What is the Best Puppy Food in Australia?
As we continue to push for better regulation in the Australian pet food industry it can be hard to trust many pet food brands, and if you’re new to dog ownership then the reams of different brands and types of pet foods is a mind boggling minefield. If you feel that way, then you’ve come to the right place!
As a qualified pet nutritionist I make the recommendations on this page primarily based on ingredients and composition, but also from consumer feedback over time. If you have experience with any of these brands (positive or negative) make sure you leave a comment.
There are no hard and fast rules when feeding a puppy, but in terms of commercial foods you must feed either a puppy formula or an all life stage formula. If in doubt, stick to a puppy formula for the first 1 or 2 years.
So what is the best puppy food in Australia? Should you feed one brand of food or a variety? What treats are safe to give your puppy?
Read on and hopefully you’ll have enough information to decide what’s best for you and your pup!
- What to Feed a Puppy
- What is the Best Puppy Food in Australia?
- Where to buy puppy food in Australia
- Foods to avoid feeding your puppy
- About the Best Puppy Food in Australia List
- Nutrition Analysis of the Best Puppy Foods
- We Care What You Think – Your Feedback is Useful!
What to Feed a Puppy
If you’ve never had a dog before then you’re probably feeling very daunted. There’s so much conflicting information, so many brands, types of food, and feeding options.
Don’t worry, I’ll offer a few very simple tips to make you feel at ease, and our Best Puppy Food list below will offer you an excellent start no matter which one you pick.
Let’s start with some handy bullet points:
- If feeding a dry or wet food, only feed a Puppy Formula or All Life Stages formula. If neither of these are on the packaging then the food will not contain the nutrition required for the puppy phase.
- Avoid cheap dry puppy food brands. The puppy phase (up to 1 year) is critical for the long term health of your dog. If you feed them a cheap food now it will likely cost you tenfold in years to come.
- Avoid anything with “Wheat”, “Cereals”, or “Cereal By-Products”. If a food is formulated with these ingredients then they’re not very healthy for your pup.
- Feed a variety! This is often overlooked as many continue to feed whatever the breeder suggested, or worse whatever the shelter fed the puppy. Feeding the same product continuously is never a good idea, although this is what most people believe is correct.
- Do not feed your puppy any of the foods listed further down on this page.
Water is absolutely vital to the health of your puppy, so make sure you clean and refill the bowl at least once a day. As a nutritionist I would recommend spring water due to the mineral content, but if that sounds extravagant then tap water will do (it’s the norm after all).
Dry Puppy Food
Dry food is the most convenient, but quality ranges significantly. Don’t be fooled into thinking an expensive brand is much better than a cheaper brand, as more often than not they’re still high in grains, high in carbohydrates (sugars), and not overly species appropriate.
That said, there are some really good dry puppy foods available with a focus on meat, protein, and fat (the stuff your puppy really does need), and the list a bit further below will offer you a good starting point.
Most puppy owners opt for dry food out of convenience, but as a convenience food don’t assume it has to be their entire diet. It can, however, make a good and reliable base during the puppy phase.
While your puppy is growing they have a huge dependency on nutrition to grow into a healthy adult dog. Make sure you pick a decent food, or perhaps rotate between different brands to offer variety and build up tolerance to different foodstuffs (pet food manufacturers advise against this because they want you to feed their product for the life of your dog).
When introducing a new food (especially dry food) it’s common to see a few bouts of diarrhoea. Keep in mind this is often because your puppy’s digestive system is adapting to the new food, but keep a close eye as it can also mean the food isn’t good.
Wet Puppy Food
Wet food is usually better than the dry counterpart from the same manufacturer. Avoid the trays you find in the supermarket and opt for cans by more premium manufacturers.
Many dogs suffer in later years from an exclusive wet food diet (particularly small and toy breeds where this is more common), with periodontal disease being common from lack of abrasion in the diet which in nature they get from chewing on bones.
Having wet food in the diet can be beneficial. As mentioned before, add variety – mix it up!
Most of the reviews on this website are for dry foods, but usually the wet offerings from the same company are just as good if not better.
