Best Puppy Food - Comparison and Reviews

Becky - author

Author: Becky Roberts
Last Updated: November 2019​

Category: Best Dog Foods

If you want your puppy to grow up strong and healthy, you need to provide him with the right foundation. The best way to do this is by putting your pup on a healthy diet that provides all the necessary nutrients.

Labrador puppyThe right nutrients ensure strong bones, a sharp mind, healthy fur, an effective immune system, and everything else your pup needs to transition to adulthood.

The balance of nutrients and vitamins an adult dog needs greatly differs from what a pup needs. Pups need more nutrients and calories to support their growing bodies and active lifestyle. As such, a pup needs twice the daily dietary requirements an adult dog needs.

Fortunately, there are a number of specialized puppy foods that contain all the dietary requirements needed for a strong, sharp, and healthy puppy. To help you find the best puppy food for your little guy/gal, we’ve rounded up the ten best puppy foods.

Let’s dig in!

Best Puppy Food 2019 - Reviews

1. Purina Pro Plan Chicken Formula

This delicious puppy food comes in small-sized kibbles that can easily fit into your pup’s mouth. It tastes good enough to be used as a treat and contains a perfect blend of nutrients and ingredients to serve as a standalone meal.

Each serving offers a rich balance of high-quality protein and DHA to help your pup develop strong muscles and a sharp mind. The protein comes from real chicken, which your pup will enjoy in every bite.

You can get it as a chicken and rice recipe, or lamb and rice recipe. There’s also a grain-free option if your pup is allergic to grains.

Depending on your budget, this top-quality pup food is available as a 6-, 18-, or 34-pound bag.

Purina Pro Plan Dry Puppy Food, FOCUS Chicken & Rice Formula - 34 lb. Bag

Pros

  • Dry puppy food with a long shelf life
  • Real chicken delivers high-quality proteins for strong muscle growth
  • Provides enough carbs to keep your puppy energized for play and growing
  • Rich in omega fish oils that keep the vision and mind of your pup sharp
  • Rich in antioxidants to give your developing pup a powerful immune system
  • Easy to digest
  • Contains Omega-6 fatty acids to give your pup a soft and shiny coat
  • Suitable for all puppy breeds

Cons

  • The grain content may not suit your pup’s digestive system

2. Taste of the Wild Protein Pacific Premium

This pup food is engineered to bring out your pup’s inner wolf. It accomplishes this with a recipe that simulates what a wolf would eat in the wild.

It also contains an extra dose of Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your pup’s immune system and fur quality. Boosting your pup’s immune system is important because dogs are most vulnerable to diseases when they are pups.

This puppy food also contains probiotics to keep your pup’s digestive system healthy. The high-quality protein in this food comes from smoked salmon, which has an appetizing aroma and a rich amino acid profile. On this diet, your pup has all he needs to grow into a healthy and mentally sharp canine.

Each kibble is small enough to fit into your pup’s mouth with ease, so you won’t have to worry about choking or troubles with chewing.

Taste of the Wild High Protein Real Meat Recipe Dry Dog Food with Real Smoked Salmon & Ancient Grains

Pros

  • High protein content to help your puppy grow into a dog with lean, strong muscles
  • The salmon is rich in Omega fatty oils and DHA to boost your pup’s vision and brain activity
  • Contains superfoods that deliver vitamins and minerals to boost your pup’s immune system
  • Bite-sized kibbles for easy and safe chewing
  • Grain-free to eliminate the risk of food allergies
  • Easy to digest
  • No artificial additives
  • Made in the US
  • Contains probiotics to keep your pup’s digestive system healthy

Cons

  • Not suitable for all breeds

3. CANIDAE PURE Puppy Recipe

Canidae’s puppy recipe uses a few core ingredients to deliver optimal nutrition to your growing pup. By limiting the number of ingredients in each serving, Canidae helps you keep track of what exactly you’re feeding your pup.

The food is grain-free but delivers wholesome carbs from ingredients like sweet potato. It also contains probiotics to aid digestion and keep your pup’s digestive system healthy. There are antioxidants and vitamins to boost your pup’s immune system, protecting him while he plays and explores, too.

The primary ingredient in Canidae’s pup food is chicken, which delivers high-quality proteins to help your pup grow big and strong.

CANIDAE PURE Puppy Recipe, Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food

Pros

  • Omega-6 and -3 fatty acids for a beautiful coat and healthy skin
  • An uncomplicated whole-food recipe that lets you know exactly what you are feeding your puppy
  • Made in the US
  • Healthy carb profile that provides your puppy with all the energy he needs
  • High nutrient content, including probiotics and vitamins for a healthy immune and digestive system
  • Reasonable price
  • Limited ingredients for sensitive stomachs

Cons

  • Your puppy may not like the taste

4. Eukanuba Puppy Food for Large Breed

This is the ideal pup food if your puppy will grow into a large breed dog. It provides high-quality protein from chicken and a proper balance of other essential nutrients to ensure your pup grows to be big and strong.

