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Best Dog Food Brands

Profile picture of Dr. Ken Tudor
by Dr. Ken Tudor Pet Food Contributing Editor

Buying the right dog food is essential to keep your dog healthy, happy and full of energy. Different dogs need different types of food, and the kind needed can vary based on the dog's stage of life, general health and special needs. This means your dog’s needs can change over time, so knowing which dog foods are best during different stages of life can improve your dog’s quality of life.

Talk to your vet about the best type of food for your dog, keeping in mind that your dog’s nutritional needs will change as your dog ages and experiences other changes, including pregnancy and illness.

Compare Reviews for Top Dog Food Brands

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Canidae Pet Foods
Read 1533 Reviews

Diets include chicken and turkey for all life stages, salmon for small breeds and bison or lamb with antiallergenic elements for sensitive dogs. All recipes include probiotics, antioxidants and omega oils. Prices start at $8.99.

NomNomNow
Read 81 Reviews

This fresh pet food company offers customized meal plans for dogs and cats using restaurant-quality ingredients, delivered pre-cooked and pre-portioned to your home.

Taste of the Wild
Read 1092 Reviews

Ingredients are Angus beef, turkey, trout, lentils, tomato pomace and sunflower oil. All formulas contain K9 Strain and Viables Probiotics, no GMO, no preservatives and no artificial flavors. Price range is $25-$50.

Freshpet
Read 53 Reviews

Proteins come from beef, poultry and fish. Fruits and vegetables provide fibers and antioxidants. Stored in grocery fridges, these dishes contain no preservatives, fillers or meat powders. Prices range from $10 to $50.

Diamond Pet Foods
Read 370 Reviews

Made with real beef, chicken or fish, superfoods and phytonutrients. Grain-free formulas boost digestion and limit exposure to allergy triggers. Probiotics are added after cooking to preserve good bacteria. Prices start at $16.08.

Purina Pet Foods
Read 1437 Reviews

Dog meals come with savory beef steak and smoky chicken flavors. Offers therapeutic diets and probiotic supplement that help guard against allergic reactions, diabetes and arthritis. Your dog can enjoy a T-bone steak for $1.48.

Blue Buffalo Pet Foods
Read 1838 Reviews

Natural, healthy and holistic, dry food treats include biscuits, chewy meat morsels, meat jerkies and dental training goodies. Packed with antioxidants, their LifeSource Bits help prevent cancer. Prices range from $10 to $100.

Beneful Pet Foods
Read 1852 Reviews

Diets contain real beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, salmon, liver or egg mixed with whole grains, sunflower and fish oils, and fresh vegetables and fruits to create nutritious and great-tasting dog meals. Price range is $2-$34.

Nutro Dog Food
Read 2983 Reviews

Recipes are made of either beef, wild boar, chicken, turkey or fish and vibrant superfoods, like coconut, chia, kale and blueberries. Food processors use only the cleanest ingredients and safest methods. Price range is $5.59-$50.

Pedigree Pet Foods
Read 1040 Reviews

Formulas are packed with protein, dietary fibers, vitamins C and E, zinc and linoleic acid for healthy skin and coat. A patented oral care kibble helps reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Prices start at less than $2.

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What to look for in dog food

Nutritional content

Not all dog food has the same nutritional content. Some foods are higher in protein or carbohydrates, while others have different fat content.

  • High fat: Dog food with lots of fat may be recommended for working dogs or dogs with kidney disease or cancer.
  • Quality meats: Protein provides many essential nutrients. Puppies and dogs with diabetes and some intestinal diseases need food with more protein, so check out the meat content on your favorite brands.
  • Carbohydrates: Grains, beans, potatoes, fruits and vegetables provide energy, antioxidants, other nutrients and fiber that is important for intestinal health.

Mineral content

Some dog foods contain higher amounts of some minerals than others. It's important to check the mineral content because some dogs need different amounts.

  • Copper: Some breeds cannot even tolerate normal amounts of copper in their food. This metal can build up in the liver and cause serious health problems.
  • Zinc: Malamutes and Siberian Huskies need more zinc in their diet; dog food that is not high in zinc can cause skin problems for these breeds.

Availability

Not all dog foods are equally available. Some brands require a vet's prescription, while natural dog foods and diet-specific types are sold in specialty pet stores rather than the supermarket.

