In this article you will find:
- Overall Best Dog Foods in 2021
- More Top Rated Brands
- 5 Dog Food Related Trends Heading into 2021
- The Top 9 Worst Dog Food Brands of 2021
- Key Differences Between the Worst and Best Dog Foods
- Different Types of Dog Food in 2021
- FAQs regarding General Dog Nutrition
- What are the best dog foods?
- What is best dry dog food on the market?
- What dog food is killing dogs?
- What is the dangerous ingredient in dog food?
Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is the researched opinion of the writer and should not be substituted for experienced medical advice from a licensed Veterinary specialist.
All dog owners want the best for their pets and one of the most important decisions they can make is their choice of dog food.
Whether you are a new pet parent or an experienced veteran, this decision can be rather daunting. With so many different brands out there, how can you best determine what is right for your dog?
Here at DogFood.Guide we have a dedicated mission to provide dog owners like you with well-researched information so they can provide the best care and nutrition to their dogs.
Our readers rely upon the dog food reviews, articles and recall alerts that we research and publish. We also routinely update and review our own reviews ensuring that any changes by manufacturers are brought to your attention.
DogFood.Guide is maintained by Mary Nielsen & her staff. Mary is an animal lover of both dogs and cats. She and her staff are passionate about animals and work hard to provide you with a wealth of information for you and your dog.
OUR TOP 3 PICKS FOR THE BEST DOG FOODS
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This guide is here to make that process much simpler. This guide will teach you the difference between bad and good pet food, and help you make an informed decision on what will best benefit your dog. Here are the worst & best dog food reviews for 2021:
Overall Best Dog Foods in 2021
Ollie Fresh Pet Food
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Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free
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American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato
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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy
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True Acre Foods Chicken & Vegetable Recipe
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Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken
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VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food
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Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Formula
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Merrick Grain-Free Texas Beef & Sweet Potato
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Instinct Original Recipe with Real Chicken
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Below is the list of products reviewed on this article:
- Ollie Fresh Pet Food Turkey Recipe
- Taste of the Wild High Prairie
- American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy
- True Acre Foods Chicken & Vegetable Recipe
- Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken
- VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula
- Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Formula
- Merrick Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato
- Instinct by Nature's Variety Original
1. Ollie Turkey Recipe
- Human grade premium dog food
- Creates an individual plan for your dog
- High in protein and fat
- No fillers, artificial flavorings, or preservatives
- Ordered online and delivered door to door
Ollie is created by canine nutritionists, a raw food system designed to give your pet optimum nutrition in a limited ingredient formula.
Everything is created using restaurant grade ingredients and shipped within days of getting made. It’s easy to set up your account and manage things based on your dog’s needs. If you’ve got the extra budget, it’s worth it.
The limited ingredients present in Ollie's formula makes it a great option for dogs with sensitive stomachs and will help prevent potential allergic reactions.
By cutting out the plant proteins that are typically found in dry dog foods to boost the protein content, your dog will be less likely to suffer from digestive distress.
Ollie is therefore perfect for even the pickiest of dogs. Of the four unique vet-crafted recipes on offer, we would recommend the Turkey Recipe option.
It incorporates turkey breast, turkey liver, kale, carrots, blueberries and chia seeds to provide a flavor and texture that is unrivaled.
This fresh dog food formula is grain-free and contains no fillers. The meat is also sourced from farms that provide vegetable-fed and hormone-free turkey. All these factors make Ollie a step above other luxury formulas.
Whole fruits and veggies provide excellent doses of vitamins and minerals, which helps with immune support, while coconut oil and cod liver oil contains essential fatty acids for maintaining skin and coat health.
Everything is packaged in easy to use portion sizes, so there’s no confusion about how much to feed each mealtime. This is the closest to a homemade dog food out there.
Fill out a questionnaire for your dog and receive perfectly portioned meals. Put them in your refrigerator or freezer, and they’re ready to serve when you are.
