The Best Puppy Food in 2023
We all want our puppies to grow into healthy adult dogs that live long past their breed’s expected age span. Good dog health begins with good puppy food that meets all of a young dog’s nutritional requirements. Since puppies have greater diet needs than adult dogs, it’s important that you choose a formula specifically designed for their growing bodies.
Your puppy may be small, but he’ll be a big eater during the first year of his life. To help you decide what brand of puppy food to stock up on, we’ve combed through all of the top choices to make you a list of the six best. The following puppy foods are made with quality ingredients and offer complete daily nutrition for your new best friend.
Our Top 6 List
Last update on 2023-09-24 at 07:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. Purina Pro Plan Dry Food
Packed with quality chicken protein and healthy fish oil, Purina’s dry puppy food supports a growing dog’s brain, bones and muscles. Check out the ingredients list on this kibble and you’ll see that chicken is No. 1. That means that real chicken, not meat byproducts or corn, is the most abundant ingredient in the formula.
Lean, protein-rich chicken is a great choice for the basis of your puppy’s diet, but raw chicken wouldn’t have everything that this kibble has. To support your dog’s growing brain, Purina puppy food is enhanced with Omega-rich fish oil. Your puppy’s developing immune system will also be supported with all of the antioxidants in this mix. A mineral complex with calcium and phosphorous has been added to keep your puppy’s teeth and bones strong.
- Chicken is the first ingredient.
- Small kibbles designed for a puppy’s first year.
- Antioxidants support your dog’s immune system.
- Fish oil for brain and eyes.
- Mineral complex for bones and teeth.
2. Castor & Pollux Organix
Organic, free-range, non-GMO: these are all labels that we look for when we shop for our human family members. If you don’t buy anything non-organic for the table, why do anything different when you’re shopping for the pet’s bowl? This puppy food proudly displays the USDA organic label, plus it’s grain-free and packed with super foods like blueberries and coconut oil.
The first ingredient in Organix puppy food is chicken followed by chicken meal. What makes this puppy food really different, though, is the blend of other ingredients like sweet potatoes, chickpeas, flaxseed and sunflower seed meal. Where most puppy foods use cheap fillers like corn and soy, Organix uses nutrient-dense superfoods. Rich salmon oil is also added to support brain health.
- Every ingredient is organic.
- Includes superfood blend not found in most puppy foods.
- The first ingredient is free-range, organic chicken.
- Cooked in an organic-certified kitchen.
- Grain-free formula great for sensitive tummies.
3. Iams Proactive Health for Puppies
When dogs’ brains are healthier, they are happier and easier for us to train. Iams puppy blend includes Omega-3 DHA to support your fur-baby’s growing brain and help with trainability. A correct balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 helps to maintain a healthy skin and coat. The impressive ingredients list also includes many antioxidants, minerals and B-vitamin supplements.
Iams is a super premium dog food, so it only contains real food ingredients. Chicken is the first ingredient, followed by ground whole grain corn. If wheat or soy is an issue for your pup, this blend has none of that. You also won’t find any of those icky artificial preservatives that you wouldn’t want to feed your best pet friend.
- Real chicken supports strong muscles.
- No wheat or soy.
- Includes healthy balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6.
- Beet pulp supports healthy digestion.
- Enhanced with a mineral complex.
4. Blue Buffalo High-Protein Food
It can be easy to forget that our teacup Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers are descended from wolves. Though domestic dogs may have evolved in behavior and stature, their dietary needs are still very much the same as they were when they used to roam the woods in packs. Blue Buffalo puppy food was inspired by the diet of baby wolves, so it’s filled with high protein ingredients, and it’s totally grain-free.
This 30-percent protein blend is made with real chicken and complimented with complete carbohydrates including potatoes, peas and carrots. Blue Buffalo’s exclusive Lifesource Bits provide a blend of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins developed by animal nutritionists and veterinarians.
- DHA and ARA for healthy brain and eye development.
- 100 percent grain-free.
- No animal byproducts.
- Includes Lifesource Bits formulated by vets.
- No artificial preservatives or flavors.
5. Wellness Complete Health
Grain-free dog food has become a popular option because it has fewer carbohydrates and is therefore denser in protein. If you have discovered that your puppy is having digestive difficulties, Wellness grain-free puppy food may be a good solution for their tummy issues. This top-shelf puppy mix is made with deboned chicken, chicken meal, salmon meal and salmon oil.
Wellness puppy formula has a lot of ingredients that you usually don’t see on a dog food label. Your puppy will benefit from nutrient-dense whole foods like spinach, blueberries and tomatoes. The blend of healthy complete carbs includes chickpeas, potatoes, lentils and peas, rather than the usual corn and soy often found in cheaper brands. Chicory root extract and probiotics have been added to the formula for extra help with digestion.
- Quality, deboned chicken is the main protein.
