Buying food for your puppy is more important than just taste. Puppies require a diet full of specific vitamins and minerals to support their physical and mental development. But with all of the options on the market, you may be wondering which is the best option for your new pup.
To help, we looked at hundreds of dog foods, and thousands of verified reviews, to find the 7 best dog foods for puppies available now. Here’s our list:
Our Picks for the Best Dog Foods for Puppies
1. ORIJEN Puppy Dry Dog Food
Orijen Puppy Dry Dog Food is one of the highest rated products we reviewed. The recipe includes 85% meat and 15% fruits and vegetables, with optimal proportions for puppies to thrive. All ingredients are responsibly sourced from Orijen’s central location in Kentucky, and typically delivered to Orijen within 48 hours of harvesting.
- 38% protein, 16% carbohydrates for active, healthy puppies
- Grain free, with 85% meat, and 15% fruits and vegetables
- Optimal nutrition mixture for puppies
- Locally sourced ingredients, freshest on the market
- All natural with no preservatives, colorings, or chemicals
- Made in the USA
2. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Dog Food (Lamb)
Diamond Naturals large breed puppy food features natural, pasture raised lamb and a host of other superfoods including kale, spinach, blueberries, and quinoa. Its high 30% protein content is also suitable for active pups.
- Made for large breed puppies, with small kibble for easy chewing
- Includes natural pasture raised lamb
- Contains superfoods such as kale, chia seeds, blueberries, quinoa, coconut, spinach, pumpkin
- Recipe includes probiotics, antioxidants, and salmon oil for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Puppy Dry Dog Food
The Blue Buffalo Wilderness puppy food contains a formula based on wild eating habits of wolves – grain free, high protein, and packed with nutrients. The kibble also contains Blue Wilderness’ “LifeSource Bits”: a proprietary mix of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins to help your puppy develop proper muscle and brain functioning.
- Protein rich and grain free puppy food
- Chicken is the top ingredient
- Well priced for the quality
- Blue Buffalo “LifeSource” bits contain antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins
- Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil
- All natural, with no preservatives, colors, no meat by products, wheat, or soy
4. Purina ONE SmartBlend Puppy Dry Food
Purina ONE SmartBlend is a solid choice for those looking for an affordable, but high quality puppy food. The food has chicken as the top ingredient, as well as rice and oatmeal for improved digestion. It’s available in both regular and large breed puppy options.
- Chicken is the first ingredient
- Rice and oatmeal for easier digestion
- Contains DHA, which is found in mother’s milk, to help brain development
- Strong vitamin and antioxidant blend
- Well priced for the quality, though doesn’t have all of the high-end superfoods that others on this list have
5. Hill’s Science Puppy Wet Dog Food – Savory Stew with Chicken and Vegetables
Hill’s Science is a solid choice for large breed puppy owners looking for wet food. IT contains real chicken and liver, as well as DHA from fish oil t0 support proper functioning and growth.
- Wet puppy food, can be served alone or mixed with kibble
- Made for large breed puppies less than 1 year old
- Contains DHA from fish oil to help support brain and vision development
- Chicken and liver recipe
6. Purina Pro Plan Focus Dry Puppy Food
If you’re looking for a high protein lamb or chicken based dry food, Purina Pro Plan Focus is a solid choice. Given the price point, Focus contains a number of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help your puppy develop strong and smart.
- Dry puppy food in lamb or chicken varieties
- High protein formula (28%), with lamb or chicken as the first ingredient
- Contains DHA from fish oil for brain and vision development
- Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals including phosphorous and calcium for strong bones
- Medium priced for puppy dry foods
7. Blue Buffalo Freedom Natural Puppy Dry Food – Small Breed
Blue Buffalo Freedom is solid option for small breed puppy owners. This grain free food has chicken as the first ingredient, and includes DHA and ARA, two fatty acids found in mother’s milk that assist in brain and vision development.
- Dry dog food suitable for small breed puppies
- Grain free, with chicken as the top ingredient
- Higher price point: a premium option for puppy foods
- DHA and ARA to support proper cognitive development
- Contains Blue Buffalo “LifeSource Bits”, a blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- All natural, with no artificial colors, flavorings, or meat by products
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Dog Food for Puppies Buying Guide
What To Look For When Buying Puppy Food
Be sure to choose a puppy dog food that meets AAFCO‘s (Association of American Feed Control Officials) “Growth and Reproduction” or “All Life Stages” nutrient profiles. You’ll see these designations clearly printed on dog food labels.
AAFCO is a non-profit organization devoted to ensuring safety standards for pet foods in the United States. Meeting the AAFCO standard means that the food has been approved/tested to provide the necessary nutrients required for your developing puppy. We recommend the Growth and Reproduction profile, as this is made specifically to support the nutritional needs of growing puppies and pregnant females.
Higher calorie content
Your puppy’s food should contain more calories than adult dog food. On average, a 10 pound puppy that will grow into a 32 pound adult will need 990 calories a day. Purchasing AAFCO approved food is a great starting point.
Small breeds versus large breeds
Small breed puppies need different amounts of food compared to large breeds puppies. There are published guides for each type, so make sure to research what exactly your puppy’s breed requires.
Read the label
Just as you would read the labels on your own food, make sure the kibble you’re buying is made of only high quality ingredients. If you’re uncertain about any ingredient, do some quick research or have a conversation with your vet. In general, food that’s human grade, organic, or made without meat byproducts is a good place to start.
