Dog Food For Puppies

The Best Dog Food For Puppies According to a Veterinarian

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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Which Dog Food is Best for Puppies?

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters for Puppies
  • A SMART START FOR PUPPIES: 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. Suitable for large breed puppies as well as adult mothers (gestation/lactation).
  • PREMIUM NUTRITION: Clusters are thoughtfully prepared using human-grade muscle meat & liver, low glycemic carbs, beneficial fats & live probiotics; cold pressed into delicious, bite-size, ready-to-eat pieces.
  • MINIMALLY PROCESSED: Clusters are made by mixing small batches of fresh ingredients, cold pressing them into bite-sized clusters, and then gently slow roasting and dehydrating them to maintain the nutrients, aroma, and taste of whole foods.

Is Wet or Dry Dog Food Better for Puppies?

When it comes to the best dog food for puppies, wet puppy food is often considered better.

However, this is a debatable topic that depends on the personal preference of your pup. While wet food has lesser carbs which are often difficult for dogs to digest, they do have more water content.

On the other hand, dry foods are relatively easy to digest but contain little water. Additionally, dry foods also promote chewing so that it is easy on your dog’s digestive system.

To choose which option is best for your pup, consult a vet to figure out the perfect nutrition plan for your growing puppy.

Is Puppy Dog Food Necessary?

Yes, puppy food is necessary for growing dogs as it caters to their nutritional requirements. Here are the benefits of using the best dog food for puppies:

  • Nutrition. Puppy food has been specially crafted, keeping your pup’s fragile body in mind. Most puppies will grow really fast during the first few months of their lives. Therefore, they require food loaded with nutritional benefits to help sustain their growing bodies.
  • Ingredients. Puppy food contains ingredients that are not harsh on your dog’s body. They also have fewer ingredients that could lead to some form of an allergic reaction. These foods are generally safe and easy to process.
  • Digestion. Most puppy foods are easy to digest by your pup’s tiny body. These foods are also great as they provide the proper nutrition that your furry friend needs to grow big and strong.
  • Weight Management. Since puppy foods are easy to digest, they help with weight control. These foods will not lead to abnormal weight gain or leave your pup underweight. It is best to consult a vet for the perfect diet plan.
  • Immunity. Pups are prone to diseases, so the right food will help build their immunity. This will help them fight off common diseases and lay the foundation for a long and happy life ahead.

The Best Dog Food For Puppies Reviewed

There are many puppy food formulas on the market. To help owners find the right one for their pets, we have reviewed some of the best dog food for puppies.

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters for Puppies

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Clusters for Puppies

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Summary: This Grain-Free Chicken Recipe is the ideal formula for growing puppies. The food is human-grade and minimally processed to retain most of the nutrients and flavor. It features cage-free chicken as the first ingredient as well as nutrients that are unique for puppies. The formula is rich in DHA for brain health, lean protein for healthy growth, and probiotics for easy digestion. It comes in both grain-free and grain-inclusive versions. 

Type: Dry dog food 

Best for: Puppies 

Flavor Options: Chicken 

Price: $6.99/pound 

Pros

  • Human-grade, grain-free, and minimally processed
  • With real chicken as the number one ingredient 
  • Enhanced protein to support muscular development
  • Boosted DHA for brain health and cognition 
  • Double the probiotics for digestive system support

Cons

  • No significant cons 

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken: Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein. It is also loaded with health-boosting vitamins and minerals. 
  • Lentils: Lentils are an easily digestible and healthy source of carbohydrates. Lentils also provide plant-based protein. 
  • Eggs: Eggs are rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-fatty acids. They are also packed with high-quality proteins. 
  • Salmon Oil: Salmon oil is a great source of healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It also supports skin & coat health. 

Review: Dog owners are in love with this recipe and say puppies love its taste and texture. They are happy that the recipe features nutrients specific to puppies and their dietary needs. Overall, customers give this puppy formula 4.6 out of 5 stars. 

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Puppy, Small Bites

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Puppy, Small Bites

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Summary: Hill’s Science Diet Small Bites Puppy dry food has been created to cater to the various developmental needs of your growing puppy. It helps them get a boost in the early years of their lives and has them grow to their full potential. The kibble has been formulated with a delicious chicken flavor paired with DHA from fish oil for healthy brain and eye development. It also contains high amounts of protein that help with muscle growth. It contains natural ingredients that have been blended together into a great-tasting meal for your growing puppy loaded with protein and carbs. It contains real chicken meal as the first ingredient.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies

Flavor Options: Chicken and Barley

Price: $2.52/pound

Pros

  • Supports the developmental needs of puppies
  • Offers small kibble with delicious chicken flavor
  • Provides DHA from fish oil for healthy brain and eye development
  • With high-quality protein for building lean muscle
  • Contains a balanced set of minerals and vitamins

Cons

  • Some pups might find it difficult to chew the kibble

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding digestion.
  • Whole Grain Wheat: This is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy and fiber.
  • Corn Gluten Meal: This is usually a filler added to pet foods. It is considered a controversial ingredient.
  • Chicken Liver Flavor: Chicken liver provides pets with protein, iron, vitamin A and delicious natural flavor.
  • Fish Oil: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and DHA, fish oil helps support natural skin and coat health, improves cognitive functions, and supports healthy weight and kidney health.
  • Vitamin E Supplement: Vitamin E supplement is an antioxidant that prevents cell damage caused by free radicals.
  • Calcium Supplement: Calcium is vital to forming strong bones and teeth and promotes healthy muscle tissue and growth.