Despite its steep price point, we truly believe that Ollie is the best dog food on the market today. We feel confident in stating that your dog will love it, and you would to if you tasted it!
- Fresh dog food
- Raw nutrition with limited ingredients
- Well-sourced ingredients
- Perfect for sensitive pets
- Designed specifically for your dog
- Delivered to your door
- Regular deliveries
- Weekly and biweekly delivery not available for some areas (may cause storage issues)
2. Taste of the Wild High Prairie
- Dry Food
- Bison and Venison
- High in protein and fat
- Based on an ancestral diet
Most Popular Healthiest – Taste of the Wild has produced a brilliant canine formula a that we are not sure can be beaten at this price point. Using bison and venison as its two animal protein sources, this dry dog food takes its inspiration from the ancestral diet of prehistoric canines.
It contains 32% protein and 18% fat. These numbers are brilliant and far above average. A high amount of protein and fat will do wonders for supporting the growth and maintenance of your dog's muscles and bones. High-fat content is also necessary for your dog to maintain a healthy immune system.
It is worth pointing out, however, that some of the protein in this formula is vegetable-based, with pea protein and potato protein featuring on the ingredients list.
Vegetable proteins are harder for your dog's stomach to break down, but it shouldn't be too much of a concern if your dog does not have any digestive problems.
Some dogs might also need to avoid eating potatoes and peas. If your dog does have trouble digesting foods, you might be better off trying a limited ingredient food instead.
As well as its great protein and fat content, Taste of the Wild has packed this formula full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This will help maintain a dog's health, improving their coat and skin.
The tomatoes, blueberries, and raspberries present in the formula will also help supplement these effects by providing your dog with valuable antioxidants and vitamins. This formula is free from grain, corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
All this means that Taste of the Wild has focused on what's really best for a dog's diet, without cutting costs and reducing its quality.
This really is an all killer, no filler dog kibble! We feel confident in saying this is the best dry dog food in its price range. We love it and think your dog will to!
- High in Protein
- High in Fat
- Also available in canned food
- Packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids
- Use of vegetable proteins
3. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Dry Food
- High in fat and protein
- Main animal protein is salmon
- High in omega-3 fatty acids
Most Inexpensive (Cheap) – American Journey has produced a dry dog food that goes to show that cheap does not have to mean poor quality. Using salmon as its main source of animal protein, this formula contains 32% protein and 14% fat.
This is amazing for a budget kibble and will be more than enough to ensure your dog maintains a healthy immune system, bones, and muscles.
However, some of this protein is from the vegetable source pea protein. This is harder for dogs to digest than animal protein, but shouldn't be too much of an issue for a healthy dog.
This kibble does also use chicken and turnkey meal to bolster its protein content, which could be of some concern to dogs with food allergies. In those cases, you would be better off going with American Journey's limited ingredient range. Still, this formula is grain-free,
This formula does include “dried plain beet pulp” as a source of fiber. This is fine but the saponinins in it has been found to cause irritation in a minor amount of dogs' gastrointestinal tract.
For this reason, we would recommend looking out for any irregularities or discomfort in your dog's behavior when transitioning to using this food.
As we said, it's usually fine in most dogs, but being cautious will help you guarantee that no allergic reactions are occurring.
We love that American Journey has included chickpeas in the recipe as a great source of fiber and protein, and the usage of sweet potatoes as a substantial ingredient means that this dry dog food will deliver high levels of vitamin A and beta-carotene.
These elements will help your dog's eyes remain in great shape. We have heard some complaints in the reviews of this product that the kibble was too hard for the teeth of toy dog breeds.
It's worth keeping that in mind if you do have a small dog, but other than this problem, there was a near-universal positive response from consumers reviewing the product.
Salmon can be a funny ingredient to dogs, with some not liking the pronounced fish odor and refusing to eat it. Whilst we have opted for the salmon and sweet potato recipe due to its higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acid, any of the other recipes in this range would be an option for any dog owner on a budget.
