In This Article...
- Feeding Your Puppy During the First Year
- Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Puppies
- Feeding Tips for Puppies of Different Breed Sizes
- What to Look for in the Best Kibble for Puppies
- Overall Best Puppy Food
- Our 2023 Picks: Top Rated Foods for a Puppy
- Most Popular Puppy Food
- Most Affordable Puppy Food
- The Best Dry Puppy Food
- The Best Canned Puppy Food
- More Great 5-Star Puppy Food Alternatives
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large-Breed Puppy
- Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy
- Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Recipe Dry Food
- Solid Gold Wolf Cub Bison & Oatmeal Puppy Formula
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Formula
- Holistic Select Adult & Puppy Health Grain-Free Dry Food
- Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Puppy Recipe
- Whole Earth Farms Puppy Recipe Dry Food
- Wellness CORE RawRev Grain-Free Puppy Recipe with Freeze-Dried Turkey
- FAQs Regarding Feeding Puppies:
- Puppy Food – A Final Word
So, you’ve brought home a brand new puppy. Now what do you do?
First things first, congratulations! Bringing a puppy into your family is a wonderful thing, but you probably already know that. If he isn’t already, your puppy is going to become your best friend and most loyal companion.
Such a special gift should be nurtured and protected – that’s where you come in!
Not only is your puppy your new best friend, but he is also your responsibility. You are his caregiver and it is up to you to make sure he stays healthy and happy. But where do you start?
Start by stocking up on the best puppy food you can afford to make sure that your puppy’s nutritional needs are being met. After all, a healthy puppy is a happy puppy and you only want what’s best for your new canine companion, right?
The growth and development of a puppy is hard work, and special nutrition is required. – Dr. Coates @ petmd.com
But where do you begin looking for the best food for puppies, and how do you choose just one?
That’s where we come in!
We’re here to guide you through the process of picking a top rated puppy food for your puppy and to answer all of your questions about feeding your puppy.
Let’s get started!
Feeding Your Puppy During the First Year
What you choose to feed your puppy during his first year of life will have a significant impact on his growth and development – this is why it’s important to buy the highest quality puppy food you can afford. It will also impact his long-term health and wellness, since many health problems that occur later in life actually start while your puppy is young.
But what are your puppy’s nutritional needs, and how do they change during the first year?
For the first six weeks or so, your puppy will rely on his mother’s milk for the majority of his nutrition. Somewhere around week 4, however, your puppy should be started on solid food and he should be completely weaned by week 8 – about the time you’ll probably be taking him home.
Between 6 and 12 weeks of life, your will grow quickly and the quality of his diet is extremely important. Growing puppies need a minimum of 22% crude protein and 8% crude fat to fuel their growth and development, so make sure to choose a recipe formulated specifically for puppies.
On top of feeding your puppy the best food for puppies of his size, you also need to know how much to feed him. For the first 12 weeks, you can choose whether to let your puppy feed freely or you can feed him four meals a day.
If your puppy develops a bit of a potbelly during the first three months, don’t worry too much about it – that’s normal! He’ll grow out of it as he matures.
Somewhere between 3 and 6 months, your puppy should start to grow into his adult body type and you should see that potbelly disappear. Give your puppy three meals a day, keeping a close eye on his growth and development. If he is still a bit too pudgy, you may want to make each meal a little bit smaller or take a closer look at the calorie content of the puppy food you’ve chosen.
Around six months is when you should have your puppy spayed or neutered. Doing so will slightly decrease his energy requirements, but you should still be feeding him a high quality puppy food you can to make sure the final stages of his growth and development are healthy.
Depending on your puppy’s breed, he could reach his adult size in as little as 8 to 10 months or as late as 18 to 24 months. When your puppy starts to approach his expected adult size, that’s when you can start thinking about switching him to an adult recipe. Just know that, as long as you’re feeding the best puppy food you can afford, it’s okay to keep your puppy on it a little bit longer just to be safe.
Now that you know a little more about how to feed your puppy during his first year of life, it’s time to start thinking about what to feed him. Keep reading to learn more about your puppy’s nutritional needs so you can make a smart choice in buying the best food for puppies.
Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Puppies
When shopping for a 5 Star puppy food brand for your new friend, you want to look for a product that offers “complete and balanced nutrition”.
You already know the importance of a balanced diet for your own health, so you can understand how important it is for your puppy. Your puppy needs a balance of protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in his diet to ensure complete and balanced nutrition, so he grows into a healthy adult dog.
