buffalo dog food. Like its Life Protection Formula counterpart, this one also contains Blue’s exclusive LifeSource Bits to provide your pooch with selected vitamins and minerals. These nutrients play a key role in developing your four-legged friend’s immune system, cognitive ability, and eyesight.
Blue Wilderness recipes feature real, tasty and high-quality chicken that is certain to satisfy your buddy’s appeal. The ingredients are all natural and fortified with protein to meet the special needs of growing dogs as well as give them enough energy for daily activities. No grains, corns, preservatives or by-product meals are added during manufacture, which further complements your pup’s well-being.
Like Taste of the Wild, this grain-free puppy food is a little pricey, which I think is perfectly fine considering the fact that it is a premium food. Besides, the amount of nutrition may be too much for smaller breeds to digest appropriately. Hence, if you are looking for the best large breed puppy food, this is a recommended choice for you.
6. Wellness Core® Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
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Wellness Core’s dog food truly lives up to the manufacturer’s name. It is a healthy puppy food that contains premium, natural and authentic ingredients, with no grain, wheat, corn, by-products, and preservatives added during manufacture.
The recipe is enriched with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, probiotics, proteins, and carbohydrates. As a result, this is a perfect choice to maintain your pooch’s digestive health, strengthen his/her immune system as well as provide him/her with a daily supply of energy.
The most notable feature, however, that makes Wellness Core a strong candidate for the best puppy food is its lack of beet pulp, which is normally used as a filler hardener in most types of dog food. Despite this useful function, beet pulp may absorb water and swell in your mutt’s stomach, causing him/her to suffer from tear-staining and digestive problems such as constipation. Wellness Core stands out from the crowd by not containing this by-product filler.
In general, for puppy owners who care for their companion’s wellness, Wellness Core is definitely a recommended option for them.
7. Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Puppy Dry Dog Food
Nutro is not as well-known a brand as Blue Buffalo; in addition, the price is a little bit expensive compared to similar items. Hence, I was somehow reluctant to try out this type of dog food. However, my initial reluctance seems to be unnecessary in the end.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Puppy Food is made from high-protein meat like chicken, lamb, and salmon to promote your pup’s muscle growth. The recipe is fortified with calcium to develop strong bone structure and vitamins to boost your buddy’s immune system. All of the ingredients are natural, recognizable and clean to avoid causing any harm to dog health.
In addition, Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Food is offered in both small and large breed recipes, which makes it a worthy consideration whether you want a small breed puppy food or a large breed one. For giant breeds, I would not recommend you to try this, as the amount of protein is pretty high (26%).
Overall, if your four-legged friend is fed up with products from commercialized brands, how about trying Nutro Wholesome Essentials and see if it is the best puppy food for him/her?
8. Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food
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Merrick Grain-free Puppy Food is notable for the balanced nutrition it provides. About 55% of its nutrients are proteins from poultries and fish, while the rest are vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, blueberries and peas. As a result, the product is very friendly to your buddy’s overall health.
What I really love about this dog food is its digestibility. The kibble is small and easy to digest. Additionally, no gluten ingredients are included, which further avoids causing digestive problems for your companion. In my case, I have witnessed great results after feeding this food to my pup. Previously, he used to have digestive issues and produce lots of soft stools. However, after I enlisted Merrick in his diet, everything was resolved. His stools were consistent, his coat was shiny, and his breath was enjoyable. You cannot tell how relieved and grateful I was!
In terms of health friendliness, I believe Merrick dog food is among the best puppy foods in the market today.
9. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food Small Breed Puppy Turkey, Salmon & Oatmeal
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If you are looking for a small breed puppy food that is also healthy and tasty, this is definitely one of the top picks.
Wellness Core Complete Health Small Breed Dog Food is specifically produced for small breed puppies. Firstly, the kibble’s size is designed to fit smaller mouths. Next, the food is supplemented with a balance of protein, vitamins, and minerals to suit the special nutritional needs of small pups.
