Any dog owner knows that a dog is more than just a pet, a dog is an extension of your family. Dogs are loyal companions and many people’s best friends, so subpar dog food with imitation meat and a whole lot of byproducts just won’t cut it. When looking for the right dog food for your dog, it’s important to do lots of research and find one with high-quality ingredients that’s appropriate for their age and breed.
Luckily, we’ve rounded up 15 of the best foods out there into a massive dog food comparison guide to help you find the perfect meal for your pet.
Best Overall Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
Best Dry Dog Food
Diamond Naturals Dry Food for Adult Dog
Best Wet Dog Food
Simply Perfection Super Premium Variety Pack
Best Grain Free Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Adult Dry
Best Freeze Dried Dog Food
Sojos Complete Raw Freeze Dried Dog Food Mix
Best Dog Food for Puppies
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food
Best Affordable Dog Food
Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Formula Adult Dry Dog Food
Best Senior Dog Food
Diamond Naturals Premium Senior Dry Dog Food
- Made with real, cage-free chicken
- Superfoods provide a boost of antioxidants
- Made in the USA, family owned & run
- Perfect for older dogs
- Nutrient-rich and highly digestible with proprietary, senior dog-specific probiotics
- No corn, wheat, filler; no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
Best Dog Food for Small Dogs
Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dog Food
Best Large Breed Dog Food
Diamond Naturals Adult Large Breed Premium Dog Food
Best Diet Dog Food
Nutro Ultra Weight Management Adult Dry Dog Food
Best Dog Food for Allergies
PS For Dogs 100% Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Best Canned Dog Food
Natural Balance Ultra Premium Wet Dog Food
Best Sensitive Stomach Dog Food
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food
Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Best Dog Food Buyer’s Guide
New dog owners, or those that are yet unfamiliar with the breed of their new pet, can find it daunting to select the right dog food that will keep their furry companion healthy, happy, and active. There are a lot of different options on the market, and while even a novice will be able to distinguish between a low-quality brand and one that is at the very top of the market, it is not always obvious which one of the top brands is the right one for your dog.
There are some rules to obey that are general and apply for most—if not all—dogs, as well as a couple of other rules. In each case, it is not a bad plan to discuss your dog’s diet plan with your vet. Having a veterinarian aware of what you are feeding the dog will not only help you understand your dog’s needs but will also assist the vet if there is an issue.
Different Dogs Need Different Types of Food
Pet owners should be aware of the specific dietary needs of their dog. This will depend on the breed, size, age, and other factors that can be either genetic or developed from the environment. As most of the information we get is obtained from the Internet, it will lack some differentiation, especially when it comes to external temperature. In most cases, we discuss food requirements based on dogs that live in room temperature of 69.8°F (21°C), but this will change if the dog spends a lot of time outside. As one calorie is the energy needed to heat up one liter of water per one degree Celsius, we can see how dogs that live in a colder climate will need more calories to remain warm and healthy.
Additionally, while some dogs prefer wet canned food or raw dog food due to their size, they might not be able to process that food correctly because of other factors. Dogs that have short noses (Brachycephalic dogs) such as Boxers, Pugs, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers will like eating high-protein dog food but will have issues with gas and hiccups unless they eat predominantly dry kibble.
As a general rule, younger dogs of the same breed will need more protein and older dogs will need more vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. Age is a very important factor and the reason why top dog food brands clearly state if the product is meant for puppies, adolescent dogs, mature dogs, or older dogs. The high-calorie content in puppy food implies that, if you were to feed the same food to your senior dog, they will not only have a problem processing it but may even gain weight significantly in a short while.
Always make sure that your furry friend gets a balanced diet with the correct mixture of ingredients that has all the additional vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that they might need depending on their age.
Importance of Protein
All dogs, reminiscent of their Canidae wolf-like ancestors, are predominantly carnivores. While some dogs will need some additional nutrients like dietary fiber or vitamins, the base of the dog’s diet will always be animal protein. Animal protein is specified as most dogs don’t have the enzymes necessary to dissolve plant protein, such as in beans or mushrooms. Additionally, as dogs need to consume large amounts of protein, the low saturation of protein in plants will usually mean that they will gain fat while losing muscle with a plant-based diet.
Dogs need very few carbohydrates in their meal and balanced nutrition for all breeds usually includes a high-protein diet with very few fruits and vegetables and as little in terms of grain as possible.
Focusing on natural ingredients when shopping for hypoallergenic dog food is a good starting point, but is usually not enough if you want to prevent your dog from getting an allergic reaction. If you think that your dog might be suffering from food allergies, consult with your veterinarian and try to figure out the exact cause of the allergy.
There are three things you should know how to select: true hypoallergenic dog foods, limited ingredient dog foods, and novel protein.
True Hypoallergenic Dog Food
While this type is the best choice for any dog with allergies, the price that often follows this food brings it out of bounds for most households. Only in cases where your dog is required to eat a certain type of animal protein and is, at the same time, allergic to it, then you will have to go with these types of products.
Limited Ingredient Dog Food
These are foods that usually contain only one kind of meat and a neutral binder that has no grains. As dogs are generally only allergic to one type of meat, excluding all other will probably do the trick of avoiding allergies.
While you will hear this term thrown around quite often, especially when talking about organic dog food and puppy food, novel protein is just protein that your dog is not used to eating.
Depending on your region, this may mean different things. Some dogs spend their lives eating wild-caught fish or even buffalo, meaning that, for them, novel protein would be something that is otherwise mundane, such as chicken or pork.
What to Look for in Dry Dog Food?
Dry food, or kibble, is probably the sensible choice if your furry friend is a large breed or spends a lot of calories every day. If you want dry food, make sure that it has a good binder that lacks soy, wheat, or corn, and that it has enough vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids and other nutrients, as not to force you to supplement your dog’s meal regularly.
What to Look for in Wet Dog Food?
When buying canned dog food, it is important to know the quantities you need as this food is usually best for mid-sized breeds. With small dogs, you will often waste most of the can and with large breed dogs, you may end up paying more for the dog’s food than you do your own.
The best canned food that you can find will always contain high protein meat as the main ingredient, with various fruits and vegetables placed into the mix as to provide amino acids, fatty acids (such as omega-3 and omega-6) as well as vitamins.
Should You Switch to Raw Food?
For dog owners who have easy access to high-quality raw meat, this might be a good option—and it is usually the healthiest. However, it is both pricey and time consuming to prepare your dog’s meal from scratch. Raw food is a question of long-term opportunity, and if you don’t believe that you will be able to feed your dog with fresh food regularly, it is better not to get your dog used to the taste.
Finally, your dog will probably be the best judge of the food you have purchased for it, as they will always jump on high-quality dog food that is rich in all the nutrients they need and will be slow to eat the food that they feel is not good for them. Be sure to take your time and weigh your options carefully, as you will probably need to offer your canine companion several different options before you find the right one.
As both your dog and the dog food producers change over time, don’t be afraid to change the brand that isn’t working for your dog anymore, as your dog’s health and wellbeing is the most important thing in the end.