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13 Best Dry Dog Food: Pawesome Kibble Picks

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Dog Food By Kelsey Leicht 24 min read June 22, 2022 2 Comments

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best dry dog food

Dog foods are as diverse as dog breeds themselves, so there are myriad options available for owners. 

Some owners like feeding fresh, human-grade dog foods, and others prefer canned or wet dog food. But the majority of owners opt for dry dog food at feeding time

Also known as kibble, this crunchy concoction is convenient to feed, easy to store, and great for your pup’s teeth. It’s also the most cost-effective way to feed your four-footer and there are thousands of options featuring different proteins, flavors, and other characteristics you can choose from.

But unfortunately, this kind of variety can make finding the best one for your dog a bit trickier.

We’ll try to simplify the process below, by discussing the benefits of dry dog food, explaining what factors you should consider in your search, and identifying a few of our top picks for the best dry dog food.

Best Dry Dog Food: Quick Picks

  1. Wellness Complete Health [Best Overall Dry Dog Food]: This top-notch dry option has a healthy assortment of formulas and recipes to choose from, with something for nearly every dog.
  2. Diamond Naturals [Best Budget-Friendly Dry Dog Food]: Featuring premium ingredients and nutritional “extras” like probiotics and glucosamine, this food will nourish your dog without blowing your budget.
  3. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet [Best for Dogs with Food Allergies]: This limited-ingredient food allows you to skip your dog’s triggering ingredients entirely thanks to its single-protein ingredient list.

Factors to Think About When Picking the Best Dry Dog Food

how to pick dry dog food

While the sheer amount of options can be overwhelming, there’s no need to stress when trying to figure out how to choose your dog’s food. Most of today’s commercially manufactured dry dog foods will give your dog the kind of nutrition he needs. 

That said, there are still some things you’ll want to verify when making a selection. So, when it comes to narrowing your options, be sure to stick to foods that check off the following three boxes:

  • It should meet or exceed AAFCO guidelines. A prospective food should meet your dog’s needs for his life stage as established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This is particularly important for large breed puppies who are expected to weigh over 70 pounds in adulthood. Proper nutrients ensure your dog develops appropriately, avoiding rapid growth that can lead to joint and skeletal issues.
  • It should address your dog’s specific health needs. Every dog is unique and has his own health concerns, sensitivities, calorie requirements, and more. The best dry dog food for your pup meets these needs. This might mean opting for foods with more calories for a working dog or picking a healthy weight kibble for a couch potato pupper that needs to slim down. 
  • It must get the green light from your vet. Running your dog’s food by your vet for approval can save you serious headaches (and possibly heartache) in the long run. Your vet can help steer you away from danger, like legume-heavy recipes for dogs with DCM concerns or foods that might aggravate your dog’s sensitive skin. 

Once you have these three needs met, you can get a little pickier in your search to find the very best food for your dog. 

Secondary factors to consider when comparing kibbles are:

  • Probiotics: These belly-boosting live cultures are healthy bacteria that aid in digestion. Not only can canine probiotics help sort out any stool issues, but they can cut down on noxious gas, a common concern in bully breeds.
  • Joint Supporting Supplements: Many of today’s top kibbles contain nutrients for bone and joint support, including glucosamine and chondroitin. Not only is this clearly beneficial for your dog, but it can help out your wallet, saving you money on supplements. 
  • Limited Ingredient Lists: Dogs with food sensitivities or food allergies typically struggle with mile-long ingredient lists. Manufacturers have taken notice, and many offer limited-ingredient dog food formulas that keep things basic yet nutritious.
  • Grain-Free or Grain-Inclusive: The vast majority of dogs benefit from a grain-inclusive diet. That said, some dogs do suffer from sensitivities and require a grain-free diet. Always check with your vet before implementing such a diet, as grain-free dog food has been correlated with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a fatal heart condition.
  • Budget: As with any product, dry dog food is available at many price points. Bargain foods aren’t always made with the best ingredients, but you can land some great dog food at affordable prices. You can also find more high-end options, but they’ll come at a premium price.

The 13 Best Dry Dog Foods

single protein dog foods

Dry dog food comes in countless forms, but we’ve narrowed things down to thirteen of our top picks at any price point. From common proteins to the exotic, we’ve got you covered. 

1. Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food

Best Overall Dry Dog Food

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Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food

A US-made kibble containing a balanced blend of protein, produce, and probiotics for nose-to-tail health.

About: Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food is a well-rounded line of kibbles, with options available for nearly every dog. Made with high-quality protein at the top of the ingredient list and an assortment of healthy produce for nutrients and fiber, it provides the nutrition dogs need without corn, soy, wheat, or meat by-products. 

Plus, this dog food contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and other bonus ingredients that can help aid in your pal’s joint health and reduce the risk of arthritis.

Features:

  • Added glucosamine, chondroitin, and fatty acids for joint health
  • Grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes available
  • Contains probiotics for healthy digestion
  • Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients

Options: Available in 19 recipes, including Chicken & Oatmeal, Whitefish & Sweet Potato, Senior, and more.

Ingredients (Chicken & Oatmeal):

Ingredients List

Deboned chicken, Chicken meal, Oatmeal, Ground barley, Peas...,

Ground brown rice, Chicken fat, Tomato pomace, Ground flaxseed, Tomatoes, Carrots, Natural chicken flavor, Potassium chloride, Choline chloride, Spinach, Vitamin E supplement, Taurine, Zinc proteinate, Mixed tocopherols, Sweet potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Zinc sulfate, Calcium carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous sulfate, Iron proteinate, Vitamin A supplement, Glucosamine hydrochloride, Chondroitin sulfate, Ascorbic acid, Copper sulfate, Thiamine mononitrate, Copper proteinate, Chicory root extract, Manganese proteinate, Manganese sulfate, d-Calcium pantothenate, Sodium selenite, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Yucca schidigera extract, Garlic powder, Vitamin D3 supplement, Biotin, Calcium iodate, Vitamin B12 supplement, Folic acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Rosemary extract, Green tea extract, Spearmint extract  

Protein Content (Chicken & Oatmeal): 24%

Pros

  • Assortment of recipes and flavors available
  • Contains prebiotics and probiotics
  • Provides a good combination of quality and price
  • Made with antioxidant-rich produce

Cons

  • Picky pups may not like the taste
  • Some owners like to avoid legumes

2. Spot & Tango UnKibble

Best Premium Dry Dog Food

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Spot & Tango Dry Dog Food

Spot & Tango UnKibble

A new take on kibble made with real meat and veggies you can see, processed gently to preserve nutrients.

About: Spot & Tango UnKibble takes everything you expect a kibble to be and turns it on its head, delivering a highly palatable, limited-ingredient food to your dog’s bowl. Best of all, this innovative food is delivered right to your door.

Features:

  • Meets AAFCO standards for all life stages
  • Vet-developed recipe for balance and wellness
  • Cooked at low temperatures to protect nutrients 
  • Made in the USA 

Options: Available in Chicken & Rice, Beef & Barley, and Cod & Salmon. 

Ingredients (Beef & Barley):

Ingredients List

Beef, Barley, Flax, Carrots, Green beans...,

Beef liver, Beef heart, Beets, Cranberries, Rosemary, Kelp, Salt, Mixed tocopherols, Cellulose powder, Fish oil, L-tryptophan, Choline chloride, Organic zinc proteinate, Potassium chloride, Rosemary extract, Iron amino acid chelate, Vitamin E supplement, Organic selenium yeast, Calcium carbonate, Beet, Tomato, Broccoli, Carrot, Spinach, Orange, Cherry, Cranberry, Strawberry, Apple, Blueberry, Pumpkin, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Folic acid 

Protein Content (Beef & barley): 26.58%

Pros

  • Straightforward and recognizable ingredient list
  • Taste and texture are more enticing than standard kibbles
  • Delivered on a schedule for convenience
  • Contains tasty and nutritious organ meats

Cons

  • Pretty pricey food
  • We wish it had probiotics

3. Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food

Best Budget-Friendly Dry Dog Food

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Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food

A US-made premium dog food made with wholesome ingredients, without the budget-busting price tag.

About: Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food packs a lot of goodness — including belly-supporting probiotics, glucosamine and chondroitin for joints, and fatty acids for skin and coat health — into an affordable kibble. Formed into easy-to-eat round kibblets, it works great for dogs big and small.

