Best Puppy Food Brands

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What is the best puppy food?

A new puppy is a joy like no other. Maybe you are preparing to bring your new baby into your home, or maybe the pup is already there. And he’s hungry!

You have entered into a world of love and companionship, but there is a dizzying array of choices when it comes to what to feed your new friend.

To keep our puppies healthy and on good (and affordable) diet this year, for our 2018 best puppy food rankings I’ve used my personal experience in the pet food industry and employed the help of other experts to go through hundreds of dog food brands and formulas, and pick out twenty five best puppy foods.

Before we delve into the dog food rankings, let’s go over what you need to know about these all the dog food reviews, how the best puppy food brands were picked out using these top five picks as examples:

Puppy Food Brand Price Value Ingredients DFA Rating
Heritage Puppy and Junior Dog Food $$ $2.2/lb A+ 5.0/5
Naked Essentials Food $$ $2.7/lb A+ 5.0/5
CORE Natural Grain Free Food $$ $2.3/lb A 5.0/5
Orijen Puppy Formula $$$ $3.3/lb A 5.0/5
Instinct Raw Boost Puppy Recipe $$$ $3.5/lb A 5.0/5

* Click on the best puppy food brand for more information and prices, or scroll down below for details and more puppy food reviews.

Choosing the Best Puppy Foods

* When selecting the best puppy food brands, we took a number of factors into account. If none of the below mentioned choices are what you’re looking for, you can use this same formula to do your own research and find the best puppy foods for your dog yourself. 

There is no single best puppy food. The only thing we can do is analyze the ingredients of each puppy food formula and assess the company’s history and reputation, then draw a conclusion based on that.

In the US, there are two entities governing (to an extent; not the way human foods are protected) the quality and manufacturing process of pet foods – FDA and AAFCO. Some pet food companies also like to have their factories inspected by USDA when they produce organic puppy foods. Unfortunately, they do not do too good of a job in terms of preventing poor quality ingredients used in some dog food formulas.

What You Must Consider

The overall best puppy food will depend on your individual dog. That said, there is a way and somewhat of a formula to filter out all the bad dog foods and worst puppy food brands. The below listed twenty five picks are the result of this type of filtering.

Here’s what was considered and how you can do that, too:

  • Ingredient quality: based on currently available research of what’s harmful to dogs
  • Organizational requirements: how well and how many of those the product meets
  • Dog food recalls history: how many recalls, if any, the company has had and why
  • Company’s reputation: transparency of the manufacturing process and ingredient sourcing

These four areas, expanded into further subcategories which I explain below, were the major factors in assessing and picking out the best puppy food brands for our 2018 dog food rankings.

DFA. Note that for this list, we’ve also included Dog Food Advisor reviews, because the site has been very popular and many pet owners like to cross-reference our best puppy food reviews with DFA’s. I do not always agree with DFA, but there’s a ton of great advice and very accurate rankings on the site. Therefore, just for your convenience, we’ve provided Dog Food Advisor ratings alongside ours (and they often match).

Ranking Best Puppy Foods

Ultimately, for an objective point of view, there’s an abundant amount of criteria to consider in order to pick the absolute best puppy foods in any category. But according to research, canine nutritionist and veterinarians, there are ten factors that will help you to determine the best dog food for puppies.

In order of importance, use this to pick your ideal puppy food:

  1. [Puppy food brand] doesn’t contain suspicious or controversial ingredients
  2. [Puppy food brand] doesn’t contain chemical and/or artificial preservatives
  3. [Puppy food brand] doesn’t contain artificial flavorings or coloring agents
  4. [Puppy food brand] doesn’t contain unknown or anonymous ingredients
  5. [Puppy food brand] doesn’t contain foul ingredients and generic animal fats
  6. [Puppy food brand] has ratio between fat and protein that’s 60-80% (or lower)
  7. [Puppy food brand] has high protein percentage and high quality protein source
  8. [Puppy food brand] has medium to low amount of carbohydrates and grains
  9. The company meets most of AAFCO and organizational requirements
  10. The company discloses manufacturing location and ingredient sources

Other criteria can and should be taken into account, but the above ten factors will bring up some of the best puppy foods with great quality ingredients and safe for puppies. Use the above criteria to find the best dog food for puppies yourself, or scan through our list below for recommendations.

Value. Although we believe that reputation and quality should always be primary considerations, we know that for most pet parents cost and value for money are also deciding factors when choosing puppy food. For that reason, we also took bag size and cost into account when making our recommendations, and when it came to best puppy foods of equal quality, the more affordable brand is rated higher.

Assessing the Quality of Puppy Food

Let’s get into more details of how to assess what makes the best puppy food. This is a quick brief of further criteria that was used for these puppy food reviews and rankings.

Understanding nutritional requirements for puppies.

While many things apply equally to adult dogs and puppies (like quality of ingredients), the nutritional needs will differ. Growing puppies need a different ratio of protein (amino acids), calcium, phosphorus and calories in particular. Research shows that not following these means a puppy may develop a variety of growth-related health problems, musculoskeletal diseases and other issues (Lauten et al. 2002).

National Research Council (NRC) releases and updates nutritional requirements for dogs and cats every few years based on most current research. Merck Vet Manual has the full guideline for puppies right here. The AAFCO nutritional requirements for puppies are later adjusted and used for governing pet food companies and ensuring that dog food for puppies formulas are well-designed for growing dogs.

Avoid filler ingredients and prioritize meat content.

To save on costs, pet food companies add what’s called “fillers.” These usually come in the form plant-based foods, such as soy, corn, wheat, grains, rice and more. Although plant foods aren’t necessarily always bad for dogs, when it comes to puppies, many studies show that we must prioritize high quality meats as the first ingredient making up most of the puppy food formula content (Knight et al. 2016).

Avoid artificial agents, preservatives and additives.

Just like with human foods, it’s not uncommon to have artificial stuff in dog food (Potera, 2010). While some of those are not harmful, a large number of them are dangerous and should be avoided. The problem is that FDA still allows for these agents to be included in pet foods, thus we had to filter out all formulas with potentially harmful artificial ingredients.

High quality pet food will always be enticing to dogs, and will not require any additives.

These agents may be added for different reasons, but often to make the puppy food more palatable and flavorful, as well as add moisture (e.g. propylene glycol, which was shown to an irritant). However, vets agree that there is never a good reason to flavor dog food that’s high in meat content, because majority of dogs will prefer the natural taste. It’s only poor quality formulas that require additives.

Avoid (some) formulas with byproducts and meat meals.

