A new, adorable little family member has won your heart at the very first glance! They are gentle and irresistible, and that’s a feeling shared by any parent of a baby puppy. What can you do to make sure your tiny fuzzball grows to become a healthy and content pup?
There is no doubt – it all starts with a healthy diet. Your new best friend will only thrive if you fill his feeding bowl with the best-quality food from day one.
In this article, we provide you with relevant guidelines to help you choose the best puppy food. We examine the beneficial ingredients to look for, having in mind the specific needs of growing puppies. The role of diet in addressing common health issues will be discussed, too.
Puppies are sensitive and need someone to look after them with a great deal of commitment. That is why it is essential to set a strong foundation for your furry little pal’s general wellbeing. The first step towards achieving this is to pick the right type of nutrition.
So, let us give you a hand in making the best choice possible.
10 Puppy Food Brands Compared
Taste of the Wild High Prairie - Easy Digestion
Let your puppy feel the real taste of nature, with this delicious formula featuring buffalo and bison as the primary source of protein. The combination of sweet potatoes and peas make this easily-digestible blend a substantial source of energy for your playful little pal.
An abundance of fruits and vegetables add necessary vitamins and antioxidants, taking care of your pal’s overall health. Chelated minerals are easily absorbed, helping the proper development and functioning of the body.
Free from grains, artificial preservatives, fillers, colors or flavors, it suits the gentle tummies of junior canines. Due to its K9 probiotic complex, it facilitates the digestion process. Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids maintain the skin and coat healthy and glossy. Made in accordance with strict safety regulations and standards, this outstanding formula makes an excellent feeding option.
Let your pup discover his love at first bite with this supreme formula.
Purina Pro Plan Focus - Best For Large Breeds
Supply your large breed junior pup with all the vital nutrients to help him develop into an active and healthy large dog. Purina Pro Plan addresses all aspects of healthy nutrition for your pal. Its protein comes from real chicken, keeping your buddy muscular and lean.
Addition of fish oil abundant in DHA supports healthy brain and eye development. An optimal amount of complex carbs sourced from brewer’s rice serves as a substantial provider of the necessary energy for your active pooch and his daily activity.
Prebiotic fiber in this blend helps the easy digestion and promotes intestinal health. Omega 6 fatty Acids give your pal’s coat a shiny look. It rules out the use of artificial chemicals, including flavors, coloring, and preservatives.
Keep your growing puppy’s back by offering him a tasty and healthy formula he will crave.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection - Best for Small Breeds
The manufacturers of Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula realize the importance of proper nutrition from the earliest age. They formulated this blend to cater to the needs of small breed juniors and support their healthy growth. Its protein, the number one ingredient, comes from the real deboned chicken.
Whole grains in this blend provide sufficient energy for your restless little pal, while tasty garden fruits and veggies supply other beneficial nutrients. Blue Buffalo includes the LifeSource Bits, a unique mixture of vital nutrients and also contains the Super 7 combo of components rich in antioxidants.
The size of the kibble fits the small jaws of baby pups and help maintain their dental health. DHA and DRA take care of proper brain and eye development. Owing to healthy Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids, your pal’s skin and coat acquire a youthful, silky look.
There are no corn, soy, wheat or poultry by-products in this formula.
Pamper your small companion with this outstanding formula and support his general wellbeing.
CANIDAE Grain Free PURE - Perfect for Sensitive Stomach
Simple, but delicious – these are the words that best describe CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE dog food. It is formulated to meet the needs of junior pups prone to food sensitivities, and help the digestion process run smoothly. A simple list of 9 quality ingredients is what makes this savory formula unique.
Protein, the crucial nutrient in baby pups’ diet, comes from real chicken. It supports the healthy development and growth of young canines. The formula is enriched with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics, to take care of all aspects of your little pal’s health, including his immunity, metabolism and digestion.
To make it completely safe for sensitive puppies, it eliminates corn, wheat, soy or grains.
Take no chances when your little pal’s wellbeing is concerned. CANIDAE grain-free is there to take the best care of your precious friend.
