New puppy? What’s the best puppy food?

Are you as confused as I was when I got my first puppy? 🐶🤯

There are literally dozens of puppy foods in Australia, and pretty much all of them have claims on the bag saying how great and healthy they are. But are they?

Then you go on Social Media and ask for advice, only to be swamped with feed this, don’t feed that, that’s not healthy! 😬

WTF do you do? What will you feed the new furball you’re now responsible for? You want him to live a long, healthy life after all… but you don’t know where to start.

Don’t worry – the simple fact you’re researching and reading this is a sign you’re on the right track.

I’ve researched and reviewed puppy foods for years, and can hopefully point you in the right direction. I wouldn’t say there’s a best puppy food in Australia, but I can offer some great recommendations on better puppy foods.

I’ll also offer some invaluable puppy feeding tips to help you choose the best puppy food, so stick around and keep reading!

Firstly, what’s a “puppy food”?

For the first year or two the nutritional needs of your puppy are really important. They need more protein, more fat, and more nutrients in this phase of life to give them the best start.

That’s why choosing the best puppy food is so important – you’re giving them the best start in life, and it should pay off for years to come.

Puppy foods differ from adult foods because they have more meat, more fat, and less carbohydrates. Basically, they’re better than adult dog foods.

You don’t want to feed any dog food labelled as “Adult”, as this won’t meet the nutritional needs of your puppy.

Some dog foods are labelled “All Life Stages” which means they meet the nutritional needs of puppies as well as adults.

Good tip for when your pup grows up 👉 “All Life Stage” dog foods usually have better ingredients than regular “Adult” dog foods!

Best of the best puppy foods!

I’ll make some recommendations here of what I’ve found to be the best of the best when it comes to puppy foods in Australia.

If you want the best you can buy, money no object, then these are hands down some of the best puppy foods you can buy. I’ve found these foods to completely turn a dog’s health around, which really shows how good they are.

Consumer feedback is excellent for these puppy foods, and I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong with them.

If you’re on a budget, don’t worry. Many of us feed a top food like these as part of the diet. There’s no reason your puppy shouldn’t be fed a variety of foods, and combining one of these with a more affordable puppy food is totally an option. Add variety!

I’m pretty sure these recommendations are some of the best, healthiest puppy foods in Australia today (and trust me, I’ve researched!).

#1 Lyka – Fresh, delivered to your door!

Best puppy food Australia - Lyka
Lyka

I love this company. They’re basically Hello Fresh for dogs!

If you want your puppy eating human grade, ethical, and carbon-neutral dinners, then Lyka really is a great choice. Being a fresh, slightly cooked puppy food it offers you less risk of handling raw meats, and being delivered to your door makes it really convenient.

Lyka comes as “bowls” rather than being a traditional bag of puppy food. Each bowl is a mix tailored to your puppy, made from the stuff they really should be eating – meat, heart, liver, plus a range of really beneficial ingredients.

The puppy recipes may vary, but you’ll likely find sardines, fish or other beneficial oils, plus a range of other great ingredients added for the benefit of your puppy.

I find Lyka really hard to fault, and feedback has been amazing. I’ve recommended this to people with sick dogs, only to have them contact me a couple of weeks later with astounding results. It’s heartwarming, and I’m glad companies like Lyka exist in Australia.

Benefits:

  • Fresh food tailored for your puppy really takes the effort out of feeding your new pup!
  • Delivered to your door so you can spend more time playing with your puppy rather than making them fancy meals!
  • Made mostly of meat and organs which is what your puppy should be eating.
  • Well chosen veggies, oils, and other ingredients to benefit the health of your puppy in the vital growth phase.
  • So easy, so convenient, so healthy – it takes away all the effort completely.

Lyka is only available directly from their website, and as a special Pet Food Reviews deal:

Read the full Lyka dog food review.

#3 Orijen Puppy – Seriously the BEST kibble!

