Choosing the best puppy food for your newest family member is something that should not be done lightly. If you want the best for your dog, you need to understand the few nutritional facts that set high quality dog foods apart from the crappy stuff.
Just because a certain brand of dog food has a lot of cute advertising, or is the most expensive, it is not the best. It’s awesome that you are taking the time to educate yourself on the differences.
Here are some simple things you can watch for to help you determine if a certain brand of food is right for your puppy.
What Makes Puppy Food Different From Adult Dog Food?
Because puppies are growing rapidly, their food needs to contain extra nutrition to help support their hungry little bodies. Ideally, this food will contain at least 30% protein and be high in vitamins. Also, it is typically smaller, softer, and easier to chew.
They also tend to have more vitamins and supplements (like DHA) that more nearly mimic the nutritionally rich mother’s milk they have just been weaned off of.
Read Ingredients Carefully
You want a dog food that is semi-moist and contains a large amount of meat and animal products. You want to make sure that it does not have too many carbohydrates, as those do not play a huge role in a puppy’s development.
One way to ensure that your dog is gaining an enough nutrition is the reference the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommended nutritional requirements. You can click here to read these in more detail.
The Problem With Wet Puppy Foods
Most of us automatically associate wet, canned dog foods with puppies. And, with young puppies, it may be the only way to get them to eat enough. However, it is good to the mix their wet foods with semi-moist kernels, as wet foods can contain as much as 70% water, and may not have enough nutritional value for them, meaning they are always hungry.
Too Much Protein Can Be A Bad Thing
Although I am now a “small-dog person” I started off being raised around a lot of big dogs.
One of the mistakes that new owners make, is feeding their puppy the highest-protein mix they can find. They think that higher protein = better nutrition.
The downside is that — especially with larger dogs — too much protein can cause the pup to grow too fast, and outgrow their hips. So much so, that it can cause hip dysplasia in a pup with absolutely no genetic history of the disease.
The Best Dry Puppy Food
Our first pick for puppy dog food is Taste of The Wild Grain-Free Puppy Food.
What sets this grain-free food above the competition, is that it actually uses seafood, for much of its base. Too often, puppies have sensitive stomachs, and some even react to common meats, such as chicken. Taste of The Wild helps circumvent this problem, by creating a grain-free puppy food uses easy-to-digest meats.
Seafood is not only easy-to-digest, is also high in essential fatty acids, just like their mother’s milk was.
Many of the puppy foods use chemical substances to derive their vitamins from. Taste of the Wild uses whole fruits and vegetables, mixed into their formula, to provide a full array of minerals and nutrients for a growing puppy.
Plus, it is not the most expensive food, making it an excellent value.
The Best Wet Puppy Food
While we are apt to hate on wet dog foods, because they (typically) contain so much water, there is one notable exception.
By Wellness Core is one of the most high-quality dog foods ever introduced to the market. These can dog foods contain 95% meat, with enough vitamins and cartilage added to ensure healthy digestion and strong skeletal growth.
While this may be the most expensive food that we review, it is significantly cheaper — and better for your puppy — than raw meat.
You can also save some on the cost by going with their nonorganic version.
Bottom line, if you can afford it this is the best among the wet – or dry – dog foods on the market
The Best Cheap Puppy Food
If you’re looking for a high quality, yet affordable, dog food, Diamond puppy food is your best bet.
Diamond dog food has long been known for its natural – yet affordable – options. Their puppy food consists mostly of lamb meal, lamb meat, and barley. It is then rounded out with a lot of other great supplements such as vitamin E and vitamin B6 and salmon oil for its high DHA concentrate.
I’ve met a lot of puppies will have been raised on this exact formula, and for the money, you can do no better.
If you’re looking for a cheap puppy food that will not cheat your dog, this is it.
#2 Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food
Blue Buffalo Wilderness puppy food, is often ranked #1 when discussing puppy foods. Their dog food is well known as being one of the most easy-to-digest, and their ingredient list is arguably one of the best in the industry.
One of the unique things about Wilderness dog food is that they incorporate DHA into their formula. DHA is an essential fatty acid found in their mother’s milk and supports healthy bone growth and brain development.
The ingredient list is easy-to-read: de-boned chicken, chicken meal, tomatoes, peas… frankly, I wish our food was this easy to understand.
Wilderness dog food is designed to mimic the diet of wolves. They do a good job, and the reviews speak for itself.
# 3 Castor and Pollux Puppy Organix
For being a dry food, Castor and Pollux is an absolutely incredible formula. Made of chicken meal from organic, free-range chickens, brown rice, and flaxseed, this puppy food has better ingredients and most humans choose to put into their own bodies.
More importantly, if your puppy is sensitive to gluten or soy, this food does not contain those ingredients.
While being less expensive than our top pick – by nature organics – this level of quality still does not come cheaply. However, the reviews both on Amazon and in forums, continue to support its reputation.