Meat is expensive, and many pet food companies cannot justify the costs of including fresh beef, lamb, chicken or other animal protein source into their formulas. This is where byproducts and meat meals come in. The truth is that these are generally not dangerous to dogs, and in fact can increase the total protein concentration of the puppy food formula, according to studies (Funaba et al. 2005). However, there are several problems with manufacturing puppy foods this way.

The main issue is because nobody monitors what type of meat meals (rendered meats) will go into the dog food for puppies formula, meaning very low quality ingredients can become “meat meal,” nor do they see the process of rendering itself, meaning that nutrition can be lost. Dr Donna Spector, DVM wrote an article on PetMD how high temperatures during these manufacturing processes destroy nutrients, and in particular protein and enzymes.

Pick Your Best Puppy Food Brand Carefully

With all the above considered, and if you follow the outlined criteria that we’ve used to pick these best puppy foods, you’ll be able to pick and choose your own formulas that will be specifically designed for your own puppy’s growth and contain only high quality ingredients.

In summary, it’s important to reiterate how every dog is different, and you should always seek the best food for your individual pup. With so many variables to account for, it’s generally impossible to pick the absolute best puppy food brand that would be the optimal choice for all dogs (and all the dog food reviews websites that are telling you otherwise are wrong, or simply lying).

Instead, what you can do is (a) consider your personal situation, (b) all the puppy food ranking criteria mentioned above, (c) pay attention to organizational requirements, and (d) use your critical thinking. Here’s the formula I recommend you use if you want to choose your own puppy foods

Personalize + Critical Assessment + Requirements + Company’s Reputation = Best Puppy Food

This should give you a good start and you can do your own due diligence. That way you know that you’ve chosen something that’s good for your specific puppy rather than rely on something that may be.

To wrap this up, for pet owners who are looking for a selection of top rated best puppy foods in one place, after doing hundreds of dog food reviews myself, and getting help from other experts to plow through hundreds of puppy foods available today, we have managed to make a list of twenty five best puppy food brands, listed below. Note that affordability of each puppy food brand was also considered.

Choosing the best food for your puppy – nutrition guide

Why does it cost $47 for a 15-lb bag of top rated puppy food when it’s only $11 for the same weight of the bargain brand? The difference lies in the quality of the ingredients and in the food’s overall nutrient density.

Downside of (most) cheap brands is use of fillers like wheat or meat by-products to add weight to their kibble without driving up the cost.

Having too much or too little protein, vitamins, or minerals can cause serious problems in a fast-growing puppy, like joint and bone issues.

A puppy food with balanced nutrition will fuel your buddy for steady, healthy growth. What’s more, a bag of good puppy food will last much longer than a bag of the cheapest stuff. Quality dog foods have high nutrient density, so your pup won’t have to pig out to get all its protein. With this in mind, here’s what to look for in your little dog’s food bag.

The Ingredients We Want

Whole animal products. The very first ingredient listed should be a simple whole animal product like chicken, lamb, or salmon. Your pup’s first nutritional priority is protein, and he’ll need a quality source of it.

Healthy grains. Your buddy does need his carbs, but lots of cheap carbs like corn or wheat are sometimes packed into a kibble to keep the price down. That’s nothing but a bunch of calories for your buddy. Look for grains like rice, maizebuckwheat, or oats at reasonable levels.

Natural fats and oilsYour puppy needs these for energy and overall health. A food with generous quantities of fats and oils from quality plant and animal sources will make his coat shine and his muscles strong.

Essential vitamins and minerals. These include vitamins A, C, E, B-complex, calcium, phosphorus, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

The Ingredients We Don’t Want

Meat and vegetable by-products. This is a very vague term that can include old meat or products that came from sickor disabled animals. Yikes! Don’t leave this stuff to the imagination. Buy puppy food with recognizable meat ingredients.

Cheap grain fillers. Watch out for puppy food that is big on corn and wheat. While not inherently harmful, some brands include more of these cheap carbs than any other ingredient. Your puppy is a carnivore; pass on the corn.

Corn syrup. Much more harmful than grain fillers, this type of sugar is often used as a sweetener in dog foods. Too much sugar over time will cause overweight, diabetes and hyperactivity.

Chemicals. If you have a hard time pronouncing it, your pup will have a hard time digesting it. Specifically, avoid all pesticides and growth hormones. Also be on the lookout for BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Propylene Glycol (found in anti-freeze!), Hydrochloric Acid, synthetic Vitamin K, artificial flavors, artificial colors and preservatives. Bone meal, grain hulls, cellulose and sugar also have no place in your puppy’s bowl.

What is the best puppy food brand?

Before revealing the top 20 products, let’s examine top rated dog food brands and the reasons for including them in the list. There are many premium puppy foods that are advertised as the highest quality and safest option on the market, but not every fancy dog food can really be the best.

With so many choices, how do you know which one really is the right food for your puppy? To make this search easier, we’ve recommended some (in our opinion) of the best puppy food brands and compared characteristics of their products. Our ratings are based on each food’s reputation and ingredient quality.

Earthborn Holistic

Earthborn Holistic is produced by Midwestern Pet Food, Inc., in Evansville, Indiana. Midwestern has been in the same family for four generations. Currently, their dry foods are made in company facilities in Monmouth, Illinois. All ingredients in their pet products are from U.S. producers, except flaxseed, which is sourced from Canada. Their product line includes ten dog diets – six grain-free kibbles and four stews with gravy. Earthborn emphasizes an environmentally friendly philosophy in all its marketing and manufacturing processes. This pet food producer has never had a recall of its products.

Shop for Earthborn Holistic on Amazon.com

Wellness

Wellness started as a small family company in 1970. It has since grown into one of the truly great pet food brands on the market. Their uncompromising approach to quality ingredients results in healthy pets and noticeable reductions in allergies and other problems when changing from other foods.  Like many of the premium foods examined here, Wellness is one of the pricier brands on the market. That said, you really do get what you pay for with Wellness.

Shop for Wellness on Amazon.com

Taste of the Wild

Grain free, uncommon protein sources, excellent ingredients overall. The company quickly resolved a salmonella problem in 2012. TotW has committed to provide dog food that fulfills the instinctual cravings of a wild dog. This brand also includes eggs for a thick, luxurious coat.
Shop for Taste of the Wild on Amazon.com

Holistic Select

Holistic puts great emphasis on digestibility with probiotics, natural fiber, and digestive enzymes. Holistic employs quality standards that exceed those set by government regulation. Each product features meat from a single source (chicken formula only has chicken in it) for animals who are allergic to specific meats.
Shop for Holistic Select on Amazon.com

Blue Buffalo

BB packs a lot of protein into their puppy food. They also include “life source bits” which are pieces of food that are “cold formed”, a process that forms the kibble without damaging the nutritional value of the food with the high temperatures of normal processing. They have some controversial ingredients like carrageenan and caramel coloring in certain varieties, but these are in very limited quantities. Overall a very high quality food.