Overall, American Journey has produced a well-balanced kibble offering that is sure to give your dog the luxury experience, at an affordable price. Another best dog food at an affordable price.
- High in protein
- High in fat
- Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- Uses pea protein
- Salmon might not be appropriate for all dogs
- Can be too hard for smaller dog breeds
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy
- Includes DHA and ARA for brain and eye development
- Enriched with an abundance of vitamins and minerals
- No corn, wheat, soy or chicken (or poultry) by-product meals
- High-quality protein for healthy muscle growth
Best Puppy Food – Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe is a kibble designed for puppies under the age of 12 months and contains different feeding specifics for 1-3 months, 3-5 months, 5-7 months, and 7-12 months.
They have tried to produce a formula that will best enable your puppy to develop into a strong and healthy adult, and so have included a few extra vitamins and minerals that aren't always seen in regular puppy kibbles.
Blue Buffalo have utilized flaxseed and menhaden fish meal in the formula to give it a large amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
This will help your puppy develop strong and healthy skin and coat. It has also been enriched with calcium and phosphorus to help strengthen the bones and teeth of your puppy. We really like the approach that Blue Buffalo has taken with this food in taking into consideration all the needs of a puppy.
The kibble has been made smaller than usual to help dogs with smaller jaws and aids in tartar removal. DHA and ARA have also been added to boost brain and eye development. These fatty acids are typically found in mother's milk and so can help make up for an absence of this in your puppy's diet.
At $50 for a 30-lb bag, this puppy food is definitely in the more expensive category of dry dog food. We believe it justifies this price through its abundance of vitamins and minerals.
At 26% protein derived from chicken and 16% fat, Blue Buffalo has produced a formula with adequate levels of nutrition. These are pretty average amounts and will be just about enough for you to not have the fear that your puppy needs another source of protein to grow its muscles.
Some of this protein does, however, come from pea protein which can be difficult for some dogs to digest. With no corn, wheat, soy or chicken (or poultry) by-product meals used, you can rest assured that only the finest quality ingredients will be going into your puppy.
Your puppy will love the use of proper ingredients to fill this food with flavor. It contains apples, spinach, blueberries, and pumpkin. These premium natural ingredients exist not only to produce a great taste but also to fuel your puppy with a whole host of crucial vitamins and minerals.
It should be noted that this formula is not grain-free. Whether a pet food should be grain-free or not is a hotly debated issue, but it should not be a deal-breaker in choosing this specific formula for your puppy.
The use of brown rice in the product might be a problem for some dog's with weaker stomachs, so pay careful attention to your puppy's if you plan on transitioning to this food.
We see no reason why you would need to transition away from this kibble after 12 months other than price. It contains more than enough nutrients to power an adult dog throughout its life.
Overall, we love the attention to detail that the veterinarian's who designed this formula clearly had when they crafted this food from the ground up.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula, therefore, gets our seal of approval as the best dog food for puppies on the market.
- Specialized puppy formula
- Good amount of protein and fat
- Small kibble
- Not grain-free
- A little expensive
More Top Rated Brands
5. True Acre Foods Chicken & Vegetable Recipe
Using chicken as its main protein source, True Acre Foods have created a reasonable formula that gives quite a lot of value for money. Whilst it only contains an average amount of protein and fat at 24% and 13% respectively, this is all from animal protein sources.
This (along with the good sources of fiber present) make this a great food if your pooch has a weak stomach. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids present within the formula will also work to ensure your dog's coat and skin remain healthy and vibrant.
All of True Acre's dry dog foods are made with ingredients sourced from trusted farms, and without grains, wheat, corn or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Whilst peas are listed as one of the ingredients, it will be difficult to escape this ingredient within this price bracket.
At $39.99 for a 40-lb bag, this formula is quite reasonably priced and represents a good buy for the pet parent on a budget.
6. Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken
Gentle Giants have produced a chicken-based dry budget dog food that is packed with vitamins and minerals. It uses twelve whole fruits and vegetables including beets, tomatoes, blueberries, cranberries, spinach, celery, and apples.
