The Best Puppy Food for 2022

Published: March 12, 2022

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The joys of having puppies around are endless. You get to watch as they explore their new environment and get accustomed to receiving cuddles and kisses from you. Your dopamine levels spike as you watch their little happy feet run around mischievously with wonder in their eyes. Aside from having new, vibrant energy in your home, you’re probably also stocking up on toys and dog beds. Of course, you’re also focused on purchasing the best puppy food you can find. You’re probably looking into pet insurance plans too! Part of having a new puppy is figuring out a schedule so your pup enjoys plenty of exercise. This phase of newness includes a lot of changes. Sometimes, the information overload when it comes to caring for your puppy may feel overwhelming. Ensuring proper nutrition is one of the top priorities you have to consider when getting your pup used to living with you.

Dog food brands have been innovating their products to create veterinarian-approved kibbles and wet food that have all the nutrients your growing pup needs. Clever marketing might fool some people but you’re looking for a top-rated puppy food that substantiates its claims. Reading the words “all-natural” or “healthy” may sound appealing but what’s really lurking in the ingredients list? Having a keen eye for puppy formulas is necessary as you review brands to help you make a solid decision. Short of doing all the research yourself, you can rely on our expertise. We put together a list of the best puppy foods, including recipes made specifically for large breeds and recipes specifically for small breeds. A St. Bernard and Maltese may enjoy some of the same flavors, but they do have a different set of nutritional requirements. Also included in this list is a budget-friendly option in this list along with our top choices for wet puppy food and dry puppy food.

This list was created with your convenience and the health of your puppy in mind. All of these options come highly recommended by veterinarians and other puppy parents who took the time to try these recipes and share their experiences. We also provide you with pros and cons for different types of puppy food. You can learn how to choose the best puppy food and what factors to consider when examining a specific brand and product. Finally, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions so you can walk away feeling good about the next choice you make for your pup. After all, your new furry buddy is counting on you for a long, healthy, and happy life.

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A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Puppy Food

  1. Wellness Complete Health Puppy
  2. Wellness Complete Health Puppy
    • Includes deboned chicken, oatmeal, and salmon
    • Natural source of DHA to assist with brain development
    • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
    • No artificial preservatives
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Puppy Chow Complete With Real Chicken Dry Dog Food
  4. Puppy Chow Complete With Real Chicken Dry Dog Food
    • Includes essential nutrients like those found in mother’s milk
    • Made with real, farm-raised chicken and rice
    • Pieces are bite-sized for your puppy’s little mouth
    • Suitable for all breed sizes
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned Dog Food
  6. Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned Dog Food
    • Made specifically for growing puppies
    • Packed with nutrient-rich food like chicken and chicken liver
    • Include antioxidants from carrots
    • Formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  7. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice
  8. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice
    • Designed to promote cognitive development with DHA and ARA
    • Supports muscle and bone development
    • High-quality chicken is the first ingredient
    • No byproduct chicken meals, corn, wheat, and soy
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  9. Purina Pro Plan High Protein Chicken and Rice Formula Large Breed
  10. Purina Pro Plan High Protein Chicken and Rice Formula Large Breed
    • Packed with DHA, antioxidants, glucosamine, and calcium
    • Chicken is the first high-quality protein
    • The kibble is crunchy and has an alluring flavor
    • Includes Glucosamine to support developing joints and cartilage
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  11. Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food
  12. Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food
    • Supports nutritional needs of extra small, small, and toy breeds
    • Small-sized, tasty kibbles
    • Meets the high energy needs of a small breed dog
    • Immune support
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

Best Overall Puppy Food: Wellness Complete Health Puppy

The best overall puppy food we found is by Wellness. This “complete health” puppy food includes deboned chicken, oatmeal, and salmon for a tasty way to get well-rounded nutrition into your growing puppy’s body. It’s supported by a natural source of DHA to assist with brain development and is also supported by guaranteed levels of calcium and phosphorus for proper bone and muscle development. Your puppy’s health relies on his immune system, and this formula is fortified with vitamins and minerals to support his overall immunity. You’ll never find any meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives with Wellness products because their aim is to provide you with easy access to natural food for your puppy.