Review: This dry kibble contains real chicken meal but does not contain any meat by-products that are often considered harmful. Pet owners give this food 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This product contains real meat as the first ingredient. It is formulated with high-quality protein that has been derived from real chicken. It also contains wholesome whole grains paired with garden veggies and fruit. It also contains DHA and ARA (important fatty acids found in mother’s milk). This helps support your dog’s cognitive function and retinal health. Furthermore, it also contains a precise blend of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients that support your dog’s immune system for every life stage.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies

Flavor Options: Chicken and Brown Rice

Price: $2.03/pound

Pros

  • Contains high-quality protein from real chicken
  • Loaded with whole grains, garden veggies, and fruit
  • No by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, or preservatives
  • Leads to a healthy oxidative balance
  • Helps support immune system health

Cons

  • Often out of stock on online retailers

Ingredient Analysis

  • Deboned Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding digestion.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy and fiber.
  • Fish Meal: Fish meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, B vitamins, beta carotene, phytochemicals, and carotenoids, sources of antioxidants that help support the immune system.

Review: BLUE Life Protection Formula for Puppies features ingredients that support the healthy growth and development of your new puppy. Dog owners give this food 4.6 out of 5 stars.

Bully Max 2X Calorie PRO Series High-Calorie High Protein Puppy Food

Bully Max 2X Calorie PRO Series High-Calorie High Protein Puppy Food

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Summary: Every cup of Bully Max puppy food contains a whopping 600 calories making it the perfect food for your growing pup. The product is made with a meat-based formula that contains 31% protein and 25% fat. Additionally, it also contains heart-healthy flaxseed and 19 essential vitamins & minerals making it one of the healthiest products on the market. Since the food has a lot of calories, you need to feed your pup a lot less (60% less food) as compared to other brands. This ensures that your food will last a lot longer. This puppy formula also helps with brain development in both small and large-breed dogs, much to the relief of dog owners.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $2.19/ounce

Pros

  • Most calorie-dense performance dog food ever created
  • Contains 19 essential vitamins & minerals
  • Perfect for performance dogs and underweight dogs
  • Prevents overeating in dogs
  • Approved for use in all size breeds

Cons

  • Not suitable for overweight pups

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding digestion.
  • Chicken Fat: Chicken fat enhances the flavor while supplying omega-fatty acids.
  • White Fish Meal: Fish meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Dried Beet Pulp: This is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.

Review: This dog food contains plenty of protein, calories, vitamins, and minerals, with no unhealthy fillers or additives commonly found in dog food. Customers give this food 4.2 out of 5 stars.

Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Dry Puppy Food

Hill's Science Diet Large Breed Dry Puppy Food

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Summary: This large breed puppy food has been formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of growing pups. It contains a significant level of calcium that promotes stronger bones and joints. It also includes a balanced set of minerals that lead to stronger teeth in large puppies. The product has a calorie value of 3970 kcal/kilogram(394 kcal/cup). It is formulated with DHA from fish oil to support healthy brain and eye development in growing dogs. The product contains high-quality protein that helps your puppy build strong muscles. This dog food is made in the USA with trustworthy ingredients.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies

Flavor Options: Chicken Meal & Oats

Price: $2.07/pound

Pros

  • Helps build and maintain lean muscle
  • Supports healthy brain and eye development
  • Helps promote strong bones and teeth
  • Made in the USA with global ingredients
  • Veterinarian recommended

Cons

  • Could lead to skin inflammation in rare cases

Ingredient Analysis

  • Pork Fat: Pork, a good source of protein and amino acids essential for muscle growth and energy, is also an excellent source of B vitamins to support a healthy nervous system.
  • Chicken Liver Flavor: Chicken liver is used to provide pets with protein, iron, vitamin A and delicious natural flavor.
  • Flaxseed: Flaxseed is a rich source of essential omega-3 fatty acids and is a great source of fiber that aids in digestion and promotes healthy skin and coat.
  • Dried Beet Pulp: This is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.

