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If you’ve adopted a puppy recently or one will soon join the family, it’s time to consider the best puppy dog foods because these furry cuties love to eat! And puppies need lots of calories to support healthy growth and development. After all, think about all the changes your little one will undergo in their first year or two of life.
Regarding their size, dogs change from darling little chunks to oversized lap dogs in a hurry. Plus, their brains get bigger and bigger as they grow because puppies need a place to keep all the new information they’re learning! From new sights and scents to tricks and no-no behaviors, puppies are constantly snooping out new things. But they couldn’t do it without you!
Part of good pup parenting is providing the cleanest and healthiest food possible. But with so many options on the market, finding the right food for your puppy can be a pain. But to help ensure your pup stays healthy and happy as they transition through life, we created a list of the best puppy dog foods. Before we present the list, though, take a look at what you should keep in mind as your peruse puppy foods.
Things To Consider When Choosing the Best Puppy Dog Food
Feed Your Puppy Quality Ingredients
Your puppy needs quality food that’s packed with nutrition, not fillers. Be sure the first ingredient is always real meat. Avoid meat meals and meat by-products if possible. Many dog foods now boast of using human-grade ingredients versus feed-grade. Human-grade foods used in puppy food are subjected to the federal standards used to ensure foods are edible for people.
If you want your dog to have the best ingredients possible, seek puppy foods made with human-grade ingredients. Also, when choosing the best puppy dog food, skip options containing the following ingredients: corn syrup, preservatives such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, propyl gallate, added colors, corn, wheat, and soy.
Choose Food Formulated for Puppies
Puppies grow and develop fast and need nutrient-dense food specially formulated to keep up with their accelerated growth. Feeding your puppy food formulated for adults can leave them lacking in protein, fat, calcium, and DHA, a long-chain fatty acid that supports healthy brain development. If your dog is old enough for regular food, we’ve put together a list of the Best Dogs Foods to help you choose the one that’s right for your dog. Puppies, however, need essential nutrients to fuel their growth and help them become the best adult dogs they can be.
However, you’ve also got to be careful they don’t get too much of a good thing as certain nutrients, particularly calcium, can cause problems when given in excess. Stick with foods designed for puppies to be sure your little one gets an adequate amount of the all-important nutrients they need for healthy growth.
Feed According to Size and Breed
With dog breeds ranging from tiny to giant, puppies can vary in size and weight, depending on their genetics. Know your puppy’s current weight and an expected average weight for adulthood. How many calories your puppy requires will depend on their size. Talk to your vet about feeding recommendations to ensure your fur kid gets adequate nutrition to support their growth.
Look for AAFCO Standards Statement
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a voluntary organization regulating animal and pet foods’ sale and distribution while establishing ingredient definitions, setting guidelines for feeding trials, and creating food label guidelines. While AAFCO doesn’t test foods itself, it lays out the nutritional standards to which most pet foods adhere. Be sure the puppy food you choose includes an AAFCO statement, so you know the brand is complete and balanced for the puppy life stage.
Wet Dog Food vs. Dry Dog Food vs. Fresh Dog Food
With different options in the type of food you can feed your puppy, you’ll need to decide if your dog will eat dry, wet, or fresh foods. Or will they do best with a combination of dry and wet or fresh? When it comes to differences in types of food, consider these facts:
- Wet food is more easily digested than dry kibble and provides a higher moisture content.
- Fresh food offers great digestion and more nutrients per calorie than a bowl of kibble.
- Dry food is easier to portion out and doesn’t spoil as quickly when left out.
With these things in mind, it’s time to begin the search for your puppy’s perfect food. But with our list of the best puppy dog foods, you’re sure to find the right one in a hurry!
Considering dehydrated dog food? See our list of the 7 Best Dehydrated Dog Foods.
The Best Puppy Dog Foods
#1 – Ollie
Not just for adult dogs, Ollie delivers fresh meals that help puppies thrive too! Ollie can always be trusted to deliver high-quality, nutritious meals containing only carefully sourced ingredients from trusted farms. And because these dog food experts slow-cook foods at low temperatures in small batches, their recipes maintain maximum nutrition from human-grade, high-quality chicken, beef, turkey, and lamb, as well as superfoods such as fish oil and chia seeds. Fresh fruits and veggies also provide a wealth of health benefits and a yummy taste too!
With Ollie, you’ll get clean and balanced nutrition that never contains any by-products, fillers, artificial flavoring, or preservatives. And when you buy a meal plan, you can set a regular schedule that sees vacuum-sealed food packages delivered right to your door, so your pup always has a fresh meal at the ready. Ollie recipes are veterinarian formulated and made in the USA.
