How can you not fall instantly in love with adorable, roly-poly puppies? But puppies and of course, dogs, end up being expensive to take care of, so it’s always helpful to find ways to save money. Considering that one of the most significant expenses is dog food, it can make owning a puppy more manageable if you can find good puppy food that won’t empty your wallet too much.
But looking for good, affordable puppy food is time-consuming, so we did the work for you and wrote reviews of 10 of the best affordable puppy foods. Hopefully, you’ll find the perfect food for your perfect new puppy!
A Glance at Our Top Picks (2023 Update)
|Best Overall||Purina ONE Natural +Plus Healthy Puppy Formula||
|Best Value||Puppy Chow Tender & Crunchy Dog Food||
|Rachel Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy||
|Whole Earth Farms Puppy||
|Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Food||
The 10 Best Affordable Puppy Foods
1. Purina ONE Natural +Plus Healthy Puppy Formula — Best Overall
|Size:||8 or 16.5 lbs.|
The best overall affordable puppy food is Purina ONE Natural +Plus Healthy Puppy Formula. It’s available in two sizes and falls perfectly in the range of protein and fat that a puppy needs. It’s designed for breeds of all sizes, with real chicken as the first and main ingredient, and includes rice and oatmeal for easy digestion. It has DHA for developing the brain and vision and four different antioxidant sources for a strong immune system. There are omega-6 fatty acids for healthy coats and skin and natural sources of glucosamine for healthy joints. All of this is part of a mix of crunchy kibble and softer meaty bits that should appeal to most puppies.
The main flaw with this food is that on occasion, some bags might contain tender morsels that aren’t so tender. Sometimes they are rubbery or hard, and puppies might avoid them.
2. Puppy Chow Tender & Crunchy Dog Food — Best Value
|Size:||5 or 32 lbs.|
The best affordable puppy food for the money is Puppy Chow Tender & Crunchy Dog Food. It contains 100% of the nutrients that all puppies need and DHA for brain and vision development. It includes calcium for healthy teeth and bones, and the added vitamins and minerals are all found in a mother dog’s milk. You have the option of adding water and puppy formula to this food for really young puppies.
However, it does contain ingredients that aren’t the greatest, such as dyes, grains, and by-products. Plus, it’s only dry kibble, and the bites might be too big for small puppies.
3. Rachel Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Dog Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and brown rice|
|Size:||6 or 14 lbs.|
Rachel Ray’s Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Dog Food is our premium choice pick. It’s affordable food that comes with quality ingredients. Real chicken is the main ingredient, and it includes peas, carrots, and brown rice to support healthy digestion. It has omega-3 and -6 fatty acids from chicken fat for healthy skin and coat and doesn’t contain any fillers — no by-products, wheat, artificial flavors, or preservatives. It also includes DHA, EPA, and calcium for strong bones and teeth and brain and vision support.
The issues with this food are that the kibble size is a bit small, so it might not be a good fit for large puppies (the size of the bags might also be too small for big puppies). Also, picky puppies might not like this food.
4. Whole Earth Farms Puppy Grain-Free Dog Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and salmon|
The Whole Earth Farms Puppy Grain-Free Dog Food contains salmon, chicken, sweet potatoes, and apples for a nutritious meal for sensitive stomachs. It includes DHA for brain development and vitamins and minerals, including probiotics for immune and digestive system support. It doesn’t contain grains, wheat, corn, soy, by-products, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
The problem with this food is that some puppies don’t like it, and it can sometimes cause stomach upset.
5. Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and brown rice|
|Size:||5 or 13 lbs.|
Nutro’s Natural Choice Puppy Food lists chicken as the first ingredient and includes omega-3 fatty acids and DHA for vision and brain development. It also provides calcium for strong bones and teeth and antioxidants for immune system support. It has no GMO ingredients, by-products, soy, wheat, or corn.
However, this food is expensive for its size, and the kibble is on the large side for small puppies.
6. Ultimates Puppy Food
|Flavor:||Chicken meal and brown rice|
|Size:||5 and 28 lbs.|
Ultimates Puppy Food has high levels of protein and fat, which will give a puppy a good amount of nutrients to help them grow. There’s added DHA for brain and eye development, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C to help with digestion. Fruits and veggies such as carrots, spinach, blueberries, and apples give it a natural source of fiber. It doesn’t contain by-products, soy, wheat, corn, artificial preservatives, or ingredients.