Features:

  • Every recipe has meat as the first ingredient and quality carbohydrates for energy
  • Recipes meet AAFCO standards for all life stages
  • Grain-free and grain-inclusive versions available
  • Made in the USA with internationally-sourced ingredients

Options: Offered in 16 recipes, including Chicken & Rice, Lamb Meal & Rice, Senior, and more.

Ingredients (Chicken & Rice):

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken meal, Whole grain brown rice, Cracked pearled barley, White rice...,

Dried yeast, Chicken fat, Egg product, Grain sorghum, Dried beet pulp, Natural flavor, Flaxseed, Salmon oil, Potassium chloride, Salt, Dl-methionine, Choline chloride, Dried chicory root, 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, 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 

Protein Content (Chicken & rice): 26%

Pros

  • Costs about half as much as comparable foods
  • Fortified with a mix of probiotics
  • Tons of produce included
  • Several recipes and proteins to choose from

Cons

  • Picky dogs may not like the taste
  • No rare proteins are offered

4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Best Dry Dog Food for Large Breeds

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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

A premium kibble made for big dog and formulated with joint boosters like glucosamine and chondroitin.

About: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food is a balanced blend of ingredients, including L-Carnitine for lean muscles, calcium and phosphorus to nourish bones, and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint wellness. Sprinkled in are LifeSource Bits, minimally-processed morsels that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Features:

  • Protein-forward recipes where meat is always at the top of the ingredient list
  • Contains Blue Buffalo’s trademark LifeSource Bits, chock full of antioxidants and nutrients
  • Added probiotics for digestive health
  • Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients

Options: Large breed options include specialized options like Puppy, Senior, and Healthy Weight, along with multiple adult protein options, including Fish & Oatmeal, Lamb & Brown Rice, and Chicken & Brown Rice.

Ingredients (Lamb & Brown Rice):

Ingredients List

Deboned lamb, Fish meal, Brown rice, Oatmeal, Barley...,

Pea starch, Peas, Flaxseed, Natural flavor, Pea fiber, Chicken fat, Dried tomato pomace, Pea protein, Fish oil, Direct dehydrated alfalfa pellets, Potassium chloride, Dried chicory root, Potatoes, Alfalfa nutrient concentrate, Salt, Potassium citrate, Choline chloride, Calcium carbonate, Taurine, Glucosamine hydrochloride, Mixed tocopherols, Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Chondroitin sulfate, Garlic, L-Carnitine, Zinc amino acid chelate, Zinc sulfate, Vegetable juice, DL-methionine, Ferrous sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, Iron amino acid chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried kelp, Yucca schidigera extract, Niacin, Calcium pantothenate, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, L-lysine, Copper sulfate, Biotin, Vitamin A supplement, Copper amino acid chelate, Manganese sulfate, Manganese amino acid chelate, Thiamine mononitrate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Vitamin B12 supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Calcium iodate, Dried yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic acid, Sodium selenite, Rosemary oil 

Protein Content (Lamb & Brown Rice): 20%

Pros

  • Specifically formulated for large breed dogs
  • Includes a ton of “extras” (probiotics, glucosamine, chondroitin, etc.)
  • Good value for the price

Cons

  • Some recipes contain multiple proteins (a problem for dogs with allergies)
  • Some dogs pick around Blue’s LifeSource Bits

5. Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Dry

Best Dry Dog Food for Small/Toy Breeds

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Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Dry

A small-dog formula with bite-size, crunchy kibbles loaded with fiber and antioxidants for full-body wellness.

About: Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Dry is a protein-forward food made with little dogs in mind. The smaller kibblets are easier for tiny jaws but still crunchy enough to help clean teeth — a major area of concern with small breeds. 

Features:

  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • Grain-inclusive for fiber and energy
  • Contains no chicken by-products, corn, soy, or wheat
  • Made in the USA  

Options: Available in adult Chicken & Rice and Senior Chicken & Rice.

