Best Dry Puppy Foods

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Basset Hound Puppy Waits for FoodWhat’s the best dry puppy food?

The following is a list of The Dog Food Advisor’s best dry dog foods that contain at least one puppy food in their product line.

To qualify, every puppy food must meet AAFCO nutritional profiles for either all life stages or growth.

Within each review, look for products that include the word “puppy” in their names.

Plus many other products are appropriate for all life stages — a category that also includes puppies.

What’s the Best Dry Puppy Food?

After considering dozens of criteria, we determined that the best dry puppy foods should contain:

  • No controversial chemical preservatives
  • No anonymous meat ingredients
  • No artificial coloring agents
  • No generic animal fats
  • Substantial amounts of meat-based protein
  • Reasonable fat-to-protein ratios
  • Modest carbohydrate content

Best Dry Puppy Foods

  • theBCnut

    Dr. Mike, if you are going to remove this post, please remove the post that lead to it.

    Dear Jangles Bo
    Why in the world would you think I would give a stalker like you one single bit more information on myself than what you have already dug up on your own? Are you really that stupid, or just crazy? I understand that you and Dr. Mike have a deal and that’s why you can still post here in spite of being banned God only knows how many times. And I agreed that I would not expose you (as if the whole community didn’t know already after just one post) IF you left me alone, so kindly DO NOT reply to me, and I will continue to not reply to you.

    As for what UC Davis offers, I can say only a few things. First, they are well known for being more progressive than other Universities. And second, have you every heard of electives, specialization, and post graduate studies? Most vets throughout the entire country don’t take all of the nutrition classes that UC Davis offers. And I said I had most, not all, of what vets have.

  • Shawna

    Yes, I thought that was very refreshing!! I also thought it refreshing that she felt board certification was “limiting”. How many others in the field feel limited by their training I wonder? She obviously is an outside the box thinker.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Ah, I see ..you’re talking “classes”, I’m talking “courses”. There are nutrition “classes” within VET 433B, which has a course name of “Small Animal Stream II”, but only one full course on Nutrition.

  • bojangles

    Hi Storm’s Mom,

    The 4 classes with nutrition in the name are:

    1) Nutrition/Tox
    2) Wellness/Behavior/Nutrition
    3) Nutrition
    4) Nutrition/Metabolic

    http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/dvm/local_resources/pdfs/Schedule.2015.DRAFT.pdf

  • Storm’s Mom

    And further down in that article is why I really don’t trust “veterinary nutritionists” working for pet food companies (or the companies that employ them):

    “There’s a tremendous amount of money being put in by the pet food industry to support the training of diplomates [of ACVN, also called “veterinary nutritionists”], as well as for research. But it’s going to have some bias. It has to. They’re developing diets. They’re a business.”

  • aimee

    I found Dr Raditic’s reason for pursuing board certification in nutrition interesting.

    Another deciding factor for becoming
    boarded was when a pet owner told Dr. Raditic that her veterinary
    education was paid for by a pet food company! “That upset me,” she says, “because I felt like, ‘No, that’s not true. I have independent thoughts. I can think for myself’.”

  • Storm’s Mom

    Where are you seeing that because I only see one mention, here:

    http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/dvm/dvm_curriculum/curriculum_glance/index.cfm

    I also see that there are many mentions of “stream”, which likely means that there’s a single nutrition course for each stream and students would not take all 4-6 offered.

    Edit: found the full course breakdown, which indicates one course called Nutrition (4th year Curriculum) and another with a Nutrition component (1st year):

    http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/dvm/dvm_curriculum/curriculum_glance/curriculum_design/year_1.cfm

  • bojangles

    I just checked the UC Davis Vet school curriculum and there were 6 classes with the word nutrition in the name and at least 2 classes related to nutrtion.

    How long ago did you go to vet tech school?

  • Amateria

    I was going to study to become a vet nurse but in the end I didn’t even make it to the first class.

    1. My nerve re flared and I had surgery about 3 months after that maybe more, so because I was hardly able to walk what good would I be?
    2. The amount of stuff you have to learn, I realised a little late just how much you have to know and decided it best I don’t try because there’s no way I’m going to remember all that.
    3. I can’t take dogs crying of any kind especially ones like that abused dog who had never been carefully touched before, I almost left the vet office 12 times while waiting for the vet to show up and almost cried those 12 times, she ended up not showing and I was generally glad, because that place almost killed me.
    4. Read on a forum about vet office duties, backstage stuff and back killing stuff and I was like how do I deal with that if I can’t deal with our dogs stuff lol.
    5. What was I thinking?!? Haha

    I was thinking of the nutrition class also, but most of what was mentioned I already know… and the class wasn’t very cheap.

