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what is the healthiest dog food?

What Is The Healthiest Dog Food?

What is the healthiest dog food for my canine? That is a question many dog owners find themselves asking. Numerous people struggle to find a healthy dog food for their pets, since many brands contain unnatural ingredients and meat that isn’t real.

It’s important for owners to find healthy food options for their dogs, providing them with the nutrition they need to lead a long, happy life.

Not only will a dog’s overall quality of life be improved with healthy dog food with high-quality ingredients, but their coats will be shinier, their teeth in better condition, and their weight will be kept in check.

Key Ingredients of Healthy Dog Foods

Each owner may have his or her own preference when it comes to important ingredients for their dog’s food. While some may agree that real meat is best, others will focus on finding food with no fillers.

Overall, there are some key ingredients to look for when choosing healthy dog foods for your pet.

  • Real Meat Options. Finding dog food with real meat is ideal. Canines are carnivores and require meat to satisfy not only their hunger, but also their natural instincts. The label should not simply state that it contains meat or poultry, and should instead verify what type of animal the meat is coming from, such as lamb, chicken, or beef.
  • No Fillers. Fillers include things like cereal by-products, corn bran, and peanut hulls, among others. These fillers may fill a dog up quickly, but they add very limited nutritional value.
  • No Artificial Preservatives. Artificial preservatives are chemicals put in dog food to make it last longer. It is unhealthy to consume, and plays a major role in many health problems for pets.
  • Vegetables. Dogs need vegetables just as humans do. It is best to look for a dog food that lists some type of vegetable within the first few ingredients. The only one that should be avoided is corn, as this is difficult for dogs to digest and typically used as a filler.

The best brands of dog food offer key ingredients, and do not possess the typical filler options that many popular brands on the market have.

Top Healthy Dog Food Picks

These brands are widely regarded as being some of the healthiest dog foods on the market today. We’ll detail the main features and highlights of each dog food brand, along with the pros and cons.

Remember, ultimately, the healthiest dog food will be the one that works best for your canine. There is no single “healthiest” dog food brand, as each individual dog reacts differently to different dog foods.

In researching these healthy dog foods, we found that even with dog food brands that had the best quality ingredients and highest endorsements, there were always some owners reporting that they dog’s stomach got upset or skin reacted strangely. Every dog is different, and finding the best food for your dog will likely be a process of trial and error. 

We suggest starting with this list of the healthiest dog foods available, and see which works best for your four-legged friend!

1. Fromm Gold

About: Fromm Gold Dog Food is extremely high-quality dog food, with a variety of formulas ranging from puppies and small breeds, to seniors. All Fromm foods tend to be very good quality, so don’t be afraid to browse their full selection of kibbles and canned foods.

  • Extremely High Quality. Fromm’s is one of the few dog foods with high-quality, human-grade ingredients. In fact, the ingredient list starts with Duck, Chicken Meal, and Chicken. Since ingredients are listed by quantity, this is an exceptional feat (most other dog foods start with corn or grains).
  • Improved Skin & Coat. Owners note a substantial difference after switching to Fromm’s, witnessing more healthy, shiny, and soft fur coats in their dogs.

Pros: Owners note that this class A dog food results in shiny coats and full stomachs for their pooches. While the food is expensive, owners note that they save money in vet bills, with the quality of this food keeping their dogs healthier and resolving many stomach issues.

Cons: It’s a high-quality dog food with a high price tag.

2. Merrick Grain Free Dog Food

About: Merrick Grain Free Dog Food sources high-quality proteins and comes in a variety of formulas.

  • Quality Proteins. Merrick dog foods have a variety of great protein sources to choose from, including chicken, duck, buffalo, lamb, salmon, beef, turkey, and venison.
  • 70% Meat Source Ingredients. The Merrick dog food composition is 70% meat sources 30% fresh produce (with ingredients like sweet potatoes, peas, apples, and blueberries) which also offer additional vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Good For Joint Relief. Merrick dog food is rich in Omega 6, Omega 3 Glucosamine and Chondroitin, elements used to reduce joint inflammation and improve mobility.
  • No Grains. Merrick’s grain free dog food uses sweet potatoes and potatoes as better, more easily-digestible carbohydrate sources, making it a great dog food for dogs with allergies or dogs that have stomach issues.

Pros: Owners find this dog food to be high quality and are comforted by the fact that it is made in the USA.

Cons: As with other dog foods, Merrick isn’t cheap. Merrick has also recently been bought out by Purina, and some owners are concerned that this may end up compromising Merrick’s quality in the future.

3. Taste of the Wild

About: Taste of the Wild features high-protein, grain-free dog food that also contains added benefits like probiotics, fruits and veggies, antioxidants, as well as a mix of various vitamins and minerals.

  • 30 Pound Bag. Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food comes in a large, 30 pound bag. This will last your dog quite a while. You also get the option to purchase smaller bags if you wish, which are available for lower prices, although bigger bags offer the best value per pound of dog food.
  • Bison and Venison. One of the more popular ingredients in this dog food is the bison and venison (if your dog loves venison, you can even try dog foods that rely on venison as the single protein source). These meats are lean and provide the protein and nutrition a dog needs. You can also choose lamb, salmon, and wildfowl, all of which are also good meat options.
  • Supplemented With Fruits and Vegetables. Not only is there real meat in Taste of the Wild dog food, but there is also plenty of fruits and vegetables. The food is supplemented with these healthy ingredients, providing additional nutrients to any dog who consumes this food.

PROS: Taste of the Wild is a grain-free option, which is a major plus for many owners. This healthy holistic dog food contains good meat content and high protein, packed with antioxidants that support healthy immune systems.

