Congratulations! You're the proud owner of a new puppy! Getting the best puppy food is the first step to helping that pup grow into a healthy adult.
However, not all pet food products are created equal. While there are many filled with healthy nutrients and proteins that lead to strong bones and prevent unsavory diseases, there are others made with harmful chemicals that could stunt your dog's growth or harm its health. But with so many different kinds of puppy food out there, how do you choose?
Puppy Food FAQs
While compiling this list of the best puppy food products, we came across these frequently asked questions.
Is there a difference in feeding small-breed vs. large-breed puppies
When it comes to the best puppy food for your growing dog, the first consideration is how large your dog will get. Small-breed puppies need different food from large-breed dogs, and in different amounts. Small breed puppies are those that will weigh less than 20 pounds at full maturity. Small breeds grow into their adult size within a year while large breeds can take up to 18 months. Long story short, you want to give them the proper amount of calories until they are close to their adult size.
Both large and small dogs need proper amounts of fat, vitamins, minerals, and protein. What differs is their daily caloric intake. In general, puppies need more calories than grown dogs because they need the energy to grow properly. Small breed dogs need more calories per pound than large breed dogs, even when in the infant stage. In addition to requiring the energy, puppies eat more calories because they have faster metabolisms.
How much food do puppies need?
As a general rule, feed small breed dogs puppy food until they reach 80 percent of their adult size or roughly eight to 10 months. The same equation goes for adult dogs, meaning you will feed them until they are approximately 12 to 16 months of age.
What separates puppy food from adult dog food?
Just like humans, animals need different foods depending on their stage in life. In addition to having more calories, younger pups need different nutrients than senior dogs, so getting the best puppy food is essential for proper growth.
The best puppy food products contain several vital nutrients including protein, calcium, sodium, chloride, and lysine, among others. These ingredients ensure that your puppy grows big and strong.
In addition to giving your puppy the food they need to survive, many of the best puppy food products include ingredients that protect the pup from developmental orthopedic diseases. These developmental diseases can affect the dog’s hips and elbows. To minimize the chance of developing these diseases, many puppy food brands have lower levels of fat, calcium, and phosphorus.
Ingredients to look for when choosing the best puppy food
While every brand of dog food should have the necessary nutrients, the best puppy food products also include certain ingredients.
For one, your puppy food should include whole meat that is “human grade” or approved for human consumption. What this really means is that the meat has gone through a more thorough inspection than less healthy options.
It's a good idea to find puppy food that includes whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables. Whole grains offer complex carbohydrates, necessary energy, and easily digestible fiber. In addition to adding an extra level of flavor, fruits and vegetables in the diet provide essential minerals, antioxidants, and vital elements.
Which puppy food ingredients should I avoid?
While there are many ingredients that you want to see, there are some you want to avoid.
Avoid food with corn as it's difficult to digest and can also cause allergic reactions. Remember that you want to see human grade meat, but you should avoid “meat meal,” which is a general term for meat that has been ground up to remove any water content. Meat meal can also include animal waste products such as hooves and bones.
Your puppy needs a healthy dose of fat with each meal, but avoid rendered fat which is code for meat that can include roadkill and expired grocery meats. Other keywords to avoid are ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, and synthetic vitamin K3. Ethoxyquin is a type of herbicide that can cause cancer and blindness in dogs. Propylene glycol is a product used in antifreeze. Synthetic vitamin K3 might sound healthy, but it is actually a toxin that has been found to cause irreversible damage to vital organs.
Where can you buy puppy food?
The best puppy food products are available at several online retailers including Amazon, as well as popular brick and mortar stores such as Petco and PetSmart. In either case, be sure to take the time to check out the ingredients and reviews so you can choose the best product for your pet.
How We Reviewed
To rank the best puppy food products, we carefully examined the product claims and checked the results of users who tested each of these brands.
After concluding our research of the best puppy food products on the market, we were able to narrow it down to these finalists in no particular order. These are brands recommended for healthy, growing pups.
- One (1) 35 lb. Bag - Purina Pro Plan With Probiotics, High Protein, Digestive Health Dry Dog Food, Shredded Blend...