It’s also rich in phosphorous and calcium to ensure your dog’s bones grow to be strong enough to support his expected weight. You can feed this food to your dog until he’s 15 months old. The DHA content gives your pup an edge when it comes to trainability by boosting his brain activity and making him sharper, too.

While it’s not grain-free, it does have the upside of higher fiber content and gives your pup enough calories to support an active lifestyle.

Eukanuba Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food, 33 lb. bag

Pros

  • Antioxidants to optimize your pup’s immune system
  • Supports the muscle growth of your pup so he can grow up big and strong
  • Keeps the brain healthy so that your pup has a sharp mind
  • Prebiotics and high fiber content to aid your pup’s digestive system
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for a shiny coat and healthy skin
  • Contains enough carbs to provide your pup with a healthy dose of energy to conquer each day
  • Doesn’t negatively impact your pup’s breath

Cons

  • It’s not grain-free, which may cause an allergic reaction
  • May contain some chicken by-products

5. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Small Breed Puppy Food

Wellness CORE for puppies is made with the nutritional needs of small breed puppies in mind. It’s completely grain-free and provides a healthy balance of protein, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids through its rich salmon, turkey, chicken, and oatmeal recipe that’s as tasty as it’s healthy.

The rich protein profile keeps your pup healthy and strong, while the carbs give him energy. There are no fillers or artificial additives among the ingredients. You can also rest easy knowing that your small puppy’s health is covered by the Wellness Core Natural Guarantee.

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Puppy, 4-Pound Bag

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Made with strictly natural and highly nutritious products
  • Contains flaxseed and fish omega blend to ensure the healthy coat and skin
  • Fortified with probiotics to boost your pup’s digestive system
  • Contains DHA for optimal vision and brain health
  • Phosphorus and calcium content to keep growing bones and teeth strong
  • Contains a high meat fiber count
  • Easy to chew and digest
  • Made in the US and backed by the Wellness Guarantee
  • No artificial ingredients or meat by-products

Cons

  • Your dog may not like the taste due to the absence of sweeteners
  • Only available in one recipe variation

6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Puppy Food

Looking for the perfect grain-free dog food for your pup? Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food might be exactly what you need. It contains lots of real chicken that most pups can’t resist. This delivers a high-quality protein that ensures your pup grows up big and strong with a healthy muscle mass.

It’s grain-free, containing no wheat, soy, corn, or other grains that your pup may be allergic to, but it does contain a rich balance of DHA, ARA, and fatty acids found in a mother’s milk. These premium quality nutrients will boost your pup’s immune system, cognitive development, and retinal health.

This dry puppy food also contains Blue Buffalo’s proprietary LifeSource Bits. The Bits contain all the veterinarian recommended antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals your pup needs to grow into a healthy adult.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food, Chicken 24-lb

Pros

  • No artificial ingredients or meat by-products
  • Completely grain-free with no corn, wheat, soy, or other grains
  • Has a rich protein content
  • Glucosamine, calcium, and phosphorus content supports will boost the strength of your pup’s bones
  • Omega fatty acids ensure healthy skin and fur
  • Proprietary LifeSource Bits that offer all the mineral and nutrients for a healthy and active pup

Cons

  • Available in only the chicken recipe
  • Your pup might not be a fan of the taste of the LifeSource Bits

7. Hill’s Science Diet Chicken Barley

Hill’s Science Diet Chicken Barley is a dry pup food designed to keep your small breed pup well-fed and healthy.

Vets are big fans of this pup food because of its optimal balance of nutrients and ingredients. Its primary ingredients are chicken meal for high-quality protein, and barley and brown rice for fiber and carbs. More carbs mean more calories to fuel your pup’s adventures and playtime.

Its most valuable nutrients include amino acids, ascorbic acid, minerals, and vitamins that boost your pup’s immune system, keep his fur shiny, and aid his healthy growth. Its price is reasonable, making it a great bargain, too.

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Puppy, Small Paws for Small Breeds, Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe, 4.5 lb Bag

Pros

  • Contains enough calories to keep your pup’s energy levels up throughout the day
  • DHA from fish oil to boost the vision and brain development
  • Provides your small breed dog with high-quality proteins for building a lean muscle mass
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • The recipe delivers only natural ingredients, vitamins, and minerals
  • Made in the US
  • Affordable price
  • A top choice among veterinarians

Cons

  • Most suitable for small breed pups

8. CESAR Wet Puppy Food

This wet puppy food has chicken as its primary ingredient. You can get it as a chicken & beef recipe, or a chicken & lamb recipe. There’s also a lamb recipe, which lets you mix things up for your pup or pick a pack that best appeals to your pup’s palate.