ORIJEN - Best Dry Puppy Food
This quality food formula is packed with protein, the necessary nutrient vital for early life stages, and proper development. It is sourced from free-running chicken turkey, whole Atlantic mackerel and flounder, as well as whole eggs.
It sustains healthy growth, providing the essential building blocks for your pup to develop a lean, muscular body. It also supplies an optimal level of carbs, to ensure your little pal gets enough energy throughout an active day.
The formula is enriched with tasty, raw, freshly picked fruits and vegetables. They add higher value to this savory blend, by contributing the vital minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants to keep your pal disease-resistant.
It contains no grains, to suit puppies with allergies and intolerances.
Fill your buddy’s feeding bowl with an abundance of only the best nutrients and watch him enjoy his mealtimes to the maximum.
Wellness CORE - Wet Puppy Formula
This delicious blend fills your little tail-waggers tummy with the prime quality nutrients. It is aimed at sustaining a healthy development revolving around real animal protein as the very first ingredient. It is juicy and palatable, which is what your baby friend needs and likes.
A rich combination of fruits and veggies serves as a significant source of beneficial components like vitamins and minerals. They will fortify your junior’s immunity and support metabolism and absorption of nutrients.
By adding herrings to this appetizing mixture, sufficient levels of DHA are guaranteed. These promote a healthy brain and sharp vision. Containing no fillers or grains, it presents a safe alternative to increasingly sensitive puppies.
Tickle your little mischief’s taste buds with this outstanding quality recipe.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness - Best Grain Free Recipe
Dogs are descendants of wolves, the carnivores of great endurance. This notion served as the starting point in formulating this nutritious recipe. Protein, the number one nutrient in this blend, promotes healthy weight and lean muscle of your growing junior.
This essential component comes from real chicken, eggs, and turkey meal, and is responsible for healthy weight. DHA, an essential fatty acid, impacts positively on the brain and retina development.
Your puppy’s bones will grow to be strong and healthy, thanks to an optimal balance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins. These will strengthen his immunity, as well.
The kibble is perfectly sized to stimulate chewing and eliminate tartar. Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids give your buddy’s skin and coat softness and glossiness. The fact that it includes no grains makes it a smart choice for sensitive tummies and allergy-sufferers.
Fill your pups feeding bowl with the tastes of nature he craves obtained from the well-balanced, quality nutrients.
American Journey Recipe - Ideal For Medium Breeds
This recipe of exceptional taste caters to the needs of developing pups, addressing all aspects of their overall wellbeing. It combines delicious ingredients to make your pup’s meals not only healthy but extremely enjoyable, too.
American Journey uses protein, the critical ingredient, from real, deboned lamb. It supplies the key amino acids, building the foundation for a healthy, muscular body. Sweet potatoes and chickpeas join forces to ensure sufficient levels of energy for all the fun activities in a day.
Fruits and veggies of supreme quality combine to supply all the necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some of them are blueberries, dried kelp, and crunchy carrots. This formula offers abundant amounts of Omega Fatty Acids from salmon and flaxseed, taking care of your puppy’s skin, coat, brain, and eyes.
Absence of grains, soy, corn, and wheat makes it ideal for oversensitive youngs.
Help your baby pal embark on a journey filled with happiness, health, and contentment with this supreme blend in his feeding bowl.
Holistic Select - Perfect for Giant Breed Puppy
Your tiny pup will grow up to become a happy, healthy, gentle giant. To support this development, the manufacturers of Holistic Select have put together several quality ingredients in a unique, delicious blend. Protein, the crucial element in this process, comes from tasty lamb meal and chicken meal.
This food formula places a particular focus on your baby pal’s digestive health. It includes digestive enzymes, active probiotics, and healthy fiber. All of them contribute to easy digestion and maximum absorption of vital nutrients.
To strengthen your pet’s immunity, superfoods such as blueberries and pomegranate are added due to their beneficial features. Omega Fatty Acids, including DHA, promote a healthy brain and eyes development. An optimal balance of protein and minerals will prevent excessive growth, but keep its pace at an adequate level.
