Our dogs do so much for us, so it’s only fair that we reward them with the best adult dog food — or puppy food, to help their development — that we can buy.
The options include hypoallergenic, grain-free, non-GMO, dry, wet, or even freeze-dried and raw. For the newbie dog owner, it can be a little daunting! These reviews are our choices for the best dog foods, for puppies and adult dogs alike, so you can choose the brand that your best friend will adore.
A Glance at Our Top Picks (2023 Update)
|Best Overall||The Farmer's Dog Fresh Dog Food||
||Click to Save 50%|
|Best Value||Blue Buffalo Divine Delights||
|Open Farm Dog Food||
||Click to Save 20%|
|Instinct Raw Boost||
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection||
The 20 Best Dog Foods
1. The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food — Best Overall
|Flavor:||Beef, Chicken, Turkey|
|Special Diet:||Human-grade, high protein, customized to your dog|
Our overall top pick is The Farmer’s Dog’s fresh dog food. These fresh, gently cooked recipes were developed by vet nutritionists and are customized to your pet’s individual needs. The food is packed full of nutrients and premium proteins, including turkey, beef, and chicken. Plus, you get it all in a convenient, easy-to-serve subscription that ships right to your door!
We love this dog food company because it makes serving your furry friend fresh, nutritionally balanced meals easy and fun. That combination of nutrition and convenience does cost a bit more, but it may help you keep your dog healthy and happy for longer. Plus, if you’re interested in fresh food but aren’t ready to commit to a full subscription, you can try The Farmer’s Dog’s DIY Nutrient Mix, which helps you keep home cooked meals balanced and complete.
2. Blue Buffalo Divine Delights Variety Pack — Best Value
|Flavor:||Filet mignon and NY strips|
|Special Diet:||No corn, wheat, or soy; grain-free|
Designed with small dog breeds in mind, the Blue Buffalo Divine Delights Variety Pack comes in ready-made portions and two flavors in gravy: New York strips and filet mignon. Sold in a pack of 12, Blue Buffalo is the best dog food for the money. Focused on using natural ingredients, Blue Buffalo doesn’t use corn, wheat, or soy products in either recipe and avoids poultry by-products.
As this option is formulated for small dog breeds, the portions are too small for large breeds and may not contain the nutrients that they need to stay healthy. The pre-portioned trays are also difficult to open, especially for dog owners with arthritis.
3. Open Farm Dog Food
*Use code PETKEEN20 and save on your first auto-ship order.
|Food Form:||Dry, wet, freeze-dried raw, fresh, bone broth|
|Flavor:||Salmon, beef, turkey, pork, lamb & chicken|
|Special Diet:||Grain-free, high-protein, plant-based, insect, raw, fresh|
Open Farm dog food is another great pick that will suit many dogs and their owners. This company’s focus is on sustainably and humanely sourcing the best ingredients — something we can all get behind! From the grass-fed beef to the wild-caught salmon, all of the premium proteins are carefully sourced to provide your dog with the best possible nutrition. Plus, you can choose among a whole range of food types, including dry, wet, freeze-dried raw, fresh, and even bone broth.
We love being able to trace every ingredient in our dogs’ food, and the wide range of food types is convenient, especially if you’re feeding multiple dogs. On the negative side, this food won’t fit every budget, and you do have to pay for shipping under $50. Overall, this is an excellent dog food company that can keep your pets fully nourished and happy!
4. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe
|Special Diet:||Grain-free, gluten-free, high-protein, no corn, no wheat, no soy|
Sold in 4-pound, 10-pound, or 21-pound bags, the Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe uses a blend of kibble and real chicken to give your dog a break from processed dog foods. With raw chicken to mimic the diet of your dog’s wild ancestors, the recipe is grain- and gluten-free.
Alongside the high-protein kibble, the formula contains omega fatty acids 3 and 6, probiotics, and antioxidants to support both your dog’s immune and digestive systems and their coat health. But do know that raw food can carry more bad bacteria than fully cooked foods and might not last as long as some other options.
5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula — Best for Puppies
|Flavor:||Chicken and brown rice|
|Special Diet:||No corn, wheat, or soy|
The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is designed specifically to support the growth of your puppy. It uses DHA and ARA to promote healthy brain and eye development, along with high-quality protein and omega fatty acids for muscle growth and healthy skin and fur. Blue Buffalo also contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to boost your puppy’s immune health.
