Best Dry Puppy Food Options in 2022 (Reviews & Guide)

What you feed your dog as a puppy will determine the course of his life. But finding the absolute best dry puppy food is not as easy as it seems. To make it a little easier, we reviewed dozens of products and brought you the top-rated puppy kibble in 2022.

Let’s dive right in!

A Quick Glance at Our Top Picks

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Chippin Silver Carp Daily Food

Editor's Pick

  • Low environmental impact
  • Wild carp is the primary ingredient
  • No by-products used
  • Great taste

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy

Best for Sensitive Stomachs

  • Egg-free and grain-free
  • Sustainable smoked salmon
  • More than 80 probiotics per pound
  • Improves coat
  • Affordable price

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy

  • Made with LifeSource Bits
  • Recipes developed by vets
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • No wheat, corn, or soy
  • Real meat only

Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Recipe

Best for Overall Health

  • Food sourced from local farmers
  • Natural rich ingredients
  • No grain or artificial preservatives
  • Ideal for puppies of all sizes
  • Supports healthy digestion

Diamond Naturals Dry Puppy Food

Best for Large Breeds

  • Meat from pasture-raised lambs
  • 80 million probiotics/lb of food
  • Rich in superfoods and DHA
  • Antioxidants & omega fatty acids
  • Complete, holistic nutrition

Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy

Best for German Shepherd Puppies

  • Nutrition tailored to size and breed
  • Rich in antioxidants and vitamin E
  • Special prebiotics blend
  • Great for dental health
  • Easy open-and-close zip system

Eukanuba Dry Puppy Food

Best for Small Breeds

  • Great for picky eaters
  • Adjusted for optimal performance
  • Real chicken as the first ingredient
  • High protein enhances metabolism

IAMS Puppy

Most Affordable

  • Real chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • No wheat and soy
  • Contains beet pulp for digestion
  • Rich in fish-oil derived DHA
  • Vet-recommended

Chicken Soup for the Soul Dry Puppy Food

Best for Dental Health

  • No by-product meals
  • Free from wheat, corn, and soy
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Prebiotic fiber

Nutro Ultra Dry Puppy

Best Tasting

  • Great for all sizes and breeds
  • Human grade, non-GMO ingredients
  • A trio of proteins
  • Fantastic blend of 15 superfoods
  • Ingredients can be traced back to trusted sources

The Best Dry Puppy Foods in Detail

Now that you’ve seen our top choice list, here is a more in-depth dive into each product to help you decide if it’s the ideal dry puppy food for your new family member.

Chippin Silver Carp Daily Food

star 10

Editor's Pick

  • 26% protein and 13% fat
  • 3500 kcal Me/KG - 287 kcal Me/Cup
  • Silver carp flavor
  • 3.5 lbs, 10.5lbs, and 21 lbs bags
  • Use PETPEDIA for 30% OFF! Use PETPEDIA for 30% OFF!

Chippin Silver Carp Daily Dog Food is one of the rare products that can fulfill all puppy needs and is excellent even for picky dogs. Plus, it also has a low environmental impact.

This product contains real fish, giving it tremendous nutritional value and great taste. Based on the reviews, even the pickiest pets seem to like the taste of the wild silver carp. However, it can become a bit boring after some time, as no other flavors are available. Other ingredients such as pumpkin, oats, and flax seeds are added for additional health benefits and improved taste. What’s also great is that no by-products are used for this product. Instead, all ingredients are natural and locally sourced. 

When buying, the company provides you with the option to choose the right amount of food for your puppy. Although it uses premium ingredients, some customers feel that it’s a bit pricey. However, since it uses only the best ingredients and lasts for a whole month, we feel that the price is justified.

In the end, it’s a vet-recommended puppy food, which guarantees that it’s going to provide your puppy with everything it needs to remain healthy.

Top 5 ingredients: silver carp, oats, pumpkin, ground flaxseed, dried chicory root


  • + Low environmental impact
  • + Wild carp is the primary ingredient
  • + No by-products used
  • + Great taste


  • Only one taste available
  • Some customers consider it pricy

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy

star 10

Best for Sensitive Stomachs

  • 27% protein and 15% fat
  • 3,600 kcal/kg–360 kcal/cup
  • Salmon flavor
  • 5lb, 14lb, 28lb, 30lb bags

Smoked salmon is the first ingredient in this tasty, healthy, and nutritious puppy kibble. Using a blend of wild-caught and farmed salmon, Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream puppy food gets all the animal protein from fish, so it’s incredibly rich in omega fatty acids. These provide nutritional benefits and give your dog healthy skin and a smooth and shiny coat.

