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What is the Healthiest Puppy Food?

First off, thank you for actively seeking to improve your puppy’s life by asking the Internet what is the healthiest puppy food. We ❤ you for taking the extra step! Here are our healthy pup picks (and why).

CC image “Indy” via Bev Sykes on Flickr – thx Indy (& Bev)!

Impatient, like me?

Instantly ✔ current prices & more info about the healthiest puppy food:

  1. Wellness Complete Health Natural Puppy
  2. Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe
  3. Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy (wet)
  4. Cesar Canine Cuisine Puppy (wet)
  5. Iams Protective Health Smart Puppy

Hint: Some links have coupons. 🙂

I have a playful, slightly naughty but thoroughly lovable Border Collie called Roy and I vividly recall the first time he scampered into our home.

It was to be a magical and slightly chaotic initial few weeks.

I recall a furry black and white fluffball careering around the tiled kitchen floor, the glistening wet patches where little Roy had taken a sly wee and the gentle snoring noise he made whilst having his afternoon puppy-time naps.

Before we brought Roy home for the first time we had prepared ourselves for lots of fun and an awful lot of mess, but how were we going to prepare Roy for the future?

We wanted the same for him as we wanted for the rest of our family – good health, contentment and the opportunity for growth and development. This meant providing the right puppy food for Roy and that was no mean feat when faced with so many brands to choose from.

What is So Special About Puppy Food & Does My Puppy Really Need It?

Dog food is dog food, surely any dog food will be fine for my puppy. Right?

The short answer to this question is – no!

Dog food is dog food. Surely any dog food will be fine for my puppy. Right?! Click To Tweet

Your puppy will go through so many changes, growing and maturing at an amazing rate. Organs, muscle and bone are all forming and this rapid rate of development needs to be fueled by well-balanced nutritious food.

Think how active your puppy is, always on the go and forever keen to explore. Your puppy will need more calories to sustain this level of activity and these are found in specially formulated puppy food. Therefore, feeding your dog in accordance with their “life-stage” is heavily recommended by experts.

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Look for food labeled as formulated or suitable for puppies. The label will tell you more about the product and what’s inside it, so you can make an informed choice for your pint-sized pup.

The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) sets the nutrient guidelines that must be adhered to by pet food manufacturers.

What Healthy Ingredients Should I Look for When Choosing Puppy Food?

Look for brands that list their first ingredient as a whole animal product e.g. chicken or salmon.

Protein is very important for your puppy and should come from a natural and high quality source.

Other worthy ingredients to look for include natural oils and fats (for a shiny coat and lots of energy), healthy grains (healthy carbs like rice and buckwheat) and the inclusion of plenty of essential minerals and vitamins e.g. calcium and Vitamin C.

What Ingredients Should I Try to Avoid When Choosing Puppy Food?

Ingredients less favorably viewed include those described as “by-products”. These refer to things like left-over products and products from (sometimes) sick animals.

Although we are looking for healthy grains, we don’t really want to see grain-fillers (including wheat and corn). These are there to bulk out the food and don’t really add nutritional value.

Other poor ingredients include corn syrup (too much of this sweetener can lead to health problems) and added chemicals (think artificial flavors and preservatives).

How Do I Know if the Food I Have Chosen is Right for My Puppy?

So, you have made a decision on the best brand for your puppy, how can you be sure it suits them?

Once your puppy has been eating solid food for a few weeks you can check how your puppy responds to the brand you chose.

Check his or her appearance, their coat should feel nice and dense to the touch, whilst appearing healthy and glossy. A happy and contented puppy will be full of bounce and fun and will be producing relatively solid and brown puppy poops (hopefully not all over your floor whilst the inevitable toilet training takes place)!

Find some good tips on how to feed a puppy and more tips for choosing the best puppy food at:

So…What is the Healthiest Puppy Food?

There are a zillion puppy food brands on the market. Prices can vary considerably and there are marked differences in the types available e.g. wet food, dry food, grain-free food, large breed puppy food, the list goes on.

Here is a quick overview of a few of the healthy brands on offer:

1. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Puppy Food

Flavors: Chicken, salmon, oatmeal

What is the healthiest puppy food - Wellness Complete Health Puppy Food

Described by the manufacturer as offering complete and balanced everyday nutrition, it’s not difficult to see why this is a popular brand of puppy food. Development is of utmost importance as these early stages and this product is lauded for its added DHA (for healthy brain and eye development).

