5 Best Dog Foods for Growing Pups

5 Best Dog Foods for Growing Pups

By: Originated Media, LLC

Disclaimer: This is sponsored content. All opinions and views are of the advertiser and does not reflect the same of WMAR.


Originated Media, LLC

Some puppies fit in the palm of your hand. Others have paws the size of your hand! Each puppy’s nutritional needs will change depending on their breed and size and feeding them high-quality food is essential for their development.

So how do you know which dog foods are best for your puppy? Should you go for dry dog food or a fresh option? Should you get one that’s designed for all life stages, or one that’s specifically formulated to be puppy dog food?

To make your search easier, we rounded up five of the best dog food options for puppies. Keep reading to learn more about them.

Best Puppy Food — Quick Summary

  1. Best Overall: JustFoodForDogs Human Grade Fresh Dog Food
  2. Best Raw Puppy Food: We Feed Raw Patty Dog Food Recipe
  3. Best for Small Puppies: Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Bites
  4. Best Premium Dry Dog Food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  5. Best Wet Dog Food: Cesar Puppy Classic Loaf in Sauce

In our search for the best puppy foods, we looked at a bunch of different factors. We reviewed fresh, wet, and dry dog food options. We also examined food formulated for all life stages, as well as ones specifically for puppies.

Top 5 Best Puppy Food Options

1. Best Overall: JustFoodForDogs Human Grade Fresh Dog Food

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What we love

This JustFoodForDogs fresh food comes in several recipes that are ideal for growing puppies because they’re nutritionally balanced and suitable for long-term feeding. (But this is good for pups of all life stages, including adult dogs.)

This human grade food is unique in that it’s not packaged and preserved like your typical canned foods. This is frozen fresh food that’s made with quality ingredients and formulated by following protocols set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

JustFoodForDogs makes some of the best puppy foods out there because it’s a company that focuses on advocating for pet health. They operate with transparency and base all of their decisions on scientific evidence.

The founder has firsthand experience with a six-month-old puppy he rescued. It took him 8 1/2 years to realize how many harmful ingredients exist in most dog foods.

He did a little bit more digging and discovered that some labels are entirely misleading and that there are dangerous chemical preservatives included in some of the recipes he was purchasing.

To support his dog’s health, he took matters into his own hands and started making his own meals. Then, he started doing it for his neighbors until it became his lifelong pursuit. He launched his dog food kitchen in 2010 and hasn’t looked back since.

What customers love

Dog owners are excited to have found a healthy dog food option for their puppies that they actually enjoy.

It’s easy to tell when their puppy enjoys a dog food recipe because they’re anxiously waiting for mealtime.

Customers who have rated this recipe with five stars note that their little pups just can’t get enough. They lick their bowls clean, and they feel good about feeding them something that comes from such a transparent company.


  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Follows AAFCO protocols
  • Suitable for all life stages
  • No fillers, preservatives, growth hormones, or artificial colorings



  • Dog food type: Fresh
  • Ideal life stage: All life stages
  • Size: 18 ounces, 72 ounces
  • Flavor(s): Beef & Russet Potato, Chicken & White Rice, Fish & Sweet Potato, Lamb & Brown Rice, Turkey & Whole Wheat Macaroni, Venison & Squash, Sampler Variety Box

Learn more about JustFoodForDogs Human Grade Fresh Dog Food today

2. Best Raw Puppy Food: We Feed Raw Patty Dog Food Recipe

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We Feed Raw

What we love

Feeding your dog raw puppy food isn’t always the easiest, especially if you’re not entirely sure about their nutritional needs.

With We Feed Raw, you get raw dog food that’s properly formulated and easy to give to your pup.

This company believes that dogs were made for a raw diet. Their digestive tracts are short and simple, and they have high levels of hydrochloric acid in their tummies.

Their teeth are pointy, and their jaws are hinged. Anatomically, they’re designed to gather all of the nutrients they need from raw dog food.

You can customize your puppy’s meal plan to make sure they’re getting the best dog food available. Choose from proteins like turkey, beef, chicken, venison, duck, or lamb.

Everything arrives cold, and is shipped with thermal insulating protection. The cold pressure is what allows for safe raw feeding.

