What do you look for when you compare and contrast puppy food brands? How do you know if the one you’re buying is the best puppy food for your furry little friend?
Since there are so many choices and your priority is to choose the right one to ensure that your puppy has a healthy, well-balanced diet, we’ve narrowed down the choices to the top ten.
Our guide will help you understand what things to take into consideration as you shop for the right brand and we offer you a few useful tips along the way.
Have a read and find the right food for your growing puppy!
Where to Start
The best place to start when you’re shopping for puppy food is to take into consideration the adult size the puppy.
Forget breed-specific brands (marketing ploy)!
It’s better to shop for food based on the adult size, which varies from toy (such as a Yorkshire terrier), mini, small (Dachshunds, Corgis, etc.), medium (Basset Hounds or Australian Shepherds), large (German Shepherds or Labradors) and giant breed (Saint Bernard or Great Dane).
You should also take into consideration your puppy’s activity level (don’t get a high calorie food for a puppy that doesn’t exercise much, and make sure you’re giving enough calories to an active puppy).
Find out what the expected adult weight of your puppy is in order to determine the best puppy food for them because the nutrients are proportioned accordingly.
Top 10 Best Puppy Foods Complete Chart
|1. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Dry Dog Food||4 pounds||$||4.8|
|2. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula with Bison and Roasted Venison Dry Dog Food||30 pounds||$$$$||4.7|
|3. ULTRA Dry Dog Food||15 pounds||$$$||4.7|
|4. Ideal Balance Natural Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food||4 pounds||$||4.7|
|5. ROYAL CANIN SIZE HEALTH NUTRITION MINI Puppy dry dog food||2.5 pounds||$||4.7|
|6. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food||15 pounds||$$$||4.5|
|7. CANIDAE Life Stages Dry Dog Food for Puppies||30 pounds||$$$$||4.5|
|8. Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog Food||30 pounds||$$$$||4.5|
|9. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Chicken Formula Dry Dog Food||12 pounds||$$||4.5|
|10. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Puppy Food||4.5 pounds||$||4.3|
Ingredients and Flavors
Next, it’s always a good idea to know what puppy was eating before he or she came to your home.
It’s best to get a small bag of the kibble that they have been eating and gradually work in your new, preferred brand so as not to upset your puppy’s digestive system.
While there are many flavors out there, ranging from fish, chicken, turkey and red meats, you also want to think about the other types of ingredients used in the food.
A dog’s digestive system wasn’t originally designed for a high quantity of carbohydrates, which is unfortunately what many of the cheap brands are full of.
If you opt for a higher quality dog food that has little to no grains (or that doesn’t contain an excessive amount of carbs from things like potatoes), then you’ll probably save yourself a lot of money in the long run by preventing numerous trips to the vet’s office due to skin problems or other health issues.
Here are a few things to look for on the ingredients label:
- Grain-Free. Grain-free formulas have taken over the dog food industry by storm. Rather than using grains as filler ingredients, which can be harsh on your dog’s digestive system and cause numerous skin problems, manufacturers use other sources of carbohydrates (potatoes, vegetables, etc.) to provide your puppy with what it needs.
- Organic. Food that is made with plants or vegetables that free of chemicals and pesticides is always a great way to go. The cost may be higher, but you’ll have a healthier dog because of it.
- Holistic. This term is used differently among pet food manufacturers. A brand that uses the word “Holistic” on its label is typically free of artificial ingredients and by-products. Again, the term is used differently by different pet food makers. Read the label carefully to understand what you are feeding your puppy and talk with your vet if you have doubts.
- Protein Rich. A healthy amount of protein is good for growing puppy, but don’t overdo it.
Too much protein can cause kidney and liver problems or numerous other issues. A lager breed puppy needs different proportion of protein in their diet that a toy breed does. As we mentioned above, choose a formula based on the expected adult size and the puppy’s activity level!