At a Glance:
- Minimally processed ingredients with no added hormones or antibiotics
- Slow-cooked at low temperatures in small batches
- All recipes are free from corn, wheat, and soy
- Made in US facilities from carefully sourced, human-grade ingredients
- Vet-formulated balanced recipes for all life stages
- AAFCO Statement: A board-certified veterinary nutritionist helped Ollie formulate their balanced and complete, human-grade recipes, abiding by the AAFCO standards.
#2 – Nom Nom
Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food offers an excellent nutritional solution for puppies with its high-quality ingredients and scientifically-backed formulation. The recipes are packed with restaurant quality, nutrient-dense ingredients, perfectly balanced for growing puppies. With meats like chicken, beef, turkey, and pork combined with fresh fruits and vegetables, it ensures puppies receive the necessary proteins, vitamins, and minerals for their growth and development. And every meat and veggie is gently cooked individually to seal in vital nutrients and maximize digestibility. Those yummy ingredients are then mixed in small batches and packaged for your puppy. And with the choice of four recipes, you’re sure to find a recipe they’ll happily devour.
The meals are formulated by Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists and custom-portioned based on your puppy’s age, breed, and weight to ensure they’re getting the right amount of calories. Nom Nom further ensures the freshness of its food by shipping it directly to your door in insulated packaging, maintaining the freshness and quality from preparation to delivery.
The brand’s commitment to quality and personalized nutrition helps puppies transition to solid foods effortlessly, supports their growth, and aids in developing a healthy immune system.
- Fresh ingredients provide optimum nutrition
- Custom-portioned meals tailored to your puppy’s specific needs
- Four delicious recipes: Beef Mash, Chicken Cuisine, Turky Fare, and Pork Potluck
- Formulated by Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists to ensure balanced nutrition
- Direct, fresh shipping in insulated packaging ensures food quality
- Smooth transition to solid foods
- Supports healthy growth and immune system development
- AAFCO Statement: Nom Nom recipes meet standards set by AAFCO’s Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.
#3 – Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters for Puppies
The Honest Kitchen believes fresh, clean ingredients with minimal processing provide puppies with the best nutrition possible. Created with a veterinary nutritionist, their 100% human-grade puppy food is made with cage-free chicken, oats, veggies, salmon oil, and live probiotics in the proportions growing puppies need. This complete and balanced dry puppy food has enhanced protein to support muscular development, boosted DHA for brain health, and double the probiotics for digestive system support.
This recipe is made in small batches of fresh ingredients and then cold-pressed into bite-sized clusters before undergoing a gentle slow roasting and dehydrating process that maintains nutrients and a delicious experience. Honest Kitchen foods are always free of meat meals, artificial preservatives, potatoes, and legumes. Plus, it’s suitable for puppies of all sizes.
At a Glance:
- Enhanced protein supports muscular development
- Boosted DHA for brain health
- Double the probiotics for digestive system support
- Made with 100% human-grade ingredients and produced in a human food facility
- Prepared in small batches and gently cooked to maintain nutrients, taste, and aroma
- Made in the USA with US & globally sourced ingredients
- No feed-grade ingredients, rendered meat meals, fillers, GMO ingredients, potatoes, legumes, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives
- AAFCO Statement: All Honest Kitchen complete & balanced dog food recipes are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO. Plus, The Honest Kitchen successfully completed in-home, comprehensive AAFCO Feeding Trials that substantiate their foods provide nutritional adequacy and overall health in dogs.
You can have convenient kibble that will keep your dog full and healthy! See our list of 9 Best Dry Dog Foods.
#4 – Farmer’s Dog
Farmer’s Dog delivers fresh, balanced meals with simple ingredients that provide advanced nutrition. To get started, you’ll tell them about your dog in a simple questionnaire, and within just a few minutes, your pup will have a personalized meal plan that’s veterinarian approved. Meals are pre-made and pre-portioned to your puppy’s caloric needs based on the profile you create. Food is never deep frozen and always delivered to you within days of cooking. Plus, serving is easy. Just open the package and pour.
Packed with human-grade ingredients, every recipe uses USDA meats and proteins mixed with simple produce to provide a balanced diet filled with the nutrients growing puppies need. Every meal is gently cooked at low temperatures in USDA kitchens and quickly frozen for safe shipping and easy storage. As a result, your dog will experience better digestion and sport a healthier coat and skin. And you can expect better breath too!
