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Looking for the best dog food for puppies? We’ve got you covered.
Getting a new puppy is the beginning of a wonderful friendship full of fun, love, and companionship — but it is also a big responsibility.
Raising a puppy is not just about giving them the right training and talking them for walks, it’s also about giving them the right nutrition to help them grow strong and healthy.
The best way to make sure your puppy gets what he needs to grow is to feed him correctly.
Puppies require different food to adult dogs which fits their specific needs, and there are lots of different dog foods for puppies available.
But not all puppy food is created equal, and some brands are better than others. So what should you be feeding your new furry puppy pal?
Read on to find out everything you need to know about the best dog food for puppies…
- 1 What is Puppy Food?
- 2 Types of Dog Food for Puppes
- 3 How to Feed Your Puppy
- 4 Best Dog Food for Puppies
- 4.1 Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food
- 4.2 Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food
- 4.3 Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Dry Dog Food
- 4.4 BLUE Life Protection Formula Dry Puppy Food
- 4.5 Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food
- 4.6 Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- 4.7 Purina Puppy Chow Natural Plus Vitamins & Minerals Dog Food
- 4.8 Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- 4.9 Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- 4.10 Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Real Meat Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food
What is Puppy Food?
Puppies grow incredibly fast, and puppy food is specially designed to fulfill a puppy’s specific needs as they grow.
The best dog food for puppies will be specially formulated to include all the necessary nutrients to build up healthy muscle tissue, strong bones, and healthy organs, and their immune system.
Puppy dog food is different from adult dog food because it is more rich in certain nutrients and more easily digestible.
Why Can’t Puppies Eat Adult Dog Food?
The nutrients in adult dog food are designed to maintain the bodies of dogs that are already fully grown who don’t have the same nutritional needs as a young dog who is growing muscle, bone, organs — and who has boundless energy too.
Puppies need extra nutrients to help them grow that aren’t contained in adult dog food.
Puppies are also often more sensitive to what they eat than adult dogs, so puppy food is specially formulated to be very easily digestible and reduce the risk of puppies having upset stomachs.
The teeth and jaws of young puppies are weaker than those of an adult dog too, so dry puppy food is generally slightly softer than dry adult dog food.
The morsels of kibble or meat in puppy food are also smaller that those in adult dog food, to ensure that your puppy can eat them easily without choking.
Types of Dog Food for Puppes
Puppy food is divided into three main types: wet (or moist), semi-wet, and dry.
Wet dog food generally contains around 70% – 85% water mixed with other ingredients. This means that wet dog foods can be a good source of hydration.
However it also means that there are less nutrients packed into the food, so your puppy will need to eat larger portions to get everything he needs in his diet. Another issue with wet dog foods is that feeding them to your dog long term is more likely to cause dental problems than feeding dry food.
Wet foods can also be messy, and are usually more expensive by weight than the dry versions.
Semi-wet foods are like a soft kibble, so are easy for puppies to eat and are very digestible.
They have a water content of around 35%, and tend to have a higher sugar content than wet or dry foods, as well as being higher in salt and preservatives.
Dry puppy food is the most convenient. It is generally the cheaper than wet or semi-wet food, and is easy to buy in bulk and to store. It can also be left in the dog’s bowl for longer without spoiling unlike wet food.
Crunchy kibble is also better for teeth than wet food.
The drawback of dry dog food is that is may contain higher amounts of preservatives and antioxidants, and often contain less protein than wet food. Dry foods also contain less moisture than wet foods, so puppies fed a dry diet will need to drink larger amounts of water.
Many dog owners choose to feed a mixture of dry and wet food, or give wet foods to their pets occasionally as a treat.
Whatever type of food you decide to feed your puppy, it is vital to ensure that it contains all the necessary nutrients for him to grow big and strong.
Best Ingredients for Puppies
Puppies are particularly sensitive to the effects of a poor diet, and it’s important to avoid feeding them poor quality foods with too many fillers such as cereal by-products and corn starch which have no nutritional value, as well as chemical ingredients which can be toxic.