Your growing puppy needs whole-body nutrition so that he can grow to his ideal weight. This puppy food is appropriate for small breeds, medium breeds, and large breeds. The high-quality protein provides optimal energy so your puppy can run around, play, and develop that lean muscle mass he’ll need throughout his life. The blueberries and spinach in the formula are antioxidant-rich to support his immunity and flaxseed is included because it’s omega-rich for a shiny coat. Your dog is getting everything he needs from skin and coat protection to sustained energy to proper digestive health.

The guaranteed analysis confirms no less than 29% crude protein, no less than 18% crude fat, and no more than 4.5% of crude fiber. There’s no more than 10% of moisture and 1.2% of calcium along with several other vitamins, minerals, and taurine for well-being. The ingredients in this formula were thoughtfully selected to support your dog’s health and wellness through the critical puppy stage. Available in a 5-pound bag, 15-pound bag, and 30-pound bag, you have the freedom of choice when it comes to how much food to buy at once.

Best Overall
Wellness Complete Health Puppy
  • Includes deboned chicken, oatmeal, and salmon
  • Natural source of DHA to assist with brain development
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • No artificial preservatives
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Best Budget-Friendly Puppy Food: Puppy Chow Complete with Real Chicken

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t provide your puppy with high-quality nutrition. Purina has developed a “puppy chow” formula that contains the building blocks of puppy nutrition so that your dog has the support he needs for growing muscles, for a happy tummy, a sharp mind, and immune health. This recipe includes essential nutrients like those found in mother’s milk and is made with real, farm-raised chicken and rice. The pieces are bite-sized for your puppy’s little mouth, and the recipe contains 30% more protein than other brands to help keep up with your puppy’s everyday growth.

This puppy food is suitable for all breed sizes and is loaded with 100% of the essential nutrients your puppy needs to grow up big and strong. Your little furry friend is focused on adventures and to support him as he explores the world, he needs a tasty dog kibble that’s loaded with the right nutrients. DHA helps support your dog’s brain and vision development and antioxidants like vitamin C help to support his immune health. Calcium is another important nutrient added to this formula to promote healthy bones and teeth. This dry dog food is available in a 4.4-pound bag or a 32-pound bag and it’s priced affordable—more so than many other puppy food options available on the market.

Best Budget-Friendly
Puppy Chow Complete With Real Chicken Dry Dog Food
  • Includes essential nutrients like those found in mother’s milk
  • Made with real, farm-raised chicken and rice
  • Pieces are bite-sized for your puppy’s little mouth
  • Suitable for all breed sizes
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Best Wet Puppy Food: Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned Dog Food

It’s no secret that puppies and adult dogs alike gravitate toward wet food. For holistic nutrition made specifically for growing puppies, consider Wellness “complete health” canned dog food. This canned wet food is like the formula placed at the top of this list except it offers a different texture and has a few different ingredients. Nevertheless, it is packed with nutrient-rich food like chicken, chicken liver, and salmon for a high-quality protein that delivers all-day energy. To support your puppy’s healthy digestion, sweet potatoes are included because they deliver high dietary fiber. Your puppy will get antioxidants from carrots to support his immune health and omega fatty acids from flaxseed for healthy skin and coat.

Your pup needs support for his immune system, his digestive system, and he needs all the energy to run around and enjoy his puppyhood. With the ingredients included in this canned dog food, your pup is also getting support for his eyes, teeth, and gums as well as developing a healthy skin and coat, so he looks as good as he feels. The mouthwatering texture is appealing to even the pickiest of puppies and the savory taste makes sure that he’s gobbling down all the nutrients he needs to grow into his ideal size. This recipe was formulated by nutritionists, veterinarians, and animal lovers to keep your little guy thriving.

Best Wet Puppy Food
Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned Dog Food
  • Made specifically for growing puppies
  • Packed with nutrient-rich food like chicken and chicken liver
  • Include antioxidants from carrots
  • Formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Best Dry Puppy Food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice

Blue Buffalo has developed a “life protection” formula that includes “life source bits,” which are vital nutrients and antioxidants for your puppy’s health and wellness. This puppy formula is designed to promote cognitive development with DHA and ARA. It also supports muscle and bone development and is made with a unique small bite kibble so that your puppy doesn’t have to struggle during meals. High-quality chicken is the first ingredient in this formula, and it’s closely followed by real fruits and veggies plus healthy complex carbohydrates from brown rice and sweet potatoes for well-rounded nutrition. Blue Buffalo knows that your puppy is a family member and that’s why they put so much effort toward helping him live a long, happy, and healthy life.