  • Allergy-free brands & medical formulas: Your vet can give you special formula diets for allergies and other medical problems.
  • Premium brands: Some brands are known for special formulas and ingredients for various life stages. You may need to visit a specialty pet store in order to get these foods.
  • Name brands: Name brands may offer natural dog foods and special formulas for life stages but are sold in supermarkets and online as well as in specialty stores.

Taste and texture

Dogs react differently to different tastes and textures. Your dog may prefer some types of food to others.

  • Variety of flavors: Dogs have their own favorite flavors, but some dogs may also want a variety. They can get bored if you give them the same food over and over.
  • Soft or hard: Some dogs prefer softer textures or may require softer foods due to mouth and dental problems.
  • Smell of food: Dogs have sensitive noses; if they don't like the way food smells, they won't eat it.

Medical requirements

If your dog has certain health issues, the vet may suggest a special diet. You can get foods to meet your dog's health needs at the vet's office or at some pet stores with a veterinary prescription.

  • Ultra-low carb foods: Dogs with cancer usually need a low carb diet in order to starve cancer cells and stop their cancer from spreading.
  • Low-protein foods: Dogs with kidney disease, some liver problems and certain bladder stones need diets low in protein.
  • High protein, high fat: Growing, active puppies need a high protein diet in order to support their growth and their need for energy. Dogs with heart disease also need these diets.
  • Low-fat foods: Dogs with pancreatitis and many intestinal conditions require diets low in fat.
  • Low caloric content: Overweight and older dogs with lower activity levels need fewer calories than other dogs. The low caloric content helps maintain a healthier weight.

What are different types of dog food?

Canned food

Canned dog food is cooked at high temperatures in sealed cans to make sure it's sterile for distribution.

No preservatives: Canned, natural dog foods will often have no preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors, because it is cooked in sealed cans.

Moisture level: Dogs needing to lose weight often feel fuller faster when eating canned food because it has 7 times more water than dry food.

Easier to eat: Dogs with dental or mouth problems may find it easier to eat canned foods, which are softer than dry dog food.

Expense: Canned food is more expensive than dry food.

Convenience: Some find opening and storing canned food less convenient than dry or semi-moist foods

Semi-moist food

This type of food has moisture halfway between dry and wet food. It can be in pellet or chunk form and has a soft, chewy texture. Many dog treats are also semi-moist.

Preservatives: Preservative may be necessary in some brands to prolong shelf life.

Moisture level: Also more filling for dogs needing weight loss because it has 3-4 times more water than dry.

Easier to eat: The soft texture makes it easier to eat for dogs with dental or mouth problems.

Expense: Semi-moist is cheaper or equal to canned food but more expensive than dry food.

Convenience: Semi-moist is packaged in easily stored bags so has the same convenience as dry food. It does need sealed storage in hot, humid weather.

Dry food

Dry food is hard, bite-sized chunks, biscuits or pellets dogs crack with their back teeth. Dry food needs higher levels of carbohydrates than the other types of food in order to “pop” the food into its many shapes.

Preservatives: Dry dog food needs preservatives to prolong shelf life.

Moisture: Dry dog food is only 10% water so it is less filling, especially for dogs needing weight loss.

Harder to eat: Dry food needs to be cracked into smaller chunks that are difficult for dogs with dental problems. Dogs fed dry food have less dental tartar.

Expense: Dry dog food is the least expensive.

Convenience: Dry food is packaged in easy-to-store bags and does not generally require special storage.

What should you feed your dog?

Active, healthy dogs

Active dogs need a diet with the proper balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Meat, oils, vegetables and grains will help give them the energy they need.

Puppies

Puppies need a high protein, high-fat diet to support their growth. Puppies also need more calcium and phosphorus than adult dogs for strong bone growth.

Pregnant or lactating dogs

Pregnant dogs need more calories than adult dogs and lactating dogs need a diet similar to that for puppies.

Senior dogs

Senior dogs need diets higher in proteins to prevent muscle loss with higher fiber and lower calories to help prevent age-related obesity.

Dogs with cancer or chronic illnesses

Dogs with chronic illnesses need a diet to control their illness. For example, diabetic dogs and dogs with cancer need a high fat, high protein and low carb diet.

Expert reviews for dog food brands

Canidae Pet Foods

Canidae is a premium dog food company, offering a variety of flavors and types of food to dogs throughout the United States.

