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The 9 Most Expensive Dog Food Brands: Pricey Options for Your Pup

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Dog Food By Ben Team 27 min read September 1, 2021 4 Comments

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Most Expensive Dog Foods: Quick Picks

  • Nom Nom [Best Fresh Food] Custom blended to suit your dog’s specific needs, Nom Nom is a subscription-based food plan, that provides everything your dog needs to stay healthy and happy. These foods are made and shipped fresh, so you’ll want to refrigerate them until dinnertime.
  • Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends [Best Mix-in or Topper Option]. You can treat Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends as your pup’s primary food, but most owners will likely use them as toppers for their pet’s kibble. This is a great way to boost the nutritional value and taste of your pup’s typical kibble.
  • Honest Kitchen [Best Dehydrated Dog Food Option]. A dehydrated food that can be used as a topper or standalone diet, the Honest Kitchen is a “human-grade” food, made with an impressive array of ingredients, including everything from chicken to papaya (and it even includes a little honey for your dog’s sweet tooth!).

Dog food prices vary pretty significantly.

But while most sit in the middle of the price range, there are outliers. Some foods are suspiciously inexpensive and seem like they can’t possibly contain actual, edible dog food.

Meanwhile, others feature price tags that would send Warren Buffett looking for coupons.

We’re going to focus on these super-expensive dog food brands today.

Many owners choose to go after expensive dog food brands believing that a spending more guarantees they’ll receive a high-quality food. While this can certainly be true in many cases, it’s not a given. Don’t worry though – we’ll make sure you only choose a pricey dog food that is worth that extra cash!

We’ll list some of the most expensive brands, explain why they’re priced above the market mean, and point out some of the features a few extra dollars will yield.

Hopefully, this will help you decide whether these premium pupper foods are worth coughing up a little extra cash.

Read on to learn more about expensive dog foods, or check the chart below, if you’re just looking for some quick recommendations:

Is Expensive Dog Food Better than Low-Priced Dog Food?

As is the case in most markets, high-quality dog foods usually cost more than low- or average-quality options.

So, while it is impossible to make sweeping generalizations about dog foods based on nothing more than price, expensive dog foods are usually better than their budget-priced counterparts.

But it is important to understand that slapping an expensive price tag on an average-quality product is a time-tested marketing technique.

High prices can sometimes increase the perceived value of a product. This means that in almost every market, some manufacturer is putting a premium price tag on a run-of-the-mill product, which doesn’t cost any more to make.

But don’t worry — we’ve tried to weed out these impostors below.

Just remember that you should pick a dog food that best suits your pet’s specific needs (and you should do so in consultation with your veterinarian).

Some dogs may have specific needs that are only served by the most expensive foods around, while others may live long, healthy lives fueled by a relatively typical recipe. 

What Do You Get by Paying More for Dog Food?

Setting aside the “cheaters” who place exorbitant price tags on typical dog foods, most pricey foods give you more value for your dog-food dollar.

Some of the things that distinguish high-priced dog foods from others include:

Increased Protein Content

The proteins used in a given pet food are generally the most expensive ingredients included. Chicken, for example, costs more than rice, corn, or potatoes.

So, manufacturers are generally able to include more protein in expensive foods than cheap ones. And, when all other things are equal, dog foods with high protein content are usually preferable to those with moderate protein levels.

Different proteins also cost different amounts. Proteins vary in expensive:

  • Cheapest Proteins: Chicken
  • Mid-Priced Proteins: Beef, Pork, Turkey
  • High-End Proteins: Salmon, Seafood, Duck
  • Ultra-Expensive Proteins: Quail, Kangaroo, Emu, Bison

The rarer the meat protein, the more expensive the food will be!

Higher-Quality Ingredients

In addition to containing more protein, many high-priced dog foods feature higher quality ingredients than budget-priced options.

For example, high-priced dog foods often contain more real meat than cheap foods, which depend primarily on meat meals.

There is nothing wrong with (properly labeled and identified) meat meals, but we generally like to see a whole protein at the top of a food’s ingredient list (your dog probably appreciates the inclusion of real meats too).

Similarly, high-priced dog foods typically contain higher-quality grains too. For example, instead of featuring relatively low-quality carbs like brewer’s rice, many premium foods contain things like whole brown rice or oatmeal.

High-priced dog foods often contain an array of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables too, and some even contain truly premium ingredients like cheese.