This means that your dog will not only be enjoying a flavor sensation, they will also be absorbing Vitamin A, Vitamin B 12, and Vitamin C from natural sources. These aim to foster good immune health in your dog. We are a little disappointed in this formula's protein and fat content.
Containing only 22% protein, this food falls below the average amount in this price bracket. Still, this will adequately meet the nutritional needs of your dog and support their muscles and bones.
This formula has been designed for dog's with sensitive stomachs, so it might be a good idea to try this if your pet is having digestive trouble with standard canine food.
Whilst, it isn't really competitive with premium foods, Gentle Giants will be more than adequate for pet parents on a tight budget.
7. VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula
Victor has crafted a good mid-range all-rounder canine formula that should please any paw-rent. Containing 30% protein and 20% fat, this food is well above the average levels and will go a long way in developing and maintaining your pet's muscles and bones.
This formula is great for dog's with sensitive stomach as it is gluten-free and contains no corn, wheat, or peas. It is also loaded with natural fruit and vegetable ingredients that will aid digestive health.
The formula does contain a wide variety of animal protein sources, which can increase the risk that your dog will have an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients included. If this is the case, it might be worth investigating limited ingredient foods.
This formula includes the proprietary VICTOR CORE of selenium yeast (metabolic function, cellular regeneration and a strong immune response), mineral complexes (support a healthy coat and skin, paw pad integrity, immune response and efficient metabolism), prebiotics (promote immune defense and healthy digestive systems), and probiotics (promote healthy digestion and a strong immune system).
Victor Hi-Pro Plus Formula is priced at $50 for a 40-lb bag and we think that's a fair price. It's not a perfect canine formula, but it one that is unlikely to disappoint.
8. Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Formula
Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Formula is a mid-priced canine formula that does little to impress, but also does little wrong.
It only comes in one size, but at $36 for a 40-lb bag, this food fits comfortably between a budget and mid-range price point.
Diamond Naturals take a holistic approach to crafting dog food, aiming to meet every pet's needs with the use of proprietary probiotics and the inclusion of superfoods.
They believe that by making their dry dog foods contain 10-20% “superfoods” (kale, blueberries, chia seeds, pumpkin, quinoa, coconut, and spinach), your dog will be able to properly absorb all of its required vitamins and minerals.
These superfoods replace common fillers such as corn, wheat, and soy (which are never present within Diamond Naturals' recipes). It contains 25% protein and 15% fat which is pretty average in this price range.
9. Merrick Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe
If you are specifically looking for grain-free canine formula, then you can't go wrong with this Merrick recipe.
It's perfect for all breeds, ages, and sizes and is available in a variety of different flavors. We recommend the beef and sweet potato recipe as it is poultry-free (a common allergy in dogs).
Containing a whopping 38% protein and 15% fat, Merrick's philosophy is that these two properties in combination with a host of vitamins and minerals will do wonders for promoting the overall dog's health.
They are extremely transparent with regards to the ingredient composition, choosing only the best available products and containing no corn, wheat, soy or gluten ingredients.
This helps give us tremendous confidence in recommending the brand. At $60 for a 25-lb bag, this does fall into the premium category.
Whether the exceptional nutritional content is worth the increased price is up to you.
10. Instinct by Nature's Variety Original Recipe with Real Chicken
Nature's Variety has produced a premium grain-free recipe that excels in all areas. The recipe uses chicken as its main protein source, with all the poultry used in its production coming from cage-free chickens.
Every piece of kibble contains a raw ingredient, which Nature's Variety believes is the best way for dogs to take in nutrients. It does not include any grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors or preservatives.
This leaves more room for minerals and vitamins that will enable your dog to thrive! Peas are included in the formula, which might be a problem for some dogs with weaker stomachs. To counterbalance this.
Natural Balance has packed this formula with guaranteed levels of live, natural probiotics, natural omegas and antioxidants to encourage digestive health, healthy skin and coat, and immune health.
