In this article you will find:
- Why Quality Food Matters for Your Dog
- Best Dry Kibble Dog Food Brands
- Best Dry Dog Food for Seniors
- Best Dry Puppy Food
- Special Foods
- Advantages of Dry Over Wet Food
- What to Look For in a Quality Dry Dog Food
- Ingredients to Avoid in Your Dry Dog Food
- Dry Food Feeding Chart
- Final Thoughts
Which pet parent hasn’t tried to give kibble once or twice or more? It’s convenient, has a long shelf life, easy to store, and cheaper than wet food. And dry dog food provides just as much of the nutritional requirements of your pooch as other types of food products.
Of course, low-quality dog foods are much easier to disguise in kibble form because most go through a thorough processing that makes the natural ingredients unrecognizable. Don’t worry! We got your back.
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There are quite a few quality dry kibble dog food options that use premium ingredients to satisfy all your dog’s nutritional needs.
And we’ve listed the best dry dog food products here. But before that, let’s take a look at a few things you should know before you choose your dog's dry food. Read on to find out what the best dry dog foods are!
Why Quality Food Matters for Your Dog
Dog food that doesn’t give your pet complete nutrition offers only empty calories that puts your dog at risk of gaining weight. Quality food gives your dog the building blocks for health and well-being.
OUR TOP 3 PICKS FOR DRY KIBBLE DOG FOODS
|VIEW LATEST PRICE →See Customer Reviews →|
|VIEW LATEST PRICE →See Customer Reviews →|
Beginning in the puppy years, premium kibble can offer your dog building blocks for strong bones and muscles while growth is controlled.
Adults receive immune support and the elements of healthy skin and coat. Senior dogs are aided by formulas that help control weight and keep them mobile.
Premium kibble helps your dog’s teeth as well. Appropriately-sized kibble helps scrape plaque, which can contribute to bad breath, from the teeth and prevent bacterial build up that can cause other health problems. Dogs who have primarily dry food have fewer instances of tooth issues.
Best Dry Kibble Dog Food Brands
- Unkibble by Spot & Tango – Best Overall
- Instinct Raw Boost Real Beef – Best Premium
- Taste of the Wild High Prairie – Best Value
- Merrick Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Senior Recipe – Best for Seniors
- Nulo Freestyle Limited + Salmon Puppy Recipe – Best for Puppies
- Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient – Best for Allergies
- Natural Balance L.I.D. Sweet Potato & Venison Formula – Best for Sensitive Stomach
1. Unkibble By Spot & Tango Beef & Barley
First 5 ingredients: Beef, Barley, Flax, Carrot, Green Beans
If you’re feeding your dog dry kibbles or even wet canned food, then the UnKibble is a step up in a better direction. UnKibble is dry dog food that’s made with real ingredients, kept fresh, tailored with a custom meal plan for your pet, and then delivered to you.
Well, unlike your ordinary run-off-the-mill kibbles, UnKibble is made with human-grade ingredients. Yep, none of those scraps or
Well, unlike your ordinary run-off-the-mill kibbles, UnKibble is made with human-grade ingredients. Yep, none of those scraps or by-products. Your pet gets only the premium ingredients that humans eat. There’s so few in the market that can boast of this.
It’s dry dog food that’s made fresh, with none of the artificial preservatives you’d usually find in other kibbles. The brand’s Beef & Barley fresh food recipe features real beef and whole foods that you’ll recognize. Vitamins and minerals are naturally supplied by the carefully selected ingredients that make up each meal.
Each meal is customized specifically to your pet’s age, breed, and activity level so you don’t have to guess how much to give for each feeding.
About Spot & Tango
Never heard of Spot & Tango? You should. It’s a company that started out crafting nutritious recipes for dogs in the founder’s New York kitchen. From home-cooked meals, the recipes have now evolved and have been perfected by veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists. The brand currently makes two types of foods—Fresh (cooked weekly) and UnKibble.
What Customers Like:
- Fresh & healthy
- Human-grade ingredients
- Proper protein and carb ratios
- Personalized Plans
- Less messy
- No artificial additives, colors or flavors
- Bit pricey
2. Instinct by Nature's Variety Raw Boost Recipe with Real Beef
First 5 ingredients: Beef, White Fish Meal, Herring Meal, Chicken Fat, Peas
This dry dog food formula uses whole beef for a complete protein source but also encourages dogs to eat with real bits of freeze-dried raw meat for taste and flavor. It contains a quality mix of protein and carbohydrates to help your dog feel full longer and to provide dense nutrition.
It has plenty of fruits and vegetables to support the immune system with a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Essential fatty acids support coat and skin health as well as maintain brain function. It uses no cheap fillers, no artificial ingredients, and no potatoes.
