How To Select The Right Pet Food For Your Puppy


golden retriever puppy lying down near empty feeding bowl

(Picture Credit: IuriiSokolov/Getty Images)

Adopting a puppy is a big responsibility, and trying to decide what to feed your new furry family member can be overwhelming. There are so many choices of puppy food that you may break down in the middle of the pet food aisle in frustration.

Well, don’t worry, I did the puppy food homework for you! You can just use the list of answers to common pet parent questions about feeding puppies below to make the best decisions you can for your precious pup and ensure they’re getting the right nutrition they need to grow up healthy.

If you want to take the guesswork out of what to feed your puppy, you can get fresh, healthy, customized meals for your pup delivered right to your door from Ollie! Ollie only uses the best quality ingredients and no fillers or preservations that can be hidden in other dog foods, so your pup is starting their life off right. Plus, the meals are vet formulated, so can feel confident that your puppy is getting the right amount of calories, protein, and vitamins for their specific breed and weight. Get 60 percent off your first order here!

As always, you must make sure to consult your veterinarian before making decisions about your individual puppy’s diet.

How Much Protein Should Puppies Get?

Due to tissue development, a growing puppy needs more protein in their diet than adult dogs.

According to VCA Hospitals, “the recommended protein range for healthy puppy growth is 22-32% on a dry matter basis.”

When you choose your puppy’s food, make sure the protein content falls in this healthy range. As your puppy grows, they’ll need less protein, and you should discuss their diet with your vet.

Ollie’s recipes include protein from the highest quality meats and veggies sourced from reputable suppliers. Ollie will take weight and age into account when building your pup’s feeding plan to ensure the proper ratio and calories to proteins, carbs, fat, and calcium.

Also, don’t feed your puppy any adult dog formulas, even if they have an appropriate amount of protein. These adult dog diets may not be nutritionally balanced in other ways that support your puppy’s growth.

What Kinds Of Vitamins & Minerals Should Puppies Get?

Luckily, most high-quality dog foods that are formulated for puppies have appropriate amounts of the vitamins and minerals your puppy needs. You should talk to you vet about these needs.

However, if you find that your puppy’s food doesn’t satisfy all the vitamin and mineral requirements that your vet recommends, you can try adding a few human foods to your dog’s diet.

Or check out a fresh dog food company like Ollie. Ollie’s recipes includes ingredients like Sweet Potato that are high in essential minerals and dietary fiber along with chia seeds that are a great source of zinc, copper, and manganese.

Here is a very handy guide from that goes over which human foods have vitamins and minerals your puppy may need.


  • Vitamin A: Carrots, spinach, liver, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, fish oil, eggs, turnip greens
  • Vitamin D: Marine fish oil, fatty fish, egg yolks, dairy products, liver, beef, cottage cheese
  • Vitamin E: Plant oils, leafy green vegetables, seeds, wheat germ, bran, whole grains, liver
  • Vitamin K: Liver, leafy green vegetables, milk, cabbage, fish
  • Vitamin C: Fruits, vegetables, organ meats
  • Vitamin B: Whole grains, nutritional or brewers yeast, liver, beans, green vegetables, spirulina, nuts, dairy products


  • Calcium: Milk, yogurt, tofu, sardines with bones, raw bones, bok choy, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Phosphorous: All animal tissues, eggs, fish, milk
  • Magnesium: Spinach, broccoli, green beans, tofu, tomato juice, beans, whole grains, seafood
  • Potassium, Sodium, and Chloride: Fruits, vegetables, milk, grain


  • Zinc: Spinach, broccoli, yogurt, beef, poultry, whole grains, vegetables
  • Sulfur: All protein foods (meats, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, and milk)
  • Iron: Red meats, fish, poultry, shellfish, eggs, legumes
  • Iodine: Iodized salt, seafood, dairy products, kelp
  • Selenium: Seafood, meat, whole grains, brown rice, vegetables
  • Copper: Seafood, nuts, whole grains, seeds, legumes
  • Manganese: Nuts, whole grains, leafy vegetables
  • Chromium: Lean meat, vegetable oils, brewers yeast
  • Cobalt: Liver, kidney, fruit, vegetables
  • Fluorine: Available in water
  • Molybdenum: Legumes, cereals, organ meats
  • Silicon: Cereals, vegetables, beans, and peas

Are Grains Bad For My Puppy?

