Ensuring you feed your pet the right type of food, at the correct times is one of the biggest responsibilities you have as a dog owner. As our dogs enter different life stages they require more than the puppy food they were once fed. That means it’s time to be considering everything from high protein meals, limited ingredient snacks and more.
This comparison guide has been put together to help you every step of the way in choosing the best dry dog food for your dog. Whether you’re a Purina or Merrick loyalist or a Blue Buffalo-only family, we’ll go over plenty of dog foods that sport high-quality proteins, grain-free recipes and more.
Split in to separate sections, you can follow the guide to see the different areas of pet nutrition covered or use the contents above to dive into the area you’re most interested in.
Recommended Dry Dog Food – Taste of the Wild
What is Dry Dog Food?
Dry dog food is the most commonly used kind of dog food. It is an extremely convenient, nutritional and healthy option for almost all dog breeds. Dry dog food can be left out for your dog to eat at its own pace and you can rest easy because the best dry dog food can be left sitting for hours without spoilage.
Many dog owners appreciate the convenience of filling a bowl with food in the morning and not having to worry whether their pet has eaten while away. When paired with the fact that dried foods offer so much for large breed and small breeds including various protein sources from brown rice, sweet potato, real chicken, whole grains and more, there’s almost no comparison when it comes to feeding your pup.
Dry dog food is also often used as an effective training treat due to its portability. In fact, many dog trainers prefer dry dog food because it’s easier to carry, is a portion of quality food and easy to feed to dogs. Some dry dog foods are even specially created as a dental health supplement, these kinds of dog foods are uniquely formulated to clean the dog’s teeth as the food is being eaten. Dry dog food is created in varying shapes, sizes and textures making it a versatile and popular type of dog food.
What is Actually in the Best Dry Dog Food Brands?
If you make your way down the pet food aisle of any retail grocery or pets food store or browse the thousands to choose from pet food websites, you will notice that you have hundreds if not thousands of pet food brands to choose from.
The responsibility of choosing the best dry dog food for your dog can be pretty overwhelming. The best dry dog foods are made from many of the ingredients we see on our plate at the dinner table. Generally, the ingredients in dog food are beef, chicken or chicken meal, eggs, liver, and various other meat by-products, which may be essential for you if you’re keeping your dog on a limited ingredient diet.
You will also notice many chemical-sounding names on the ingredients list. Those scary names are preservatives, artificial colors, and stabilizers that are all FDA approved and universally recognized as pet safe. Manufacturers of the best dry dog food are also required by the FDA to list the preservatives they add to the dry dog food. It can certainly be difficult to select the best dry dog food for your dog, but worry not, we have recommendations below that also include entirely natural dry dog foods that contain only the healthiest, most pure and organic ingredient list!
How the Best Dry Dog Food is Made
Dry dog biscuits, pellets, and cakes have been around since the time of the ancient Roman Empire. The kind of dog food the Romans created differs greatly from the kind we see made commercially today. The modern process for creating tasty dry dog foods involves either baking or extruding.
It is a relatively complex process creating dry dog food. In simple terms, large machines are used for an extrusion process which is an extremely efficient method for manufacturing large quantities of delicious pet safe dry dog food very quickly.
Generally, for most formula dry dog foods the process begins with standard dough, a large mixture of raw and wet ingredients which are then mixed together to form a clay-like consistency. After the mixture settles, it is poured into an “expander”, which uses pressurized steam and hot water to boil and eventually cook the mixed ingredients. The finished pellets are then allowed to cool and subsequently bagged and prepared for shipment to your dog!
How Healthy is Dry Dog Food?
The best kinds of dry dog foods are designed and created to meet all of your dog’s nutritional and health needs. Most, but not all dry dog foods have meat, grains, vegetables, fruit and vitamins. These kinds of dog foods are approved by the FDA as pet safe.
The American College of Veterinary Nutrition notes that commercial dry dog foods are a safe and healthy choice for feeding your hungry dog. The best kinds of dry dog food will meet all of the nutritional needs of your dog and most importantly, your dog will love it!