Review: Among the various food options available, this product is perfect for large breed pups thanks to its unique formulation of premium ingredients. Pet parents give this food 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Taste of the Wild Canine Grain-Free Dry Dog Food for Growing Puppies

Taste of the Wild Canine Grain-Free Dry Dog Food for Growing Puppies

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Summary: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Food contains real fish as its first ingredient making it rich in high protein (27%). This helps your dog build stronger bones, joints, and lean muscles. The food also provides beneficial nutrients and the energy for your pup to stay active all day long. It has also been formulated with vitamins and minerals from fruits, superfoods, and omega-fatty acids. This helps your dog have a shiny coat and healthy skin. The product also contains probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants to boost the immune system.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies

Flavor Options: Smoked Salmon

Price: $2.14/pound

Pros

  • Small kibble size is easy for small mouths to chew
  • The crunchy texture of the kibble helps keep teeth clean
  • Supports brain and vision development
  • The formula is made without eggs or egg products
  • Suitable for dogs who have food sensitivities

Cons

  • The scent can be off-putting for some owners

Ingredient Analysis

  • Pea Protein: Packed with the protein, vitamins, fiber, and potassium that pets need, peas support a pet’s GI health
  • Tomato Pomace: Tomato pomace is a rich source of soluble fiber and the antioxidant lycopene for developing pets made up of tomato skins, pulp, and crushed seeds.
  • Potatoes: Whole, fresh potatoes provide easily digestible carbohydrates, vitamins B & C, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
  • Salmon Meal: Salmon meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.

Review: This grain-free recipe provides digestible energy and excellent nutrition for your growing puppy. Dog owners give this 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health Dry Large Breed Puppy Food

Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health Dry Large Breed Puppy Food

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Summary: Wellness Complete Health natural pet food is formulated with ingredients that have been carefully chosen and are authentic for everyday health. The product contains real chicken as its first ingredient. It also contains wholesome grains, including rice, that provide beneficial carbohydrates for sustained energy. The crunchy kibble has no meat by-products, fillers, or harmful preservatives. Additionally, it does not contain any artificial flavors also. The product has been designed to cater to the needs of large breed dogs overall.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies

Flavor Options: Salmon, Chicken, Rice

Price: $1.67/pound

Pros

  • An optimal balance of nutrient-rich whole foods
  • Scientifically crafted by a team of veterinarians
  • Contains carefully chosen, authentic ingredients
  • Promotes complete health and strong bones
  • Available in a range of flavors and be paired with wet dog food

Cons

  • Cannot be used as an adult dog food

Ingredient Analysis

  • Glucosamine: Glucosamine is a natural compound found in connective tissue that is particularly beneficial for the joint health of large-breed dogs and aging pets.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding digestion.
  • Peas: Packed with the protein, vitamins, fiber, and potassium that pets need, peas support a pet’s GI health.
  • Ground Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.

Review: The product has been made in the USA using the finest globally sourced ingredients and is at par with other brands such as Orijen, Merrick, Purina Pro Plan, and others. Pet owners give this food 4.5 out of 5 stars.

VICTOR Super Premium Hi-Pro Plus Dry Dog Food for Puppies

VICTOR Super Premium Hi-Pro Plus Dry Dog Food for Puppies

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Summary: VICTOR’s Hi-Pro Plus formula is a high-protein dog food that is gluten-free and thus suitable for growing pups. Not only is it nutrient-dense, but it also offers a multi-meat formula that provides sustained energy, mainly for sporting dogs and dogs who lead an extremely active lifestyle. It contains premium-quality beef, chicken, pork, and fish meals. The product is not only suitable for all life stages (except adult dogs). Still, it is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies

Flavor Options: Beef

Price: $1.45/pound

Pros

  • Can be easily paired with wet food
  • Contains premium-quality beef, chicken, pork, and fish meals
  • Perfect for sporting dogs and dogs with high physical demands
  • Works great with pregnant dogs, lactating females, and puppies
  • Contains an exclusive mix of supplements, vitamins, and minerals

Cons

  • The texture of the kibble might not suit some pups

Ingredient Analysis

  • Beef Meal: Beef meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Fat: Chicken fat enhances the flavor while supplying omega-fatty acids.
  • Fish Meal: Fish meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Tomato Pomace: Dried tomato pomace is a rich source of soluble fiber and the antioxidant lycopene made up of tomato skins, pulp, and crushed seeds.

Review: This dog food has been formulated with an exclusive mix of supplements, vitamins, and minerals that help maximize the genetic potential of every dog. Customers give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Puppy Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Puppy Dry Dog Food

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Summary: BLUE Wilderness grain-free puppy food contains ingredients that help promote the healthy development of puppies. It offers a recipe to satisfy your pup’s natural love for meat and meaty flavors. This high-protein puppy food features real chicken that helps develop lean muscles and provides sustained energy to help them stay active all day. The product is further formulated with DHA and ARA. These are beneficial fatty acids that are found in mother’s milk and help boost cognitive development and retinal health.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $3.45/pound

Pros

  • Contains a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
  • Supports immune system health
  • Does not contain by-product meals
  • Formulated without corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives
  • Encourages strong muscle growth

Cons

  • More expensive than similar products on the list

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding digestion.
  • Peas: Packed with the protein, vitamins, fiber, and potassium that pets need, peas support a pet’s GI health.
  • Tapioca Starch: Tapioca starch is a cholesterol-free, low-sodium ingredient in diets that don’t contain common allergens, including gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, fish, or nuts.
  • Fish Meal: Fish meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.