At a Glance:
- Human-grade ingredients, like clean USDA proteins and simple produce
- Gently cooked at low temps to preserve nutrients
- Fill out a simple questionnaire about your dog and get started within minutes
- Vet-personalized plans deliver a diet based on your puppy’s needs
- Delivered fresh to your door within days of cooking
- Eco-friendly packaging that’s easy to open
- AAFCO Statement: Board-certified veterinary nutritionists carefully formulate each recipe to be 100% complete and balanced according to AAFCO standards.
#5 – Merrick Puppy Dry Dog Food with Real Meat
Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipes provide balanced nutrition with real whole foods sourced from local farmers. A puppy food packed with high-quality deboned meats, this tasty kibble helps build and maintain muscle tissue while supporting healthy skin and coats with omega fatty acids. Apples and blueberries provide a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, easily digestible carbohydrates like potatoes and sweet potatoes offer the benefit of sustained energy without upsetting grain-sensitive systems. Basically, this natural, grain-free formula dog food is ideal for all breeds of puppies and specifically formulated to support healthy digestion while ensuring maximum nutritional benefits. Merrick always sticks with naturally nutrient-rich ingredients to support overall health for growing puppies.
At a Glance:
- Deboned meat is always the first ingredient
- Added DHA helps support a puppy’s healthy brain development
- Offers 75% of protein from animal sources
- Omega fatty acids support healthy skin and coat, plus glucosamine and chondroitin foster joint health
- Crafted and cooked in the USA, in facilities upholding strict FDA guidelines
- AAFCO Statement: All of Merrick’s complete and balanced diets are formulated to meet or exceed the nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient profiles.
#6 – Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Puppy Wet Dog Food
One of the best puppy dog foods available, BLUE Homestyle Recipe Chicken Dinner provides your puppy with delicious, high-quality chicken, wholesome whole grains, and garden fruits and vegetables. It’s a wet food specially formulated to support the unique needs of growing puppies by promoting muscle growth and cognitive development. Natural, high-quality chicken always takes the top spot on the ingredients list. And hearty whole grains like brown rice and barley supply complex carbohydrates your puppy needs for energy, while whole carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and cranberries supply vitamins and minerals. Plus, this paté style wet puppy food contains DHA, an important fatty acid in mother’s milk that supports brain and eye development.
At a Glance:
- Real deboned chicken is always the first ingredient
- No Chicken (or poultry) by-product meals
- Whole carrots and sweet potatoes, blueberries, and cranberries provide vitamins and minerals
- Contains DHA, an important fatty acid found in mother’s milk
- No corn, wheat, or soy, and never any artificial flavors or preservatives
- AAFCO Statement: Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth.
#7 – ORIJEN Puppy Dog Food
With 85% animal ingredients and 15% fruits and veggies, ORIJEN Puppy Food nourishes puppies according to their evolutionary and biological needs. And as one of the best puppy dog food options on the market, ORIJEN breaks down its puppy food recipe with a ratio of one-third air-dried chicken, turkey, or fish and two-thirds fresh and raw ingredients to provide one hundred percent nutrition. Fresh meat, organs, and cartilage or bone offer a natural source of virtually every nutrient your puppy needs. And studying the ingredients list, you’ll always find the first five ingredients include fresh or raw meat. ORIJEN uses refrigeration as the sole method of preservation for fresh ingredients, and raw ingredients are frozen at the peak of freshness to preserve nutrients.
At a Glance:
- Meets natural, biological needs with 85% whole animal ingredients, including meat, organs, cartilage, and bone
- Free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs from trusted sources
- Fresh or raw meat always makes up the first five ingredients
- Formulated by a veterinarian and animal nutritionists
- Grain or Grain-Free options
- Free of gluten, potato, tapioca, and artificial ingredients
- AAFCO Statement: ORIJEN diets are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO for dogs. This ensures their foods provide complete and balanced nutrition.
#8 – Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food
A yummy dry puppy food option, BLUE Life Protection Formula is formulated to support your puppy’s healthy growth and development with high-quality deboned chicken, wholesome whole grains, and garden veggies and fruit. Their recipe features the finest natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, like DHA, for cognitive development. And you will always find real meat as the first ingredient. Plus, with the addition of BLUE’s exclusive LifeSource Bits, you’re pup gets a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, carefully selected by veterinarians and animal nutritionists to help support nutritional requirements and immune health.
At a Glance:
- Carefully selected real meat is always the first ingredient
- Whole grains, veggies, and fruits supply extra vitamins and minerals
- Contains DHA and ARA, essential fatty acids found in mother’s milk
- LifeSource Bits provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
- Formulated by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists
- No chicken or poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives
- AAFCO Statement: Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth.