The top-notch, healthy ingredients, including vegetables (sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes), fruits (tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries), legumes, vitamins, and minerals, are packed in small kibble. This allows your puppy to chew and digest it without any problems.

On top of that, Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream puppy formula dry dog food includes the brand’s proprietary K9 Strain Probiotics. In other words, each pound of this highly-nutritious kibble provides over 80 million live probiotics to boost the digestive and immune systems.

Another plus for pups with food sensitivities: Taste of the Wild grain-free dry dog food for your puppy is egg-free. Even though TOTW is ideal for puppies with allergies and food sensitivities, making this brand ideal for all kinds of dogs — big and small, sensitive, and otherwise.

This company makes another formula with roasted bison and roasted venison. It might be made of the same quality as the Pacific Stream puppy food. Still, when it comes to Taste of the Wild puppy food, reviews show many owners mentioning that their pet doesn’t really take to the meaty taste. So, it might be better to stick with the salmon-flavored puppy food.

Top 5 ingredients: salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes


  • + Egg-free and grain-free
  • + Sustainable smoked salmon
  • + More than 80 probiotics per pound
  • + Improves coat
  • + Affordable price


  • Puppies may get bored of the flavor
  • Contains canola oil (a bit of a controversy in the dog food industry)

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy

star 9.9
  • 36% protein and 16% fat
  • 3,662 kcal/kg–423 Kcals/cup
  • Chicken flavor
  • 4.5lb, 11lb, and 24lb bags

Blue Buffalo dry puppy food is free of by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, and preservatives. It’s also 100% grain-free. In addition, it contains BLUE LifeSource Bits. This is a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals created by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support the immune system and oxidative balance throughout all life stages.

This cold-formed formula is exposed to minimal heat during manufacturing to preserve the nutritional value of the ingredients. The product covered in our Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy review is made of real deboned chicken and enriched with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, sweet potatoes, and carrots. It also has flaxseed and fish oil, a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

With 36% protein and 16% fat, plus chock full of complex carbohydrates and DHA (for vision and cognitive development), this puppy food has all the nutrients a muscular, energetic Pittie pup needs. In addition to the Original Chicken formula, owners can choose from a large dog recipe. It has added DHA for more support. Another option is the BLUE Wilderness Red Meat Puppy Rocky Mountain Recipe.

The latter is as close to a back-to-the-wild diet as possible. There is no chicken, but this formula is packed with other types of meat, such as deboned beef, lamb, venison, and antioxidants like cranberries and blueberries.

There are many positive Blue Buffalo Wilderness puppy food reviews on the original recipe alone and many more combined for the other Blue Buffalo products. Each of their recipes are developed for the quality, taste, and overall health of your pup.

Most of the negative feedback is not about the quality or the product’s taste, but about the difference between the store and online purchased quality, with many pet owners complaining of a bad batch.

Top 5 ingredients: deboned chicken, chicken meal, pea protein, peas, tapioca starch


  • + Made with LifeSource Bits
  • + Recipes developed by vets
  • + 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • + No wheat, corn, or soy
  • + Real meat only


  • Only chicken-flavored option
  • May make puppy gassy

Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Recipe

star 10

Best for Overall Health

  • 28% protein and 15% fat
  • 3665 kcal/kg–400 kcal/cup
  • Beef, Sweet Potato, Chicken flavor
  • 4lb, 10lb, nd 22lb. bags

Why are dogs and dog owners going nuts over Merrick dry puppy food? To start with, the first ingredient in this mouth-watering dog food, regardless of whether it’s Texas Beef or Chicken, is real deboned meat.

Merrick’s grain-free puppy recipe for dry dog food is enriched with omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, DHA for brain development, and glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health and muscle tissue. What’s more, it contains easily digestible carbs, like potatoes and sweet potatoes, pet-enticing fruit and veggies (peas, apples, and blueberries), and plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

All of these goodies are packed in one yummy kibble, made and baked in Texas kitchens, where Merrick has been producing delicious dog food for more than 30 years. Merrick Grain-Free puppy food reviews from satisfied customers are pleased with the switch from chicken to beef, saying it has improved their puppies’ digestion and normalized their stool.

