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Best puppy food: Give your pup the best start in life

best puppy food
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Finding the best puppy food for your young dog can be a challenge. With so many different brands offering up so many different options claiming to be the best choice for your pup's breed, size, body weight and more, how can you possibly decide which grub will satisfy your hungry hound?

First off you need to decide between wet or dry dog food. While every dog owner has their preference, and opinions, it really doesn't matter which you pick, as long as it contains all the high-quality nutrients needed. 

Wet food contains plenty of moisture, so will ensure your puppy's kidneys are functioning at full capacity. However, it can also go off quickly, dry up, make your house smell and attract flies and other bugs. Dry food, while less messy than its wet counterpart, contains less water. This means you will need to take extra care to ensure your pooch has ample water available at all times. Dry kibble, however, can be a great option as it is nutrient packed and budget friendly. The crunchy biscuits will also keep your canine's teeth and gums in good shape!

Once you've chosen between wet or dry, you’ll need to consider what your puppy needs. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (opens in new tab), puppies need a minimum of 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat. You also need to look out for formulas that contain calcium, so that your puppy will build strong bones, and DHA for peak brain and vision development.

Young dogs need calorie-dense meals, in fact, puppies need approximately double the amount of their adult counterpart. Start your pup on a puppy formula at approximately six weeks old and continue it until they reach about a year old, then swap them to an adult formula: check out our picks of the best dry dog food or the best wet dog food if your dog is reaching adulthood. 

For for more information on exactly how to choose puppy food see our vet's guide, but if you'd rather just take our well-researched word for it, here's our list of the best puppy food options available in 2022...

PetsRadar's pick of the best puppy food

IAMS for Vitality Puppy & Junior Small & Medium Dog pack shot

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IAMS for Vitality Puppy & Junior Small & Medium Dog - Chicken

Best overall puppy food

Specifications

Age: Suitable for puppies between one and 12-months-old
Supplements: 85% animal protein. Vitamins, minerals, and added fibre
Additives: Free from artificial colours and flavours

Reasons to buy

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Made using premium ingredients to suit both small/medium and large breeds
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Comes with a 100% money back guarantee if you’re not fully satisfied

Reasons to avoid

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Only available in one flavour (chicken)
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May not be suitable for dogs with wheat allergies
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The feeding guide can appear confusing

IAMS for Vitality Puppy & Junior Small & Medium Dog – Chicken is a specially formulated dry food that contains 85% animal protein, which is vital for the growth and brain development of your puppy. 

It is made using a variety of vitamins, minerals, and added fibre to help strengthen their bones and immune system, maintain a healthy digestive system, and support a glossy coat and healthy skin. 

Also, if your pup is classed as being a small or medium breed, with an expected adult body weight of up to 25kg, then this food would be suitable to continue with after their puppy stage too. 

“I bought this product back in January 2020 when I adopted a rescue from Cyprus with bowed legs and suffering from malnutrition… I have had him for four months now and the progress is amazing. Although he has bowed legs which he'll suffer from due to his bad start in life, they have straightened out a lot with the vitamin D supplement in this food... I would 100% recommend this food to anyone who may have a puppy suffering from malnutrition or growth issues” claimed one dog owner. 

Several customers have commented on finding the feeding guide confusing. “I cannot understand why the amounts decrease as the puppy grows older,” explained a dog owner called Annabel.

With puppies, it’s important to feed them little and often. It is commonly the case that puppies will have more energy during this stage in their lives, so require more fuel to keep them going. 

For the first two months for example, it’s recommended that owners offer their puppy between four and six meals a day. From two to three months old, this decreases to 4 meals a day; between four and six months, it reduces further to two to three meals a day; before finally decreasing to two meals a day once over six months old (of course, this is all dependent on breed but this is the general advice).

Pedigree Complete Nutrition Puppy Dry Dog Food

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Pedigree Complete Nutrition Puppy Dry Dog Food

Best budget puppy food

Specifications

Age: Suitable for puppies more than six weeks old
Supplements: DHA, vitamin E, B2, B6, B12, zinc, calcium
Additives: Contains no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, or added sugar

Reasons to buy

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Fantastic value for money
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DHA for brain development
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100% complete and balanced nutrition

Reasons to avoid

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Contains poultry by-products

If you're after an inexpensive way to keep your puppy firing on all cylinders and to help them grow up big and strong, then this kibble from Pedigree is well worth considering.

