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Best puppy food: Great nutrition for healthy, growing dogs

Best puppy food
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Bringing home an adorable new pup can be very exciting, but you should be sure to give your pup the right start with the very best puppy food you can find. It’s during this time that a puppy’s muscles, joints, bones, and immune system begin to develop and grow stronger by the day, until they're old enough to move onto the best dry dog food.

Just like us, puppies need to have all of the main food groups included in their diet. Even though the portions and ratios will be different for each breed and will change as they grow, it is important that they eat enough protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. 

Protein is essential when it comes to a puppy’s ability to grow and repair cells quickly. Fats keep your pups coat and skin healthy, as well as help maintain energy levels similar to carbohydrates. 

To ensure a healthy metabolism and growth, vitamins and minerals including A, B, calcium, and iron, are key. Fibre helps keep your puppy regular, avoiding the risk of constipation. Much of these essential elements can be found in foods containing meats, fish, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Need some help with deciding which puppy food would be right for your new family member? Check out our top picks below. 

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1. IAMS for Vitality Puppy & Junior Small & Medium Dog - Chicken: Best overall puppy food

Offers pups all of the important daily nutrients they need to become strong and healthy adult dogs

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

Made using premium ingredients to suit both small/medium and large breeds
Comes with a 100% money back guarantee if you’re not fully satisfied
Only available in one flavour (chicken)
May not be suitable for dogs with wheat allergies
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).

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2. Wagg Complete Puppy Food with Chicken: Best budget puppy food

A value-for-money option with supplements to benefit the immune system

Age: Suitable for puppies more than four weeks old | Supplements: Contains vitamins and citrus extracts, Omega 3 fatty acids and yucca plant extract | Additives: No added sugar, artificial flavours or colours

Suitable for all breeds and sizes of puppy
Contains vitamins A, C, and E, to assist with the development of a strong immune system
Low meat content at 28.5%, with cereals listed as the main ingredient
Contains gluten, not suitable for puppies with an intolerance or allergy
Pieces are quite small

With 44 servings per 12kg bag (on average), Wagg Complete Puppy Food with Chicken is considered to be one of the best puppy foods to buy whilst on a budget. This brand is suitable for puppies more than four weeks old and, although it is a dry food, can be mixed with small amounts of warm water to transform it into easy-to-digest wet food.

 It contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, which are important for the overall health of any puppy. It also includes a probiotic called MOS (Mannan oligosaccharides), which tend to occur naturally in some fruits and vegetables, and assist with keeping your puppy’s digestive system healthy. 

“My dog’s coat is super shiny, teeth look white, has lots of energy, and is a very healthy, happy puppy. Excellent value for money” claimed a happy customer. 

The brand is described as being suitable for all puppy breeds. Some that have been spotted in positive reviews include labradors, german shepherds, and spaniels. 

Protein is one of the essential elements in a puppy’s diet. This product is listed as containing 28.5% meat and animal derivatives, so it is unconfirmed as to the type of meat used, with only 4% of that figure being chicken. Some customers have shown concern over this, especially since the main ingredient is cereal – a “filler” which is known to cause some puppies to experience upset stomachs. 

Other customers have commented on the texture of the product, “It’s very small pieces and so much of it was broken further and had like a powder to it. Wouldn’t buy again. Puppy liked it though”

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3. Eukanuba Dry Puppy Food: Best dry puppy food

Specially formulated various breed sizes and available in multiple flavours

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

Meat (both dried chicken and turkey, and fresh chicken) is listed as its main ingredient
Developed with the help of nutritionists, recommended by top breeders, and approved by vets
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
Some customers have reported that it gives their puppies issues with flatulence
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.

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4. Royal Canin Puppy Food in Gravy: Best wet puppy food

A wet puppy food with added vitamins and nutrients for skeletal development and immune system support

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

The Maxi Puppy version is suitable for puppy’s up to 15 months old
Contains complex antioxidants, such as vitamin E, to support the immune system
Available in pre-weighed, individually portioned sachets
Very low in protein at only 8.3%
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.”

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5. Purina PRO PLAN Puppy Sensitive Digestion with OPTIDIGEST: Best puppy food for sensitive stomachs

A dry food that can aid digestion in younger dogs

Age: Up to 12 months | Supplements: Vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, vitamin C, bentonite, L-carnitine, iron sulphate monohydrate, calcium iodate anhydrous, copper sulphate monohydrate, manganese sulphate monohydrate, zinc sulphate monohydrate, sodium selenite | Additives: Free from added colourants

It is available in multiple flavours (chicken and lamb) for various breed sizes
The range also includes food for puppies who suffer with sensitive skin
Despite being a dry food, some customers have commented on the sticky texture of the food
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.

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6. Lily’s Kitchen Chicken & Salmon Complete Dry Food for Puppies: Best all natural puppy food

Healthy ingredients combined in small-batch preparation

Age: Suitable for puppies from eight weeks old to eight months old, but some breeds can continue until they are 14 months old | Supplements: Added natural supplements to promote healthy growing joints | Additives: Free from wheat, corn, and soya

Contains salmon oil to improve and maintain the puppy’s skin and fur
This recipe includes a variety of botanicals and herbs, which all play a part in keeping your pup healthy and happy
Grain free to reduce bloating and flatulence
The puppy range is only available in the one flavour
It’s quite expensive compared to other brands

The ingredients used for Lily’s Kitchen Chicken and Salmon Complete Dry Food for Puppies is specifically sourced and mixed together before being steamed in small batches – this helps to preserve the nutrients.

Alongside the freshly prepared meat, the ingredients includes lots of vegetables, orchard fruits, and berries, as well as a variety of botanicals and herbs. This includes chickweed to support digestion and soothe itchy skin, kelp which promotes healthy gums and a glossy coat, and burdock root to support healthy kidney and liver function.  As if that wasn’t enough, they have even added extra protein as well as omega 3 and 6. 

With so many healthy ingredients and no fillers padding out the mixture, it’s difficult to find a bad review of this Lily’s Kitchen product. “We have been using Lilys Kitchen for our six month old Cocker Spaniel puppy for three months now. She was originally on Royal Canin food and since changing to Lily’s Kitchen she has got the shiniest coat, she looks so healthy and her poos are hard and dark, and I must say… Less smelly. She absolutely loves it.” 

Lily’s Kitchen also produces a variety of adult foods and treats that puppies can continue to eat for their rest of their lives. 

Even though one customer was happy with the product (even saying that they thought it looked quite tasty) and were impressed by the ethical company that created it, they were unable to rate them with top marks “as it is very expensive” in comparison to other brands.

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).