How it works

You can create your own meal plan on the website. All you need to enter is your puppy’s name, age, gender, breed, and weight and We Feed Raw puts together the best dog foods for him.

With raw food, your pup experiences higher energy levels, improved digestion, healthier skin and coat, reduction in any allergy symptoms, and better weight control. If you’ve already tried feeding raw on your own, you know it can feel like a full-time job.

We Feed Raw takes all of the work off your hands. All you need to do is thaw and feed your pup the best raw dog food out there.

(And if you know which recipe your pup prefers, you can just add it right to your cart.)

What customers love

Customers noticed a bunch of health benefits after feeding their puppies these raw foods, like improvements in allergies and skin and coat health.

After switching over from other dog food brands, they’re seeing their puppies bouncing with energy and having better gastrointestinal health.

Puppies that were previously really gassy are no longer experiencing that discomfort and their coats are more lustrous than before. Many of them share the same sentiment: their only regret is they didn’t start feeding raw sooner.


  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Customizable meal plan
  • Nutritionist-formulated
  • Veterinarian-approved



  • Dog food type: Raw
  • Ideal life stage: All life stages
  • Size: 5 pounds
  • Flavor(s): Beef, Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Venison, Lamb

Learn more about We Feed Raw Patty Dog Food Recipe today

3. Best for Small Puppies: Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Bites

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Hill’s Science Diet

What we love

Large breed puppies have bigger jaws, which is why large breed puppy food tends to be made with bigger pieces of kibble.

However, small breed puppies may struggle with bigger bites, so this dry dog food is one of the best dog foods for your tiny pup. It’s made specifically with small bites to cater to those smaller jaws. It’s recommended for puppies up to one year of age

The main ingredient in this puppy food is chicken meal, and the formula incorporates natural DHA from fish oil that’s meant to help your puppy’s eye development, learning ability, and brain development.

The guaranteed analysis for this puppy food is as follows:

  • 25{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} crude protein
  • 15{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} crude fat
  • 3{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} crude fiber
  • 10{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} moisture
  • 0.1{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} DHA

This recipe also incorporates vitamins C and E to support a healthy immune system.
Hill’s Science Diet is a veterinarian-recommended food. They incorporate natural and great-tasting ingredients that puppies and adult dogs can enjoy. They include real, high-quality protein as the very first ingredient and focus on creating precise nutrition that helps to support your growing puppy.

Additionally, they incorporate clinically proven antioxidants to support your pup’s immune system health. Hill’s been in business since 1948 and the Science Diet foods were created in 1968 as preventative formulas to support pets.

What customers love

On Chewy, customers frequently rate this dry dog food well. Pet owners that have more than one dog at home know how frustrating it can be to get them to all like the same food. There’s usually one picky one in the bunch, but even those customers are satisfied with the quality and kibble size of the food. They appreciate that their pups get all of the nutrients they need from this dry dog food and that they don’t have to struggle to get their dogs to enjoy it.


  • Smaller kibble size for puppies
  • Includes natural DHA from fish oil
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Helps support a healthy immune system


  • Kibble size may be too small for large or giant breed puppies


  • Dog food type: Dry
  • Ideal life stage: Puppy
  • Size: 4.5 pounds, 15.5 pounds
  • Flavor(s): Chicken & Barley

Learn more about Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Bites today

4 Best Premium Dry Dog Food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

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Blue Buffalo

What we love

This dry dog food from Blue Buffalo incorporates essential vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus along with DHA and ARA to support healthy eye and brain development. The recipe also incorporates omega-3 and 6 fatty acids that aid with healthy skin and a shiny coat.

The first two ingredients in the Chicken & Brown Rice recipe are deboned chicken and chicken meal, while the first two ingredients in the Lamb & Oatmeal recipe are deboned lamb and fish meal. That means both formulas are packed with protein to help your puppy develop healthy muscles.

And to support your puppy’s immune system, the recipe incorporates vitamins, chelated minerals, and antioxidants.

Additionally, the kibble size is perfect for your puppy’s mouth. They’re a lot smaller than the kibble you find in large breed puppy food or adult dog food.

What customers love

Customers believe this is one of the best puppy foods on the market. Some of them have dogs with sensitive stomachs and it was hard for them to land upon the right formula for their tummies.