Grains have become a bit of a public enemy with today’s anti-gluten attitudes. But, the reason we have so much gluten free food is because about ten percent of humans are allergic to gluten. Puppies aren’t as affected as we humans are.

The American Kennel Club says:

Grain-free foods contain about the same amount of carbohydrates as foods containing grains. In actuality, wheat gluten contains more than 80 percent protein, is 99 percent digestible, and has an amino acid profile similar to meat proteins. Corn, when prepared properly, is actually an excellent source of highly digestible carbohydrate, essential fatty acids, and fiber, and can be an especially crucial ingredient in diets for dogs with medical conditions requiring reduced fat or protein.

When your puppy looks up at you with those big ol’ eyes and lets out a little whine and a bark, you’ll want to give them every single treat in the world. But, like everything, you must do so in moderation.

It’s like my girlfriend always says, “Brian, did you eat all the cookies? I just bought them.”

Does Breed Matter For Puppy Nutrition?

Breed can influence your puppy’s size and energy level. So it follows that it can also affect your dog’s nutritional requirements.

The site says:

While the basic nutritional needs of dogs do not change significantly from one breed to another, certain nutrients are more important for some breeds than for others. For example, small-breed dogs have very fast metabolisms so they generally require a diet that is higher in fat than would a large-breed dog. Another example is the fact that large and giant breeds have a higher risk for musculoskeletal problems than small-breed dogs, so bone- and joint-supporting supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin play an important role in the diet for these dogs.

Many high-quality puppy foods are formulated for specific sizes of dogs. So if your puppy is a larger breed, consider a pet food that is specifically for large puppies.

Of course, your veterinarian will be your best resource for finding out exactly what your puppy’s breed needs are when it comes to their food.

You can also skip some of the hassle and get a meal plan from Ollie that factors in your dog’s individual needs. Ollie will deliver fresh, customized meals for your puppy to your door!

Does Your Puppy’s Weight Play A Factor In The Food You Choose?

Yes! Just like with people, when a puppy grows, their dietary needs change.

You’ll need to keep an eye on the fat content of your puppy’s food. Too much fat can lead to obesity and its associated health conditions, as well as stress on the joints, bones, and muscles. Your vet can help determine the right amount of fat for your puppy’s weight.

In addition to the type of pet food you get for your puppy, you’ll also have to figure out the right amount to feed them. Here’s a handy puppy feeding chart from The Canine Journal that goes over how much food to feed puppies based on weight:

  • 5 pound puppies: 1/2 cup to 5/8 cup of food
  • 10 pound puppies: 3/4 cup to 1 cup of food
  • 20 pound puppies: 1 1/4 cups to 1 3/4 cups of food
  • 40 pound puppies: 2 1/4 cups to 3 cups of food
  • 60 pound puppies: 3 cups to 4 cups of food
  • 80 pound puppies: 3 2/3 cups to 5 cups of food
  • 100 pound puppies: 4 1/4 cups to 6 cups of food

Remember that these amounts can vary based on your dog’s individual needs and on the formula of the pet food that you choose.

Is My Puppy The Best Puppy?

Yes. Every puppy is the best puppy. Especially yours!

The best puppy deserves the best food that will meet all their needs. Talk to your vet about nutrition, and try customized, fresh meals for your puppy sent right to your door from Ollie!

When you order your puppy’s food from Ollie, you get:

  • High quality ingredients and real sources of protein
  • Custom plans for specific breeds that also factor in weight for your puppy
  • Flexibie plans delivered to your door for free

DogTime readers, you’ll receive 60 percent off your first box when you click here to get your puppy started!

What kinds of things do you look for in your puppy’s food? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when you shop for pet food? Then let us know in the comments below!

Food & Nutrition Resources For Dog Parents


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