Shop for Blue Buffalo on Amazon.com

Natural Balance

Founded by Dick Van Patten in 1989, Natural Balance was sold to food giant Del Monte Foods in 2013. Users seem to agree that quality has not been compromised by the sale, so Natural Balance remains one of the highest quality brands on the market, while being priced a bit lower than some specialty brands. Customers hail it as a great option for dogs prone to allergies and other food related sensitivities.
Shop for Natural Balance on Amazon.com

Canidae

Another excellent American made dog food. Critics have identified a slightly higher carb and lower protein quotient than in some other premium brands, but years worth of satisfied customers tout Canidae as the perfect food for their dog. Users report better digestion and even better breath when switching over from other brands.
Shop for Canidae on Amazon.com

Castor & Pollux

A trusted source of excellent pet nutrition for 14 years. Their food is certified organic and hundreds of customers confirm it is a food that grows happy and healthy pets. Castor & Pollux uses only ingredients grown in the USA.
Shop for Castor & Pollux on Amazon.com

Top 14 best dry puppy foods

Since there isn’t such thing as best food for puppies of all breeds and sizes, we divided the best dry foods into 3 groups: for small, medium and large breed puppies. Each breed size has different metabolic needs and the puppy food industry now produces food for breeds of every size. These products are available on the internet, but a specialty pet store can also be very helpful. A shop in your area will likely feature a wide selection of puppy foods and the proprietors will be more than happy to help you find the right food for your new baby.

Best puppy food for small breeds

Small breed puppies (those who will mature at under 20 lbs) metabolize food very quickly. As a result, they must be fed more frequently than larger breeds. Feed your little tyke three or four times daily during her puppyhood. Insufficient calories during this stage of development can result in all kinds of unpleasantness like weakness, seizures, and growth impairment. Make sure it features at least 15% fat to fuel the rapid growth of these first months. For even smaller dogs, the miniatures and teacups, dehydration can be an issue. An easy fix is to mix a little bit of quality canned food (providing a high moisture content) into the normal dry kibble.

Small breed puppy food comparison chart

Image Name Main Ingredients Protein Fat Fiber Price
Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal 28.0% 18.0% 4.0% $$$$
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets® Potato & Duck Dry Dog Formula Potatoes, Duck Meal, Duck 21.0% 10.0% 3.0% $$$
Natural Balance Whole Body Health Dry Dog Formula Chicken, Brown Rice, Lamb Meal 23.0% 13.0% 3.0% $$$
Blue Buffalo Dry Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies, Chicken and Oatmeal Recipe Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal 29.0% 16.0% 4.0% $$$$
Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy(Protein 28%, Fat 15%, Fiber 4%) Salmon meal (high in DHA) supports brain development. Lots of fruit and veggie sources for a natural source of vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants. Healthy, easily digested grains – oatmeal and barley. Nothing artificial; no GMO’s; no meat by-products; no wheat, corn, or soy. Added natural Omega 3 and 6.

Check Price & Availability

Blue Buffalo Dry Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies, Chicken and Oatmeal Recipe(Protein 29%, Fat 16%, Fiber 4%) Quality chicken for flavor and amino acids. Oatmeal and barley are great gentle grains for puppies. Whole garlic, sweet potatoes, and carrots provide nutrients and fiber. Additional ingredients include blueberries, kelp, apples, alfalfa, and pumpkin making a nutritionally diverse and delicious puppy food.

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Natural Balance Dry Dog Food, Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet Small Bites Duck and Potato(Protein 21%, Fat, 10%, Fiber 3%) High quantities of more limited protein and carb sources for excellent nutrition while minimizing allergies and digestive problems. High quality duck is a protein source you don’t see much in dog food. Canola and Salmon oils provide Omega 3 and 6 as well as DHA. Natural Balance makes a point of not throwing in tons of different ingredients, instead providing just the right amount of proven healthy nutrition sources.
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Natural Balance Whole Body Health Dry Dog Formula(Protein 23%, Fat 13%, Fiber 3%) A very popular dog food that was made in a smaller kibble for the tinier puppies because of popular demand. This formula has been tested in many environments for its effect on digestion and overall health. Customers report that their pups give this one high marks for tastiness.

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25 Best Puppy Food Brands of 2018

1 Heritage Puppy and Junior Dog Food
 by Acana

  • Average Cost: $56 for 25 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.2/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • No grains, tapioca, potato, or GMO
  • Ethically raised meats
  • Sustainably fished fish
  • Biologically appropriate ratios
  • Made in Canada
  • No outsourced ingredients

The ACANA line of dog foods have long been one of the highly regarded by pet owners and veterinarians alike due to their manufacturing process, high quality ingredients, their sourcing, and transparency. However, they may also sometimes come at a higher price, particularly for dog owners in the USA (the company based and makes its food in Canada). This first best puppy food formula is void of fillers and fast-digesting carbs like rice, it doesn’t contain grains, potatoes or other controversial ingredients. The company claims to source their meets from farms where animals are ethically raised, and employ sustainable fishing practices for their fish-based formulas. None of the ingredients are outsourced outside of Canada.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
Crude protein (min.) 33 %
Fat content (min.) 20 %
Crude ash (max.) 7 %
Crude fibres (max.) 5 %
Moisture (max.) 12 %
Calcium (min.) 1.5 %
Phosphorus (min.) 1.1 %
Omega-6 fatty acids (min.) 2.7 %
Omega-3 fatty acids (min.) 1 %
DHA (min.) 0.3 %
EPA (min.) 0.3 %
Glucosamine (min.) 1400 mg/kg
Chondroitin sulfate (min.) 900 mg/kg
Linoleic acid (min.) 2.5 %
Carbohydrate (NFE) 23 %

 

2 Naked Essentials Puppy Recipe Kibble
 by I and love and you

  • Average Cost: $10.99 for 4 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.7/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Grain-free formula
  • No fillers
  • Corn, wheat, rice, and soy free food formula
  • Made without by-product meals
  • No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors
  • Holistic food
  • Made in the USA

As a new kid on the block, oddly-named I and love and you line of pet foods have quickly gone up in rankings due to their attention to high quality ingredients with no grains, fillers, corn, rice, soy, wheat and other known controversial additives. This second best puppy food formula is made without any byproducts or meat meals, and the company claims this as “holistic” food, although this marketing term has no meaning under FDA and AAFCO pet food labeling requirements. Another notable aspect of this best puppy food brand from I and love and you is their popularity among pet owners and their dogs – a very high ratio of adaptability, most likely explained by natural and wholesome ingredients, which most dogs are likely to prefer over artificial additives and agents.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 32.0% min
CRUDE FAT 15.% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% min
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA) 0.05% min
CALCIUM 1.2% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.0% min
VITAMIN A 10,000 IU/kg min
VITAMIN E 100 IU/kg min
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 0.9% min
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 2.2% min

 

3 CORE Natural Puppy
 by Wellness Core

  • Average Cost: $57 for 24 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.3/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Grain-free formula
  • Gluten-free formula
  • Protein-rich
  • Made with superfoods to ensure premium nutrition
  • Contains probiotics for optimal digestive health
  • Made with no meat by-products
  • Formulated without fillers
  • Available in resealable bags for freshness
  • Made without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

One of the well-known names in the pet food industry, Wellness CORE puppy formula is designed with high meat percentage and very low number of fillers. It contains no grains or meat byproducts, no artificial preservatives, gluten, coloring or flavors. For a company this size, it’s very refreshing to see them being particularly careful about formulating protein-rich best puppy foods, which also contain premium ingredients, added probiotics and digestive enzymes. However, while may be helpful, studies show that the small amounts of these beneficial additives in pet foods are unlikely to affect dogs in any way.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 36.0% min
CRUDE FAT 18.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 1.5% max
PHOSPHORUS 1.0% max
VITAMIN E 400 IU/kg
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 3.50% min
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 0.6% min
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA)* 0.1% min
BETA-CAROTENE 5 mg/kg min
TOTAL LACTIC ACID MICROORGANISMS* +80,000,000 CFU/lb min

 

4 Puppy Dry Food
 by Orijen

  • Average Cost: $84 for 25 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $3.3/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Rich in protein and fat for healthy growth
  • Low-glycemic carbohydrate formula
  • Contains no rendered poultry meals
  • Made using free-run chicken and turkey, nest-laid eggs, and wild-caught fish
  • Made with whole-prey ratios for a nutritious well-rounded diet
  • Made in the USA
  • Never outsources their ingredients
  • Made using fresh regional ingredients
  • Formulated with fresh and dehydrated proteins for higher quality nutrition

Another popular dog food brand among veterinarians, Orijen manufactures high quality protein-rich dog foods with a low percentage of carbohydrates. This fourth best puppy food formula from Orijen has no rendered meat byproducts, higher level of fats for puppy’s growth, low number of carbohydrates and ethically raised chicken and turkey as their animal protein source. The company’s reputation is in good standing as Orijen is known for their transparency, made in America pet foods without outsourcing ingredients, and formulating their foods with only fresh and dehydrated proteins. The only two problems some pet owners may find with this fourth best puppy food brand is the taste, which not all puppies prefer, and the cost, which due to higher quality ingredients is often more expensive than other brands.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
Crude protein (min.) 38 %
Crude fat (min.) 20 %
Crude fiber (max.) 6 %
Moisture (max.) 12 %
Calcium (min.) 1.2 %
Phosphorus (min.) 0.9 %
Omega-6 fatty acids (min.) 3.5 %
Omega-3 fatty acids (min.) 0.8 %
DHA (min.) 0.2 %
EPA (min.) 0.2 %
Glucosamine (min.) 700 mg/kg
Chondroitin sulfate (min.) 600 mg/kg

 

5 Instinct Raw Boost Puppy Grain-Free Recipe
 by Nature’s Variety

  • Average Cost: $69.99 for 20 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $3.5/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Provides the convenience of kibble and the benefit of raw feeding
  • Grain-free formula
  • High protein kibble that incorporates freeze-dried raw food
  • Made using cage-free chicken
  • Minimally processed formulas
  • No potatoes, corn, wheat, or soy
  • Made without artificial preservatives or colors
  • No by-product meal

The fifth best puppy food pick is from another established and known company, Nature’s Variety, and their different approach to manufacturing pet foods. This Instinct Raw Boost Puppy formula is the 2-in-1 way to buy kibble and raw dog food with convenience. Very high protein and completely grain-free, the ingredients and their quality are the reason why it ranks among the top best puppy foods on many veterinarian’s and dog food reviews websites. All foods go through very little processing, contain no known fillers or byproducts, and their protein source is always cage-free chicken. If raw feeding is what you’d like to try with your young dog, then this fifth best puppy food formula from Nature’s Variety is where it’s at.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 33.5% min
CRUDE FAT 15.5% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.5% max
MOISTURE 9.0% max
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA 0.05% min
CALCIUM 1.2% min
CALCIUM 1.6% max
PHOSPHORUS 1.0% min
ZINC 120 mg/kg min
VITAMIN E 120 IU/kg min
ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C) 100 mg/kg min
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 0.8% min
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 3.2% min
BACILLUS COAGULANTS 60,000,000 CFU/lb min

 

6 GO! FIT + FREE™ Puppy Recipe
 by Petcurean

  • Average Cost: $70 for 25 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.8/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • This best puppy food is made with pre and probiotics for good digestive health
  • No beef
  • Corn, wheat, and soy free
  • Made with no by-product meals
  • No artificial preservatives
  • No added growth hormones
  • Gluten-free

Another newer company on the pet food industry stage, Petcurean are quickly gaining popularity among pet owners due to their carefully crafted recipes. We’ve had their chief nutritionist, Dr Jennifer Adolphe, on our podcast several times (and here) where she revealed the company’s philosophy and the way the company makes their foods. Our editor-in-chief Samantha has also reviewed several of their formulas in greater detail. Overall, this sixth best puppy food brand is a healthy and affordable option for most pet owners, contains no artificial ingredients or byproducts, no fillers or gluten, no growth hormones or additives. There’s an added amount of extra probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes, and they don’t use beef for their best puppy foods to avoid triggering allergies in young dogs.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 36.0% min
CRUDE FAT 18.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 3.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 2.2% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.3.0% min
DHA 0.17% min
EPA 0.16% min
OMEGA-6 2.4% min
OMEGA-3 0.48% min
MICROORGANISMS 90,000,000 CFU/lb min

 

7 Amicus Puppy Food
 by Horizon

  • Average Cost: $32 for 11 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.9/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Triple animal protein formula
  • Low glycemic index carbohydrate sources
  • High antioxidant levels
  • Small, bite-sized kibble
  • Grain-free formula
  • Made and controlled by a privately-owned manufacturing plant

The seventh best puppy food brand is from a lesser known company that not many pet owners are aware of but it’s worth your attention – Horizon. The company is mostly focused on small breeds and their nutrition, so if you have a puppy or small dog, this may be worth taking a look at. This best puppy food formula in particular uses three meat sources, what they call the “triple animal protein” formula, and a very low number of carbohydrates. Horizon includes premium ingredients that result in a high level of antioxidants in all of their pet foods, all of which are manufactured in a strictly regulated factory with a transparent process for pet owners to know how their dogs’ foods are made.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 32.0% min
CRUDE FAT 18.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
ASH 7.4% max
CALCIUM 1.11% min
PHOSPHORUS 0.9% min
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 1.1% min
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 3.0% min

 

8 Ultra Formula
 by Annamaet

  • Average Cost: $69 for 30 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.3/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 4.5/5

Features:

  • No corn, wheat, or soy
  • Made in the USA
  • This best puppy food is appropriate for gestation, lactation, growth, and maintenance
  • Annamaet is one of the few dog food companies that have never had dog food recalls

Another less popular dog food brand, Annamaet is a USA-made pet food company and manufactures specific pet food formulas that are often great for dogs with certain health conditions or in certain life stages, such as growth or lactation. This eight best puppy food brand, and the whole line of products, never had any recalls and generally have a great reputation among their small fan base of pet owners. Ingredients are always fresh animal meat sources followed by high quality vegetables, no soy, corn or wheat. This is a mid-range food on this list of best puppy foods, and is generally fairly affordable.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
Crude Protein, not less than 32.00%
Crude Fat, not less than 20.00%
Crude Fiber, not more than 3.00%
Moisture, not more than 10.00%
Ash, max 6.8%
Omega 6 Fatty Acids* min 3.50%
Omega 3 Fatty Acids* min 1.0%
DHA* min 0.3%
L-Carnitine* min 35mg/kg

 

9 Earthborn Holistics Puppy Vantage
 by Wells Pet Food

  • Average Cost: $42 for 28 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $1.5/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 4/5

Features:

  • Balanced Omega fatty acids
  • Earthborn is another of the few dog food companies who have never had a dog food recall
  • Premium protein sources
  • Reclosable bags for fresher food
  • Made with whole food ingredient
  • Purchases support the UPC for Trees program

At the ninth place is a much more popular brand, and significantly more affordable when compared to the above mentioned eight best puppy food formulas. Wells Pet Food’s Earthborn Holistics is favored by many pet owners, even though there may be a few small issues with their ingredient formulation. Nevertheless, this remains a healthy choice for majority of puppies, with a well-balanced omega-3 additives, premium quality animal protein sources and following whole food vegetables to make up the rest. Yet another company that has never had any dog food recalls, and they have been around for a while. Even though the term “holistic” should not be part of your consideration, the company seems to follow what they believe being holistic actually means, making this one of the cheaper best puppy food formulas on the list.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 28.0% min
CRUDE FAT 20.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 1.3.0% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.1% min
VITAMIN E 250 IU/kg min
ASCORBIC ACID 100 mg/kg min
L-CARNITINE 50 mg/kg min
BETA-CAROTENE 5 mg/kg min
TAURINE 0.05% min
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 3.25% min
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 1.25% min
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA) 0.1% min

 

10 Range Hearty Recipe
 by Nature’s Select

  • Average Cost: $62.89 for 28 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.2/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Grain-free formula
  • High protein and low carbohydrate formula
  • Gluten-free recipe

Rarely found at online retailers’ websites, and most often bought in local pet stores, Nature’s Select line of pet foods has been well-rated by our team, by veterinarians and Dog Food Advisor. This tenth best puppy food formula in the mid-range budget is simple yet healthy for most young dogs with no specific health problems. It’s grain-free, high in protein and low in carbohydrates. They often include several meat sources in their formulations, which makes up for a large percentage of protein on the label. If you’re afraid of the popular dog food brands that have been receiving some negative publicity, this smaller pet food company and their tenth rated best puppy food formulation may be more along your alley.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
Crude Protein Min 33%
Crude Fat Min 16%
Crude Fiber Max 3.5%
Moisture Max 9%
Zinc Min 150mg/kg
Selenium Min 0.4 mg/kg
L-Carnitine* Min 50mg/kg
Linolenic Acid (an omega 3 fatty acid) Min 0.4%
Linoleic Acid (an omega 6 fatty acid) Min 2.5%

 

11 Freestyle Grain-Free Dry Food
 by Nulo

  • Average Cost: $51 for 24 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.1/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Grain-free formula
  • Contains no chicken or egg protein
  • Low glycemic index formula
  • Contains 80% animal-based proteins
  • Made with patented probiotics to aid in digestion
  • Made in the USA
  • This best puppy food is made with alternative carbs to promote slow-burning energy
  • Made without potatoes, tapioca, corn, wheat, and soy
  • Contains no artificial preservatives, flavoring, or colors
  • No GMO’s

Nulo is quickly becoming the go-to product for new pet owners as they are first to research for best dog food brands: they have a great company reputation, their formulations contain perfect ingredient profile and, what’s very important for many new pet owners, their line of foods is very affordable, ranging somewhere between “budget” to “mid-range.” However, the lower price range doesn’t seem to be reflected in their quality, and this best puppy food formula is solid proof of that. It contains no grains, low number of carbohydrates to make it very low GI formulation, no potatoes, tapioca, corn, wheat, soy or other fillers and no GMOs. All-American made, and with careful attention to detail, we’ve also had them previously on the site and reviewed a few of their products in greater detail. This eleventh best puppy food brand in particular is very high in protein (up to 80%) and contains added probiotics and digestive enzymes.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 30% min
CRUDE FAT 18% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.5% max
MOISTURE 10% max
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID* (DHA) 0.80% min
CALCIUM 1.20% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.10% min
VITAMIN E 300 IU/kg min
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 3.30% min
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 2.50% min
ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C) 65 mg/kg min
BACILLUS COAGULANS 80,000,000 CFU/lb min

 

12 Natural & Delicious Chicken Grain-Free
 by Farmina

  • Average Cost: $74.66 for 26.4 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.8/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Grain-free
  • Cruelty-free formula
  • Made with ingredients that are never frozen
  • GMO-free
  • Limited carbohydrate formula
  • Low-glycemic formula
  • Gluten-free

A well-known mid-range pet food brand, Farmina’s best puppy food formula is the first on the list where the company claims cruelty-free and “never frozen” manufacturing process. When it comes to ingredients, there doesn’t seem to be any problems there, as the company’s formulations have been rated highly among vets and other dog food ranking websites for years. This twelfth best puppy food formula is made without grains, gluten or GMOs, very low number of carbs and fresh chicken. Moving past the ingredients and looking around, pet owners have been big fans of Farmina foods for years, with a great reviews on Amazon and Chewy, and generally speaking well about the company on pet forums. The only issue with this best puppy food recipe is that it’s just as healthy as some other best puppy foods mentioned above, but it costs slightly more, all of their foods ranging somewhere between Mid-Range and coming closer to Premium.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 42.0% min
CRUDE FAT 22.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 2.3.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
ASH 8.6% max
CALCIUM 1.5% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.0% min
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 3.4% min
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 1.2% min
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA) 0.7% min
EICOSAPENTAENOIC ACID (EPA) 0.4% min
GLUCOSAMINE 900/kg min
CHONDROITIN SULFATE 600/kg min

 

13 SubZero Puppy Fraser Valley
 by Nutrience

  • Average Cost: $62.99 for 22 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.8/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • High protein formulas
  • Made in Canada
  • Made with pre and probiotics to aid in healthy digestion
  • Grain-free formula
  • Made using coconut oil for added health benefits
  • Made with wild-caught fish sources
  • Convenient kibble combined with freeze-dried raw benefits
  • Made with fresh and never frozen protein sources

In the same price range as the above mentioned option, Nutrience is another well-made dog food for puppies with great quality ingredients and healthy formulation, but far less popular among pet owners. This is another brand that’s rarely found online but most commonly bought from local pet stores. Nevertheless, the company deserves some praise for their transparent and strict manufacturing practices. All made and sourced in Canada, this thirteenth best puppy food brand has a high protein formulation, no grains, or other fillers. Moreover, this is one of the healthy additive-friendly best puppy foods on this list, as the company often adds probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, coconut oil, and other supplementation to reinforce the recipe. This one specifically is made from “never frozen protein sources”, according to Nutrience themselves, and with wild-caught fish sources.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
Crude protein min. 38.0%
Crude fat min. 18.0%
Crude fiber max. 3.5%
Moisture max. 10.0%
Docosahexaenoic acid* (DHA) Min. 0.21%
Calcium min. 1.1%
Phosphorus min. 0.9%
Vitamin A min. 20,000 IU/kg
Vitamin D3 min. 1,300 IU/kg
Vitamin E min. 130 IU/kg
Omega-6 fatty acids* min. 3.5%
Omega-3 fatty acids* min. 0.4%
Total microorganisms* min. 225,000,000 CFU/lb

 

14 Barking at the Moon
 by Solid Gold

  • Average Cost: $60.99 for 24 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.5/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Grain-free formula
  • Gluten-free formula
  • Made in USA based facilities
  • Made without meat by-product meal
  • Contains no corn, wheat, or soy
  • Sugar-free
  • Made without added artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Made with superfoods for premium nutrition
  • Approved for feeding to all life stages

Moving along towards more often overlooked great quality dog foods for puppies, and lesser knwon among pet owners, Solid Gold deserves a mention on the best puppy foods lists as much as any others we’ve already picked out. The company has great reputation, albeit not very popular, and their pet foods are often made without any grains, gluten, meat by-products, corn, soy, wheat or other fillers. It’s a USA made dog food for puppies with average protein amount, which is designed to fit dogs of all ages. That said, the reason it’s ranked as the fourteenth best puppy food brand even though it’s cheaper than a few above mentioned formulas is because “all life stages” may not always be a great fit for puppies. There re some talks regarding this among veterinarians, and you’d better consult your vet, too.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 41.0% min
CRUDE FAT 20.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
ZINC 200 mg/kg min
VITAMIN E 250 IU/kg min
ASCORBIC ACID 50 mg/kg min
TAURINE 0.05% min
L-CARNITINE 25 mg/kg min
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 2.75% min
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 1.5% min
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA) 0.05% min
LACTIC ACID BACTERIA 2 x 105 cfu/g min

 

15 Active Puppy Formula Grain-Free
 by Victor Dog Food

  • Average Cost: $47 for 30 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $1.5/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 4/5

Features:

  • Grain-free formula
  • Approved for feeding during all life stages
  • Contains no corn, wheat, or soy
  • Gluten-free formula
  • Made with prebiotics to support healthy digestion
  • Contains USA sourced proteins

Pet owners looking for the best puppy foods that are affordable will find Victor’s dog food a great alternative to the above mentioned Earthborn. It’s a cheap puppy food that’s healthy for majority of dogs without any issues. It’s grain free and has no gluten, soy, wheat, corn or other additives. The company is less transparent about their manufacturing process, but claims to use USA sourced animal proteins. Most of their formulas have added probiotics and digestive enzymes to support puppies’ digestion. This is also the “All Life Stages” formulation, meaning that it works for both adult dogs and puppies, and I’ve already explained the small issue with that above. Overall, this is one of the best puppy food brands for an affordable price and worth taking a look at.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 33.0% min
CRUDE FAT 16.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 3.8% max
MOISTURE 9.0% max
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 2.8% min
ZINC 150 mg/kg min
SELENIUM 0.4 mg/kg min
VITAMIN E 150 IU/kg min
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 0.4% min
L-CARNITINE 50 mg/kg min
DHA 0.1% min

 

16 Rocky Mountain Medley
 by Wild Calling

  • Average Cost: $71 for 25 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.8/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Grain-free
  • Appropriate for all life stages
  • Various recipes of this best puppy food allow for rotational feeding of multiple proteins
  • No fillers
  • No chicken byproducts
  • Gluten-free
  • Unique proteins for dogs with protein-based allergies
  • Food guaranteed for a full refund if you are not completely satisfied
  • A family-owned
  • Made in the USA

Getting back to Mid-Range to Premium cost pet foods, Wild Calling formulation is a great choice for pet owners who can afford paying $70+ for a 25 lbs bag. It’s not a popular company among pet owners, and is often bought in local pet stores, but their recipes are good quality and on the paper are very healthy. This sixteenth best puppy food recipe specifically is grain free, designed for rotational feeding with multiple proteins, and contains no usual bad agents – no fillers, byproducts, gluten, additives, etc. This is a brand that has more unique type of animal protein sources, and often include three types in every one of their formulations. And like with other best puppy foods mentioned above, this is the “All Life Stages” formula, meaning it works for both adult dogs and puppies alike.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 32.0% min
CRUDE FAT 18.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 9.0% max
CALCIUM 2.0% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.25% min
VITAMIN E 150 IU/kg min

 

17 40/16 Food
 by Young Again

  • Average Cost: $129 for 40 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $3.2/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • No plant protein products
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Limited carbohydrate content
  • Highly digestible protein ingredients
  • Appropriate for all life stages

Another “All Life Stages” formulation on our best puppy foods list, the Young Again puppy recipe contains no plant protein sources, no gluten or grains, and a low number of carbohydrates. Their first ingredient is hydrolyzed pork, which some pet owners may find concerning, but there’s no reason to be as we have not seen any evidence regarding this as of yet. What we do know is that this protein is highly digestible among most adult dogs, but it’s still unclear how it affects puppies. Overall, their nutrient profile is well-rated and the company had great Dog Food Advisor reviews for a few years. That said, it’s a more expensive product and a few other best puppy food brands mentioned above may be more affordable for most.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
Crude Protein (min) 40%
Crude Fat (min) 16%
Crude Fiber (max) 3.0%
Soluble Fiber 1.91%
Carbohydrates (digestible) 20.0%
Ash (max) 7.0%
Moisture 10%

 

18Puppy Raw Blend
by Stella & Chewy’s

  • Average Cost: $79.99 for 22 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $3.6/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Offers the benefit of raw feeding mixed with the convenience of kibble
  • Grain-free recipes
  • Made in the USA
  • Made with grass-fed, wild caught, cage free, and organic ingredients
  • Potato-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Added probiotics for digestive health
  • No ingredients from China
  • Ingredient transparency

Stella and Chewy’s has been one of the best known pet food companies manufacturing raw blend foods for puppies and adult dogs. Today, they’re mostly chosen by pet owners with adult dogs and their puppy formulas are far less popular due to palatability and the fact that many young dogs don’t seem to love the taste, for whatever reason. However, speaking of quality, Stella & Chewy’s eighteenth best puppy food recipe stands out: USA made, it’s grain free, contains no potatoes or gluten, with a very low level of carbs, all sourced in America and manufactured by a company that values transparency and being open about their practices. Stella & Chewy’s have a big following and for the price, their raw formulation is one of the most affordable puppy foods out there.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 45.0% min
CRUDE FAT 30.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 5.0% max
MICROORGANISMS 10,000,000 CFU/oz min

 

19 Human Grade Grain-Free
 by The Honest Kitchen

  • Average Cost: $86 for 10 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $8.6/lb*
    * (dehydrated dog food makes up to 40 lb. real food)
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Grain-free formulas
  • Made with whole foods
  • Dehydrated food is easy to travel with
  • Limited ingredient formulas available
  • Appropriate for all life stages
  • 100% human grade ingredients
  • Made in the USA
  • No by-products
  • No preservatives
  • No GMO’s

Moving towards more dehydrated dog food for puppies, The Honest Kitchen is the best known brand out there, and for a good reason. The company is open about their manufacturing process, and are known for their human grade pet foods and extremely meticulous process of making the healthiest raw dog food possible. This nineteenth best puppy food recipe is perfect for owners looking to start off their young dogs on dehydrated raw food without any grains. The nutrient profile of this formulation is outstanding, with all USA sourced ingredients, 100% human grade, no preservatives or by-products. The Honest Kitchen is also well-known for their high quality limited ingredient formulas, and there’s one available with this “All Life Stages” formulation as well. The food is on the expensive side, however.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 24.0% min
CRUDE FAT 15.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 6.5% max
MOISTURE 8.5% max

 

20 Pureformance Food
 by Grandma Lucy’s

  • Average Cost: $76 for 10 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $7.6/lb*
    * (freeze-dried dog food makes 55 lb. of real food)
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Freeze-dried formula contains increased nutritional content.
  • Grain-free formulas.
  • Made by a family owned and operated company.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Minimally processed formulas.
  • Easy to transport and prepare on the go.
  • Appropriate for all life stages.
  • Contains no preservatives.
  • Low glycemic index formulas

Closely following the above mentioned option, the Grandma Lucy’s freeze-dried dog food for puppies (“All Life Stages” formula) is a great alternative that’s slightly cheaper. They’re not officially human grade and are less transparent about the process than The Honest Kitchen (but then who isn’t), but are much more open about the manufacturing and sourcing of products than a large majority of other pet food companies out there. All-American made formulas with no preservatives or byproducts, their twentieth best puppy food recipe is something to take a look at if freeze-dried dog foods is what you’re after.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN (MIN) 34.0%
CRUDE FAT (MIN) 9.0%
CRUDE FIBER (MAX) 6.5%
MOISTURE (MAX) 6.1%
CALCIUM (MIN) 1.0%
PHOSPHORUS (MAX) 0.46%
MAGNESIUM (MIN) 0.14%

 

21 Regionals Dog Food
 by Acana

  • Average Cost: $65.99 for 25 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.6/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • This puppy food is based on biologically appropriate formulas
  • Protein-rich and carbohydrate limited foods
  • Made with free-range, ranch-raised, and wild-caught meats and fish
  • Made using regional fresh ingredients
  • Never outsourced to alternative manufacturers
  • 50% of fish used in Acana Regionals is fresh or raw fish
  • Approved for all life stages
  • Utilizes whole prey feeding ratios
  • Includes few synthetic supplements and additives

We’ve already picked one option from ACANA as the first best puppy food brand on this list, but if you’re looking for an alternative that’s designed for all life stages, then look no further than the same company that has gained a lot of attention for their high quality ingredients and strict manufacturing practices. It’s rated lower mostly because of the price and giving some attention to other companies of the same quality of ingredients, but they’re still one of the more affordable Mid-range to Premium best puppy foods out there.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
Crude protein (min.) 33 %
Crude fat (min.) 17 %
Crude fiber (max.) 6 %
Moisture (max.) 12 %
Calcium (min.) 1.8 %
Phosphorus (min.) 1.2 %
Omega-6 fatty acids* (min.) 2 %
Omega-3 fatty acids* (min.) 0.6 %
DHA* (min.) 0.1 %
EPA* (min.) 0.1 %
Glucosamine* (min.) 600 mg/kg
Chondroitin sulfate* (min.) 800 mg/kg

 

22 Homestyle Complete
 by Bravo!

  • Average Cost: $78.18 for 6 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $13/lb*
    * (freeze-dried dog food makes up to 30 lb real food)
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Freeze-Fried formulas provide fresher and more nutritious food
  • A great alternative to traditional raw feeding that is easy to transport and always fresh
  • Made in the USA by a family-owned
  • Tested for food safety prior to shipping
  • No added hormones or antibiotics
  • No artificial preservatives, flavors or colors
  • Approved for all life stages

Another lesser known company on the list of best puppy foods, Bravo! has a decent nutrient profile that we liked, some pet owners following and is also well rated on Dog Food Advisor and among veterinarians. It’s another freeze-dried dog food for puppies option (all life stages), however, significantly more expensive than the few other freeze-dried best puppy food recipes we’ve already picked out.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 38.0% min
CRUDE FAT 8.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 20.0% max

 

23 Limited Ingredient Food
 by Great Life

  • Average Cost: $67.62 for 25 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.7/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 4.5/5

Features:

  • Grain-free formula
  • Approved for all life stages
  • GMO-free
  • Gluten-Free
  • Single source protein formulas make this a good food for puppies with food allergies
  • Sourced and made in the USA
  • Highly digestible formulas

A small company, often selling in local pet stores and occasionally on Amazon or Chewy, Great Life has a good nutrient profile and is Mid-Range in terms of pricing. The company makes their foods in USA and sources all ingredients in America, and this all life stages formula is grain free, without any fillers, GMOs, gluten or other potentially harmful additives. There’s only one animal protein, and depending on the formula, it’s likely to be a novel protein source (such as buffalo), which may be easier on the puppy’s digestion and in case the puppy has sensitive stomach or food allergies.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
CRUDE PROTEIN 27.0% min
FAT 12.0% min
FIBER 2.5% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max

 

24Humankind Dog Food
(recently discontinued)

  • Average Cost: $99.99 for 10 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $10/lb*
    * (dehydrated dog food makes 37 lb of real food)
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • This best puppy food is made with 100% human-grade quality ingredients
  • The first bag is free, just pay shipping and handling
  • Recipes are based on whole foods as sources of nutrients
  • Grain-free
  • Full ingredient transparency
  • Made in the USA
  • Contains no ingredients from China

 

25 Total Grain Free
 by Nutram

  • Average Cost: $20.99 for 6 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $3.5/lb
  • Overall Rating:
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Features:

  • Holistic food
  • Grain-free
  • Made in Canada
  • Recommended for all life stages
  • Low glycemic index formulas
  • Formulas promote full-body health by targeting gut health and balance first and foremost

The final pick on the list of best puppy foods is another lesser known company, often sold only in local pet food stores, but worth a mention due to their Mid-Range to Premium pricing and high quality ingredients. This last best puppy food brand is grain free, made for all life stages with low number of carbohydrates and high protein percentage. The company claims this as holistic formulation, however, as mentioned above, this term carries no weight. All their foods are made in Canada under strict regulations, thus making this a great choice for pet owners looking for an average-to-expensive priced high quality dog food for puppies.

INGREDIENTSANALYSIS
Crude Protein minimum 36.0%
Crude Fat minimum 17.0
Crude Fiber maximum 5.5%
Moisture maximum 10.0%
Calcium minimum 1.4%
Phosphorus minimum 1.0%
Omega-3 Fatty Acids* minimum 1.0%
Omega-6 Fatty Acids* minimum 2.7%

Take Home Message

Always use extra care and caution when switching your puppy’s food. When you switch your puppy from one food to another always make the switch slowly. A sudden change in food can cause gastric upset which can lead to complications in young dogs.

The food transition should take place over a one to 13-day period as follows:

  • Day 1-2 (1-4 for sensitive dogs): Feed 75% of your puppy’s original food and 25% of the new food.
  • Day 3-4 (5-8): Feed 50% of your puppy’s original food and 50% of the new food.
  • Day 5-6 (9-12): Feed 25% of your puppy’s original food and 75% of the new food.
  • Day 7 (13): Feed 100% of the new food.

If your puppy shows signs of gastric upset (gas, diarrhea) during their new food transition, slow down the transition period.

If your puppy is still having gastric problems after slowing their food transition, consult your veterinarian right away. They may be suffering from food allergies or illness and young dogs can quickly succumb to diarrhea, dehydration, and nutritional deficiency if left untreated.

The Best Grain Free Food for Puppies

Higher quality ingredients tend to equal a higher price tag. But sometimes, what’s not in the food is just as important as what is in the food.

Case in point: grains.

Grain free puppy food seems like all the rage these days—and yes, it’s a bit more expensive than the bargain brand selections. You may be wondering, is it really worth it spending a little extra dough on food for your puppy that doesn’t have grains in it?

The answer? Generally yes. Grain free puppy food is a great choice for your canine companion.

Why? Because grains can promote inflammation, gut biome disturbance, and an overactive immune system response when ingested by puppies. This is likely related to the fact that canines did not evolve eating grains. So, their digestive systems have not had time to adjust to the overwhelming amount of wheat, corn, and soy commonly found in most dog foods.

Fortunately, making the decision to go grain-free can help improve your dog’s health in a variety of ways:

  • Shinier, smoother, and healthier skin and coat
  • Increased energy
  • Less shedding
  • More regulated digestive system (better/smaller stools and less gas)
  • Better breath and oral health (because plaque-building bacteria love sugar)
  • May reduce food allergies

Grain free puppy food also tends to have other high quality ingredients, making it an even better buy for your sweet pup. Take Nulo Puppy Dry Food. Not only is this food free of corn, soy, wheat, or white potatoes, but it also contains a proprietary blend of real animal protein (like turkey and salmon) complete with amino acids and essential fatty acids which are necessary for proper brain, bone, and organ development.

Nulo Puppy Dry Food also contains a patented probiotic blend which will help your little doggie stay healthy and strong as he grows up. It’s also low in carbs which will help your puppy develop a lean and healthy weight.

At nearly $63 for a 24 lb bag, it’s definitely pricier than some other grain free foods out there. But reviewers have commented that their dogs appear healthier and more energetic after eating it, plus the pups really seem to enjoy the taste.

The best puppy milk replacement

What if your puppy is very, very young? Most of us receive our fuzzy friends at six to eight weeks of age, already weaned. Your puppy’s mother’s milk is perfectly formulated to meet every nutritional need during this critical stage of intense development. If you have a younger dog, for whatever reason, best puppy food for him are milk replacers like Esbilac are available for unweaned puppies. They feature the critical balance of fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals that would be naturally present in a mother’s milk. Beyond the age of eight weeks, your buddy will be ready to move on to hard food. We hope that our puppy food reviews and buying guide help you find just the right food for your little doggie, and that he gobbles it up fast. Healthy food is a lifelong investment in your dog, and it is never more important than when he is a pup.

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