CONS: Some dog owners found that this brand caused their dogs to have a bad skin reaction. Ultimately, all dogs react different to different types of dog foods. While the majority of owners praise Taste of the Wild, you’ll have to see how your dog reacts.

4. Blue Buffalo

About: Blue Buffalo Life Protection dog food promises a healthy diet for your dog, with formulas that focus on real meats (the first ingredients in this formula are deboned lamb and fish meal – always great to see two meat proteins at the top of the ingredient list).

The Life Protection formula – featured here – is designed for dogs of all different breeds and ages, but Blue Buffalo also offers custom age and breed-based formulas as well.

  • LifeSource Bits. The Blue Buffalo Life Protection brand offers LifeSource bits. These are specially formulated bits of dog food that contain a blend of the healthiest ingredients, with whole grains, antioxidants, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals all blended precisely to create a healthy food option for dogs.
  • 30 Pound Bag. Blue Buffalo offers a 30 pound bag of food for owners who want their dog food to last. It also comes in smaller bag options if you don’t want to commit to the 30lb bag.
  • Breed and Size-Specific Offerings. One big thing that sets Blue Buffalo apart is their wide array of choices and customization for different dog breeds and sizes, from the best food composition for senior dogs, to the best chow for puppies. You have many options to choose form with Blue Buffalo, and you’ll probably be able to find the perfect blend of dog food for your individual dog’s needs.
  • Lamb and Brown Rice. One of the best options for ingredients is the lamb and brown rice. It pairs a lean meat choice with a whole grain option. There is also a healthy weight chicken and brown rice option, as well as other lean meat choices.

PROS: Many buyers agree that Blue Buffalo helps their dogs lose weight and keeps their coats shiny. Blue Buffalo is a big favorite amongst owners who are dedicated to feeding their dog natural, healthy foods. Blue Buffalo has a very appropriate slogan – “love them like family, feed them like family.”

CONS: Some buyers state that this dog food brand caused their dogs to develop stomach issues, as some dogs are sensitive to the ingredients. Again, as with all dog foods, while in rare instances a dog with a unique condition might not do well with Blue Buffalo, the vast majority of dogs will devour this dog food and thrive off of it.

Since this food is often used to help dogs maintain a healthy weight, it may not be ideal if you’re trying to fatten up a dog who is too skinny. In that case, you’ll want to look at dog food designed to help dogs gain weight!

5. Canidae Grain Free Pure

About: Canidae Grain Free Pure comes from a highly reputable dog food brand, vet-formulated to provide nutrition to your pooch without using corn, wheat, soy, or by-product meat in their food.

Canidae’s Limited Ingredient line is ideal for dogs with sensitivities, as all ingredients in this line are easily identifiable, with only 7-10 main ingredients. This makes it an especially good choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs.


  • Real Meat As #1 Ingredient. Quality dog foods always have meat as the first ingredient – Canidae has several meats & identified meat meals are first ingredients, so you know your pooch is getting quality proteins.
  • Includes Probiotics. This formula features probiotics designed to support healthy canine digestions, as well as antioxidants for immune system benefits.
  • Omega 6 and 3 Fatty Acids. Canidae Life Stages includes omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids which can ensure that your pooch’s skin stays healthy and his coat remains smooth and silky.
  • Corn, Wheat, & Soy Free. Canidae leaves out corn, wheat, soy, and by-product meal, leaving only the good stuff.
  • Alternative Carbohydrates. Rather than using wheat for carbohydrates, Canidae includes peas, lentils, and sweet potatoes leaving out grain for dogs who may not agree with it.
  • Several Different Recipes. This formula includes several different recipes – from lamb, chicken, salmon, and wild-boar, to age-custom formulas including a puppy and senior offering.

PROS: Numerous owners have reported that Canidae Grain Free Pure has firmed up their dog’s stools and resolved skin issues. Even picky dogs with reported stomach issues tend to really love this food.

CONS: Some owners have reported receiving counterfeit bags that are not legitimate, so be sure to check the bag carefully and potentially consider buying from an alternative retailer if the bag you receive online looks questionable. There has also been some recent controversy surrounding grain-free diets for dogs, so discuss with your vet to ensure it’s a good option.

6. Wellness Core Natural Grain Free

About: Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free food comes from the Wellness brand – a quality dog food manufacturer that produces protein-focused foods, with several lean meat options like chicken, turkey, and salmon.

  • Several Formulas to Choose From. Wellness Core offers several healthy dog food formulas so you can pick the perfect blend for your dog. Options include puppy, reduced fat, wild game, large breed, small breed, and other formulas.
  • Grain-Free & No By-Products. The Wellness Core dog food is grain free and 100% natural, with fruits, vegetables, and salmon oil in addition to real protein sources. There are also no meat by-products and no grain, corn, soy, wheat-gluten, or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.
  • Probiotics. Probiotics are essential for a dog’s digestion. This food contains probiotics for dogs that aid a canine’s overall health. This healthy dog food also has calcium, glucosamine and chondroitin to help maintain bone and joint health.
  • Omega Blend. The fish and flax within this food blends together to offer omega fatty acids that are beneficial to dogs, helping to keep their coats shiny and healthy.

PROS: Many owners say that this food has helped their dogs become more active when they previously slept often and were slow-moving.

CONS: A few owners state this food is too expensive, as it costs over $50 for a 26-pound bag, when other brands offer a 30 pound bag for less.

Those are our top picks for the healthiest dog food. Do you have any favorites from this list? What is the healthiest dog food in your opinion? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Last update on 2018-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the Author Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Senior Editor at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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