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The (4) Top Rated Puppy Food Brands

We break down 4 top rated puppy food brands to help you make the best nutritional decisions during the most important months of your best friend’s life.

jump directly to our picks for top rated puppy food brands by clicking on the link in the review box

CC image “freedom [197/366]” via Chris Ballard on Flickr – thx Chris!

Top Rated Puppy Food Brands

Innocent, playful, and delightfully mischievous, puppies seem to be able to melt the hardest of hearts.  Whether it be of a sleepy Saint Bernese or a dashing Dachshund, you may be trying to figure out how to raise this playful pup without making too many mistakes.

Raising a puppy isn’t what it used to be.

Twenty years ago, you simply went to the store and picked up a bag of dog food, a few chew toys, and a new collar, and called it a day. Nowadays, it seems that if you aren’t feeding your puppy the raw diet of his ancestors and baking your own bison treats, you’ll be looked down upon by your friends at the dog park.

You don’t have all day to spend surfing websites or earning a PhD in pet nutrition, so what can be done to ensure you’re feeding your puppy the best food possible?

Top Rated Puppy Food Brands

Today I’m going to give you a breakdown on how four top rated puppy food brands stack up to help you make your final decision.

Top Rated Puppy Food Brands

Earthborn
Petcurean Go! Fit
Carne
Orijen

click to learn more: Earthborn | Go! Fit | Carne | Orijen

1. Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Puppy Food

Earthborn consistently receives top ratings on many pet food websites, so I thought I would dig a little deeper into their ingredients to see if they really live up to the hype.

Chicken and fish are featured as the first two ingredients on the menu, resulting in a moderately high protein and fat content. You already knew protein was good for your pooch, but did you also know that puppies have unique nutritional needs?

Just like human babies are not miniature versions of adults, puppies aren’t miniature dogs either. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy ‘puppy’ food, rather than just feeding the new member of your pack what’s being fed to the rest of your adult dogs.

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At the same time, the protein isn’t ‘that’ high in this formulation, which could be a plus depending on if you own a small or large breed puppy. Small-breed puppies actually need more protein and fat than their large-breed cousins because their metabolisms are so speedy and their stomachs are so tiny.

In contrast, feeding a super high protein and fat diet to your large-breed puppy could cause them to put on weight too fast, stressing their already vulnerable joints (best not to give your dog arthritis at the tender age of one).

What I don’t like is the oatmeal, rice, barley, and rye included in this recipe. While these grains are great for making a hearty loaf of bread, they’re still rather inflammatory and can wreck havoc on a sensitive dog’s digestion.

Plus, they’ve added canola oil as their main source of fat, which is an inflammatory fat that easily turns rancid. If you’re starting to notice early signs of allergies (itching, excessive licking, dandruff) then I would avoid such a grain-based food.

Overall, Earthborn is good for:

2. Petcurean Go! Fit Puppy Food

The name of the game is protein for Go! Fit’s puppy food formulation. At 38% protein, your puppy is getting a hefty dose of muscle-building nutrition. The first six ingredients are all animal protein, and if you’ve ever tried reading the back of your dog’s food bag before then you’ll know that this is a big deal.

The majority of brands will highlight one or two proteins, but quickly follow them with a hefty dose of starch in the form of grains, legumes, or potatoes. Plus, many brands solely use only one type of protein like chicken, but not so for Go! Fit’s formulation.

Chicken, turkey, and fish (trout and salmon) are featured in one great puppy food.

That being said, there are still some grains in this meat-heavy recipe in the form of peas, tapioca, and lentils. These options are definitely better than inflammatory grains, but they can still be tough on your dog’s digestion due to lectins and trypsin-inhibitors that impede nutrient absorption.

In particular, tapioca is especially nutrient-poor and offers little else other than being a source of starch. In addition, Go Fit! is another food that has added the notorious canola oil (well, at least it’s notorious in my books). Steer clear of foods that include this inflammatory fat.

Also, it seems like the contents of a well-tended herb garden have found their way into Go! Fit’s formulation. If not for the touted therapeutic benefits of some of these herbs, I would wonder if they were seasoning your dog from the inside in anticipation of being trussed and baked.

There are some benefits for adding many of these herbs and seeds.

Did you know cloves can help prevent and treat worms, and that dandelion is an immune booster?

Go Fit!’s formulation includes 17 different herbs and spices that all have purported benefits. But if your puppy is Mr.Sensitive and tends to have explosive diarrhea, then I would tread forward with caution.

