Bringing a puppy home is exciting but incredibly daunting.
If you’re new to the world of puppies, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed with the myriad of care requirements you must meet – potty training, obedience training, dealing with biting and scratching, potential health conditions, and food.
There’s an abundance of dog foods out there designed for puppies.
To the untrained eye, you might not notice a difference between any of them.
However, each food product is made in a certain way, contains varying ingredients, and comes with a different purpose.
And then you’ve got the problem of trying to transition your puppy to the new food without upsetting their stomachs.
If you’re going to be a puppy owner in the near future, or you’ve just bought one home and you have no idea what you’re doing, we’ve got you covered.
We understand the importance of providing puppies with an ideal diet to support their growing bodies, which is why we created this guide to help you find the best dog food for puppies!
Best Dog Food For Puppies
Hill’s Science Diet is one of the most popular dog food brands in the country.
With the aim of keeping dogs at a healthy weight while improving the quality of their muscles and joints, Hill’s Science Diet has continued this aim with their puppy formula.
It’s no secret that puppies require a specific diet to support their growth and development, which is why this product is filled with all the necessary ingredients.
This is a high-protein and low-carb formula, meaning it encourages puppies to gain healthy weight whilst keeping them energetic and full for longer.
Without unnecessary fillers and additives, this food works to boost your puppy’s energy levels, which in turn strengthens their muscles as they exercise.
Other nutrients and minerals include antioxidants to support the immune system, fish oil to support healthy eyes and brain development, vitamin E to prevent sensitive skin issues, and more.
Hill’s Science Diet is a veterinary-approved brand that is made in the USA.
Plus, the chicken and vegetable flavor is favored amongst the majority of puppies!
- Veterinary-approved – Reputable brand for the reassurance of puppy owners
- High-protein formula – Keeps puppies fuller for longer
- High in nutrients – Supports the immune system, eyes, brain, skin, coat, and more
- Only suitable for small dogs – Small kibble means it might be a choking hazard for large puppies
- This dry puppy food uses DHA from fish oil to support healthy brain & eye development
- Provides your small breed dog with high-quality protein for building lean muscle
- Uses a balance of minerals to promote strong bones and healthy teeth. Caloric content:3787 kcal/kg (397 kcal/cup)
- Uses an antioxidant blend specifically for lifelong immune support in toy and miniature dogs
- Mix up meal time with our convenient, single- serve tray - Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Savory Stew with Chicken & Vegetables
- Made in the USA with global ingredients you can trust
- Veterinarian Recommended
Royal Canin is another reputable and reliable brand of dog food that offers an array of products suitable for dogs of all ages, including small puppies.
This puppy food is designed specifically for small puppies who will amount to 9-22 pounds in adult weight due to the small kibble size, making it appropriate for breeds with small jaws like Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas.
Royal Canin’s small puppy food contains everything you would want in a bag of puppy food.
The formula is high in proteins and probiotics, making it both easy to digest and cooperates with the puppy’s high energy, thus allowing it to strengthen its muscles and joints.
The more active the puppy, the less chance of weight gain!
Other ingredients include antioxidants and vitamins (such as vitamins E, C, and B6) to support a healthy immune system, skin and coat, teeth, and brain function.
The main flavor of this dog food is chicken, which is palatable amongst most puppies.
This is an especially good flavor for fussy eaters!
Due to the probiotics in this formula, this puppy food is most ideal for encouraging a healthy stool consistency.
- Best for small dogs – Small kibble size is ideal for dogs with small jaws
- High in protein – Ideal for supporting a puppy’s energy levels
- High in probiotics – Works to maintain a healthy stool consistency
- Not for large breeds – Small kibble is a choking hazard for large puppies
- FORMULATED FOR SMALL BREED PUPPIES: Royal Canin Small Puppy Dog Food is tailor-made for puppies from 2 to 10 months old with an expected adult weight of 4.4-22 lb
- IMMUNE SUPPORT: Clinically proven antioxidants, including vitamins E and C, help support the healthy development of your puppy’s immune system
- MEETS HIGH ENERGY NEEDS: Kibble is tailored for small jaws and picky eaters, and meets the high energy needs of small breed dogs during their short growth period
- BRAIN DEVELOPMENT: Enriched with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is scientifically proven to help support a puppy’s brain development
- MICROBIOME SUPPORT: A combination of prebiotics and highly digestible proteins helps promote a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria and optimal stool quality
Not all puppies are ready to start on kibble.
