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The Best Dog Food for Puppies, According to Veterinarians

Younger breeds have different nutritional needs to consider.

The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

Welcoming a furry family member into your home for the first time can be quite the exciting occasion. Most people prepare extensively for the new arrival, buying everything from toys to treats. But when you get to the food aisle, it's important to remember that if your new dog is a puppy, they "have unique nutritional needs that differ from older dogs," according to Alex Crow, DVM, licensed veterinarian and owner of PetHealthGuru.com.

Puppies "require more protein, calories, and certain nutrients to support rapid growth and development," Crow tells Best Life. "A well-balanced diet is crucial for healthy growth and development, a strong immune system, shiny coat and healthy skin, and optimal energy levels."

In other words, you shouldn't grab just anything off the shelf. But with so many different options out there touting benefits for your pup, how should you know what to grab? Read on for the top six recommendations from veterinarians.

RELATED: The Most and Least Expensive Puppy Breeds to Own, New Data Shows.

1
Orijen Puppy Food

Bags of Orijen whole prey diet for dogs.
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One of Crow's top recommendations in terms of the best dog food for puppies comes from a Champion Petfoods brand called Orijen.

"I trust Orijen Puppy Food because it's made with fresh, regional ingredients that mirror the natural diet of wild wolves," he shares. "This food is perfect for puppies, with a rich protein content that supports healthy growth and development."

Crow tells Best Life that he has even worked with several puppies who are fed Orijen Puppy Food.

"I've seen amazing results in my own patients who've thrived on this food," he adds.

2
Acana Puppy Food

Acana brand animal feed on a supermarket shelf.
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Crow also recommends the puppy food from Acana. This is another brand produced by Champion Petfoods, which is a pet food company he says he trusts "for their commitment to quality and nutrition."

"Acana Puppy Food is another great option that offers similar benefits at a more affordable price point," Crow notes. "I've recommended these foods to countless pet owners, and the results have been fantastic."

RELATED: Best Affordable Dog Food That Will Keep Your Pup Happy and Healthy.

3
Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Food

A display of Hills Science Diet Dog Food at a Petsmart Superstore ready for pet owners to purchase for their pets.
Shutterstock

It's important to consider the average size of your puppy's breed when choosing their food, according to Teresa Manucy, DVM, a licensed veterinarian working with Chewy. If you're dealing with a large breed, the right balance of nutrients is crucial to "maintain an appropriate rate of bone growth, which protects the joints from strain during puppyhood and later in life," she explains.

Manucy specifically recommends Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food in the Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe for these breeds, as it has the "optimal level of calcium for controlled bone growth, and balanced set of minerals that promotes strong bones and teeth in your large puppy."

"It also contains DHA from fish oil that supports healthy brain and eye development for growing pups and high-quality protein that helps them build and maintain lean muscle," she adds.

4
Hill's Science Diet Puppy Small Bites Food

Hill's Science Diet pet food sign and trademark logo.
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When it comes to smaller breeds, Manucy recommends the Hill's Science Diet Puppy brand as well. This company also makes a Small Bites Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food version, which is specifically formulated with a smaller kibble size.

"Smaller puppies will benefit from kibble that is shaped to fit inside smaller mouths for easier chewing," Manucy explains.

RELATED: What Human Foods Can Dogs Eat? 9 Treats You Can Safely Share With Your Pet.

5
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food

Blue Buffalo brand puppy food for sale, on display at a Petsmart pet store
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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food is "formulated with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to support healthy growth and development," according to Crow.

"I recommend this dog food for puppies, because it's made with high-quality protein sources like deboned chicken and fish meal, plus whole grains and vegetables," he says.

6
Wellness Core Grain-Free Puppy Food

Shelves with pet supplies and food at a local PetSmart store.
Shutterstock

If your puppy needs a grain-free diet because they're suffering from an allergy or dealing with digestive issues, Wellness Core Grain-Free Puppy Food is a "great option," Crow says.

"It's made with turkey or chicken as the first ingredient, plus fruits and vegetables, and contains no artificial preservatives or flavors," he shares. "I like that it's also formulated with probiotics to support healthy digestion."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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