The high-quality food contains no meat byproducts, artificial preservatives, or artificial colors. What the grain-free kibble does contain is a nutritious blend of muscle meats, quality fish meals, and organ meats to give your pet an ultra high level of animal protein (36%) for long-lasting energy and muscle maintenance.
More About Natures Variety Instinct:
Instinct by Nature’s Variety provide foods that use only quality ingredients with whole proteins as its primary source. It uses bits of freeze-dried raw bits in each of their foods so that its kibble more closely mimics the diet your dog’s ancestors would have eaten.
The brand regularly donates meals to animal shelters in hopes of providing each and every dog with quality nutrition needed to grow strong and healthy.
What Customers Like:
- Blend of raw and kibble
- Whole protein sources
- Minimally processed
- No cheap fillers or artificial ingredients
- No potatoes
- Good source of vitamins
- Raw kibble can settle to the bottom
- Large bags aren’t resealable
3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula
First 5 ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
Taste of the Wild’s food is a grain-free dry dog food formula with a whole protein source (buffalo) as the first ingredient. High Prairie formula uses buffalo and lamb as the main protein, and sweet potato for all-day energy.
Whole fruits and veggies provide excellent vitamins and antioxidants for immune support. Essential fatty acids help keep the skin and coat healthy and supple. It contains no cheap fillers or grains that can irritate your dog’s digestive system.
Aside from buffalo, lamb, and chicken meal, this recipe also contains bison, venison, beef, and ocean fish meal to maximize your pet’s protein intake. The inclusion of fresh fruits and vegetables turn this into a nutritious and balanced diet.
More About Taste Of The Wild
Taste of the Wild is part of the family-owned Diamond Food Company. It’s headquartered in Missouri and uses quality ingredients to provide dense nutrition for your dog in forms that are less likely to irritate its digestive system.
Most Taste of the Wild recipes have high crude protein levels because the brand is all about giving canine companions healthy, meat-based dog foods that nature intended. There is usually a healthy mix of novel and common proteins in every formulation.
What Customers Like:
- Buffalo whole protein
- No poultry
- No cheap fillers
- Excellent source of essential fatty acids
- Suitable for sensitive digestion
- Contains peas
- May cause gas
Best Dry Dog Food for Seniors
Seniors need joint support and probiotics for healthy digestion and immune system. They may need some weight control formulas because of decreased activity levels, especially if they’ve developed any joint sensitivity or pain. Talk with your veterinarian about the right path for your senior dog, but this is our current favorite.
4. Merrick Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Senior
First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Turkey Meal
Whole chicken and sweet potato provide the perfect blend of lean proteins and carbohydrates to help your senior dog feel full and energetic all day.
There are no empty calories, just dense nutrition that won’t contribute to excess weight gain. It has plenty of real fruits and veggies for vitamins and minerals, as well as industry-leading levels of joint-favorites glucosamine and chondroitin.
It’s all natural, grain free, and gluten free plus no empty fillers such as corn or soy. The food is suitable for sensitive digestion and It’s crafted with 55% protein and fat, while the 45% is made up of nutritious produce, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
The food is suitable for a sensitive stomach and is thoroughly tested in Merrick’s test kitchens. The company uses locally sourced ingredients for top quality nutrition in your senior’s twilight years.
More About Merrick
Merrick is committed to providing pet parents with the best nutrition possible for their dogs. The brand has a wide variety of dog foods for large and small breed canines alike, and for all life stages. Its pet food recipes address a variety of pet’s health concerns so you can be sure there’s one that’s right for your pup.
There are no empty fillers in any of Merrick’s dog food formulations. Only real whole foods are used to ensure that dogs eat only the best possible meals for overall health and quality of life.
What Customers Like:
- Good protein/carb blend
- Good sized kibble
- No fillers
- Glucosamine and chondroitin
- May not satisfy picky eaters
- Contains potatoes and peas
Best Dry Puppy Food
Puppies need the right building blocks for lifelong health. They should get quality ingredients with plenty of protein and veggies for proper bone, muscle, and skin health.
Discuss with your veterinarian the best ways to provide this nutritional foundation for your puppy and how to best meet your puppy’s nutritional needs.
5. Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Salmon Recipe (Puppy)
First 5 ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas, Chickpea Flour, Canola Oil
Nulo’s puppy formula is a limited ingredient dog food that helps your newly weaned puppy get used to solid foods and receive dense nutrition for proper growth. It is made up of 30% crude protein for lean muscle mass.
The dog food uses whole salmon as the first ingredient and as a single animal protein source. Salmon is a fatty fish and provides a complete, lean protein plus tons of omega fatty acids. It’s grain-free but uses chickpeas for good fiber and carb content.
Specially formulated probiotics help support puppy health by strengthening the immune system and promoting healthy gut flora.