Ingredients (Adult Chicken & Rice):

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken meal, Whole grain barley, Split peas, Brewers rice...,

Whole grain brown rice, Chicken fat, Natural flavor, Rice bran, Whole grain oatmeal, Whole flaxseed, Dried plain beet pulp, Potassium chloride, Choline chloride, Citric acid, Mixed tocopherols, Chia seed, Dried coconut, DL-methionine, Dried Tomato pomace, Dried egg product, Dried pumpkin, Dried kale, Dried spinach, Salt, Vitamin E supplement, Ferrous sulfate, Zinc oxide, Sodium selenite, Ascorbic acid, Manganese sulfate, Copper sulfate, D-Calcium pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin B12 supplement, Vitamin A supplement, Niacin supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 supplement, Manganous oxide, Potassium iodide, Folic acid, Rosemary extract 

Protein Content (Adult Chicken & Rice): 24%

Pros

  • Kibble size works well for small dogs
  • Most dogs love the taste
  • Pricing is great for such a premium food
  • Contains pumpkin for digestive support 

Cons

  • We’d love more protein options
  • Probiotics would be a great addition

6.  Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Formula 

Best Dry Dog Food for Puppies

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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Formula

A premium kibble designed for puppies with belly-supporting probiotics and specialized vitamins and minerals for growth.

About: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Formula is a grain-inclusive kibble made for growing bodies with lean proteins and wholesome carbohydrates. Best of all, it contains Blue’s trademark LifeSource Bits for an antioxidant boost.

Features:

  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • Added DHA and ARA for healthy brain and eye development
  • Contains an assortment of produce for fiber and nutrients
  • Made in the USA  

Options: Available in Chicken & Brown Rice, Lamb & Oatmeal, Large Breed Puppy, and Small Breed Puppy.

Ingredients (Chicken & Brown Rice):

Ingredients List

Deboned chicken, Chicken meal, Brown rice, Oatmeal, Barley...,

Fish meal, Peas, Chicken fat , Natural flavor, Flaxseed, Dried tomato pomace, Dried egg product, Pea protein, Fish oil, Salt, Potassium chloride, Choline chloride, Direct dehydrated alfalfa pellets, Dicalcium phosphate, Dried chicory root, Potatoes, Pea fiber, Alfalfa nutrient concentrate, Calcium carbonate, DL-Methionine, Mixed tocopherols, Vitamin E supplement, Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Zinc amino acid chelate, Zinc sulfate, Vegetable juice, Ferrous sulfate, Iron amino acid chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried kelp, Yucca schidigera extract, Niacin, Calcium pantothenate, L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate , L-Lysine, Copper sulfate, Biotin, Vitamin A supplement, Copper amino acid chelate, Manganese sulfate, Taurine, Manganese amino acid chelate, Thiamine mononitrate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Vitamin B12 supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Calcium iodate, Dried yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic acid, Sodium selenite, Rosemary oil 

Protein Content (Chicken & Brown Rice): 27%

Pros

  • Most pups love the taste
  • Fortified with probiotics
  • Smaller kibble size is perfect for puppies

Cons

  • Mixed proteins can cause problems for dogs with allergies
  • Some dogs pick around the LifeSource Bits

7. Merrick Healthy Grains Senior Recipe 

Best Dry Dog Food for Seniors

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Merrick Healthy Grains Senior Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick Healthy Grains Senior Recipe

A grain-inclusive senior kibble that’s loaded with joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin.

About: Merrick Healthy Grains Senior Recipe aims to keep your old dog moving with a generous portion of glucosamine and chondroitin in every serving of this healthy dog food. Also containing a fair amount of fatty acids, it’ll keep his coat and skin looking and feeling great too. 

Features:

  • Real, deboned chicken is the first ingredient
  • Packed with 800 mg/kg glucosamine and chondroitin 
  • Contains healthy carbohydrates and produce for fiber and energy
  • Made in the USA

Options: A grain-inclusive and grain-free option are available, along with a Lil’ Plates version for small dogs.

