Best Beef Dog Foods: Our 11 Top Picks

Dog Food

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Ben Team

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Beef Dog Food

Dogs love a wide variety of proteins, but beef is surely one of the meats that canines crave most. Fortunately, it is easy to provide your dog with a beef-based diet as it is the primary protein used in many dog foods.

But that doesn’t mean you want to run out and buy the first beef dog food you see.

While a number of premium dog foods incorporate beef, there are also a number of very low-quality beef foods on the market too.

We’ll try to help you distinguish the good ones from the bad ones below and recommend a few of the very best beef dog foods available!  

Quick Picks: Best Beef Dog Food

The Best Beef Dog Foods

There are a number of great beef dog foods on the market, but the following are among the best options. Any of these should work well for your pup but be sure to choose the one that is likely to meet your dog’s specific needs.

1. Ollie Fresh Beef

Best Overall Beef Dog Food
Ollie Human-Grade Dog Food

Fresh, human-grade dog food that's uniquely formulated to address your dog's specific needs.

Special Discount: We've cut a deal with Ollie -- new customers can get 50% off!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

About: Fill your dog’s bowl with human-grade beef and vegetables with Ollie Fresh Beef, a fresh-food option that’s gently cooked to preserve nutrients and taste, tempting even the pickiest of pups into giving it a try. Made without artificial colors or flavors, this meat mash is customized to your dog’s size and activity level to help maintain a healthy weight.

Features:

  • Real beef is the primary ingredient
  • Rich in fiber from sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and peas
  • Antioxidants give your pup’s immune system a boost
  • Made in the USA

Ingredients List

Beef, carrots, beef kidneys, potatoes, peas,...,

sweet potatoes, beef livers, chickpeas, spinach, tricalcium phosphate, salmon oil, salt, taurine, zinc gluconate, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulphate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamine hydrochloride (vitamin B1), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), potassium iodide.

Pros

  • Human-grade ingredients offer unmatched quality
  • Customized to your dog’s unique needs
  • Taste is a high point with most four-footers, including picky ones

Cons

  • Unfortunately, such high-quality food comes at a higher cost than other dog foods
  • Requires refrigeration, which can be tricky if feeding a large dog or living in compact quarters

2. Nom Nom Beef Mash

Best Overall Beef Dog Food Runner Up
Nom Nom Beef Mash
A high-quality mix of fresh ground beef and vegetables dogs adore.
Special Discount: New customers can get 50% off!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

About: Serve up some deliciousness with Nom Nom Beef Mash, a hearty mix of real beef and vegetables in a palate-pleasing ground texture that suits dogs young and old. Preportioned to suit your sniffer’s needs, it’s a convenient way to offer beefy fresh food customized to your dog’s dietary needs, preventing weight gain.

Features:

  • All recipes are designed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists 
  • Meets the AAFCO nutrient profile for all life stages
  • Gently cooked to preserve taste, appearance, and nutrition
  • Made in the USA using whole ingredients processed in the US

Ingredients List

Ground beef, russet potatoes, eggs, carrots, peas,...,

dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, salt, natural flavor, citric acid, vinegar, calcium carbonate, taurine, fish oil, sunflower oil, choline bitartrate, vitamin E supplement, water sufficient for processing, iron amino acid chelate, zinc gluconate, copper gluconate, niacin (vitamin B3), manganese gluconate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), potassium iodide, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement.

Pros

  • Most dogs go bonkers at the taste
  • Customized to your dog’s unique caloric needs, helping with weight maintenance
  • Short ingredient list is easy to navigate if your dog has food allergies or concerns

Cons

  • Peas aren’t a hit ingredient with every pet parents
  • Pricey to feed, especially if you have a large dog or multiple pups

3. Nutro Natural Choice Beef & Brown Rice

Best Grain-Inclusive Beef Dog Food
Nutro Natural Choice Beef & Brown Rice

A beef-centered, grain-inclusive kibble made with non-GMO ingredients.

Buy on Amazon Buy on Chewy

About: Nutro Natural Choice Beef & Brown Rice is a wholesome non-GMO dog food made with real meats and grains and none of the unnecessary additives he doesn’t. The kibble features two different protein sources – beef and pork meal – to tempt your dog’s palate and offer a full assortment of amino acids he needs to remain healthy and happy.