- Complete carbohydrates.
- Salmon oil for brain health.
- No artificial flavors, preservatives or dyes.
- Made in the USA.
6. Pedigree Complete Nutrition
Pedigree puppy food must be delicious, because dogs seem to gobble this stuff up when it’s poured into their bowls. It could be the savory chicken and vegetable flavors that they love, and who knows, they might even appreciate the colorful shapes. This puppy food is made without any sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavorings.
Puppies are just getting used to life without their mother’s milk, so the healthy DHA in this dog food blend helps them with that transition. The complete nutrition blend is also formulated with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidant-rich ingredients. Pedigree is made in the USA to ensure safety.
- Puppies love the flavor.
- Dry kibbles help clean teeth and promote oral health.
- Enhanced with DHA.
- Calcium and phosphorous for strong bones.
- Made in the USA.
Verdict & Review
Purina Pro Plan Dry Puppy Food
Your puppy would be happy with any of these brands, but I recommend you choose Purina Pro Plan for her first dry kibble. This puppy food formula covers all of the bases in terms of nutritional needs and quality ingredients, but it also doesn’t break the bank.
I love that the first ingredient in this formula is a quality protein from real chicken, and I also appreciate that the DHA is derived from real fish oil. Since there is still debate among nutritionists about the grain-free movement for dogs, I’d rather play it safe and stick to a traditional dog food like Purina. The high-quality grains in this blend are also fortified with a rich vitamin and mineral complex.
Choosing a name for your new puppy may have taken many days of debate, but whatever you settled on isn’t going to affect your dog’s long-term health. The real important decision that every dog parent makes is what brand of puppy food to buy. When a dog is still growing, its nutrition requirements are of the utmost importance. What you feed your puppy now will affect its development and health later on.
From Mother’s Milk to Kibble
After puppies are weaned from their dog mothers, their human parents will help them get used to solid food by starting with wet food and slowly transitioning to dry kibble. Depending on the breed, a puppy will be ready for dry kibble between 9-12 weeks old. A lot of people start feeding moistened kibble to their puppy and then gradually stop moistening the food until the puppy is ready to eat it dry.
Puppies Need More Calories Than Adults
Puppies are growing and they eat a lot! According to the American Kennel Club, most puppies need to eat four times per day when they are between 6 and 12 weeks old. Sometime between the ages of 3 and 6 months, a puppy can start eating just three times per day. Finally, depending on the breed, puppies can switch to two daily feedings when they are somewhere between 6 and 12 months old.
If you just got your puppy or you’re planning to get one, be ready to buy a lot of dog food. Puppy portions are usually twice as big as the portions that adult dogs eat. By the time your puppy reaches 1-year-old, his appetite will be much smaller, and your grocery bills will be a little smaller too.
It’s absolutely crucial during the first six months to one year that your dog has a puppy food formula specifically designed for his growing brain and body. Adult dog food lacks the nutrients that puppy food has, so feeding it to a puppy can lead to malnutrition.
When it’s time to switch to adult dog food, the AKC recommends waiting longer rather than switching things up too soon. Some breeds require puppy food up to 14 months, so check the breed information or ask your vet how long puppy food is required for your dog.
Look At the First Ingredient
Puppy food packaging always makes the food look spectacular with its bold claims about what is and is not included. However, the only writing on the bag that is really worth looking at is the ingredients list. Comparing ingredients lists and doing your research are the best ways to know which puppy food to purchase.
Ingredients are listed in order of predominance, so the first ingredient is always the most important. Whether it’s chicken, beef or something else, you should be looking for the name of a real meat product in the first ingredient spot. If you see something like “poultry byproduct” or “ground corn” listed as the first ingredient, I would put that puppy food right back on the lower shelf where it came from.
Ask Your Vet About Grain-free Food
Grain-free puppy food is packed with protein and has fewer carbohydrates. Some dogs love it and thrive on it while other dogs don’t. Your dog may need grain-free for digestive issues, or your dog may require a carbohydrate-rich diet with more calories. The point is, every dog is different, so ask your vet or breeder which puppy food they recommend for your dog.
Choose DHA for Brain Health
Have you ever met a dog that couldn’t find the tennis ball, let alone learn how to sit and stay? Some dogs haven’t reached their full potential because their brains are lacking an important nutrient called DHA. When you choose a puppy food with added DHA from fish oil, you are helping to support your dog’s brain. This vital nutrient will help with your dog’s trainability as well as his overall happiness. DHA also helps maintain a dog’s good eyesight, which is so important for people who rely on their dogs to guard and protect them.
We are the Pet Dog Pals, a group of avid pet owners, bloggers, product testers, and writers for all your canine needs! We own a collective 16 dogs and 21 cats to help us test and review pet products. Our top lists and tips come from experience to help you be the best dog owner you can be!