The flaws with this food are that not all puppies want to eat this, and it can sometimes cause stomach upset.
7. Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Food
|Flavor:||Chicken, turkey, and duck|
|Size:||13 oz. x 12 cans.|
Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Food is a pâté with real chicken as the main ingredient, with the addition of duck, turkey, salmon, oatmeal, and a variety of fruits and vegetables for a nutritious meal. It doesn’t contain corn, wheat, soy, by-products, artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.
The issues are that some puppies don’t seem to like this food, and the cans might arrive dented. Keep in mind that this is not soup but a typical pâté canned dog food.
8. Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original Dog Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and whole grains|
|Size:||7 or 15 lbs.|
Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original Dog Food starts with real chicken as the main ingredient and 22 nutrients that puppies need from their mother’s milk. This includes omega-3 DHA for cognitive development and antioxidants for a healthy immune system. It also has natural fibers and prebiotics for healthy digestion and enough protein to support those growing muscles.
Unfortunately, this food contains by-products, grains, and artificial colors, and some puppies might experience stomach upset.
9. Nature’s Recipe Puppy Food
|Flavor:||Lamb and rice|
|Size:||4 or 12 lbs.|
Nature’s Recipe Puppy Food has real lamb as the first and primary ingredient to help grow strong muscles and DHA for eye and brain development. There’s fiber from oatmeal, rice, and barley for healthy digestion and added vitamins and minerals for a nutritionally healthy meal. It doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors or any wheat, corn, or soy.
The flaws with this food are that some puppies won’t want to eat it, and the kibble is small and might not work for big breeds.
10. Pedigree Puppy Chopped Ground Dinner Dog Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and beef|
|Size:||2 oz. x 12 cans|
|Type:||Canned chopped texture|
Pedigree’s Puppy Chopped Ground Dinner Dog Food is canned food with a ground meat texture in chicken and beef flavor. It contains the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and oils for a balanced diet and healthy skin and coat. Puppies love the taste and texture of this food.
However, it is full of fillers like animal by-products and artificial flavors, preservatives, and colors. Additionally, the texture seems to be closer to a pâté, and sometimes it’s on the dry side.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Affordable Puppy Food
Now that you’ve had a chance to consider the variety of puppy food available, be sure to check out this buyer’s guide. We go through a few important points that could impact your decision.
Puppies need specific nutrition to help them grow and develop into healthy adult dogs. Protein and fat are particularly important. The required nutritional values for puppies are that protein should be between 22% and 32% and fat should be 10% to 25%. So, when you’re shopping for food for your puppy, double-check these levels.
Canned vs. Dry
Dry food is usually recommended for puppies because this type of food generally has the right balance of nutrients, including protein and fat. You’ll notice that most dry food is always within the recommended amount, while canned is well below.
You can combine canned food with dry food or add puppy formula or water to kibble to soften it, but either food is acceptable as long as the overall diet is balanced.
- Related Read: 10 Best Affordable Canned and Wet Dog Food
Size of the Dog
You should always choose the right kind of food for your breed of puppy. So, if you have a toy breed, you need food designed for toy breeds, and you’ll need giant breed food for your giant breed puppy. Everything about the food from the size of the kibble to its specific ingredients should help support each breed’s energy requirements.
If you need to change your puppy’s usual food to something new, be sure to do this gradually. Start by adding a small amount of the new food to the old, and gradually continue to add more new food until it has completely replaced the old.
If you rush the process, you risk causing stomach upset in your puppy. Any dog of any age needs this process, but puppies in particular do because they have sensitive stomachs and digestive systems.
Our pick for the best overall affordable puppy food is Purina ONE’s Natural +Plus Healthy Puppy Formula. It falls perfectly in the middle of the range of protein and fat that a puppy needs and has real chicken as the main ingredient. Puppy Chow’s Tender & Crunchy Dog Food is well-priced and contains 100% of the nutrients that puppies need, including the all-important DHA. Lastly, Rachel Ray’s Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Dog Food is our pick for premium choice because it’s affordable yet comes with high-quality ingredients.
Hopefully, our reviews will help you find the food that your puppy will love and that you can afford. Keep in mind, however, that your puppy’s health is the most important factor when choosing food for them.
- 10 Best Puppy Milk Replacers – Reviews & Top Picks
- 8 Best Puppy Foods for Sensitive Stomachs – Reviews & Top Picks
Featured Image Credit: Gladskikh Tatiana, Shutterstock