But what does “complete and balanced nutrition” look like for puppies?
As we mentioned earlier, all puppies require a minimum of 22% crude protein and 8% crude fat in their diet. These percentages are higher than the minimum requirements for adult dogs because your puppy needs extra protein and calories to fuel his growth and development.
Proteins are the building blocks of muscles and tissues, so the best puppy food will provide plenty of high-quality, animal-based protein. Animal proteins are preferable for all dogs, both puppy and adult, because they offer a complete source of protein that contains all essential amino acids. Animal proteins are also more biologically valuable and easier for your puppy to digest than plant proteins.
While you may think of fat as the enemy in your own diet, it is the most highly concentrated source of energy available to your puppy and a key element in his diet. Again, this nutrient is best from animal-based sources like chicken fat and salmon oil.
Your puppy doesn’t have any specific requirements for carbohydrates, but grains and other digestible carbohydrates provide energy, dietary fiber, and essential nutrients. It is difficult to say whether the best food for puppies is made with or without grains – it largely depends on what your puppy is able to digest most easily. When reading a label, the thing you want to look for is crude fiber. Something in the 4% to 5% range is ideal because anything too high in fiber could upset your puppy’s digestive system.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, your puppy’s needs are a little different than the needs of an adult dog. A high quality puppy food will take the following nutrient needs into account:
- Puppies need higher levels of calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth – a ratio between 1:1 and 2:1 parts calcium to phosphorus is ideal.
- Omega-3 fatty acids like DHA are particularly important for brain development in puppies.
- Puppies need plenty of antioxidants in their diet to support a strong and healthy immune system to fight off disease and infection.
- Vitamins A and D are important for the growth process in puppies, but excessive levels of these vitamins in adulthood can be dangerous.
- Trace minerals like manganese, iron, copper, and zinc all play a role in growing and maintaining healthy bones, joints, and ligaments.
Simply picking a bag of puppy food off the shelf isn’t a guaranteed way to ensure that your puppy’s needs are met – quality matters. While there may not be a significant difference in the amount of vitamins and minerals between a cheap puppy food brand and a top rated puppy food brand, the quality of those nutrients could be drastically different.
Real, wholesome ingredients are the foundation of a good puppy food.
If you want your puppy to start his life with a solid foundation, buy the best food for a puppy you can afford. It’s really as simple as that.
Now that you have a basic understanding of your puppy’s nutritional needs, let’s talk about the differences between different breed sizes.
Feeding Tips for Puppies of Different Breed Sizes
It is important to realize that while all puppies have the same basic nutritional needs, there are some key differences when it comes to breed size. Think about this – would you feed a Chihuahua puppy the exact same diet you would feed a Great Dane puppy? Probably not.
Sure, a regular puppy food might be okay for either breed, but there are some special considerations to make when it comes to the best kibble for puppies, particularly with small versus large breeds.
But what are those differences, exactly?
For one thing, dog breeds of different sizes have different calorie requirements. Toy and small-breed puppies reach their adult size much more quickly than large and giant breeds, so it only makes sense that their calorie needs might be different.
Puppies from smaller breeds need plenty of fat to provide a concentrate source of energy – fuel for their growth and development. Puppies from large and giant breeds, on the other hand, need more protein – the goal is to help them develop lean muscle mass without growing too quickly.
Keep reading to learn about the special nutritional considerations you need to make for each bred size. You’ll also find a list of the top 10 breeds in each size category along with our recommendations for the best food for each breed.
Special Considerations for Toy Breeds (under 20lbs)
Though they may only weigh a couple of pounds, toy-breed puppies have extremely fast metabolisms – they can burn through an entire meal’s worth of calories in a couple of hours. This being the case, the puppy food for toy breeds will be calorie-dense with plenty of healthy fats for energy. If your puppy doesn’t get enough calories, he could develop hypoglycemia which could result in lethargy, weakness, seizures, and even death. It is also important to choose a puppy food that comes in a smaller kibble size for your puppy’s tiny mouth.
The top 10 toy breed dogs are:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Shih Tzu
- Toy Poodle
- Yorkshire Terrier
Special Considerations for Small Breeds (under 30lbs)
Like toy breeds, small-breed puppies have very fast metabolisms, so they burn through calories very quickly. On average, a small-breed puppy needs 40 calories per pound of bodyweight so the ideal choice of puppy food in this size category will be higher in fat than your typical puppy food. Remember, however, that it needs to be healthy fat – chicken fat and salmon fat are both highly nutritious options.