With over 92% of Chewy customers recommending this product and a 4.5-star rating on ingredient quality and freshness from Amazon users, it’s no wonder it’s among the top ten best food brands.

Top 5 ingredients: deboned beef, sweet potatoes, peas, lamb meal, potatoes


  • + Food sourced from local farmers
  • + Natural rich ingredients
  • + No grain or artificial preservatives
  • + Ideal for puppies of all sizes
  • + Supports healthy digestion


  • Bits may be big for some puppies
  • Some people don’t like the smell

Diamond Naturals Dry Puppy Food

star 9.9

Best for Large Breeds

  • 27% protein and 15% fat
  • 3,650 kcal/kg–342 kcal/cup
  • Lamb flavor
  • 6lb, 20lb, and 40lb bags

Diamond Naturals dry puppy food provides all the nutrients a growing, large-breed puppy could want or need. It contains DHA, calcium, and phosphorus, known for healthy joints, muscles, and bones. It also has a unique live probiotics blend for improved immunity and digestion.

This K9 Strain formula is the same as the one used by Taste of the Wild, as the same company makes both brands. There is no shortage of superfoods either, starting from vegetables (kale, spinach, carrots), fruits (pumpkin, blueberries, coconut, and papaya), to whole grains (quinoa and chia seeds).

What’s more, Diamond Naturals dry food for a puppy of a bigger size incorporates L-Carnitine into its formula. This vitamin-like compound has recently been linked to weight reduction in overfed dogs. In addition, it converts fat into energy — perfect for lively, big-boned puppies, like Labs, Golden Retrievers, and Newfoundlands. If these features aren’t enough to tempt your dog (and you), it comes in a delicious lamb flavor, made from natural, pasture-fed lamb, that no puppy can resist.

There are 40 Diamond Naturals puppy food reviews on the site, which may not sound like a lot. Still, they are overly positive and accompanied by cute puppy pics and plenty of individual real customer experiences. Amazon and Chewy customers love it too — there are over 2,000 ratings on Amazon and more than 300 favorable Diamond puppy food reviews on Chewy.

But what about small breeds? This brand has it all. Sold in a smaller-sized kibble (for smaller mouths and throats), more than one Diamond Naturals small breed puppy review confirms that this chicken-flavored variety is as good as the large-breed option.

Top 5 ingredients: lamb, lamb meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, grain sorghum


  • + Meat from pasture-raised lambs
  • + 80 million probiotics/lb of food
  • + Rich in superfoods and DHA
  • + Antioxidants & omega fatty acids
  • + Complete, holistic nutrition


  • Puppies tire of the taste over time
  • Some owners report cases of diarrhea

Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy

star 10

Best for German Shepherd Puppies

  • 28% protein and 14% fat
  • 3639 kcal/kg–331 kcal/cup
  • Chicken flavor
  • 30lb bag

Offering tailored nutrition for all breeds and sizes, Royal Canin is one of the world’s best, most recognizable, and most varied pet food brands. Plus, nutrient content, shape, and size are custom-made to each specific breed.

Enriched with antioxidants, such as Vitamin E for an immunity boost and a nutrient blend for digestive health and performance, this kibble has all the goodies a muscular and sturdy pup like the German Shepherd needs. Plus, it contains 1.26% calcium and 1% phosphorus for growing bones and 30% protein.

In addition to its breed-specific, Royal Canin puppy dry dog food comes in varieties tailored to size. Royal Canin Mini Puppy dry dog food has all the high-quality protein and nutrients a smaller-breed growing puppy’s immune system requires. In addition, the kibble is small and easy to chew and digest and can improve the dog’s dental hygiene. Plus, the unique prebiotics blend supports digestive health.

Although marketed to large-breed dogs, we found that this formula contains much of the same ingredients as the Mini dog recipe. However, one significant difference is energy levels. While the Mini formula has intense energy content, this one has moderate energy levels to meet the requirements of bigger puppies that grow over a longer period of time.