It might be worth avoiding raw in the first few months unless you know what you’re doing, but many start to slowly introduce it as the puppy grows. For those inexperienced with raw feeding or making your puppy food at home, then BARF patties are a safe option but a little more costly than a homemade diet.
BARF patties are frozen “raw” foods which are found at most pet stores and pet shops these days.
I used to hear all the time that you can’t feed kibble with raw (a fallacy which likely stemmed from pet food manufacturers), but time has shown many pet owners to do this with no issues whatsoever. Myself included.
When finding a BARF patty I recommend opting for human grade meats due to the poor standards of Australian pet grade meats. Thankfully many BARF patties these days use high quality ingredients, even commonly found brands like Proudi and Big Dog.
There’s been a growing trend in recent years to feed a dog what they would’ve eaten in the wild – fresh meats, organs, blood, and bones. There is so much nutrition in a raw diet, but if you choose to go this route then make sure you research heavily. There’s plenty of information and recipes on the Internet which will really help you, and some excellent social media groups – join them!
An excellent starting point for feeding raw is the book Work Wonders by Australian veterinarian Tom Lonsdale. It’s the best no-nonsense account of feeding a dog I’ve come across, and a great base for understanding the nutritional needs of your dog.
More reading material can be found here.
In olden days (not so long ago), many dogs lived off table scraps. Feeding your dog some nutritious foodstuffs along the way can be very beneficial, but use common sense. Non-processed meats, eggs, fish (be careful of bones), tuna, sardines, veggies, all have beneficial qualities. Just make sure you avoid foodstuffs which can be bad for a pup, such as chocolate, cooked bones, processed meats (easy on the sausages) – more information later. Most of it is common sense if you consider your dog to be essentially a meat eating animal (what I consider a facultative carnivore).
Supermarket (and pet store) treats don’t conform to any requirements, and given they’re designed for occasional feeding only it’s often overlooked the harm they can do if fed in excess.
Boiled chicken is an excellent treat, and your dog will love you for that as much as they would a commercial treat made from wheat, sugar, and chemicals. Healthy and nutritious is the best way!
There are some excellent freeze dried treats available but they come at a cost. If you can, opt for freeze dried mussels or some form of freeze dried meat without additives.
What is the Best Puppy Food in Australia?
The following list of decent dry puppy foods is in no particular order, and any should make an excellent base for your puppy’s diet. All are specifically formulated for puppies (I mentioned earlier All Life Stages foods will also meet minimum nutritional requirements for the puppy phase).
Feel free to pick one, or perhaps rotate between a few.
I’ll separate recommendations into “Super Premium” and “Premium / Affordable” to cater for differing budgets and breeds (it’s much easier to feed miniature dogs a super premium food for example). Cheaper foods than the ones listed below would generally sacrifice on quality, but if your budget is tight have a read of How to Feed a Dog for tips on feeding a healthy diet on a budget. Just do the best you can during the vital puppy/growth phase.
Quick note – the words “Premium” and “Ultra Premium” you’ll find on pretty much all brands of pet foods these days. Keep in mind they’re marketing words when it comes to pet food products, and are generally meaningless.
There are other worthy puppy foods in Australia – let us know what you feed in the comments below!
Super Premium Puppy Foods
These recommendations really are “top-end”, with a price tag to match. If you have a large hungry breed like a Labrador you may find these brands very expensive, but keep in mind you can feed these as at least part of the diet. Don’t be afraid of offering your puppy a variety of foods.
Lyka is an Australian pet food who offer a deliver-to-your-door service tailored to your dog. It’s essentially fresh food rather than a dry dog food product, and it’s definitely one of the best you can get in Australia today. It’s human grade, ethical, and also carbon-neutral so good for the planet!
Read the full Lyka dog food review.
Frontier Pets are another ground-breaking Australian company who support ethical farming and a product designed for the health of your dog. It’s a freeze-dried dog food which in short means it has an excellent health life but also retains perfect nutrition (unlike kibble which is cooked at high temperatures). The ingredients of Frontier Pets really show how good this human-grade dog food is, with a focus on meat rather than carbohydrates and fillers. Your dog is essentially a carnivore after all.
In terms of “dry” dog foods Frontier Pets is one of the absolute best!