Packed with key nutrients similar to mother’s milk for puppies 6 weeks to 18 months old, this formula comes jam packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including calcium for strong teeth and bones and DHA for brain development.

While this kibble is free from high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and added sugar, it's worth noting that unlike more expensive brands, it does rely on poultry by-products as opposed to real chicken. 

However, that being said, this cheap and cheerful offering is complete and balanced, giving your puppy everything they need for their growth and development. Oh, and pet parents report that their little ones love the taste, which is a huge plus too!

Eukanuba Dry Puppy Food pack shot

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Eukanuba Dry Puppy Food

Best dry puppy food

Specifications

Age: Suitable for puppies aged between one and 12 months old
Supplements: Contains DHA (a Omega 3 fatty acid) to assist with the puppies ability to learn and be trained
Additives: Includes calcium for healthy bone development

Reasons to buy

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Meat (both dried chicken and turkey, and fresh chicken) is listed as its main ingredient
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Developed with the help of nutritionists, recommended by top breeders, and approved by vets
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It’s environmentally friendly with at least 25% of the energy used to create the product being generated by the company’s own wind turbines

Reasons to avoid

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Some customers have reported that it gives their puppies issues with flatulence
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In some cases, this also had an effect on some pup’s stools making them more loose and discoloured than they should be

Eukanuba is a company that has been involved in looking after pets (in the form of food) since 1969. Their range of dry puppy food is diverse in that it offers specially formulated recipes for various breed sizes, which come in multiple flavours. 

Along with DHA it also contains FOS (Fructooligosaccharides), a prebiotic found naturally in some fruits and vegetables, which helps support and maintain a healthy digestive system. 

Vitamins E and C are present in this dry food to boost immunity and added calcium helps the development of your pups bones. It also contains natural sources of Omega 6 and 3, which helps keep a puppy’s skin and coat healthy. 

Many positive reviews refer to this product as being suitable for fussy eaters: “I decided to try this product. It's fantastic. My dog loves it – I don't have to wet it, his dental health appears to be improving, bowels are good, coat looks shiny. Price is fantastic, nice size pieces.”   

As is the case for many foods (and even for us humans), some puppies just simply don’t like the taste of certain foods – it’s all down to personal preference after all. 

As one previous Ekanuba customer explained: “We tried this as an alternative to Royal Canin (Labrador Junior) after reading reviews. Sadly she was totally disinterested. It has to be said that the Royal Canin food smells much more appetising – even to my nose.” Can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Royal Canin Puppy Food in Gravy pack shot

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Royal Canin Puppy Food in Gravy

Best wet puppy food

Specifications

Age: Up to 12 months old
Supplements: Vitamin D3, E1 (Iron), E2, E4, E5, E6
Additives: Various sugars

Reasons to buy

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The Maxi Puppy version is suitable for puppy’s up to 15 months old
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Contains complex antioxidants, such as vitamin E, to support the immune system
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Available in pre-weighed, individually portioned sachets

Reasons to avoid

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Very low in protein at only 8.3%
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It doesn’t come in a wheat-free variety for pups with a sensitive stomach

Royal Canin Puppy Food in Gravy is specially formulated to meet all of a puppy’s nutritional needs whilst they are in the most important phase of their lives. It has added vitamins and nutrients to help give your puppy energy, assist with their digestive health, and support healthy skeletal development.

This brand of wet dog food is also available as a dry food, which means that you can mix the two together should your dog prefer a semi-crunchy texture. If this is an option you are considering, the correct portion sizes can be found on the Royal Canin website. 

The majority of puppy foods are only suitable for puppies up until the age of 12 months. However, with Royal Canin’s Maxi Puppy in Gravy, larger breeds can continue using this food until they grow to 15 months old. 