There are many five-star Royal Canin puppy reviews online. For example, 86% of Amazon and 92% of Chewy users gave the Mini dog formula a five-star rating. If you dig around other products from this brand, you’ll find similarly high marks for flavor, scent, and packaging.

Top 5 ingredients: dehydrated poultry protein, rice, vegetable protein isolate, wheat flour, maize flour


  • + Nutrition tailored to size and breed
  • + Rich in antioxidants and vitamin E
  • + Special prebiotics blend
  • + Great for dental health
  • + Easy open-and-close zip system


  • Uses by-product meals
  • A bit expensive
  • Contains gluten

Eukanuba Dry Puppy Food

star 9.9

Best for Small Breeds

  • 32% protein and 21% fat
  • 4,076 kcal/kg–465 kcal/cup
  • Chicken flavor
  • 5lb, 15lb, 16lb, 28lb, and 30lb bags

Small dogs are lively, vibrant, and energetic. To live their best lives, they need all the nutrients they can get, and Eukanuba delivers. Eukanuba puppy dry dog food contains clinically proven DHA levels to ensure that your puppy’s cognitive skills develop to their full potential, making the puppy smarter and easier to train.

Besides this beneficial Omega fatty acid, Eukanuba puppy food has high-grade animal protein derived from the chicken as the first ingredient and other components. It also contains all the fat and carbs a growing puppy needs in terms of energy.

Finally, there are optimal calcium, phosphorus, and minerals levels to support bone and joint development, Vitamin E for the immune system, and natural fiber and prebiotics for a healthy tummy. In short, Eukanuba dry puppy food has all the nutrients small-breed puppies that weigh under 23 lb as adults require to reach their full potential.

No Eukanuba puppy food review would be complete without mentioning other products in their puppy food line. The brand makes delicious chicken-flavored puppy food formulated for different-sized dogs and breeds as well.

There is a very small number of negative online Eukanuba puppy food reviews. However, most of the comments by users highly recommend this product. They say that their puppy loves the taste and smell, and the kibble is perfectly-sized for smaller breed puppies.

Top 5 ingredients: chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn, chicken fat, wheat


  • + Great for picky eaters
  • + Adjusted for optimal performance
  • + Real chicken as the first ingredient
  • + High protein enhances metabolism


  • Contains by-product meal
  • Contains egg product

IAMS Puppy

star 10

Most Affordable

  • 29.% protein and 17.50% fat
  • 3,790 kcal/kg–399 kcal/cup
  • Chicken flavor
  • 7lb, 15lb, and 30.6lb bags

Formulated with real, farm-raised chicken as the number one ingredient, IAMS provides all the natural animal protein your little dog needs to thrive. This premium protein is mixed with 22 other nutrients, such as carrots, Vitamin E supplements, and folic acid, all of which are found in mother’s milk.

IAMS dry puppy food is packed with antioxidants for a healthy immune system and shiny coat, minerals for strong bones, and fish oil-derived Omega 3 acid for improved cognitive skills. With IAMS, your puppy will be more trainable and fitter, but it will also be the smartest, healthiest, and best-looking pup on the block.

This company manufactures two more varieties in this product line: one for small and toy breeds (possibly the best dry food for a Yorkie puppy) and the other specifically formulated for large dogs. You can’t go wrong with any option. However, we recommend the original recipe, as it contains all the best components of the IAMS formula, and it is suited to all breeds and sizes. Plus, this is among the best value for money on the market.

Judging by online IAMS puppy food reviews, both owners and pups love this puppy kibble. Pet parents worldwide are recommending IAMS as one of the best dry foods for puppies, with plenty of positive IAMS Smart puppy reviews to prove it. In addition, owners seem to be particularly satisfied that their dogs grow lean and strong instead of chunky and overweight.

Top 5 ingredients: chicken, ground whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain sorghum, dried beet pulp


  • + Real chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • + No wheat and soy
  • + Contains beet pulp for digestion
  • + Rich in fish-oil derived DHA
  • + Vet-recommended


  • Contains egg, chicken by-product meal, and corn
  • Bag doesn’t have zip-lock to keep food fresh

Chicken Soup for the Soul Dry Puppy Food

star 9.8

Best for Dental Health

  • 30% protein and 18% fat
  • 3,803 kcal/kg–411 kcal/cup
  • Chicken
  • 1.5lb, 4.5lb, 13.5lb and 28lb bags

Many customers recommend Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Food as one of the best options for many reasons. One of those is protein-dense ingredients: chicken, turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal are the first four ingredients. This is real meat that doesn’t just support healthy growth, but it makes the food taste great too.