Features:

  • Primary source of carbohydrates are brown rice, brewer’s rice, and whole-grain sorghum
  • Omega fatty acids support skin and coat health
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives are used in the food
  • Made in the USA

Ingredients List

Beef, Pork Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Split Peas...,

Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Rice Bran, Barley, Chicken Meal, Natural Flavor, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Lamb Meal, Whole Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Mixed Tocopherols And Citric Acid (Preservatives), Pea Fiber, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Carbonate, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Selenium Yeast, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Pros

  • Taste is a high point with most dogs, while owners report dogs doing well on the food
  • Pricing is reasonable, considering the food’s quality
  • Non-GMO nature is a plus for some pet parents

Cons

  • Mixed protein nature is not a good match for dogs with food allergies or sensitive systems
  • Probiotics would be a nice addition

4. Merrick Texas Beef & Sweet Potato

Best Grain-Free Beef Dog Food
Merrick Grain-Free Beef & Sweet Potato
This premium recipe is made with 65% meat, meat meals, and nutritious fats with high quality deboned beef, lamb meal, and salmon meal as the first listed ingredients.
Buy on Amazon Buy on Chewy

About: Merrick Texas Beef & Sweet Potato is a protein-rich, grain-free dog food that provides the nutrition your dog needs and a taste that most dogs love, plus probiotics and omega-3s. 65% of the recipe is made up of meats, meat meals, and nutritious fats, while the other 30% is comprised of produce, nutritious carbohydrates, fiber, and other natural ingredients.

Features:

  • Deboned beef is the primary ingredient, with lamb and salmon meal adding additional protein
  • Uses alternative carbohydrate sources of sweet potatoes and potatoes
  • Apples and blueberries provide natural antioxidants for immune support
  • Made in the USA

Ingredients List

Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes...,

Peas, Potato Protein, Pork Fat, Natural Flavor, Whitefish Meal, Pea Protein, Sunflower Oil, Beef Liver, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Apples, Blueberries, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Niacin, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement) Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Citric Acid for freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

Pros

  • Made with high-quality ingredients that you can serve to your sniffer with pride
  • Grain-free nature is ideal for dogs with vet-diagnosed grain allergies
  • Rich in extras like omega-3s and probiotics

Cons

5. Honest Kitchen Ranch-Raised Beef

Best Dehydrated Beef Dog Food
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Dehydrated Dog Food

A dehydrated dog food made with ranch-raised beef, organic whole oats, and simple garden produce -- just add water and serve!

Use code K930 to get 30% off your order!

Buy at The Honest Kitchen Our Review

About: The Honest Kitchen Ranch-Raised Beef Dog Food is a dehydrated, grain-free product that is made in the USA with only “human-grade” ingredients. Honest Kitchen foods are quite different from typical kibbles. To feed your dog one of these foods, you’ll need to mix it with warm water to rehydrate it and make it palatable.

Features:

  • One 10-pound box makes 40 pounds of food once rehydrated
  • Real beef is the main ingredient
  • Sweet potatoes and potatoes are the food’s primary carbohydrate sources
  • Made in the USA

Ingredients List

Dehydrated Beef, Dehydrated Sweet Potatoes, Dehydrated Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, Dried Organic Coconut...,

Dried Parsley, Dried Papayas, Dried Cranberries, Dehydrated Pumpkin, Dehydrated Honey, Dehydrated Kale, Minerals [Tricalcium Phosphate, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite], Taurine, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), D- Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement], EPA, DHA.

Pros

  • A high-quality beef food made with human-grade ingredients
  • Flavor is a win with most woofs
  • Single-protein nature is ideal for dogs with food allergies

Cons

  • Not as convenient as a scoop-and-serve kibble
  • Expensive when compared to most dog foods

6. Purina ONE Tender Cuts in Gravy

Best Canned Beef Dog Food
Purina ONE SmartBlend Tender Cuts in Gravy
A budget-friendly, grain-inclusive canned dog food made with beef and barley.
Buy on Amazon

About: Purina ONE Tender Cuts in Gravy is a canned canine cuisine containing chunked beef and vegetables in a savory broth that many dogs enjoy more than the mush of pate-style wet options. Grain-inclusive, it keeps your pup’s appetite satiated with barley, while dried spinach and carrots offer natural fiber and vitamins.