Best puppy food in Australia - Orijen Puppy
Orijen Puppy Food

I had to have a dry food in this list, and Orijen is by far the best puppy food in terms of your regular, convenient, kibble.

In most dry puppy foods you’ll find ominous ingredients like cereal grains, by-products, and rendered meats of dubious quality. Your puppy will eat this stuff if you give it to them, but whether it will lead to long term tip-top health is questionable.

Orijen Puppy comes at a price, but it’s jam packed with whole-prey ingredients – chicken, turkey, flounder, cage-free eggs, mackerel, chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, herring, and more.

I haven’t just cherry picked the ingredients either, that’s how they read on the bag. It’s simply an amazing dry food, and nothing else in Australia comes close.

I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s been around for many years with amazing customer feedback and loyalty, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. In terms of dry food it’s hands down the best puppy food.

Oh, and there’s a large breed formula too, so they cater for all sizes, all breeds.

Benefits:

  • 38% protein and 20% fat is astounding for a dry food, and great for your puppy.
  • Whole-prey ingredients, like nature intended.
  • 85% animal ingredients, 15% vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. No grains for your meat-loving pup!
  • Ingredients speak for themselves.
  • As a dry food you also benefit from easy storage, convenience, and easy feeding.

Read the full Orijen dog food review.

#3 Frontier Pets – The next best thing to raw!

Best puppy food Australia - Frontier Pets
Frontier Pets

I flew from Perth to Brisbane, hired a car, and drove all the way to Evans Head in NSW to meet Di who founded Frontier Pets and see the factory.

The reason I did that is because I see them as being one of the most amazing Australian dog food companies. Time and consumer feedback has shown this to be 100% the case, and I highly recommend Frontier Pets to new puppy owners who want the best in health and nutrition – it will pay dividends.

So why is Frontier Pets one of the best puppy foods in Australia?

Firstly, the food is made from all the stuff your puppy should be eating which is meat, organs, tripe, plus well select fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices to keep your puppy happy, active, and healthy.

Secondly, being freeze-dried offers you so much convenience. It’s a process which takes out the moisture while leaving nutrition completely intact, which for you as the consumer means it keeps for literally ages. You just add water before feeding.

Frontier Pets is the best way to feed your puppy a nutritious raw diet without actually mucking around with raw (and who likes chopping up heart, liver, and tripe).

Actually, when it comes to super-nutritious tripe, most raw feeders avoid it because in it’s fresh form absolutely stinks. It’s a shame really, because it’s a fantastic thing to feed your puppy.

I’ve fed Frontier Pets many times to my dogs over the years. It’s not even as expensive as it may seem, and you’ll probably find the bag lasts longer than you’d expect.

You can even add some raw meaty bones to your puppy’s diet, which is a great way to boost health, clean their teeth, and stop them chewing chair legs and ankles.

Out of the top picks Frontier Pets is definitely the best all-rounder, having both the nutrition of a raw diet, and the convenience of kibble!

Benefits:

  • Convenience of kibble, nutrition of raw – you don’t get easier than that!
  • Packed with meat, organs, and tripe which are what you should be feeding your puppy as a meat-eating animal.
  • It’s not as expensive as you think – without moisture it’s just the good, nutritious stuff.
  • Long shelf life so it will keep for ages, like a kibble.
  • Just add water, and your puppy will love clean, fresh water.

Frontier Pets can be ordered here. A great starting point is the puppy starter pack!

Read the full Frontier Pets dog food review.

Really good, “affordable” puppy foods

I’ll use the term “affordable” loosely, as it really depends on what you can afford, and if you have a large breed puppy or more than one then price will always be a factor.

After all, most of us can’t offer our puppies the best puppy foods – that’s just life.

But we can do our best!

The puppy foods listed below have proven to hold their own, and I’ve had great feedback for all these brands. The ingredients in all of them are decent, and should offer your puppy a good start in life.

You’ll find cheaper puppy foods, but most will be made from ingredients like cereals and by-products which aren’t great for your dog – and the real cost of these are when your puppy reaches middle age and starts suffering from ill health. You don’t want that, which is why I’m recommended these “affordable” puppy foods.

