What is the best puppy food for your new arrival?

Updated 11 June 2024
Read time: 8 mins
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Written by Corinne Homer
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Reviewed by Elle Padgham

Congratulations - you’ve just acquired a fuzzy bundle of puppy joy! Now onto the pressing questions, such as ‘What should I give my puppy to eat?’ 

As you may have guessed, puppies need specialist nutrition in these early stages; food that will fuel their development and growth as well as soothe their sensitive baby tummies. In this article, we’ll go into the different types of puppy food and outline the factors you should consider when choosing a food for your cuddly pup. 

Getting your puppy home

When you get your puppy either from a rescue centre or breeder, they should be at least six weeks old, and therefore already weaned onto eating puppy food from their mama’s milk. Ask the puppy provider what kind of food they’ve been eating - if you’re lucky, they may even give you a supply of this food to continue this diet at home until you buy your own.

Deciding on a puppy diet

You should keep your pup on their current food for at least a few days after getting them, but there are many types of puppy food, and you might choose to change their diet. Remember that switching food will need to be slow and gradual to avoid your pup getting a tummy upset. Mix the new food with the old food for around 7-10 days, with more of the new food each day until the old food is completely phased out. 


Types of puppy food:

At this point, you’ll have some questions to ask yourself. Will you be raising a wet food or dry food dog? Perhaps you want to try a homemade or raw food diet for your pup? Whichever you decide, be sure you’re well informed of the pros and cons and whether your specific pooch will benefit. As well as doing your own research, chat it over with your vet to get their expert advice regarding your particular pup. 


Here are some breakdowns of the main types of food to help you decide: 

Dry puppy food

  • Dry puppy food is also referred to as dog biscuits or ‘kibble’. 
  • It has a much lower moisture content than wet food - around 10% - but packs a higher density of nutrients into tiny bite-sized pieces.
  • It often lasts longer than wet food so can be more economical.
  • Some argue that kibble for puppies is less appetising for them than wet food. 
  • There is some evidence that chewing dry food is better for a dog’s dental health than wet food.

Wet puppy food

  • Wet puppy food usually comes as meaty chunks in jelly or gravy. 
  • It has a high moisture content, around 70-80%, so is more hydrating than dry food.
  • Some puppies prefer chewing the soft, juicy texture of wet food as their teeth come in. 
  • Some argue that wet food is more palatable to a dog than dry food due to its stronger aroma and meaty flavours.

Raw puppy food

  • Raw food for puppies is often made up of uncooked ingredients such as bones, raw meat, eggs, fruit and veggies. 
  • Advocates for raw dog food say it’s closer to a dog’s ancestral diet and therefore a more ‘natural’ diet for a dog. 
  • Textures are varied and interesting due to the raw ingredients in each meal. 
  • There is a high amount of nutrients in raw food, however it is hard to gauge the correct nutritional balance without expert help. 
  • Raw food carries risks of bacterial contamination, such as E.Coli and Salmonella, and may make a puppy ill. 

Homemade puppy food

  • Lots of dog owners choose to make their dog’s meals at home with their own ingredients. 
  • With this method there is the most transparency - you’ll know exactly what goes into your puppy’s meals (making it easier to avoid preservatives and artificial nasties). 
  • The DIY approach makes it harder to know whether you’re providing a nutritionally balanced meal, and portion sizes are trickier to get right. 
  • Your pooch might be more at risk of gaining weight, or getting too much or too little of a certain food group or nutrient. 


You can read our article on Dry Food vs Wet Food for a more in-depth rundown of which food might suit you and your dog best. 

Considerations when choosing puppy food:

As well as choosing whether to go for dry, wet, homemade or raw food, there are other factors to take into consideration - such as what ingredients are in the food, and what food would most benefit your puppy’s breed. You’ll need to think about… 


A nutritious dog meal is the sum of its parts, so study the ingredients of whatever puppy food you choose. The healthiest, most beneficial puppy food will be made of whole, high-quality ingredients and natural goodness without any nasty preservatives, sugars or junk. 

  • Meat/protein content. A high meat/protein content is of top importance when it comes to puppy food, as a dog’s most vital food group is protein. Take a look at the nutritional information for a meat content of around 30% or higher, and look out for phrases such as ‘by- products’ - which basically means the ‘meat’ comes from various animal products and isn’t of a good enough quality.

  • Probiotics. Alongside ‘man’, probiotics are a dog’s best friend - populating the gut microbiome with friendly bacteria and improving mood, digestion and immunity. Combined with prebiotics they will really help your pup’s digestive system to run smoothly and fuel a burst of other health benefits too.