Your large puppy will bring an equally large amount of happiness into your life. That is why he deserves nothing but the best.
Merrick Grain-Free - Hypoallergenic Recipe
Let your beloved pup indulge in this exquisite recipe, offering all the perks of well-balanced, quality nutrition for young canines. Delivered in the form of a stew, it makes the most use of quality ingredients, starting with turkey, chicken, and duck. These provide substantial levels of protein, ensuring healthy growth and plenty of energy.
Moisture and extra taste are added through a tasty chicken broth. A careful selection of juicy fruits and veggies includes apples, peas, and carrots. They supply the useful fiber and minerals, enriching the taste of this quality formula.
It contains no grains, artificial flavors, or preservatives. You can serve it either as a kibble topper or a complete meal, depending on your little friend’s preference.
Make the mealtimes your puppy’s favorite time of the day. Merrick Grain-free Puppy is there for you!!
Recommended Puppy Food by Breeds
Small breed puppies, as the name suggests, will only grow to be up to 20 lbs of weight. Their pace of development, metabolic rate, and dietary needs are considerably different from those of larger breeds. To support the healthy growth of your small breed baby tail-wagger, you need to work out what a proper type of small puppy food formula is.
Although tiny in size and of small weight, puppies from this group are real dynamos. Their energy levels are typically very high, so the food they get should fuel their energy needs substantially. It needs to be of a greater calorie-density, and you should divide the recommended daily amount into three to four servings.
An optimal small puppy blend will contain between 23 and 28 % of protein. At the same time, at least 15% of all nutrients should be quality fats. Finally, the size of the kibble should be suitable for the small-sized puppy.
If a food formula you are considering does not meet these criteria, keep looking for a better option. Check our comparison for 10 Best Puppy Food for Small Beeds.
This is a rather versatile group of puppies whose adult weight ranges between 21 and 50 lbs. While some of them are highly athletic and hyperactive, a few breeds are considered to be real lazy bugs. All of these factors influence the ideal food selection process.
It seems that medium-sized juniors require a less specific type of diet when compared with their small and large counterparts. However, the food you opt for needs to supply all the vital nutrients in optimal amounts, to help your pal develop into a healthy, energetic canine.
An ideal medium-breed puppy food formula that will meet the requirements of these baby pooches should include a minimum of 22% of protein. Healthy fats should account for 10% of the ingredients. An optimal balance of complex carbs, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants should promote a healthy body and all of its functions.
Parenting a large-breed puppy means that you have to make yourself familiar with all that it takes to help him develop properly. Once they are fully grown, large baby pups will weigh above 51 lbs. They are prone to developing some health issues and get obese quickly, so their nutrition plan has to be designed with extreme care.
These puppies require high-quality ingredients in their diet. Unlike small ones, the intake of calories should be lower. This way, they will be less likely to pack on extra pounds. At the same time, the incidence of orthopedic issues resulting from speedy growth will be reduced.
There should be between 23 and 25% of the protein in an optimal food formula you pick for your large junior. Fats should make up 12 to 15 % of all nutrients. If you want to minimize the likelihood of bone and joint problems, the levels of calcium and phosphorus in large breeds’ food blends should be limited.
Find out more: Best Large Breed Puppy Food Compared
Working out the best feeding option for your giant baby pooch can be a bit of a challenge. Many inexperienced pet parents get misled easily by the belief that their size calls for comparably large amounts of food and number of calories. It is, actually, one of the most common misconceptions when giant puppies are in question.
A junior pup from this group will grow at a rapid pace. The same is true of their weight, as most of them will go above 100 lbs. Before you know it, your furry friend can end up not only being obese but dealing with severe health conditions that will deteriorate the quality of his life.
To nurture a healthy giant puppy which develops properly, you should go for a protein-rich, low-calorie formula. It should feature lower levels of calcium and phosphorous but have glucosamine and chondroitin added to its list of ingredients. Healthy fats, Omega Fatty Acids in particular, are another beneficial component in the diet of these canines.
Dry or Canned? Which Food Is Best for Your Pup?