As one customer of this product (with a Shih Tzu) explained, “I use this food together with the Royal Canin mini puppy dry food when weaning my litters. This gives all puppies a choice depending upon where they are in their development. All my puppies like this food and I find it to be sustaining and therefore good value.”

This brand of puppy food has a fair amount of ingredients, but unfortunately this does not include much protein, which is required for adequate growth. It does also list ‘various sugars’ as an ingredient – something which should be considered when pairing with various snacks and treats – as too much sugar must be avoided. 

Very few websites have negative comments published about Royal Canin’s Puppy Food in Gravy. However, one customer said,  “The dish used in the photograph on the packaging must be no more than an inch big. Very misleading as to the contents of the pouches, which look like large chunks on the packet, but in reality are tiny uniform pieces of around 12mmx3mm.”

Burgess puppy food pack shot

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Burgess Sensitive Hypoallergenic Dog Food Puppy Turkey and Rice

Best puppy food for sensitive stomachs

Specifications

Age: Up to 12 months
Supplements: Vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, vitamin C
Additives: Free from added colourants
Age: Suitable for puppies between one and 12-months-old
Supplements: Turkey, pea protein, rice, linseed and fish oils
Additives: Free from artificial colours and flavours, wheat, gluten, soya, dairy

Reasons to buy

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It is available in multiple flavours (chicken and lamb) for various breed sizes
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The range also includes food for puppies who suffer with sensitive skin

Reasons to avoid

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Despite being a dry food, some customers have commented on the sticky texture of the food
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It is quite high in fat compared to other brands of puppy food

Purina boasts an extensive range of wet and dry food for both dogs and cats, with recipes that have been lovingly developed by an expert team of 350 nutritionists, vets, and scientists. 

Purina PRO PLAN Puppy Sensitive Digestion with OPTIDIGEST contains a number of highly digestible ingredients such as egg, which helps the digestion process, and a natural clay called bentonite, which encourages good stool quality. It also contains a number of healthy fats, such as omega 6 and omega 3, and a multitude of vitamins, including A, D3, E, and C. 

As well as offering multiple flavours (chicken and lamb), Purina also produces a range that is specifically for puppies who have sensitive skin (salmon). 

The majority of online reviews available for this range are positive, with many customers reflecting on how much this food has eased their puppies stomach problems. 

Take this customer for example, "My six month old Sprocker was prone to runny tummies and flatulence, but a few days on this food has already improved it. We've always fed our dogs Purina Pro Plan and wouldn't use anything else." With a host of different flavours to choose from, and a range specifically for sensitive skin, there’s a lot more to offer than many other brands. 

Advertised as a dry food, a number of customers have commented on the slightly wetter texture compared to other brands of dry food. "I just wish it didn't feel so sticky when you handle it but perhaps that's the oils in it," explained one Purina Pro plan customer. Another commented on the high fat content of the brand, which at 19% is considered as being on the higher side and runs the risk of obesity through overfeeding.

Pack shot of taste of the wild high prairie puppy recipe foodPets Radar Approved Award

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Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Recipe

Best all natural puppy food

Specifications

Age: Suitable for puppies from six weeks old
Supplements: Contains probiotics, DHA, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Additives: Free from artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, grain, corn, wheat, and fillers.

Reasons to buy

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High level of probiotics
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Pasture-raised Bison and Venison
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All-natural ingredients

Reasons to avoid

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One of the more expensive products on the market

While it may not be the cheapest puppy food on the shelves, this all-natural formula from Taste of the Wild is certainly one of the best. Made with pasture-raised Bison and Venison as the first ingredients, the small and mouth-watering morsels of kibble are a flavor and texture sensation your pup will love.

Made with Taste of the Wild’s propriety K9 Strain Probiotics that are added to the kibble after the cooking process to ensure viability, each pound of kibble provides 80 million live, active cultures that support the digestive and immune systems. It’s also packed full of DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid that’s been sourced from Salmon oil and supports a growing puppy’s brain and vision development.

We love the wide range of fruits and vegetables in this formula, ranging from blueberries and raspberries to sweet potatoes and peas, which give a puppy all the zinc, selenium, and vitamin E they need to stay fit and healthy. There’s also added dried chicory root, a potent prebiotic that provides fuel for the probiotics to keep the digestive system running smoothly. 