Each pack contains 24 trays of wet puppy food that you can serve as a standalone meal or mix with dry food. It’s grain-free and features flavors dogs love, making it not only a healthy meal but also an effective way to spoil your adorable pup.

The pack size and content makes each serving ideal for small breed pups, but your large breed pup won’t mind a bite.

CESAR Puppy Soft Wet Dog Food Classic Loaf in sauce Chicken & Beef Recipe, (24) 3.5 oz. Easy Peel Trays

Pros

  • High-quality protein from US-farmed chickens
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals to keep your pup’s immune and digestive system healthy
  • Made in the US
  • Contains real chunks of chicken
  • Can be eaten alone or mixed with dry food
  • The convenient trays make serving and cleaning up easy
  • The moisture content keeps your pup hydrated

Cons

  • Not very economical
  • Better suited for small breed pups

9. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food

Whether your pup is a large or small breed, Nutro Wholesome Essentials has a dry food recipe to please your pup’s palate and support his growth. There’s a chicken recipe for large and small breed pups, as well as a lamb recipe for large breed pups.

The chicken recipes contain farm-raised chickens as a primary ingredient, which provides high-quality protein. Feasting on this will help your pup build healthy muscles and boost his immune system. The food also contains brown rice and sweet potato, which deliver wholesome carbs for energy

It also delivers an optimized balance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to help your pup build strong bones and joints that support his healthy growth.

NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Natural Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food Farm-Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe, 30 lb. Bag

Pros

  • Delivers high-quality proteins for building strong muscles
  • Contains calcium for strong bones and Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy sight and brain development
  • Contains antioxidants, like vitamin E, to boost your pup’s immune system
  • No artificial additives, chicken by-product meal, wheat, corn, or soy protein
  • Available in 5-, 15-, and 30-pound bags to suit your budget
  • Easy to understand list of ingredients

Cons

  • It’s quite pricey

10. Castor & Pollux Organic Grain-Free Puppy Food

Its primary ingredient is an organic free-range chicken which is probably better than many humans get. The chicken content delivers high-quality proteins to help your puppy grow into a physically and mentally impressive adult.

Aside from the protein, Organix takes advantage of superfoods like flaxseed, blueberries, and organic coconut oil. These ingredients provide top-tier nutrients that boost your dog’s immune system. It’s also rich in fibers to support your pup’s digestive system.

Every serving is grain-free, pesticide-free, artificial preservatives-free, antibiotic- and growth hormone-free to ensure the 100 percent safety of your pup.

Castor & Pollux Organix Grain Free Organic Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food 10Lb

Pros

  • Made in the US
  • Utilizes the highest quality ingredients, such as organic chicken
  • Free of any harmful additives
  • Easy to chew and digest dry puppy food
  • Contains DHA that boosts the eyes and brain development of your puppy
  • Available as a 4- and 10-pound bag

Cons

  • Available in only one recipe—chicken, brown rice, and flaxseed
  • It’s a bit pricey

How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Puppies

There are different puppy foods out there, and each brand claims that theirs is the best for you and your puppy, but what actually counts as the best food for your pup will depend on his unique dietary needs and what you’re comfortable with.

pitbull puppy

For instance, you can choose between wet and dry food for your pup. Wet food contains liquid content that’ll keep your pup hydrated and makes it easier to eat. Because your pup’s teeth are still developing, the softer texture of wet food will be easier on his teeth and belly.

Dry food, on the other hand, has a crunchier texture that pups find fun to eat. It’s hard and crunchy texture also makes it ideal for teething pups.

If the kibble is too tough for your pup’s teeth, simply add some water to soften it up. Dry food is also easier to store and clean up, and has a longer shelf life, even while it’s in your pup’s bowl.

Other things to look out for when trying to select the best pup food are:

Grain-free recipe

Grains provide carbs, which convert into calories to keep your pup energized, but grains aren’t essential to a pup’s diet, and some pups have trouble digesting them. Your pup can get his carbs from more wholesome foods like potatoes, oatmeal, and pumpkin.

Your pup will benefit more from a grain-free diet that contains more fruits, vegetables, and meat, as they contain the proteins, minerals, and vitamins to help your pup grow big and strong without all the filler.

Omega 3 and 6

A natural source of Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids is fish and fish oil. These fatty acids will give your pup healthy skin and fur, but more importantly, it contains Docosahexaenoic Acids (DHAs) that will boost the development of your pup’s brain, heart, and retina tissue.

The more Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids your pup gets, the more likely he’ll grow into an intelligent, beautiful, and well-rounded canine.