This is a relatively new formula, so if you have avoided Nature's Instinct formulas in the past, it might be worth reconsidering.
This is an excellent canine formula that is well worth the $60 for a 22.5 lb bag, all things considered.
5 Dog Food Related Trends Heading into 2021
- Fresh Pet Food Delivery – More and more companies are being created that offer fresh food delivered to your door. These services typically craft a recipe that has been personalized for your dog's specific dietary needs. They are quite often expensive and are therefore not affordable for a lot of dog owners. With that being said, some consider these to be the safest dog food options. We really, really like Ollie Pet Food Delivery.
- Pea Free Formulas – Following an FDA study in 2018, there has been a link found between canine heart disease and grain-free diets. This has been linked to the usage of potatoes, lentils, legumes, and peas in grain-free formulas. Check out our 9 Best Dog Foods without Peas.
- Transparency – Consumers are increasingly demanding to know where the ingredients in recipes come from. Sites are being established online to investigate the effects filler and substitute ingredients can have on dogs.
- Personalization – Many companies are crafting lines for dogs with specific dietary requirements. Limited ingredient diets are becoming increasingly popular as a way of preventing food allergies in dogs.
- Focus on Research and Feeding Trials – The 2018 FDA study has sparked a wave of research and feeding trials into the effects of a grain-free diet.
The Top 9 Worst Dog Food Brands of 2021
All pet foods are not created equal but most of the low-quality dog food brands have a few things in common.
Some of the worst brands on the market load up their products with inexpensive fillers like corn and wheat products – their products also tend to be carb-heavy instead of meat-based.
Low-quality pet formulas make heavy use of by-products and plant proteins, plus they often use artificial colors and flavors to make their products more palatable for pets and the people who care for them.
Something else these foods have in common is frequent product recalls. Here is an overview of the Top 9 worst brands of 2021:
The Alpo brand of dog food was founded nearly 80 years ago with the goal of producing flavorful, meat-rich canine formulas.
Alpo is one of several brands of pet food that fall under the Purina umbrella which includes other low-quality brands like Beneful, Mighty Dog, Purina Dog Chow, T-Bonz, and Waggin’ Train.
The Alpo brand is marketed as a producer of meat-rich canine food but the truth is, these products are full of artificial additives and low-quality ingredients. Alpo canned foods come in a variety of flavors that are supposedly “cooked in savory juices” with meaty ingredients like filet mignon and bacon.
A quick review of the ingredients list for these products, however, reveals the use of meat by-products and artificial flavors.
Alpo is primarily a wet food brand, though there are two dry food options that make heavy use of low-quality fillers like ground yellow corn and plant proteins like corn gluten meal and soybean meal.
Recall Info: In its 80 years of existence, the Alpo brand has been affected by numerous recalls. In the past decade, there has been one major recall affecting more than a dozen products that was issued due to concerns of melamine contamination.
Problem Ingredients: meat by-products, soy flour, ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, meat and bone meal, animal digest, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives
2. Grreat Choice
The Grreat Choice brand of canine formula is produced by PetSmart, one of the leading pet retailers in the United States.
This brand offers a limited selection of dry products for puppies, adult dogs, small-breed, and large-breed dogs. Grreat Choice is not only readily available in PetSmart stores around the country, but it is also highly affordable – a 20-pound bag of dry food costs less than $15.
That alone should be enough to raise a red flag but the problems don’t stop there. A quick review of Grreat Choice recipe reveals the use of corn, wheat, and soy ingredients as well as unnamed ingredients like bone meal and poultry fat.
These products are described as “complete nutrition for health and vitality” but the sad truth is that they are nothing more than low-quality products loaded with fillers and artificial additives.
Grreat Choice recipes also stick to the minimum for crude protein and fat while being a little bit heavy on the carbohydrates.
Recall Info: The Grreat Choice brand has been affected by numerous recalls in recent years – two to be specific. A 2007 recall was issued due to potential melamine contamination and a 2009 recall was issued due to potential salmonella contamination.