It has no potatoes and is easier on the gut for digestion. There are no cheap fillers (corn or soy), no preservatives, and no peas or pea protein.
More About Nulo
Nulo uses premium ingredients to provide your puppy with an excellent nutritional start. It uses whole protein sources and plenty
Nulo uses premium and fresh ingredients to provide your puppy with an excellent nutritional start. The brand has a wide variety of wet and dry dog food products in grain-inclusive and grain-free diets to target each specific canine need.
The brand believes that nutrition starts early, and the right puppy food can set your puppy up for a lifetime of health. Aside from wet and dry dog food formulas, Nulo also has freeze-dried raw recipes.
What Customers Like:
- No peas
- Multiple protein sources
- Good essential fatty acids for brain development
- Mostly lean meats
- Good kibble size
- May cause some gas
- The nuggets are a little too big for small breed puppies
If your dog has sensitivities here are some alternatives that may help.
6. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula
First 5 ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Sunflower Oil
Best For Allergies: Zignature’s limited ingredient formula contains none of the usual allergy suspects, like chicken, corn, soy, gluten, or grain. Turkey is the only animal protein source but which nevertheless supplies a high 32% crude protein level.
It’s low glycemic and contains whole fruits and veggies for immune support. It shouldn’t trigger any of the usual allergic reactions but still offers balanced nutrition for your dog.
Since the recipe has a limited number of ingredients, it is easier to track each food product that goes into your pup’s bowl.
More About Zignature
Zignature uses limited ingredients and a variety of proteins, including exotics, to help you finally find the food that helps your allergic dog to thrive. The brand uses only whole proteins, no artificial flavors, and plenty of fruits and veggies to encourage better, smoother digestion.
Although the recipe above is grain-free, Zignature also crafts dog foods that feature ancient grains. All of its formulas start with a meat ingredient because as the brand says, “carnivores don’t hunt potatoes.”
What Customers Like:
- Limited ingredient
- Turkey lean protein
- Low glycemic
- No allergenic ingredients
- Uses peas/pea protein
- Taste may not satisfy picky eaters
7. Natural Balance L.I.D. Sweet Potato & Venison Formula
First 5 ingredients: Sweet Potato, Venison, Pea Protein, Potato Protein, Canola Oil
Best For Sensitive Stomachs: Premium ingredients and a chock full of essential nutrients wrapped up in one flavorful package best describes Natural Balance’s Limited Ingredients Diet Formula.
This pet food offers a tasty grain-free and healthy alternative for sensitive adult canines (small breed to large breed), with venison as the single source of animal protein.
Because it’s venison, the meat is leaner and contains less saturated fat than other meat sources. At a 20% minimum protein content, this formulation supports a shiny coat, healthy skin, and strong muscles.
The sweet potato provides the energy boost the body needs in the form of carbohydrates. As a soluble fiber, it’s easily digested and aids in the maintenance of a healthy digestive system.
More About Nulo
Natural Balance wants your dog to have complete nutrition without the discomfort of gas and itchy reactive skin. It eliminates anything that may cause your dog to be reacting poorly to the food, and you can begin getting your dog used to it from the very beginning.
What Customers Like:
- Appropriate for all life stages
- Limited ingredient
- No poultry
- No fillers
- Strong smell
- Does not start with meat
Advantages of Dry Over Wet Food
Dry food has many excellent benefits, but there are three specific advantages that dry food can help provide your dog. These are:
Your dog’s teeth are frequently overlooked, but just like humans, dogs can develop dental issues with cheap, sugary foods. Tooth decay and gum disease can make it difficult for your dog to eat, but it can also cause other serious health problems. As dogs swallow bacteria living on the teeth, that bacteria travels through your dog’s body where it can cause other issues.
Quality dry foods help clean your dog’s teeth and provide the right balance of minerals and proteins to build strong enamel. Even aging dogs can still have strong teeth if the building blocks are there. You should be caring for your dog’s teeth (brushing and regular checkups), but premium dry foods can make that process a lot easier.
Sure, dogs love that wet food and food from your table, but rich foods can cause serious weight gain. Kibble helps with weight control when it has the correct amount of fiber and contains no empty calories.
Portion sizes can be difficult with raw or cooked diets. Kibble offers easy portioning to help prevent overeating and keep your dog on track. If your dog is already overweight, switching to a premium kibble can be the catalyst for your dog getting back down to its target weight.
Wet dog food and raw foods have higher chances of being improperly stored and causing spoilage. Dogs are notoriously resistant to many bacteria that would cause a human to run for the toilet, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible to food poisoning.
Kibble has been dehydrated, so it stores for far longer without spoiling than wet foods. Moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria, and all it takes is one damaged can for you to have a mess on your hands.