Ingredients (Grain-Inclusive):

Ingredients List

Deboned chicken, Chicken meal, Brown rice, Oatmeal, Barley...,

Turkey meal, Chicken fat, Quinoa, Natural flavor, Flaxseed, Salmon oil, Potassium chloride, Salt, Apples, Carrots, Sunflower oil, Organic dehydrated alfalfa meal, Choline chloride, Iron amino acid complex, Zinc amino acid complex, Zinc sulfate, Sodium selenite, Manganese amino acid complex, Copper amino acid complex, Potassium iodide, Cobalt proteinate, Cobalt carbonate, Taurine, Yucca schidigera extract, Mixed tocopherols, 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, Citric acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product 

Protein Content (Grain-Inclusive): 27%

Pros

  • Contains more glucosamine and chondroitin than most senior recipes
  • Fortified with probiotics
  • Pups seem to love the taste

Cons

  • More protein options are needed
  • Pricing is higher than other kibbles
  • Some consider alfalfa meal a “filler”

8. Nutro Ultra Weight Management Dry Dog Food

Best Dry Dog Food for Overweight Dogs

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Nutro Ultra Weight Management Dry Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Weight Management Dry Dog Food

A mixed-protein kibble made with lean proteins and whole grains to nourish overweight dogs prone to weight gain.

About: Nutro Ultra Weight Management Dry Dog Food’s lean proteins and diverse mix of fruits and vegetables give your dog the energy and nutrients he needs while keeping his physique in mind. Added glucosamine and chondroitin support his joints, helping him feel great while squeezing in his steps.

Features:

  • Contains a trio of lean proteins: chicken, fish, and lamb
  • Grain-inclusive for sustained energy and satisfaction
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Made in the USA

Options: Available in a chicken-based adult formula and a small-dog formula.

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken meal, Whole brown rice, Brewers rice, Rice bran...,

Whole grain oatmeal, Lamb meal, Pea protein, Natural flavor, Salmon meal, Chicken fat, Dried plain beet pulp, Whole flaxseed, Sunflower oil, Potassium chloride, Choline chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Mixed tocopherols, Citric acid, Dried coconut, Whole chia seed, Dried egg product, Tomato pomace, Dried kale, Dried pumpkin, Dried spinach, Dried blueberries, Dried apples, Dried carrots, Zinc sulfate, Niacin supplement, Biotin, Vitamin E supplement, Iron amino acid chelate, D-Calcium pantothenate, Riboflavin supplement, Selenium yeast, Vitamin B12 supplement, Copper amino acid chelate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Manganese amino acid chelate, Vitamin A supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid, Rosemary extract 

Protein Content: 23%

Pros

  • Features an impressive ingredient list
  • Most dogs — even picky ones — like the taste
  • Full of antioxidant-rich produce
  • Backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee

Cons

  • This is an expensive kibble
  • Mixed-protein foods are a problem for dogs with allergies
  • Brewers rice is a relatively cheap carbohydrate

9. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Formula

Best Dry Dog Food for Dogs with Food Allergies

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Natural Balance Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Formula

A limited-ingredient kibble made for dogs with sensitivities that’s available in an array of proteins and formulas.

About: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Formula is designed for doggos with sensitive systems, containing no corn, soy, or wheat. Made with lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates, it nourishes your pup from head to toe without any potentially triggering ingredients.

Features:

  • High-quality protein is always the top ingredient
  • Vet and animal nutritionist-designed formulas
  • A good source of omega fatty acids for skin and coat health
  • Made in the USA

Options: Comes in 19 varieties, with various grain-free and grain-inclusive formulas, including Small-Breed and Puppy, as well as numerous proteins, like duck, salmon, and beef.

Ingredients (Duck & Brown Rice):

Ingredients List

Duck, Duck meal, Potatoes, Cassava flour, Sweet potatoes...,

Brewers dried yeast, Sunflower oil, Potato protein, Flaxseed, Natural flavor, Menhaden fish oil, Salt, Potassium chloride, Taurine, Dl-methionine, Vitamin E supplement, Ascorbic acid, Niacin, Vitamin A supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, D-calcium pantothenate, Riboflavin supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 supplement, Folic acid, Biotin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Choline chloride, Zinc proteinate, Zinc sulfate, Ferrous sulfate, Iron proteinate, Copper sulfate, Copper proteinate, Manganese sulfate, Manganese proteinate, Sodium selenite, Calcium iodate, Citric acid, Rosemary extract, Green tea extract, Spearmint extract 

Protein Content (Duck & Brown Rice): 21%

Pros

  • Unlike most LID options, pups like the taste
  • Available in a wide mix of formulas and proteins
  • Pricing is pretty affordable
  • Single protein recipes are ideal for dogs with allergies

Cons

  • Some pup parents complained about the food’s odor
  • No exotic proteins are available

10. Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula

Best Fish-Flavored Dry Dog Food

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Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food

Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula

An all-life-stages, fish-forward kibble made with a limited ingredient list of premium proteins and vegetables.