These pet parents noticed that their puppies aren’t experiencing loose stools or upset stomachs after enjoying this specific recipe. This food leaves their puppies wagging their tails.


  • Recipe includes DHA and ARA
  • Puppy-sized kibble for smaller jaws
  • High protein formula
  • Supports bone and muscle development


  • Small kibble size means it’s not an ideal large breed puppy food


  • Dog food type: Dry
  • Ideal life stage: Puppy
  • Size: 5 pounds, 15 pounds, 30 pounds, 34 pounds
  • Flavor(s): Chicken & Brown Rice, Lamb & Oatmeal

Learn more about Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula today

5. Best Wet Dog Food: Cesar Puppy Classic Loaf in Sauce

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What we love

Wet puppy food can be helpful, especially if they’re not good at keeping up with their water intake. This Cesar Chicken & Beef recipe lists US beef as the very first ingredient.

It’s a grain-free formula that’s also complete with vitamins and minerals to help your puppy develop in a healthy way. Wet options are a lot more aromatic, which makes them irresistible to a lot of pups.

While some customers use this as their main puppy dog food, others mix it in with kibble. Each container has an easy peel-away seal that maintains freshness. These are packaged as single servings, so you don’t have to worry about re-sealing the containers.

Cesar offers a line of dog food that’s meant to be indulgent. They formulate gourmet wet dog food that’s ideal for small-breed puppies and adult dogs as well.

Each of their meals is made to satisfy your dog’s food cravings, no matter how picky they are. And this product is good for growing puppies on grain-free diets.

What customers love

Customers who own small-breed puppies appreciate the size of these single-serving trays. They’ve tried looking elsewhere for this brand but found the best price and fastest shipping on Chewy.


  • Grain-free
  • US beef is the first ingredient
  • Peel-away freshness seals


  • Not ideal for puppies with sensitive stomachs


  • Dog food type: Wet
  • Ideal life stage: Puppy
  • Size: 3.5 ounces (case of 24)
  • Flavor(s): Chicken & Beef 

Learn more about Cesar Puppy Classic Loaf in Sauce today

How We Picked The Best Puppy Food

There are a few things we looked for in our search for the best puppy foods:

AAFCO Standards

AAFCO has a very specific set of nutrient profiles that help you make a better decision on which puppy foods are best.

They’re not in charge of the inspection or approval of pet foods. However, they focus on providing a standard that dog food companies can adhere to.

If you see a dog food that is labeled as “complete and balanced,” that means it absolutely must meet AAFCO’s minimum standards. The brands and puppy foods we highlighted above all meet these minimum requirements.

Keep in mind that a large breed puppy is going to require a different ratio of calcium and phosphorus because their bones are going to develop differently, and the idea is to work as proactively as possible to prevent any joint issues.

VarietyAnother thing we considered when putting this list of puppy foods together is variety. We incorporated some fresh, cooked dog food that you can keep in your freezer, let thaw, and then serve to your puppy.

We also incorporated a raw dog food option for pet parents who want to stick with a raw diet for their pups.

Then, we moved into some kibble options and finally, rounded out the list with a wet food option so that you have plenty to choose from and can make a solid decision on what to feed your puppy.

Buying Guide for The Best Puppy Food

When buying puppy food, you know to look for dog food that meets the AAFCO minimum requirements. You’re looking for something that’s complete and balanced but there are also other factors to consider:

Calorie ContentPuppies, especially large breed puppies, need a higher calorie content because of how much energy they expend on a regular basis.

Their little bodies are growing and especially in the case of large breed puppies, there is a lot of growth to come. Their energy is boundless in that first year, so they’re constantly burning the calories they consume. Plus, a lot of the calories that they consume are spent on the development of all their tissues.

Puppy-Sized BitesThe other consideration is the size of the kibble. In the list above, we provided two kibble options that are puppy sized. We also incorporated other options that aren’t crunchy in the way kibbles are, but still deliver adequate nutrition for puppies.

IngredientsThe very first ingredient in any type of food you purchase should be real, high-quality protein. You want to keep your dog’s diet focused on the most nutrient-dense ingredients.

When Can Puppies Start Eating Solid Food?

Usually, puppies start to wean off of their mother’s milk at around three to four weeks of age. At this point, you can start mixing in food with a milk replacer. This helps their tummies and palates adapt to the new flavors and textures.

