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When choosing the best dry dog food brand for your dog, there’s a lot to consider. In recent years, dry dog food has gotten a bad rap – and it’s not entirely without reason. But several fantastic companies are giving us a reason to give kibble another shot. These dry dog food brands are putting their heart into the kibble they make, with a focus on the health and well-being of the pups we love.
What Are the Top Health Benefits of the Best Dry Dog Food?
Dry dog food has been a hit with pet parents since the 1940s when it was first introduced to the market, and it’s easy to see why.
Dog kibble can be sold in bulk, so there are fewer trips to the store. It’s often more affordable than other options available to pet parents, and there are many recipes to choose from. Dry dog food is more convenient to store than other options that may take up a lot of space in your refrigerator. Unlike fresh and raw food diets, your dog’s kibble can be stored in any dry place.
It also stays fresh longer than most other dog food options. Whereas unopened frozen food can be stored in your freezer for up to six months, dry dog food can be stored for up to 18 months in an unopened container. Fresh food that has been opened must be eaten within four days. However, your pup’s kibble will stay good once the seal is broken for up to two weeks.
One surprising health benefit of dry dog food is cleaner teeth! The dry, crunchy kibble requires dogs to chew more than they would wetter, softer foods. The rough texture of dry dog food will actually scrape away some plaque that may be present on your dog’s teeth. This can help reduce the chance of periodontal disease caused by tartar buildup – though, you should still brush your dog’s teeth regularly to maintain good dental health.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Dry Dog Foods
How do I choose the best dry dog food?
Though more can sometimes be better, when it comes to the best dog food, having so many options can be overwhelming! What is the best dry dog food? Which dry dog food is the best for my dog? AAFCO recommends that responsible pet parents looking to choose the best dog food keep their pet’s life stage in mind and buy food that will support them at that point. Whereas your puppy will need food for growth, your adult dog will need food for maintenance.
Keep your dog’s health goals, dietary needs, and allergies in mind. You may also want to stick with a brand that isn’t just selling dog food but making it themselves. Many large-scale recalls are caused by manufacturers who produce food for multiple brands. Dog food brands that make their own food in their own facilities can keep a close eye on the source and quality of their ingredients, how the food is prepared, and how their facilities are maintained. These brands often have higher standards for quality and cleanliness.
What is the best dry dog food for small dogs?
When choosing a dry dog food, it’s important to remember that no option is one-size-fits-all. Like humans, our dogs are unique individuals with their own needs. Your dog’s size, weight, activity levels, and health will need to be considered. The best dry dog food for small breed dogs will be different than that for large breed dogs.
A small dog may struggle to chew and swallow kibble meant for a larger breed, so you’ll want to be sure to get a brand made for little mouths. Dry dog food is an excellent choice for small breeds, as small dogs are more prone to dental disease than larger breeds with easier-to-brush mouths. You’ll also want to ensure their food balances nutritional content and volume. Your small dog will need less food to feel full, but small breeds also tend to have high metabolisms. The best dry dog foods for small dogs will be calorie-dense and balanced to ensure your pup gets all the nutrition they need in a smaller serving.
What is the best dry dog food for large dogs?
If cost is high on your list of concerns when choosing a dry dog food, you may want to remember that your large breed dog will eat a lot. The bigger the dog, the bigger the serving they’ll need. For the cost-conscious consumer, dry dog food is a great choice. You may be able to find discounts on dry dog food when you buy in bulk, and you won’t need to find an abundance of space in your freezer to store it.
Make sure, though, that you’re not sacrificing quality for cost. You often get what you pay for when food is concerned. The best dry dog food for your large breed dog will be balanced for big servings, so your dog doesn’t feel hungry between meals. Look for lower-calorie dry dog food, so you can feed your pup servings large enough to keep them satisfied after meals, but you’re not expanding their waistline. Also, you may want kibble big enough that your big dog is encouraged to chew and get those sweet teeth-scraping benefits.
What dry dog food do vets recommend for dogs?