Problem Ingredients: ground yellow corn, meat and bone meal, wheat middling ground wheat, corn gluten meal, meat by-products, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives.
3. Purina Dog Chow
The Purina name applies to a number of food brands produced and manufactured by the Nestle Purina PetCare Company.
The company began as the Ralston Purina Company in 1893 and it currently includes more than half a dozen different product lines. Purina Dog Chow is one of Purina’s oldest products and, unfortunately, one of the worst products as well.
Purina Dog Chow offers an assortment of recipes for puppies, adult dogs, small dogs, large dogs, and picky eaters – there are also natural formulas and recipes for weight management.
The classic Dog Chow recipe is made with whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, and chicken by-product meal among the first six ingredients.
As a whole, Purina Dog Chow uses many low-quality fillers and non-nutritive ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy products – their dry dog food line are also loaded with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Unfortunately, many dog owners still buy these products because they are cheap and because they sound like good products based on what’s printed on the package.
Recall Info: The Purina brand as a whole has been subject to many recalls over the years. Surprisingly, however, none have targeted the Dog Chow product line in particular.
Problem Ingredients: whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, chicken by-product meal, whole grain wheat, animal digest, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives
Beneful is another product line that falls under the Purina umbrella of brands. The brand itself was released in 2001 and its main draw is the fact that its dry dog food come in a variety of shapes, colors, and textures.
Beneful offers a variety of dry food and wet food products that supposedly contain “real meats” like beef, chicken, and salmon.
If you take a quick look at the ingredients list for some of Beneful’s dry food products, however, that while there are some real meats included, they are likely outweighed by by-products and plant proteins.
For example, the Benefuls Originals with Real Beef dry food lists beef as the first ingredient but it is followed by five fillers or by-products – there are also numerous artificial colors and flavors.
Beneful’s wet dog food line are also made with corn, wheat, and soy ingredients as well as artificial additives.
Recall Info: The Purina family of brands has been affected by many recalls over the past decade or so, but only one major recall has affected the Beneful line in particular.
This recall occurred in 2016 when Beneful canned products were recalled due to inadequate levels of key vitamins and minerals. Beneful has also been the subject of many consumer complaints, though Purina maintains that these accusations are “baseless”.
Problem Ingredients: wheat gluten, meat by-products, soy flour, whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, poultry and pork digest, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives
The Pedigree brand of food is owned and produced by Mars PetCare, a subsidiary of Mars, Inc. which is the sixth largest privately held company in the United States.
Pedigree offers a wide assortment of dry foods, canned foods, and dog treats that are marketed as, “really good food”. This brand offers food products for puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs as well as recipes formulated for dogs of different sizes and with different dietary and health needs.
If you check the ingredients list for most of these products, however, you will find that they do not vary significantly in terms of their formulation. Most Pedigree products list whole grain corn as the first ingredient.
Not only is this ingredient a common food allergen for dogs, but it offers very limited nutritional value. Most of Pedigree’s products are carb-heavy and loaded with low-quality fillers as well as artificial additives.
What makes this brand so popular is the fact that it is easy to find and easy to afford.
Recall Info: The Pedigree brand has been affected by numerous recalls in recent history. In fact, the most recent recall of August 2014 involved reports of metal fragments in the food. Another recall in 2012 involved reports of plastic pieces in the food. Other recalls have been issued regarding potential salmonella contamination.
Problem Ingredients: ground whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, ground whole grain heat, soybean meal, brewers rice, meat and bone meal, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives
6. Royal Canin
The Royal Canin brand was founded in 1968 and it has become one of the largest pet food brands in the country in terms of variety.
Royal Canin offers hundreds of products which are divided into different product lines based on life stage, breed size, lifestyle, and health status. Royal Canin is particularly known for offering breed-specific recipes.
Unfortuantely, these formulas are not very different from each other and, like most of Royal Canin’s products, they are heavy in low-quality carbohydrates and by-products.