Personally I’ve found rotating between different puppy foods very beneficial – not only to balance nutrition, but it also helps you take advantage of what’s on sale.

Most retailers, especially the big online ones like Pet Circle and My Pet Warehouse, always have something on sale. In fact, I’ve used Pet Circle to determine price per kilo, which is a really useful feature.

#1 ACANA Puppy – Top spot!

Best affordable puppy food - ACANA Puppy
ACANA Puppy

What I love most about ACANA for puppies is it’s so balanced, with a whole range of decent ingredients.

It’s made mostly from chicken and turkey, but also fish like flounder and pollock. You’ll also find chicken broth and cage-free eggs – all good stuff.

It has great protein of 33%, and fat of 20%. This is what your puppy needs to grow, and also means they’re not eating loads of high-carbohydrate grains.

Speaking of grains, there aren’t any. That’s good, because your puppy doesn’t need them, and instead we find a mix of healthy stuff which will help them build immunity, strength, and wellbeing.

Ok, so it’s not the cheapest “affordable” puppy food at $1.27 per 100g for the 11.3kg bag, so if that’s an issue check out the #2 pick below!

Oh, and I fed ACANA to my puppy, which gives me confidence recommending it to you too.

Benefits:

  • Excellent 33% protein and 20% fat ensures your puppy is getting what they need to grow! Low carbs!
  • Great mix of meat, fish, eggs, with legumes to give your puppy a balanced diet with the health benefits of fish and eggs.
  • Even a small amount of turkey livers which are super healthy for your pup!
  • No grains – your puppy is better off with a meat-based diet.
  • Lots of fruits, veggies, and stuff like turmeric as an immunity boost.
  • Good reputation should offer you consumer confidence.
  • Made by the same company who make Orijen (from the “best of the best puppy food” section)!

Read the full ACANA dog food review.

#2 Canidae All Life Stages – Big Bag!

Best affordable puppy food - Canidae All Life Stages
Canidae All Life Stages

Canidae All Life Stages (ALS) is definitely a great choice if you’re on a budget, coming in at $0.52/100g (at Pet Circle) which is under half the price of ACANA Puppy as the #1 pick!

The reason for this is Canidae All Life Stages comes in one bag size – the 20kg Big Bag!

That makes it a great option if you have a large breed puppy or a more active breed.

For smaller or less active puppies this isn’t for you, and the kibble will likely spoil before you feed it all (generally you want to finish a bag within 4 weeks tops).

The tradeoff with Canidae All Life Stages is it doesn’t have as much meat as you’d think.

It has three meat ingredients to 7 non-meat ingredients which are mostly rice, oats, barley, peas, and potato.

That said, it’s good to have a mix, and there’s nothing stopping you adding in some fresh meats, organs, or other puppy foods.

Canidae has consistently shown positive consumer feedback for years. In fact, I was feeding it to my dog over 10 years ago – it was good then, and still is.

Benefits:

  • Best value for money and the convenience of a big 20kg bag
  • Good reputation which offers you consumer confidence.
  • A good mix of meat and fish to offer your puppy a variety of proteins and the health benefits of fish
  • 24% protein and 10% fat

Read the full Canidae ALS dog food review.

#3 Taste of the Wild Puppy – Best all-rounder?

Best affordable puppy foods - Taste of the Wild Puppy
Taste Of The Wild Puppy

If the #1 pick was too expensive, and #2 didn’t fit the bill either, then you’ll love this puppy food – Taste of the Wild.

It’s my best all round choice, coming in at $0.85/100g in the 12.2kg bag (at Pet Circle) which is really good, and as a brand sold worldwide you should have comfort in established consumer confidence.

Taste of the Wild doesn’t have the same meat content as ACANA Puppy, but it still has a good mix of ingredients.

In the High Prairie Puppy formula you’ll find water buffalo as a novel meat source, as well as lamb, venison, and ocean fish meal.

