Best Dog Food Brands
Buying the right dog food is essential to keep your dog healthy, happy and full of energy. Different dogs need different types of food based on their stage of life, health and special needs. Knowing which dog foods are best during different stages of life is important and can improve your dog’s quality of life.
Compare Reviews for Top Dog Food Brands
Read 237 Reviews
Buy customized meal plans for your dogs and cats using restaurant-quality ingredients. Meals are delivered pre-cooked and pre-portioned to your home. Prices start at $20/week.
Read 319 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.
|Taste of the Wild|
Read 1,325 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.
|Canidae Pet Foods|
Read 1,703 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.
|Purina Dog Chow|
Read 239 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.
|Diamond Pet Foods|
Read 473 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.
|Blue Buffalo Pet Foods|
Read 1,964 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.
|Pedigree Pet Foods|
Read 1,091 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.
|Royal Canin Pet Foods|
Read 573 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.
|Nutro Dog Food|
Read 3,057 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.
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Types of dog food
Dry food is made up of hard, bite-sized chunks, biscuits or pellets dogs crack with their back teeth. The food is available in a number of formulas and comes packaged in easy-to-store bags. Sometimes referred to as “kibble,” dry food contains higher levels of carbohydrates than other types of dog food and is typically the most affordable dog food option available.
Wet Dog Food
Wet dog food comes in a few different varieties, including cans, pouches and tubs. Wet dog food contains a higher moisture level, as much as 75 percent, than dry dog food, which contains 10 percent on average. The higher the moisture level, the more hydrated the dog will be, which can help improve overall kidney and urinary tract health. The lower the moisture level, the longer the shelf life of the food. Dogs with dental or mouth problems may find it easier to eat wet dog food, which is softer than dry dog food. Canned dog food is typically more expensive than dry dog 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. Semi-moist is packaged in easily stored bags, and so has the same convenience as dry food. Many dog treats are also semi-moist. Semi-moist food usually carries a similar price tag to canned food. preservatives may be necessary in some brands to prolong shelf life.
Raw dog food
A raw dog food contains raw meat, whole bones, fresh fruit and vegetables and occasionally dairy, eggs and other fresh ingredients. Raw dog food diets claim to increase energy levels as well as coat and dental health. There are always potential risks with bacteria when it comes to consuming raw meat. People often feed their dogs raw dog food as an alternative to commercial dog food, but there are pre-packaged raw frozen or freeze-dried dog foods available for purchase for a more convenient, pre-portioned raw meal.
Types of dog food comparison
Compare the different types of dog food that is available:
|Moisture||6-10%||Up to 75%||15-30%||Varies|
|Benefits||Convenient and helps with dental tartar||Easier for older dogs to eat||Has the storage ease of dry food with the softer consistency of wet food||Gives pet owners total control over the food their dog is consuming|
Wet vs. dry dog food
Dry dog food is ideal for dogs facing dental issues, as the kibble helps clean their teeth, and is the budget-friendly option for pet owners. Wet dog food, on the other hand, is best for dogs with choosy appetites, as the fragrant aroma entices them to eat, and it can be a lifesaver for senior dogs who can no longer chew hard foods.
- Wet dog food
- Easy to eat
- Enticing to picky eaters
- Rich in flavor
- Can help with weight management
- Dry Dog Food
- More affordable
- Longer shelf life
- Wider variety
- Helps clean plaque and tartar off dog’s teeth
What to look for in dog food
Ingredients to look for
As a general rule of thumb, look for dog foods that have high-quality, meat-based protein, high natural fats and oils and few carbohydrates. Omega 3s, vitamins and minerals should be included as well.
- 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.
- High fat: Dog food with lots of fat may be recommended for working dogs or dogs with kidney disease or cancer.
- Copper: Some breeds cannot tolerate even 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.