I’m pleased to see the first ingredient listed is a whole animal product – deboned chicken and that the rest of the ingredients are described as “natural” and “premium.”

Other plaudits include the resealable bag, great for keeping the product fresh. On the less positive side some consumers have stated that they think this product may be a little too rich for their pup’s delicate young tummies.

2. Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe

Directly from the manufacturers own kitchen this puppy food is described as “formulated to meet the nutritional requirements for ALL puppies.”

What is the healthiest puppy food - Merrick Grain free dog food

Being suitable for large and small breeds it has a wide appeal and the manufacturer also states that levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin are at industry leading levels.

Ingredient-wise it’s good to see the top listed one is that of a whole animal product – deboned chicken, in fact the top five ingredients are all natural produce such as sweet potato and peas, very encouraging!

Reviews on this product were very good, a couple of consumers pointed out it may be more expensive, but they felt it was worth paying more in the long run if the product suited their dog. The natural ingredients and “home-cooked” feel of it makes it very appealing.

One reviewer did mention gas! However, I have yet to meet a dog that doesn’t produce the odd bottom burp here and there after a hearty meal.

 3. Purina Pro Plan Wet Puppy Food

Flavors: Chicken & Rice Classic

Specially formulated for puppies this wet food proffers to provide complete and balanced nutrition. The manufacturers state that this food “helps promote lean body mass for ideal body condition.”

Ingredients show the first listed as a whole animal product (chicken) and the assurance that the product is of high quality and that it is great tasting is very promising.

People seem pleased on the whole with this product, referring to a noticeably shinier coat and improved bowel movements.  One drawback is a “longer than average” list of ingredients.

4. Cesar Wet Puppy Food in Meaty Juices

Ingredients: Chicken & Beef, Lamb & Rice

What is the healthiest puppy food - Cesar Cuisine Wet Puppy Food

The manufacturer says that Cesar Puppy can offer complete and balanced nutrition fortified with vitamins and minerals. This particular food seems to be aimed at small breed puppies, so would suit a Chihuahua, Maltese, Pug etc.

Dog owners go crazy for this product, even those with what they describe as “picky dogs” happily state that their four legged friends lap this up.

Another plus side is the easy to open and go packaging, small foil containers that are described as fuss and mess free.

One concerned raised that although the puppy food is described as gourmet cuisine the first ingredients is meat by-products, unfortunately this isn’t very appealing.

5. IAMS Proactive Health Smart Puppy – Large Breed

Described by the manufacturer as wholesome and rich in Omega-3 DHA, this food is specially formulated for larger breeds, so would be suitable for dogs such as the Great Dane or Mastiff.

What is the Healthiest Puppy Food - Iams Puppy

A positive attribute of this brand is that it contains calcium (to aid the development of the dog’s joints). Reviews are positive in the main – with statements that consumers have noticed an improvement to the appearance of the dog’s coat and also that puppies seem to love the taste!

The first ingredient listed is a whole animal product – chicken, which is positive to see. The second (chicken by-product) and third (corn meal) ingredient listed are both by-products which is not quite so positive.

So, Which is the Right Brand for My Precious Puppy?

There are so many brands on the market it is difficult to distinguish the differences between them. You have to take into account what is important for you and your puppy.

Is your puppy a small or large breed dog?

If so, you may prefer to go for a puppy food that is specifically tailored to meet the needs of your type of breed.

Are you a fan of the benefits associated with organic and natural foods?

If so, you will be looking to try one of the brands that use more pure foods and less processed or treated products. Budget may be a factor too and it’s important to remember that cheaper foods may contain more fillers and less natural products.

If you’re unsure, check the ingredients list to see what your puppy will be eating.

A major decider here could be simply taste and how the food suits your puppy. Decide on a brand and try it out – see how your puppy responds.

Make Sure Your Voice / Bark is Heard!

My border collie, Roy, is now eighteen months old and as a working dog breed he has always been extremely active. He is not a greedy dog and just eats small amounts when he is hungry. I’ve tried different brands but have not found one yet that he seems to have a real taste for. When he was a puppy I found our first visit to buy puppy food quite confusing.

There is a myriad of information out there relating to puppy food brands but no amount of research can substitute for the views and opinions of you as puppy owners.

Have you tried one these brands? If so, what did you and your four-legged friend think of it? Share your comments and views with us or ask your fellow dog lovers a question. We all share one common trait here – we love our dogs and want the best for them!

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