The recipe contains a blend of antioxidants and superfoods (apples, blueberries, spinach, kelp, carrots, tomatoes, and cranberries) for the immune system and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin. Finally, we found this kibble to be the perfect small size for any puppy. Its unique shape promotes chewing, thus helping with tartar control and plaque removal, ensuring optimal dental hygiene and health.

Besides this option, there is a unique formula for larger puppies that contains fewer calories and fat to promote healthy growth over a longer period. Chicken Soup for the Soul puppy food reviews on Chewy by both owners and breeders testify to the quality and safety of this dog kibble. In fact, 94% of Chewy users recommend this product.

Top 5 ingredients: chicken, turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal, cracked pearled barley


  • + No by-product meals
  • + Free from wheat, corn, and soy
  • + No artificial colors or flavors
  • + Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • + Prebiotic fiber


  • Not all puppies like the taste
  • Doesn’t sit well with all puppy stomachs

Nutro Ultra Dry Puppy

star 9.9

Best Tasting

  • 28% protein and 15% fat
  • 3706 kcal/kg–360 kcal/cup
  • Chicken, Salmon, and Lamb
  • 15lb and 30lb bags

Nutro Ultra puppy food combines quality and flavor in one delicious kibble to nourish your puppy and satisfy picky palates. According to many online Nutro Ultra puppy dog food reviews, pups highly approve of the taste and gobble up portions as soon as they are served. But there is more to Nutro Ultra than flavor.

This brand uses three proteins (chicken, lamb, and salmon) to support growth and lean muscle development. Plus, there are many antioxidants and DHA to make sure your puppy stays sharp and has a healthy heart. These high antioxidant levels are further enhanced with a nutrient-dense blend of 15 incredible superfoods, including kale, coconut, blueberries, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, and chia seeds.

The combination of vibrant superfoods is specifically designed to give your puppy’s immune system the boost it needs to grow healthy, happy, and strong. On top of that, this top-rated dry puppy food, like other Nutro products, follows the company’s FEED CLEAN philosophy. This means that all the ingredients are sourced from trusted farmers and suppliers.

In other words, Nutro, as one of the pioneers in dog nutrition and best puppy dry food brand, doesn’t use any GMO ingredients, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. The Nutro Ultra product line includes dry food for large puppies, following the same recipe but containing less protein and fat.

Top 5 ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran


  • + Great for all sizes and breeds
  • + Human grade, non-GMO ingredients
  • + A trio of proteins
  • + Fantastic blend of 15 superfoods
  • + Ingredients can be traced back to trusted sources


  • Contains egg product
  • Packaging cannot be resealed

How We Selected the Top-Rated Puppy Food

With so many brands claiming that they provide the most nutritious and healthiest dry puppy food, finding the one that ticks all the boxes can be time-consuming. So, to save you hours of exhausting research, we evaluated dozens of dry puppy food products and ranked the very best.

Want to know how we did it? Check our ranking methodology.

All About Protein

The protein content is a deciding factor when choosing the best dry dog food for a puppy. Did you know that at least 22% of puppy food calories should come from protein? For that reason, we only included puppy kibble high in superior quality protein.

What About Other Ingredients?

Besides protein, pups need fat, vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids (DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, in particular), fruit, and vegetables to thrive.

The products on our list of the best dry puppy foods in 2022 contain top-notch ingredients that puppies need to grow up strong and healthy. That means that all the dry puppy food options listed in our reviews are safe, i.e., free of chemicals, artificial preservatives, flavoring, and coloring.

Is It Nutritious?

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has set nutrient guidelines for dog food. All the companies on our list adhere to these guidelines without exception.

Taste and Smell

Puppy food should be healthy and nutritious, but it should also smell and taste enticing to puppies. This may be an issue of preference, but it helps if the kibble is made of ingredients and flavors our little omnivores love.

Just for Puppies

Even though “all-life stages” dog food is suitable for puppies as well, in our ranking of the best-rated puppy dry dog foods, we chose to stick to kibble that is specially formulated for dogs under the age of one.

