Best Puppy Food | Nourish Your Growing Pup in 2018

Labrador Retriever Puppy lying and eating from his bowl, (2 months old), isolated on white

Pamper your growing pup by providing the best dog food for puppies. The choices are endless and it can be overwhelming.

Semi-moist puppy food, wet puppy food, high protein puppy food…

Confused?

We provide a guide so you can buy the best puppy food to keep your little canine happy and healthy.

Quick Comparison: Best Puppy Food in 2018

* click on the product name to be taken to Amazon where you can check the current price and read customer reviews.

Below you’ll find in-depth reviews of each of the above products.

The Difference Between Puppy Food and Adult Dog Food

For growing and developing puppies, special nutrition is required.

Calories.  For starters, puppies need more calorie-dense food compared to a typical adult dog. These extra calories are very important in the long term for proper development. They need extra energy and nutrients to build strong bones and muscles.

Nutrients. Reputable manufacturers produce dog foods that follow the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The following table compares the AAFCO minimum requirements for some vital nutrients:

Nutrional Amounts in Puppy Food and Adult Dog Food

Abbreviated List of Nutrient Guidelines Set by the AAFCO

AAFCO-verified pet foods can be marketed for either “adult maintenance” which is food for adult dogs or “growth and reproduction” which is for puppies.

As you can see from the condensed table, puppies need more nutrients such as amino acids, minerals, protein, and fat than adult dogs. Without these extra nutrients, they are at risk for nutritional deficiencies and health-related issues.

Feeding Guidelines for Your Puppy as It Grows

Feeding guidelines for your puppy will be based on the type of food you provide. Decide if you want to feed your puppy canned wet food, dry kibble, semi-moist kibble, or a combination of food types.

Dry Food: Dry food is the most popular category of pet food in many countries, including the USA. Many pet owners prefer dry food because it costs less than wet semi-moist dog food and refrigeration of unused portions is not needed. Additionally, some dry food may also provide beneficial massage of the teeth and gums to help decrease periodontal disease.

Canned Dog Food: Many of the same ingredients are used in canned pet foods as in dry-extruded dog food. One big difference is canned dog foods contain more water. According to Merck Vet Manual wet food has 68%–78% water and 22%–32% dry matter. An advantage of wet dog food is it has a long shelf life in a durable container and most dogs really like the taste and consistency.

Semi-Moist Dog Food: Soft-moist dog foods contain 25%–40% water and 60%–75% dry matter making it soft. The advantages of soft-moist foods include convenience, dogs really like the taste, and high energy digestibility. However, like wet food, soft-moist food is costlier than dry food.

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure you provide a high-quality diet that is balanced and nutritious for the early life-stages of a puppy’s growth.

Many inexpensive dog food products on the market that contain useless fillers such as corn-gluten meal and low-quality animal by-products.

 

Puppy Buddies

How much should I feed my puppy?

Essentially, you should start by following the daily feeding recommendations provided by the manufacturer of puppy food you are serving.  It is listed on the packaging, usually on the back of the product. Then, modify the amount based on a continual evaluation of your puppies weight, condition, skin and coat, overall well-being, and general attitude.

Several factors contribute to the correct calorie levels or amount of puppy food served such as metabolic rate, age, size, and specific breed. Most likely, a very active puppy will need more calories for proper development than a lethargic puppy. Therefore, the amount of food that you are serving needs to be viewed as an estimate only.

Carefully read the dog food product labels for suggested serving size portions so you do not overfeed.Cute Puppy Dog

How Many Times a day should I feed my puppy?

General recommendations are that puppies between weaning and 6 months of age should be fed three times a day.  Growth slows in many breeds around the age of six months. Unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise, you should reduce her meals to twice a day at 6 months. 

Image of feedings for puppy dailyMeeting the General Nutritional Needs of Puppies

Commercial Dog Food

Recognized organizations such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provide pet food manufacturers with standards for feeding guidelines. The AAFCO specifies what ingredients a commercial dog food label must contain in order to claim complete and balanced nutrition. Consumers can safely rely upon these guidelines to provide their puppy optimal nutrition.

Home Cooked Puppy Food

Some pet owners prefer to prepare their puppy’s meals at home. Properly formulated home-cooked diets that include high-quality ingredients can provide a puppy with appropriate nourishment.

The disadvantages of preparing home cooked meals are preparation time, controlling diet quality, higher cost, and preparing a diet that is nutritionally complete. Nutritional problems occur most commonly when dogs and are fed imbalanced homemade diets resulting in health issues.

Special Nutritional Needs for Large Breed Puppies

Nutritional needs of puppies will vary depending on the specific breed of the dog.

Large and giant breed puppies grow rapidly and longer than smaller dogs. If large puppy breeds grow too rapidly, it may lead to growth abnormalities such as panosteitis, hip dysplasia, arthritis and elbow dysplasia, to name a few.

Overnutrition plays a large role in this extreme growth. There are dog foods available for large breed puppies containing the nutrients they need such as Holistic Large Breed Puppy Food or Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed. These recipes are formulated differently than regular puppy diets by usually being lower in fat, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D.

Best Little Puppies

Health Problems with Puppies Related to Nutrition

Providing your growing puppy with good puppy food can help to prevent problems later in life. If the diet is lacking in essential nutrients, your puppy is more prone to disease and sickness, just as is the case with humans.