Many of Royal Canin’s canine formulas list an animal by-product as the main source of protein, though it is not always the main ingredient – many recipes list corn or wheat first.
Royal Canin does use some chelated minerals in their recipes but it is hard to cancel out so many other low-quality ingredients, overall, Royal Canin is not a high-quality brand.
Recall Info: The Royal Canin brand has been affected by several recalls in recent history, primarily due to concerns of melamine contamination.
There were two recalls in 2007 as well as a recall in February issued due to high levels of vitamin D3.
Problem Ingredients: wheat gluten, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, corn, wheat gluten, fish protein digest, hydrolyzed yeast, artificial flavors, preservatives
7. Hill’s Science Diet
Although Hill’s Science Diet is marketed as a top choice by many veterinarians, these recommendations are made in error.
While Hill’s might be one of the largest brands of pet food in terms of product variety, it is by no means one of the better brands in terms of quality.
The Hill’s Science Diet brand is produced by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. and it is available in pet stores and vet offices around the country. Hill’s Science Diet offers a wide variety of products for puppies, adult, and senior dogs as well as small-breed and large-breed dogs.
They also offer recipes formulated for certain health problems. If you review the ingredients list for many Hill’s Science Diet products, however, you’ll find that they aren’t all that different and that many of them are loaded with low-quality ingredients.
For example, many Science Diet products list a carbohydrate as the first ingredient and most recipes include corn, wheat, and soy products.
Recall Info: The Hill’s Science Diet brand of pet formula has been recalled a number of times and it was voluntarily withdrawn by the company once in 2015 due to labeling issues.
There were two recalls in 2007 related to melamine concerns and one in 2014 that was issued due to potential salmonella contamination.
Problem Ingredients: whole grain wheat, brewers rice, soybean meal, soybean oil, whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, pea protein, artificial flavors, preservatives
8. Kibbles ‘n Bits
This brand of food is easily one of the most popular brands on the market – in fact, it is the fifth largest dog food brand currently in the United States.
This brand is produced and manufactured by Big Heart Pet Brands and it includes a variety of wet & dry food products.
The Kibbles ‘n Bits brand promises “joy in every bite” but a brief review of their canine formulas shows that not only is joy missing from the ingredients list, but so are many high-quality ingredients.
Kibbles ‘n Bits dry foods are supposedly made with flavorful roasted meets like beef and chicken but if you look at the ingredients list for any of this brand’s dry food products you will find that they are very carb heavy – corn is the first ingredient in many cases.
Kibbles ‘n Bits wet dog foods are also loaded with corn, wheat, and soy ingredients as well as by-products and plant proteins.
Recall Info: Despite the fact that Kibbles n’ Bits uses a variety of low-quality ingredients and non-nutritive fillers in their products, there are no product recalls in recent brand history.
Problem Ingredients: corn, soybean meal, wheat flour, soy flour, wheat middlings, corn syrup, meat by-products, soy protein concentrate, animal digest, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives
9. Ol’ Roy
The Ol’ Roy brand is produced and manufactured by the Mars Group for sale in Walmart stores. Although this brand definitely belongs on the list for worst brands of all time, it is still one of the top-selling brands in the United States.
The main reason for this is probably the fact that it is highly affordable and easy to find – Walmart doesn’t actually advertise this product at all. Ol’ Roy claims to offer “great meaty taste to encourage healthy appetite” and the package suggests comparing this product to Purina Dog Chow.
This alone should raise a red flag since Purina Dog Chow is not a quality product. A review of the ingredients list for several Ol’ Roy products reveals the use of many corn, wheat, and soy ingredients as well as low-quality meat products and artificial additives.
A 50-pound bag of Ol’ Roy dogfood costs less than $25 which is another red flag – no high-quality food will be sold at such a low price.
Recall Info: There have been several recalls of Ol’ Roy dog food in recent history.
Two recalls in 2007 and 2008 were issued due to potential salmonella contamination and a third was issued in 2007 due to potential melamine concerns.