Helpful Dog Food Supplements

In addition to high-quality ingredients, many pricey dog foods are fortified with important supplements. This includes things like:

  • Glucosamine and ChondroitinGlucosamine and chondroitin are two supplements that may help protect your dog’s joints and provide some relief from things like osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia. Some foods only contain one or the other, but because they’re thought to be most helpful when used together, you should ideally look for a food fortified with both.
  • Probiotics – Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help promote proper digestion and ease many mild gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation or diarrhea. There are a variety of different dog-beneficial probiotic strains available, and scientists are working to analyze the ways different ones work. In the absence of more concrete data, we generally recommend that owners opt for foods that feature several different probiotics.  
  • Prebiotics – The probiotics some dog foods provide are living organisms – this means they gotta eat too! Prebiotics are fibrous ingredients that provide food for the bacteria you’re trying to establish in your dog’s gut. Many expensive dog foods not only contain probiotics but prebiotics too.
  • Omega-3-Rich Ingredients – Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful for reducing inflammation. This means they can help to soothe skin and coat issues, and they can also help reduce the inflammation associated with many joint problems. There are a variety of omega-3 sources available, but some are better than others (for dogs). Typically, high-priced dog foods contain some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil and salmon oil.

Fewer Unnecessary Additives

Not all additives are bad. After all, things like vitamin and mineral supplements, probiotics, and natural preservatives are additives. But it is usually best to select a food that contains as few additives as possible and leaves out completely unnecessary things, such as artificial colors.

Typically, expensive dog foods contain fewer of these unnecessary additives than cheaper foods do.

What Should You Look for in an Expensive Dog Food?

Even among foods at a given price point, some will provide better nutrition, taste, and value than others. So, you should make sure to scrutinize expensive foods just as much as you would more affordable options.

A couple of the most important things to look for include:

A Whole Protein at the Top of the Ingredient List

Carbs, fruits, vegetables, and fats are all important for your dog’s diet, but you’ll want to start by considering the proteins included. And this usually means looking for one that features something like whole chicken breast, pork, or salmon at the beginning of the ingredient list.

acana-ingredients

On a head-to-head basis, properly identified meat meals are often just as nutritious as whole proteins are (and they actually contain more protein per unit of measure than whole proteins do). And, there is nothing wrong with including (properly identified) meat meals in a dog food.

However, the presence of a whole protein at the top of the ingredient list is often a good sign that the manufacturer has tried to maximize the food’s taste, nutrition, and value. Plus, dogs often appear to find them tastier.

High-Quality, Whole Grains

Different dog food manufacturers incorporate different carbohydrate sources in their foods. Some utilize grains, such as corn, rice, or wheat, while others take a grain-free approach and use things like potatoes, sweet potatoes, or chickpeas to provide the food’s carbohydrate content.

good-grains-for-dogs

In light of the recent correlation found between some grain-free foods and dilated cardiomyopathy, we recommend that owners stick to grain-inclusive options unless your dog has a specific grain allergy or intolerance, or your vet recommends feeding a grain-free food.

The vast majority of dogs digest grains well, and high-quality grains represent an excellent source of calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

But with all that said, it is important to note that not all grains are created equally — some are much more nutritious than others. In general, whole grains that haven’t been processed very much are the best, while partial, heavily processed grains are less impressive.

No Artificial Flavors, Preservatives, or Colors

As we explained above, it is usually a good idea to pick foods that don’t contain anything unnecessary, or that don’t contribute some type of value to the food. This means avoiding most foods that contain artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, or artificial colors.

Foods made with premium ingredients shouldn’t need any artificial taste enhancers, and natural preservatives can be used in lieu of their artificial counterparts.

Artificial colors are likely the least useful additives of all, as your dog simply doesn’t care what color his food is – these colors are added to make you think the food tastes better.

Manufactured in a Country with High Safety Standards

Given the complexities of the dog-food manufacturing process, problems can occur during the cooking of any dog food. There’s just no getting around this. So, try to focus on picking a dog food made in a country with safety mechanisms and protocols in place, to help minimize these types of problems.

This essentially means picking a food manufactured in one of the following locations:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Most Western European Countries

The Nine Best Expensive Dog Food Brands

There are a bunch of expensive dog food brands on the market, but we’ve tried to assemble nine of the very best options. So, if you want to give your dog the very best food money can buy, consider picking up one of the following.  

