Your home is part of the 44 percent of U.S. households with a canine companion. The relationship between you and your dog is special and unique. Just as unique are your dog’s needs. Investing in its needs helps keep your dog happy and healthy for years to come.
Every dog has its own nutritional needs. It can have food allergies and sensitivities or simply be picky. Pet retailers carry a wide variety of foods, allowing you to pick the right one to ensure an empty bowl at the end of dinner.
Sorting through all the food options can be overwhelming. We’ve done the work for you and filtered out the junk food to find 10 of the best dry dog foods.
- Dog Food FAQ
- How Did We Select These Dry Dog Foods?
- You Get What You Pay For
- The Best Dry Food for Happy and Healthy Dogs
- Taste of the Wild Grain-Free High-Protein Natural Dry Dog Food - High Prairie Adult
- Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet - Grain Free Turkey and Potato
- Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Recipe with Pork
- Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- BLUE Freedom Grain-Free Dry Dog Food - Chicken Recipe
- CRAVE Grain-Free High-Protein Dry Dog Food
- Nature's Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food - Salmon, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Recipe
- Nature's Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food - Lamb Meal and Rice Recipe
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Dry Dog Food - Chicken, Brown Rice and Sweet Potato
- Comparison Table
- The Verdict
Dog Food FAQ
Why dry dog food?
Our understanding of canine nutrition has come a long way in the past few decades. Now all your dog’s nutritional needs can be met in a high-quality dry food.
It’s hard to deny the convenience of dry dog food. It’s shelf stable. It’s easy to feed your pet with just a scoop into the bag, and there is no need to refrigerate the leftovers. Dry kibble is perfect for use in an automatic feeder. Your dog’s dinner can always be on time regardless of where you are.
What does your dog need?
The main components vital for a happy, healthy dog are protein and fat. The need for these components changes throughout your dog’s life. A good dry dog food will provide your dog with the balance of fat and protein it needs at its current stage of life. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend levels best suited for your dog’s personal needs.
Secondary to the balance of protein and fat is carbohydrates. Dogs are not obligate carnivores like cats. They have evolved to include some fruits and vegetables in their diets. Higher quality carbohydrates from vegetables also contain essential vitamins and minerals.
What is a high-quality protein?
The nutrition label does not indicate the source and quality of protein in the dog food. We need to check the ingredient list to evaluate the quality of the protein.
For example, while chicken meal technically can contain just as much or more protein than chicken meat, the protein in chicken meal can come from parts of the chicken other than the meat. These parts are a bit more difficult for your dog to digest.
When a dog eats a recognizable kind of meat, there is no mystery as to what part of the animal it is eating. We know that it is eating something that will definitely give it the protein it needs.
What about carbohydrates?
Dogs need carbohydrates for quick energy, but some are better than others. Sweet potatoes and other vegetables are far better sources of carbohydrates than any grain, which includes corn. In fact, corn is the ingredient most likely to cause food intolerance or sensitivity.
What ingredients should be avoided?
Corn, soy and wheat are all inexpensive ingredients used in dog foods. However, dogs cannot easily digest these types of grains and derive little nutrition from them. These ingredients are often the source of food sensitivities and allergies.
How Did We Select These Dry Dog Foods?
All of the dry dog foods reviewed in our search for the best dry dog food are formulated to meet the Dog Food Nutrient Profile for adult maintenance from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). When it comes to pet owners, the AAFCO seeks to protect the health of both man and animal through feed regulations.
The foods selected each place high-quality sources of protein at the top of their ingredient lists. We also took into account the presence of vegetables and other sources of vitamins and minerals. These are things that your dog needs for its health but cannot produce on its own.
We scoured the ingredient lists for fillers and other ingredients that do not have any nutritional benefit. Food with grain as the primary ingredient will cost less, but your dog will need to eat more of it to get enough nutrition, and you will certainly need more poop bags. Even if such a food is labeled as high protein, it is not a kind of protein that your dog can easily digest. Dog food can be made of empty calories and low in nutrients just like human junk food.
You Get What You Pay For
The price of dry dog food ranges from $23.99 to $55.99 for a bag. None of our selections contain corn, wheat or soy. In general, foods on the cheaper end contain more grains, which are difficult for dogs to digest and nutrient-deficient.
Meat meal can be an acceptable budget protein, provided it is supported by nutrient rich carbohydrates combined with essential vitamins and minerals. However, the protein usually increases in quality as the overall price increases. By spending more on dog food, your dog will get the full benefit of the higher-quality protein, fat, carbohydrates and essential vitamins and minerals it needs to stay happy and healthy.
The Best Dry Food for Happy and Healthy Dogs
All of the dry dog foods below provide complete nutrition. Keep in mind that all of these foods are available through multiple vendors. If you do a little searching, you can likely find a better price.
Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe High...
For anyone looking for something besides the usual flavors, Taste of the Wild has you covered. This brand specializes in using protein sources that are closer to what wolves hunt in the wilderness, hence the name. It also happens to be quite high in protein. This makes it a good choice for active dogs.
