Choosing the right food for your dog can be one of the most important decisions you make in your dog’s lifetime. Dog food has been specifically designed to meet the needs of dogs based on the nutritional needs required for them to be happy and healthy.
Most brands of dog food are created by a team of veterinarians who use science and medical knowledge to come up with formulas that are healthy and nutritious. Many dog foods are free of various ingredients that are not considered healthy for dogs. These ingredients may include wheat, corn, soy, and all types of grains.
Dog food is designed specifically for dogs based on the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need each day. Most dog foods will include a feeding recommendation on the bag based on the weight and size of your dog. It’s important to follow these recommendations to optimize your dog’s health. Some dog food formulas are designed for specific dog breeds or certain sizes of dogs.
Top 7 Dog Food
- A Taste of the Wild with roasted bison; real meat is the #1 ingredient; optimal amino acid...
- High protein ingredients with added vitamins & minerals; fruits and vegetables as...
- Contains One (1) 33 Lb. Bag Of Pedigree Complete Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food Roasted...
- Complete And Balanced Nutrition Provides Optimal Levels Of Omega-6 Fatty Acid To Nourish...
- U.S. Farm-Raised Chicken is the #1 Ingredient
- Natural Prebiotics Help Support Healthy Digestion
- One (1) 31.1 lb. Bag - Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Lamb & Rice Formula Adult Dry Dog...
- Made with high-quality protein sources, including real lamb as the #1 ingredient
- High Quality Protein Made With Real Pasture Raised Beef, Tailored For Adult Dogs To...
- Premium Ingredients With Added Vitamins & Minerals; Fruits And Vegetables As Superfoods...
- A taste of the wild with SMOKED SALMON; REAL SALMON is the #1 ingredient; optimal amino...
- Premium ingredients with added vitamins & minerals; fruits and vegetables as SUPERFOODS...
- Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Minichunks Dry Dog Food Chicken
- Veterinarians recommend IAMS - we've got your dog's diet down to a science
Runners-Up for Best Dry Dog Food Brands
Born Free: We couldn’t find this brand on Amazon, Chewy, PetSmart, or PetCo, and you can’t buy directly from their website, either. Currently only available at specialty pet food stores in the Midwest. Approved formulas: any.
Dynamite: Available directly from the manufacturer’s website, but not Chewy, Amazon, PetCo, or PetSmart. Approved formulas: any.
Only Natural Pet: Chewy is one of the few places you can find this hard-to-find, top brand. Approved formulas: MaxMeat Air-Dried.
RedPaw: Not available on Chewy, Amazon, PetCo, or PetSmart. Can be purchased through the manufacturer and at some local pet stores nationwide. Approved formulas: X-Series.
TimberWolf: Not available at major online retailers, but can be purchased directly from the manufacturer and at a handful of locations in Florida and along the East Coast. Approved formulas: any.
Runners-Up for Best Wet Dog Food Brands
Blackwood: Chewy carries a strong selection. Approved formulas: any.
Diamond Naturals: While the dry formulas are mediocre, their wet foods are top notch (and hard to find) but are now available on Chewy. Approved wet formulas: any.
Grandma Mae’s Country Naturals: Spotty availability on Amazon, and not available at all from PetSmart, PetCo or Chewy. Approved formulas: the brand’s “Healthy” line.
Performatrin: Available from Chewy or the manufacturer’s website. Approved formulas: any.
Pinnacle: Available in specialty pet food stores on the West Coast, but we couldn’t find this brand’s wet food at any major online retailer. Approved formulas: any.
PureVita: Available in some specialty pet food stores, and with hit-or-miss availability on Amazon. Approved formulas: any.
RAWZ: Available mainly in Texas. The company does not sell directly and has a “strict” policy against 3rd-party e-commerce, so you’ll have to find it in person. Approved formulas: any.
How we chose our favorite dog foods
When we first encountered the phrase “natural flavor,” we pictured just that — juices and drippings that result from tasty things being cooked. We learned that’s not necessarily the case. The FDA explains “natural flavor” can indicate the inclusion of “digests,” “which are materials treated with heat, enzymes and/or acids to form concentrated natural flavors.”
Wet food formulas with “gravy” or extra water
The FDA rules that the maximum moisture percentage for wet dog foods is 78 percent. But many companies exceed this limit, in part because there’s a loophole. The FDA allows moisture to cap out at 87.5 percent if the formula’s name includes the words “stew,” “in the sauce” or “in gravy,” even though there’s no consensus about what stew, sauce, and gravy are.
Large dog food companies cater to lots of customers, which means different formulas from the same brand can vary in price and quality: We cut AvoDerm’s “Grain Free” line because it had too many plant-based fillers, but the AvoDerm “Revolving Menu” recipes passed with flying colors thanks to including high-quality proteins.
We made sure our remaining picks were easy to locate. Some, like Born Free, we could find only in brick-and-mortar pet shops in the Midwest. Others, like Dynamite, could be purchased directly through the manufacturer’s site but nowhere else. We’ve listed these harder-to-find brands as runners-up, and they’re great options if you’re inclined to track them down.
Guide to Finding the Best Dog Food
Just like humans, dogs have preferences. One of our office dogs, for example, devours salmon with gusto but acts offended if he’s served bison. Since no single protein source is superior, it’s fine to cater to your dog’s preferences — or to explore a variety of flavors if you’re a new pup owner.
Signs that your dog may have a food allergy include itchy skin, diarrhea, and gassiness. If you don’t think your dog has a food allergy, he’s probably fine: Food allergies make up 10 percent of all dog allergies. But if you’ve noticed any of the issues above, it might be time to switch formulas. “When pets have food sensitivities or allergies, it is most commonly due to protein in the food,” Dr. Gary Richter told us. “Sometimes the problem is meat like chicken or beef, and sometimes it is the protein component of plant material, such as wheat, corn or rice.”
Our top picks are all readily available online, but some companies only distribute regionally or in specialty stores. If you prefer in-person shopping, you might run into some of our regional runners-up on the shelves. Rest assured that they are excellent choices as well.
Look at cost
No matter what your budget looks like, don’t feel guilty about sticking to it. If you’re willing and able and want to splurge for our most expensive dry food (Ziwi Peak), go for it. If you prefer paying less for Fromm Classic, our cheapest pick, we’re confident that it’s a balanced, nutritious and high-quality option. Don’t feel pressured to get the most expensive food in order to be a No. 1 dog parent.
Consult your vet
After hundreds of hours of ingredient research and expert interviews, we ended up with 30 top brands. They’re all great and we’d feel good feeding any of them to our pets. However, you know your dog’s needs best. If you have any concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet about which food will work well. If they’re unfamiliar with the presented issues, it’s recommended to reach out to a Boarded Veterinary Nutritionist for help or clarification.