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What is the best dog food for my puppy?

Updated on May 13, 2011
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing and dog healthcare.

Dog Food

In general the best food to feed a puppy is going to be a premium brand dry food. A puppy would need to eat a one and a half times semi-moist food, or even twice as much can food to get the same nutritional value as in dry food.

Dry dog food will, also, help a puppy's teeth. Where can and moist food can soften the teeth.

When chosing a new dog food brand, make sure to gradually change your dog, or puppy, over to the new brand by adding it to the previous brand, It should take about a week, give or take, to fully graduate your canine to the new premium dog food brand of your choice.

Premium Dog Food

As for brand, you want to stick with a premium dog food brand, meaning no grocery store brands. That does not mean that you can't purchase good, or decent, food at a grocery store. It means you want to stay away from brans like Alpo and store brand items.

The premium brands include Hill's Science Diet, Nutro Natural Choice, Castor and Polluc, Natural Balance, Solid Gold, Wellness, EVO, and other natural dog food brands. These are readily available at many pet stores.

By purchasing a premium dog food, your dog will get less fillers and more nutrition from each and every bite. Less fillers, also, means that the dog will not need to eat as much to get the same nutrition, meaning less goes in, so less comes out.

Premium dog foods ensure that your dog is getting the best foods that you can afford. But many premium brands can be pricey. Do not purchase Purina Puppy Chow, Purina Beneful, Alpo, Ole Roy, Pedigree, etc.

Dog Food Ingredients

You do want to check the back label of a dog brand that you're not sure of. Make sure that the first ingredient is not a filler such as corn, grain, or something therein. But, if the label reads a rice and chicken flavor, you might see rice as the first ingredient; in this case, you want to check the other ingredients in the top 5, making sure that the second ingredient is a protein based ingredient.

You want the first ingredient to be a meat product, like chicken, beef, pork, etc.

In terms of the first ingredient being a meat, you still have to be careful as to what the ingredient actually is. You don't want the first ingredient to be (for example) "poultry" becuase you still don't know what it is. Poultry is a broad category of bird and could include many things. You don't want you pup eating beaks and feet.

You also want to make sure that the dog food does not contain by-products, such as "beef by-product," or meal, such as "meat meal."

Not to call out a few brands, but Beneful, although it looks health and inviting, really isn't. The first few ingredients are a grain or filler. Kibbles and Bits, Alpo, and Puppy Chow, are all along the same or similar tract.

So, if you're not sure, check the label. You carefully read what is in the food that you eat, so you should do the same for your dog.

Dog Food Kibble Size

If you've found the brand you want to use, but are still confused about what kind to get. There are going to be three basic kinds of dry foods, labeled between small bites, large breed, and original, but of course there will be beef and rice, lamb and rice, and chicken and rice, as well. As for the flavors, that's up to you and your dog. Otherwise, you may want to consider:

  • Small Bites: If you dog is going to be a smaller dog, usually sized up to 30 pounds, give or take, but you can feed a small bite formula to medium sized dogs, as well.
  • Large Breed: For puppies that will be over 50 pounds. Large breed foods are forumlated for healthy growth of bones and muscles for dogs that will be of a larger stature.
  • Original: The original forumla can be feed to dogs of any size, for the most part. But you do want to consider a dogs size when picking a particular type of food.

You don't want to feed a 6 week old chihuahua puppy a dog food that has kibble bigger than his mouth. So be careful of the size of the food, as well as the brand and ingredients in the food.

Breed Specific Dog Food

For the most part when choosing a dog food for a particular breed, whether a purebreed or a mix breed dog, it doesn't really matter as long as the brand and size of the kibble is appropriate. Again, as I have just mentioned, you don't want to feed larger kibble to a very small puppy.

Some brands, like Eukanuba and Royal Canin (both great premium brands), have specially formulated doog foods for certain breeds, such as German Shepherd, Yorkies, Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Bulldog, Dachshund, Labrador Retriever, etc. So, if you want to go with a breed specific food, you can, but I, personally, am not sure of the difference.

Avoid Dog Food With High Content of the Following Ingredients

1. Wheat

2. Corn

3. Soy

4. By-Product Meal

5. Digest

6. Ethoxyquin

7. Egg Product

8. Brewer’s Rice

9. Preservatives

10. Cellulose


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    • profile image

      Mia 3 years ago

      I have a 2wk old pit bull, an very unsure what kind of dog food to start my pup when its time. But the advice on dog food really does help.... Thanks!!

