The 10 Best Dog Food Brands

In early 2015, a class action lawsuit against Purina over ingredients found in its line of Beneful dog food was filed.

Despite this lawsuit — and the thousands of complaints of kidney failure that led to it — the products remain available to purchase at a store near you.

Of the pet owners we surveyed, 70 percent admitted that they didn’t know all of the ingredients in their dog’s food — including the very ingredients at the heart of the Purina lawsuit.

All dog foods claim to be “premium” and “all natural,” but with very few regulations on what it takes to meet these qualifications, many of these claims are little more than flashy marketing gimmicks and false advertising. 

So, we dug behind the label to sort out which ingredients make an excellent dog food.

At the end of the work, we settled on 134 formulas across 29 approved brands.


Our Research
  • Ten people on our team dedicated full-time work to this project, investing over 1,400 hours into this single page.
  • We built a list of over 11,000 people with connections to the dog food industry and narrowed it down to the best.
  • Over 20 experts contributed their valuable time to our work, including veterinarians, dog trainers, animal behaviorists, university researchers, and authors.
  • We surveyed 300 dog owners and asked them if they knew what was in their dog’s food.
  • We gathered a list of over 8,000 search queries to find out what matters most to dog owners.We read and analyzed 72 of the most popular articles and studies on dog food. 
  • We compiled a list of 2,223 formulas from 115 brands and reviewed their ingredients

    Bad ingredients make dog food unsafe and unhealthy.


    The Truth About Recalls and Manufacturing Practices

Safety has always been the biggest concern for pet owners — and one of the hardest challenges for dog food manufacturers to meet.

Since the 2007 recalls on Chinese-sourced food, many consumers have started reading labels to see where their food was coming from, but even ingredients sourced in the US can be unsafe.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets and maintains standards for the proper levels of ingredients in pet food, but it’s the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that determines the quality. FDA regulations, however, don’t guarantee that all ingredients will be safe.

Here's A List of Recalls and Alerts

Ingredients from rendering facilities, for instance, should be avoided. 

You’ll recognize these ingredients on the label under generic terms like “meat” and “meat meal.” 

In California, manufacturers have given them the appetizing name of “dry rendered tankage.” 

So why avoid them? It’s almost impossible to tell what’s being rendered: It can be roadkill, zoo animals, and sometimes even spoiled meat from the grocery store that’s still wrapped in plastic.

Bad Ingredients, Poor Health

Just verifying all the ingredients in your food are “safe” doesn’t mean they are optimal or even healthy for your best friend. 

Dogs need the right combination of protein, fat, moisture, fiber, and nutrients to live healthy, happy lives. The wrong ingredients in the wrong combinations can lead to a host of health problems, both physical and mental.

Digestive problems, including bloat and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are symptomatic of poor ingredients that don’t contain enough whole, unprocessed foods. 

Food allergies can also lead to digestive issues — many of the experts we reached out to have seen evidence that dogs are sensitive to wheat and corn, both popular fillers.

Obesity is on the rise in dogs
. One main reason for this is overfeeding, but many of the experts we talked to were quick to point out that poor grain-based ingredients are also to blame.

Physical problems are only half of it. There was a unanimous consensus among trainers and behaviorists we talked to that poor diet causes mental health issues in dogs, including poor temperament and lack of focus. 

Marc Abraham elaborates: “Certain popular pet food brands on the market contain extra colorings, additives, and E numbers that, in my opinion, can affect behavior, leading to hyperactivity and difficulty with training.”

Good Ingredients and How They Relate to Your Dog

However, many ingredients can’t simply be divided into “good” or “bad.” Some are downright controversial.

Beet pulp, for instance, is a common binding agent found in many dog foods, but many conscientious consumers avoid it over concerns of digestive health issues.

There is no scientific research as of yet to back this up, but the experts we talked to unanimously agreed: It’s best to avoid it.

Not only do ingredients matter, but also having the right combinations and ratios of ingredients matters.

There’s an oft-quoted statistic that claims good dog foods contain 30 percent protein and 18 percent fat, with enough side nutritional content — omega-3s, vitamins, and fiber to round out your dog’s diet. 

The experts we talked to disagree. 

To them, it’s really what’s best for your individual dog. 

“Protein is very important for your dog, but there are instances, such as old age or liver issues, where your dog should be on a lower-protein diet,” says Dog Files creator Kenn Bell. “Make sure you have a conversation with your veterinarian.”

Dog Food Types

When we made our picks for the best dog foods, we looked at all varieties: dry, wet, homemade, dehydrated, and frozen raw varieties. 

No matter the type of food, the most important determining factor is still the ingredients. After that, what matters is what’s best for you and your dog.


Life Stages

Your dog’s life stage should factor into his or her diet. 
  • Puppies and seniors both have specific dietary needs. 
  • Large-breed puppies can develop developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) if they eat too much calcium — the maximum amount of calcium listed in their food should be no more than 1.5 percent
  • Senior dogs often require less protein because they are less active. And if they suffer from arthritis, many formulas contain glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which alleviate joint pain.

Breed-Specific Diets

According to the experts we interviewed, there’s no indication that specific breeds need specific diets. 

What you feed your dog is dependent on his or her size and activity level. Foods formulated specially for small dogs, for example, are beneficial because the smaller pieces of kibble are easier for them to eat and digest.

Dog owners need to be as careful as ever.

After putting in 1,400 hours of research and analyzing over 2,223 formulas, we discovered even some of the most popular brands still make food with unhealthy or unsafe ingredients. 

Of the 2,223 formulas we looked at, only 134 met our standard of approval — about 6 percent overall. 

With so many choices on the market, it’s as important as ever to read labels and make informed decisions.

The good news? There are 134 great formulas to choose from, and they represent the best of what the industry has to offer.

A Note on Price

Because we did, in fact, want to offer the best in the industry, we made these considerations with a distinct focus on quality — and without an emphasis on cost to the consumer.

We understand that the price points of our top-rated choices may be higher than the average unit price in the industry, and might be simply too costly for many consumers. 

Still, our goal was to surface other key considerations — like ingredients and history of handling recalls — when deciding which formula is best for your dog.

 Source: Review.com 

WORST Rated Dog Food Brands >

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