Obesity. Obesity in dogs and puppies is very common, and many ingredients in low-quality dog food, such as corn and soy contain many calories that offer little nutrition. Puppies will end up eating more food in order to get enough nutrients which lead to obesity. Also, try to avoid the temptation to give your puppy too many snacks. This can easily lead to obesity

Poor Skin and Coat. Dull, weak coats and dry skin may be signs that your dog isn’t getting enough fatty acids. These fatty acids often come from fish and flaxseed which your puppy needs for healthy skin and a shiny coat.

Diminished Immunity. Poor nutrition can affect your puppies immune system. A poor immune system leads to wounds not healing, infections that don’t heal quickly, and allergies. Strengthening the immune system with proper nutrients can alleviate these potential issues.

Malnutrition. Lack of a proper diet with essential nutrients can lead to malnutrition. Despite the wide availability of commercially complete and balanced diets for dogs and cats, malnutrition still occurs. Unknowingly, pet owners that make home cooked meals for their puppies do not provide all the nutrients they need causing their puppy harm.

 

Young Little Husky

When Should I Stop Feeding Puppy Food?

According to PetMd, dogs are considered puppies until they reach an adult size which is typically one year old for most dogs. At one year of age, you can typically start feeding your dog adult dog food, unless your veterinarian suggests otherwise.

If your puppy is developing too quickly and your veterinarian is concerned about health issues, you may need to stop providing puppy food sooner.

Editor’s Choice – Best Dog Food Brands For Puppies

Best Overall Puppy Food

Taste of the Wild High Prarie Puppy

 Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula with Bison and Roasted Venison Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is a popular, highly rated puppy food formulated with proteins including buffalo and bison. This grain-free recipe also includes veggies such as peas and sweet potatoes and fruits that provide the highly-digestible energy and antioxidant support. This is a complete and balanced nutritious food that puppies crave!

Key Features

  • Top-selling high-quality dog food that provides essential nutrients to keep your puppy healthy
  • Made with real buffalo as the first ingredient followed bison, roasted venison and beef for protein-rich nutrition that supports strong muscles
  • Taste of the Wild is easy-to-digest for growing puppies that need a grain-free dog food.
  • Includes healthy fruits and vegetables, antioxidants for a balanced diet and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Contains NO  grain, corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives

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Bottom Line

Taste of Wild is a favorite of our staff. Dogs love the taste, it is highly nutritious and a favorite among pet owners. There has been some pet food recalls over the years, though.


Best Large Breed Puppy Food

 Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Puppy Health

Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Large & Giant Breed Puppy Recipe, 30-Pound Bag

Start your big puppy off right with the best dog food for Large Breed puppiesHolistic Select Large & Giant Breed Puppy Health Lamb Meal & Oatmeal Recipe is formulated with a unique Digestive Health Support System, including active probiotics, healthy fiber, and digestive enzymes. It works to improve your puppies total health and digestive system.

Key Features

  • Formulated for large and giant dog breed puppies
  • Contains active probiotics and digestive enzymes to help support the absorption and utilization of nutrients
  • Larger-size kibble
  • Includes salmon oil which helps support healthy brain and eye development
  • Contains a proper balance of oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa to provide healthy energy to play and grow
  • Optimal levels of protein & fat support your puppy’s healthy growth & muscle development

Bottom Line

If you have a large breed puppy such as a Great Dane, you may want to seriously consider a large breed puppy formula.  Holistic is formulated specifically for the needs of a large breed puppy. Some puppies did not care for the taste of this formula. Other than that, this is a solid, quality puppy food.


Best Small Breed Puppy Food

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Turkey & Oatmeal

 

 

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Puppy Food, Turkey, Salmon & Oatmeal, 12-Pound Bag

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Recipe is formulated to promote the unique health needs of smaller puppies. 

Made with nutritious turkey, oatmeal, and salmon, the smaller kibble size is perfect for small breed puppies!

This formula contains an extra boost of glucosamine and Omega 3 fatty acids for a healthy coat. It’s a balanced blend of antioxidant-rich fruits & veggies and vitamins & minerals to help support healthy growth and encourage a healthy digestive system.

Key Features:

  • Contains the perfect kibble size for small puppies
  • Formulated with salmon oil which is a natural source of DHA to support brain and eye development
  • This recipe contains no meat by-products, artificial colors, flavorings, preservatives, corn, wheat or soy

 

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Best Puppy Food for Sensitive Stomach

BLUE Basics Limited-Ingredient Formula Puppy Dry Dog Food

BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Turkey & Potato Dry Dog Food 24-lb

BLUE Basics makes this limited-ingredient diet formulated to minimize food sensitivities. This recipe is great for gentle digestion. Real turkey is the first ingredient in this recipe and potatoes are added which is an easily digestible carbohydrate. Since the puppy stage is important,  this recipe features ingredients that support healthy growth and development.

Key Features

  • Formulated with real deboned Turkey, a single-animal protein source
  • Contains easily digestible carbohydrate sources such as oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes, and pumpkin
  • NO chicken or beef, corn, wheat, soy, dairy or eggs
  • Includes a blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

Bottom Line

If your new puppy is having digestive issues and loose stools, you may want to give this food a try. The limited ingredients may benefit a dog that is sensitive. Most consumers who have tried this formula say that it has helped their puppy significantly.  However, a few picky eaters do not like the taste of this food.

 

Other Great Dog Food Products for Puppies

  • Royal Canin Puppy Dry Dog Food – High rated reviews from consumers note the product’s quality ingredients that provide needed energy and promote digestive health.