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Natural Balance Pet Foods

Natural Balance is endorsed by actor Dick Van Patten and has been using nutritional science to formulate dog food since 1989. This food is often used by dog trainers.

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Freshpet

Freshpet makes all-natural pet food using real meat and vegetables. They don’t use preservatives in their food so you’ll find their product in the refrigerator section of the pet food aisle in your grocery store.

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Diamond Pet Foods

Diamond is a pet food and treat company that offer a variety of high-quality and all-natural food and treats. Diamond makes food for puppies, adult dogs, dogs with sensitive stomachs, pregnant dogs and cats.

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NomNomNow

NomNomNow is a fresh pet food company and home delivery service founded in 2015 in the San Francisco Bay Area by Alex Jarrel, Zach Phillips and Nate Phillips. NomNomNow operates under the guidance of veterinarian Dr. Justin Shmalberg, a leading expert on dog nutrition, and offers pre-portioned, fresh food tailored to an individual dog or cats’ specific nutritional needs.

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Nutro Dog Food

Nutro has been providing natural ingredients to pet food since 1926. Nutro’s commitment to healthy and safe pet food keeps their formula tailored for each stage of a pet’s life. Nutro is also active in local and national pet communities through its dog park appreciation program, its partnership with RESCUE BANK pet food distribution program, its support of the Natural Disaster Search Dog Foundation and its sustainability efforts.

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Eukanuba Dog Food

Eukanuba, named after a piece of slang from the jazz age that means "the best," strives to give dogs the best, most nutritionally sound dog food available. Eukabana has been around since the late 1960s and is a spin-off of Iams, one of the best-known pet food companies.

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Iams Dog Food

Iams has been selling dog food since 1946 and today is one of the world's best-known pet food companies. Its goal is to improve the health of dogs all over the world through nutritional offerings.

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California Natural Dog Food

California Natural is an all-natural dog food company that consults with veterinarians and breeders to create the healthiest dog food options available.

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Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild makes pet food for cats and dogs. All of its pet food products are grain free and include a range of ingredients, including meats, fruits, vegetables, antioxidants, chelated minerals and probiotics. Taste of the Wild focuses on producing nutritionally balanced pet food products that help support and enhance pet health.

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EVO Dog Food

Evo is an all-natural, grain-free dog food company that believes dogs should be given a diet similar to what they would get in the wild.

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Ultra Holistic Dog Food

Ultra-Holistic Dog Foods uses a blend of ingredients to provide dogs with nutrition, help the strength and shininess of their coats and keep them healthy.

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Nature's Variety Dog Food

Nature's Variety is an independently owned pet food company that makes its own pet food using all natural ingredients. It offers a variety of pet foods to support different diets that dogs may need to follow for their health.

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Purina Dog Chow

Purina Dog Chow is one of the best-known dog food brands. Its products can be found in most supermarkets and pet stores.

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Compare Reviews for Top Dog Food Brands

Iams Dog Food
Read 773 Reviews

Diets cater to the needs of specific breeds, like bulldogs, dachshunds and chihuahuas. Ingredients are chicken, cornmeal, sorghum or dried egg products and vegetables and fruits. A 3.3-lb bag of dry mini chunks sells for $6.99.

Royal Canin Pet Foods
Read 482 Reviews

Features over 50 nutrients from natural protein, fat and fiber sources blended in precise balance. Specific formulas provide the unique needs of dogs of all sizes, ages, breeds and lifestyles. Prices range from $10 to $200.

Natural Balance Pet Foods
Read 361 Reviews

Formulas contain venison, bison, buffalo, lamb, chicken, duck or salmon and whole grains, brown rice, sweet potato, green peas or garbanzo beans. Food processing goes through 9 safety tests. Products are available for $10-$100.

Kirkland Pet Foods
Read 533 Reviews

Made with beef meal, lamb meat or meal, turkey meal, chicken meal, fish meal and oil, or cooked or dried whole eggs. Natural flavors are blended in for taste and probiotics added to enhance the immune system. Prices start at $25.

Science Diet
Read 392 Reviews

Specializes in nutritious, science-based dog food at each life stage. Puppies and smaller breeds like smaller bites and kibbles. Adults and larger breeds need whole grains due to increased activity. Price range is $4.50-$5.

Ol Roy Pet Foods
Read 525 Reviews

Offers diets made of meat and bone meal, poultry meal or soybean meal mixed with animal fats and ground yellow corn. Preserved with citric acid and beta hydroxy acid and enhanced by natural flavors. Price range is $2-$24.

