Puppies grow quickly, and they need appropriate food to aid in their development, keep their muscles and bones strong, and aid their cognitive development. Typically, puppy food has higher levels of protein and more calories than adult dog food, and it may contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals specifically needed by a puppy’s body. There are both dry and wet food options available, with the choice of which to feed ultimately coming down to the owner. Dry food has a longer shelf life and creates less mess, but it isn’t as palatable as wet food.
Below, we look at reviews of the best puppy foods in the UK and provide a guide to buying the most suitable food for your developing dog.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favourites in 2023
|Best Overall||IAMS Complete Dry Puppy Food Small & Medium Breeds||
|Best Value||Harringtons Complete Dry Puppy Food Turkey & Rice||
|Premium Choice||Lily’s Kitchen Puppy Recipe with Chicken||
|Royal Canin Giant Junior Food||
|Barking Heads Wet Dog Food for Puppies||
The 10 Best Puppy Foods in the UK
1. IAMS Complete Dry Puppy Food – Best Overall
|Primary Ingredients:||Dried Chicken & Turkey, Maize, Maize Grits|
IAMS Complete Dry Dog Food for Puppy is a complete dry food specifically for small to medium breeds. Its main ingredient is dried chicken and turkey, which means that a good amount of the food’s 28% protein comes from meat-based sources. It is high in antioxidants and vitamins C & E that encourage the development of a healthy immune system, and prebiotics to encourage the growth and continued development of good gut bacteria.
The food is very reasonably priced, has a good protein ratio, and features meat as its first ingredient, making it the best available puppy food in the UK—but it can be quite rich for puppies with sensitive stomachs. You should always ease a dog onto a new food, but this is especially important with rich foods.
2. Harringtons Complete Dry Puppy Food – Best Value
|Flavour:||Turkey & Rice|
|Primary Ingredients:||Turkey & Meat Meals, Maize, Rice|
Harringtons Complete Dry Puppy Food Turkey & Rice is a complete dry food. The turkey and rice-flavoured food has 30% protein, which is good for puppies. Its main ingredient is turkey and meat meals which also means that much of the protein comes from meat sources. The food contains a good combination of omegas 3 and 6, which aid cognitive development and maintain good health and skin condition. Vitamin E and prebiotics help ensure good gut health, which is especially important in developing puppies that can be prone to sensitive stomachs.
The food is very reasonably priced, has a high protein ratio, and gets a lot of its protein from meat sources, making it our choice as the best puppy food in the UK for the money. However, that 30% protein ratio may be too high for some puppies and the food will need a gradual introduction.
3. Lily’s Kitchen Puppy Recipe – Premium Choice
|Food Type:||Grain-Free Wet|
|Primary Ingredients:||Chicken, Potatoes, Carrots|
|Volume:||10 x 150g|
Wet food can be more palatable to dogs of all ages, and especially to puppies. It has a more alluring smell, for dogs anyway, and the moisture content makes it easier and more enjoyable to eat. While puppies can thrive on dry food, some do prefer wet food. Lily’s Kitchen Puppy Recipe with Chicken is a high-quality wet food recipe that contains recognisable ingredients.
The main ingredients of this food are chicken, potatoes, and carrots. It has 10.1% protein, which is good for wet food, and is 67% chicken, which is very high. Chicken is generally easy to digest, which is why it is such a popular choice in dog foods and especially for puppies, but you do still need to wean your puppy over to this food. Its high meat content and natural ingredients may make a sensitive dog sick.
The food’s ingredients are high quality, as is the food itself, but it is an expensive food option, especially if you are only feeding wet food.
4. Royal Canin Giant Junior Food
|Primary Ingredients:||Poultry Protein, Maize, Maize Feed Meal|
Giant breeds grow quickly and effectively go through two puppy stages. Royal Canin Giant Junior Food is targeted at giant breeds that will weigh 45 kilograms or more when adults, and at puppies aged between 8 and 18 months, so it isn’t meant for young puppies and won’t be your puppy’s first food. It has a 31% protein ratio, which is high enough for giant breed puppies: they need high protein levels to create strong muscles and bones that can carry their bulk.
Royal Canin also claims that the kibble is designed to be slow to chew, preventing puppies from wolfing their food down and potentially getting ill. The primary ingredients are poultry protein, maize, and maize feed meal. Poultry protein is a good source of meat protein although it doesn’t sound too appealing an ingredient. The food is quite expensive, especially for dry food, but it does have the nutritional makeup that is ideal for young giant breed dogs.