Money Matters

There is no need to pay through the roof for high-quality puppy food, but you shouldn’t cheap out either. Choosing a mid-priced brand might be the best compromise. In truth, most reasonably priced, mid-level brands are just as good as the high-end ones. The same can’t be said for low-priced dog food, though, which is almost always of inferior quality.

When making our list of the best puppy dry dog food, we didn’t just look at the price. Instead, we checked out the quantity per bag. As a result, we included brands that offered excellent value for money or quantity-per-price ratio.

Where Can You Get It?

Convenience is not to be underestimated. For that reason, all the puppy food brands in our ranking are available at major online retailers and pet shops nationwide.

This way, you can get top-rated puppy food at delivery times, shipping rates, and discounts best suited to your budget and needs.

User Reviews

Last but not least, we took user reviews into account when choosing the cream of the crop. We checked dry puppy food ratings on Amazon and Chewy and reviews by satisfied (and unsatisfied) customers. Needless to say, only the brands with overwhelmingly positive reviews made the cut.

Choosing the Dry Puppy Food
The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Puppies need the right kind of diet to grow up big, healthy, and strong. That’s why it’s crucial to know what to feed your pet.

Puppy Food and Adult Dog Food: What’s the Difference?

No matter how big your dog gets, canines are classified as puppies until they reach one year. During this time, they need to be fed with high-quality, nutritious food specially formulated for this life stage.

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), puppies need a minimum of 22% protein and 8.5% of crude fat (adult dogs need 18% and 5.5%, respectively).

This means that the food should contain a lot more nutrients than the pet food intended for adult dogs, including:

  • Protein, an essential ingredient
  • Fat and carbs for energy and proper growth
  • Calcium for healthy and strong bones and teeth
  • Omega 3 (especially DHA) for boosting cognitive functions and vision as well as keeping the skin and coat healthy

It goes without saying that adult dog kibble might be too big or too hard for baby dogs to swallow or digest. With this in mind, owners must differentiate between dry puppy and adult dog food and provide a suitable and balanced diet for their fur babies.

What is Better for Puppies, Wet or Dry Food?

There are pros and cons to both types of food. Still, dry kibble is a better choice than canned food in certain aspects.

  • Dental health. The texture and consistency of dry food is excellent for maintaining dental hygiene. Some dry food brands even make specifically-formulated dog food to clean the teeth and remove any plaque as the puppy chews it.
  • More nutritious. Dry food has more protein and carbs than wet food, so it’s a much better option, energy-wise.
  • Easier to store. Good dry puppy food has a longer shelf-life than canned food, which means that you can leave it out for longer without worrying about it spoiling. In addition, it doesn’t have to be refrigerated, making it less of a hassle to store.
  • More affordable. Dry food, especially when bought in bulk, is cheaper than canned food. In fact, out of the three options for puppy food (dry, wet, and semi-moist), kibble is the most affordable.

There are some downsides, though. Some lower-quality (or worst puppy food) can have artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, putting your puppy at risk. Dry food doesn’t give as much moisture as wet food, which is very important for older dogs or those who live in dry and hot environments.

The best option: mix both. The wet food combined with high-quality kibble will increase the meal’s nutritional value and improve the taste and smell (a bonus for picky puppies).

Setting Up Your Puppy’s Food Regime

Owners, first-timers, in particular, should be armed with all the basics of a baby dog’s feeding schedule.

Here are the most important questions to address:

At What Age Should a Puppy Eat Dry Food?

Even though most puppies are weaned by 6 weeks, you can introduce solid food to their diet as early as 4 weeks. This is around the time that puppies stop getting all the calories they need from their mother’s milk.

Dry food might still be too hard for dogs younger than 8 weeks, so owners should moisten it with water until it starts to look spongy. Then, when it’s all soft, dry puppy food won’t pose a problem for smaller puppies.

In other words, both younger and small-sized puppies can swallow and digest it without any issues. Feeding a puppy kibble from the very beginning will make the transition to harder adult food much smoother.

How Often Should You Feed Your Puppy Dry Food?