    I even contemplated dog training classes 5 years back, classes that cost upwards of $3500, what on earth was I thinking?

  • theBCnut

    Small Animal Nutrition and Large Animal Nutrition are the standard nutrition classes for both vet techs and veterinarians. I didn’t have 2 years of nutrition classes and the vets I worked for didn’t have 4 years of nutrition classes. They have far too much to learn to care for so many different species. The rest of our nutrition training is in using therapeutic diets for specific conditions. You are welcome to believe whatever you like, or try asking your own vet.

    And I questions the vets education/intelligence because he failed to know/understand one of the most basic things about canine diets, which is the meaning of the AAFCO label. There is no vet anywhere in the US that has any excuse to not know what All Life Stages means.

  • Shawna

    “As an integrative veterinarian, Dr. Raditic understands the impact of nutrition on health. No matter the type of medicine we practice, nutrition is the foundation. Becoming a diplomate of the ACVN, which takes the traditional view of nutrition, ultimately felt very limiting to her.

    Dr. Raditic felt there was much more she needed to know. She also learned through her association with the ACVN that, “There’s a tremendous amount of money being put in by the pet food industry to support the training of diplomates, as well as for research.

    But it’s going to have some bias. It has to. They’re developing diets. They’re a business.” We all understand the motivation of businesses, but as Dr. Raditic asks, “Who is really invested in our pets?” http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2016/05/15/pet-nutrition.aspx

    It’s not just with pets though, I found this article written by a human dietitian interesting.

    “During my clinical training as a dietitian, I was not taught holistic nutrition principles. I did not learn the benefits of herbs, or of the importance of whole foods, probiotics, enzymes, or organically grown foods to good health. I did not learn to use vitamin and mineral supplementation to overcome illness or disease. I did not understand that poor nutrition is probably the cause of most disease and poor health conditions in the first place. I had no idea that we require cholesterol and saturated fat to be well. I did not learn that the nutritional value of grass-fed beef was superior to grain-fed beef, or of the importance of iodine coupled with the avoidance of bromine for proper thyroid function, and so on.

    During training I learned approaches that analyze and treat. I was taught how to calculate nutritional needs, count calories and protein, prescribe parenteral (intravenous) nutrition, and restrict particular electrolytes in a renal diet. I learned the nutritional implications of medications and the differences in tube feeding and supplement formulas.

    I was taught we should eat less fat and more grain products. I was led to believe that pharmaceutical therapy was necessary and that nutrition made little or no impact in treating an already established condition. My continuing education hours were offered free by the pharmaceutical industry. During these classes I was taught about their “new and improved” Ensure and other products they were promoting.” http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/health-issues/a-dietitians-experience-in-the-nursing-home/

  • InkedMarie

    I didn’t but that’s okay!

  • InkedMarie

    I go by what my vets & other vets I know say. Nothing to confirm but “word of mouth” is good enough for me.

  • Jon Hall

    “Vets get very little education in NUTRITION.”

    Lots of people on this site say this but I have yet to see any actual proof. Please post something to confirm this I and will happily change my mind.

  • Jon Hall

    “Jon, the BCNut was a Veterinary Technician and received most of the exact same nutrition education that vets get”

    Vets attend 4 years of undergraduate college and then 4 years of vet school. Vet tech school is 2 years. Same nutrition education? I don’t think so. Please post vet curriculum vs vet tech curriculum to correct me.

    “I sincerely hope that somewhere in all your years of education you learned how to learn and that you didn’t simply stop learning when you graduated. Most college graduates that I know actually enjoy learning new things and they keep at it, so they learn an amazing number of things that they didn’t learn in college.”

    Through all my years of “learning” I can spot people who think they know more than they actually do. I specially took issue when you questioned a vets intelligence regarding a food recommendation for a new members puppy. You have no idea what the vet saw during his exam and what lead to his/her recommendation.

  • Jon Hall

    “Re vets and specific brands, I imagine it’s hard not to be overly influenced by them when they often finance and sponsor so much of vet school education, conferences, write the textbook sections, etc. ”

    Do you have any proof regarding this? Vets treat dogs all day long and see first hand what works and what doesn’t.
    I am a dentist and no company had any influence on my education. I recommend different brands to my patients based on what I use personally or have seen produce good clinical results. Vets are the same way.

