Best puppy food

Food & Food Storage

A golden retriever puppy eats food from a bowl.

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Which puppy food is best?

Getting a new puppy is an exciting time, but it can also be a little overwhelming, especially for first-time dog owners. You’ll have a lot of decisions to make in the first couple of days, and one of the most important ones is what to feed your new pup.

With so many options available, it can be difficult to figure out which food is best. Take into account factors including your puppy’s size and the quality of ingredients in order to get the right food for your dog. Look for food such as our top pick, Nulo Freestyle Dry Puppy Food, that use high-quality proteins and no fillers.

What to know before you buy puppy food

Puppy vs. adult dog food

Puppy and adult dog foods have different formulas because a dog’s needs vary with age. Puppies do a lot of growing in their first year, and their food should fuel that growth with proper nutrition. A food made for puppies will have a higher amount of calories, protein and fat than adult dog foods. They might also contain higher amounts of specific amino acids or Omega fatty acids to help with their development.

Puppy size

The size of the breed will affect your puppy’s rate of growth. Larger breeds of dogs grow slower. This creates different nutritional needs from those of smaller, faster growing dogs. Often, a manufacturer will offer a version of its puppy food formulated specifically for larger breeds. If you’ve chosen a giant dog breed, such as a Great Dane, look for a food made especially for them.

Wet vs. dry food

Both wet and dry food can provide the complete nutrition that your puppy needs to thrive, but there are some differences. Dry food is a better value and can help scrape plaque off of your puppy’s teeth. It also stays fresh for a long time once you open it and has more grains and carbohydrates. Wet food often tastes better to dogs and contains mostly meat. However, it is more expensive and spoils much faster than dry food. For more information on wet and dry puppy food, visit the BestReviews buying guide for puppy food.

What to look for in a quality puppy food

Ingredients

Your puppy’s food should fully meet all of its nutritional needs. Look on the bag or at the online product description for a statement of nutritional adequacy from the Association of American Feed Control Officials. This assures that the food you are buying will meet your puppy’s minimum nutritional needs.

In addition, you’ll want to check that the food contains high-quality ingredients. Look for products with whole meat proteins. Avoid food that contains animal by-products, anonymous meats, fillers or chemical preservatives.

Calories

Puppies need support from their food for healthy growth. Make sure that the food you choose has the proper caloric-density for this stage of life. If a bag claims it is low in calories or fat, then this food is not right for your puppy. Check the bag’s labels to determine the correct amount of food to feed your dog. This will prevent over or under feeding.

Flavor

Puppy food comes in a variety of flavors. Many different forms of protein are suitable for your puppy to eat, including chicken, beef, lamb or fish. These proteins have different flavor profiles, and you might find that your puppy likes some over others. Your main concern with flavor is discovering one that your puppy will eat easily.

How much you can expect to speed on puppy food

Dry puppy food can cost between $0.75-$3 per pound. Wet puppy food starts around $1 per can and can go up to $3.50 per can.

Puppy food FAQ

How long is a dog considered a puppy?

A. According to Pet MD, how long your dog is a puppy depends on its size. Dogs under 20 pounds are puppies until 8 months old. Giant-breed dogs are puppies for as long as 24 months.

How do you know your puppy is doing well on its food?

A. There are signs to look for if you’re wondering how your puppy is doing on the food you picked out. Bright eyes, shiny coats and healthy-looking skin are all indicators your pet is thriving. Your puppy also should have firm stools and plenty of energy.

What is the best puppy food to buy?

Top puppy food

Nulo Freestyle Dry Puppy Food

Nulo Freestyle Dry Puppy Food

What you need to know: Made with quality meats, this puppy food is easy to digest and has no fillers.

What you’ll love: The first ingredients in this food are turkey, turkey meal, salmon meal and chickpeas. It contains probiotics for healthy digestion and DHA for healthy brain development.

What you should consider: This food is more expensive than others.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top puppy food for the money

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Puppy Dry Dog Food

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Puppy Dry Dog Food

What you need to know: This food has a great taste your puppy will love, and it is especially good for larger breeds.

What you’ll love: The first four ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, sweet potatoes and potatoes. With high amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin, it is great for promoting healthy joints and hips.

What you should consider: This is a pricey food brand.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Chewy and Petsmart

Worth checking out

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Puppy Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Puppy Wet Dog Food

What you need to know: Even the pickiest and most sensitive puppies will love this high-quality food.

What you’ll love: The first ingredients in this food are beef, beef broth, turkey and beef liver. These quality proteins will promote healthy muscle growth in your puppy.

What you should consider: The liver odor is strong. Your puppy will love the smell, but you might not.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Chewy and Petsmart 

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Morgan Freeman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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