Truth be told it doesn’t quite seem to have the meat content as ACANA Puppy, but when you consider the price difference it’s hard not to see Taste of the Wild Puppy as the better option!

Benefits:

  • 28% protein and 17% fat which is great for your puppy’s growth, health, and wellbeing!
  • Grain free and not full of fillers your puppy doesn’t need.
  • Good mix of meat, fish, and oils which are what your puppy should be eating.
  • Good price for a puppy food, meaning you can spend more money on puppy toys!

Read the full Taste of the Wild dog food review.

#4 Healthy Everyday Pets Puppy – High protein Aussie puppy food!

Best affordable puppy foods - Healthy Everyday Pets Puppy
Healthy Everyday Pets Puppy

It’s great to see Australian dog foods rivalling some of the big worldwide brands. Healthy Everyday Pets are one such company, putting some of the other Australian brands to shame.

The company was created by Superman’s personal trainer (I kid you not!), who was baffled about how much grains and carbs were in most dog foods on the shelves. We all know how bad carbs are, right?

The great thing about Healthy Everyday Pets Puppy is the amount of protein from meat, and it’s grain free to boot. This puppy formula has the most protein at 35%, and 15% fat.

It’s a little pricier than the other picks above, at the time of writing $1.11/100g (at Pet Circle) for the 12kg bag. That’s on sale as well, so you may find it a bit more when you check the price.

Although Healthy Everyday Pets Puppy doesn’t have the range of meats and fish like you do with ACANA and Taste of the Wild Puppy, it does have added egg, probiotics, and prebiotics (good for gut health), and the wonderful omega-rich green lipped mussels.

Benefits:

  • 35% protein and 15% fat which makes it the most protein of all the recommended “affordable” puppy foods – puppy’s need protein to grow!

Read the full Healthy Everyday Pets dog food review.

Invaluable puppy feeding tips

My best tip – whenever you decide to change your dog food, make sure you come back here and read the review. You might be surprised at what trickery goes on with pet food marketing!

You can bookmark with CTRL + D (on Windows) and Alien Key + Alien Key on Macs.

When you read a review, make sure you read the comments too. The proof is in those who’ve fed a food.

Choosing the best puppy food is more about a little knowledge, and a little thought, so here are some invaluable puppy feeding tips to help you out:

#1 Think of your puppy as a carnivore

I’m sure pet food manufacturers would love us to believe our dogs are omnivores like us, especially as non-meat foods are cheap inclusions in dog foods.

Just take a look at your new puppy. Yes, they’re cute. Yes, they’re cuddly. But look at those jaws, those teeth. Do they look like your jaws, your teeth?

I’m guessing the conclusion you came to was no, they’re not like us, and those gnashers look better for chewing on meat, organs, and bones.

When you think of your dog as a carnivore in this way, it will help you pick the right food.

Always opt for a food with more meat, and less other stuff.

#2 Always read the ingredients

It’s such a simple tip, but something perhaps 1% of new puppy owners will do. Probably less!

Always look on the front of the bag – what does it tell you. Then turn it over, read the ingredients, and see if they tell a different story.

They probably do.

From reading the reviews on this website you’ll learn the many tricks of the trade which convince us a dog food is better than it is.

A good example is “Meat first ingredient” which you’ll see often, but when the ingredients read meat, grain, grain, grain, grain it means there actually isn’t much meat!

#3 Why feed the same food every day?

Do you ever wonder why we feed our dogs the same food for their whole lives? Doesn’t it sound silly if I suggest you should eat the same thing all the time?

In fact, I see many health issues occur in dogs which are likely the result of an unvaried diet.

If we eat a food which contains some kind of toxin we probably won’t notice it. If we kept eating that food, day after day, from the same packet, then it could be a different story.

Why hasn’t anyone developed the perfect “complete and balanced” food for us humans? Guaranteed to meet all our complex nutritional needs?

How convenient would that be?