With the use of some of the finest ingredients, you can trust that this formula is free from byproduct chicken meals, corn, wheat, and soy. It’s also free from artificial flavors and preservatives so that your puppy can get the best of the best in a puppy-friendly kibble. The antioxidant-rich “life source bits” are included as a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals selected by vets and animal nutritionists to help support your puppy’s immune system health, life stage requirements, and healthy oxidative balance. These bits are cold-formed to help maintain the potency of other ingredients and to minimize their exposure to heat during processing.

Best Dry Puppy Food
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice
  • Designed to promote cognitive development with DHA and ARA
  • Supports muscle and bone development
  • High-quality chicken is the first ingredient
  • No byproduct chicken meals, corn, wheat, and soy
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Best Large Breed Puppy Food: Purina Pro Plan High Protein Chicken and Rice

If you are raising a Mastiff, Great Dane, or another large breed dog, you know that his nutritional requirements may be different than say, a Yorkie-poo. These dogs tend to be prone to developing issues like hip dysplasia later in their adulthood and with proper nutrition from the very start, you can set the foundation your puppy needs for a higher quality of life well into his senior years. This large breed formula by Purina Pro Plan is packed with DHA, antioxidants, glucosamine, and calcium. Chicken is the first high-quality protein included in this formula (as the first ingredient!) so that your large breed puppy is provided with the essential nutritional building blocks he needs when he weighs over 50 pounds at maturity. Every other high-quality ingredient in this dry large breed puppy food is chosen with care for a specific nutritional or functional purpose so that you can rest easy knowing that your large breed puppy is getting exactly what he needs to reach adulthood feeling great.

The kibble is crunchy and has an alluring flavor that puppies enjoy, so your growing pup can get all the right nutrients in to support his overall health. Glucosamine is a critical aspect of this recipe because it helps to support your puppy’s developing joints and cartilage. It’s a high-protein formula to give your dog the energy he needs and help him keep lean muscle mass as he grows through the puppy stage. These kibbles are also fortified with guaranteed live probiotics for digestive and immune health and the DHA comes from mega-rich fish oil to nourish his brain and vision development. This dry puppy food does contain grains and is available in an 18-pound bag, a 34-pound bag, and a 47-pound bag.

Best Large Breed
Purina Pro Plan High Protein Chicken and Rice Formula Large Breed
  • Packed with DHA, antioxidants, glucosamine, and calcium
  • Chicken is the first high-quality protein
  • The kibble is crunchy and has an alluring flavor
  • Includes Glucosamine to support developing joints and cartilage
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Best Puppy Food for Small Breeds: Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food

Small breeds make for even cuter puppies because of their tiny size and big personalities. To support the nutritional needs of extra small, small, and toy breeds, you need a formula that features all the proteins, minerals, and vitamins needed to support them as they grow. These small-sized, tasty kibbles are designed for tiny teeth and picky eaters. If your puppy has an expected adult weight between nine and 22 pounds, this puppy dog food is ideal. It’s tailor-made for puppies up to 10 months old because it meets the high energy needs of a small breed dog during their short yet intense growth period. Your tiny pup will get the immune support he needs along with an exclusive blend of antioxidants and vitamins. Plus, this formula promotes healthy digestion through highly digestible proteins and probiotics. Your pup gets to enjoy delicious flavors with this formula that’s easy on his digestive system.

Best for Small Breeds
Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food
  • Supports nutritional needs of extra small, small, and toy breeds
  • Small-sized, tasty kibbles
  • Meets the high energy needs of a small breed dog
  • Immune support
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Choosing the Best: What to Look For

Not all puppy foods are made with great care and attention to detail. However, even if you’re looking for a more affordable option, there are still formulas that incorporate all the nutrients a growing puppy needs to reach adulthood in a healthy way. Consider the following when deciding on the best puppy food for your developing pup.

Ingredients

Always look for a high-quality proteins source listed as the first ingredient in any puppy food formula. Make sure that the recipe is fortified with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as well as other breed-specific ingredients, like glucosamine for large breed dogs.

Flavor

Most puppy food contains chicken, which is always a welcome flavor for pups. Others contain salmon, which some dogs may take to more than others. When trying out a new brand, you may want to start with a smaller bag to ensure that your puppy will enjoy the flavor of the new food.