You should stop feeding puppy food at the one-year mark. At that point, you can transition your pup to adult dog food to meet their nutritional requirements and feed the appropriate calorie content.

How Much Food Should You Feed Your Puppy?

Between your puppy’s first six to 12 weeks, he should be eating food that is specially formulated for puppies because that will help him with normal development.

If you feed him adult dog food, he simply won’t have enough of the nutrients that a growing puppy requires. Typically, you can feed your pup four meals per day to meet all of their nutritional demands.

Between three and six months, you can start decreasing the number of meals to three per day. At this stage, your puppies should be losing their pot bellies.

If they’re not, then continue to feed those puppy-sized portions until their bodies fully develop. Between six and 12 months, you can lower the number of meals per day to two.

How Long Should a Puppy be on Puppy Food?

Puppies can stay on puppy food until they reach one year of age. However, it’s a little bit different depending on the breed.

Sometimes, small breeds can switch over to adult dog food as early as seven months old, whereas some large breed puppies may take a little while longer to transition over to adult food.

This can stretch out to even 14 months, and some organizations advise pet parents to keep their puppies on puppy food. because it’s better to stay on longer than needed than it is to get off puppy food prematurely.


What food is best for puppies?When you’re thinking about the best food for puppies, you have to consider which option is the most nutrient dense. This allows you to feed your puppy less and provide them with the most adequate nutrition as they continue to develop.

Premium foods are a great option because they have stable ingredient profiles. Typically, wet food is something your puppy will find more irresistible. It can also be used as a topper, which is fantastic if you have budgetary constraints.

Kibble is always the most budget-friendly and offers the complete and balanced nutrition you’re looking for. Just make sure to select a recipe that is specifically formulated for puppies.

Why is fish oil an important ingredient in puppy food?Fish oil is an important ingredient to have in puppy food because it works to support your pup’s healthy heart as your puppy grows. Additionally, it promotes good skin and coat health.

Large breed puppies may start experiencing joint pain early in their lives and fish oil works to relieve that discomfort. It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which deliver the good fat your puppy needs.

Your puppy does not produce these fatty acids on his own, which is why they are supplemented via puppy food.

Should I feed my puppy wet food or kibble?That depends on two primary factors: your budget and your puppy’s preferences. Wet dog food is typically the more expensive of the two options. However, puppies tend to enjoy it more because of its texture and aroma.

Kibble isn’t as aromatic or moisture-dense, but it delivers complete and balanced nutrition that is good for your puppy’s teeth and easier on your wallet. You can always feed both, using wet food as an occasional topper.

What should I feed my eight-week-old puppy?At eight weeks, your puppy should be completely transitioned over to food specifically formulated for puppies. This can be wet food, dry food, cooked frozen food, or even raw food, depending on the diet you’re committed to providing your pup for its lifetime.

Should I feed my puppy a raw diet?Feeding raw is an option for puppies and can be served in a freeze-dried state, dehydrated state, or frozen state. It may also be prepared at home. However, ensuring complete and balanced nutrition may be difficult to figure out.

Some vets offer a warning that in homes where there are compromised immune systems, feeding raw may pose a health risk. This is due to the handling and preparation stages that require thorough sanitizing.

Is a chicken meal bad for puppies?There are differing opinions when it comes to chicken meal in dog food for puppies. But generally, chicken meal does provide the nutrients, healthy fats, and proteins that your pup needs.

However, in some cases, dogs are sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients and may not be able to tolerate chicken meal.

What dog food should I not feed my puppy?Any food that you feed your puppy that isn’t specifically formulated for his growing body is not an appropriate option.

This means anything that they may be begging for after you finish your human meals. Scraps are not a good source of nutrition for pups because they can be greasy or processed or include onions and garlic, which may be toxic to your puppy.

Some dogs have allergies that you may not know of just yet until you feed something that doesn’t settle well. Puppyhood is an important time of discovery to better understand your pup’s needs and preferences.

The best route is to stick with complete and balanced puppy food, so they have the greatest chance at the best development during that first critical year.


When shopping online for puppy food, there is a lot to consider. In the list above, we presented options that cover a wide range of preferences and budgets. Overall, as long as your pup is getting complete and balanced nutrition, you can’t go wrong.