When it comes to caring for a new puppy, there are many decisions to be made, but one of the most crucial is picking a diet that meets your pet’s nutritional needs. Puppies have unique nutritional requirements that call for a combination of protein, fat, and calcium to support a strong immune system, regular skeletal development, and optimum growth.
In order to meet a puppy’s increased dietary needs as they develop, adult maintenance food is less nutrient-dense than puppy food, according to Megan Shepherd, DVM, PhD, DACVN, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at Veterinary Clinical Nutrition.
With help from Shepherd and other veterinary sources, we identified the top puppy feeds, including huge breed-specific food as well as dry, wet, and snack alternatives. Our recommendations offer comprehensive nutrition for your puppy’s first year of life, but it’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian before beginning your puppy on a new diet (particularly if they have known digestive concerns).
Most effective Dry
Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula by Purina Pro Plan
Puppies benefit from a higher protein diet that makes up between 22 and 32 percent of their diet due to their quick growth.
With a larger percentage of protein and the right mix of fats for puppies, Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula makes up for this. One method a puppy-specific formula addresses a young dog’s particular demands is by offering a diet intended to delay the beginnings of obesity or orthopedic disorders.
For muscle growth, the Purina Pro Plan Puppy formula includes high-quality protein, largely from chicken, as well as components that are good for bones, including as calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals. Probiotics for intestinal health, fish oil-derived omega-6 fatty acids, and a variety of vitamins are also included in the recipe.
Even better, the bag comes with a useful chart that recommends feeding sizes month to month based on the predicted adult weight of your dog. Bags of 6, 18, and 34 pounds of Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula are available. With Purina Pro Plan foods created for large breeds, toy breeds, and young dogs between the ages of one and two, Purina also provides many variants on the typical puppy food formula.
Canine puppy food from Royal Canin
The Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, has specified nutritional levels for growth that Royal Canin Puppy Canned Dog Food, which is designed for puppies, satisfies. It offers fatty acids and protein from a wide range of sources, including salmon, pork, chicken, and liver. Along with a comprehensive complement of vitamins and minerals, it also contains fish oil and beet pulp, both of which promote digestion.
In facilities with open safety requirements and ISO 22000 Food Safety certifications, Royal Canin produces its products. The puppy formula only contains tocopherols (a type of vitamin E), citric acid, and rosemary extract as preservatives.
For tiny breed puppies in their first 10 months of life or large breed puppies in their first 15 months, pâté-style dog food is advised. Royal Canin’s canned puppy food is nutritionally complete, but it can be be combined with dry food or used as a topping.
For Small Breeds Only
Small Paws Hill’s Science Diet for Puppies Recipe for Chicken Meal, Barley, and Brown Rice
Science Diet by Hill Little Paws The nutritional requirements of growing small and toy breed dogs are met by puppy dry food. Even its kibble is “nibble size” since the mouths of small-breed puppies often find regular-sized kibbles to be excessively bulky and even difficult to digest.
The Hill’s Science Diet puppy food uses chicken meal as its protein source and has the same complete nutritional profile as our other suggested foods, including DHA from fish oil and an improved antioxidant blend for immune support.
Small Paws Puppy food is produced in the US and is safe for pups up to 1 year olds as well as pregnant or nursing dogs.
No Corn, Wheat, or Soy Hill’s Science Diet Puppy
Popular but not advised for dogs, grain-free dog meals have been associated with dilated cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal illness.
The Federal Drug Administration is still looking into the specific cause, but you can read more about why we don’t suggest grain-free dog diets here. However, some puppies need a special diet due to allergies to wheat or other foods (most typically an allergy to a certain type of protein). We suggest Hill’s Science Diet Puppy No Corn, Wheat, Soy for them.
The Hill’s Science Diet formula does not fully exclude grains; rather, it does away with common allergies and substitutes chicken with brown rice, whole grain oats, and pearled barley. For puppies up to a year old, it is advised. Its nutritionally complete mix contains taurine supplementation, balanced minerals, and DHA from fish oil, all of which promote healthy growth and development.
How to Choose a Puppy Food
Nutritional adequacy statement from AAFCO
Based on the most recent findings in pet nutrition, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, suggests nutrient profiles for pet foods. But they don’t check, certify, authorize, or control pet food. Instead, the group offers a benchmark for each state’s feed regulations. Foods must, however, adhere to the nutritional standards defined in AAFCO’s minimal specifications in order to be advertised as “complete and balanced.”
Complete and equilibrated
The food should be described on the label as being complete and balanced for the dog at the indicated life stages. It should be created for puppies in this situation.
Compared to wet
Wet foods have a moisture level of 75 to 78 percent, compared to 10 to 12 percent for dry foods. Wet food will help your dog stay more hydrated, but there is a cost because it may cause more tartar to accumulate on your dog’s teeth. Alternating between wet and dry meals is one way to receive the advantages of both.
Why Rely On The Spruce
Arricca SanSone, a lifetime dog enthusiast, is the author of this essay. She lives with two papillons that enjoy cuddling, soft toys, barking at bunnies, and delivery people. She conducted market research using criteria from the American Veterinary Medical Association, American College of Veterinary Nutrition, Association of American Feed Control Officials, and Pet Food Institute in addition to an interview with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. She writes on health and lifestyle for numerous publications, including Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, House Beautiful, and PureWow.