Ingredients to avoid
You’ll want to check your dog’s food for unnecessary preservatives and chemicals, like food dyes. Natural preservatives, like vitamin C and E are good. Also avoid artificial flavors, added sweeteners and low-quality materials like feed-grade ingredients, listed as “meals” and “by-products.”
- Chemical preservatives:
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- Artificial ingredients:
- Food Dyes: Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2
- Artificial flavors
- Artificial sweeteners
- Low-quality ingredients:
- Rendered fat
- Meat meal
- Meat by-products
How to read dog food labels
- On the nutrition label, begin with the guaranteed analysis. This indicates the minimum or maximum level of nutrients in the food. It is broken down by crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber and moisture. Note that “crude” refers to the method of testing the food, not the quality of the product. For dogs to lose weight, their meals should have a high protein content (25–28 percent) and low-fat content (9–15 percent).
- Next, check the ingredients, which are organized by weight. Proteins like chicken, beef and lamb should be listed first. Watch out for similar items that are broken down into smaller groups, like flaked corn and ground corn. This allows the manufacturer to label corn farther down on the list, even though the amount of corn may actually be quite high.
- Check for the complete and balanced seal. Many dog foods will claim to be “complete and balanced,” which means they provide the right proportions of nutrients that a dog needs. Check for nutrient profiles approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to be sure the claim is valid.
What dog food is best for my 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 special medical needs or chronic illness
Dogs with chronic illnesses may 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. Some dogs may do better on a grain-free diet.
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.
- Cancer: Dogs with cancer usually need a low carb diet in order to starve cancer cells and stop their cancer from spreading.
- Kidney and liver disease: Dogs with kidney disease, some liver problems and certain bladder stones need diets low in protein.
- Heart disease: Dogs with heart disease need a high protein, high-fat diet.
- Pancreatitis and intestinal problems: Dogs suffering from intestinal conditions require diets low in fat.
- Overweight: While there are dog food formulas designed for weight loss, most dogs that are overweight can lose weight by eating smaller amounts of their current food. Make sure you understand how much to feed your dog.
- Allergies: Dogs with allergies may benefit from a limited ingredient diet. It’s important to meet with your vet to determine the cause of your dog’s allergies so you can select the right food.
Mistakes to avoid when choosing dog food
6 myths about dog food
- If the first ingredient is meat, it’s a quality, protein-rich dog food
The second protein ingredient, generally a meat meal, is really the primary protein in the food, not the first ingredient. While many are looking for whole meat at the first ingredient as an indication of a protein-rich good dog food, whole meat is about 70 percent water, and that water is included in its total weight, so the amount of real meat protein is actually much less than it may seem.
- Premium and holistic dog foods are held to a higher quality standard
There are no legal definitions for the words “premium” or “holistic.” These dog foods do not have to meet standards that are any different from other dog foods. Be wary of misleading marketing claims.
- Natural dog food does not contain any synthetic ingredients
“Natural” is defined as any ingredient coming from plants, animals or the earth. Natural dog food 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 small amounts that can occur unavoidably, even in good manufacturing practices. However, 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 products.
- Organic dog food means 100% organic ingredients
A dog food can only be labeled “organic” if at least 95 percent of the ingredients were raised organically.
- Meat in dog food is always quality animal protein
Meat is defined as “striated muscle,” and can include tongue, esophagus, diaphragm, heart, sinew, nerve and blood vessels. In fact, everything in the chest except lungs is considered “meat.”
- Meat by-products can include lungs and stomach. If a protein source is not specified (i.e. “beef by-products,” “chicken by-products”), the meat by-product may be from multiple animal sources.
- Meat meal can consist of tissue, bone, hide and even feces. To ensure your dog is getting quality ingredients, look for whole meats over “meat meal.”
- Dog food has quality control
Dog food ingredients do not have quality standards like the USDA quality coding for human meats and products. The FDA and USDA do not require mandatory inspections of dog food companies. Quality control is voluntarily enforced, and quality claims by dog food makers may not be what they seem.