Features:

  • Meets AAFCO nutrient profile for adult dog maintenance
  • Can be served on its own or paired with your pup’s kibble
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Made in the USA with US- and globally-sourced ingredients

Ingredients List

Beef And Chicken Broth, Beef, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Chicken,...,

Pork Lungs, Carrots, Barley, Soy Flour, Dried Egg Product, Dried Spinach, Essential Nutrients And Other Ingredients: Minerals (Potassium Chloride, Tricalcium Phosphate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite), Guar Gum, Caramel Color, Locust Bean Gum, Vitamins (Choline, Vitamin E, Vitamin B-3, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-5, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin A, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3, Vitamin B-7)

Pros

  • Many dogs adore the chunked texture of this canned option
  • Contains nutrient-dense organ meat
  • Broth offers extra hydration (ideal for seniors and active pups!)

Cons

  • Wheat gluten isn’t an ideal ingredient for some pet parents
  • Mixed protein recipe is not a good fit for dogs with food sensitivities

7. American Journey Beef & Sweet Potato

Most Affordable Grain-Free Beef Dog Food
American Journey Beef & Sweet Potato

A budget-friendly, grain-free find with a protein-rich ingredient list of deboned beef, chicken meal, and turkey meal.


Buy on Chewy

About: American Journey Beef & Sweet Potato is nutritious, grain-free dog food made with a variety of different protein sources and nutritious carbohydrates at a reasonable price point. It’s a solid choice for dogs with grain allergies and meets the AAFCO nutrient profile for all life stages.

Features:

  • Deboned beef is the primary ingredient, while chicken and turkey meals offer added protein
  • Fruits and canine-friendly vegetables, including blueberries and carrots, are incorporated
  • Sweet potatoes, peas, and chickpeas provide most of this grain-free food’s carbs
  • Made in the USA

Ingredients List

Deboned Beef, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas...,

Sweet Potatoes, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Pea Protein, Flaxseed, Menhaden Fish Meal, Salmon Oil, Blueberries, Carrots, Salt, Dried Kelp, Fructooligosaccharides, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Selenite, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

Pros

  • Pricing is wallet-friendly for a grain-free food
  • Most dogs are big fans of the meaty flavor
  • Rich in fatty acids for nourishing your pup’s skin and coat

Cons

  • More fruits and vegetables would be ideal
  • Mixed proteins can be a problem for dogs with allergies or intolerances

8. Pet Plate Barkin’ Beef

Best Vet-Designed Beef Dog Food
Pet Plate Barkin' Beef
This fresh vet-formulated recipe features real beef as the #1 ingredient, along with beef liver, and salmon oil - which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Buy on Pet Plate

About: Pet Plate is a subscription-based food service that sends you fresh-cooked, veterinarian-designed meals based on your pup’s breed and age that are pre-portioned for maximum convenience. This beef-centered recipe is a great fit for dogs needing something tasty, as it features chunky beef, beef liver, and a bounty of fresh produce for fiber.

Features:

  • Real beef is the first listed ingredient,
  • Sweet potatoes and potatoes provide the bulk of the carbohydrate content
  • Salmon oil offers a pop of omega-3 fatty acids to nourish your dog’s skin and coat
  • Made in the USA using human-grade ingredients

Ingredients List

Beef, sweet potatoes, potatoes, beef liver, carrots...,

apples, green peas, pumpkin, dicalcium phosphate, safflower oil, salmon oil, calcium carbonate, salt, proprietary supplement blend (vitamin E, ferrous fumarate, zinc oxide, manganese gluconate, thiamine mononitrate, magnesium oxide, potassium iodide, sodium selenite, vitamin D3)v

Pros

  • Offers the perks of freshly prepared meals in a convenient form
  • Veterinarian-designed
  • Limited-ingredient nature ideal for dogs with food sensitivities

Cons

  • Pricing is steep compared to most dog foods (even premium)
  • Requires refrigeration

9. Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice

Most Affordable Beef Dog Food
Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice

A budget-conscious dry food option made with protein-rich beef meal, probiotics, and more.

Buy on Amazon

About: Make your wallet and your woofer happy with Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice, a grain-inclusive kibble loaded with protein-dense beef meal, wholesome grains for energy, and an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Flaxseed offers healthy fats, ensuring your pup’s skin and coat look and feel their best.