1. Canidae Grain-Free Pure Ancestral

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Canidae Grain-Free Pure Ancestral

Canidae Grain-Free Pure Ancestral

Ultra high-quality, meat-rich recipe

This protein-packed kibble feature wild-caught, regionally sourced meats, with as many as 6 or 7 different protein sources!

About: Canidae manufacturers a lot of different dog foods, including formulas priced all over the spectrum. However, their Grain-Free Pure Ancestral recipes are designed for owners who want the best and aren’t afraid to pay for quality.

Features: Canidae’s Pure Ancestral formulas are protein-packed kibbles, that feature wild-caught and regionally sourced meats. These recipes are all brimming with protein sources, and each bag is at least 70% meat by weight.

Each of the four recipes that make up this line contains six or seven different protein sources. For example, the Lamb, Goat & Wild Boar recipe not only comes with the three primary meats, but it also contains pork meal, bison, buffalo meal, and venison meal too. And for additional flavor, the kibble features a freeze-dried raw coating, which will drive your dog wild. 

Whole vegetables and a variety of non-grain carbohydrates help round out the recipe. Every Canidae Pure Ancestral recipe also contains vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as five different probiotic strains.

We list the ingredients for the Lamb, Goat & Wild Boar recipe below, but there are four recipes in this product line in total:

  • Lamb, Goat & Wild Boar
  • Quail, Chicken & Turkey
  • Quail, Chicken & Turkey for Puppies
  • Salmon, Mackerel & Pacific Whiting

Ingredients List

Lamb, Pork Meal, Goat Meal, Carrots, Lentils, Potatoes...,

Peas, Tapioca, Goat, Bison, Wild Boar, Canola Oil, Suncured Alfalfa Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Dried Pork, Venison Meal, Venison, Choline Chloride, Freeze-Dried Lamb, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Mixed Tocopherols (A Preservative), Squash, Parsley, Sage, Basil, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Niacin, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Zinc Proteinate, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Folic Acid, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable) Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.

PROS

This is a great option for owners who want to feed their dog a meat-rich kibble, as it is absolutely packed with protein. It also comes with a few nutritious vegetables, it’s fortified with five different probiotics, and the freeze-dried raw coating seems to appeal to many dogs.

CONS

This is a grain-free formula, and these foods are probably best reserved for dogs who cannot digest grains properly. It’s also worth noting that while many dogs loved the taste of this food, palatability issues seemed a little more common with Canidae Pure Ancestral than most other high-quality kibbles.

2. Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food

Best Raw Food Option

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Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food

Raw meaty patties

These raw food patties are made of 85% meats and organ meats, with 15% non-GMO fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals, making this a great option for a protein-rich diet.

About: Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food is a raw, frozen diet available in a variety of flavors and styles. But no matter whether you prefer “patties,” “medallions,” “small bites,” or “chubs” (somewhat similar to a ground meat product), they’ll be shipped to your home in a frozen state to preserve freshness.  

Features: Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Foods are almost completely comprised of proteins. They’re actually 85% meats and organ meats, with the remaining 15% being comprised of non-GMO fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals.

You can feed these foods to your dog in a frozen state, but they also thaw quickly (in “minutes” according to the manufacturer). Instinct sources their proteins from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Mexico, and their foods are cooked and prepared in the USA.

Instinct offers three different flavors within this product line (each of which is available in the four forms described above):

  • Real Beef  
  • Cage-Free Chicken  
  • Grass-Fed Lamb  

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Spleen, Apples...,

Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Montmorillonite Clay, Tricalcium Phosphate, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate), Blueberries, Spinach.

PROS

Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Foods are a great option for owners who want a protein-rich, raw food for their pet. Most dogs seem to love the way these foods taste, and a number of owners reported that they were very easy and convenient to prepare for your dog.   

CONS

This is another grain-free formula, so Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food is probably not the ideal choice for dogs who digest grains well. Most owners were happy with the way the food arrived, but a few reported that the food appeared to have thawed and been re-frozen before shipping.

3. Nom Nom

Best Fresh Dog Food Option

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https://olliepets.sjv.io/c/162112/899633/12309

Nom Nom

Human-grade, fresh dog food

This fresh, subscription-based, human-grade food is made of premium ingredients such as ground turkey, brown rice, and spinach.