Both toy and small breeds also have a higher risk for dental problems than larger dogs due to their small mouths. For this reason, dry food may be a better choice than wet food because crunchy kibbles will help scrape plaque and tartar off your dog’s teeth. In fact, the best dry puppy food for small breeds will offer this as a benefit.
The top 11 small breed dogs are:
- Bichon Frise
- Boston Terrier
- French Bulldog
- Jack Russell
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Shiba Inu
- West Highland White Terrier
Special Considerations for Medium Breeds (under 50lbs)
Breeds that weigh under 50 pounds but over 20 to 30 pounds are sometimes classified as “medium breeds.” Unfortunately, puppy food brands don’t typically formulate recipes specifically for these breeds, so you may simply want to choose the a puppy food brand you can afford that isn’t size-specific. Remember to look for high-quality animal proteins, healthy animal fats, and a balance of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
The top 11 medium breed dogs are:
- American Pitbull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Australian Shepherd
- Blue Heeler
- Border Collie
- Cocker Spaniel
- English Springer Spaniel
- Shetland Sheepdog
Special Considerations for Large Breeds (under 100lbs)
While it is important to maintain healthy growth and development for your large-breed puppy, you also want to make sure he doesn’t grow too fast. Rapid growth can put strain on your puppy’s developing bones and joints which could predispose him to musculoskeletal issues as an adult. The perfect food for puppies of larger breeds will be rich in protein with controlled levels of fat and calories.
In addition to controlling your large-breed puppy’s growth by limiting his intake of fats and calories, you should also watch his calcium and phosphorus intake. Excessive amounts of calcium in a puppy’s diet may increase the risk for bone and joint problems in adulthood. The best large breed puppy food brands offer controlled levels of calcium and phosphorus in their recipes.
The top 11 large breed dogs are:
- Basset Hound
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Siberian Husky
Special Considerations for Giant Breeds (over 100lbs)
Puppies that grow to be more than 100 pounds at maturity are often classified as giant breeds and they typically take 18 to 24 months to reach their full size. Even so, some breeders recommend switching giant-breed puppies to an adult recipe before they reach full size, just to make sure they don’t grow too quickly. Excess fat in a giant breed puppy’s diet can lead to an excess of calories and rapid growth which would predispose your puppy to musculoskeletal issues in adulthood.
The ideal food for puppies in this size category will be rich in protein to support growth and development with adequate fat to meet your puppy’s energy requirements. These nutrients should come from high-quality animal sources to ensure bioavailability and digestibility. An excellent puppy food for giant breeds will also provide natural sources of joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin. Other beneficial supplements like probiotics never hurt either.
The top 10 giant breed dogs are:
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Giant Schnauzer
- Great Dane
- Great Pyrenees
- Irish Wolfhound
- St. Bernard
What to Look for in the Best Kibble for Puppies
When it comes to shopping for the perfect puppy food, you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices available. How do you possibly pick just one?
As you should understand by now, while all puppies have the same basic nutritional needs, there are differences to consider. Your job as a dog owner is to select the best possible choice for your individual puppy. But what do you need to look for in the best food for puppies?
Here’s a quick list of things to look for:
- Healthy, wholesome ingredients from digestible, animal sources.
- A balance of protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- A recipe formulated for your puppy’s particular breed size.
- A product that meets your puppy’s minimum needs for protein and fat.
- A reputable and trustworthy brand.
The best way to determine whether a puppy food product is worth considering is to take a look at the information provided on the package. Here are the top three things you’ll want to check:
- AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy
- The guaranteed analysis
- The list of ingredients
The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has created detailed nutrient profiles for pets in different life stages. Basically, they’ve determined the minimum amount of protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals a puppy needs for healthy growth and development.
So, if a pet food product meets those minimum requirements, it will carry an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy somewhere on the package – it looks something like this:
“Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [Product Name] provides complete and balanced nutrition for growing puppies and gestating or lactating adult female dogs.”
Simply put, the best puppy food will carry this statement on the package. If the product you’re looking at isn’t complete and balanced, there is no reason to give it to your puppy. The only exception would be for products that are intended for supplemental feeding – things like treats and meal toppers.