Frontier Pets is a mail-order dog food which you won’t find in stores. They sell direct to you as a consumer in order to keep costs down, which is necessary for such a premium dog food. A good starting point is to try their Puppy Starter Pack (clicky).
Read the full Frontier Pets dog food review.
ZiwiPEAK dog food is air-dried, so nearly up there with the quality of freeze-drying. They’re a New Zealand company and it’s a big brand sold worldwide. ZiwiPEAK products have a focus on meat as the key ingredients, with a range of nutritious inclusions. New Zealand foods often contain fantastic ingredients like green-lipped mussels which go a long way to improving joint health and organ development of puppies.
Read the full ZiwiPEAK dog food review.
Orijen is an American company and one of the most high-end kibbles sold worldwide. It has an excellent track record with an incredible list of “whole prey” ingredients. The caveat is it’s one of the most expensive kibbles you can buy, but keep in mind you can feed other foods as well.
Read the full Orijen dog food review.
Premium Puppy Foods (more affordable)
The following recommended puppy foods are more affordable than the above “super premium” recommendations. They’re all kibbles and would make a good base diet, but don’t need to be the whole diet. Feel free to add other types of food to the diet as you see fit, such as wet, barf, and species-appropriate fresh food ingredients.
Healthy Everyday Pets Puppy
Always keep in mind your dog is essentially a carnivore. You can argue they’re more omnivore than cats, but in fact on the omnivore to carnivore scale they’re much closer to cats as obligate carnivores than they are to us as omnivores. If you don’t believe me, take a look at those great big teeth and consider what they’re for.
Healthy Everyday Pets strive to make food for our dogs which mimics their natural diet, with a whopping amount of meat. Other pet food manufacturers make excuses, but that’s because meat is a much more expensive ingredient than stuff like peas, and they don’t want to eat into their profit margins.
Healthy Everyday Pets Puppy is an Australian company, made in Australia, and well worth considering.
Read the full Healthy Everyday Pets dog food review.
Taste of the Wild Puppy
Last, but definitely not least is another high quality brand imported to Australia from the US – Taste of the Wild.
Taste of the Wild has a couple of puppy formulas, both of which are excellent. It’s a solid and reliable puppy food with a good reputation having been sold worldwide for many years.
Taste of the Wild is well priced and shouldn’t break the bank, and as far as this list goes is priced somewhere in the middle.
Read the full Taste of the Wild dog food review.
Canidae Pure Foundations
This food has been around for quite some time and sold worldwide. I’ve often recommended it, and have never heard any bad feedback. Like other Canidae foods, it seems to sit well with dogs suffering intolerances and skin conditions. It’s based on chicken and menhaden fish meal (an excellent fish ingredient), with lentils and peas. This is a great option across the board, and it’s grain free as well.
Canidae is an American brand imported to Australia. America has better standards than Australia so there are small assurances there, but in terms of Canidae it benefits from a long standing excellent reputation.
Read the full Canidae PURE dog food review.
Meals for Pups
Meals for Pups is the Meals for Mutts puppy formula, one of the few Australian brands available. It’s based on turkey as a lean meat and salmon & sardine which is great for protein and vital nutrients including omega fats.
30% protein is really good to see and testament to there being a decent amount of meat in the food, although the Australian definition for “meat” is any part of the animal that contains protein.
Brown rice is an excellent choice of grain, far more superior to white rice, and the food as a whole is well rounded inclusive of fruits, veggies, essential fats and oils. I’ve been impressed by the Meals for Mutts nutritionist Bill before, he’s well versed on pet nutrition.
A similar brand worth mentioning (and formulated by the same nutritionist) is LifeWise. It’s another worthy option, Australian owned and made, just a little harder to get than Meals for Mutts.
Read the full Meals for Mutts dog food review.
I mentioned Orijen Puppy earlier as one of the absolute best dry puppy foods you can buy, but also the jaw-dropping price tag. Thankfully the company has a sister brand which is a little more affordable, and that’s the highly regarded ACANA.
ACANA Puppy may still seem expensive, but it’s a very good start to the life of your dog. The ingredients are really good, and the reputation of the company is testament to the quality of their dog foods.
Read the full ACANA dog food review.