About: Nom Nom is a fresh dog food made from foods that are labeled as being “human grade.” It comes in pre-portioned bags and is shipped in insulated packages right to your front door.

Features: Unlike most other dog foods, which may be manufactured months before you bring them home, Nom Nom recipes are made fresh. They are full of premium ingredients, including things like ground turkey, brown rice, and spinach, and they’re fortified with the kinds of vitamins and minerals your dog needs to remain healthy.

Nom Nom is a subscription-based service, which allows you to determine the frequency at which new meals are delivered. You’ll also need to fill out a relatively extensive questionnaire about your dog, as each order is specifically customized to suit your dog. 

Serving your dog is also easy – simply open one of the pre-portioned pouches and dump it in your pet’s bowl. You can also heat up the food in your microwave if you like.

We detail the ingredients found in Nom Nom’s Turkey Fare recipe below, but they actually offer four different options for your pet:

  • Turkey Fare
  • Beef Mash
  • Chicken Chow
  • Pork Potluck

Ingredients List

Ground turkey, eggs, brown rice, carrots, spinach...,

dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, fish oil, vinegar, citric acid, taurine, choline bitartrate, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, copper gluconate, manganese gluconate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), selenium yeast, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), potassium iodide.

PROS

Nom Nom is a great option for owners who want a premium-quality, custom-formulated food for their pooch. Most dogs appear to love the way the recipes taste, and several owners have noted improvements in their dog’s energy level, coat condition, and elimination habits after switching to one of these recipes.

CONS

The biggest drawback to Nom Nom is undoubtedly its price – this is not a cheap dog food. You’ll likely end up paying about $1 per pound your dog weighs per week to switch to this food. In other words, it would cost nearly $90 a week to feed a 90-pound dog.

You can learn even more by reading our full Nom Nom review here!

4. Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused

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Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused

Quality kibble with freeze-dried meat pieces

This grain-free and poultry-free recipe features real deboned beef as the very first ingredient, with several other animal proteins and omega-3-rich ingredients for healthy coat, skin, and joints.

About: Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused recipes feature freeze-dried, raw meat pieces in addition to typical kibble. Each recipe is grain-free and comes packed with a variety of meats to provide your dog with the protein she needs.

Features: While each recipe is slightly different, all of the Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused recipes comes with several different protein sources, including real, whole meats, meat meals, and organ meats. They’re made without grains of any kind and instead rely on sweet potatoes, potatoes, and peas to provide the bulk of the carbohydrate content.

Each Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused recipe also comes with tasty and nutritious fruits, such as apples and blueberries. They’re also fortified with vitamins, minerals, and four different probiotic strains to help support your dog’s digestive health. These foods all feature omega-3-rich ingredients to support coat, skin, and joint health.

All Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused recipes are manufactured in the USA.

There are eight different recipes in the Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused product line (we detail the ingredients found in their Great Plains Red Meat recipe below):

  • Great Plains Red Meat
  • Hero’s Banquet
  • High Plains
  • Wild Fields
  • Big Game
  • Pacific Catch
  • Puppy
  • Large Breed

Ingredients List

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

Peas, Natural Flavor, Pork Meal, Pork Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Potato Protein, Lamb, Rabbit, Pea Protein, Beef Liver, Apples, Blueberries, Gelatin, Organic Alfalfa, Salmon Oil (source of Omega 3 fatty acids), Salt, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate), Choline Chloride, Yucca schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

PROS

Most dogs seem to love the way Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused tastes, and several owners reported that it drastically improved their dog’s skin and coat condition. We love that it contains so many different proteins (although this may be a problem for dogs with food allergies), as well as nutritious fruit and probiotic supplements.

CONS

This is another grain-free option, which is probably not an ideal choice for dogs who can digest grains well. Additionally, a few owners complained that they received bags that contained no raw pieces. However, this was probably due to a one-off packaging problem.

5. Orijen

Highest Protein Level in a Kibble

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Orijen

Orijen

Impressive ingredient list

This meat-packed, protein-rich kibble has a variety of protein sources and contains prebiotics to ensure good digestion.

About: Orijen is a somewhat typical dog kibble, but make no mistake: It’s packed with awesome stuff for your pooch. Each recipe comes with multiple meats, organ meats, and meat meals to provide your pup with the protein she needs, as well as a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Features: Orijen is a grain-free kibble, which is designed to be a “biologically appropriate” dog food. To that end, Orijen includes an incredible variety of protein sources in each recipe, as well as things like lentils, beans, peas, and chickpeas to provide carbohydrates.