Wellness Complete Health Dry Puppy Food is made from delicious turkey, salmon, and oatmeal to provide your pup with the best eating experience. All of the ingredients are authentic, natural and carefully chosen to ensure that your buddy always stays healthy. The food is packed with carbohydrates, fruits, veggies, and minerals to enhance your puppy’s bone growth, brain development, and overall health.
In conclusion, as long as your own a small breed pup, this is one of the best puppy foods available for you.
10. Eukanuba Puppy Dry Dog Food
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Eukanuba Puppy Dry Dog Food is a worthwhile option for those who wish to buy a good large breed puppy food for their fast-growing buddies. Enriched with a high level of proteins and calcium, Eukanuba is ideal for infant dogs to develop strong bones and lean muscles.
Due to fatty acid ingredients such as Omega-6 and Omega-3, your pooch is likely to enjoy healthy skin and shiny coat when being fed with this. The dog food also provides your pup with DHA from natural fish oil, which plays a critical role in cognitive development. Hence, Eukanuba is one of the best puppy foods in order to make your pup smarter and easier to train.
In addition to the nutritional value, Eukanuba Dry Puppy Food also boasts a strong sense of taste thanks to being made from real chicken. I am confident that your pup will have little reason not to enjoy the satisfying taste of this food.
11. Cesar Puppy Wet Dog Food – 24 Trays
Most dog foods are dry ones for convenient use and easy preservation; however, sometimes you may find a wet one preferable, especially if your pups are not drinking enough water. Cesar Canine Cuisine is, in my opinion, one of the best wet puppy foods available in the market.
The dog food offers a good balance of proteins, vitamins, and minerals to support your buddy’s growth and maintain his/her well-being. The food is made from high-quality chicken, beef and lamb covered in delicious meaty juices. Thanks to its hearty meat flavor, your four-legged friend will surely enjoy every meal you prepare for him/her.
I especially love the convenience that Cesar Puppy Food provides – it is served in trays with peel-away freshness seals, so feeding and storage become much easier and less messy. This is a benefit that large canned puppy food cannot offer.
Though this gourmet wet dog food is suitable for dogs of all sizes, it is mostly recommended for small puppies. Hence, if you own a small pup and wish to see more tail wags from him/her, try Cesar Canine Cuisine and see if it is the best puppy food for you.
12. Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
For pet owners who wish to supply their mutts with a natural, yet delicious food, I believe that they may want to consider this.
Nature’s Recipe is made from high-protein chicken to better promote muscle and bone development. This nutritional value is further complemented by vegetable ingredients such as sweet potatoes and pumpkins, which are completely gluten-free for easy digestion and rich in carbohydrates to provide energy for your pup’s daily activities.
The grain-free puppy food is fortified with necessary vitamins and minerals for the early stage of your canine companion’s life. To round out its healthiness, the food also provides dogs with omega fatty acids, which are crucial for healthier and shinier skin.
Additionally, feeding your pup with Nature’s Recipe means less worry about allergy, as ingredients often associated with food sensitivity like corn and wheat are completely omitted from the manufacturer.
All of the above-mentioned features are the reason why I think Nature’s Recipe deserves a spot in the best puppy food list.
13. ROYAL CANIN BREED HEALTH NUTRITION Bulldog Puppy dry dog food
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“The best puppy food for bulldogs” is the first thing that comes to my mind at the mention of this product. Royal Canin Bulldog puppy food is specifically designed to meet the nutritional requirements of baby bulldogs from 8 weeks to 15 months old, which are a bit different from dogs of other breeds.
Bulldogs have a short, broad and upward muzzle, which makes it harder for them to breathe and pick up food. Not to mention, their digestion system operates at a slower rate, which results in increased fermentation and gas due to undigested food in their intestine.
Royal Canin provides a solution to this dilemma due to its wave-shaped kibble design, which allows pups of this breed to easily pick up and chew the food. It is enriched with high-quality proteins and prebiotics in order to promote bulldogs’ digestive health and stool quality. Furthermore, a combination of antioxidants and minerals make Royal Canin very beneficial for their immune system and bone growth. So, for anyone who owns or wishes to own a bulldog, this is the best puppy food for you.