Once you’ve determined that the product is complete and balanced according to AAFCO requirements, the next place to look is the guaranteed analysis.
This is the part of the package that shows you the percentages of key nutrients. This is where you want to look for the crude protein and fiber content of the product. Remember, puppies need at least 22% protein and 8% fat. When it comes to protein, more is almost always better. For fat, toy- and small-breed puppies can benefit from higher levels, but you should control the fat content of a large- or giant-breed puppy’s diet.
Finally, and most importantly, comes the list of ingredients.
Remember, the best food for puppies will be made from healthy, wholesome ingredients – they should also be primarily animal-based. The best animal proteins for puppies include things like poultry, meat, eggs, and seafood. Plant proteins like pea protein, potato protein, and alfalfa meal are okay as supplemental sources, but they should not be at the top of the ingredients list.
After making sure that a quality, animal-based protein is at the top of the list, look for digestible carbohydrates and healthy fats.
There is a great deal of debate in the pet food community regarding the use of grains in pet food. The truth of the matter is that some puppies are able to digest grains just fine while others are not. There is also a recent debate about whether grain-free foods made with legumes contribute to health problems down the line. Until there is conclusive evidence to point one way or another, however, it is up to you to decide whether you want to feed your dog grains or not. If you do, make sure they are whole grains.
When it comes to fats, animal sources are preferable – things like chicken fat and salmon oil. Make sure your puppy’s food provides plenty of DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) for brain development with some omega-6 oils for balance.
Aside from protein, fat, and carbohydrates you should also check the ingredients list for fresh fruits and veggies as well as beneficial supplements. The puppy food will be nutritionally balanced and the sources for those nutrients will be easy to digest. This is all to say that natural sources for key nutrients like fresh fruits and vegetables are preferable to synthetic supplements.
This doesn’t mean, however, that the puppy food won’t have any synthetic supplements in it. In fact, some synthetic supplements are great. Chelated minerals, for example, are minerals that have been chemically bound to protein molecules which makes them easier to digest and absorb. Probiotics are also highly beneficial – they usually take the form of dried fermentation products.
After checking the list for high-quality, wholesome ingredients, you should do another check to make sure there aren’t any red flags. A premium puppy food won’t contain low-quality fillers like wheat, corn, or soy and it will be free from by-products, unnamed ingredients (like poultry fat versus chicken fat), and artificial additives. It is a good rule of thumb that if you can’t pronounce the ingredient by name, it’s probably not good for your puppy.
By now it should be clear that you don’t have to be a veterinarian or an animal nutrition expert to pick out a puppy food. You just need to cultivate a basic understanding of your puppy’s nutritional needs and learn how to tell whether a product will meet them or not.
Ready to put some of that knowledge to use? Keep reading to see our top picks.
Overall Best Puppy Food
If you were to ask five different veterinarians about their choice for the optimum puppy food brand, you might get five different answers.
The truth of the matter is that there are countless options to choose from and there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to the picking a top rated food for puppies. In the end, it is up to you to cultivate an understanding of your puppy’s needs and to find a puppy food to meet them.
Our 2023 Picks: Top Rated Foods for a Puppy
To get you started, we’ve compiled short reviews of the 13 best puppy food brands on the market, in our opinion. If you’re not sure where to start looking for a top puppy food formula, start here:
Most Popular Puppy Food
When it comes to puppy food, one of the most popular brands is Taste of the Wild. This High Prairie Puppy Grain-Free Dry Food formula is made with premium roasted meats like bison and venison with digestible grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas. It contains plenty of prebiotic fibers as well as dried fermentation products for probiotic support, and it contains both chelated minerals and fresh fruits and vegetables as naturals sources for key nutrients. All told, this recipe provides 28% crude protein, 17% crude fat, and 5% crude fiber. There is also a fish-based recipe that may be a good option for puppies with sensitive stomachs.
- Pros: Made with premium roasted meats, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotic supplements, chelated minerals, fish-based recipe available
- Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)
Most Affordable Puppy Food
Who ever said that high quality puppy food had to be expensive? This American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy Recipe is not only highly affordable, but it is a healthy and high-quality option. Featuring fresh deboned chicken, this formula contains all the amino acids your puppy needs to develop strong muscles with plenty of healthy fats for energy. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide natural sources for key nutrients while digestible grain-free carbohydrates contribute plenty of dietary fiber. This recipe is supplemented with chelated minerals for maximum nutrient absorption and is completely free from by-products, fillers, and artificial additives.