And how bland…

In human nutrition studies there’s plenty of evidence eating the same food for a long period, or not eating a specific food for a long period, can lead to intolerances.

It’s the same for our dogs.

I can’t tell you how many times people have complained their dog didn’t eat a new food, or the new food made their dog vomit, without considering the dog had probably been on a diet of by-products and wheat for many years.

Vets don’t consider diet as a cause of illness either. Not many, anyway.

They should – we’d probably have a much greater awareness of terrible pet foods if that were the case.

#4 Don’t be afraid to experiment

Don’t be afraid to try different foods, or different styles of food. There’s no reason you shouldn’t try different things, like mixing kibble with mince, feeding sardines for breakfast, or taking a venture into the world of raw feeding.

Simply adding eggs or chicken broth to a kibble can work wonders for the health of your puppy!

#5 You can only do your best!

Taking on a puppy is a responsibility, and you’ll likely feel uncertain at times. You may feel you’re not offering the puppy the best food, and perhaps the brands I mentioned in the “best of the best puppy foods” section are simply not affordable.

Don’t worry!

You can only do your best!

Simply following some of the tips in this section will help boost the health and wellbeing of your puppy!

Over time you’ll figure out ways to improve your puppy’s diet, take advantage of meats, organs, meaty bones, fish, chicken broth, or even some of those foods reduced at the supermarket. I do!

Different styles of puppy food

There are many styles of puppy food, from commercial dry foods to all out raw feeding. In this section we’ll look at the different styles, with pros and cons.

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.

Fresh water

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.

BARF Patties

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.

Raw

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.

Fresh Foods

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).

Treats

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.

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.

I care what you thing – feedback, please!

Best Puppy Food Australia

The best puppy food recommendations depend on your ongoing feedback.

Many people contact me daily with feedback or consumer issues, and I do my best to keep track of that data.

This feedback is valuable to providing decent, reliable information on this website, and in turn help other pet owners like us.

Your feedback helps me adjust ratings on the reviews accordingly, and they do change over time.

In the past, sadly, highly rated brands have suffered formula changes, ingredient changes, or manufacturer changes, and shown a change in quality.

If you’re aware of any problems – let me know.

All reviews are independent and unbiased by myself. I’m a qualified pet nutritionist, but given there are no qualifications in pet food marketing per se, most reviews simply analyse the ingredients and composition, often in reference to pet food standards.

Hopefully the reviews give you a good idea of what the ingredients really mean, and what they really say based on Australian Pet Food Standards AS 5812 and pet food marketing regulations.

Or in other words, tell you what the pet food companies don’t tell you.

Pet Food Reviews is a free resource to you as a pet owner, but it takes up a great deal of time – huge amounts over the past 10 or so years! If you decide to buy one of the best puppy foods based on the information on this page, then I’d be super 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!

22 Comments
  1. The link for the review of meals for mutts puppy food takes me to a page with a product description but not a full review. Can the full review be accessed somewhere else?

  2. Hi Guys,

    I’ve had Proudi balanced raw recommended to me to wean/feed to my puppies but I can’t find an actual review on the website apart from a brief mention in your “What’s best to feed puppies” section. Have you done a comprehensive review? I currently use raw goat milk, Frontier Pets and Ziwi Peak with human grade raw mince for training treats but am concerned with getting the balance right and believe the less processed the better. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for the valuable work that you do.

  3. Hi guys. We recently tried Orijen and my boy is now suddenly keen on the idea of dry food which is great.. as a side note it actually smells totally different to any other dry food I’ve opened and I was pleasantly surprised at how fresh and meaty it smelled so I really appreciate all the good advice I’ve been getting from this site.

    The reason I’m commenting though, is that I remembered the note about how expensive Orijen is in this guide when I was doing some costings and calculations on splitting his food between a couple of different types so I thought I’d share the thought and results for anyone that’s watching their budget and attempting to feed premium quality.