About: Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula is a protein-dense kibble available in a number of fishy formulas, including salmon and catfish. Added carbohydrates supply energy and fiber for proper digestion.

Features:

  • Rich in fatty acids for skin and coat nourishment
  • Made with zero corn, soy, wheat, dairy, or chicken
  • Meets AAFCO standards for all life stages
  • Made in the USA  

Options: Available in a whopping 6 fish-forward recipes, including salmon, catfish, and whitefish, common proteins like lamb and turkey, and more exotic proteins, like guinea fowl, kangaroo, and venison. 

Ingredients (Limited Ingredient Salmon):

Ingredients List

Salmon, Salmon meal, Pea flour, Chickpeas, Peas...,

Sunflower oil, Flaxseed, Natural flavors, Sun cured alfalfa meal, Calcium carbonate, Salt, Choline chloride, Zinc proteinate, Iron proteinate, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Cobalt proteinate, Potassium chloride, Vitamin A acetate, Vitamin D3 supplement, Vitamin E supplement, Niacin, D‐Calcium pantothenate, Thiamine mononitrate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin supplement, Folic acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement, Lactic acid, Calcium iodate, Sodium selenite, Mixed tocopherols, L-Carnitine

Protein Content (Limited Ingredient Salmon): 29%

Pros

  • Plenty of exotic and fish proteins available
  • Most dogs seem to love the taste
  • Several recipes are loaded with omega-3s

Cons

  • We wish they offered grain-inclusive recipes
  • They’re pretty expensive
  • Some owners like avoiding legumes

11. Wellness CORE

Best Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

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Wellness Core Dry Dog Food

Wellness CORE

A grain-free kibble made with high-quality proteins, ample produce, and probiotics for gut health.

About: Wellness CORE is a grain-free kibble where real meat is always the first ingredient. Containing plenty of fiber for energy and digestion, it has the carbohydrate sources your dog’s sensitive system needs without the grains he can’t handle.

Since this formula is high in protein, it’s not a bad dog food for weight gain either if you need to help a skinny dog gain a few pounds!

Features:

  • Meat-forward recipes rich in protein
  • Made with zero wheat, corn, soy, or meat by-products
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health and mobility 
  • Made in the USA

Options:

Ingredients (Lamb):

Ingredients List

Lamb, Lamb meal, Pea protein, Peas, Lentils, Canola oil...,

Tomato pomace, Ground flaxseed, Natural lamb flavor, Taurine, Vitamin E supplement, Choline chloride, Spinach, Broccoli, Carrots, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Kale, Zinc proteinate, Mixed tocopherols, Zinc sulfate, Calcium carbonate, Niacin, Iron proteinate, Ferrous sulfate, Vitamin A supplement, Copper sulfate, Thiamine mononitrate, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Manganese sulfate, d-Calcium pantothenate, Sodium selenite, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Biotin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, Calcium iodate, Vitamin B12 supplement, Folic acid, Ascorbic acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Rosemary extract, Green tea extract, Spearmint extract  

Protein Content (Lamb): 33%

Pros

  • Dogs love the taste of these protein-dense recipes
  • Fortified with glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3s
  • Contains several different probiotics
  • Full of nutritious produce

Cons

  • This is one of the most expensive kibbles around
  • Appears too rich for some dogs

12. Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

Best Dry Dog Food for Multi-Pet Families

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Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

An antioxidant-rich, protein-packed, probiotic-fortified kibble that meets AAFCO standards for all life stages.

About: High in protein, Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food is an all-life-stages kibble that works well for most doggos, whether you have a spry young buddy or a mature gentleman. Offered in grain-free and grain-inclusive options, there’s a recipe for every pooch.