  • GSDsForever

    I really think that plant needs to be retired, burned down, or something and all new contracted employees.

    It’s just been such a mess for years.

    People on the west coast are definitely more fortunate in purchasing all the Diamond made foods, out of California plant, Texas, & others(?) NOT associated with that facility. Rescues often feed Nature’s Domain GF, another Diamond product, to control costs.

  • GSDsForever

    LOL!!! Totally.

    Thanks for that. OMG, I remember this vividly — so funny & my mother always loved him.

  • Bobby dog

    Ha Ha! I thought the same thing when I read it and it reminded me of one of my favorite people:
    https://youtu.be/zANvYB93u2g

  • GSDsForever

    Healthy skepticism is always a good idea.

    But what’s wrong with Mike being a dentist and operating this fantastic site as a passion project, as a caring dog owner? Where does Mike hold himself out as a dog nutrition expert?

    And why can’t he and others acquire knowledge, valuable first hand experience, and present research articles here?

    People come from assorted backgrounds here. I’m not a vet either, much less a board certified veterinary nutritionist. But, aside from a lot of personal experience and research, and (like Mike and other regulars here) passion for the subject matter, I happen to regard myself as pretty well-equipped to determine how to feed and care for my dogs properly, as well as help others here. I have extensive education in another highly analytical evidence and logic based field, heavy on research training.

    I also have found it very helpful in the breed fancy to talk with, learn from others with many, many years and many, many dogs experience, including successes in health and longevity. That’s why I talk to people in German Shepherds a lot, and, when I meet a newcomer to the breed or a first time dog owner period, I try to help. We’ve all been there.

    Ditto when people have had first hand knowledge of a given serious health problem with their own dog(s). You really do learn a lot that way, because it matters so personally, and often it is through partnering with a veterinary specialist in the provision of care.

    Most people on this site just want the best for all dogs! It’s a help sharing site.

    Re vets and specific brands, I imagine it’s hard not to be overly influenced by them when they often finance and sponsor so much of vet school education, conferences, write the textbook sections, etc. And, yes, they do provide incentives to selling their foods, via discounts, profit programs, free food for the vet’s own animals/staff’s animals, etc. A skeptic would be, well, skeptical. LOL. But, honestly, vets typically don’t receive much education in canine/feline nutrition; that’s what the board certified specialist/DACVN vets and other graduate education (M.Sc., PhD) in nutrition are there for. *Good* generalist vets consult specialists. That’s what mine does.

  • GSDsForever

    Maybe it’s just a misreading/miscommunication? I just read it as a funny, tongue in cheek response.

    Who knows? But that’s how I took it.

  • GSDsForever

    Me too. She does, very helpful here, and her posts are always well worth reading imo.

  • GSDsForever

    Lol. I was just about to say the same thing. 😉

  • InkedMarie

    Why the sarcastic response? I was nicely letting you know that she is a she, not a he.

  • Pitlove

    Hi April-

    Do you know how big Brock is expected to be when he’s full grown? Knowing this will help me make a recommendation.

  • April Callins

    Hello. I couldn’t help my interest in your discussion. We have recently aquire a new family memeber. Brock, my 8 week old Pitbull, is my little baby but I’m saddened to say my experience with dogs is limited. He gets along well with my cats and they with him. They are also not very fond of Purina. I get their food from our local tractor supply which they are very happy with. It is also in our budget. Brock however is a little more of a challenge. I was wondering if anyone could recomend a good healthy dog food that would not only work with my budget but would also accommodate his nutrition needs as well. I would grated appreciate any advice. Thank you.

  • theBCnut

    Thanks!

  • InkedMarie

    Why the snotty attitude? I was just telling you that she is a she, not a he.

  • April French Leavitt

    Well………..EXCUSE ME

  • InkedMarie

    TheBCNut is a she!

  • Amateria

    Our packages are pretty boring, there’s no pretty pictures or anything, the cans have a small picture in the top left corner though.
    They also apparently have a lean lamb can, can lamb even be lean? Lol every comment I’ve read on foods with lamb was that it made their dog fat or was far too rich for them = messy house the next day.

  • Amateria

    Same

  • April French Leavitt

    You aren’t reading that correctly. I said I HAVE, as in speaking of homemade. HAVE as in not currently

  • mahoraner

    doing well on what? beneful or home made food?

