During puppyhood, it is critical for our canine best friends to enjoy a healthy diet for growth and development. The best puppy food is one that is formulated to meet the specific needs of young, growing dogs. From minimizing the potential for obesity to optimizing immune function, proper nutrition is critical for each developmental stage of a quick-growing pup!
One recent study of 4,000 young dogs finds that a puppy’s diet can affect their likelihood of developing allergies and skin conditions. “The puppies that had been fed raw tripe, raw organ meats, and human meal leftovers during puppyhood showed significantly less allergy and atopy related skin symptoms in adult life. On the other hand, puppies not getting any raw foods, eating most of their food as dry food, i.e. kibble, being fed fruits, and heat-dried animal parts, had significantly more allergy and atopy related skin symptoms in adulthood,” explains co-author Anna Hielm-Björkman from the University of Helsinki.
According to veterinarians Krista Williams and Robin Downing of VCA Animal Hospitals, “Growth rates for puppies vary by breed and involve a complex process of interactions among genetics, nutrition, and the environment. Proper nutrition is critical to the health and development of puppies, regardless of breed, and it directly influences their immune system and body composition.”
So, given the importance of proper nutrition for growing dogs, how do we determine the best puppy food for our furry friends? StudyFinds visited 10 of the leading expert websites to find which products were recommended the most by experts across these sites.
The List: Best Puppy Foods, According To Experts
For the overall best puppy food, Purina Beneful Healthy Puppy is a great option. It’s made with DHA, an important omega-3 fatty acid, to support healthy brain and eye development, and it contains high-quality protein to help your pup grow strong and healthy.
The version with farm-raised chicken made the top of the list as it “contains farm-raised chicken and fruits and vegetables for additional vitamins. There are as many as 23 essential vitamins and minerals in this formula. It also has a lot of protein since every cup is packed full of 29 grams of protein,” writes Pet Keen.
Moreover, Purina offers a version specifically designed for pups with sensitive stomachs called Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach. As the name suggests, it also helps to prevent skin irritation that can sometimes be triggered by various foods.
According to Discover Magazine, “It’s made with real chicken as the first ingredient, and it’s enriched with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.This food also has a high protein content to help your puppy build lean muscle mass, and it’s made with ingredients that are easy to digest.”
2. Royal Canin
Complete with antioxidants and vitamins for healthy joints and development, Royal Canin puppy food is formulated to provide all the nutrients a medium-sized puppy needs. Additionally, it contains L-carnitine which helps support a healthy heart in dogs.
“It is specifically formulated not only for a dog’s size but also for certain breeds, such as Chihuahuas or French bulldogs. If your small dog’s breed is a bit of a mystery, Royal Canin also makes food for small, medium, and large puppies that isn’t specific to their breeds,” writes The Strategist.
Moreover, Royal Canin puppy food is formulated for specific breeds, so if you have a purebred puppy, you can choose a food that is tailored to his or her breed’s specific needs. Packed with high-quality ingredients, this brand is a great option for complete puppy nutrition!
NBC News calls this the “Top Overall Dog Food” for adult dogs and puppys stating, “Royal Canin offers some of the most diverse dog food options on the market — the brand makes both dry and wet food for a variety of dog sizes, breeds and dietary restrictions, including food sensitivities and gastrointestinal issues.”
3. Hill’s Science Diet
Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food is another great puppy food option. It’s made with high-quality ingredients, and it doesn’t contain any fillers or by-products. Plus, it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help your pup grow and develop properly.
According to The Strategist, “Hill’s Science Diet comes recommended by three of the experts we spoke to, including veterinarian Dr. Jessica Kirk, who likes that ‘this food has gone through AAFCO feeding trials, is readily available at many pet-supply stores, and is affordable to most puppy owners.’”
Hill’s Science Diet puppy food contains highly digestible ingredients. Considering digestion is necessary for the body to receive vital nutrients, this is crucial to support a growing pup’s developing digestive system. It also contains high-quality proteins and carbohydrates to support the energy needs of young pups.
Adds Dog Lover’s Digest: “Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Dog Food packs a ton of flavor and nutritional value, perfect for puppies of all sizes and breeds. The main recipe list comprises chicken meals for muscle nourishment and barley to keep your pup energized and active.”
Like other great puppy brands, Wellness puppy food is made with all-natural ingredients and does not contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. It also includes nutrients like DHA and L-carnitine.
Dog Food Advisory says, “Wellness Puppy gets the bulk of its animal protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 32% protein, 20% fat and 40% estimated carbs… which produces a fat-to-protein ratio of about 62%.”
Wellness CORE puppy food is grain-free and made with carefully selected ingredients to support a puppy’s developing immune system.
“CORE recipes are crafted based on the nutritional philosophy that dogs, based on their primal ancestry, thrive on a natural diet mainly comprised of meat. Packed with premium protein along with nutrient-rich superfoods and nutritional supplements to ensure your puppy has everything they need to thrive from the CORE,” notes Dr. Danielle Bernal, Veterinarian for Wellness Pet Company.
5. Blue Buffalo
Last, but not least, Blue Buffalo puppy food contains LifeSource Bits, a proprietary blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
“This Blue Buffalo puppy product derives the majority of its meat protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 30% protein, 18% fat and 44% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%,” writes Dog Food Advisory.
This brand is packed with essential vitamins and minerals to support overall growth and development. From building strong muscles and bones to developing healthy immune systems, Blue Buffalo has the nutrients to support every stage of puppyhood!
Adds Pet Keen: The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula includes real meat, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and bits of antioxidant-rich ingredients. Together, this food provides your puppy with just the right amount of power to grow up strong.
Puppyhood is a crucial time in a dog’s life. So, when you’re choosing a puppy food, be sure to consider the unique needs of your growing pup. A little research now will pay off in a healthy, happy dog later on.
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.