Features:

  • Made with real meat that’s always the first ingredient
  • Formulated for all-life-stages
  • Contains a fair amount of fiber sources and fatty acids
  • Made in the USA  

Options: Available in 13 grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes, including Ancient Wetlands (duck), Sierra Mountain (lamb), and Pacific Stream (fish).

Ingredients (Ancient Wetlands):

Ingredients List

Duck, Duck meal, Chicken meal, Grain sorghum, Millet...,

Dried yeast, Cracked pearled barley, Chicken fat, Egg product, Natural flavor, Roasted quail, Roasted duck, Smoked turkey, Quinoa, Chia seed, Tomato pomace, Salmon oil, Salt, Potassium chloride, Dl-Methionine, choline chloride, Taurine, Dried chicory root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca schidigera extract, L-Carnitine, 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, 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 

Protein Content (Ancient Wetlands): 30%

Pros

  • All-life-stages foods are great for multi-pet homes
  • Pricing is quite reasonable
  • Fortified with multiple probiotics
  • Packed full of tasty proteins

Cons

  • Not all dogs digest this food easily
  • Mixed protein formulas can cause problems for dogs with allergies

13. Instinct Raw Boost

Best Freeze-Dried Raw Dry Dog Food

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Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food

Instinct Raw Boost

An all-life-stages kibble made with freeze-dried meaty bits and a delicious, nutrient-rich raw coating.

About: Instinct Raw Boost is a protein-dense kibble that contains minimally processed, freeze-dried raw meat. A good source of omega fatty acids and antioxidants, it helps your pooch look great while feeling his best.

Features:

  • Real meat is always the first ingredient
  • Grain-free and grain-inclusive options available
  • Added probiotics for gut health
  • Made in the USA 

Options: There are 13 options to choose from, including several proteins, like beef, lamb, and salmon, as well as a variety of recipes, including Healthy Weight, Toy Breed, and Senior.

Ingredients (Beef):

Ingredients List

Beef, White fish meal, Herring meal, Chicken fat, Peas, Tapioca...,

Chicken meal, Menhaden fish meal, Natural flavor, Freeze dried beef, Freeze dried beef liver, Pumpkin seeds, Dried tomato pomace, Freeze dried beef heart, Freeze dried beef kidney, Freeze dried beef spleen, Montmorillonite clay, Vitamin E supplement, Vitamin A supplement, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, Niacin supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, d-Calcium pantothenate, Riboflavin supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 supplement, Folic acid, Vitamin D3 supplement, Biotin, Chickpeas, Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Zinc proteinate, Iron proteinate, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Sodium selenite, Ethylenediamine dihydroiodide, Potassium chloride, Salt, Choline chloride, Taurine, Dried kelp, Salmon oil, Blueberries, Dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, Rosemary extract 

Protein Content (Beef): 36%

Pros

  • Pups love the taste of the raw coating
  • A variety of protein and recipe options are available
  • Stuffed with protein (including organ meats)
  • Both grain-free and grain-inclusive varieties are available

Cons

  • Mixed protein recipes can be an issue with dogs with food allergies
  • This kibble is pretty expensive
  • Raw meats present health risks
Raw Proteins Can Cause Problems

We generally discourage owners from feeding raw food, but if you’re going to do so, freeze-dried raw pieces like those found in Instinct are likely safer to handle than fresh raw ingredients.

raw-meat-for-dogs

Dry dog food comes in a vast array of meat proteins that can be overwhelming to sort through. Some are common, while others are likely meats you’ve never tried, let alone your four-footer. 

Most pups can handle eating any meat source, but because food allergies can be an issue, it’s a good idea to select a common protein from the start if your pup is healthy, like chicken or beef. These are found in kibbles at any price point, are rich in nutrients, and taste great. 

Unfortunately, while delicious, chicken and beef are also common allergy triggers, so they’re not an option for every pooch. Dogs with known protein sensitivities may do better with more exotic options, such as:

  • Duck
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Rabbit
  • Venison
  • Alligator
  • Kangaroo 

Even with these alternative proteins, pay close attention to the ingredient list to ensure your pup’s triggers aren’t included, as chicken and beef are often used for flavoring. 

