Best Dog Food Brands
Pet Food Contributing Editor
Updated on 06/18/2018
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
|Canidae Pet Foods|
Read 1461 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.
|Taste of the Wild|
Read 770 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.
Read 45 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.
|Nutro Dog Food|
Read 2955 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.
|Blue Buffalo Pet Foods|
Read 1803 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.
|Purina Pet Foods|
Read 1412 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.
|Beneful Pet Foods|
Read 1844 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.
|Pedigree Pet Foods|
Read 1015 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.
|Iams Dog Food|
Read 755 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 445 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.
What to look for in dog food
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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 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 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 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 is a premium dog food company, offering a variety of flavors and types of food to dogs throughout the United States.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
California Natural is an all-natural dog food company that consults with veterinarians and breeders to create the healthiest dog food options available.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Purina Dog Chow is one of the best-known dog food brands. Its products can be found in most supermarkets and pet stores.
Reading and understanding dog food labels or the material on dog food maker’s websites can be confusing. In fact, the information may be misleading. Here is some helpful information.
First ingredient – Ingredients are listed on dog food labels in the order of their weight in the food. Meat is allowed to also include its water weight. Meat is 70% water. If meat is listed as the first ingredient it includes the water weight. The amount of real meat protein is actually much less. The second protein ingredient, generally a meat meal, is really the primary protein in the food, not the first ingredient.
Premium or holistic –There are no legal definitions for the words “premium” or “holistic”. These foods do not have to meet standards that are any different from other foods.
Natural dog food – Natural is defined as any feed or ingredient from plants, animals and the earth and can be processed by any method as long as it is not mixed with synthetic products or processed by methods using synthetic products “except in amounts as may occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.” Dog food can contain synthetic ingredients and still use the word “natural” if there is a claim on the label disclosing the presence of synthetic ingredients or products.
Organic – Dog food can be labeled “organic” if only 95% of the ingredients were raised organically.
Organic ingredients – Dog food can be labeled “made with organic ingredients” if only 70% of the ingredients were raised organically.
Meat – Meat is defined as ”striated muscle, but can include tongue, esophagus, diaphragm, heart with overlying fat, sinew, nerve and blood vessels that normally accompany flesh.” Everything in the chest except the lungs is considered “meat.”
Quality – Dog food ingredients do not have quality standards like the USDA quality coding for human meats and products.
Quality control –The FDA and USDA does not require mandatory inspections of dog food companies. Quality control is voluntarily enforced.
Claims by dog food makers are not what they seem. It can be very difficult choosing the best food for your dog. It requires lots of independent research on your part.Are you an expert?
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
Compare Reviews for Top Dog Food Brands
|Diamond Dog Food|
Read 225 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.
|Kirkland Pet Foods|
Read 527 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.
|Natural Balance Pet Foods|
Read 347 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.
|Ol Roy Pet Foods|
Read 518 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 205 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.
|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.
Read 383 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.
|Ultra Holistic Dog Food|
Read 34 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.
|Purina Dog Chow|
Read 170 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.
|Alpo Dog Food|
Read 223 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.
|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.
|Avoderm Pet Foods|
Read 12 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.
|Evanger's Pet Foods|
Read 81 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.
|Wysong Natural Pet Food|
Read 16 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 48 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.
Read 55 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.
|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.