Applaws is available in the supermarkets, and it’s by far one of the better foods you’ll find on the shelves. Being a supermarket offering means it falls within a value-for-money price bracket and is probably the cheapest and most readily available on this list. That said, it has the quality of some of the foods you’ll find in the pet shops and specialist shops.
Applaws is an English company, but their Australian dog and cat foods are made in their Australian facility.
Read the full Applaws dog food review.
Where to buy puppy food in Australia
Most people buy dog foods in the supermarket. The problem with this is the target demographic for supermarkets are people who tend to buy a product based on price, which in terms of dog food is without consideration of quality. Many supermarket brands are made by Mars or Nestle (yes, the chocolate bar companies), and in Australia the rest will likely be from our biggest manufacturer The Real Pet Food Co. Unfortunately most of these brands keep the cost down by sacrificing quality ingredients (meats) with cheaper alternatives (grains and by-products).
Thankfully it’s very easy to buy most of the dog foods reviewed on this website from one of the leading pet food retailers. Pet Circle are our largest online retailer and often the cheapest, with My Pet Warehouse a close second. Most online retailers offer free delivery to your door if you spend over $50. The best thing about online retailers is they’re very competitive, often with many brands on sale. The reviews on this website check current prices, so check back whenever you’re about to stock up!
Petbarn also offer home delivery (saves you lugging a 20kg bag of dog food), and also click and collect if that’s preferable for you.
Local pet supermarkets are an option, but in many ways fall foul of the same problems with supermarket dog foods. Usually these stores offer one or two really good brands, but most will still be Mars, Nestle, or Colgate Palmolive who make the Hill’s products. You’ll also find unique brands, such as Leaps & Bounds in Petbarn, which are usually from the same Australian manufacturer I mentioned earlier.
Independent pet stores are well worth considering if you have a good one locally. Not only is it good to support local Australian businesses, but they’re often more knowledgeable on pet nutrition and will likely recommend and stock better brands. Just make sure you check our reviews as well as sometimes brands change over time (for example: one brand we used to highly recommend established a very loyal following based on our review, but when the company was bought up by a big manufacturer it seemed clear the quality dropped significantly. Unfortunately that brand is still recommended by many pet stores).
Lastly but not leastly, a number of really good dog food brands have sprung up which offer delivery straight to your door. These companies cut out the middle men (supermarkets or pet stores) in order to keep costs down. It’s a win win for them and for you, especially as some pet stores take as much as 40% of the profits.
Foods to avoid feeding your puppy
As a simple rule consider your puppy an animal which can be considered carnivorous in nature (they’re from the order carnivora). With a historical whole prey diet keep in mind the best foods to feed a puppy revolve around that specific diet and the contents of whole prey (which can be grains, vegetables, and so forth to a small extent).
Avoid feeding any food you know to have health implications for yourself – sweets, sugar, alcohol, etc.
Some foods are healthy for us but very unhealthy for your dog, so pay close attention to the following list.
- Alcohol – it’s bad for us, and very bad for your dog. Unfortunately dogs will drink alcohol so don’t leave any lying around. It can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, difficulty breathing, loss of coordination (just like us), but also central nervous system depression, abnormal blood acidity, coma, or even death.
- Avocado Skin, Leaves, & Pits – the fruit of an avocado has numerous health benefits for a dog, but whatever you do do not feed the skin, pit, or leaves of an avocado plant. They are as dangerous for a dog as they are for us.
- Bones (cooked) – A very simple and important rule – never feed your dog cooked bones. The reason is simple as they can splinter and cause damage. When feeding bones always feed them raw, always make sure they are appropriate to your size and breed of dog, and it is highly recommended you monitor them while eating a bone.
- Caffeine – not only do dogs not need caffeine to stay awake, it is dangerous to a dog due to methylxanthines (found in coffee plants). Excessive coffee can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, panting, hyperactivity, excessive thirst, abnormal heart rhythm, or more severe reactions can include seizures or death.
- Chocolate – this is another food containing methylxanthines and can cause the symptoms mentioned above. Dark chocolate is particularly harmful to a dog, but all chocolate needs to be avoided.
- Citrus – it’s uncommon for a dog to eat citrus based plants or fruits, but if they do it can lead to irritation and potentially central nervous system depression. This is inclusive of seeds, stems, peels, and leaves, not just the fruit.