Unlike other kibbles that may be too big for your puppy to manage, this Life Protection formula is packed into “puppy-size” pieces to make it easy to eat. The kibble also helps prevent the build-up of tartar on teeth.
Due to the puppy-age formula, this Blue Buffalo option doesn’t contain the nutrients that adult and senior dogs require.
6. Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food
|Flavor:||Beef, Chicken, Pork, Turkey|
|Special Diet:||Gluten-free, wholegrain, high-protein|
Nom Nom dog food includes four different recipes for fresh human-grade dog food. Each recipe is nutritionally balanced for your dog’s overall well-being and is appropriate for all life stages, which is why we recommend it.
Nom Nom is a good choice for dogs that suffer from allergies or food sensitivities, as it is a limited-ingredient food. This makes it easy to keep certain symptom-causing ingredients out of your dog’s diet. Nom Nom food has a higher-than-average protein-to-fat ratio and lower-than-average carbohydrate levels. Meat is the number-one source of protein in the food, and it is free from filler ingredients and only provides the nutritious ingredients that your dog needs.
As with all fresh foods, Nom Nom food must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoilage. While this can be an adjustment for owners who have never fed fresh food to their dogs, we feel that it’s worth it based on the nutritional value of this food.
7. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dog Food
|Flavor:||Roasted bison and venison|
|Special Diet:||Grain-free, gluten-free, high-protein|
With omega fatty acids and 32% protein, the Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dog Food supports your dog’s bones, muscles, and joints. The roasted bison and venison flavors are created using real meat to encourage your canine’s appetite.
To ensure that the recipe is as healthy as possible, the formula contains prebiotics, probiotics, and antioxidants from real fruit and vegetables. It also doesn’t use common allergens that your dog might react to, like grain, gluten, corn, and wheat products. While Taste of the Wild is packed with nutrition for your best friend, it’s an expensive kibble and might not be suited for all budgets.
8. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
|Flavor:||Salmon and sweet potato|
|Special Diet:||Grain-free, high-protein, no corn, no wheat, no soy|
Made with real salmon, sweet potato, fruits, and vegetables, the American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe is grain-free and suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs. The high protein content, amino acids, omega oils, and antioxidants work to promote lean muscles, skin, and coat health, along with strong immune and digestive systems.
Each of the three bag sizes — 4, 12, or 24 pounds — also contain DHA to help the development of the brain and eyes in younger dogs.
With its focus on real ingredients, American Journey is one of the more expensive dog foods out there. Some owners have also reported their dogs suffered from stomach upset while eating it.
9. Purina Pro Plan Salmon & Rice Formula
|Flavor:||Salmon and rice|
|Special Diet:||High-protein, no corn, no wheat, no soy|
For dogs with sensitive stomachs, the Purina Pro Plan Salmon & Rice Formula is easy to digest and avoids ingredients known to cause allergic reactions in some dogs, like corn, wheat, and soy. Using a careful blend of omega fatty acids, prebiotics, and probiotics, Purina Pro Plan supports your dog’s skin, coat, immune, and digestive health. The recipe is made with real salmon to utilize the natural omega-3 and -6 oils.
Although the 30-pound bag size will last a long time and is suitable for multi-dog households, some fussy canines may grow tired of the salmon and rice flavor and eventually refuse to eat it.
10. American Journey Variety Pack Canned Dog Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and beef|
|Special Diet:||Grain-free, no corn, no soy, no wheat, high-protein|
American Journey Variety Pack Canned Dog Food is sold in packs of 12 12.5-ounce cans. The flavors include an equal selection of chicken or beef stew, both of which contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and omega fatty acids to support your dog’s overall health — from their bone and joints to their immune systems and their skin and coat.
Formulated with simple recipes that don’t contain corn, wheat, soy, by-products, or grain, this high-protein food is gentle on sensitive stomachs and doesn’t exacerbate allergies. Some owners have mentioned that the cans that they ordered arrived dented. A few fussy canines may dislike the taste of this American Journey wet food and refuse to eat it.
11. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and brown rice|
|Special Diet:||No corn, no wheat, no soy|
Puppies that enjoyed the puppy-oriented version of Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Food will enjoy the adult version when they grow up. Containing high-quality protein and glucosamine, Blue Buffalo promotes bone and dental health, while supporting your dog’s joints. The antioxidants also work to ensure that your favorite canine’s immune system stays strong.
