If you’re looking for the best dog food for puppies, then one of two things is happening: You’re likely preparing for a new puppy or you already have a new puppy. Whichever is the case, I should tell you that I’m very jealous because puppies are totally my thing.
I will also tell you that you’ve come to the right place, because I also know a thing or two about the nutritional needs of puppies and how they differ from their adult and senior dog counterparts.
But in order to pick out the best wet or canned food for puppies, you must first understand the basic nutritional needs of puppies and why it’s so important to ensure your puppy is getting all the proper vitamins, minerals, and nutrients he needs to grow up happy, healthy, and thriving.
And that’s where I come in. Join me as we discuss puppy nutrition, how you can ensure your puppy’s dietary needs are being met, and enjoy a list of fifteen of my favorite canned dog food brands specifically made for puppies.
Understanding The Nutritional Needs Of Young Puppies
Like all infant animals, puppies have different nutritional needs than their adult counterparts.
Like all infant animals in the animal kingdom, puppies have certain nutritional needs that must be met in order for their bodies and brains to develop properly.
Puppies specifically need a healthy balance of proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients like DHA to help promote a healthy immune system, brain and eye development, and healthy skeletal growth.
We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat”, and this rule applies especially to young puppies who have recently weaned from their mother’s milk and who need help building their immune systems and assistance with brain, eye, muscle, and bone development. Why? Because a puppy’s diet plays such a huge role in all of these things.
So, what do puppies need in their diets to grow up happy and healthy? Puppies need a high level of protein, calcium, fats, and healthy carbohydrates that are easy to digest. DHA is also an important ingredient in puppy food as well. DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid and is found in fat rich foods like avocados, eggs, and fish. It is also found in mother’s milk and helps aid puppies in brain development.
And since you want to start your puppy off on the right foot – or paw, we should say – you’ll want to make sure his food contains all these key ingredients above so he can grow up strong and healthy.
Of course, while ingredients matter, so does your dog’s size and breed. However, when it comes to wet dog food for puppies, just how much does your puppy’s breed and overall size matter?
Let’s find out.
Small Breed Puppies Vs. Large Breed Puppies – Does It Matter?
Your puppy’s breed, size and weight matters when it comes to choosing their puppy food.
When discussing dry dog food for puppies, I always tell my clients to go for a breed-specific puppy food. By breed specific, I don’t mean you should go find a puppy food that is specially formulated for your Great Dane puppy. I simply mean that you should aim for dog foods that are specially formulated for either large breed dogs or or small breed dogs.
Small breed dogs actually have a higher metabolism than large breed dogs and need more calories in their food to keep up with their higher energy levels. Small breed puppies are the same.
Large breed puppies, on the other hand, may not have as fast of a metabolism, but they grow exponentially faster than small breed puppies do and need diets richer in calcium and protein to help promote strong bone and muscle development in order to reduce chances of joint injury later in life.
That said, when it comes to canned dog food for puppies, finding breed specific dog foods is tough. The reason is because most wet dog food is made with basic ingredients all puppies need to thrive and focuses less on breed or size.
And while you can find some breed specific wet dog foods, we didn’t find any that we really trusted or felt were the best representation of healthy puppy food for pups.
Furthermore, many owners who opt to feed their puppies wet dog food do so because their puppies have digestive issues or food allergies. That said, let’s take a look at what you should look for in your puppies wet dog food.
What To Look For In Quality Canned Dog Food For Puppies
Make sure you pick canned puppy food that is made with high quality ingredients and meets all your puppy’s nutritional needs
Not all canned puppy food is made the same and some brands offer more quality than others. Put your puppy first by choosing wet dog foods for puppies that are puppy specific. Even if you can’t find a breed specific puppy food, don’t worry. Ensuring your puppy’s canned food is especially created for young puppies is what is important here.
If you have a puppy with allergies or food sensitivities, make sure you choose canned dog food that is grain free or has limited ingredients. Many dogs have sensitivities to poultry or chicken, so go for canned puppy food that steers clear of poultry in the recipe.
You should also look for canned puppy food that is high in protein, calcium, fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals to support your growing puppy’s needs.
Stay away from puppy foods that have additives like by-products, fillers, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial ingredients like artificial colors or flavors. Remember, everything that goes into your puppy’s body should help him grow up healthy and strong, so stick with the good stuff.
Last, look for real meat proteins as well and make sure the first ingredient on your puppy’s canned puppy food is real meat like salmon, chicken, or lamb.
I know – it is a lot to remember at once. But here’s where my expertise comes in handy for you. You can either make a list of all the do’s and don’ts above when it comes to picking your puppy’s canned puppy food or you can read below.
That’s right. I’ve listed fifteen of my favorite canned dog food for puppies just for you. Let’s get started!
CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Food
Canidae wet dog food for puppies is made with seven ingredients or less and is a limited ingredient puppy food for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.
We love this brand for a number of reasons, one of which is that it’s made with some of the highest quality ingredients and stays true to your puppy’s basic nutritional needs.
You can order this canned puppy food in five different flavors as well and trust that your puppy’s diet will be loaded with probiotics, antioxidants, and good fatty acids like Omega 6 and 3.
This canned puppy food is good for puppies of all breed sizes as well but be sure to read the feeding instructions to ensure your unique pup is getting the proper amount for his dietary needs.
Wellness Complete Health Just For Puppy Canned Dog Food
We love that Wellness Complete dog foods offer all natural, holistic food options for both adult dogs and puppies. For those looking for a high quality dog food for their puppies, we recommend Wellness Just For Puppies.
You can order this canned puppy food in two sizes depending on how much you need, so this is great for those with multi-dog households or for those who have just gotten two new puppies at once, (you lucky ducks).
Plus, all the ingredients are of the highest quality and loaded with all the goodies puppies need to support their brain and eye development, as well as their bone and muscle strength.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Canned Puppy Food
High in protein and made with limited ingredients, Blue Buffalo canned dog food for puppies is an excellent source of nutrients, DHA, and fatty acids for puppies with sensitivities and skin allergies. There is never any chicken or poultry in this canned puppy food and it is made to be used as a complete meal, a treat, a supplement, or even a mixer.
This is also a great source of protein and is good for puppies of all breeds and sizes. Just make sure you read the feeding instructions.
Merrick Grain Free Puppy Plate
Merrick is a brand that’s been tried and trusted, and we really love it for it’s consistency in quality ingredients.
That’s why we highly recommend Merrick canned dog food for puppies. This particular canned puppy food above is made with limited ingredients which means it is great for pups with allergies and food sensitivities, but it works great for all types of puppies as well.
It comes in a wide variety of recipe choices and is rich in vitamins and nutrients your growing puppy needs.
Solid Gold Grain Free Canned Dog Food For Puppies
This wet dog food for puppies is another holistic option made with grain free ingredients. Solid Gold is a high quality dog food we love for its variety of healthy yet limited ingredients.
Made with chicken or beef recipes, Solid gold Grain Free wet dog food for puppies also includes sweet potatoes and apples. It’s high in protein and rich in the vitamins and minerals your puppy needs to grow up happy and healthy. It is completely made in the USA and is also entirely BPA free.
Instinct Puppy Grain Free Canned Dog Food
Grain free seems to be the theme when it comes to canned dog food for puppies, and it’s easy to see why when you understand the nutritional needs of pups. Many puppies are sensitive to new and rich foods, which is why we are big fans of this grain free recipe by Instinct Puppy wet puppy food.
It’s rich in quality protein to support healthy growth. This wet dog food is also high in natural DHA for eye and brain development.
Like some of the other natural canned puppy food on this list, you can offer this puppy food in small portions as treats, use it as a complete full meal, or use it as a meal topper for picky eaters. The choice is yours!
Natural Balance Canned Dog Food For Puppies
We also love Natural Balance Original canned puppy food for growing pups. This is a simpler made puppy food rich in all the antioxidants, vitamins,and minerals growing puppies need to grow and thrive.
We also love that it supports a healthy immune system as well as strong muscle growth. This puppy food is good for most puppies but we suggest you read the feeding instructions on back to ensure you are giving your puppy the right amount of food.
Nutro Puppy Canned Dog Food
Nutro Puppy canned puppy food is for the puppies with refined palates who enjoy lamb as the first ingredient. These hearty recipes are rich in all the good things puppies need to grow up healthy with the added bonus of flavor and texture your puppy is sure to love.
This canned dog food is made free of BHA, or corn and doesn’t include any by-product meal, artificial flavors, preservatives or colors. This is a grain free canned dog food option, which we already know is ideal for puppies with sensitivities but works well for puppies of all kinds.
There are no GMO’s in any of the ingredients and lamb is the first thing your pup will taste when digging in. Yum!
Eukanuba Wet Food For Puppies
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Eukanuba is a high quality dog food brand we love, and we especially love the canned dog food options they have for puppies.
This particular canned dog food is made with lamb and rice and is meant to promote a long and healthy life by giving puppies the start they need.
It has a rich balance of carbs, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and proteins to support a healthy immune system, strong bone and muscle growth, and healthy eye and brain development.
Wellness Core For Puppies Canned Dog Food
Yes, this is another Wellness Core canned dog food product we are loving for puppies right now. It’s made with natural, grain free ingredients and is high in real proteins. You can choose from several recipes and two size options.
Best of all, this canned dog food is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids – all things your growing puppy needs to become a healthy, happy adult dog.