14. Fromm Family Foods 15 lb Gold Puppy Food (1 Pack), one Size
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Fromm Puppy Gold Dry Dog Food is one of the best puppy foods with no contentious ingredients included. The food is naturally formulated with fresh duck, chicken, lamb, whole eggs and real cheese, which not only ensures tastiness but also offers a huge amount of protein for your growing pups.
I am sure that most pooches will enjoy some of these. In fact, my puppy used to love this so much that I decided to use Fromm Family Foods as a kind of dog treats in order to better train him. Well, you may say that practice of mine is not good in terms of cost efficiency (after all, the price of Fromm Family Foods is not very affordable), but why should I care about that, as long as my beloved friend is happy in the end?
15. PEDIGREE Puppy Ground Dinner Wet Canned Dog Food
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Pedigree Puppy Ground Dinner is made with real chicken and beef, which create a strong smell and taste that your pup will surely enjoy. The food is carefully chopped into small pieces for your pooch to easily eat and digest.
In conjunction with its tastiness, Pedigree dog food also boasts high and balanced nutritional value. It is formulated with DHA, which is a critical component in the cognitive development of growing dogs. Thanks to its high level of oil and minerals, your four-legged friend is likely to enjoy healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Despite the above-mentioned benefits, the dog food does have one drawback: it contains a lot of protein, which if your pup’s stomach cannot handle may result in stinky dog farts. Uh!
Overall, for those who are looking for a tasty canned wet pet food, Pedigree Puppy Ground Dinner is perhaps one of the best puppy foods available for them.
16. Orijen Large Breed Dry Puppy Food
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For pups in need of rapid growth, Orijen Large Breed Puppy Food is a worthwhile choice. The dog food is specifically designed for a high-protein diet; hence, 85% of its ingredients are chicken meat and fish. Orijen’s protein-rich, carb-limited formula is capable of increasing your pooch’s weight quickly and reducing pressure on his/her joints, while also protecting him/her from digestive problems.
The grain-free puppy food is made from fresh and natural ingredients to make your canine companion healthy and active. It contains an appropriate ratio of meat, organs and bone cartilage to ensure that your buddy grows fast and stays strong.
Although the price is not very affordable, I think that its high-quality ingredients and exceptional nutrition value more than makeup for that. Hence, if you need to find the best puppy food for your fast-growing companion, do not omit this from your consideration list.
III. Buying Guide
Deciding the best puppy food for your newborn companion can be a brain-hacking process. After careful research, I have figured out some of the most important factors to take into account before you purchase a puppy food.
1. Food Ingredients
While the recommended components of puppy food are not the same for all puppies due to several reasons, certain ingredients are universally beneficial for every infant dog, which means you should always favor dog food that contains these. On the other hand, some specific ingredients should be avoided at all costs if you want your pup to grow strong and stay healthy.
Below are some valuable ingredients.
|Whole meat||Protein is the top-priority requirement of puppy food, so you need to provide your pup with a high-quality source of whole meat such as chicken, lamb, beef and salmon|
|Whole grains||A reasonable level of nutritious whole grains like rice and oats adds essential carbohydrates and fiber to your pup’s diet|
|Natural Fats||Fatty ingredients from natural sources such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 are crucial to brain and eyesight development, as well as allow your pup to enjoy healthy skin and a shiny coat|
|Fruits & Vegetables||These are great sources of useful vitamins and minerals to improve your pup’s bodily function and protect him/her from ailments. Calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A, D, E, K, C, and B-complex are just a few essential components|
Here is a list of “no-no” ingredients:
|Meat by-products||Sometimes called “meat meal”, these are meat from unidentifiable and untrustworthy sources such as sick animals|
|Corn/ Wheat gluten||These are cheap carbs that manufacturers mostly use as filler materials. While not necessarily harmful, they offer little nutritional value and may sometimes cause digestive problems for your pup|
|Corn syrup||Corn syrup is a type of sugar which is mostly used to sweeten dog food. If you want to protect your pup from obesity and diabetes, avoid foods that contain this ingredient|
|Chemicals||Watch out for chemicals such as BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Propylene Glycol, Synthetic Vitamin K3, and Hydrochloric Acid. These are harmful additives that will gradually damage your puppy’s bodily organs|
2. Your Puppy’s Size
Puppies of different sizes do not share the same nutritional requirements. Depending on your grown-up pup’s weight, he/she may belong to one of these three size groups:
– Small breed (under 20 pounds): These puppies generally reach their adult size very quickly, which requires more calorie intake than large-breed dogs. Therefore, choose puppy foods that are specifically tailored for small breed pups, as they are richer in protein and fat. In addition, the kibbles must also be small enough for your pooch to easily pick up and swallow.