- Pros: Very affordable, made with real deboned chicken, grain-free carbohydrates, nutrient-rich chicken fat, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotic supplements
- Cons: Some puppies are sensitive to chicken ingredients, may not be high enough in fat for some puppies
The Best Dry Puppy Food
If you want to feed your puppy the highest quality puppy food, this Instinct Raw Boost Puppy Recipe from Nature’s Variety is definitely one to consider. Not only does it include high-protein kibble, but it is studded with freeze-dried raw pieces for a boost of flavor and high-quality nutrition. Available in a regular and large-breed puppy formulation, this recipe features fresh chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal as the top three ingredients with grain-free carbohydrates, healthy animal-based fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. It is rich in DHA for brain and eye development as well as guaranteed levels of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth. All in all, it contains 34% crude protein, 18% crude fat, and 3.5% fiber, earning its place among the other products on this list as a top rated food for puppies.
- Pros: Rich in protein and healthy fats, three animal proteins as top three ingredients, grain-free carbohydrates, balanced omega fatty acids, guaranteed levels of calcium and phosphorus, high-protein kibble with freeze-dried raw pieces, no artificial additives
- Cons: Very expensive, some puppies are sensitive to chicken ingredients, no small-breed recipe
The Best Canned Puppy Food
If you think the best puppy food for your dog is wet food, consider this Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Puppy Recipe. As part of the Wilderness line of products, this formula is protein-rich and grain-free. It features turkey as the main ingredients with chicken and chicken liver as supplementary proteins. Flaxseed provides a balanced source of omega fatty acids with fish oil for DHA. Chelated minerals help to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and vitamin supplements are included for nutritional balance. Overall, it contains 10.5% crude protein and 9% fat which, converted to dry matter basis (for comparison to dry food), equates to nearly 48% protein and nearly 41% fat.
Pros: Very high in protein and fat, high moisture levels, balance of omega fatty acids, DHA for brain development, chelated minerals, promotes healthy skin and coat
Cons: May be too high in fat for some puppies, no probiotics, contains some plant protein (pea protein)
More Great 5-Star Puppy Food Alternatives
If the four puppy food brands reviewed above don’t seem like a good fit for your puppy, there are still plenty of options out there! Here are 9 more of the best puppy food brands on the market:
If you’re looking for the best large breed puppy food, this Nutro Wholesome Essentials recipe is one of two large-breed formulas the brand offers for puppies. This particular recipe features pasture-fed lamb as the main ingredient which is supplemented by chicken meal, a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. This recipe also contains whole brown rice and whole grain oatmeal, as well as plenty of healthy fats from chicken fat and fish oil.
- Pros: Fresh lamb as the main ingredient, supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin, whole grain carbohydrates, nutrient-rich animal fats, chelated mineral supplements, large-breed specific
- Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, some plant protein (pea protein), no probiotics
Small-breed puppies need a concentrated source of energy to sustain their fast metabolisms and this Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy is an ideal recipe for the job. This formula features deboned turkey as the primary source of protein, supplemented with salmon meal for extra protein and omega fatty acids. It contains natural sources of DHA for brain development with easy-to-digest carbs for energy and fiber. This recipe also contains guaranteed levels of calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth. Plus, it comes in a smaller kibble size for tiny mouths.
- Pros: Fresh turkey as main ingredient, healthy animal fats for energy, prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion, DHA for brain development, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals
- Cons: Some puppies are sensitive to chicken ingredients, not grain-free
If your puppy loves red meat, this Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Recipe may be a terrific puppy food for him. It features protein-rich deboned beef as the main ingredient with grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas. With 28% protein and 12% fat, this recipe does more than just meet your puppy’s nutritional needs – it exceeds them. It also contains fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients with chelated minerals for nutritional support. It is also supplemented with omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat plus probiotics for healthy digestion.
- Pros: Real beef as the main ingredient, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, DHA for brain development, fresh fruits and veggies for nutrients, chelated minerals, probiotics for digestion
- Cons: Some puppies are sensitive to beef, contains some plant protein (potato protein), fairly expensive
If your puppy has a sensitive stomach, even regular grain-free foods may not be quite right. Something like this Solid Gold Wolf Cub Bison & Oatmeal Puppy Formula might be the best puppy food because it contains a novel source of protein and potato-free carbohydrates. This recipe features bison as the main ingredient with fish meal and egg as supplementary proteins. Brown rice and oatmeal provide carbohydrate energy and dietary fiber, with flaxseed as supplementary fiber and a source of omega fatty acids. This recipe also features plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide antioxidants with chelated minerals for nutritional balance and probiotics for healthy digestion.