  • mahoraner

    < Aprilfrenchleavitt
    if people want proof that you were right, (how the package shows human grade food while inside the bag its reall, REALLY not) just show them the packages of these

    Pedigree has chicken breast, peas and carrots on the package, where inside there isn't 1 bit of real chicken OR carrots OR peas

    Dog chows new package has a picture of a chicken breast on it, While in the actual food there is absolutely none

    Hills crafted, although this may not be so much of a "lie"
    but just by seeing the package, most likely if a non-educated (about pet food) person was walking down the isle at pet smart and saw the package with the peas, broccoli, chicken, carrots, etc. They'd think that's all that the food is.
    and i know this isnt really as big of a deal as the other two,
    But if you actually read the ingredients, broccoli comes AFTER most of the vitamins and minerals and there are no real, whole peas to be seen ANYWHERE

    just pointing these things out,

  • April French Leavitt

    So true and I have and both dogs have done extremely well on it

  • mahoraner

    i agree, i would never feed either (lol) but personally if beneful and science diet were the only options of (packaged) dog food on earth, i would just make home made food
    lol

  • aimee

    OK now I see where you have made your mistake…this is a common error to make, no biggie. I’ll explain it.

    The ingredient in the diet the OP inquired about was “meat by product” which is what I have been discussing and which is a non rendered product and as your source reports is “clean non-rendered “parts”, other than meat, derived ,from slaughtered mammals.

    Rendered meals are an entirely different ingredient with an entirely different definition and can contain animals that have died other than by slaughter. From your source : “”4D” livestock animals (dead, dying, diseased, disabled) may also be found in pet food ,through a process called rendering”

    To summarize: “meat by product” ,non rendered, sourced from slaughtered mammals. Must be identified if other than from cattle, pig, sheep or goat. If sourced from cattle, sheep, goat or pig can be simple labeled “meat by products”

    Rendered meals for example “beef meal” can be sourced from “4D” AAFCO doesn’t define the species for “meat meal”

    See the difference? “Meat by products” can not be sourced from 4D but “beef meal” can be sourced from 4D because the rendering process makes the diseased or deadstock “safe” to consume because pathogens are killed off during the rendering process.

    Here is another interesting factoid “Meat by products” by definition “does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs” But all of those are allowed in “beef meal”

    By the way the source you cited is a biased marketing piece from a pet food manufacturer, the purpose of which is to get people to buy their product. This is why the author is downgrading any ingredient not in the food they sell to sway people into buying their product .

    “Originally published on http://www.halopets.com

    http://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_pet_food_for_your_pets_sake

  • April French Leavitt

    Meat Meal (for example, lamb meal): in this example, all lamb tissues, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents that are cooked (rendered). After cooking, the dried solids are added as “meal” to pet food.

    Meat By-product Meal (for example, chicken by-product meal): chicken by-products (defined above) that are cooked (rendered). After cooking, the dried solids can be added to pet food.

    Digest: material from mammals which results from chemical breakdown of clean meat tissues or by-products (“parts” other than meat). This is often used to give a meat “flavor” to pet foods that don’t contain any real meat.

    The raw ingredients used in rendering are generally just leftovers of the meat, poultry and fishing industries. It is known that the temperatures used in rendering may also alter or destroy natural enzymes and proteins found in these raw ingredients. These facts indicate there is potentially wide variability in nutrient composition of the final product that ends up in pet food. In fact, the nutritional quality of by-products, meals and digests often varies dramatically from batch to batch.

    All rendered products are considered “unfit for human consumption.” If we shouldn’t eat it, either should our pets! Rendered products typically have relatively high protein levels, however, the quality of those proteins is often questionable. In fact, these inferior protein sources are often unpalatable to pets and artificial flavors or fats must be sprayed on the food in order to get pets to consume it.

  • April French Leavitt

    The following is from PetMD

  • April French Leavitt

    What is really in pet food?

    The pictures presented on cans and bags of pet food conjure up images of a chef cooking divine meals of wholesome cuts of meat and vegetables for our beloved pets. Although this is a lovely idea, it is rarely the case. When animals are slaughtered for food production, the lean muscle is cut off for human consumption. The remaining carcass (bones, organs, blood, beaks, etc.) is what goes into pet food, commonly known as “by-products,” “meal,” “by-product meal,” or the like. Read on if you are not faint of heart.