What to Look For in a Quality Dry Dog Food
A quality kibble will have the proper mix of proteins (listed as the first ingredient) and carbohydrates for long-lasting energy and healthy muscles. The precise measure will depend a lot on your dog’s breed, age, and life stage (lactating for example), but looking at the first five ingredients of the food should tell you a lot.
Carbohydrate sources should come from things like brown rice or lentils, which break down slowly and provide plenty of natural fibers. Fiber encourages better digestion and helps keep your dog’s stools soft enough to pass without pain. It also controls weight, helping your dog feel full for longer.
Fruits and vegetables can offer vitamins and antioxidants to support immune health and other biological systems such as the eyes and heart. They’re vital as prebiotics, or substances known to encourage healthy gut flora. Dogs are omnivores, and this more closely aligns with the types of things dogs would have eaten during ancestral days.
Foods with omega fatty acids can help support the skin and coat. If your dog has allergies, they can also help relieve some of the itchy skin your dog could be experiencing. It also helps with brain development and could help keep joints lubricated.
Seniors need joint support and probiotics for a healthy digestion and immune system. They may need some weight management formulas because of decreased activity levels, especially if they’ve developed any joint sensitivity or pain. Talk with your veterinarian about the right path for your senior dog.
If your dog is older or a large breed, glucosamine and chondroitin may have quite a few beneficial effects on joint health.
Older dogs may need supplementation to ease the degeneration of joints, and large breed dogs need preventative care to prevent premature joint issues because of their large size. Glucosamine and chondroitin are thought to help maintain joints and possibly even repair some of the damage already done.
Ingredients to Avoid in Your Dry Dog Food
Many cheap dry dog foods contain cheap fillers as the main ingredients. These ingredients can lower the cost of your food, for sure, but it comes at a higher price elsewhere. Corn provides only empty calories, causing your dog to eat without gaining vital nutrients, and soy can cause food allergies.
A recent study also discovered a possible link between a food heavy in potatoes, legumes, and peas, and a condition known as canine dilated cardiomyopathy, or an enlarging of the heart.
The link isn’t yet understood, and we don’t recommend throwing out your old food just yet. Until we know more about what’s going on, we recommend that you avoid foods that list those ingredients in the first three places to be on the safe side.
If your dog has significant food allergies and chronic itchy skin or digestive issues, you may want to switch to a limited ingredient food.
This type of food contains a single protein source and is usually grain and gluten-free. Fewer ingredients means your dog doesn’t have to work as hard to digest the food and is less likely to experience inflammation as a result of consuming too many different ingredients.
Dry food companies that are frequent offenders for using cheap fillers and artificial ingredients are some well-known names in big box stores. Ol Roy and Kibbles ’n Bits aren’t known for using quality ingredients from single protein sources, for example. You may save some money in the short term but could end up spending that money on extra vet visits.
Dry Food Feeding Chart
Kibble portion sizes are usually clearly marked on the package. For quality kibble, fewer portions and smaller portion sizes are needed because your dog is getting more complete nutrition on less. This is good news because premium kibble can be a bigger investment than cheap kibble.
We recommend following your vet’s or each recipe’s feeding instructions. Don’t forget to transition slowly when feeding your dog new food so that they won’t get any digestive upsets.
Here are some general recommendations for feeding kibble:
Puppies: Your puppy will change a lot over a short time, so the way you feed him will also change. Your veterinarian can give you a clear path for feeding your puppy properly so that he receives all the proper building blocks for lifelong health.
Puppies should get quality ingredients with plenty of protein and veggies for proper bone and muscle development. Make sure that the formulation you provide is designed specifically for this life stage.
At this age, puppies will usually need feeding several times a day.
Adults: Feeding kibble depends on your dog’s ideal weight. Smaller dogs may receive only a 1/4 cup portion twice a day while the largest breeds may receive anywhere from four to six cups per day. Your veterinarian can give you advice on maintaining your dog’s target weight and how to assess if your dog is carrying more pounds than necessary.
Seniors: Senior dogs will receive much the same nutrition as they did when they were younger adults, but if your senior dog struggles with weight, this could be a time to cut back on feeding and treats at the direction of your veterinarian. It could also be time to switch to a smaller kibble size if necessary for mouth comfort.
Dry dog food stores well and can offer complete nutrition for your pet regardless of life stage or size. It can get a bad reputation, but if you look at better brands of kibble, they will have plenty of whole proteins and premium nutrients to keep your dog in the
Dry dog foods store well and can offer complete nutrition for your pet regardless of life stage or size. Although it can get a bad reputation, because some are made using cheap—and usually unnecessary—ingredients.
As pet owners, it’s our job to be more aware of what goes on in our pet’s foods. It’s just a matter of carefully selecting the food we feed our pets and checking the labels.
There’s no need for complicated raw recipes or the smell of cans. Kibble can be just as good, if not better, as any quality food out there.