- Pros: Novel protein sources, digestible carbohydrates, potato-free, healthy fats, plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, chelated minerals, probiotic supplements
- Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), not grain-free, fairly pricey
The Blue Buffalo brand offers some of the best foods and this Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Formula is a great example. This recipe features real deboned lamb as the main ingredient with supplementary protein from Menhaden fish meal and lamb meal. Healthy animal fats like chicken fat and fish oil work together with flaxseed to provide a blend of omega fatty acids while prebiotic fibers and probiotic supplements support healthy and regular digestion. This recipe is also supplemented with fresh fruits and veggies as well as chelated minerals.
- Pros: Real deboned lamb as main ingredient, digestible carbohydrates, healthy animal fats, blend of omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and veggies, prebiotics and probiotics, chelated minerals
- Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), not grain-free
Sometimes a high quality puppy food is also the best food for adults. If you want to avoid the hassle of having to switch your puppy to an adult recipe later, this Holistic Select Adult & Puppy Health Grain-Free Dry Food might be a good option. It is formulated to meet the needs of both adult dogs and puppies, made with premium animal proteins and grain-free carbohydrates. This recipe contains plenty of fresh fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients with digestive enzymes to help break them down. It is also supplemented with natural fibers, antioxidant-rich superfoods, chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption, and probiotics.
- Pros: Novel fish-based proteins, plenty of omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and veggies for antioxidants, prebiotic fibers and probiotic supplements, chelated minerals, grain-free carbohydrates
- Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil), fairly high in calories and fiber
If you want to feed your puppy and outstanding puppy food, you might consider one made with organic ingredients like this Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Puppy Recipe. This recipe features organic, free-range chicken as the main ingredient with organic peas, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas as grain-free carbohydrates. With a special blend of superfoods for antioxidant support, this recipe also provides natural sources for key nutrients. It is an excellent source of omega fatty acids and provides DHA for brain development. Plus, it is made in USDA organically certified USA kitchens.
- Pros: USDA organic certified, organic free-range chicken as main ingredient, organic grain-free carbohydrates, antioxidant-rich superfoods, rich in omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, probiotics
- Cons: Some puppies are sensitive to chicken ingredients, contains some plant protein (pea protein)
Sometimes the best food for puppies is not the most expensive brand on the market but something like this Whole Earth Farms Puppy Recipe Dry Food. This recipe features high-quality proteins and natural ingredients, just like the best puppy food brand on the market, but it comes with a much more affordable price tag. It features chicken meal as a concentrated source of animal protein with digestible whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal. In terms of beneficial supplements, this recipe contains chelated minerals, dietary fiber, and probiotics.
- Pros: Very affordable, concentrated animal protein, digestible whole grain carbohydrates, chelated minerals for optimal absorption, probiotics for healthy digestion
- Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, contains some plant protein (pea protein), not grain-free
If you were to imagine the best puppy food on the market, this Wellness CORE RawRev Grain-Free Puppy Recipe with Freeze-Dried Turkey might be it. This product features high-protein kibble blended with freeze-dried bites of 100% raw turkey. It is absolutely packed with protein and contains grain-free carbohydrates plus probiotics for healthy digestion. This recipe is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables which act as natural sources for key nutrients with chelated minerals for nutritional balance. All in all, it is a nutrient-rich recipe packed with real meat flavor and plenty of protein.
- Pros: High-protein kibble plus freeze-dried raw pieces, grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and veggies for natural nutrients, chelated minerals, probiotics for healthy digestion, high in protein and healthy fat
- Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, contains some plant protein (potato protein)
FAQs Regarding Feeding Puppies:
Choosing the best puppy food you can afford is only the first step in the equation. Next you need to learn how, how much, and how often to feed your puppy.
Fortunately for you, we’ve already done the work to compile this information.
Here are our answers to the most frequently asked questions about feeding puppies:
Is a Grain Free Food Good for Puppies?
The answer to this question is not as simple as it might seem. The fact of the matter is that puppies (and dogs) have no specific needs for carbohydrate in their diet but they can benefit from the calories and nutrients these foods provide. In fact, there is recent evidence to suggest that grain-free diets may contribute to health problems later in life.