The feeding regimes of puppies will change as it grows, so you need to provide nutrition accordingly:

  • From 6 to 12 weeks, puppies should eat puppy food only (no adult dog food) at least 4 to 6 times a day. This is a critical development stage for your puppy, so make sure you provide top-rated dry puppy food to support its rapid growth.
  • 3 to 6-month-old dogs can be fed 3 to 4 times a day with food suitable to their breed and size.

If you’re not sure what breed your dog is — a common occurrence with rescues — you might want to consider a dog DNA test. Genetic testing is the most certain way to determine the breed, allowing you to adjust your dog’s nutrition to that type.

  • 6-month to one-year-old puppies need to be fed 2 times a day with some of the best dry puppy dog food. This reduced feeding regime will ease the transition into future smaller meals and avoid overfeeding and obesity issues.

At What Time Should You Feed Your Pet?

Ideally, puppies should have their meals at the same time every day. It’s best to serve the first meal in the morning, then again at noon, followed by lunch and dinner in the evening.

Not all owners can stick to this regime, though, so feeding time can be rearranged. Just make sure that enough time has passed between meals. You don’t want to overfeed your pup or cause digestion problems.

How Much Dry Food to Feed a Puppy?

Puppies grow up incredibly fast. In fact, they grow the fastest in the first five months. This means they need twice as much food per pound as an adult dog from the same breed.

How to determine the right amount?

Here are a few helpful hints:

  • Observe your dog. Does it meet the recommended body size and shape for its age and breed? If you see it leaning towards the chubbier side, reduce the quantity (not the frequency).
  • Follow feeding charts on product labels. Lucky for pet owners, the serving suggestions on top dry puppy food labels are excellent guides to the perfect feeding routine. Follow the instructions, and you won’t have any problems.
  • Consult your vet. If you are still wondering how much dry puppy food to feed your puppy, contact a professional for advice on the best feeding schedule.

Is Your Puppy Eating Enough? Or Overeating?

Vets use a scale of 1 to 5 (one being emaciated and five being obese) to evaluate your dog’s body shape. A puppy should be around two on the scale.

In practical terms, this means that the ribs and the top of the backbone are visible. In addition, you should be able to see the waist or the abdominal tuck. That being said, this also depends on your dog’s breed and size, so if you want to know for sure, you can always consult your vet.

Switching from Puppy Food to Adult Food

Even if they are only fed with the best-rated puppy dry dog food, the pup will eventually have to stop eating it. Canines can join the big boys and transition to adult food when they reach 90% of their expected adult weight.

This happens between 7 and 9 months for smaller breeds, whereas, for large dogs, it’s between 12 to 14 months. Just keep in mind that it’s better to keep your dog on a puppy diet a bit longer than not long enough.

How to Find the Ideal Puppy Food?

There is a wide range of dry puppy food on the market, which can make choosing the best one for your tiny baby a challenge.

Here are the most important things to look for in high-quality dry food for puppies:

Consider the Breed

Dogs might all be the same species, but there is a world of difference between canine breeds. They differ in appearance, behavior, health issues, and needs.

First and foremost, the food needs to be small. Mouth and jaw size don’t allow smaller breed pups to tackle bigger pieces. Smaller breeds also have a faster metabolism, so they need more calories.

The best option is to feed them calorie-dense meals 4 to 6 times a day to avoid hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Put simply, small-breed dog owners should look for a smaller-sized dog food rich in calories and quantity.

On the other hand, bigger dogs are prone to bone diseases such as osteochondrosis (OCD), developmental orthopedic disease (DOD), and hip dysplasia. Although some of the joint and skeletal problems with dogs are genetic, the wrong food can worsen these conditions.

The sooner you start feeding your dog the best dry food, the better. Also, look for joint-supporting supplements, like chondroitin and glucosamine, as well as food containing calcium and phosphorus.

Overfeeding is another potential issue with large dogs. Like Labs or Golden Retrievers, some bigger dog breeds can be easily overfed, meaning that a lower-calorie diet is the way to go.

Consider the Ingredients

The best-rated dry puppy food should contain:

  • Whole meat (not meat by-products). There might be some confusion between poultry (the most common type of meat in kibble), poultry meal, and poultry by-product meal.

Whole chicken refers to the carcass and skin, whereas chicken meal is the same, only in dried form. Chicken by-product meal contains all the parts of the birds (feet, intestines, undeveloped eggs, and so on).