Features:

  • Primary ingredient is beef meal
  • Prebiotics and probiotics support your sniffer’s digestive system
  • Glucosamine supports canine joints
  • Made in the USA

Ingredients List

Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Ground White Rice, Dried Yeast, Egg Product,...,

Rice Bran, Cracked Pearled Barley, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Kale, Chia Seed, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Oranges, Quinoa, Dried Kelp, Coconut, Spinach, Carrots, Papaya, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Beta Carotene, Chondroitin Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid

Pros

  • Can’t beat the price of the food, considering the extras like probiotics it offers
  • Solid mix of fruits and vegetables included
  • Single protein source ideal for dogs with allergies

Cons

  • Pickier pups may need enticing
  • We wish whole beef were the first ingredient, but beef meal is still an acceptable form of protein

10. Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Beef, Pea, and Brown Rice

Most Affordable Beef Dog Food (Runner-Up)
Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Beef, Pea & Brown Rice

A beefy kibble made with peas, brown rice, and omega fatty acids for skin, coat, and brain health.

Buy on Amazon

About: Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Beef, Pea & Brown Rice offers the beefy taste your dog loves and some nice extras without breaking the bank. Omega fatty acids nourish your sniffer’s skin and coat, plus give his brain a boost.

Features:

  • Real beef is the main ingredient, bolstered by beef meal for added protein
  • Meets AAFCO nutrient profile for adult maintenance
  • Kibble size suits dogs big and small
  • Made in the USA using internationally sourced ingredients

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Meal, Soybean Meal, Whole Corn, Grain Sorghum,...,

Dried Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Corn Protein Concentrate, Brown Rice, Pea Starch, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Salt, Carrots, Malted Barley Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (source Of Vitamin C), Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Citric Acid (preservative), Sodium Selenite, Annatto Extract (color), Thiamine Mononitrate, D-calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Rosemary Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement

Pros

  • Pricing great for limited budgets or multi-pup families
  • Grain-inclusive recipe keeps canines fueled for fun between meals
  • Most dogs seem to enjoy the food’s taste

Cons

  • Contains ingredients some pet parents aren’t keen on, like corn, peas, and pea starch
  • More fruits and vegetables would be ideal

11. Stella & Chewy’s Meal Mixers Super Beef

Best Freeze-Dried Beef Dog Food
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw Super Beef
Grain-free, freeze-dried beef with probiotics and antioxidants for system-wide support.
Buy on Amazon Buy on Chewy

About: Stella & Chewy’s Meal Mixers Super Beef is a freeze-dried raw food that comes in easy-to-serve beef patties, giving you the benefits of raw without the mess or as much risk. Probiotics provide a boost to your dog’s tummy, while the meat-heavy ingredient list offers a flavor he can’t resist.

Features:

  • Grass-fed beef is the first ingredient
  • Well-rounded mix of organ meat for added protein and nutrients
  • Excellent assortment of organic fruits and vegetables for natural fiber and vitamins
  • Made in the USA

Pros

  • Freeze-dried foods are super convenient for offering top-notch ingredients on the go when fresh food isn’t possible
  • Most dogs love the taste
  • Great mix of organic produce for natural sources of antioxidants

Cons

  • Pricey to feed, especially for large dogs or multi-pet families
  • Special handling is needed, as it is freeze-dried raw food

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Heart, Beef Tripe,...,

Beef Bone, Pumpkin Seed, Organic Cranberries, Organic Spinach, Organic Broccoli, Organic Beets, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Blueberries, Fenugreek Seed, Potassium Chloride, Dried Kelp, Sodium Phosphate, Tocopherols (Preservative), Choline Chloride, Dried Pediococcus Acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid.

The Benefits of Beef For Dogs

Dog Food with Beef

It’s impossible to completely eliminate these kinds of risks, but if you stick to foods manufactured in countries with high safety and quality control standards, you’ll avoid most of these problems.

You don’t really need a special reason to feed your dog beef-based dog food — beef is a popular and trusted meat protein for most dogs.

And because beef is a relatively affordable protein, many dog food manufacturers like using it in their recipes.

However, there are two situations in which beef may be the best option for your canine.

Underweight Dogs

dog with weight loss

Beef is a great food for helping dogs to gain a bit of weight, as it is full of calories and fat. When compared to the other proteins commonly used in dog foods, beef ranks second in terms of calories and first in terms of fat per ounce.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all beef-based dog foods have more fat and calories than those made from chicken or some other protein – there are a lot of variables involved.