    Orijen is much more expensive per kg than for example, Healthy Everyday Pets but it’s actually cheaper on a $/day basis because of the lower feeding amount required. For the sake of a simple example I have a 30kg golden retriever just over 12 months and the yearly cost to feed him the recommended amount of Healthy Everyday Pets Puppy is $2343.52 but the yearly cost to feed the recommended amount of Orijen Large Breed Puppy is $2056.22. You should do the feeding amount calculations for $/day if you want to look into comparable costs because the higher quality foods often get more expensive per kg but require you to feed smaller amounts. Orijin in particular appears to be quite reasonably priced compared to other good quality foods listed on this site.

    (This is just using the standard prices on Pet Circle so you can obviously do better in practice if you shop around and manage to catch specials but for the sake of this example I’m standardising – data analyst here sorry.)

    Anyway, just a thought! If people are watching what they spend then the answer isn’t always the cheaper bag of food and Orijen specifically is actually less expensive to feed than at least one other option on this list.

  4. Hi there. I’m so please to have stumbled across this website but wish I had done so a long time ago. We have a border collie puppy and the breeder was feeding him Optimum. Given this, I have blindly bought the same, along with vet-suggested foods such as Royal Canin and Hills. Having read your assessments and having ordered the book by Dr Tom Lonsdale, I’m going to be much more judicious with my choices from now on.

    Additionally, our older border collie cross seems to have had an allergic reaction to something (I think it’s food-related) and he has started biting at his paws. The vet has suggested a particular kibble – the name of which escapes me – but wondered whether there is a hypoallergenic product you’d recommend.

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) January 11, 2022 at 5:21 pm

      Hi Chris, there’s a few hypoallergenic products on the market, but if it’s a food sensitivity then there are also many other foods which would work (dry/wet/barf/raw/fresh). My best advice is to try and figure out the cause as this will give you many more options for the future rather than being locked into a vet-endorsed kibble. Were your dog’s paws itchy for an extended period? Did a change in diet/recipe mark the onset? Take a look at the ingredients of the Optimum recipe you were feeding at the time – if you were feeding Optimum Puppy my guess is wheat, but that’s not the only cause of food sensitivities. It gets more complex when meat proteins are a trigger, especially chicken which is in most commercial dog foods, or sometimes artificial additivities and preservatives. The food recommended by your vet isn’t a miraculous cure, it just won’t contain the key allergens. So if it’s a food sensitivity, and the diet contained wheat, then most highly rated foods on this website will likely do the trick.

      • Many thanks. I’ve received so much conflicting advice about the issue and purchased goodness knows how many creams and ointments on the recommendation of others but it’s simply closing the stable door after the dog-shaped horse has bolted! I’d much rather address the source than treat the symptoms and will be changing diets for both dogs. One vet suggested we may have been feeding our older dog too much raw meat and told us the animal wouldn’t be able to process so much protein. We just felt so guilty for being uninformed. I look forward to following guidelines outlined in the aforementioned book as I am not playing Russian Roulette with pet food from this day forward.

        • Pet Food Reviews (Australia) January 12, 2022 at 12:00 am

          Yes, it’s amazing how many people recommend expensive ointments or hypoallergenic diets without ever considering the underlying cause! As for vets recommending against raw meats… that’s another subject largely affected by misinformation, but also a big subject in itself. A dog’s digestive system is designed to process raw meats, and many dogs these days show excellent health on raw diets (assuming the raw diet covers all nutritional basis).

  5. What are your thought on Frontier food for puppies? I believe Frontier is one of the better foods available for adult dogs but unsure of if it is suitable for puppies?

  6. Thanks for this, it’s a really great article. I’m a bit conflicted as when I check individual product reviews, there’s mixed reviews on these brands. Are they really the best dry food brands for puppies? I’m getting a mini dachshund in a few weeks time and I know the breeder will be sharing the pup’s current diet but I want to make sure I provide healthy and nutritious meals considering there’s a lot of commercially made dry food out there.

    I know I won’t know until I try different brands but would love to get suggestions on which ones to try aside from the ones mentioned.