Wet Puppy Food
Puppy parents are often in two minds about whether to feed their pets with wet or dry food formulas. In this section, we list some significant benefits of the former.
Wet foods are usually more abundant in protein, which makes them ideal for growing pups in need of this critical nutrient. That, in turn, means the amount of carbs is reduced in such blends. Plus, their soft and smooth structure makes them more palatable, suiting pooches with teeth and gum issues.
Wet formulas usually contain lower levels of preservatives. However, once opened, such food needs to be stored appropriately. Fast-eaters will usually take more time to eat this type of food, in contrast to gobbling down dry kibble and increasing the risk of bloat.
The overall quality of ingredients in wet formulas is usually high, accounting for the higher price of such feeding options.
Dry Puppy Food
Many owners see dry food formulas as a better-rounded and more balanced dietary alternative for their puppy pets.
Dry kibble is definitely more convenient and easy to serve. It is by far the best solution when traveling with your pet. The grazers in the dog’s world are safer with dry kibble left in their feeding bowl over a longer stretch of time.
In terms of energy value, it is of higher calorie density, too. By chewing and crunching their favorite dry bits daily, pups keep their teeth stronger and healthier.
Finally, the price range of dry food mixtures is a decisive factor for many owners. Even the top quality kibble is more affordable and economical when compared to the costs of a diet based on wet foods.
Nutrition for Specific Health Conditions
Protein is the most common trigger of allergies in pups. An abnormal reaction of a canine’s immune system to food protein molecules results in a range of symptoms. Young ones usually develop initial signs of this condition during the first year of their life.
Excessive, persistent, non-seasonal itchiness of skin is the first signal indicating a food allergy. It is sometimes accompanied by loose stools, diarrhea, vomiting, or intestinal gases.
Switching to a hypoallergenic food formula usually alleviates the symptoms of food allergies in junior canines.
Apart from viruses, bacteria, and toxins, food is often responsible for diarrhea in young pups. This condition is usually a source of not only great worry but frustration for dog parents as well.
It is not always simple to figure out why your puppy’s stools turn runny. A change in the regular type of food may be one of the triggers of this inconvenient problem. Diarrhea can be a sign that your baby pup is over-sensitive or intolerant to a specific food ingredient.
Whatever the cause, this issue calls for immediate reaction, and if the usual home remedies do not prove to yield good results, seek your vet’s assistance as soon as possible.
Read more: 8 Best Dog Food for Diarrhea
Symptoms of sensitive tummies in junior dogs can be easily mistaken for allergies. Even though your pup shows signs of food intolerance, these are not actual allergic reactions, as they do not involve an immune system response.
Some food ingredients are simply too heavy for gentle stomachs of puppies. In such cases, your little pal will most likely develop symptoms such as itchy skin, nausea, vomiting, and loose stools with occasional traces of blood.
Read more: 7 Top Rated Dog Food for Sensitive Belly
A chubby puppy is not a healthy one – and this is what we need to keep in mind at all times. Many owners of baby pups slip into overfeeding their tiny buddies without even being aware of it.
Some dog breeds are more prone to getting fat rapidly. It can have a number of health-related severe consequences throughout their adulthood. Foods marked by high levels of carbs and of high calorie-density, along with excessive amounts and too many meals, are the leading causes of obesity in small pooches.
Large and giant breeds are more frequently affected by this malformation of the hip joint. However, other pups can develop the same symptoms, too. Excessive intake of calcium and phosphorus, along with rapid growth and weight gain, are the roots of this problem.
The role of food in preventing this condition or at least alleviating its symptoms should not be neglected. Foods rich in chondroitin and glucosamine, as well as Omega Fatty Acids, promote joint health in pups. Owing to these food components, the cartilage in the joint develops properly, enabling smooth movement and greater flexibility.
Read more: Top 5 Food for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia
How To Choose The Best Healthy Food for Your Puppy
Just a quick look down a dog food aisle in any pet store or a supermarket leaves you baffled. The number of products seems to be endless, as manufacturers compete to persuade us to reach for their brands. What is it that makes a particular food stand out as the best option for your beloved puppy?