Serving size

If your pup has a big appetite, you need a dog food that’s low in calories that he can fill up on without becoming overweight. If you provide such a pup with a high-calorie diet and keep letting him gorge himself, you’ll likely end up with an overweight pup with lifelong health complications.

You can get a good idea of whether your pup is a self-regulator or a gorger by monitoring him during a free feeding period. Does he stop on his own, or keep eating until he’s lethargic and bloated?

What Things to Consider when Buying Puppy Food

As mentioned earlier, when looking for the best puppy food for your little guy, you need to take into consideration his unique dietary and health needs. To do this, take into consideration the following factors:

Puppy Breed

There are puppy foods that are specially formulated for certain breeds and sizes of pups. For instance, some foods promote healthy bone growth and joint development in the pups of large breeds like Great Danes, while other foods assist the metabolism of small breeds like Chihuahuas.

Small Breed: Small breed pups need food that can easily fit into their mouths. They also need food with a higher protein and fat content to support their metabolism and digestive system.

Large Breed: Large breed puppies also need lots of protein, but they need more calcium and phosphorus than smaller breed pups. The calcium and phosphorus help build strong bones as the pup develops and minimizes the risk of the pup developing a joint disease later in life.

Related: Best Puppy Food for Labs

Nutritional Needs of Puppies

Puppy food must contain high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Each plays a vital role in ensuring the overall wellbeing and happiness of your pup.

Proteins help your pup build healthy muscles and tissues

Fats contain elements that boost brain and eyes development, as well as support healthy skin and hair

Carbohydrates load your dog with calories, which give your pup the energy to play and learn

Vitamins and minerals are key to a balanced diet. Without them, your pup may suffer from deficiencies that make him more susceptible to diseases or a stunted growth

Balanced Diet for Puppy Growth

Before buying any puppy food, be sure to check its label. The label must state that the food is “Complete and balanced nutrition,” or that it “Meets the nutritional requirements of puppies established by AAFCO.”

A balanced puppy diet will contain the right amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Protein will come from actual meat, fish, and/or poultry and is usually the primary ingredient (so listed first in the ingredients).

Carbs can come from grains, but we recommend foods that provide more wholesome carbs from potatoes, oatmeal, and similar produce. Minerals and vitamins come from the fruit and vegetable content of the food, while the fats come from oils, fish, or supplements.

The best pup foods use only all-natural ingredients, never artificial additives.

Water is also an essential ingredient, but it won’t be found in dry dog foods, only in canned wet foods. You can add water to your pup’s dry food to give him a balanced diet, or provide clean water in a separate bowl, of course, but the addition of mixed kibble and wet food can be a nice treat as well.

Even if you feed wet food exclusively, keep in mind your dog will likely need fresh water either way, especially in the hot months.

FAQs

Dry vs. wet puppy food?

As a pup switch from mother’s milk to solid food, he needs food that he can handle. Dry food isn’t ideal at this point because it can be tough to chew on unless first softened with water.

On the other hand, wet dog food has a soft texture, which is easier for a transitioning pup to chew, swallow, and digest. If your pup was recently weaned and less than three months old, stick with wet food.

As your pup’s teeth start to grow and strengthen after the first three months, you can transition to dry food. The hard kibble will help your pup through the teething stage of his development, but if you notice your pup is struggling with the dry food, soften it up with water or mix it with wet puppy food.

How much to feed a puppy?

How much food your pup should get in a sitting will depend on the appetite and breed of the pup. The exact age of the puppy also counts.

Quality puppy food has about 20 to 30 percent protein content and high-fat content. Generally, you can feed your puppy three to four times a day. If your puppy is less than 5 pounds, feed him ½ a cup to 5/8 of a cup of food per day.

If he’s above 5 pounds but not more than 10 pounds, feed him 3/4 of a cup to 1 cup of food a day.

How often to feed a puppy?

How many times your pup should eat in a day will depend on his age and appetite. Playing it safe, feed your 2 to 3 months old puppy four times a day.

If he’s 3 to 6 months old, feed him three meals a day, at most. And if he’s 6 to 12 months, two meals a day will suffice.

When can puppies eat dry food?

Most puppies can do without their mother’s milk after four weeks. Once the weaning process is complete, you can help your pup transition to solid food by introducing him to wet food. Or, you can introduce him to dry dog food that has been softened with water.

Vets recommend introducing your pup to solid food by adding enough warm water to turn the food soupy. This will be easier for the pup to swallow, as well as digest.

If your pup isn’t enthused by the prospect of solid food, show him it’s good by putting some on your finger and have him lick it. More often than not, though, a pup will figure out on his own its food and eat it without any prompting from a parent.

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