Dog Food FAQ
- What is the healthiest food to feed your dog?
- The healthiest food for your dog depends on your dog’s age, size and dietary needs. Quality dog foods contain a mixture of meat, vegetable, fruits and grains. Healthy dog treats follow the same guidelines.
- What puppy food do vets recommend?
- For a growing pup, vets recommend food with higher contents of fat, protein and other nutrients to keep up with energy demands and help with joint, bone, organ and muscle development. Talk to your veterinarian about what food is most beneficial for your puppy.
- Is organic food good for dogs?
- There currently isn’t enough evidence to say whether organic dog food is superior to conventional dog food. When you’re choosing the best food for your dog, it’s more important to look for one made with quality ingredients and a balanced nutrient profile designed with your dog in mind.
- What ingredient in dog food is bad?
- Certain additives, like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and propylene glycol (PG), may be linked to cancer or kidney damage. Other unhealthy ingredients, like corn syrup, can lead to diabetes and weight gain. If you’re unsure about the safety of a specific ingredient, ask your vet.
- What can I feed my dog instead of dog food?
- If you find yourself with no dog food and your pet store is closed, you can make homemade dog food by mixing a lean protein with complex carbohydrates. Plain, cooked chicken with rice works great. Be sure to avoid foods with added sodium or excess fat. For a long-term option, consult your vet.
- Is a high protein dog food good for dogs?
- Dogs require different amounts of protein based on their age, activity level and body condition. Pregnant and lactating dogs need extra protein, but high-protein diets can be detrimental to dogs with kidney or liver issues. Speak with your vet to see how much protein your dog needs.
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.
- Availability: NomNomNow offers delivery to the 48 contiguous states.
- Fresh food without the prep work: Pet food is cooked in NomNomNow’s facility using fresh restaurant quality ingredients. Each meal is delivered in a sealed, pre-portioned bag ready to be served or frozen.
- Individually formulated for your pet: NomNomNow customers are asked to fill out a pet profile that outlines the age, weight, health concerns and activity level of their pet. The profile is used to select the best formula and caloric intake for each pet’s individual needs with more detailed nutrition consultations also available.
- Options: NomNomNow offers dog food (beef, turkey, chicken, pork, egg & veggie), dog treats (human grade chicken or beef jerky) and cat food (fish, chicken).
- NomNomNow cost: Depending on the size of your pet, pricing for small dogs and cats starts around $30/week.
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.
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.
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.
Compare Reviews for Top Dog Food Brands
|Purina Pet Foods|
Read 1,477 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.
|Iams Dog Food|
Read 806 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.
|Kirkland Pet Foods|
Read 569 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.
Read 432 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.
|Fromm Dog Food|
Read 16 Reviews
Dry and canned dog food, plus treats, are available in a variety of protein options. Select from weight control, grain-free, grain-inclusive lines and more. Prices start around $35 for a 15-pound bag of dry dog food.
|Beneful Pet Foods||Read 1,890 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.
|Rachael Ray Nutrish|
Read 26 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.
|Hills Pet Foods|
Read 254 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.
|Natural Balance Pet Foods|
Read 395 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.
|Alpo Dog Food|
Read 250 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.
|Ol Roy Pet Foods|
Read 545 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.
|4health Dog Food|
Read 24 Reviews
4Health premium wet and dry dog food provides plenty of choices to find the right food for your pet. This brand offers grain-free, special care (for weight management and sensitive stomachs), and high protein options.
|Eukanuba Dog Food|
Read 21 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.
|Evanger's Pet Foods|
Read 86 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.
|Nature's Variety Dog Food|
Read 18 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 18 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.
|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.
|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.
|Wysong Natural Pet Food|
Read 19 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.
|Avoderm Pet Foods|
Read 14 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.
|Simmons Pet Food||Read 67 Reviews||Out of Business|
Simmons no longer makes or sells pet food.
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.
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