We also love that it is made with grain free ingredients so it’s gentle on your pup’s digestive system while also being made without any artificial flavors, preservatives, by-products, or wheat.
Nulo Puppy Canned Dog Food
You can order Nulo dog food in adult and puppy food, which is great for transitioning. We also like that it comes in a number of delicious flavors your puppy is sure to adore.
This puppy food is high in protein and low in carbs, promoting a healthy, shiny coat and immune system.
This is also a great canned dog food for puppies who are needing to manage their weight. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and high in fatty acids, promoting a healthy immune system as well as strong skeletal, eye, and brain development.
Whole Earth Farms Canned Dog Food For Puppies
This canned dog food by Whole Earth Farms is good for all breeds of puppies and it works as a complete meal, a meal topper, mixer, or even treat supplement.
It is made with grain free ingredients, so it’s wonderful for puppies with food allergies. You can order it in chicken, turkey or salmon, and the recipe also includes fruits and veggies for a full, roundly balanced meal.
Diamond Naturals Adult And Puppy Canned Dog Food
Diamond Naturals offers a canned dog food that is high in protein and rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that is good enough for both puppies and adult dogs.
This recipe promotes a healthy immune system as well as a strong development for growing puppies. We also love that it’s great for puppies with sensitive digestive systems with ingredients like cranberries, quinoa, and pumpkin.
It is filled with prebiotic fiber to help assist with directive issues and does not contain any bad ingredients like corn or wheat, and is abovlsiuly free of artificial flavors, preservatives or other additives.
However, since this canned dog food is made for both adult dogs and puppies and does not specify breed, age, or weight, we recommend reading the feeding instructions carefully.
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Puppy Recipe
You know we love Blue Buffalo as a high quality dog food, and we like it for a high quality canned dog food for puppies as well. Like a number of canned dog foods on this list, you can use this puppy food as a mixer, topper, or supplement it for treats.
Of course, it can also be used as a complete meal. It is made with natural ingredients that support a puppy’s growth and immune system. This is also a good, quality canned dog food for puppies with sensitivity as it is a limited ingredient dog food made free of any additives or by-products, and certainly made free of corn, soy, and wheat.
AvoDerm Natural Puppy Canned Dog Food
Last on our list is a chicken and rice recipe canned dog food by AvoDerm. This canned dog food for puppies is specially designed for a puppies nutritional needs and is made free of any additives, artificial flavors, preservatives, and other additives.
Instead, it is rich in natural ingredients and high in protein. It is also loaded with plenty of good fatty acids to promote your puppy’s natural growth, a healthy immune system, and brain and eye development.
Other Expert Tips On Raising A Happy And Healthy Puppy
All puppies need routine care, training, love and patience to grow up happy and well-rounded.
Of course, your puppy’s diet is crucial to their development. I mean, that’s a no brainer. However, your puppy’s environment, the way you interact with him, and the amount of training and socialization he gets in his early days will also play a key role in his overall mental and physical health.
Puppies need lots of routine care and love, just like human infants. They need daily exercise, lots of playtime, and should be socialized as soon as they are up to date on all their puppy vaccines and your vet says they are ready.
Socialization is a key factor in your puppy growing up without fear. It helps him build confidence and teaches him social manners, so don’t skimp on this step! An isolated puppy can grow up to become fearful, depressed, anxious, and even aggressive.
Along with socialization, keeping up with routine exercise and mental stimulation will help aid in your puppy’s brain brain development and mental happiness. Puppies love to learn and will continue to love learning all the way up until adulthood! Plus, training also helps to build a strong bond between you and your pooch, so have fun with it.
Also, remember to use lots of treats and positive reinforcement when training a puppy, especially early on. Even training your dog simple things like learning his new name, should be done with love and patience.
Dogs are creators of association and will begin to associate things in their lives with positive or negative things, depending on how they are introduced to them.
All of this will result in a happy, healthy, and well rounded puppy overall. So best of luck and enjoy that new puppy!
Madison Guthrie (also known as Sonny Mackenzi) is a pet care specialist and positive-reinforcement trainer who works most closely with anxious and reactive dogs. Born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, Madison developed a love for animals at an early age and spent most of her childhood outdoors rescuing stray pets and helping to rehabilitate injured wildlife. Along with animals, Madison also developed a love for writing and music. Over the past five years, she has worked to use her passions to help the pets and pet parents in her community build stronger bonds and live happier, healthier lives together. Currently, Madison lives in South Pasadena, California where she owns and operates Miss Madison LLC, a marketing company that focuses on helping privately owned veterinary establishments and pet care companies grow and thrive. She also works as a dog trainer at My Dog Spot, which is an award-winning pet care and training establishment in Pasadena, California.