Veterinarians understand that no two dogs are the same. Still, most agree on a few basic points. Many vets recommend dry dog food with ingredients sourced from the U.S.A. or Australia mixed in small, easier-to-monitor batches. Your vet is also likely to recommend that you keep your dog’s age, health, weight goals, and activity levels in mind.
Many vets will also encourage you to consider your lifestyle – you may be tempted to try cooking for your pup yourself. Most vets understand that this can be difficult to maintain for busy people and recommend a dry dog food diet. All these factors can be a lot to weigh, making it seem impossible to find the right fit. The best thing you can do is speak with the vet who knows your dog best.
Is a grain-free formula better for dogs?
Grain-free dry dog food may be a better choice in some cases for dogs with digestive issues who find it difficult to digest carbohydrates. You may have heard that carbohydrates are not necessary for a dog’s diet, and while that may be true, carbs are not particularly harmful to dogs. They can help your dog keep from feeling like they’re starving between meals. You may be tempted to give your dog a few extra treats or table scraps or second-guess the portion you’re giving them if they seem like they’re hungry all the time. A few extra calories daily can add up to a lot of added weight before you know it.
Recently, an FDA investigation linked grain-free diets to dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease that weakens the heart’s ability to pump blood. Though not every dog who eats a grain-free diet will get DCM, you may want to consult your vet before choosing a grain-free dry dog food for your pup. Grain-free dry dog foods have their benefits and place, but unless your veterinarian recommends a grain-free diet, your dog is likely fine eating a few grains. Avoid cheap fillers like wheat gluten and corn meal, and opt for food that uses whole grains.
Best Dry Dog Food Buyer’s Guide
AAFCO recommends that pet parents educate themselves on how to read packaging labels properly; however, we picky pet parents know that labels can be deceiving. Veterinarian Dr. Kathryn Primm, DVM, writes,
“I used to think that I could make decisions about my dogs’ nutrition based on the food labels because I felt comfortable knowing that labeling is government regulated. I was a wise consumer – or so I thought.”
Many people rely on the ingredients list, expecting the largest-volume ingredients to be listed first. We’ve since learned that this method is unreliable. But there are still a few things you can find on the label that will help you make a good choice.
Where are their ingredients sourced?
Look for a dry dog food that sources its ingredients from the United States or Australia. Many companies will attempt to cut costs and maximize profits by using cheaper ingredients from overseas, but this practice has led to several recalls and other issues in the past wherein foreign ingredients were tainted with toxic, non-edible items. Be aware that there is a difference between “sourced” and “made” in the U.S.A. Your dog’s dry food might be “made” in the U.S.A. but could still be using cheap, lower-quality ingredients from other countries.
Does this food meet AAFCO guidelines?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, has set standards for complete and balanced food for dogs in different life stages. For a dog food company to claim their food is “complete and balanced” for a specific life stage, they must first validate their claim through nutrient content analysis or AAFCO-compliant feeding trials. Feeding trials are more costly and time-consuming but are the preferred validation method. Many brands will state on their website whether their food meets AAFCO standards, but you can also find the information on DogFoodAdvisor.com.
Ingredients to Avoid
One of the reasons dry dog food has become less popular in recent years is due to the use of preservatives and fillers that are not ideal for consumption. Many dry dog food brands are still using some ingredients meant to extend the shelf life of their kibble, bring down the cost of production, and make your dog feel fuller longer. These may sound like good things, but the trade-off is in your dog’s health. Some preservatives and additives are known carcinogens and cause issues like obesity, liver failure, and even cancer in dogs. Keep an eye out for the following in the ingredients list:
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
- BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
- Propyl Gallate
- Sodium Hexametaphosphate
Quality dry dog food will not cut corners or use cheap fillers and preservatives in their products. Find more ingredients to avoid in our list of 10 Ingredients You NEVER Want to See in Your Dog’s Food. Your final choice should be made around your dog’s needs, but this list of the ten best dry dog food brands is a good place to start your search.