    In addition to the carcasses described above, other “leftovers” from the human food industry (restaurant grease, out-of-date supermarket meat, etc) and “4D” livestock animals (dead, dying, diseased, disabled) may also be found in pet food through a process called rendering. Rendering is defined as “an industrial process of extraction by melting that converts waste animal tissue into usable materials”. In other words, rendering involves placing livestock carcasses and possibly “leftovers” into huge vats, grinding it up and cooking it for several hours. Rendering separates fat, removes water, and kills bacteria, viruses, parasites and other infectious organisms. The fat that is separated becomes “animal fat” that goes into pet food (for example, chicken fat, beef fat, etc). The remaining dried protein solids become “meal” or meat “by-product meal” for addition to pet food. Read on for some additional disturbing definitions:

    By-products (for example, chicken by-products or beef by-products): clean non-rendered “parts”, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, blood, bone, fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. This is a cheap way for pet food companies to keep the protein levels “high” (although not high quality) while keeping food production costs low.
    MAY INCLUDE 4D MEATS AIMEE

  • aimee

    “Meat by products” must be sourced from an animal that died by slaughter.. but you have a point, once slaughtered, yup the animal is dead before being made into pet food.

    The “perfectly good animal” is slaughtered for human consumption but there are a lot of body parts that us fickle humans find “icky” and so those parts of the “perfectly good animal” go into making dog food and named “meat by products”

    You are correct the labels don’t identify the source that is because AAFCO only requires identification if from a source other that cattle, pigs, goat and sheep.

    In answer to your questions 1.Yes I looked it up and I even provided you the link to AAFCO in which this ingredient is defined. Yes I know what it means- if “meat by products” is on the label the product legally can not contain “rats, skunks, roadkill, other dogs and cats” and the source of the “meat by product” was from either a pig,cow,goat or sheep that was slaughtered.

    You are not the only person who gets this wrong, so I understand how you could be misinformed about this ingredient.

  • April French Leavitt

    Do more research

  • April French Leavitt

    Actually aimee it doesn’t eliminate the dead animal. They would not take a perfectly good animal and make dog food out of it. Not to mention, just because it must be identified, doesn’t mean it is. Do you think that Purina cooperates with this? I think not. Every package of dog food I have ever seen does not identify their source. It simply says meat by product. Have you even looked this up? Do you know what this means Aimee?? It CAN and DOES include rats, skunks, roadkill, other dogs and cats

  • aimee

    Hi April,

    You said “That is absolutely NOT TRUE. Meat by products can be ANY ANIMAL. Not
    limited to Down, diseased, dead or dying, roadkill, could be rats, mice,
    cow, goat, pig, sheep, etc.”

    Your description of “meat by products” is a common misconception as to what meat by products really are.

    Here is the AAFCO definition: “Meat by-products
    is the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from
    slaughtered mammals
    . It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen,
    kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature
    fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It
    does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for
    use in animal feed. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must
    correspond thereto.”

    I bold texted that the ingredient must be sourced from slaughtered mammals which eliminates roadkill and dead animals. When animals are presented for slaughter they are inspected and only animals that are healthy pass inspection and are slaughtered The others are refused entry. If the inspector isn’t sure, those animals are tagged as suspect and undergo further inspections.

    As I posted, Purina states on their website that their by products are from sources approved for human consumption.

    This is an explanation from AAFCO as to what meat by products are:

    “To put it another way, it is most of the parts of the animal other than
    the muscle tissue, including the internal organs and bones. It includes
    some of the parts people eat (such as livers, kidneys and tripe), but
    also parts that are not typically consumed by humans in the US. Some
    by-products, like udders and lungs are not deemed “edible” by USDA for
    human consumption, but they can be perfectly safe and nutritious for
    animals not inclined to be swayed by the unappealing nature of these
    parts of animals. As with “meat,” unless the by-products are derived
    from cattle, pigs, sheep or goats, the species must be identified

    http://www.aafco.org/Consumers/What-is-in-Pet-Food

    This is the section that people often don’t know regarding “meat by products” they must be identified if sourced from anything other than cattle, pigs, sheep and goat. So as you can see from AAFCO itself, meat by products can not be from “any animal” as you thought they could be.

    Hope this helps you understand this ingredient better.

  • bojangles

    Hi Beverly,

    Here are just 2 of the many reasons why Purina is a pet food company that is best avoided.

    In 2013 the FDA found the Melamine analog Ammelide and Cyanuric acid in Purina’s food!!!

    Cyanuric acid and Melamine are the two deadliest adulterants in the history of pet food. They are the deadly combination that in 2007, was responsible for the largest and deadliest pet food recall in history.

    Ethoxyquin, a very controversial preservative was also found in Purina’s dog food, but it was not indicated on the product labeling which is in violation of FDA regulations.

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