Other ingredients include sweet potatoes, peas, eggs, dried chicory root and raspberries. The range of ingredients provides antioxidants for immune system support and omega fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin. Taste of the Wild includes a blend of probiotics specially formulated for dogs, added after cooking to ensure its quality.
- STARTS WITH REAL TURKEY: A recipe that starts with real turkey as the first ingredient, this adult dry dog food features...
- LIMITED INGREDIENT DOG FOOD: BLUE Basics is a limited ingredient grain free dog food that doesn’t contain any chicken,...
- WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive LifeSource Bits – a precise blend of antioxidants,...
For owners careful about what they feed their dogs, a limited ingredient dry food is ideal. This particular formula uses deboned turkey as its protein source and potato as its source of carbohydrates.
Blue Buffalo includes vitamins and minerals in this food in the form of a kibble they call LifeSource Bits. Essentially, your dog is getting chewable vitamins in its dinner.
- One (1) 25.0 lb. Bag - Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Dry Dog Food Pork, Beef & Lamb Recipe
- Dry food for dogs contains high-quality proteins like real pork, beef and lamb
- Grain free and poultry free dog food great for dogs with sensitive stomachs
Chicken is the most widely available source of protein, but it isn’t for every dog. If your dog is sensitive to poultry, Whole Earth Farms has created a dry food completely free of poultry. Pork, beef and lamb are the sources of protein. This dry food also includes some ingredients not found in other foods, such as dried blueberries, rosemary and several probiotics.
- ENJOY A LIFETIME OF WELLBEING: High quality protein, healthy fats and fiber are expertly balanced to deliver a complete,...
- OPTIMAL ENERGY AND HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEMS: Antioxidant rich ingredients support strong immune systems, balanced...
- WHOLE BODY HEALTH: Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics and taurine for a healthy heart
Wellness is among the brands that add probiotics to their dry dog food. It fits with the Wellness focus on providing complete nutrition for the overall health of your dog.
- STARTS WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe that starts with real chicken as the first ingredient, this dry dog food features the...
- GRAIN FREE DOG FOOD: BLUE Freedom grain free adult dog food is specifically formulated to meet the nutritional...
- WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive LifeSource Bits – a precise blend of antioxidants,...
This is the food for dogs that love chicken. Deboned chicken, chicken meal and chicken fat are combined with potatoes, peas and tapioca for a balance of protein and fat. Among the unexpected ingredients in BLUE Freedom are flaxseed, barley grass and dried kelp. Flaxseed is an excellent source of omega fatty acids. This food also includes probiotics in its recipe.
- Contains one (1) 4 lb. bag of CRAVE Grain Free Adult Dry Dog Food with Protein from Lamb and Venison—for any size dog
- Inspired by the diets of their wolf ancestors, CRAVE adult dog food is made with real high-quality animal protein and...
- Satisfies a dog’s natural desire for animal protein with real lamb as the first ingredient
CRAVE is another high-protein dry dog food widely available in stores. Much like Taste of the Wild, the food formula is inspired by the diet of wolves in the wilderness.
- Contains (1) 24 Pound Bag of Dry Dog Food
- Real salmon is the #1 ingredient
- Easy-to-digest recipe, with nutrient-dense, healthy sweet potatoes and pumpkins
This dry dog food is grain-free and a good budget option for dogs with food sensitivities. Every pet owner has faced some sort of potty disaster. It’s never a pleasant thing. When that happens, your dog can benefit from the addition of sweet potato and pumpkin to their diet. These ingredients help settle your dog’s digestive system as they get back to normal.
- Contains (1) 30 Pound Bag of Dry Dog Food
- High-quality lamb meal helps support muscle growth
- Contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to help maintain skin and coat health
Of all the foods reviewed, this particular kind of Nature’s Recipe is the one you will be most likely to find at your local superstore. Unlike its shelfmates, you won’t find corn, wheat or soy in it. It is widely available at major retailers and online.
Rachel Ray Nutrish is another brand that is often available in superstores, similar to Nature’s Recipe. Salmon is the source of protein and more easily digested. Salmon and menhaden fish meal are rich sources of amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids. The carbohydrates come from pea starch and tapioca, both of which are easy to digest.
- Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of Nutro wholesome essentials natural adult dry dog food farm-raised chicken, brown rice &...
- Farm-Raised Chicken Is The #1 Ingredient To Deliver Great Taste And Help Support Strong Muscles
- Contains Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids To Promote Healthy Skin & A Soft, Shiny Coat
While the carbohydrates mainly come from brown rice, the sweet potato adds its own dose of nutritious carbohydrates with healthy fiber.
Any one of the foods above will meet your dog’s basic needs. However, the variety of ingredients and probiotics in Taste of the Wild makes it the best general dry dog food. Its high amount of protein makes it even better for high-energy or working dogs.