Review: This product contains a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists have carefully selected. Dog owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

NUTRO Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

NUTRO Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

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Summary: NUTRO dog recipes are usually formulated without harmful ingredients such as chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy protein. Every recipe contains a high-quality source of protein, including beef, chicken, lamb, or venison meal. These are often the first ingredient in their product formulations. The product also contains real and recognizable non-GMO ingredients that offer beneficial nutrients for your dog’s needs. This dog food is made for large breed puppies up to 18 months old as it contains omega-3 fatty acids like DHA.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies 

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $1.15/pound

Pros

  • High-quality protein source is the first ingredient
  • Perfect for large breed puppies up to 18 months old
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients
  • No chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy
  • Supports brain and eye development

Cons

  • Could lead to loose stools in some cases

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.
  • Whole Grain Barley: Barley includes the whole grain with the hull and bran and is an excellent source of soluble fiber, plus carbohydrates and B vitamins for pet digestive health.

Review: This product has been formulated to support healthy joints as it contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, and provides essential antioxidants for healthy immunity. Pet parents give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food is perfect for your small dog’s overall health. It offers targeted nutrition and leads to healthy growth and development during their initial years. The product contains all the required nutrients, including proteins, minerals, and vitamins that your pup needs to grow strong. The kibble is of small size, so it is easier to chew for small dogs known as picky eaters. The dog food is also easily digestible thanks to its unique formulation and helps make stools more manageable.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Puppies

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $3.94/pound

Pros

  • Tailor-made for puppies up to 10 months old
  • Meets the high energy needs of small breed dogs
  • Exclusive small kibble size designed for little dogs
  • Contains an exclusive blend of antioxidants and vitamins
  • With highly digestible proteins and prebiotics

Cons

  • The prodcut’s price is quite high

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken Fat: Chicken fat enhances the flavor while supplying omega-fatty acids.
  • Dried Plain Beet Pulp: This is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.
  • Fish Oil: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and DHA, fish oil helps support natural skin and coat health, improves cognitive functions, and supports healthy weight and kidney health.

Review: This dog food is easy on sensitive digestive systems and provides optimal stool quality. It also contains all the beneficial nutrients for a healthy life. Customers give this food 4.8 out of 5 stars.

What Ingredients Should I Look for in Puppy Food?

Before you opt for puppy food, make sure you read the label properly or consult a vet. This will give you an insight into your pup’s health requirements and help you choose the right puppy food for them.

These are the ingredients to look for in the best dog food for puppies:

  • Proteins: Proteins help build your puppy’s tissues and also develop strong muscles. Additionally, it also provides sustained energy for a day of play.
  • Fats: Fats help keep your pup’s skin and hair in top condition. It also helps your puppy develop a healthy brain by improving their cognitive abilities.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbs help give your puppy energy to play all day. They are necessary for long-term growth.
  • Vitamins and Minerals. “Complete” and “balanced” puppy foods should contain the right amounts of vitamins and minerals. These boost your dog’s immunity and help them lead a happy and healthy life.

What Ingredients Should Not be in Dog Food for Puppies?

There are certain ingredients that are an absolute no-no when it comes to puppy food. Here are the ingredients that should not be in the best dog food for puppies:

  • Fillers. These are usually added to increase the weight of the puppy food. It offers almost no nutritional benefits and can be damaging in the long run.
  • Artificial Colors. These are added to make the food look more appealing. However, they have often been linked to various diseases, including cancer.
  • Meat By-Products. While meat is a crucial ingredient, meat by-products do not specify where the meat has been sourced from. Additionally, it also does not state what part of the animal has been used in the by-product.
  • Corn Syrup. This is often used as a cheap flavoring agent. This makes the food extremely addictive for dogs and can lead to overeating and weight gain.
  • Farmed Salmon. Fresh-caught salmon can be a tasty treat for dogs. However, farmed salmon is more prone to diseases and can lead to health problems.
  • Vegetable Oil. While this is a common ingredient, it can quickly lead to excessive weight gain that can become difficult to manage.

How Many Times do You Feed a Puppy a Day?

According to most vets, puppies should be fed a couple of times per day until three months old, then three times a day when four months old.

To determine the portion sizes, it is best to consult your vet. This will ensure that your pup gets the required nutrition and become big and strong.