Protein in particular is an incredibly important part of a puppy’s diet, as they are what is necessary in order to develop new tissues such as muscle in the body.
Proteins in puppy food provide essential amino acids, and meat contains the most protein, so a quality meat should be the largest ingredient in the puppy food you choose.
Carbohydrates are what give your puppy his energy, as they convert into glucose in the body. They can also introduce fiber to your dog’s diet.
Quality carbohydrates can be found in plant ingredients such as sweet potato, peas, or grains.
Fats are also crucial to a balanced diet for your puppy. Fats transport key vitamins throughout the body, and contribute to healthy skin and a glossy coat.
However it is important that the food you choose doesn’t have a fat content that is too high, as this can result in obesity and bone diseases.
Certain vitamins and minerals help the body perform certain functions and prevent deficiencies, which can cause your puppy to become ill.
Vitamin A is important for healthy skin and fur, Vitamin E supports the immune system, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, and potassium are also important.
These vitamins and minerals are found naturally in meats, legumes, fruits and vegetables, but may also appear in your puppy’s food in the form of added supplements.
Omega fatty acids which are found in fish are not essential but can be beneficial to your growing puppy as they help increase his learning potential.
How to Feed Your Puppy
When you take your puppy home, the breeder should give you a copy of his current feeding schedule.
Puppies eat a lot, and often.
Their tummies are small so it is best to feed them 3 to 4 times a day when they are between 8 and 12 weeks old.
After 12 weeks of age you can begin to reduce the frequency of feeding, giving your puppy the same daily amount of food, but less often — once in the morning and once in the late afternoon or early evening. Feed your puppy at set times each day so he learns the feeding schedule.
The exact amount of food you feed your puppy will depend on the size of the breed, with larger breed puppies needing bigger portions.
If you’re feeding too much, most dogs will let you know by leaving some behind in his bowl.
The amount of food your puppy needs will change as he grows. Use the guidelines on the dog food packaging to decide how much to feed your puppy, and follow the advice of your veterinarian.
Here’s a great video on how to feed a puppy:
How Long Should I Feed My Dog Puppy Food?
There is no set age at which to make the transition from puppy food to dog food as it is dependent on your puppy’s size and breed.
Generally, we would recommend to start making the switch when your puppy is between 8 and 10 months old.
Change over to adult dog food gradually in order to avoid stomach upsets due to the change of diet.
Mix the puppy food in with the adult food over the course of a few days, gradually increasing the amount of adult food and decreasing the amount of puppy food until you are finally feeding only the adult dog food.
Best Dog Food for Puppies
Not sure which puppy food to choose? Here’s our guide to the 10 best dog foods for puppies…
With a highly nutritious and easily digestible grain free formula, Taste of the Wild puppy food is made with quality roasted wild meats such as bison, venison and lamb to provide excellent protein.
Vegetables and fruits containing healthy antioxidants also make up part of the formula, as well as Omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, and chicory root containing prebiotic fiber that boosts your puppy’s digestive system.
- Puppies love the taste
- Highly digestible
- Made with quality ingredients
- Rich in protein
- Grain free
- No added preservatives
- A little expensive
Made with real chicken as the premier ingredient, Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is rich in protein.
The formula contains omega fatty acids to keep skin and hair healthy and promote vision and brain development, plus added vitamins and minerals to ensure your puppy is getting a balanced and nutritious diet.
This formula is easily digestible and easy on sensitive stomachs.
- Contains a god mix of vitamins and minerals
- Real chicken is the primary ingredient
- Affordable price
- Good for picky eaters
- Can help alleviate certain allergies
- Contains animal by-products
Real chicken provides plenty of protein while cranberries provide antioxidants to boost the immune system, Omega fatty acids support healthy skin and coat, brain development and good vision.
This super popular dog food for puppies is completely free from harmful preservatives, colorings, and flavors.