The expression, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, rings true here. If feeding your puppy Go Fit!, then be on the lookout for signs of intolerance like loose stool and vomiting.

Go Fit! Is good for:

  • Small and medium breed puppies (high protein and fat content)
  • Dogs with medium-strength digestion (large amount of herbs, spices, and legumes)
  • Dogs moving towards a more ancestral diet (high protein, lots of meat)

3. Carne Grain Free Recipe

As you’re already aware, I have a bit of a vendetta against canola oil.

I know it’s a cheaper fat, but that isn’t an excuse to add it ‘willy nilly’ to our beloved pets’ food. Well, I was very surprised to see olive oil as the fat-of-choice in Carne’s grain-free recipe.

Pet owners seem to love this brand, and I can see why.

The use of a high-quality olive oil (from Italy no less!) is very unusual in the pet food world. Combine the use of this premium oil with a high concentration of protein and fat, and this food looks like a winner.

Turkey, chicken, whitefish, and herring are the excellent protein sources used. And Carne emphasizes that all of their produce and protein are sustainably and humanely raised.  Fido might not care about the declining fish populations off the coast of the USA, but you might.

Carne also includes a nice assortment of fruits and vegetables for fiber and antioxidants. The idea behind giving your dog a bit of salad with his steak is to try and replicate what your dog would have ingested from the stomach contents of his freshly killed prey (the image may be less than pleasant, but the theory behind it is).

One con is the inclusion of beans, which could cause issues for sensitive stomachs. Plus, such a high protein content could result in some issues when fed to large-breed puppies (their metabolisms are a bit more minivan than Ferrari).

And though I hesitate to say it, I do have some doubts about the use of olive oil as the main source of fat.

Don’t get me wrong, olive oil is definitely a huge leap forward from canola oil.

At the same time, wolves are not getting most of their fat in a monounsaturated form. I would expect that most carnivores are eating mostly saturated fat and if we are trying to get closer to what our dogs would have originally eaten, then an animal-based fat is probably a better solution.

Carne is good for:

  • Small and medium breed puppies
  • Dogs with inflammatory conditions (itching, allergies)
  • Dogs with inefficient digestion (olive oil promotes nutrient absorption)
  • Eco Warrior owners concerned about sourcing, sustainability, and quality

4. Orijen Dog Food

I’m going to be honest and admit that this was my favorite food of the lot.

I align with the idea that we should be trying to replicate what our dogs would have eaten in nature (more or less) so the addition of excessive starch and seed oils (think canola!) is just a way for companies to save a buck, while passing the ill health along to your puppy.

What really impressed me about Orijen is the inclusion of muscle and organ meats.

In the wild, your puppy would not have turned his nose up at his prey’s liver or heart. He would have gobbled it right up!

And to be frank, our grandparents would often do the same. As a society, we’ve shifted away from feeding ourselves and our pets the most extremely nutrient-dense parts of the animal.

Ranting aside, the inclusion of organ meats will amplify the additional nutrients your puppy needs as he grows. Of course, there are the usual starches including lentils and peas, so if your puppy is consistently having issues with dry dog food then you may have to consider a raw food diet.

With so much high-quality animal protein, Orijen’s puppy food has a high protein and fat content.

Plus, this brand has the highest amount of DHA of the four reviewed puppy foods. You may be wondering if DHA is just another acronym for a random nutrient that is of no consequence, but you couldn’t be more mistaken! DHA is a type of fat that is needed for proper brain development, so getting healthy amounts is essential for your growing puppy. The fact is that puppies who consume healthy amounts of DHA tend to behave better and be easier to train.

Who knew that a little bit of fat could mean fewer hours trying to train Fido not to pee in the hallway?

The only thing I would be on the lookout for with this brand is the potential adverse reaction your puppy could have to some of the herb and seed additions. Herbs can be very healing (just ask any of the hippies that hang out at your local health food store!), but there can be a danger in taking herbs consistently over a long period of time.

If there’s nothing wrong with your pup, simpler is better.

Orijen is good for:

  • Medium and small breed puppies
  • Dogs with inflammatory conditions (itching, allergies)
  • Dogs moving towards a more ancestral diet
  • Eco Warrior owners concerned about sourcing, sustainability, and quality

Being a new pet owner can be overwhelming.

But you already knew that, or are starting to find that out.

You don’t want to be spending countless hours researching the optimal diet for your puppy when you could be spending quality time with your pet. Don’t worry about being perfect because there is no such thing.

Purchasing one of these brands is a great first step in your adventure of raising a happy and healthy puppy, so have fun and don’t stress too much!

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