1. Wellness Pet
Wellbeing starts with a healthy gut. Wellness CORE Digestive Health recipes for dogs are crafted to be nutritious, flavorful, and easily digestible. The recipes contain a probiotic-coated kibble made with digestive enzymes, a unique blend of prebiotic fibers, and guaranteed levels of probiotics to support digestive health for wellbeing. Fuel your dog’s best life and discover the 5 signs of wellbeing, starting with digestive health.
- Healthy Skin & Coat: Omega-6 & Omega-3 Fatty Acids Support Healthy Skin and a Shiny Coat
- Optimal Energy: Complete & Balanced Nutrition Provides the Energy Your Dog Needs
- Healthy Digestion: Prebiotics, Probiotics & Dietary Fiber Support Healthy Digestion
- Healthy Teeth & Bones: Crunchy Kibble Cleans Teeth While Calcium & Phosphorus Support Healthy Teeth & Bones
- Immune Health: Fortified with Antioxidant Vitamins A & E to Support a Healthy Immune System
AAFCO Statement: Wellness® CORE® Digestive Health Recipes are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.
Redbarn knows your dog loves meat, and they love your dog, so they make sure every recipe includes high-quality animal proteins in the first five ingredients. And because they hand-select only the healthiest ingredients, you can bet their foods are free from artificial chemicals and preservatives.
Every scoop supports healthy digestion and skin while giving your dog a beautiful, shiny coat. Redbarn foods also help your pup maintain heart health. Plus, your dog will think every mealtime is a treat thanks to tasty recipes made with poultry, beef, and seafood.
For over 25 years, Redbarn has been a family-owned business that makes their food right here in the USA. And buying food from Redbarn means supporting worthy causes, as this company with heart donates food, treats, and chews to shelters, rescue groups, and pet-related organizations to help support animals in need.
Deals and Offers: 15% off food with code IHEARTFOOD15
AAFCO Statement: Redbarn embraces AAFCO guidelines because it’s what’s right for our dog and cat pet parents.
By removing water from raw meat at -60º F, Muenster Milling Co, offers a dog food option that’s minimally processed, shelf-stable, highly nutritious, and always free of artificial preservatives, binders & fillers. Their freeze-drying process ensures the protein, fat, and nutrients stay in, creating a tasty food full of bioavailable nutrients and vitamins derived from organ meats & organic amino acids. And this family-owned company uses meats that are farm-raised, cage-free, or wild-harvested to deliver a meal that helps reduce inflammation, skin issues, and stomach sensitivities.
This nutrient-dense food option offers the choice of kibbles, meatballs, toppers, or bites. Let your dog eat like their ancestors! Plus, Muenster also gives you the option of customized food blends for your best friend. You can use their custom dog food wizard or build your own by selecting a formula, size, and options such as animal or plant-based fats, probiotics, freeze-dried raw meats, and protein boosters. Then, name your mix and set your frequency for the perfect diet to meet your dog’s needs.
Deals and Offers: New Customers enjoy 25% off the first $100. Use code WELCOME25.
50% off your total basket when you customize any bag of dog food. Use code NC2021C50.
AAFCO Statement: Muenster Pet Foods are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages, including large breed puppies.
Located: Muenster, TX
4. Dr. Marty’s Nature’s Blend Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Dr. Marty’s Dry Dog Food comes in only one flavor, but it gets five stars from DogFoodAdvisor.com. This freeze-dried dog food has a very short, easy-to-read ingredient list that includes animal proteins and nutrient-rich organ meat like turkey liver and heart. These proteins naturally provide nutrients necessary for your dog to thrive, so there’s no need for added synthetic vitamins or mineral powders.
AAFCO Statement: The Dr. Marty Nature’s Blend product line includes one freeze-dried raw dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines for adult maintenance.