- Made with high-quality protein, including real chicken as the first ingredient
- Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics to support digestive & immune health
As one of the best puppy food products, Purina Pro Plan Savor provides high-quality protein with chicken as the main ingredient. It's a meaty treat packed with nutrients and high-quality protein that supports digestive health.
- Contains one (1) 15 pound bag of Iams proactive health smart puppy dry dog food chicken
- Veterinarians recommend IAMS, so you can feed like a pro
- Real, farm raised chicken is the 1st ingredient
Iams Proactive Health has a mix of 22 nutrients found in mother’s milk. This recipe includes Omega-3 DHA that aids in brain development, and it is also a good source of protein.
- 12 13-ounce cans of canned puppy food
- Limited-ingredient diet with high-quality chicken first
- Provides the optimum balance of nutrition that your puppy needs
Canidae presents a creamy wet puppy food made with chicken, duck, and lentils for tasty and healthy protein. This product is also ideal for puppies with sensitive tummies. The broth provides a smooth texture that dogs love.
As one of the best puppy food products on the market, Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe is full of tasty locally sourced ingredients including vegetables, chicken and sweet potatoes. Above all, this dog food also includes docosahexaenoic acid for healthy brain development.
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Designed by a veterinarian, this developmental puppy dog food from Royal Canin was designed with your pup’s health in mind. The ingredients also support digestive, skin, and coat health while promoting the growth of the immune system.
- Discontinued size by manufacturer
- A taste of the wild with ROASTED BISON & VENISON; REAL MEAT is #1 ingredient; optimal amino acid profile & protein rich...
- HIGH quality PROTEIN recipe with smaller kibble; tailored for growing puppy; SUPERFOODS for hard-working ANTIOXIDANTS;...
Taste of the Wild provides a unique blend of protein with real meat and the taste of roasted venison and bison. A healthy product made without grain, corn, or artificial flavors, hence, it is a highly digestible meal due to several included proprietary probiotics which provide.
One of the best puppy food products is Dick Van Patten’s recipe, which contains the nutrients meant to foster a strong immune functions and healthy bones. This is a wet dog food complete with proteins and key nutrients ideal for muscle growth.
- This dry puppy food is formulated to support a healthy immune system and overall growth for puppies
- This puppy food provides DHA from fish oil for healthy brain & eye development
- Supports lean muscle growth with quality protein
The best puppy food products provide the nutrients for healthy development, and Hill’s hits the mark. The product also contains fish oil, vitamin C and E, and plenty of minerals and amino acids.
- First Ingredient Is Chicken
- Grain Free Loaf Recipe With Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Fruits And Vegetables
- Grain Free Recipe For Sensitive Stomachs
As far as wet puppy food goes, Whole Earth Farms checks all of the boxes due to its tasty ingredients. It offers a grain free recipe complete with turkey, chicken, salmon, fruits, and vegetables. Most noteworthy, the recipe also has flavors of sage, rosemary, and thyme for that extra flavor punch.
- One (1) 16.5 lb. Bag - Purina ONE Natural Dry Puppy Food, SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Formula
- Real chicken is the #1 ingredient in this dry dog food kibble with 28% protein
- High protein puppy food supports his growing muscles
Purina enters the best puppy food family with their SmartBlend recipe. The tasty recipe includes rice and oatmeal along with DHA for vision and brain development. Above all, this brand can strengthen the immune system due to the added antioxidants.
The Best Puppy Food: Our Choice
All of the options listed above are some of the best puppy food products on the market. However, after reviewing the benefits and shortcomings, we find that Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Canned Dog Food gives your puppy the best benefits.
This is the best puppy food because it has a varied selection of protein along with necessary fruits and vegetables. In addition to taste, this variety also includes nutrients that aid in overall health, and it is safe for sensitive stomachs.
Although we pick this product as our favorite, keep in mind that every puppy is different and a different product may better satisfy the requirements your dog needs. If you are unsure which food to choose, contact your veterinarian.
Has your puppy tried any of these products? If so, which does your pooch like the best? Tell us your favorite in the comments.