- Coconut oil and coconut – you may notice many modern dog food diets contain coconut oil, which in moderation is beneficial. Some dogs can be allergic to coconut, and in excessive amounts can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea in any dog. Also be cautious of coconut water as it contains potassium levels which are too high for your dog.
- Fruit pits – these can commonly cause an obstruction in the digestive tract and may need to be surgically removed. Be careful of any fruits containing pits, such as peaches and plums.
- Garlic – You’ll hear all over social media that garlic is bad for dogs, but in truth this is only in excessive quantities (I read the research many years ago, and for an average dog it was considered about 70 cloves to be harmful). In moderation however, garlic has positive health benefits and helps to ward off parasites. The reason for the concern is organosulphoxide in garlic which in high doses can be a poison to dogs (also see Onion & Chives).
- Macadamia Nuts, Peanuts, & Other Nuts – Macadamia nuts must be avoided as they can cause a number of issues with a dog such as vomiting, depression, and weakness. A cautionary note on peanuts as like humans it is possible for a dog to be allergic. Nuts should not be fed in excess due to having a high fat and oil content (particularly Walnuts, Almonds, and Pecans).
- Milk & Dairy – more a cautionary note, but some dogs can be lactose intolerant and may not be able to break down the lactose in milk. Symptoms can be diarrhoea but other digestive issues may arise.
- Onion & Chives – in excessive quantities these ingredients can lead to gastrointestinal problems and red blood cell damage. They contain organosulphoxide which is a poison to dogs.
- Persimmons – these may lodge in the digestive system and lead to enteritis.
- Raisins, Currants, Sultanas, & Grapes – these fruits contain toxins which can lead to kidney failure in dogs.
- Rhubarb leaves – these are poisonous for us, and the same is the case for our dogs. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalates which affect the digestive and nervous system.
- Salt – it’s bad for us, it’s even worse for dogs. In a dry food salt will be around 1% of the formula, but in excess will cause excessive urination, thirst, and possibly sodium ion poisoning. Initial symptoms can be vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to a high temperature, seizures, and worst case death.
- Xylitol – this is a sugar alcohol used in a number of products, usually as a sweetener. It is commonly found in sweets, chewing gum, toothpaste, as well as other food products. In dogs it causes an insulin release, can cause hypoglycaemia, low blood sugar, or liver failure. Visible signs can be vomiting and diarrhoea, but also lethargy and poor coordination.
- Yeast – this can be harmful to your dog as stomach gas may cause it to rise in the digestive system. This can lead to bloat or twisting, and in some cases can be life threatening.
About the Best Puppy Food in Australia List
Firstly, this list will change periodically as new dog foods are introduced, formulas change, or feedback changes. We constantly monitor consumer feedback and recalls and adjust the list accordingly. Check back regularly!
Nutrition Analysis of the Best Puppy Foods
All the foods on the list must meet our stringent criteria. In a nutshell, here are a few:
- Must conform to AAFCO standards for puppy phase.
- Must have sufficient protein and fat.
- Must have sufficient meat ingredients.
- Must not contain any nasty or ambiguous ingredients.
- Must avoid allergenic or problematic ingredients.
- Must have a long standing reputation and good consumer feedback.
We Care What You Think – Your Feedback is Useful!
The Best Puppy Food list depends on your ongoing feedback. Many people contact us daily with feedback or consumer issues. These are valuable to us and help us adjust ratings accordingly. In the past, sadly, highly rated brands have suffered from formula changes, ingredient changes, or manufacturer changes. If you’re aware of any problems – let us know.
All reviews are independent and unbiased from a qualified pet nutritionist, using analysis of the ingredients and composition. The reviews aim to inform you what the ingredients really mean, and what they really say based on Australian Pet Food Standards AS 5812 and pet food marketing regulations.
As a free resources which takes a great deal of time, if you decide to buy a puppy food based on the information on this website, then we would be grateful if you use one of the affiliate links or “Where to buy” recommendations – thank you!
I hope this guide has got you started on your puppy journey, and you have some insight into what is the best puppy food in Australia. Variety is always a good thing, and if in doubt – read the ingredients!