However, if you compare two similar recipes made by the same manufacturer, the beef-based food will likely provide more fat and calories than the alternatives.

So, if your dog is recovering from an illness or is otherwise in need of putting on some additional body weight, you may want to give beef-based dog foods careful consideration.

Picky Pups

what dogs need hydrolyzed food

Beef is obviously a pretty popular protein among people, and most dogs find it tasty too. This makes it an excellent option for picky dogs, whose fickle taste buds often drive owners crazy.

It’s not entirely clear why dogs find beef so tasty. On the one hand, it may be the result of evolutionary adaptations, which cause dogs to favor fatty (and therefore calorie-rich) foods. On the other hand, it may just be a random quirk of nature.

Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter why dogs tend to like beef – just be sure to take advantage of this fact when dealing with a picky pooch!

Picking a Good Beef Dog Food: Things to Look For

dog food ingredients

As mentioned earlier, beef dog foods vary significantly. Some are fantastic foods that should help keep your dog healthy while pleasing his palette.

But others are full of low-quality ingredients, which may not provide the nutrition he needs or the high-quality flavors he deserves.

But don’t worry – it is pretty easy to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. Just try to pick foods that meet the following criteria:

1. Real Beef at the Top of the Ingredient List

beef cheeks for dogs

The first thing you want to do when choosing a food for your pet is to look at the ingredient list printed on the bag.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to review all of the bizarre, five-syllable words found throughout the ingredient list.

Just look at the very first thing listed – you want this to be a real, whole protein. In this case, you want to see something like “beef” or “deboned beef.”

2. No Mystery Meat Products

Meats Dogs Like

Many modern dog foods contain things like meat meals and meat byproducts.

While these types of ingredients are often off-putting to owners, there is nothing wrong with these items, most dogs love them, and they usually provide more protein per ounce than whole proteins do (mostly because the water is removed from them).

In fact, aside from the fact that they’re dehydrated, these ingredients aren’t fundamentally different from the things used to make hotdogs, sausages, chicken nuggets, and other processed meat products that many people enjoy. 

But there is one important thing you’ll want to verify: Any meat meals or meat byproducts used in dog food should be properly identified. This will not only help ensure that you don’t give your dog food containing proteins he may be allergic to, but it’ll also help ensure that the food doesn’t contain any unsavory or dangerous protein sources.

Put more plainly: “Beef meal” or “beef byproducts” are fine; “meat meal” or “animal byproducts” are not.

3. Made with Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables

fruits and veggies for dogs

Antioxidants are helpful for combating the damage caused by free radicals, and they also help support immune function, so many of the best dog foods contain antioxidant-rich ingredients. These types of ingredients probably improve the flavor of dog food too.

Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, pumpkin, parsley, kale, and carrots are a few of the most common antioxidant-rich fruits and dog-friendly vegetables used in dog foods.

4. Fortified with “Bonus” Ingredients

omega-3

The best dog foods usually contain important “bonus” ingredients that will help promote good health. Whenever possible, try to select foods that contain the following:

  • Chondroitin and glucosamine are two of the most common supplements added to dog foods. Both chondroitin and glucosamine will help protect your dog’s joints, and they may even help promote the production of cartilage.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are also important supplements to look for in dog foods. Omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent inflammation, which can help promote joint, skin and coat health, among other things.
  • Probiotics – beneficial bacteria that will colonize your dog’s digestive tract – are also great bonus ingredients to look for, as they often help improve your dog’s digestion and elimination habits.

5. Made in a Country with High Safety Standards

Presidential Dog Names

You never want to give your dog food that may be contaminated or otherwise harmful to your pup.

In practice, this means sticking to foods made in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, or Western Europe.

   

Hopefully, we’ve adequately explained why beef is a great meat for your dog – and it’s common enough to be readily accessible for most owners.

Any of the beef dog foods above should work well for your pup. Just remember to consider your dog’s specific needs when making your choice so that you end up with the best possible food for your pet.

Do you feed your dog beef-based dog food? We’d love to know which one you buy. We’d also like to hear from any readers who feed one of the foods discussed above!

Tell us all about your beef dog food experiences in the comments below.

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the managing editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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  1. Susan King Avatar
    Susan King

    What do you think of Orijins dry dog foods?