Problem Ingredients: ground yellow corn, meat and bone meal, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, brewers rice, wheat middlings, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives
Key Differences Between the Worst and Best Dog Foods
- The best dog food will exceed the minimum nutritional requirements – Whilst all commercially available foods will reach the minimum required nutritional levels, the minimum is not enough to make your dog fully thrive.
- Protein – According to Kate Barrington at Petsumer.com, the best dog food will have over 25% protein. This should be ideally from all animal sources, without using vegetable protein.
- Fat – The best foods will have at least 10% fat content.
- Enriched with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
- The first five ingredients on the label should not contain any fillers, by-products, or additives.
Different Types of Dog Food in 2021
- Cheapest and most popular
- Usually comes in the form of dry kibble
- Good for teeth
- Requires water with the meal
- Easy to store
- Fussy dogs might find flavor and lack of aroma unappealing
- Good for picky dogs
- A bit more expensive
- More hydrating than dry
- Easier to digest
- Tend to be higher cost
- Focus on raw/lightly processed ingredients
- Stores longer than kibbles
- Requires re-hydration
- A type of dry pet food
- Not cooked at a high temperature to lock in nutrients
- May need to be combined with warm water
- Easy storage
- Comparable in price with dry kibble
- Raw food diet
- Can be pricey
- Very high in protein and fat
- Might be prone to bacteria
- Difficult to store
- New to the pet food market
- Deliverable to your house
- Designed specifically for your individual dog
- Guaranteed nutritional quality
- Much more expensive than other options
FAQs regarding General Dog Nutrition
- What is the best vet recommended dog food? – The truth is, there is no real consensus among vets on which food is the best. This is because all dogs are different and unique. There is no one catch-all formula that would be perfect for any dog. We would, therefore, recommend searching for a well-regarded food that is high in protein and fat, and that your dog likes the taste of!
- What foods should dogs avoid? – There are more foods that dogs should avoid than could ever be listed here. Some common human foods that are poisonous to dogs are chocolate, caffeine, onions, garlic, and sweetcorn. Check with a veterinary website before you feed your dog anything that isn't marketed as canine food.
- Is Grain Free Dog Food Really Better? – Dogs have been found to have trouble digesting grains and therefore grain-free foods can help aid digestion. A grain-free diet for your dog will also mean that you are likely buying formulas with higher levels of vegetables, fiber, and proteins. This will help the development of your dog's coat and skin, as well as provide your dog with more energy. A grain-free diet has however recently been linked to a small increase in canine heart disease.
- What dog foods are causing heart problems? – The FDA has recently begun to investigate how grain-free canine formulas might increase the risk of canine heart disease. It's still too early to come to any major conclusions, but we will keep an eye out on this story as it develops.
Choosing what you feed your pet is one of the most important decisions a paw-rent makes, and knowing the difference between good and bad formulas will go a long way in ensuring your dog leads a long and happy life.
We hope to have given you the means to identify a great dog formula, as well as make you aware of the potential problems that some ingredients might inflict on dogs with sensitive stomachs.
We believe that any of the products on this list will do an excellent job of feeding your dog. If your dog has tried any of the recipes on the list, be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of the page. We'd love to know what your dog's favorite food is!
What are the best dog foods?
Nom Nom, Blue Buffalo, Taste of the Wild, American Journey, Rachael Ray Nutrish, Merrick, Instinct to name a few.
What is best dry dog food on the market?
Nature's Logic, Nutro, Canidae I and Love and You, Nom Nom, Taste of the wild.
What dog food is killing dogs?
Hill's Pet Nutrition is facing the wrath of dog owners who say their pets became ill or died after eating canned food recalled nationwide for elevated levels of vitamin D that can poison a pooch.
What is the dangerous ingredient in dog food?
Butylated-hydroxyanisole (BHA) or butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) both are equally potent and dangerous for your pet. In fact, these two are often found in our food too. BHA is another preservative and is often responsible for kidney damage.