To help your dog maintain a healthy diet, Purina Pro Plan doesn’t use corn, wheat, soy, or poultry by-products. It’s also available in five bag sizes — 3, 6, 15, 24, and 30 pounds — for a range of household sizes.
Despite sharing a name with the puppy formula, this recipe is only suitable for adult dogs and doesn’t contain the nutrients needed for puppies. The larger bags are also expensive and the kibble crumbles easily.
12. Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken & Rice Formula
|Flavor:||Chicken and rice|
Sold in four bag sizes, the Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken & Rice Formula is suitable for single- or multi-dog homes. The recipe uses real chicken and is easy to digest to ensure that your dog receives the nutrition that they need to remain healthy. Omega fatty acids, vitamins A and E, and included glucosamine keep your canine’s skin, coat, immune system, heart, and joints in top shape.
Some owners have complained about the strong “off” smell of this product, and others mentioned that they received a torn bag. A few fussy dogs may also refuse to eat this SmartBlend option, particularly if they get bored with the flavor when you use the larger bags.
13. Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Beef, Pea, & Brown Rice Recipe
|Flavor:||Beef, pea, and brown rice|
|Special Diet:||Gluten-free, no wheat|
The Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Beef, Pea, & Brown Rice Recipe helps boost your dog’s energy levels with a tasty mix of real meat and vegetables. Omega fatty acids support your four-legged friend’s skin and coat health, while the fiber and protein content promotes organ, muscle, and digestive health.
Sold in 6-, 14-, 28-, or 40-pound bags, Rachael Ray suits canines that are trying out new food or multi-dog households.
Some owners have complained about the greasiness of this kibble, and the bag has been known to break during the shipping process. Rachael Ray Nutrish also includes peas in the recipe, and some dogs may be allergic to the ingredient. Peas are also currently under investigation by the FDA for a potential link to dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs (a heart condition), although studies are still ongoing.
- See Also: Rachael Ray Dog Food Review
14. Tylee’s Human-Grade Frozen Dog Food
|Special Diet:||Grain-free, pea-free, human-grade, no corn, no wheat, no soy|
If you’re worried about the type of food that your dog is ingesting or don’t want to feed your best friend something that you wouldn’t eat yourself, Tylee’s Human-Grade Frozen Dog Food is suitable for human consumption. Frozen in 30- or 96-pound bags for extra longevity, Tylee’s is made with USDA beef and can be used as a complete meal or a food topper.
To properly support your canine’s health and balanced diet, the recipe contains natural fiber, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids. Tylee’s also takes pride in avoiding common allergens like corn, wheat, soy, and by-products.
Tylee’s must be kept in the freezer until ready to defrost and use. While it lasts a long time, both available bag sizes are on the large side and may go to waste if your dog doesn’t like the flavor. Also, depending on the time taken during shipping, the product may arrive defrosted.
15. Iams Adult MiniChunks High Protein Dog Food
|Special Diet:||High protein|
While Iams Adult MiniChunks High Protein Dog Food can be given to all sizes of dogs, the kibble is designed to be easy to eat for small breeds. The five bag sizes give you plenty of options for single- or multi-dog homes or just to try out a new brand.
Protein from real chicken, antioxidants, fibers, and prebiotics all support the health of your canine’s digestive and immune systems.
While the kibble is designed with small breeds in mind, some owners have said that it’s still too big for their dog. There are also reports of this dry food causing stomach upsets and allergic reactions due to the recipe not being hypoallergenic.
16. Cesar Classic Loaf in Sauce Beef Recipe
|Flavor:||Beef, filet mignon, grilled chicken, porterhouse steak|
|Special Diet:||Grain-free, pea-free|
Beef, filet mignon, grilled chicken, and porterhouse steak are all included in the Cesar Classic Loaf in Sauce Beef Recipe variety pack. With 24 ready-made portions, there is plenty of selection to keep fussy dogs entertained and for multi-dog homes.
The trays are sealed for freshness and are easy to open, and the grain-free portions can be used as food toppers for kibble or as meals on their own.
Since it’s formulated for adult dogs, Cesar doesn’t contain the nutrients that puppies need to support their growth. The portions might also be too small for large dog breeds. Some owners have complained about the bad smell of this dog food.