5. Honest Kitchen
The Honest Kitchen doesn’t just do kibble; they’re making clusters. These tasty whole food clusters are made with 100% human-grade ingredients that are cold pressed, roasted, and then dehydrated. This process is meant to keep the nutrients in the food where we want them and keep all the flavor your dog will love. They have a variety of flavors and formulas, including grain-free and options for small-breed dogs and puppies.
Deals & Offers: New Customers can receive 30% off orders $30+ with code IHEARTDOGS30.
AAFCO Statement: The Honest Kitchen foods tested in our trial are substantiated to provide complete and balanced nutrition according to the procedures for feeding trials as established by AAFCO.
6. A Pup Above
A Pup Above is best known for its delicious fresh dog food, but they make great dry dog food too. Their “cubies” are made with whole ingredients that are gently dried to provide a convenient, healthy dry dog food for your pup. A Pup Above Cubies comes in four mouth-watering flavors to please even the pickiest pup’s palette – Turkey Pilaf, Porky’s Porchetta, Chicka Pupatouille, and Beef Pot Roast.
For those who want to offer their dog a little variety, you can order a combination of dry and fresh food. This brand doesn’t provide a personalized service like some of the other brands, but you can save money if you get a subscription. A Pup Above can deliver your dog’s delicious meals to your door, or you may be able to find them at your local store!
AAFCO Statement: All of our recipes are developed according to the nutritional profiles established by AAFCO. They are Complete & Balanced for Adult Maintenance and meet AAFCO nutrient profiles by formulation and analysis of the finished product.
7. Open Farm
Open Farm is proud to be “obsessive” about sourcing their ingredients. They offer a wide variety of dog food, including dry, wet, fresh, and raw, and every single recipe uses responsibly sourced ingredients. This means humanely-raised meats free from antibiotics and wild-caught, sustainably sourced fish. The farms they work with must adhere to high standards for animal welfare. Why? Because Open Farm knows that protein is essential to a dog’s diet.
Their dry dog food is made with a balance of 90% animal protein mixed with ancient grains. So you know you’re dog isn’t just getting any protein – they’re getting responsibly farmed, better-for-the-planet animal protein. Open Farm offers seven different flavors of dry dog food for your adult dog, but you can get them started early with the puppy option – also made with ancient grains.
Deals and Offers: Use code “AFF20” for 20% off your first auto-ship purchase.
AAFCO Statement: Open Farm dry food recipes are formulated to meet the nutritional levels estimated by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages except for the growth of large-size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).
8. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula™
Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula comes in recipes that can be fed to your dog for life. There are varieties made for every dog, including small and large breed puppies, adults of all sizes, and senior dogs. Each recipe is made with real meat and whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal. Each recipe meets the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles to support your pup at whatever life stage they are currently in, whether you’re looking for a dry puppy food to support growth, an adult food for a healthy weight, or a senior food to support your aging dog. Blue Buffalo is easily found in your local pet supply store or online.
AAFCO Statement: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula recipes are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.
9. Castor & Pollux Organix
Castor & Pollux Organix is proudly saying “NO” to GMOs. They’re using responsibly raised, organic, animal-based protein in each recipe and oatmeal, barley, and superfoods to pack nutrients into every bowl you feed your dogs. It is “enthusiastically recommended” by DogFoodAdvisor.com and has earned its highest rating of five stars. Castor & Pollux also makes wet food and foods for cats if you’re looking to feed your whole pack on one great brand.
AAFCO Statement: Organix Dog Food provides 100% complete and balanced nutrition to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.
Still looking for more options? Check out the 8 Best Dog Foods of 2023.
Choose the Best Dry Dog Food for Your Dog
There’s no beating dry dog food when it comes to convenience, but the best dry dog food will also be health-forward for your precious pooch. Thanks to these caring companies, we don’t have to sacrifice our pups’ health for the easy store-and-serve convenience of dry dog food. These brands are a great place to start, but whatever brand you choose, make sure you’re keeping your own needs and those of your dog in mind.
Looking for other supplies for a new dog? Check out our comprehensive new puppy checklist!
iHeartDogs is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.
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