  • Allergies. Dog tummies are generally more sensitive than humans’, and food allergies are common. This can range from red meat and dairy, to wheat and grain. If you sense your pooch has a food intolerance to a particular ingredient, or they have a sensitive tum, you could try a puppy food for sensitive stomachs, or consider going grain-free.

  • Taste

    Nutrition is so important for a pup’s growth and development, so in order to get the goods from their food, they have to love the taste! If your puppy doesn’t seem keen on eating, it might help to choose a wet food due to its stronger smell and palatability. Pay attention to the ingredients, too - maybe if your pup isn’t keen on a fish-based recipe, they’d prefer the meaty flavour of chicken or beef.  


    Many dog owners try to be frugal with feeding - after all, puppies are expensive! However, choosing a cheap, low-quality puppy food will end up costing you more in the long run. Over time, the lack of adequate nutrition could make your pup more susceptible to illnesses, they could develop digestive issues or they could gain weight. If keeping costs down is a priority for you, you might consider a high-quality dry puppy food due to the fact that it’s more easily portioned and lasts longer in storage, therefore proves more economical. 

    Functional & dietary needs:

    Finally, have a think about your puppy’s breed, size and potential dietary requirements. As well as doing your own research, chat with your vet over which type of food your particular pup would most benefit from. 

    Best for small breeds

    Small pooches such as Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, Maltese or Toy Poodles have higher metabolic rates than larger dogs, therefore usually function better eating smaller meals, more often. Be sure to choose food that’s suitable for small mouths, like teeny kibble pieces or well mashed meat chunks, for maximum munchability. As is the case with most dogs, high-quality proteins should be the most prominent food group in their meals. 

    Best for large breeds

    Large breeds such as Labradors, German Shepherds and Saint Bernards require food with a measured amount of calcium and phosphorus; this is because these nutrients contribute to skeletal maintenance, and support of their large bones is vital. Food for large breeds also tends to contain glucosamine and chondroitin for protecting their joints. As your large-breed pup grows into a big dog, their joints will need extra support to carry their larger form.  

    Best for sensitive puppies

    If your pup often has loose stools or suffers tummy pain, they might have a sensitive stomach and can’t handle regular food. Puppy food for sensitive stomachs may suit them better. This usually includes ingredients that are gentle for the body to process (lean chicken or white fish, for example), while omitting common food allergens that could worsen digestion or cause poop issues - such as grain, dairy or soy. You might consider grain-free puppy food for sensitive pups. 

    Best for weight gain

    If your teeny puppy needs help to put on weight, you might consider a calorie-dense puppy food to help that along. Puppy food for weight gain is specially formulated to promote weight gain in a healthy way, using high-protein ingredients and nutrient-rich fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon or salmon oil.  

    Reviews and recommendations:

    Vet Linda's Advice

    Customer Reviews

    Puppy Complete Dry Superfood My puppies adore this food and started seeing improvements in their digestion and fur very fast! Amazing quality food and it really shows.” - Trusted Customer, March 2024

    Puppy Wet Food Ace product! My dog is so happy on this food and I’ve seen a clear improvement in his energy levels. Previous foods have given him short energy boosts, but this wet food is considerably better in that he now has a sustained but significantly calmer energy level throughout the day. He is also getting nice and stocky :)” - Katie, September 2023


    How do I know if my puppy is a large breed?

    You’ll know this based on the adult size of your pup’s breed. Generally the boundary of being a large/giant breed over a medium sized breed is if your dog would weigh over 23 kg (50 lbs) at adult size. Examples of large breeds include Labradors, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. Giant breeds are bigger again - over 45 kg (100 lbs) in adulthood - and include breeds like Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands.

    How much food should I feed my puppy?

    The amount of food you feed your little pup will depend on their breed, age and health condition. Do some research and chat it over with your vet. The place you get your dog from (rescue centre or breeder) should also give you some useful information. 

    Puppies need feeding a lot more often than adult dogs. At first, given your puppy will be six weeks or older once you’ve acquired it, you’ll be feeding them a small amount around four times a day. As they get older, you can cut that down to three times, then twice. Eating twice a day is the normal amount for a dog going into their adult years.

    When should I switch my puppy to adult food?

    Right now you probably can’t imagine your fuzzy baby being a full-grown pooch, but most puppies can start transitioning to adult food from just 9-12 months old. Large breed puppies need to be slightly older, transitioning to adult food from 12-18 months old, due to their need for strong skeletal development. Chat to your vet to know for sure. When you switch to adult food, remember to do this gradually over one-two weeks, to avoid shocking their digestive system and causing stomach issues.

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