5. Barking Heads Wet Dog Food for Puppies
|Food Type:||Wet Food|
|Primary Ingredients:||Chicken, Chicken Broth, Sweet Potato|
|Volume:||10 x 300g|
Barking Heads Wet Dog Food for Puppies is a cereal-free puppy food that is made using natural ingredients, including an impressive 85% chicken. Its primary ingredients are chicken and chicken broth, as well as sweet potato. Barking Heads is made from 100% natural ingredients so does not contain any artificial fillers, flavours, or other artificial ingredients. The food is cereal-free: the vast majority of dogs do not need a cereal-free or grain-free diet, but if your vet has suggested trying cereal-free food, then Barking Heads is a high-quality option.
With 11% protein, it is also suitable for puppies during their developmental stage and its high meat content makes it a palatable and tasty food. However, the natural ingredients and high meat content also make Barking Heads an expensive option when compared to a lot of other foods.
6. James Wellbeloved Puppy Lamb and Rice
|Flavour:||Lamb and Rice|
|Primary Ingredients:||Lamb Meal, White Rice, Pea Protein|
With 29% protein and a primary ingredient of lamb meal, James Wellbeloved Puppy Lamb and Rice is a complete dry meal that meets all the nutritional requirements of your young dog. Additionally, the food contains yucca extract which helps to neutralise strong smells produced by your puppy’s poop. It also contains chicory extract as a prebiotic, seaweed as a natural source of iodine and fibre, and it has smaller kibble pieces, so it is easy to chew and digest for young mouths.
The food is on the expensive side for dry food that isn’t made up primarily of meat ingredients. Also, the kibble is too large for very small dogs so may not be suitable for small and toy-breed puppies.
7. Naturediet Puppy Food Gentle Digestion
|Food Type:||Wet Food|
|Primary Ingredients:||Chicken, Rice, Carrot|
|Volume:||18 x 390g|
Naturediet Puppy is a wet food with an 11% protein ratio that utilises all-natural ingredients. The main ingredients in this food are chicken, rice, and carrot. Other than the main ingredients, the food contains dried eggs and dried seaweed. Despite the limited ingredients, the food is fully balanced and meets all the nutritional requirements of puppies aged between 4 weeks and 12 months old.
The food, which is very competitively priced for wet food that contains natural ingredients, also comes in recyclable packaging so it is good for the environment. However, the food does seem to cause upset stomachs and bad gas.
8. Burgess Sensitive Dry Puppy Food Rich in Turkey
|Primary Ingredients:||Rice, Turkey Meal, Salmon|
Burgess Sensitive Dry Puppy Food Rich in Turkey is a complete dry food for puppies up to 12 months. It is reasonably priced with a 30% protein ratio, which is a good level of protein for puppies. However, the food’s main ingredient is rice: ideally, to ensure that most of the protein comes from animal sources, the main ingredient should be animal based. The rice may help create a food that is suitable for sensitive stomachs, but it doesn’t provide the high-quality protein that meat does.
The next two ingredients are turkey meal, which is effectively a concentrated source of meat protein, and salmon. Other ingredients include yucca and prebiotics. Yucca helps eliminate strong odours in faeces while prebiotics help promote good gut and immune system health.
Unfortunately, the ingredients list also contains salt: salt intake for dogs of any age should be limited and there’s not really any reason to add extra salt to puppy food.
9. Skinner’s Field & Trial Puppy Food
|Primary Ingredients:||Poultry Meat Meal, Maize, Brown Rice|
Working dogs have different nutritional requirements to less active dogs. They burn off more calories and they tend to need more joint and muscle support because of the physically demanding work they do every day. Skinner’s Field & Trial Puppy is a chicken-flavoured food that is formulated specifically for working and active puppies.
It has 27% protein, which actually isn’t as high as a lot of other puppy foods. But its main ingredient is poultry meat meal, suggesting that much of the protein is a high-quality protein that comes from meat sources. Other ingredients include linseed and brewer’s yeast. Linseed is a good, natural source of fibre. Brewer’s yeast contains amino acids and vitamin B. It doesn’t contain any artificial colourings or other artificial ingredients, but Skinners is quite an expensive dry food.
10. Purina PRO PLAN Optistart Medium Puppy Dry Dog Food
|Primary Ingredients:||Chicken, Dehydrated Poultry Protein, Wheat|
Purina PRO PLAN Optistart Medium Puppy Dry Dog Food is a complete dry food that features chicken, dehydrated poultry protein, and wheat as its main ingredients. The food has a 30% protein ratio, which is highly suitable for developing puppies. It is meant for medium-sized breeds and while the food is expensive, it does have good primary ingredients. While it does contain some additional and beneficial ingredients like “antioxidants” the labelling suggests that these are synthetic forms of antioxidants rather than a good, natural source.