17. Nature’s Recipe Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe
|Flavor:||Salmon, sweet potato, and pumpkin|
|Special Diet:||Grain-free, no corn, no wheat, no soy|
Nature’s Recipe Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe supports your best friend’s digestion and immune health with real salmon and fiber-rich pumpkin. The salmon content ensures that your dog receives a healthy dose of omega oils to help keep their joints lubricated and their skin and coat healthy. There are also no poultry by-products, corn, wheat, or soy used in this grain-free formula.
Some owners found the strong fishy smell of this brand unpleasant, and the kibble itself can crumble easily, especially during shipping. Despite the three bag sizes — 4, 12, and 24 pounds — Nature’s Recipe is one of the more expensive options available. Some dogs refuse to eat salmon-flavored food.
18. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe
|Flavor:||Beef, garden vegetables, and sweet potatoes|
|Special Diet:||No corn, no wheat, no soy|
The Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe is sold in a pack of 12 cans. Formulated for adult dogs, it supports your canine’s immune, skin, and coat health with a careful mix of real beef, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids. Blue Buffalo avoids common allergens — wheat, corn, and soy products — and doesn’t use poultry by-products, all to ensure that your dog’s diet is healthy, nutritional, and balanced.
This 12-pack option is long-lasting but might not be suitable for fussy dogs that get bored easily due to the single flavor. Despite the lack of other allergens, the Homestyle Recipe does contain peas, which some dogs can be allergic to. The formula also doesn’t contain the right nutrition for puppies.
19. Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Big Game Recipe
|Flavor:||Lamb, wild-boar, and venison|
|Special Diet:||Grain-free, gluten-free, no corn, no wheat, no soy|
High in protein and omega fatty acids, Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Big Game Recipe is easy to digest for sensitive stomachs and supports fur and skin health. Made with real lamb, wild boar, and venison, this grain-, wheat-, corn-, and soy-free recipe doesn’t exacerbate allergies.
Although the bags are sold in 4- or 40-pound sizes, Merrick Backcountry is one of the more expensive options out there. The raw nature of this freeze-dried food means it can carry more harmful bacteria, and the kibble itself can crumble easily.
Merrick Backcountry is suitable for all breed sizes, but some older dogs with fewer teeth or toy breeds may find the pieces difficult to eat.
20. Annamaet 25% Medium & Large Breed Dog Food
|Flavor:||Chicken meal and brown rice|
|Special Diet:||No corn, no wheat, no soy, human-grade, high-protein, non-GMO|
The Annamaet 25% Medium & Large Breed Dog Food is formulated with big dogs in mind. With non-GMO ingredients and no corn, wheat, or soy, the recipe is allergen-free and human-grade. The high protein content, prebiotics, probiotics, and omega fatty acids benefit your dog by boosting the health of their muscles, digestive system, skin, and fur.
Unlike many other dry foods, this Annamaet recipe isn’t designed for small dog breeds, and the pieces may be too big for them to manage comfortably. It’s also incredibly expensive despite the four bag sizes, and none of the options are resealable to maintain freshness.
Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Dog Food
There are many things to consider before making the final decision on what dog food to purchase for your beloved best friend. The pet food market is a bit of a jungle, to say the least. Not only are there many different options to choose from but there is a ton of conflicting information about what is truly healthy.
Since your dog’s health and nutrition are at the top of your list, we’ve included some things to take into consideration before making your choice.
Does Your Dog Need a Special Type of Food?
First and foremost, you need to consider your dog’s specific needs and that goes for each dog you own. Some dogs suffer from food allergies or sensitivities, which will require a diet that does not contain the allergens that bother them. For those with certain health conditions, there may be some dietary modifications needed.
For most healthy dogs, you will have a wider variety of foods to choose from and won’t be required to filter out as many options. If you have a dog that does have certain needs, you will need to weed out the foods that don’t fit the criteria. Always check with your veterinarian regarding your dog’s health and dietary needs surrounding any conditions they have.
Decide Your Preferred Food Type
You have several food types to choose from, all of which have their pros and cons.
Dry food is a popular choice among most dog owners and is the most readily available choice in grocery stores and local pet food stores. Dry food stores well and is the most cost-friendly option, but it is higher in carbohydrates and lower in moisture. Some dry kibbles will contain bits of freeze-dried food or even tender bites to add flavor and make it more palatable.