Notable examples: Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food, Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Puppy Dry Dog Food.
– Medium breed (20-50 pounds): Puppies of this category are less picky than small and large dogs. Just remember that the minimum amount of protein is 22%, and fat is 10%.
Notable examples: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula, Taste of the Wild Grain-Free High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food.
– Large breed (over 50 pounds): These puppies require a longer period of time to reach their adult size; besides, they are more prone to ailments such as dysplasia and bone disorders. As a result, good puppy food for them should contain fewer calories, fats, and minerals.
Notable examples: BLUE Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Puppy Dry Dog Food, Eukanuba Puppy Dry Dog Food, Orijen Large Breed Dry Puppy Food.
3. Water Intake
Depending on your pup’s water intake, you may consider buying either dry or wet puppy food. Generally, dry dog food is preferable due to reasons such as higher nutrition and easier storage. Nevertheless, if your buddy tends to drink little water, wet food is the better choice in order to keep him/her hydrated.
IV. Feeding Schedule for Puppies
Generally, the nutritional requirement of small breed puppies is equal to 1 cup of food per day, while larger ones may require 2 or more. However, because of their small tummies, the food you feed them with must be divided into smaller portions, which are given at separate times of the day to avoid causing digestive disorders.
Depending on your buddy’s stage of development, you may want to make minor adjustments to his/her feeding schedule.
|Stage of Puppyhood||Number of portions/day|
In addition, remember to provide meals at approximately the same time every day, and throw away all uneaten food to protect your pup’s health.
- Can puppies have treats?
Yes, but keep in mind that most puppies’ teeth are not fully developed yet, which is the reason why you should prioritize smaller and softer dog biscuits.
- When Are Puppies Ready for Food?
When puppies are around 3.5-4 weeks of age, you may start feeding them with food. However, do not give them a solid one yet. Instead, mix wet puppy food with a milk replacement product, then carefully plunge your puppy’s nose into this mixture until he/she begins to lap up the liquid. After a few days, switch from wet to canned and dry puppy food. Over time, the amount of milk replacement formula should be decreased, until it finally reaches zero when puppies are 6 weeks of age.
- Do Puppies Need a Grain-Free Puppy Food?
Contrary to most popular beliefs, the answer is “No”. Unless your pups are allergic to certain types of grains, a grain-free diet is not necessary at all. I agree that some grains such as corns provide little nutritional value and even cause digestive problems. However, other types such as whole grains contain digestible fiber and carbohydrates, which are a vital addition to your pup’s meals. Hence, you may either choose a grain-free puppy food or not, as long as it is nutritious and healthy enough.
- Is It Reliable About Foods Marketed for “All Life Stages?”
In order for dog food to be suitable for “All Life Stages”, its nutritional value must meet the requirement of puppies and that of adult dogs, which are very different from each other as I have mentioned earlier. Generally, puppies’ caloric need is twice as that of adult dogs, so puppy food usually contains a higher amount of protein and fat, which most adult pooches do not need. Hence, as long as your grown-up buddy is capable of burning energy by the means of constant activities, you can feed him/her with these so-called “all-stage” foods.
When it comes to cuteness, I believe that nothing is better than an adorable puppy. As a pet owner, it is your job to provide your newborn four-legged companion with the best puppy food available. Finding a good puppy food is not an easy task, which if done incorrectly may result in dire consequences.
The above-mentioned foods are carefully selected based on my own testing experience. As long as you study their features carefully, I am sure that you will be able to figure out a high-quality food that is not only delicious but also beneficial for you pup’s health and growth.