Overall, the food is good quality but, for the price, it would benefit from natural ingredients.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Food For Your Puppy in the UK
Getting the right food for your puppy is important. Not only does food fill your dog up, but it provides all of the necessary protein, vitamins, and minerals that a dog needs. It should also be appealing and palatable, otherwise, your puppy may not eat it, and you want to feed high-quality ingredients while avoiding negative or poor ingredients that may do more harm than good.
Wet vs Dry Food
The debate of whether wet food or dry food is better isn’t reserved for puppies only. It is a debate that dog owners and others have when considering dogs of all ages. On the one hand, dry food has a long shelf life, causes little mess, and tends to be less expensive than wet food.
On the other hand, wet food is more palatable and appealing than dry food, but it is messy, and it won’t keep long once opened. For puppies, it may also be worth considering the texture of the food. A very young puppy that does not have all its adult teeth may struggle to chew hard kibble, in which case wet food can be the best solution.
Both food types can provide all the nutritional requirements of a dog, so it comes down to personal choice and the question of whether your puppy has a preference. It is also possible to combine dry and wet food: some owners like to leave a bowl of dry food down for the dog to graze on over the day, and feed two wet food meals. Always ensure you are measuring the food you give your dog and reduce the amounts accordingly if you are feeding wet and dry or if you give treats regularly.
Protein is made up of amino acids which repair and build muscles and bones. They also produce hormones and enzymes. Too little protein means that a puppy may not develop fully, but too much means that additional protein is stored as fat so it can lead to an overweight puppy.
Generally, puppies need 28% or more protein by dry ratio. Wet food should contain at least a 10% protein ratio. Active dogs can benefit from a slightly higher protein ratio, especially if they are working dogs that will be in the field and burning off energy all day long.
Ideally, most of the protein should come from meat or animal sources. Animal protein has greater bioavailability, which means that the dog’s body can digest and use the protein, compared to animal and other proteins. Food doesn’t list the amount of protein to come from different sources, but you can check the ingredient list to get some idea.
Strictly speaking, food flavour doesn’t really matter, as long as you check protein and other nutrient levels to ensure that the food is suitable. However, most dogs have a preference for one flavour or another. Some dogs might prefer chicken or poultry while others prefer beef.
While flavour doesn’t matter, the ingredient list of dog food is important. Not only should you avoid foods that have very long lists of ingredients, and include synthetic or unrecognisable ingredients, but you should look at the primary ingredients. The primary ingredients are those that are listed first. These make up the largest ratio of ingredients and, ideally, the first ingredient or the first couple of ingredients should be meat-based.
Artificial ingredients are more likely to cause allergic or sensitive reactions than natural ingredients, and the vitamins and minerals in natural ingredients tend to be easier to absorb. Therefore, try to avoid foods that contain too many synthetic ingredients and look for those with natural ingredients. Natural dog foods can cost more, but they do offer greater benefits to your puppy.
When Should You Feed Your Puppy?
Adult dogs can thrive on two meals a day, but young puppies generally need three meals, fed at intervals over the day. Mealtimes should be consistent, although it doesn’t matter if there is half an hour difference from one day to the next. Generally, you should feed your dog quite soon after getting up, at around lunchtime, and another meal at dinnertime. Getting into this routine not only ensures a good delivery of protein and essential vitamins and minerals but it makes it easier to potty train, and dogs do benefit from routine.
By the time your puppy reaches between 6 and 8 months, it should be ready to come down to two meals a day, one in the morning and one in the evening.
Should Puppies Eat Wet or Dry Food?
Puppies can thrive on either wet food or dry food, and they can be fed a combination of food types to meet their needs. Most puppies prefer wet food because it smells and tastes better, but you can easily get a puppy used to eating dry kibble.
Is It OK to Mix Wet and Dry Puppy Food?
Puppies, like adult dogs, can be fed a combination of wet and dry foods. This usually means leaving a bowl of dry food down during the day and feeding wet food at mealtimes. You will need to take this into account when determining how much to feed. You can feed half the recommended amount of dry food and half the recommended amount of wet food to make sure you don’t overfeed your dog.
Getting the right puppy food is important because your dog’s food provides the vitamins, minerals, and protein that it requires daily. The food should also be free from potentially harmful ingredients.
Above we have provided reviews of the best puppy foods in the UK, and a guide to help you choose the one that best meets your puppy’s requirements. IAMS Complete Dry Dog Food for Puppy Small and Medium Breeds has 28% protein, with most of this protein seemingly coming from animal sources, and is our favourite overall. Harringtons Complete Dry Puppy Food Turkey & Rice is a good budget option with 30% protein and a good ingredient list. Our premium option is Lily’s Kitchen Puppy Recipe With Chicken due to its natural ingredients and high protein content for a wet food option.
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