- Totally natural
- Chicken is the primary ingredient
- Easily digestible
- Added vitamins and chelated minerals
- Made in the USA
- Not grain free — contains delicious brown rice — so it may not be suitable for puppies with allergies
Blue Buffalo use only real chicken, fish or lamb in their puppy formulas to ensure a quality source of protein.
A blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are included which are intended to fortify your puppy’s immune system.
Essential oils from chicken fat and flax seed guarantee healthy skin and a shiny coat and promote cognitive development.
The formulation is available in five different flavors and there are even size specific variations — great news if you’re looking for the best dog food for large breed puppies.
- Contains fresh, natural ingredients
- Doesn’t contain any animal by-products
- Rich in protein and antioxidants
- Easy to digest
- Contains no harmful chemical ingredients
- A little expensive
- Requires a gradual transition if your puppy has a sensitive stomach
Free from grains which can cause allergies in some puppies, Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food is made with a mix of real whole foods and fresh chicken.
The recipe is designed to be easy for puppies to digest, and includes Omega fatty acids for healthy skin and a glossy coat, as well as DHA to promote cognitive development and healthy vision.
Fruits and vegetables ensure a good boost of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Totally organic
- Free from grains and gluten
- 55% protein
- Suitable for all breeds
- High quality product
- A little expensive
Often regarded as the best dog food for large breed puppies, Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Dry Dog Food contains high quantities of calcium along with glucosamine and chondroitin to ensure your puppy’s bones, joints and muscles grow strong and at the correct rate.
This dog food for puppies is made with natural ingredients plus vitamins, minerals and amino acids for all round health and nutrition, and is free from added flavors, preservatives, and colors.
- Ideal for large breed puppies
- Contains only natural ingredients
- Good amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber
- Does not contain artificial food colors or other preservatives
- Most customers report good results
- Food can have a strong odor
Packed with essential nutrients including DHA, this dog food for puppies is free from anything artificial.
Added vitamins and minerals guarantee that your puppy is getting a well balanced, nutritious diet.
- Great taste and texture
- Offers balanced nutrition
- Made with natural ingredients
- Good for puppies with sensitive stomachs
- Cheap price
- Not as high in protein as other puppy foods on this list
The sweet potato and pumpkin in Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dry Dog Food make it super tasty, easy for puppies to digest, and provide crucial carbohydrates.
Prime chicken is the major ingredient in this puppy food, and there are plenty of fruits and vegetables to provide healthy antioxidants to help maintain a healthy, strong immune system.
A mix of important minerals and vitamins have been added to this recipe, and it contains no grains or other ingredients that are likely to trigger an allergic reaction in your puppy.
- All natural
- Good for puppies with food allergies and sensitive stomachs
- No artificial flavors or colors
- Highly nutritious
- Easy to digest
- A little expensive
This protein focused puppy food is packed with quality chicken and turkey and is rich in antioxidants for a strong immune system.
It also contains DHA to support healthy brain and eye development, nutrient rich green vegetables, salmon oil and flaxseed to provide Omega fatty acids, plus calcium and phosphorus for healthy teeth and bones, and fiber, probiotics and prebiotics to ensure a robust and healthy digestive system.
- 100% natural
- Free from gluten, soy, animal by-products, corn, additives and preservatives
- Doesn’t contain grains
- Provides complete and balanced nutrition
- Top quality ingredients
- A little expensive
Another candidate for best dog food for large breed puppies, Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy chow has tasty pasture raised lamb as its primary ingredient which provides essential proteins and amino acids.
Packed with antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables and including Omega fatty acids, DHA, and special probiotics to support immune and digestive systems and help your puppy maintain an active lifestyle.
- Contains superfoods
- Free from wheat, corn and soy
- Reasonably priced
- Good for overall health and growth
- Will require a transition period for puppies with sensitive stomachs
Which do you think is the best dog food for puppies?