Wet or Canned Food
These varieties have an even longer shelf life than dry kibble and contain much more moisture for hydration. It is much more palatable and contains fewer carbohydrates than dry kibble, but it is also more expensive, messy, and creates more trash. A lot of owners opt to feed wet food as a topper for dry kibble to offset the cost of exclusively feeding this variety.
You also have fresh food diets that can either be bought locally or obtained through subscription services, depending on the brand you choose. Fresh food diets are the healthiest choice, as they contain fewer preservatives and are typically made from top-quality ingredients. Fresh food is also highly palatable and is full of moisture and needed nutrients. This is undoubtedly the most expensive choice of the three and can get quite costly when feeding larger or multiple dogs. Fresh food can also be used as a topper to dry kibble to help provide health benefits but remain friendly to the budget.
Choose an Appropriate Food
Every dog needs to be fed food that is appropriate to their age, size, and overall activity level. What is appropriate for one dog may not be appropriate for another. Puppies, adults, and seniors all have different nutritional needs, so be sure to get food that works for your dog’s life stage. Some foods are suitable for all life stages, while others are crafted specifically for different stages of life.
Active dogs that expend a lot of energy will have more energy and nutritional requirements than those couch potatoes. Size also plays a factor when determining the right food. If you have a large dog breed, it’s best to look for food that is formulated to fit their needs. The same goes for small dogs, which will need a smaller kibble that is easier to chew.
Check the Ingredients
The ingredient list may not be able to tell you the overall quality of the ingredients, but it does provide a list of everything that is included in the food, which will help you make a more informed decision. This is especially important for dogs that have special dietary needs or suffer from allergies, as you want to avoid potential allergens in the formula.
It’s good to look for foods that offer real meat as the first ingredient to ensure pure animal protein is at the top of the list. It is important to avoid foods that are full of fillers, artificial colors, preservatives or flavors, heavy amounts of by-products, or any other harmful ingredients. A licensed veterinarian will be able to give you information on what types of ingredients to avoid, and what to look for before you make your purchase.
Read the Food’s Label
The dog food label will contain all the information you need to determine what you need to know about a particular food. Labels can be difficult to read, time-consuming, and even misleading, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. Check out this source that walks you through how to properly read a pet food label so that you aren’t left more confused than when you started.
Dog food labels are required by the United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, to tell you eight key pieces of information regarding your dogs’ food. Individual states may have some more precise label requirements as well. The eight key pieces of information disclosed by the FDA, include:
A few years ago, the FDA started an investigation concerning certain diets and the potential link to Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy, mostly surrounding grain-free diets. 16 dog food brands have been named in the investigation, but none have been recalled, as the investigation is still ongoing. If you have concerns regarding this information, reach out to your veterinarian to discuss whether a grain-free diet is even necessary for your dog.
Consider the Cost
You will be buying dog food throughout your dog’s life, so you need to ensure your budget is prepared for the extra expense before ever bringing home a new four-legged family member. It is important not to skimp on quality for a more budget-friendly food, as most low cost foods are packed full of unnecessary ingredients, which could ultimately lead to nutritional deficiencies or other health concerns which can end up being very costly in the long run.
There are plenty of wallet-friendly choices that still offer great quality overall and it’ll be easier to recognize this once you are familiar with ingredient lists and reading the labels. As mentioned, different food types come at different costs with fresh food options being the most expensive. As a general rule, the higher the quality of the diet, the more expensive it will be. Be sure to find something that works for you financially and for your pup’s overall health and nutritional needs.
Talk to Your Veterinarian
Getting advice from your veterinarian is highly recommended when it comes to your dog’s nutrition. In fact, it’s a good idea to check with them before making any dietary changes or transitioning to a new food choice. Your veterinarian is familiar with your dog’s health and will be able to guide you on what you need to look for in terms of dog food.
Overall, the best adult dog food is The Farmer’s Dog fresh food. It’s packed with high-quality nutrition to keep your dog happy and healthy for years to come. A more affordable option is the Blue Buffalo Divine Delights Variety Pack, with a range of flavors to stop fussy dogs from getting bored.
Whether you’re a new dog owner or a seasoned canine friend, knowing which dog food your dog will enjoy the most is a challenge. Hopefully, these reviews will help you choose your dog’s next favorite brand.
- You may also want to read: 6 Best Dog Foods for Weimaraners – Reviews & Top Picks
Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock