Best Puppy Food in 2022

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puppy eating food

A thriving puppy will turn into a flourishing adult — with the best puppy food. And it’s essential to feed your pup with the correct ratio of ingredients so they can grow healthy and strong — without health issues.

So, what’s the best dog food for puppies to help them flourish? 

My favorite option is CANIDAE PURE Puppy Dry Dog Food

This simple recipe with nine ingredients is perfect for picky, growing, and compromised pups. It doesn’t include any fillers or elements that can trigger allergies, but it’s filled with healthy components that boost brain, gut, and muscle health. And, it’s safe for puppies of all breeds, sizes under 18 months. 

But that’s not all — we have a list of 10 total options. From wet food to a premium option for spoiled pups, we have the best puppy food for puppies listed here.

And, you’re bound to find one that suits your wants, and the needs of your young pooch. 

Our Best Puppy Food

  1. CANIDAE PURE Puppy Dry Dog Food (Best Dry Food for Puppies)
  2. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites Dry Dog Food (Best for Small Breed Puppies)
  3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Medium Breed Puppies)
  4. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food (Best Large Breed Puppies)
  5. Solid Gold Love At First Bark Beef Grain-Free Canned Dog Food (Best Wet Puppy Food)
  6. Whole Earth Farms Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food (Best Budget Puppy Food)
  7. ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food (Best Premium Puppy Food)
  8. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best Grain-Free Puppy Food)
  9. NomNom Dog Food (Best Fresh Puppy  Food)
  10. Holistic Select Adult & Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Puppies With Sensitive Stomachs) 

10 Best Dog Food for Puppies Reviewed 

The dog foods below follow the AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines. Before choosing the best puppy food for your dog, consult with your veterinarian about the best diet for them. 


Best Dry Food

CANIDAE PURE Puppy Dry Dog Food

CANIDAE PURE Wholesome Grains Real Salmon Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Oatmeal, Barley
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 526 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein dry puppy food made with limited ingredients for all diets

All puppies deserve an excellent start to life — with food that fits their nutritional needs. CANIDAE PURE Puppy formula is the perfect solution. With just nine simple ingredients, it’s the best overall choice for pups of all sizes, breeds, and needs. 

It starts with protein-packed deboned salmon and salmon meal. These offer DHA for cognitive function and omega-3 fatty acids for lean muscle growth and coat health. CANIDAE also supplements taurine for heart health and nerve growth. 

Oatmeal, barley, and millet offer easy-to-digest grains and prebiotic fiber. And, they include vitamins like vitamin C for immune support and zinc for energy. 

For calcium and phosphorus, these vitamins are chelated and added in a 1:3 ratio for maximum absorption. These vitamins are essential for growing pups since they help build the foundation of bones, cartilage, and muscles. 

This recipe doesn’t include any corn, wheat, or soy. It’s also free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. It’s manufactured in Canidae’s Texas facility.

Puppy parents note that this food doesn’t give their puppies gas or bloat. And, many say that their dogs’ coat health is better since they’ve switched.  


Best for Small Breeds

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Corn
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 374 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein dry puppy food with a small kibble size for small breeds

Did you know that small breed puppies need slightly more protein and calories per pound than their larger counterparts? 

This is because they burn off so much energy and need extra muscle and joint support. So, why not get a formula made just for your smaller pup? Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites dry food is a great choice. 

It starts with savory chicken meal. This helps create a high-protein formula and includes glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints. 

Whole grain wheat and cracked pearled barley offer fiber for a healthy gut and easy digestion. And, they include vitamins like potassium for skeletal development. Cracked pearled barley also has vitamins A and C to promote healthy immune function. 

Natural DHA from chicken fat and fish oil supports healthy brain and eye development. These ingredients also help keep your dog’s skin and coat itch-free and shiny. 

This kibble comes in bite-sized pieces for smaller jaws. It doesn’t include any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Also, it’s manufactured in the United States and formulated for puppies up to 1 year of age. 

Puppy parents do note that this food may trigger food allergies. But, if your dog can handle grains, they love the smaller bites. 


Best for Medium Breeds

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Chicken Recipe Grain-Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 36% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 423 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Grain-free and high-protein dry puppy food with ARA for healthy growth in medium breeds 

Medium breeds are right in the middle of small and large species regarding “needs.” While they don’t need as much protein and fats as bigger dogs, they also need more vitamins and minerals than smaller pups. 

So finding dog food with the proper ratio of nutrients is vital. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free puppy food is a great solution. 

It starts with real chicken — a high-quality protein that provides glucosamine and L-carnitine for strong and healthy muscles. It also has a natural source of taurine, which will give your pup’s eyes and cognitive health a boost. 

Menhaden fish meat meal, chicken fat, and fish oil include the fatty acids these dogs would get from their mother’s milk. They include DHA and ARA — essential amino acids for bone and muscle growth and development. And, they also help with brain function. 

This formula also includes a proprietary blend of “LifeSource Bits.” It contains components like antioxidants and probiotics to support a healthy immune system.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a grain-free diet made without corn, wheat, soy, and meat by-products. 

Dog owners say this is the perfect formula for pups who need to gain a little weight and muscle. And, many note that this food has worked wonders for their dogs who have grain intolerances. 


Best for Large Breeds

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, Grain Sorghum
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 414 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Dry puppy food made in the US with glucosamine for large breed joint support

Large breed puppies need all the help they can get for their joints and bones. This is because of their size — the bigger the dog, the more support they need.

If they don’t get the proper nutrients, they can have joint issues or brittle bones later in life. And no owner wants to see their dog go through that. 

Enter in Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula. This dry dog food is ideal for large pups who will be 55 or more pounds during adulthood. 

This formula starts with pasture-raised lamb as the first ingredient. This novel protein is the perfect solution for pups with chicken or beef allergies. And, it offers glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health and muscle recovery. 

Whole grain brown rice, garbanzo beans, and cracked pearled barley offer easily digestible grains, fiber, and other nutrients. Those vitamins include copper for muscle support and vitamin E for coat health. 

Superfoods like papaya, coconut, and blueberries provide antioxidants for overall health and boost your pup’s immune system. 

Diamond Naturals is made without corn, wheat, artificial flavors, or artificial colors. 

Pet parents love that this food helps heal their dogs’ skin — keeping them from itching. But they think the kibble is a bit small for larger dogs. 


Best Wet Food

Solid Gold Love At First Bark Beef Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Solid Gold Love At First Bark Beef Grain Free Puppy Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Water, Beef, Beef Liver, Potatoes, Dried Egg Whites
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 9% Crude Protein, 3% Crude Fat, 1% Crude Fiber, 82% Moisture 
  • Caloric Content: 324 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: Grain-free and chicken-free wet puppy food for picky eaters 

Wet dog food is one of the best options for super picky dogs. While most puppies will happily gobble up whatever you give them, some can be a little more choosy.

But, giving them wet food doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. Solid Gold Love At First Bark Puppy Recipe is a highly-digestible formula perfect for even the most finicky dog. 

It starts with chunks of beef and beef liver. These ingredients are loaded with natural DHA and EPA fatty acids that support muscle retention and brain development. 

Potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, and apples swim in a tasty gravy. These ingredients provide vitamin C and zinc to support a robust immune system and healthy bone growth. 

This canned dog food is grain-free — so it’s easy on your puppy’s digestive system. It’s also a great option if you’re weaning your pup. 

Solid Gold is made in the US. It has zero fillers, corn, wheat, soy, gluten, or artificial preservatives. 

Pet owners say their dogs lick their bowls clean with this wet dog food. So it’s picky pup approved!


Best Budget Food

Whole Earth Farms Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food

Whole Earth Farms Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Canola Meal, Rice, Barley
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber
  • Caloric Content: 383 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Wheat-free dry puppy food made in the US for budget-conscious owners 

Giving your puppy a good start doesn’t have to mean spending every penny in your wallet.

Instead, give your dog food that you can be proud of, with high-quality ingredients for less. Whole Earth Farms Puppy dry dog food is a perfect choice. 

This formula starts with multiple protein sources, including real chicken and deboned salmon. These animal proteins help support easier digestibility and offer glucosamine for healthy joints. 

Omega-rich salmon oil offers DHA for brain health and extra fats for a beautiful and shiny coat. And, brown rice and organic alfalfa provide additional fiber and vitamins like calcium for strong bones. 

Real blueberries provide antioxidant support for a healthy immune system and offer your pup a boost of energy. 

This recipe is free of corn, wheat, soy, and poultry by-products. It’s also clear of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. It’s cooked right in the US. 

Dog moms and dads love the salmon in this food and credit it for their dog’s super shiny coats and healthy skin. 


Best Premium Food

ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food

ORIJEN Puppy Grain Free Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Turkey Giblets, Flounder, Whole Mackerel
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Crude Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 6% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 475 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and grain-free premium dog food made with raw ingredients

Are you looking to offer peak nourishment with premium ingredients to your pup? ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free dry food is the best choice for high-quality food with top value ingredients.

Not only does it start with raw animal proteins, but the ingredients are “whole-prey” too. This means they use iron-rich organs and bones — helping keep blood cells healthy and providing energy. 

This kibble features raw free-run chicken and wild-caught or sustainably farmed whole mackerel. And, for extra protein, cage-free eggs are also added.

These ingredients provide a high-protein food with vitamins like B vitamins for energy and choline for healthy brain development. 

Collard greens, cranberries, and dried kelp are superfoods with that have loads of vitamins and antioxidants for immune support. And, ingredients like turmeric and rosehips help keep inflammation at a minimum and aid in muscle recovery. 

After the formula is cooked, it’s freeze-dried liver coated for raw flavor and extra nutrients — like natural probiotics for digestion. 

Orijen is made in the US with the world’s finest ingredients. It’s free of grains, wheat, soy, and artificial preservatives. 

Pet parents love starting with this food before transitioning their puppies to a fully raw diet in adulthood. 


Best Grain-Free Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Pea Protein
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 17% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 415 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and grain-free dry puppy food with bison for bone support

While there are a few grain-free options on this list, Taste of the Wild is one of the best. First, it offers novel proteins for sensitive pups. And, it provides plenty of vitamins and minerals for overall health. 

This formula starts with water buffalo, lamb meal, and roasted bison. These lean proteins offer glucosamine, chondroitin, and DHA for joint support and a brain boost. These ingredients include natural taurine, essential for pups on grain-free diets. 

Chicken fat and salmon oil offer omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for extra joint health and shine in your dog’s coat. And probiotics are added for healthy gut and immune system support. 

For grain-free fiber and carbohydrates, sweet potatoes and peas offer similar support. And, they include essential vitamins for pups like beta-carotene for eye health. 

This formula is made in the US by a family-owned brand. It’s free of grains, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, and artificial colors.

Pet owners love that this food is free of fillers and artificial extras. And, many note that their dogs’ skin no longer itch.  


Best Fresh Food

Nom Nom Turkey Fare Dog Food

Nom Nom Turkey Recipe
  • First 5 Ingredients: Ground Turkey, Brown Rice, Eggs, Carrots, Spinach
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 10% Crude Protein, 5% Crude Fat, 1% Fiber, 72% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 201 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and human-grade customized puppy and adult dog food 
Get 50% OFF your first Nom Nom order!

While pups shouldn’t be on raw diets unless vet-approved, a fresh-cooked diet can be a great choice.

And, it’s also possible to get customized food for your puppy’s specific needs. If you’d like to offer your dog human-grade food with fresh and wholesome ingredients, try Nom Nom. 

There are four different recipes — turkey, pork, beef, and chicken. As an example of the high-quality ingredients, the “Turkey Fare” is made with fresh ground turkey, brown rice, and spinach — all ingredients you’d eat too! 

Nom Nom offers a customized plan that fits your dog’s nutritional needs. You’ll start by taking a quiz about your pup. You’ll input their age, height, weight, allergies — and just a few other questions in about 5 minutes. 

From there, Nom Nom calculates their caloric, protein, and fat needs. Then, they portion out your dog’s food for you and ship it right to your door every two weeks. The recipes are made in small batches and evaluated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists. 

Puppy parents love the ease of use with this food and the convenience of getting everything delivered right to their door. 


Best for Sensitive Stomachs

Holistic Select Adult & Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Holistic Select Adult Puppy Grain-Free Salmon
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Anchovy and Sardine Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Menhaden Fish Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 29% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 5.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 448 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Sensitive digestion formula for pups with gut health issues

Pups with tummy issues need probiotics and vitamins to keep them from having bloat or other gut problems. 

First, salmon and menhaden fish meal offers DHA — an essential amino acid for developing pups and their brains.

And, since it’s a novel protein, it’s a safer choice for dogs who may have issues with beef or chicken. Plus, it provides omega fatty acids and glucosamine for joint and muscle support. 

Instead of grains, potatoes and peas are digestible carbohydrates for pups with sensitive tummies. And, they offer vitamins like zinc for energy production. 

Prebiotics and probiotics are supplemented as well. These help provide digestive tract support, help keep your pup regular, and keep their tummy from rumbling. 

Holistic Select is made in the US. It doesn’t include any artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. 

Pet parents feel that this food helps when their dogs are allergic or just have sensitive stomachs


puppy eating

Buying Guide for Best Dog Food for Puppies

Are you looking for the best dog foods for puppies? Here’s what you need to know.

The Difference Between Puppy Food and Adult Dog Food

Puppies grow incredibly fast and need the nutrition to support healthy and functional growth.

Unlike their adult counterparts, they usually need a few more vitamins, calories, and fat to get them going on the right foot. 

Puppy food is formulated to meet those needs. And, since puppies need a different ratio of vitamins to help develop bone, muscle, and brain growth, these formulas aid in that. 

What to Look for When Buying Dog Food for Puppies

What should you look for when buying dog food for puppies? Here are the most vital ingredients.  

Meat Content 

Puppies need more high-quality protein than adult dogs. So focusing on real animal meat as the first ingredient — like chicken, fish, beef, and lamb — is essential. 

If you’re on a budget, meat meals are a great choice as well. And, be wary of plant proteins during the puppy stage. While they’re okay to give during adulthood, puppies do need animal proteins. 

Healthy Carbs

Yes, your dog needs carbs. They help regulate their digestion, keep their immune system strong, and aid in brain development. 

Focus on carbohydrates like oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes. 

Fats and Oils 

Fats are a crucial part of your pup’s diet since they provide energy and DHA for brain and eye health. 

Fats like fish oil, coconut oil, and meat fats (like chicken, lamb, and beef) should be higher on your dog food list. 

Vitamins and Minerals 

Commercial puppy foods already offer the correct percentages of vitamins and minerals. But, be sure to pay attention to the calcium and phosphorus ratio. This will ensure that your puppy’s bones grow steady and strong. 

Ingredients to Avoid When Buying Puppy Food

While some dog foods have excellent ingredients, some have additives that you should avoid. Here’s what to keep away from your pup. 

Meat By-Products 

Meat by-products are the “extra” meat at the end of its cycle. This by-product usually contains lower-quality bits and pieces from animals.

While your dog can digest them, they aren’t the best way to get protein. So instead, focus on real meats or meat meals. 

Unnecessary Fillers 

Fillers are cheaper for manufacturers to add and produce. So, they aren’t as nutritious as fruits, vegetables, and grains like organic oats. Avoid ingredients like wheat, corn, brewers rice, gluten meal, and soy whenever possible. 

Rendered Fats

Your dog needs healthy fats in its diet. These usually come from salmon oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, or animal protein fats.

But rendered fats are made from animals’ waste after the good stuff has been taken off.

This can cause your dog to ingest too much saturated fat and calories, which can cause obesity, diabetes, and even liver issues. 

puppy eating from hand

Should You Feed Your Puppy Grains or Not?

Puppies can eat grains — unless they have a food allergy or intolerance. But, it’s essential to focus on hearty and nutritious grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley.

If your dog is allergic to grains, talk to your vet about making a switch to grain-free dog food

Is Dry or Wet Food Better for Puppies?

This depends on the puppy. Dry food tends to be more budget-friendly. And, the kibble scrapes plaque and tartar away from your growing pup’s teeth.

But, wet food can be a good choice if your young dog has a limited diet or gastrointestinal issues. 

You can also mix both dry and wet food if you have a picky pup. Just remember not to overfeed them and measure each of the foods appropriately. 

Our Verdict

Your puppy needs the best food with ingredients that help them feel and look good. And, because you’re preparing them for adulthood, the right food will help get them to where they need to be. 

Our top choice is CANIDAE PURE Puppy Dry Dog Food

As a high-protein option with healthy fats and puppy-friendly vitamins, it’s great dog food for almost all puppies. And, with calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D, your pup’s joints and bones will be vital as they get into adulthood. 

Of course, the other options on this list are all great choices. No matter what kind of food your dog needs, the formulas on this list are sure to be perfect. 

FAQ

Want to know more about buying dog food for puppies? Here are some common questions and answers. 

When and how often should I feed my puppy?

You should feed your puppy at least three times a day. You can coordinate this when you eat your meals, or at least in regular 5-6 hour intervals. 

As they get older (after 8 months or so) you can lower this to twice a day. Of course, always talk to your veterinarian before switching your dog’s diet or serving sizes.  

How much food should I feed my puppy?

This will depend on the manufacturer’s instructions. Many note how much to feed your puppy each day on the nutrition label.

However, you can also multiply your pup’s weight by the recommended calories (for most dogs, it’s 25-30 calories a pound). Once you get the total number, you’ll divide it by the number of meals you feed your pup.  

How do I know if my puppy is a large breed?

Large breed puppies are dogs over 60 pounds and taller than 15 inches at the shoulder by adulthood.

It’s also important to note that some big dogs (like bulldogs) are considered a medium-breed.

If you’re unsure about your dog’s size, talk to your veterinarian. 

When should I switch my puppy to adult food?

This will depend on your dog’s size and breed. Most dogs reach adulthood at around 12-14 months old. But larger breeds can take longer — around 16 to 18 months.

Speak with your veterinarian about when you should switch your puppy’s food to a pet food for adults. 

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AUTHOR
Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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