Kibble has the benefits of oral hygiene, but wet food is better for puppies with sensitive teeth.
Plus, wet food offers the added bonus of hydration, which kibble can’t achieve.
So, if your puppy isn’t taking to kibble just yet, you should try this Purina Pro Plan wet puppy food.
This product is made from chicken as its number 1 ingredient, which is the ideal source of protein for puppies to support their energy levels.
While some might argue that rice isn’t a good ingredient to include in puppy food, rice actually comes with two benefits.
The first is that rice helps puppies to gain weight, while the chicken keeps the energy levels high to encourage weight-losing exercise.
Secondly, rice is gentle on the stomach and works brilliantly to prevent stomach upset.
This puppy food also includes other nutrients and minerals including omega-6 fatty acids to support a healthy and shiny skin and coat, potassium to support a healthy heart, and DHA to maintain good brain function and vision.
Just make sure to keep on top of your puppy’s oral hygiene, because wet food can make their breath smell and will get stuck between their teeth.
- Very easy to eat – Wet food with chicken flavor is the most palatable food type for puppies
- Hydrating – Wet food fills the stomach and keeps the puppy hydrated
- Essential ingredients – Filled with necessary protein, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals
- Oral hygiene – Owners will need to brush their puppy’s teeth regularly to prevent wet food from getting stuck in their gums
- Pro Plan DEVELOPMENT puppy dog food specially formulated for puppies up to 1 year old and includes DHA for brain and vision development
- Purina dog food for puppies offers a great taste with chicken as the first ingredient while providing the high-quality protein he needs to build lean muscles
- Chicken and rice dog food for puppies helps support a healthy immune system and nourishes his healthy skin and coat
- Wet dog food pate provides 100 percent complete and balanced nutrition for puppies and has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
- Canned puppy food proudly manufactured at Purina-owned, U.S. facilities
- Spoil your pet with Purina products. Reward yourself with points on every purchase. Download the myPurina app today
Diamond isn’t a brand that people think about when they’re looking for dog food for puppies, but the quality is just as good as the big brands like Purina Pro Plan and Hill’s Science Diet.
This is a family-owned brand that is committed to sourcing sustainable ingredients made in the USA without affecting the environment, making Diamond a Climate Pledge Friendly brand.
This puppy food is meticulously formulated to help puppies gain weight without affecting their health thanks to the balance of protein and fat.
While the fat helps the puppies to gain weight and keep them fuller for longer, the protein keeps them energetic enough to burn off the fat with exercise.
Other ingredients in this puppy food include vitamins, minerals, and nutrients such as salmon oil to support the development of the brain and eyes, omega fatty acids to keep the coat and skin smooth and hydrated, and antioxidants to support the immune system.
- Eco-friendly – Climate Pledge Friendly brand means the carbon footprint of packaging and shipping is significantly reduced
- Protein and fat balance – Promotes healthy weight and muscle gain
- Versatile – Suitable for puppies, nursing dogs, and pregnant dogs
- Price – This is an expensive puppy food compared to other brands
- Carefully determined levels of protein and fat to support your growing puppy, including DHA from salmon oil for brain and vision development
- A smaller kibble with 31% protein balanced with 20% fat and other essential nutrients for proper growth, with fiber to support digestive health
- Antioxidants for the IMMUNE system; Omega fatty acids at levels for HEALTHY skin and shiny coat
- Made in the USA choosing ingredients from TRUSTED, SUSTAINABLE sources around the world; We want this premium food TO MAKE a difference for your pet.
- Family owned & run; MADE with the most scientifically advanced protocols for food safety; call with questions 800 442 0402
Not all puppies can eat foods that are filled with grains.
Grains aren’t necessarily bad, but as some dogs are more prone to grain intolerances than others, sometimes it’s not worth the risk.
Nature’s Recipe understands that not every dog breed can stomach grains, which is why they created this grain-free formula.