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Recipe is one of the more expensive puppy foods on the market, but reviewers don't seem to mind parting with a few extra pennies, with one pet parent saying that switching to this kibble has reduced her vet bills. "This food may appear more expensive than grocery store brands, but when you consider all of the long term health benefits of a grain-free food and the savings from vet bills (not to mention that your dogs will feel better, longer), I actually think that this food is saving you money."

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Puppy Food pack shotPets Radar Approved Award

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Wellness CORE Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best large breed puppy food

Specifications

Age: Suitable for large breed puppies
Supplements: DHA from salmon oil, glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy hips and joints
Additives: No wheat, no gluten, no eggs, no artificial colours, no flavours or preservatives

Reasons to buy

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All natural ingredients specifically for large breeds
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Fresh meat is no1 ingredient
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Added glucosamine and chondroitin

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive price

If you own a large breed pup, you’ll want to give it the best formulated diet possible. Wellness CORE Large Breed Puppy Food is a dry food packed with nutritional value. Made with all natural ingredients, its number one ingredient is fresh chicken. This provides 32-37% protein in the final kibble, which will promote a healthy coat, skin and lean body. 

Particularly suitable for large breed puppies aged from 1 to 18 months (adult weight 26 to 40kg) and giant breed puppies from 1 to 24 months of age (adult weight +40kg), its high calcium and protein levels will provide increased, controlled bone and muscle development. 

In addition, the kibble contains DHA from salmon oil to promote brain and eye development, and added glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy hips and joints. 

It’s also hypoallergenic which is ideal for sensitive pups and should remove the risk of bad reactions. The kibble doesn’t contain any grains, wheat, gluten, eggs, and of course, no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours. So all completely natural! Bear in mind though, this is not recommended for feeding to pregnant or nursing dogs.

The majority of customers have commented how much their pups love the taste and were happy with their kibble. A few have praised how gentle it is on their pup’s sensitive stomach “from day one!”. The only downside mentioned is the expensive price, however it’s always best to look around to find a better deal. Overall, this brand is a great choice to give large breed puppies the best start in life. 

Best puppy food: Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

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Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Best small breed puppy food

Specifications

Age: Suitable for small breed puppies and nursing mothers
Supplements: DHA from salmon oil and pro-biotics
Additives: No corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives

Reasons to buy

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Designed specifically for small and toy breeds
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Small kibble size
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All-natural ingredients
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Contains pro-biotics and fish oils

Reasons to avoid

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Not totally grain free

This Diamond Naturals blend is specially formulated for both small breed puppies and nursing adult dogs, and offers a balance of fat, protein and essential nutrients to ensure healthy puppy growth. This small pea-sized kibble is perfect for small mouths, meaning your little fur-baby will have no problems chewing and digesting their food.

The main protein source comes from cage-free chicken, with the addition of 'super foods' such as chia seed and quinoa to give a protein boost. This Diamond Naturals formula is free from all grains apart from rice and cracked pearled barley, and it also contains real fruits and vegetables including kale, pumpkin, blueberries and oranges. These are sources of natural antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to help with your pup's development and overall health.

The addition of salmon oil to the mix provides a source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which will help support and maintain your new furry friend's skin and coat. The smaller kibble pieces also include natural additives such as pro-biotic bacteria to help support your pup's digestive and immune systems.

The 6-pound bag contains close to 24 cups of pea-sized kibble. It comes at a reasonable price for the high quality of the ingredients, and your small breed pup is going to love its meaty taste.

Best puppy food: Hill's Science Diet Dry Puppy Food

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Hill's Science Diet Dry Puppy Food

Best puppy food for allergies

Specifications

Age: Suitable for all puppies
Supplements: Vitamins, minerals, fish oil
Free from: Corn, wheat, soy

Reasons to buy

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Free from common allergens
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DHA for healthy brain development
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Balanced set of vitamins and minerals

Reasons to avoid

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Kibble is quite large

One of the best brands on the market, this specially formulated puppy kibble ticks all the boxes when it comes to providing a complete and balanced food that has everything your young furkid needs to thrive.