It’s also crucial to remember that the types of dry dog food you use will need to change as your dog ages. An adult dog will need adult dry dog food and a puppy will need puppy dry dog food. Small and large dogs will also need different types of dog food. Though, if you take a look at the packaging on brands like Whole Earth Farms, Rachael Ray Nutrish and Hill’s Science Diet you’ll quickly notice which age group and dog breed the food is for.
Comparisons with Other Types of Dog Food
When compared to wet food, dry dog food stacks up quite well. Wet dog food is an obvious competitor. Wet foods are a good source of water if your dog doesn’t drink enough. Wet food can also be a great choice for older dogs after they have lost some sense of smell and taste. If your dog falls ill or lacks an appetite wet food can be a great substitute for dry dog food because wet food has a pungent stench which activates a dog’s sense of smell. Further, if your dog has a small jaw, or pain in her gum line wet dog food can help relieve those issues.
There are some drawbacks to wet dog food. Wet dog food is just that– wet, making it easier for dogs to make a mess. If your dog eats wet food regularly it is important to schedule regular dental exams as wet food is known to cause more frequent dental issues than dry dog food. Wet food, once opened must be used immediately due to the ingredients spoiling within a few hours. Wet dog food also tends to be more expensive than even the best dry dog food.
Dry dog food has all the advantages of being highly portable, easy to clean up, resistant to spoilage and extremely convenient. It gives the dog all of the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs while being highly convenient for the dog owner to use. There are some cases where wet food can be a solid substitute for dry dog food, but in most cases, dry dog food satisfies all of a dog’s dietary and health needs.
How Can I Make Sure Dry Dog Food Meets my Dog’s Needs?
To be sure dry dog food meets all of your dog’s nutritional needs look for an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label on your dog food container. The AAFCO establishes the minimum amount of nutrients needed to provide a complete and healthy diet for your dog.
Depending on health conditions, age nutritional needs, sensitive stomachs, and more your needs can vary. If your dog looks and acts healthy then the food is most likely meeting all of their dietary needs. However, it is always important to check with your vet to make sure that all is well as some artificial preservatives, fatty acids and animal proteins can upset sensitive stomachs.
Best Dry Dog Food Products on the Market
My dogs pick this food over any other dog food I have purchased in the past. I have been having trouble getting my dogs to eat the stuff I was buying at the local pet shop and needed to change their diet up quickly.
After some research, I decided on Taste of the Wild. This dog food is grain-free which makes it easily digestible by my dogs which is a big reason I made the purchase. It is also made with real roasted meat and I think that’s why my dogs enjoy it so much. For the price, Taste of the Wild is more than a worthwhile purchase! Will purchase again.
A friend of ours has a medium sized bulldog that once had an issue with throwing up everything he ate. After trying various types of dog food, he couldn’t keep any of it down. After speaking to a vet, it was suggested to purchase a grain-free dog food with real meats and vegetables.
Decided on Wellness Core after reading a significant amount of reviews and articles on dog food. Since my purchase, my bulldog has been able to keep his food down. He also seems to enjoy it much more than any other food I’ve bought in the past. Wellness is a bit pricy but I think you get what you pay for and the health of my bulldog is the most important thing to me.
3. Orijen Original
My dog looks so much healthier after switching to Orijen Original. After my dog started losing weight this year I took him to the vet. The vet suggested I switch his diet from the name brand stuff I was buying at the local pet store to something healthier. Orijen Original was the first and last dog food I need to buy.
My dog has no trouble eating Orijen and keeping down is certainly not an issue. Orijen is made from higher quality protein and is also grain free which I think was the problem my dog was having. Since my purchase my dog has gained all his weight back, I have actually had to reduce his portions because he’s getting a bit fat! For the price, Orijen can’t be beat!
4. Solid Gold
Solid Gold has been my go-to food for the past few years. I have 3 dogs, two of them can put up with the cheap-o name brand stuff you can find at the local pet’s food store but one of them can’t. I’ve tried using Solid Gold just for the picky dog but they all end up fighting to get a little bit and the picky dog goes hungry. So, I have started buying Solid Gold for all my dogs. It’s been helping to keep them at a healthy weight too, always a plus.
Whenever I put the food out for them to eat, they run towards the plate and empty it in record time! All 3 of my dogs love Solid Gold and frankly, I do too. This brand is grain and gluten-free, you get a ton of product for the price and your dogs enjoy eating it. I have had no issue with this brand and will continue to purchase it for my dogs.