A number of fruits are also included in each recipe, which will not only improve the taste of the food, but they also provide the vitamins and minerals your pup needs. Three probiotic strains are also included in each recipe, to help ensure good digestion and improve your dog’s elimination habits.

Orijen dry foods are available in several different recipes (we examine the ingredients in Orijen Original below):

  • Orijen Original
  • Orijen Senior
  • Orijen Puppy
  • Orijen Puppy Large
  • Orijen Six Fish
  • Orijen Regional Red
  • Orijen Fit & Trim
  • Orijen Tundra

Ingredients List

Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, Atlantic flounder, cage-free eggs, whole Atlantic mackerel...,

chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, whole Atlantic herring, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated mackerel, dehydrated chicken liver, dehydrated egg, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, whole green peas, chicken necks, chicken kidney, whole green lentils, whole navy beans, whole chickpeas, lentil fiber, chicken fat, natural chicken flavor, pollock oil, ground chicken bone, chicken cartilage, turkey cartilage, mixed tocopherols (preservative), whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, freeze-dried chicken liver, dried kelp, zinc proteinate, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, whole carrots, whole apples, whole pears, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, thiamine mononitrate, D-calcium pantothenate, copper proteinate, chicory root, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product.

PROS

Orijen has a lot of very dedicated fans, who rave about their foods. Many owners report that their dog looks and acts healthier and happier after switching to this food, and most dogs appear to love the taste. The ingredient lists for these recipes are some of the most impressive we’ve found in the entire dog-food market.

CONS

As with several other premium dog foods, this is a grain-free recipe, which means it isn’t an ideal choice for dogs without grain intolerances. Additionally, some dogs appear to have trouble digesting this food well, but you can likely mitigate this issue by simply switching your dog’s food slowly, over the course of a week or so.

6. Nulo Freestyle

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Nulo Freestyle

Premium chicken-free kibble

This high-quality, grain-free kibble features lamb, turkey meal and salmon meal as the three ingredients. Plus, it’s chicken and egg-free!

About: Nulo Freestyle is a premium, all-natural dog food formulated with a variety of ingredients to keep your dog healthy, and without any unnecessary additives. It is also a completely chicken- and egg-free food, making it a great option for dogs with allergies to these super-common ingredients.

Features: The first thing you’ll notice upon looking at the ingredient list for Nulo Freestyle is that it starts with three high-quality proteins (lamb, turkey meal, and salmon meal), and a fourth (lamb meal) can be found a little further down the list.

A grain-free recipe, Nulo Freestyle utilizes yellow peas, chickpeas, and sweet potato to provide the food’s carbohydrate content. Meanwhile, dried blueberries, apples, tomatoes, and carrots help provide extra flavor, vitamins, and minerals. A proprietary probiotic strain is also included with this food, to help keep your pup’s tummy working well.

Nulo Freestyle is a pretty small kibble; the individual pieces are slightly smaller than a dime. This makes it an excellent choice for smaller dogs, who don’t like wrestling with gigantic pieces of kibble at dinnertime.

Nulo Freestyle is dog food that’s made in the USA without any Chinese ingredients, and it is available in several different formulations (we examine their Lamb recipe below):

  • Nulo Freestyle Lamb
  • Nulo Freestyle Salmon
  • Nulo Freestyle Turkey
  • Nulo Freestyle Puppy & Adult Limited
  • Nulo Freestyle Senior
  • Nulo Freestyle Small Breed
  • Nulo Freestyle Puppy
  • Nulo Freestyle Adult Trim

Ingredients List

Lamb, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Yellow Peas, Chickpeas...,

Sweet Potato, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid), Lamb Meal, Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Yeast Culture, Potassium Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Blueberries, Dried Apples, Dried Tomatoes, Dried Carrots, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Iron Proteinate, Niacin, Copper Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

PROS

Nulo Freestyle received a ton of praise from owners, and most appeared very happy with their choice. Several specifically mentioned an improvement in their dog’s pooping habits, and most dogs seem to love the way this formula tastes. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, this is a great option for dogs who’re allergic to chicken or eggs.