#9 – Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Perfectly Puppy Dinner Patties Dog Food
Feeding your puppy a diet similar to what their ancestors enjoyed in the wild helps your pup thrive, and that’s why Stella & Chewy Freeze-Dried Raw dinner patties make our list of the best puppy dog foods. These easy-to-serve patties support healthy digestion, strong teeth and gums, vibrant skin and coat, and stamina and vitality. Made of 95% salmon, beef, organs, and bone and explicitly formulated for puppies with DHA, Vitamin E, and L-Carnitine, Stella & Chewy puppy recipes help aid body and brain development while grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon will delight their tastebuds. Additionally, they source 100% organic fruits and veggies, such as cranberries, blueberries, broccoli, and beets, to provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help support a healthy immune system and overall energy.
Plus, these yummy patties are fortified with Omega fatty acids from pumpkin seeds and fenugreek seeds to provide extra skin and coat support. Their recipes also help improve your dog’s well-being, with fiber and probiotics for digestive support and taurine for heart health. And this low-carb, high-protein choice has only the good stuff, no potatoes, peas, lentils, or by-product meals, and never any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. This best puppy dog food option always uses responsibly sourced, premium ingredients, minimal processing, and small-batch production. Also available in Chicken and Salmon Puppy Patties.
At a Glance:
- 95% raw grass-fed beef & wild-caught salmon, nutrient-rich organs, & bone
- Pea-free, lentil-free, and potato-free
- 100% organic fruits & vegetables
- Fortified with added vitamins & minerals, including taurine
- Enhanced with probiotics & antioxidants
- Never any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, hormones, or antibiotics
- Minimal processing and small-batch production
- Crafted in the USA with responsibly sourced ingredients
- AAFCO Statement: Stella & Chewy recipes are specifically formulated to meet AAFCO Nutrient Profiles to offer complete and balanced nutrition for your puppy, including appropriate levels of vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients.
#10 – Wellness Complete Health Dry Puppy Food
Wellness Complete Health Dry Puppy Food makes mealtime count with quality ingredients like deboned chicken, salmon meal, and oatmeal. And created by nutritionists, veterinarians, and animal lovers, you can bet Wellness recipes cover all the nutritional basis, providing DHA from Salmon Oil to support brain development, antioxidants for supporting a strong immune system, calcium and phosphorus for healthy bone growth, and omega fatty acids to ensure healthy skin and coat. Added taurine helps keep a heart working at optimal levels. Plus, this nutritionally-dense dry puppy food doesn’t contain any poultry by-products, wheat, wheat gluten, corn, soy, artificial colors, or preservatives. And it’s made in the USA.
At a Glance:
- Nutritionally dense crunchy kibble with deboned chicken as the first ingredient
- Grafted with non-GMO ingredients like chicken, salmon meal, and oatmeal
- DHA from Salmon Oil supports brain development, plus omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
- Antioxidants support a strong immune system
- Calcium and phosphorus for healthy bone growth
- No poultry by-products, wheat, wheat gluten, corn, soy, artificial colors, or preservatives
- Made in the USA with the finest globally sourced ingredients
- AAFCO Statement: Wellness Complete Health Puppy Deboned Chicken, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe Dog Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth and gestation/lactation including the growth of large-size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the Difference Between Puppy Food And Regular Dog Food?
Puppy food typically has higher levels of calcium, phosphorus, and calories from protein than adult dog food because those items are essential for puppy growth.
When Should Puppies Switch to Adult Dog Food?
Puppies can switch to adult dog food when they reach 9 to 12 months old, depending on the breed. Smaller breeds can switch to adult food sooner while large breeds could stay on it for one or two months longer than average.
Can Adult Dogs Eat Puppy Food?
Adult dogs shouldn’t eat puppy food because puppy food is designed to accommodate puppy growth. If adult dogs eat puppy food, they could be at a higher risk of obesity and orthopedic issues.
Why is Some Puppy Food Grain-Free?
Grain-free puppy food can be beneficial for puppies with allergies or digestive issues. However, if your puppy doesn’t deal with those problems, they don’t need grain-free food.
Can Puppy Food Cause Diarrhea?
Yes, any food can cause diarrhea if not transitioned gradually. If you want to switch your dog to a new brand of puppy food, mix a little bit of the new food with the old food at first. Then, gradually replace more of the old food with the new food each day.
Choosing the best puppy dog food for your little one may seem daunting, but with our list of options, making a selection should be pretty straightforward. Plus, you know your puppy and what they like better than anyone, so do your research and trust your instincts! You’re an amazing dog parent, and we know it because you’re here learning about the best foods to feed your puppy so they can grow into the happiest and healthiest adult dog ever!
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