Free from some of the most common allergens, including corn, wheat, and soy, this kibble comes packed with vitamins and minerals, with plenty of DHA for brain and vision health, vitamin C to keep the immune system firing on all cylinders, and quality protein to support lean muscle growth.

We love the addition of fiber-rich flaxseed and dried beet pulp, which will help keep your pup's digestive system running smoothly, and there's plenty of calcium for strong teeth and bones. 

Hill's Science remains the #1 vet-recommended dog food brand and this nutritious and delicious kibble that uses only the best natural ingredients is yet another example of why it continues to be a favorite with professionals, pet parents and their pooch. 

Nature's Recipe Grain Free Puppy Dry Dog Food

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Nature's Recipe Grain Free Dry Puppy Food

Best grain-free puppy food

Specifications

Age: All
Supplements: Calcium, selenium, taurine, omega 3 & 6
Free from:

Reasons to buy

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Limited and healthy ingredient list
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Nutrient dense
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No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives

Reasons to avoid

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Can be expensive

If you're looking for a delicious and nutritious formula that has a clean and limited ingredient list and comes packed with only the best chicken and vegetables, then this grain-free kibble from Nature's Recipe is well worth a try.

Featuring real chicken as the first ingredient and fiber-rich sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and peas, this recipe was purposefully created to give your pup's growing body the balanced nutrition it needs to ensure your fur baby thrives as they mature into adulthood.

You'll find a range of important vitamins, minerals and fatty acids in this formula, including calcium for strong bones, taurine for heart health, omega 3 & 6 for healthy skin and a shiny coat, and selenium to aid metabolism.

Not only is this recipe nutrient dense, but it's also free from corn, soy, wheat and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. If you can justify the extra cost, this is a great clean kibble with a rich and meaty taste your little one is sure to love.

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Dry Dog Food

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Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Dry Dog Food

Best high protein puppy food

Specifications

Age: From 4 weeks
Supplements: Calcium, DHA
Free from: Artificial colors and flavors

Reasons to buy

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DHA for brain and vision development
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Live probiotics for immune health
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High quality protein

Reasons to avoid

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Contains corn, gluten and soy

For a quality formula that contains everything your little one needs to grow up big and strong, this kibble from Purina is hard to beat. Featuring high levels of DHA from omega-rich fish oil, this dry food nourishes brain and vision development and comes with plenty of calcium and phosphorus to build strong bones and teeth.

Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this formula also comes fortified with live probiotics for digestive and immune health. Highly digestible, it's gentle on the stomach and gastrointestinal tract and has a deliciously rich and meaty taste your fur baby will love.

INSTINCT raw dog foodPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: INSTINCT)

Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Puppy Food

Best raw puppy food

Specifications

Age: Suitable for all puppies
Supplements: Calcium, DHA, Zinc, Omega-6
Free from: Grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by product meal, artificial colors and preservatives.

Reasons to buy

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Balance of kibble and freeze-dried raw
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Protein packed
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Grain-free
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Available for large breeds too

Reasons to avoid

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Pricier than some brands

If you've been considering a raw diet for your puppy but are not sure where to start, Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Puppy Food offers pet owners an attractive way to feed their pup. It's a blend of grain-free kibble alongside freeze-dried raw dog food toppers in one bag with a strong focus on providing a complete nutritional balance for your young dog. 

Instinct pack plenty of core vitamins and essential supplements in the product including calcium, DHA, Zinc and Omega-6, while providing a high protein intake for your puppy. That's 34% crude protein minimum in every bag. It's also available for large breeds specifically.

However, the focus on high quality ingredients does come at a cost for pet owners.  Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Puppy Food is pricier than some other leading dog foods but if you're looking for the perfect mix of dry nibbles and softer textures and have an interest in raw puppy food and grain-free diets this might just be for you. 

Trying new puppy food

When trying any new brand, it’s important to gradually switch your puppy’s food to allow their digestive systems to adapt to it slowly. Not all types of puppy food will be suitable for every puppy, so be sure to seek professional medical advice from your vet should you notice any concerning changes (or even before switching to ensure that the food you are intending to buy would be suitable for your puppy).