How Much Should I Feed My Puppy?
Here are suggested food amounts to feed your puppy each day. The amounts displayed should be divided up into 3-4 daily meals. After your puppy turns 6 months old, divide the amounts into two meals per day.
5 pound puppy = 1/2 cup to 5/8 cup of food
10 pound puppy = 3/4 cup to 1 cup of food
20 pound puppy = 1 1/4 cup to 1 3/4 cup of food
Note that these are general guidelines. Each puppy is an individual with different metabolisms and activity levels — the “right” amount to feed them is based on how their body responds. When in doubt, it’s always smart to speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s unique situation.
Can My Puppy Eat Homemade Food?
Some dog owners swear by feeding their dogs homemade dog food, but we don’t recommend it. Including the right amounts of vitamins and minerals is challenging, with unfortunately even the smallest imbalance having the ability to harm your puppy’s growth. If you’re absolutely set on feeding a homemade diet, speak with your veterinarian for their suggestions.
Special Tips When Feeding Your Pup
- Try to avoid feeding your puppy table scraps. These foods are just extra calories and it could develop into a bad habit of your puppy begging for human food.
- Keep treats to a minimum. Treats add extra calories and could make your puppy uninterested in eating their regular food. For the occasional treat, aim for a healthy dog treat.
- You get what you pay for, so don’t buy cheap puppy food! While cheaper brands may sound appealing, remember that your puppy’s development will depend on the food they eat at this stage in their life. Higher quality food is an investment in their future — and may even save you money in veterinary bills in the long run.
What Ingredients Should Be In My Puppy’s Food?
Dog foods must include fat, protein, fatty acids, carbs, and should make up the bulk of the food and vitamins. Puppies also need a hefty amount of minerals in their diet. Here’s list by the National Academies of Puppies daily recommended minerals and the function of the minerals.
Benefits and Functions
Bones, teeth, muscles, blood and muscles
DNA and RNA, energy, metabolism
Muscles, nerve, hormone function,teeth and bone structure
Blood, energy, metabolism
Connective tissue, blood
Skin, wound healing
What Are The Best Times To Feed A Puppy?
It’s helpful for you and your puppy to have a regular feeding schedule. A rough rule of thumb for feeding a puppy is 3-4 times per day until your puppy is 4 to 6 months old, and 2 times per day thereafter. Feed your puppy approximately every five hours, and don’t leave the food out long, only 10 to 20 minutes to avoid them becoming picky eaters. Also be sure to always give your puppy fresh, clean water with their meal in another bowl.
Is My Puppy Gaining Enough Weight?
How much you feed your puppy depends upon their size, weight and breed. Don’t overfeed them, as being overweight is detrimental to their proper growth and development. Be sure to weigh your puppy weekly and compare their weight to a published chart for breed and age.
What If My Puppy Overeats?
Puppies are hungry little things, but don’t cave in when they beg for more food. Puppies that overeat can often vomit up their food. This throws off their eating schedule and can be dangerous if they become dehydrated. Stick to your feeding schedule and the correct amount of food at each feeding. Sometimes puppies act hungry when they’re actually just thirsty, so be sure to give your puppy lots of fresh, clean water every time they’re fed.
What Can I Do If My Puppy Seems Hungry All The Time?
It’s natural for puppies to be hungry especially since they’re constantly growing. Here are some ways to help your hungry pup:
- Ignore begging for food. Puppies look so sweet and sad when they want food. Don’t slip your puppy food off the dinner table; they’ll learn that begging gets extra food. Bad habits are hard to break.
- Check with your vet to see if you’re feeding your pup enough food. Puppies grow so quickly that it can hard to keep up with their food requirements. It could be that your puppy actually needs more food.
- Add extra fiber to your puppy’s diet. Some vets suggest adding low fat vegetables to your pup’s diet. They won’t gain weight, but they’ll be more satisfied by the extra fiber. Vegetables like broccoli, sweet potatoes, green beans, and carrots are all great fiber filled veggies your puppy will enjoy.
- Use their hunger as an opportunity to train them. A hungry puppy will do what they’re told if they know that they’ll get a treat afterwards. Some owners even choose to give their puppy a non-treat when they obey. A scratch behind the pup’s ear or an enthusiastic, “Good Boy!” might be what your puppy really needs instead of food.
- Distract them. Of course, distracting is often the easiest route to dissuade a hungry puppy that needs food. Throw a ball, take your pup for a walk or just romp around to distract them from eating food.
What If My Puppy Accidentally Eats Chocolate?
Certain types of chocolate are dangerous to dogs and puppies. Theobromine is the toxic chemical in chocolate that makes dogs sick, and is found in dark, bittersweet, and baker’s chocolate. How your dog reacts will depend upon how much they ate and their size.
Milk chocolate is also deadly to dogs. It’s best to keep all chocolate in a hard to reach place so your puppy won’t get into it. If they do, call your vet immediately and tell him how much your puppy ate as well as their age and size.
What Chewing Treats Can My Puppy Have?
Use caution when giving your puppy a bone, as they can splinter and potentially lead to blockages or stomach damage. There are many great substitutes you can give your puppy instead of a hard cow or pork bone:
- Biscuits and hard-baked “bones”
- Chews made from rawhide
- Charcoal variety biscuits are especially good for digestion
- Special formula dog chocolate is made for dogs and puppies. These are totally safe and healthy
- Meat treats are made from meat and easily digested by puppies