CONS

The biggest drawback to Nulo Freestyle seems to be that some dogs simply don’t like it. However, this appears to be the exception and not the rule. Also, like some of the other foods we’ve mentioned above, this is a grain-free option, which may not be appropriate for dogs who can digest grains well.

7. Earthborn Holistics Primitive Natural

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Earthborn Holistics Primitive Natural

Earthborn Holistics Primitive Natural

USA-made, eco-friendly kibble

This high-protein dog food features three different kinds of meat meals and implements environmentally-friendly manufacturing practices.

About: Earthborn Holistics Primitive Natural is a grain- and gluten-free kibble made with the type of high protein levels that likely characterized the diets of primitive canines.

Also, and in keeping with the brand’s name, Earthborn embraces a number of environmentally friendly practices, including their UPCs for Trees program, which plants a tree for every UPC code customers mail to the company.

Features: Earthborn Holistics Primitive Natural is a high-quality dog food, made with a variety of nutritious ingredients.

It does not feature a whole protein, which is slightly disappointing, but it does include three different meat meals and dried eggs. In fact, it provides more protein (38% Guaranteed Analysis), than many other foods that do utilize whole proteins.

Peas provide the bulk of the carbohydrate content for this grain-free recipe. A number of fruits and vegetables – including blueberries, cranberries, apples, carrots, and spinach — are also included to provide some additional carbs, as well as a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Three probiotic strains are included to help keep your dog’s digestive tract operating well.

Earthborn Holistics Primitive Natural is made in the USA, and it comes in a resealable package, so the kibble will stay fresher for longer. This food is only available in one flavor.

Ingredients List

Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Dried Egg, Pea Starch...,

Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Whitefish Meal, Flaxseed, Natural Flavors, Pea Fiber, Blueberries, Cranberries, Apples, Carrots, Spinach, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, Taurine, L-Carnitine, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Yucca schidigera Extract, Rosemary Extract, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.[

/ingredients]

PROS

Earthborn Holistics is a high-protein food, that features three different kinds of meat meal, and it is also made with an impressive list of fruits and vegetables. Most dogs seem to like the way it tastes, and several owners reported improved elimination after switching to this food. Additionally, eco-conscious pet parents will likely enjoy supporting a company that does its best to embrace sustainable, planet-friendly practices.

CONS

The biggest downside to Earthborn Holistics is the lack of a whole protein. We always like to see a whole protein at the top of the list, but that may not be a deal-breaker for some owners. It is also important to point out that this is a grain-free food, which may make it a poor choice for dogs who can digest grains.

8. Honest Kitchen Grain-Free

Best Dehydrated Dog Food Option

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Honest Kitchen Grain-Free

Honest Kitchen Grain-Free

Human-grade dehydrated dog food

This nutritious dehydrated dog food is made without byproducts, artificial ingredients, or GMOs.

About: Honest Kitchen Grain-Free is a dehydrated dog food that you prepare on an as-needed basis. Made with “human-grade” ingredients, this recipe provides the kind of flavor and nutrition most owners would want for their pup.

Features: Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated dog foods are designed to please even the pickiest pet parents. They’re not only made from “human-grade” ingredients, but they’re also made without GMO ingredients, which is very appealing to some owners.

Further, they don’t contain any artificial ingredients, and Honest Kitchen avoids including any ingredients from China. 

Mixing up a batch of Honest Kitchen food is very simple.

When dinner time comes, just measure out the proper amount of the dehydrated food, add the appropriate amount of water, and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

You can actually make a few day’s worth of food at a time, as the prepared food can be refrigerated for two to three days. Note that you can use these packets as your dog’s primary food, or you can simply use them as toppers to make your dog’s boring kibble a little tastier.

Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Dog Food is made in the USA. These foods come in four different flavors (we’ve focused on their free-range chicken recipe below):

  • Free-range chicken
  • Cage-free turkey
  • Ranch-raised beef
  • Wild-caught fish

apples, organic kelp, honey, pumpkin, green beans, cabbage, bananas, papayas, basil, garlic, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate.

PROS

By and large, Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated dog food received glowing reviews from the owners who tried it. Most reported that it was really easy to prepare and that it smells quite appetizing (to humans and canines alike). Some owners did find that it looked a little strange, but your dog probably won’t care about that at all.

CONS

Unfortunately, this is another grain-free option, so it isn’t an ideal primary food for dogs who can digest grains. However, it would still work well as a topper for just about all pups. Aside from that, there aren’t really any problems we could find with Honest Kitchen. It is an expensive food, but then again, so are all of the ones in this review!

9. Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends

Best Mix-In or Topper Option

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Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends

Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends

Mix-in superblend for boosting standard kibble

Raw meat proteins, organ meats, and ground bone make these protein-packed kibble toppers a great pick

About: Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends are designed as “toppers,” meaning that you add them to your pup’s regular kibble.

According to the packaging, these packets actually meet the AAFCO’s nutritional levels for all life stages, meaning that you can use them as your pup’s primary food. 

Features: Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends are full of nutritious, tasty ingredients that most dogs love.

They all include at least one raw protein, and most of the flavors have several different proteins, including organ meats. Ground bone (a good source of calcium) is also mixed in with the recipe.

This is a grain-free food, so there aren’t any traditional carbohydrates in the recipe. However, they do contain a variety of great fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, spinach, broccoli, squash, and bananas.

Also, unlike many other dog food toppers, Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends feature included probiotics, to help regulate your dog’s digestive system. These toppers are also fortified with a mixture of vitamins and minerals to help prevent deficiencies.

Stella & Chewy recommend simply adding the food directly to your dog’s kibble if you’re using it as a topper. If you intend to use it as a standalone food, they recommend rehydrating it with a bit of water first.

Stella & Chewy Meal Mixers are made in the USA, and no ingredients used in the formula are sourced from China.

Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends come in four different flavors (we’ve focused on the duck recipe below):

  • Duck
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Chicken (small breed)

Ingredients List

Duck with Ground Bone, Turkey, Turkey Liver, Goose, Turkey Gizzard...,

Organic Bananas, Organic Blueberries, Organic Strawberries, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride, Organic Cranberries, Organic Spinach, Organic Broccoli, Organic Beets, Sodium Phosphate, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Apples, Choline Chloride, Dried Pediococcus acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium longum Fermentation Product, Taurine, Tocopherols (Preservative), Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

PROS

Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends received pretty positive reviews from most owners who tried it. Dogs appear to love the way it tastes, and it really appealed to owners who wanted to supplement their dog’s diet with raw proteins. Because it is a grain-free recipe, we think it’s better suited as a topper than a standalone food, unless your dog is unable to tolerate grains.

CONS

There aren’t many problems with this food we could identify, aside from the lack of grains. There were a few scattered reports about dogs having loose stools after eating it, and a small percentage of dogs didn’t seem to find it scrumptious, but this is the case with every dog food we’ve ever reviewed.

***

Have you found a pricey but perfect food for your pup? Do you have a favorite premium option we missed? Let us know all about it in the comments below! We’d also be interested in hearing from our readers who’ve tried any of the foods mentioned above.

best human grade dog food
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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content 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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Mara

Thanks for this. I would be interested to see you compare Nulo Freestyle to Nulo Frontrunner, which contains grains. You don’t recommend that dogs eat grain-free foods unless they are allergic, so I am curious why you didn’t include the Frontrunner line, which my puppy liked pretty well. I am still searching for a food he consistently loves; he seems to get tired of foods pretty fast. So far the ones he likes the most are two very expensive brands you don’t mention: Farmina (ND canned food and Ancestral Grains dry) and Ziwi Peak. Ziwi Peak doesn’t have a line just for puppies, so I am not sure how much I should rely on that in his first year, although he loves it. It also doesn’t contain grains, but the Farmina dry food I give him does, so I am wondering if the two would be adequate in combination.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Mara.
It isn’t clear yet whether it is the absence of grains or the inclusion of the ingredients often used in place of grains that causes the problems some dogs experience. And for that matter, it hasn’t even been demonstrated that these foods are causing the problem — we just know that there’s a correlation.
All of this is to say that it isn’t clear whether combining a grain-free and grain-inclusive product will work — we simply need more research.
Best of luck in your search for a perfect pupper food!

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JAMES DRISCOLL

How about blue preventive, I have found to be the best my dogs have eaten, the chicken and brown rice, they have more zip and the shedding has been almost non existent, and she’s a mut that looks a little like a G S D AND LAB, WITH THR MARKINGS OF a shepard .

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Ben Team

Hey, James.
You mean Blue Buffalo Life Protection?
I’m a big fan — I feed my Rottie the large breed version.
Thanks for reading!

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