Hills Pet Foods
Read 212 Reviews

Essential ingredients include high-quality proteins, fats and carbohydrates blended with a precise balance of nutrients. Prescription diets take care of specific organ care needs. Prices range from $3.69 to $99.99.

Purina Dog Chow
Read 181 Reviews

Meal mixtures include beef or chicken meat, bone meal, poultry by-product, naturally preserved animal fat or eggs mixed with whole grain wheat or corn and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Prices start at $2.70.

Nature's Variety Dog Food
Read 16 Reviews

Natural and often freeze dried, recipes contain 90% protein sourced from the real meats of beef, lamb, chicken, duck, rabbit and salmon mixed with fruits and vegetables. Tapioca is used to bind kibbles. Price range is $1.49-$60.

Petguard Pet Food
Read 17 Reviews

Known for their USDA-certified organic chicken and vegetable entrees. Meats include chicken, turkey, lamb, beef and liver. Their canned meals are ideal for puppies, seniors and less active pets. Prices range from $11.70 to $47.89.

Rachael Ray Nutrish
Read 7 Reviews

This pet food brand has nutritious foods made with real ingredients for dogs and cats that you can buy online or in many pet stores. Request a sample online. A portion of all sales is donated to help animals in need.

Alpo Dog Food
Read 228 Reviews

Made from high-quality real beef, chicken, lamb or turkey and 23 essential vitamins and minerals. Also offers signature wet meals of ground and gravy recipes with a meaty dog-driven taste. Price range is $0.68-$19.

Evanger's Pet Foods
Read 83 Reviews

Brings hand-packed healthy meals to your puppies, adults, seniors and sensitive furry friends. Raw ingredients are packed in cans and cooked in the sealed cans to lock in the nutrients and flavors. Price range is $10.99-$45.10.

Avoderm Pet Foods
Read 13 Reviews

Features beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, salmon and trout as protein sources. Recipes are packed with California avocado for wholesome nutrition for pets of all life stages, sizes, breeds and lifestyles. Price Range is $2.35-$54.99.

Ultra Holistic Dog Food
Read 35 Reviews

Offers a blend of chicken, lamb or salmon and dried fruits and vegetables. It’s balanced to meet the unique needs of all puppies, adults and seniors of any size and breed. An 8 lb bag of small breed adult food costs $17.49.

Eukanuba Dog Food
Read 16 Reviews

Offers diets of chicken, lamb, fish or egg blended with cereals and fats in perfect proportions. Processing goes through 120 quality tests that span from the suppliers to when the bags are sealed. Price range is $1.70-$49.99.

Wysong Natural Pet Food
Read 18 Reviews

Diets contain organic chicken, lamb, turkey, crab meal, fish meal or eggs mixed superfoods like colostrum, coconut oil and chia seeds. Prices start at $2.89 for a can of beef pate. Buy in bulk to save on canned, raw and dry food.

Big Heart Pet Brands
Read 49 Reviews

Offers pet food meals and goodies from big brands, such as Rachel Ray Nutrish’ specialty meat recipes, Milk-Bone’s biscuit snacks, Kibbles‘nBits’ crunchy, meaty kibbles, Pup-Peroni’s beefy snacks and Gravy Train’s gravy treats.

California Natural Dog Food
Read 21 Reviews
Out of Business

California Natural dog food blends are based on a basic protein & carbohydrate formula. These include chicken & rice, lamb & rice, and herring & sweet potato. Varieties are available for puppies, weight control & senior dogs.

EVO Dog Food
Read 16 Reviews
Out of Business

EVO dog food is formulated to match the nutritional intake of your dog's ancestor, the wolf. High in protein and low in carbs, EVO foods are grain-free. Recipes include chicken and turkey, herring and salmon, and red meat.

Simmons Pet Food
Read 67 Reviews Out of Business

Simmons no longer makes or sells pet food.

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Profile picture of Dr. Ken Tudor
Dr. Ken Tudor Pet Food Contributing Editor

A recognized expert and leader in pet nutrition, Dr. Ken Tudor has written over 200 articles on the subject. He also has a featured weekly blog on petMD, is published in major veterinary journals and is a frequent internet media guest expert. He is the founder of Hearthstone Homemade, a recipe and supplement program for pet parents wishing to feed nutritious homemade dog food.