The quality of ingredients should undoubtedly be the priority. Always go for those formulas which include clean and healthy ingredients obtained from trusted suppliers. Certified organic ones are always a great choice, too.
Your growing junior needs good deals of protein and healthy fats. Always check the ingredients label to make sure they are present in optimal amounts. In addition to these, any quality formula should provide other essential components such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Grains, gluten, and artificial coloring, flavors, and preservatives indicate a more inferior quality and may increase the risks to your pal’s health.
Take some time to work out what option ticks all the boxes for your little buddy. Remember, not all puppies have the same needs – so, it is vital to tailor your pet’s nutrition to his very own ones.
Ingredients to Look For
Every item on the food ingredient list has to be safe and of good quality, as your furry pal deserves nothing but the best. There are a few things you should be familiar with when considering the formula to feed to your puppy. Here come the most common beneficial ingredients a right food blend should include.
- An animal protein whose origin can be identified. It is well-known that protein makes the core ingredient of quality food formulas. It helps your pup develop a lean and muscular body and serves as a source of energy. It is typically sourced from real meat such as chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish, venison, rabbit, bison, etc.
- Healthy fats from reliable sources (e.g., chicken fat, fish/salmon oil, flaxseed oil, and several others ). Fats present a rich source of energy, also responsible for many functions of a pup’s body. Omega Fatty Acids are the most beneficial components, which contribute to brain and eyes development, healthy skin, and glossy coat.
- Whole grains supply high levels of dietary fiber, an essential element in the canine diet. They contain complex carbs and fuel your lively pal with energy for an active lifestyle.
- Some fruits and veggies make an excellent addition to your buddy’s diet. That is why the food mixture you pick should be abundant in these ingredients. Necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are contained in fruits and vegetables. Owing to them, your pup’s immunity will be boosted, making him resistant to disease.
- Amino acids play a significant role in your puppy’s nutrition since they serve as building blocks for the body cells. The canine body does not generate these vital components, so they have to be supplied through food. Some useful amino acids include methionine, lysine, histidine, arginine, threonine, and so on.
- Chelated minerals, i.e., mineral compounds of inorganic origin, add extra quality to dog foods. These minerals are easy to absorb, and their role in building strong and healthy bones is indispensable. Magnesium, calcium, sulfur, and phosphorus are chelates a young canine requires.
- To make it safe for your little pal, choose a food that is preserved with natural substances such as plant extracts, vitamin C and vitamin E. They will extend the formula’s shelf life in a harmless way, unlike artificial ones. Blends containing no preservatives are also an acceptable dietary option.
Ingredients to Avoid
Although manufacturers advertise certain foods as nutritious and healthy, you need to be somewhat cautious. Some ingredients found in such formulas can do quite a lot of harm to your buddy’s health. In this section, we focus on some of those food components your beloved pal should stay away from.
- Wheat gluten is often used to replace meat. It is of lower nutritive value since it is obtained as a wheat grain residue. You should avoid formulas containing gluten as it is one of the most frequent allergy triggers in canines.
- Meat by-product is not something you want your pup to eat. It is made by cooking and processing various types of leftovers, including hooves, heads, bones. Instead, go for formulas featuring real meat as the number one ingredient.
- Corn serves as a cheap, low-quality filler. Plus, it is very hard to digest, especially for puppies with the gentle stomach. Many pups develop allergies and intolerances to corn. You should try to find a blend which rules out the use of this ingredient.
- Rendered fats present a group of fats which are not considered to be a quality ingredient. Unlike healthy fats of reliable origin, these come from diseased or dying livestock or meat products reaching their expiry date.
- Food coloring is an unnecessary addition to canine food. However, it is often present in the ingredient lists. They have no nutritious value, and their primary function is to make food look more attractive. These artificial chemicals are responsible for the occurrence of some serious health issues, or even cancer.
- Corn syrup is a form of sugar, added to some food blends. Since canines do not require sugar in their diet, it is wise to avoid it altogether. Too much sugar can result in your pup becoming overweight, hyperactive, or change behavior.