Kibble Size

Kibble size is another important consideration, especially if you have a toy or small breed puppy. Their little jaws can only handle a certain size of kibble, so make sure that you’re purchasing a kibble size that’s appropriate for the type of puppy you’re raising. If the kibble size is too large, your little pup won’t be able to get all the nutrients he needs and may hurt himself trying to chew through large kibble bits.

Price

A budget forecast is vital, especially if you have not owned a puppy before. Your puppy will need several one-time purchases as well as several recurring purchases, like puppy food. Make sure you select a brand that fits into your budget so that you can take advantage of auto-ship and other subscription services, which usually include a discount on your total. Sign up whenever possible for details on special discounts and promotions, so you’re always getting the best deal on puppy food.

The Different Types of Puppy Food

Wet Puppy Food has a soft texture that’s extra palatable for picky eaters.

PROSCONS
Highly palatableMore expensive
High moisture contentSpoils when left out
Higher in protein and fat 

Dry Puppy Food: crunchy food containing wholesome nutrition.

PROSCONS
AffordableLow moisture content
Supports oral health 
Refrigeration not required 

Large Breed Puppy Food: is specially formulated for dogs that reach over 50 pounds in adulthood.

PROSCONS
Contains added ingredients, like glucosamineN/A
Balanced nutrient intake 
Digestible formulas 

Small Breed Puppy Food: is specially formulated for toy breeds and small breeds.

PROSCONS
Smaller kibble sizeN/A
Nourishes skin and coat 
Balanced nutrients 

Verified Review: User Experience

Users report that the top Wellness puppy food on this list is quality food at a reasonable price. Although one user’s dog wasn’t too excited about the flavor at first, he can hardly contain himself when it’s time to eat. His stools have greatly improved, and he’s had no issues during the transition period. There was one minor issue and that’s that the zip function of the bag doesn’t work so she’s just been using a clip instead to keep it closed and keep the food fresh. Another user transitioned her Welsh Corgi puppy over to this food after she adopted him, and she made the change in his food over the course of about three days. Her Corgi did not experience any tummy issues and he loves this food. He waits patiently each time she goes to get his bowl at mealtimes. Ultimately, she wanted high-quality food for a decent price and she’s happy that she selected Wellness.

Other users have tried the Purina large breed puppy food and have found it to be a great product that promotes better eating habits and better stool quality. One dog mom, in particular, uses this food with her Golden Retriever puppy. Although initially, she was feeding him the same food as the breeder, she noticed that he had a very sensitive stomach, lots of stinky gas, and loose stools. She decided to switch him over to Purina Pro Plan and his tummy issues are gone. He does great with this food, and he loves the taste. She even had to invest in a slow feeder bowl because he gobbled it right up! Users with small puppies tried the Royal Canin recipe and found it to be awesome, especially because the kibbles are so small, and puppies like Shih Tzu’s are better able to enjoy the complete nutrition.

Products For This Review

About the Author

Angie is a writer with over 10 years of experience developing content for product and brand reviews, focusing much of her time on animals of all types. A cat owner herself, she enjoys writing articles on beloved pets that both inform and entertain her audience.

The Best Puppy Food for 2022 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the healthiest food for a puppy?

Your best bet when choosing the healthiest food for a puppy is to rely on a high-quality kibble or wet food that is designed specifically for the puppy stage. These recipes ensure that your puppy gets all the nutrients he needs for proper growth and development. You can supplement with cooked meats and vegetables or even rice if you’d like, however, his primary diet needs to be perfectly balanced, and that can only come through a specially formulated diet for puppies.

What food do vets recommend for puppies?

Vets recommend a variety of different brands. However, they do suggest you look for a brand’s recall history and an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the product’s packaging. This AAFCO statement confirms that the recipe you are considering is nutritionally complete and balanced, which is exactly what a puppy needs.

What are the best ingredients for puppy food?

When deciding on a puppy food, you should make sure that it contains at least six essential ingredients that include protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water content. The protein source may be different like chicken or salmon, but ultimately, it must contain protein as the primary ingredient. Equally important, you should know what ingredients should not be in puppy food. Try to avoid any meat and grain meals and by products, food dyes like Blue 6, Red 40, and Yellow 5, and any rendered fat. Avoid artificial colors, chemicals, and fillers as well. When you take the time thoroughly review the list of ingredients in any particular puppy food, you become accustomed to quickly spotting these unhealthy ingredients and quickly steer away and toward food that contains natural nutritional support.

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