As far as I know, the contents within the food are great too. All pet parents looking for a grain-free dry dog food should definitely consider this.
5. Acana Heritage
After doing a little too much research on dog food and taking forever to make a decision, I decided to go with Acana. Acana was consistently rated as one of the best dog foods across various websites and articles I visited. I have always been a little skeptical about ordering dog food online but when I filled the first bowl I was not disappointed. My dog cleared his plate faster than I have ever seen her clear a plate. The dog food I was using in the past was fairly low quality and I wanted to upgrade. I am so glad I did. My dog looks much healthier and has gained a bit of weight back. This dog food is grain free and provides my pup with all the nutrients and minerals she needs to stay healthy.
6. Nature’s Variety Instinct
I love Nature’s Variety because it comes in so many different flavors. I have never had an issue with my pup being picky but I like to switch it up for him every once in a while. I figure, if I had to eat the same thing every night I wouldn’t be happy. This dog food comes in beef, chicken, duck, rabbit and salmon. My puppy has tried all of the flavors but he seems to enjoy duck the most. I am not completely sure why that is but he puts it down faster than all of the other flavors. This dog food is also very healthy which eases my concerns about my pup’s health. I have taken my pup to the vet for regular checkups and my vet always mentions how healthy my pup is. I will continue to purchase Nature’s Variety, it hasn’t let me down yet and I don’t think it ever will. Great product!
7. Eagle Pack
Eagle Pack is the highest quality dog food you will find for the price. Not only is the price point fantastic, Eagle Pack offers a huge variety of flavors. I have been purchasing Eagle Pack since I realized the negative effect low-quality dog food has on the energy of my dogs. My dogs prefer the Chicken & Pork flavors but I like to mix in a little of the Reduced Fat just to keep them guessing. The Reduced Fat formula also keeps them from getting too fat because they really love this stuff. If your dogs are lacking energy or just not acting the way they did in the past, switch up your dog food. I can’t recommend Eagle Pack enough. My dogs love it!
8. Natural Balance Synergy Ultra
After I adopted my shih-tzu pup a few months ago, I asked my vet for a dietary recommendation. My vet recommended Natural Balance Synergy Ultra. Initially, I asked my vet why he recommended Natural Balance and he mentioned that he used it for his dogs because it’s high quality and you get a huge amount of product for the price. My vet also told me that Natural Balance supports healthy digestion and immune system and the product is mixed with a complex fiber source which lowers the stool volume. Less clean-up for me! Not only is Natural Balance super healthy, and safe for my dog’s diet, but my dog also loves eating the stuff! I have never had trouble getting my dog to finish a plate of Natural Balance. Awesome stuff, great product, highly recommend!
9. EVO Small Bite
Great Product! The grain-free Turkey and Chicken formula has been a fantastic substitute for the food I was feeding my dog previously. I hesitantly ordered Evo because I could not find much information about it but I am so happy I did. In the past, my dog had trouble keeping food down but since switching he has had no trouble eating or digesting Evo. Evo is a dry food that is high in protein and uses high-quality ingredients and cuts out any grain, gluten and potato which is what I think was making my dog sick. As someone that’s very concerned about the health of my dog, keeping out the processed junk is very important to me.
10. Honest Kitchen
Honest Kitchen is one of the highest quality dog foods you can purchase at this price. My dogs love the taste of the cage-free turkey but I have bought the range free beef and range free chicken and they have put those down without any trouble. I love the fact that Honest Kitchen goes out of their way to make the highest quality dog food possible. Honest Kitchen’s dog food is grain free, higher in calories and protein for puppies and adult dogs and has minimally processed whole food ingredients. In all honesty, Honest Kitchen dog food is almost as good as the stuff I put on my own dinner table.
I love my dogs and I want them to be healthy and live a long happy life. I am more than happy to pay a little bit extra to see my dogs enjoying a giant plate of food they like. Honest Kitchen is also very easy to prepare, I just add a bit of warm water to their bowls and the plate is good to go. I recommend Honest Kitchen for anyone looking for a high-quality dog food.
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