- Cellulose is another structural carbohydrate which is neither a necessary nor useful component in the canine diet.
- BHA and BHT are two forms of artificial preservatives with a negative reputation of being harmful to puppies, causing kidney damage and some types of cancer.
- Ethoxyquin is a form of preservative formerly used as an herbicide. It is thought to be responsible for developing conditions such as leukemia, liver damage, blindness, immune system deficiencies, and several others.
- Propylene Glycol is aimed at destroying bacteria in the food. However, it can do severe damage to your dog’s intestine.
- Synthetic Vitamin K used to substitute its real natural counterpart, is believed to be toxic, so it is to be avoided.
How Much Does a Puppy Need to Eat?
Puppy feeding guidelines
A carefully planned nutrition and feeding scheme will have multiple advantages for your baby pup. Optimal amounts of quality food will sustain a stable development and maintain your fuzzy little friend in good health overall.
The adequate daily amount of food is determined according to several factors, such as your pet’s breed, size, age, and activity levels. Dog food manufacturers usually list recommended amounts on the product package. These can serve as a starting point in deciding on the right size of portions. However, consultation with a vet is always welcome, as individual needs of puppies may vary considerably.
As for different puppy sizes, a toy puppy will typically eat between ¼ – ¾ of a cup per day. Small ones will go for the ¾-1 cup, whereas the medium-sized ones usually consume 1-2 cups of food daily. On the other hand, large juniors require 2-2 ½, and giant ones need 2-4 cups per day.
Puppy feeding schedule
Most puppies are exceptionally playful and always on the go. As a result, their energy requirements are usually higher than those of adult pooches. Their feeding timetable should hence be tailored to address these needs effectively.
Young, growing puppies are fed several times a day, in smaller portions. That has proved to have several positive sides. Smaller quantities of food per meal are much easier to digest. What’s more, the absorption of nutrients is higher, and energy levels are steady and continuously fueled. An optimal number of meals ranges between three to four served at equal intervals during a day.
Do Puppies Need a Grain-Free Puppy Food?
There is actually no reason to avoid grains in your junior canine’s diet at all costs. If your pup shows no signs of allergies, intolerances, or digestion issues, foods containing grains can be an acceptable option.
However, not all grains are of the same quality, so you should preferably go for whole grains rather than processed ones. In the cases of health issues related to the consumption of grains, grain-free formulas present a safe feeding alternative.
How Do I Know If My Puppy is Underweight?
Some young pooches are simply not keen eaters. In some other cases, though, you may feel that the food formula you picked is not providing him with all the necessary nutrients. These factors usually result in your suspicion about your puppy being too skinny.
There is a small test you can perform to check this. Feel your dog’s ribs and spine gently with your hand. If you can feel each segment, but do not see them through the coat and skin, your puppy’s weight is just the right one. If, however, they are clearly visible, you can consider your baby pooch to be underweight.
Find out more: What’s the Best Food to Help Your Dog Gain Weight?
What Do you Do with a Picky Puppy?
Your new best friend is constantly frowning on the food you served to him? He is reluctant to eat and walks away from his feeding bowl without picking almost any food? You are probably dealing with a picky eater!
To handle this issue, make sure your puppy is hungry when the mealtime comes. Extra exercise is an excellent way to ensure this. Eliminate table scraps and treats in between meals. Serve small portions and do not let the meals last forever – move the food away after some time.
A combination of kibble and wet food can many times be the key to resolving this situation.
Read more: 7 Best Tasting Dog Food for Picky Eaters
A new puppy in your home is undoubtedly a great source of joy. But you must not forget all the challenges of responsible puppy parenting. These little rascals are fragile and sensitive and depend entirely on their owner’s care and attention.
The role of diet in helping your puppy achieve his full potential is undeniable. The combination of vital, quality ingredients served in the right amounts is imperative for nurturing a healthy, active, and satisfied baby canine.
By picking the most optimal feeding formula, you will spend many years with your best friend by your side. At the same time, you will minimize the incidence of food-related health issues.
So, give your little buddy a head start and watch him live a carefree, activity-packed and healthy life.