- Limited Ingredient. If you know that puppy has an allergy or intolerance to something but you can’t figure out what it is, then a limited ingredient food will help you find the culprit. Limiting the food to a single protein source and few grains will help you determine any allergies.
- Gluten-Free. If your puppy has an intolerance or allergy to gluten, then you’ll want to make sure that you find a gluten-free formula.
Gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean grain-free, because some grains do not contain gluten and they may be included in the food.
Some useful advice from those who have experience:
- Buy the smallest quantity available of the puppy food you are interested so you can make sure that your puppy actually likes it.
It would be a shame to waste money on a 30-pound bag of something that they don’t like or you later find out that they shouldn’t eat (i.e. allergies).
Start small and work your way up, and just donate any of the “oops” bags to your local animal shelter!
- Kibble size matters if your puppy vacuums up each meal without bothering to chew.
Tiny kibble for larger puppies will allow them to eat it faster, which means that they aren’t chewing the kibble and breaking it down before it heads down the shoot!
See if you can find a brand that makes kibble of a larger diameter if you have a “vacuum” puppy. If not, you can find specially designed bowls or accessories that force them to slow down.
Top 5 Best Dog Food for Puppies Reviews
Small breed puppy owners have had much success with Nutro Wholesome, which is why it tops our list.
The ingredients include a variety of natural ingredients and a single protein source (chicken). It contains rice, pea protein, whole grain oatmeal, dried plain beet pulp, sunflower oil, soybean oil and a variety of plant extracts.
The main appeal of this food is the fact that small breeds that are picky eaters seem to have a lot of luck with this brand.
It offers your pint-sized puppy a well-balanced diet, and if they don’t have any grain or soy allergies, then it’s a great brand to try on your pup. Start with the 4-pound bag and work your way up if you have success!
From Bulldogs to Bull Mastiffs and German Shepherds, this puppy food is a favorite for a wide variety of dog breeds and sizes.
As a grain-free formula, it is certainly appealing to those who want to give their puppy a more natural approach to food.
It’s made with buffalo meat, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, egg product, pea protein, peas, potatoes, canola oil, tomato pomace, roasted bison, roasted venison, beef, flaxseed, salmon oil and on and on (see the full ingredients list).
If your puppy is active and you aren’t looking for a single protein food, then Taste of the Wild is an excellent choice. The quality is hard to beat!
This puppy food from Ultra Dry is grouped into the “Holistic” category we mentioned earlier.
It does not contain corn, corn gluten, wheat or soy, nor are there any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
It has multiple protein sources (chicken, lamb meal and salmon meal) along with some dried beet pulp, dried pumpkin, dried pomegranate, dried blueberries and dried cranberries to name a few.
This is another trusted brand by quite a few dog owners, and those who typically had to mix in other tasty ingredients in order to get their dog to eat find that they don’t have a problem eating this food as-is.
The kibble is great for a variety of breed sizes, so just check the label for feeding guidelines to find out proper serving sizes.
One of the nice things about Ideal Balance is that they tell you what their main ingredients do for the dog.
With chicken as the number one ingredient, it also contains a healthy dose of vegetables (they provide vitamins and minerals to keep your puppy’s energy levels up), flaxseed (which provides Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat), brown rice (natural fiber that helps with digestion, servings of fruit (contain antioxidants to support a healthy immune system) and eggs (contain amino acids that help build muscle).
This formula is wheat-free, corn-free, soy-free and there are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives used to make it.
An excellent choice for many growing puppies!
This is one of the most expensive dog foods on the list, but Royal Canin makes an excellent line of puppy food in terms of digestive health and immune system support at that critical stage when puppy is still vulnerable to the microscopic dangers around him.
This is probably best as a transition food for puppy, but not something to feed long-term.
Some ingredients, such as the corn, corn gluten and wheat gluten, along with the preservatives, make it a bit less appealing than some of the other brands above, but some puppies aren’t interested in any of those other brands.
If you have a picky pup and you’ve already tried most of the other brands on the list, give Royal Canin a try!