The best option for puppies is not necessarily grain-free, but there are certainly puppies who can benefit from this kind of diet. If your puppy has a sensitive stomach or is allergic to certain grains, then by all means feed him a grain-free diet. If he has no trouble digesting grains, you may be able to save yourself some hassle (and money) by feeding him a diet made with wholesome grain-based carbohydrates. In the end, it’s really your choice to make.
Can a Puppy Eat Regular Dog Food?
If you were to quickly glance at a package of regular adult dog food and compare it to one of the leading puppy food brands on the market, you might notice some similarities. This is because all dogs have the same basic nutritional needs, there are simply differences in the amounts. These differences are not insignificant, however, so don’t make the mistake of feeding your puppy regular dog food or switching him to an adult diet too quickly.
An ideal food for puppies will be formulated with higher levels of protein and fat than a regular dog food diet. Your puppy needs these extra nutrients to sustain his growth and development. Puppy foods are also higher in calcium to support health bones and teeth, with a balanced amount of phosphorus to support the same. If you feed your puppy regular adult food, he may not get the calories or nutrients he needs to grow properly, and he could develop health problems like hypoglycemia.
What Are the Best Times to Feed a Puppy?
As long as you choose the best possible puppy food you can afford, you shouldn’t have to worry about your puppy’s nutritional needs being met. You do, however, need to make sure you’re feeding him enough to meet his energy requirements, so he grows at a healthy rate. Generally, puppies should be fed three to four times per day during the first 3 months. After that, you can reduce to three meals per day until your puppy reaches six months of age.
At that point, you’ll need to decide whether your puppy will do best on two or three meals. Toy- and small-breed puppies do best with three meals spaced evenly throughout the day while large- and giant-breeds do just fine with two meals. Try to space the meals out evenly and keep to a regular schedule – whatever works with your own schedule, so you can maintain consistency.
How Much Food Should I Feed a Puppy?
Generally speaking, puppies may need anywhere from ¼ cup to ¾ cup of food per feeding and, depending on his age, you may need to feed your puppy three or four times a day. The actual amount you feed your puppy will vary according to which recipe you choose because different puppy foods have different calorie contents. Picking the optimal puppy food isn’t enough – it’s also your job to read the label to see how much to feed your puppy.
Because there is specific amount to feed a puppy, your best bet is to follow the feeding recommendations on the package. These are formulated according to your puppy’s age and size, so know that you’ll need to make adjustments as your puppy ages. You should also track his growth, keeping an eye on his body weight and condition to make sure he isn’t growing too quickly or too slowly.
How Long Should a Puppy Eat Puppy Food?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because, well, puppies come in different sizes. While many veterinarians ascribe to the 12-month rule, recommending that puppies be fed a puppy-specific diet for the first 12 months, there are other theories. Another option is to offer your puppy a puppy food you can afford until he reaches about 80% of his expected adult size. From there, switch to a high-quality adult diet formulated for dogs of his breed size.
Is Wet or Dry Food Better for Puppies?
Many pet owners wonder if the best food for puppies is dry food or wet food but there is no hard and fast answer. Wet food is high in moisture and may be easier to chew for younger puppies, but kibbles are better for keeping your puppy’s teeth clean. Dry puppy food tends to be more cost-effective, offers longer shelf-life once opened, and typically contains more beneficial supplements than wet food (if you buy from one of the best puppy food brands). Wet food, on the other hand, is more palatable to some puppies, is often higher in protein and fat, and has a long shelf-life unopened.
Because there are advantages to both options, it’s up to you to choose a puppy food for your individual puppy. If you like the benefits of wet food but the convenience of dry, maybe add a little wet food to supplement your puppy’s kibble. You could also moisten his wet food with water or chicken broth to make it more palatable for picky eaters.
Puppy Food – A Final Word
If you want your puppy to grow into a happy and healthy adult, it all starts now with a puppy food you can afford. Even if a top-shelf brand isn’t within your budget, there are plenty of affordable puppy food options that still offer decent quality. Several of the options on our list of the top 13 best dog food for puppies fit the bill.
In the end, however, it isn’t about price – it’s about doing what is best for your puppy now and in the future. Feeding your pup one of the best food for puppies (like the 13 puppy food brands listed above) will ensure that his nutritional needs are met in the healthiest way possible.
Best of luck with your new furry friend!