Allergic reactions such as itching, recurrent ear infections, and wheezing should be reported to your vet. Dogs with food allergies benefit from a limited ingredient diet, though some require a hypoallergenic dog food diet entirely, including those with hydrolyzed proteins.

If you have a dog who’s prone to turning his nose up to kibble, some proteins are better than others.

Lamb, for instance, can be less enticing than chicken to some canines. Duck and fish are great options, too, as they’re stronger in taste and smell, tempting even the most stubborn of doggy diners. Some owners choose to add a delicious dog food topper to kibble, but this can worsen pickiness, so proceed with caution.

dog food with fish

For dogs with skin and coat issues, you want a kibble that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is an excellent source, though some foods rely on supplemental sources of omega-3s fish oils.  Some of the most common and omega-3-rich fish  used in dry dog food include:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Whitefish 

Multi-protein kibbles are also available. While these tasty mixes aren’t inherently bad, they may cause issues for dogs with sensitivities. They can also make narrowing down problem ingredients difficult if your dog has an adverse reaction.

Acordingly, most owners are probably best served by sticking to single-protein foods, unless you already know your pupper doesn’t suffer from food allergies or sensitivities.

The Benefits of Dry Dog Food/Kibble

dry dog food benefits

Dry dog food is the king of canine cuisine, with most owners choosing it over other options like canned, fresh, or freeze-dried dog food. This widespread popularity has led to countless formulas over the years, providing nutritious options for all pups, whether they’re a small-breed puppy or a giant senior. 

Kibble has a number of perks over other doggy diets, including:

  • Crunch: Kibble pieces are hard and textured, helping clean debris from your dog’s teeth and gum line. Feeding kibble isn’t a replacement for regular dental care, but it can help keep things cleaner between brushings.
  • Price: Kibble is the most affordable food option for dogs, especially for those with big puppers or multi-pooch households. As with any food, it does come at various price points, however, with specialty foods costing considerably more than department store brands.
  • Storage: Unlike fresh diets, most kibble is “shelf stable,” meaning it does not require refrigeration. Storing the dog food in a dry, temperature-controlled area of the home like your pantry is perfectly acceptable, and many of today’s top brands come in resealable bags to lock in freshness.
  • Shelf life: Dry dog food that is unopened and stored correctly can last between 12 and 18 months, depending on the manufacturer (though kibbles only last about a month or so once opened). This allows you to stock up, if needed, or to purchase a large bag for your small dog and take advantage of potential savings.
  • Variety: Kibble comes in countless formulas and recipes, offering everything from large-breed specialty food to limited-ingredient dog food for dogs with sensitivities. Protein also varies significantly, with brands using chicken, lamb, and beef most commonly, though you can also find exotic options like kangaroo, alligator, and more.

***

Does your dog have a favorite dry food? Is it one on our list or another? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by

Kelsey Leicht

Kelsey is a lover of words and woofs. She worked with dogs for several years at a boarding kennel as a shift runner and office manager before venturing into the world of writing. She lives with a menagerie of furry and not-so-furry kids, including three dogs, some cats, a grumpy turtle, and her husband. Her favorite type of dog is a happy one.

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Jared Head

My vet recommended imas for a healthier coat and for a great balanced diet. I did not see it on the list above, Does this mean it may not be the best although my vet recommended it? I am a owner of two different breeds, with two different energy levels. I am not sure if I’m asking or stating this correctly. What it is that I am asking is this, Does my pups need two different types of food? They are both large breeds of pups. Not sure if I am able to get any feed back on this or just leave a comment. So being said if I can get any suggestions back I’d appreciate it. Thanks for all the great information on messy drinkers and the the great chow for our four legged family members.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Jared. Thanks for the kind words — we’re glad you found our messy drinkers article helpful!

Iams is typically not one of the foods we recommend, though we always think it is important to work with your vet when deciding on a dog food. It’s not that it’s necessarily a “bad” food, but there are (again, in our opinion) many much better choices out there.

And yes — your dogs may very well need two different foods if they have different energy levels, are different sizes, or have different health conditions.

We’d recommend starting by checking out our article about how to choose a dog food. It outlines some of the important things you’ll need to consider when making a choice.
Best of luck!

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