    • These are all the ones that I feel are good quality, based on ingredients, reviews, other people saying it’s good on Facebook groups etc.

      I’m not entirely sure if all of them have puppy foods or if their all life stages. But nowadays most foods have come out with puppy versions.

      Wellness Core
      Holistic Select
      Instinctive Bite (not the salmon though, it’s bad)
      Orijen and Acana
      Vetalogica bioglogically appropriate
      Taste of the Wild
      Meals for Mutts
      Balanced Life/non kibble options as well
      Xp3020
      Nutra gold budget version of ToTW
      Prime100/non kibble options as well
      Phoenix
      Cherish
      Aldi Natural Elements is not bad for budget/GF version is high fat 18%
      Stockman and Paddock GF version (high fat)
      Pure life kibble and freeze dried mixture
      Man’s Best
      PurePro if you need super high calorie (716 kcals a cup)/super high fat
      Open Paddock (Woolworths)
      Healthy Everyday Pets (used to be better though)

      Non kibble range

      Urban ancestral mix/Elly’s Farm
      Kiwi Kitchens
      K9 Natural
      Ziwi Peak
      Meat Mates
      Woof NZ Naturals
      Our Patch
      Absolute Holistic
      Frontier Pets
      Providore
      Freeze dried Australia
      Furfresh
      Big Dog Little Bites

      GF = grain free

      • I can’t seem to find your previous comment where you mentioned treats. Any suggestions on the best treats to use for training? Thank you 🙂

        • You want high value treats, ones your dog simply cannot say no to. I find air dried chicken treats the soft kind, to be particularly hypnotising for my dogs.

          I treat mine with Yours Droolly Kiwi Grown chicken and kumara, be careful with other Yours Droolly treats. The Kiwi Grown is made in NZ, whilst the rest are Chinese/Thailand.

          Freeze dried may work for some too, especially single ingredient stuff.

          Regular air dried, like Ziwi/Urban Ancestral Mix.

          Urban’s straps/strips are very smelly, could appeal too. This is Urban, their working on their shipping, but as of right now I believe it is $20 for everybody. I think except Adelaide as that’s where their located. https://www.urbanpetfood.com.au/product-category/food-types/treats/

        • Thank you! I’ll try different treats and see which one is of high value for her! Is it okay to mix treats within a training session to see which one she likes?

        • Pet Food Reviews (Australia) November 9, 2021 at 9:08 pm

          Seconded – I see variety as a good thing, always, assuming the treats are healthy and nutritious (or at least kept to a minimum). Dogs are almost always encouraged the most by what they would naturally seek out in the wild, so meat, organs etc. Frozen, dried, or even commercial products like freeze dried mussels are great healthy options. Mix ’em up.

        • I do that all the time without training and I have yet to see any issues. I once gave them 5 different treats at once, 1 small piece from each. Nothing.

        • Pet Food Reviews (Australia) October 25, 2021 at 2:26 pm

          Hi Alyssa, I’ll leave a link below to a guide on treats, but boiling chicken and cutting it into small pieces makes for another good training treat. Lots of people use ZIWI Peak as well.

          To reply to your earlier comment, variety is always a good thing. Don’t stick to a single brand of dry food. There are so many options, and no reason you shouldn’t feed a variety of pet foods, raw, or fresh. The caveat with puppies is they are more prone to diarrhoea as new foods are introduced.

          Edanna – possibly some comments have gone missing since the switch to the new comments system :/

          https://www.petfoodreviews.com.au/best-dog-treats-australia/

        • Thank you! I just got my puppy and I’ll definitely try different brands. I made a mistake of ordering 11kg bag but I’ll try other brands once it’s finished.

          On boiling chicken, can I make a big batch and then freeze them? Would chicken breast be a good option?

        • Possibly, but there’s nothing we can do about that now. I realised that taking pictures was going to take too long and I just gave up.

          I think I took maybe 50 of them, I wasn’t even out of the A’s.

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