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      Lori 5 years ago

      We buy a premium brand you mention in your article (Natural Balance Synergy.) We love the ingredients and high quality, (and our dogs love the taste and never get tired of it), but what we love the most is that it is formulated for both puppies and adults, so we never had to gradually switch foods like you also mentioned. I think this saved us from a lot of potential problems that go along with that, like upset tummies, diarrhea, and dogs just being picky.

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      Sandy 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for his information. We are considering getting our first dog and I didn't know where to start with all the basic information like food!

    • profile image

      Josteph 5 years ago

      I've got a 4 month old Maltese just introduced her to hills science small breed puppy, she'd rather not eat at all then even try it. Help! How do I get her to eat it, I want her to have the best possible diet?

    • magladore profile image

      magladore 5 years ago from redding ca.

      i have an 8 week old american bulldog and i am feeding him iams dry large breed puppy food ,he dosent like it very well he prefers the dry pedigree but i know he needs the iams, also iams keeps getting caught in his throat from time to time and he coughs it up. is he to young to give boiled chic breast as a treat? i just want to do what i can afford and what's the healthiest for him

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      robert 5 years ago

      i have a american bulldog and i give him diamond dog food and he looks good!!!\

    • holisticpuppyfood profile image

      holisticpuppyfood 5 years ago

      @Patty I would try something of a higher quality such as Orijen and blue buffalo, Nutro Ultra, etc.. Do your research before you buy anything. Try to lean towards maybe a holistic brand if your really serious about your terriers nutrition. Although the food may cost more your pet will get the proper nutrition and ultimately need to eat less.

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      Patty Pacheco 5 years ago

      I just got a Jack Russell Terrier, she is only 4 months andf the breeder I got her from was feeding her Purina Puppy Chow I've read all the fillers it contains I want to feed her something better any suggestions???? Please help

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      king_k0ng22 5 years ago

      I just want to say that this post is very informative with the exception of the list of dog foods considered premium. Everyone needs to know what these ingredients consist of. The most important ingredient to learn about is by-product meal. People by products meals are simply put dead diseased animals from zoo's, road kill, euthanized pets from vet offices. Also they consist of parts of the animal that is not fit for human consumption i.e. heads, hooves, fins, and other useless animal parts. If you care about your dogs best interest then find a dog food with no by-product meals at all but real meat and grain free in some cases. Orijen and blue buffalo are a couple good ones though they are pricey. Science Diet is a food you def want to stay away from its full of corn products which are for the most part useless to dogs, I hope this helps guys and have a long happy life your pets, God bless.

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      Candis 5 years ago

      I am grateful you actually listed brands that I can go into a store and buy. However, I have a great dane puppy and was told to NEVER feed her puppy food of any kind. FYI for other giant breed owners. Not all puppies are the same. :-)

    • profile image

      Amanda 5 years ago

      Hello all I was wondering what type of dog food is good for my dog I gave her beneful and she has had the diarhea for two days. Any suggestions?

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      Tanya Mcdonald 5 years ago

      I am purchasing a spring spaniel pup at the weekend and he has been getting fed spillers museli mix and pedigree puppy, not sure if pedigree is meat or dry mix, should I continue with this combination or should I change it as we are not going to be "working" the spaniel? thanks.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 5 years ago from Georgia

      The dog should be on dry food already. I wouldn't suggest Pedigree though.

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      sreedevi 5 years ago

      when should i give dry pedigree for my puppy. He is 3 month old

    • profile image

      raman 5 years ago

      hii ... i jst got a lhasa apso .. he s 2 mnths old .. which puppy food is best for him ????

    • T.Campos profile image

      T.Campos 6 years ago

      I have a lab mix and I give her science diet kibble, but she doesn't seem to really like kibble, so i mix in a few spoonfuls of IAMS canned food and she slurps it up!

    • southerngirl68 profile image

      southerngirl68 6 years ago from Ray City, GA

      Nutrish is a great dog food. It also is a great way to support Animals. It is Rachael Ray's brand and proceeds go to charity to help animals.

    • profile image

      zain 6 years ago

      i have one month old puppy but i have no idea which kind of food to give my puppy..plzzzz guide me

    • profile image

      vix 6 years ago

      im getting a mini aussie and im not sure what is the best food for him and is it safe to still give hime puppy milk replacer stage 2 at 9 wks old i want to keep him husky

    • profile image

      lt 6 years ago

      I have a 8 week old puppy, and she loves science diet!!!!

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