The main ingredients in this product are chicken, pumpkin, and sweet potato.
While chicken is an excellent source of protein, both pumpkin and sweet potato are the best forms of carbohydrates possible.
These are complex carbohydrates, which means they take longer to digest than carbs like white potatoes, allowing your dog to feel fuller for longer.
As well as no artificial fillers or flavorings, this product contains necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
These include calcium and phosphorus for healthy teeth and bones, copper and manganese to improve joint function, antioxidants to support the immune system, and fiber to improve the stool consistency.
- All natural ingredients – No artificial flavors or fillers to make your dog gain unhealthy weight
- Complex carbs – Sweet potato and pumpkin ingredients keep your puppy fuller for longer
- Grain-free – Ideal for dogs with intolerances to grains
- Price – While still affordable, the manufacturer’s suggested price has doubled within the last 2 years
- Contains one (1) 12-pound bag of Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Chicken, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe dry puppy food
- Real chicken is the number one ingredient
- DHA helps support eye and brain development
- Made with nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources like sweet potato and pumpkin instead of added corn or wheat
- Recipe intended for all life stages, including the growth of large size dogs up to 70lbs or more as adults
Factors to consider when looking for dog food for puppies
Buying dog food for puppies isn’t as easy as picking up a random bag and hoping for the best.
Here are the main factors to consider when looking for dog food for puppies!
Most importantly, you’ve got to consider the ingredients in each product.
The best formula is one that is high in protein and probiotics, while fairly low in carbohydrates.
If the formula is high in complex carbohydrates, this is a good sign, because it will leave your puppy feeling fuller (and more energetic) for longer.
Other vitamins and nutrients necessary in puppy food include calcium, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin B12, omega fatty acids, phosphorus, antioxidants, and more.
Make sure to avoid products that are filled with artificial preservatives and flavorings.
Artificial fillers will fill your dog up with no nutritional value whatsoever, resulting in unhealthy weight gain.
Wet food vs dry food
There are pros and cons to wet food and dry food.
In most cases, however, dry food (kibble) is the best option for puppies.
This is because the small and solid chunks are crushed between the teeth, which not only strengthens the teeth and the jaw, but also helps to get rid of any food that is stuck between the teeth or gums.
Stuck food can lead to dental problems like gum disease, which can prevent your puppy from eating for a while.
Wet food, however, is more prone to sticking between your puppy’s teeth and gums, resulting in dental problems.
It also gets stuck in the fur around your dog’s mouth, which smells disgusting.
However, wet food is great for puppies who aren’t good at regulating their hydration.
Suitable for breed
Every dog food for puppies will be suitable for a breed size – small, medium, or large.
This is most common in kibble products, because the size of the kibble will relate to the size of the dog’s jaws.
If you have a large breed, for example, only get kibble suitable for large breed puppies, otherwise they might choke on the small kibble.
When you get your puppy, the previous owner must give you the food the puppy has originally been eating.
If you choose to change their diet, you can’t simply throw the original food away.
Dogs of all ages require a transition period with their food.
Over the span of a week, you should start by mixing 25% of their new food with 75% of their old food.
Every two days, increase the amount of new food until your dog has transitioned properly.
This will also give you a chance to see whether your puppy likes the new food or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is wet or dry dog food better for puppies?
While it often comes down to whatever your puppy prefers to eat, dry food is generally better for puppies than wet food.
This is because the kibble chunks work to be crushed between the teeth, allowing for any stuck food to be loosened and removed.
The crunching motion also helps to strengthen the teeth and the jaw.
Wet food, however, is so easy to eat that your puppy will swallow more than chew.
This will increase the risk of food getting stuck between the teeth, resulting in bad breath and potential dental problems.
Should I leave my dog’s food out all day?
Unless your dog is trained to resist the temptation of eating an entire bowl of food whenever they like throughout the day, this is generally not recommended.
Most dogs, puppies in particular, won’t understand that they should spread their meals throughout the day.
If your puppy was to eat their daily amount of food in one sitting because it was left out all day, then they will burn their energy very quickly and will become hungry later in the day.
Instead, you should commit to feeding your dog the appropriate amount of times a day depending on their age and dietary requirements.