Even though some studies say there is no noticeable difference in the nutritional value and digestibility between poultry and poultry by-products, most owners prefer to feed their puppies human-grade ingredients.

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Good fats (like omega fatty acids)

It shouldn’t have any:

  • Synthetic vitamins
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Harmful chemicals, like propylene glycol, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
The Issue of Grains

Grain-free or not grain-free?

For one thing, dogs’ stomachs have a hard time processing grains. Many pet food companies also use them as inexpensive fillers in dog food recipes.

But, grain-free dry puppy food is not 100% safe either (the FDA reported a possible connection between grain-free food and heart diseases in canines and felines). And, grains do have some nutritional value.

Considering this, whole grains might be the best option. Sure, they are basically carbs, but whole grains contain calcium, vitamins, iron, and potassium, too. So, unless your dog has grain allergies and sensitivities, whole-grain puppy food can be a great choice.

Look for a Trusted Brand

Read a couple of online dry puppy food reviews to find a brand of good standing among pet owners. Finding a brand you can trust might be harder for first-time dog owners, but some online digging will make the task easier.

Before You Start Shopping for the Best Dry Puppy Dog Food

Some Helpful Advice

  • Watch the treats. If you use treats to train your puppy, make sure they complement its feeding regime. Treats, especially organic CBD bites and chews, can be a great addition to your pet’s diet, as long as they are not overused.
  • Don’t try to get cooking. Puppies aren’t best-suited for kitchen experiments. Getting the proper nutrients for an adult dog is hard enough. Still, it’s even more challenging for a puppy because they are more prone to nutritional deficiency issues than grown-up canines.

Get your furry friend commercially available food — the best food brands are the experts, and they know your dog’s needs.

  • Don’t feed your puppy the minute you get home. Instead, patting it or playing with it is a better idea. Otherwise, your dog might associate your homecoming with feeding time and start to develop separation anxiety as a result.
  • Avoid bones. Bones are not chew toys. In fact, they can cause lacerations in the puppy’s internal organs and mouth, get caught in the throat, or lead to constipation. Try vet-recommended puppy food and treats for dental hygiene instead.
  • Don’t be fooled. Yes, puppies are adorable, and they’re even cuter than when they beg. It can be hard to resist those big brown eyes, but remember that the more treats and table scraps you feed them, the more they will beg.

After all, dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years, and they’ve picked up a few manipulation techniques along the way. Just make sure you don’t fall for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best dry puppy food?

The best dry food for young dogs provides all the nutrients for a healthy and balanced diet according to their breed, health, and lifestyle. Which brand you choose is entirely up to you. Just make sure that it’s safe, nutritious, and healthy.

Is dry food best for puppies?

This is another issue that depends on the owner’s preference. Both types of food have benefits and downsides. Still, generally speaking, dry food is healthier for teeth, has more energy value, and is more affordable.

What puppy food do vets recommend?

Although there are some vet-recommended food brands, most veterinarians don’t recommend a particular company. Instead, they advise against processed food and suggest opting for brands that offer AAFCO-standard meals and food formulas created in consultation with experts.

The most important thing, vets say, is buying food suitable for your puppy’s breed and lifestyle.

What is the best puppy food for puppies?

The general opinion is that dry kibble is the best food for puppies. This is because it’s the easiest to digest, the most economical, and the longest-lasting.

On the other hand, canned food doesn’t have the same amount of nutrients (almost 75% of water). In contrast, semi-moist food isn’t good for teeth and can lead to obesity due to high salt, preservatives, and sugar content.

Should you mix wet and dry dog food?

Yes. Combining wet and dry food in one tasty meal will make your puppy happy and healthy and help the food go down more easily.

How to get a puppy to eat dry food?

Sometimes puppies may not like the taste of dry food, or it might be too hard for them. If that’s the case, we suggest adding a bit of wet food in the mix or chicken broth or water to soften up the texture.

If your puppy isn’t eating for a few days and is looking lethargic, a more severe issue might be involved, and you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

The best dry puppy food should provide complete and balanced nutrition in one delicious package at prices that won’t break your budget. More importantly, it should suit your puppy’s breed, lifestyle, and age.

Keep this in mind when buying food for the youngest members of your family, and your puppy will grow up nourished, healthy, and energetic.

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