• November 14, 2017 - To keep up with new brands and changing formulas, we've completely revamped our dog food review. We've also updated our methodology so that it's consistent with current nutrition research. We're excited about our new top picks for both wet and dry.

High-quality food helps your pup stay active and playful, with a shiny coat, a good appetite, and a healthy weight. The ideal diet for dogs is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, with a moderate amount of fat. It should also be free of cheap fillers and potentially toxic additives. We reached out to over 47 experts and dug into more than 3,000 dog food formulas to find the very best. We’re confident that all of our recommended brands offer high-quality protein and balanced nutrition. From here, your job is to find a formula your dog likes, at a price point you're comfortable with.

If you're already somewhat familiar with dog food brands and just need recommendations, our top picks are listed below. If you're not sure where to start, you can check out our more in-depth brand comparison tables or our cheat sheet to understanding dog food types.

The Best Dog Food

Our Favorite Dry Dog Foods

Our Top Picks for Best Dry Dog Food

Brand/Line
Number of Formulas
Main Protein Sources
Price per Pound
Fromm Classic
2
Chicken, Fish
$1.13-$1.20
Fromm Gold
8
Duck, Beef, Turkey Liver, Whitefish
$1.52-$2.39
Holistic Health Extension
12
Chicken, Lamb, Venison, Buffalo, Duck, Salmon
$1.70-$2.67
Horizon: Amicus
2
Turkey
$3.00
Horizon: Legacy
2
Chicken, Salmon
$2.55-$2.80
Nutri Life
4
Chicken, Whitefish, Duck
$1.47-$1.75
Orijen: Tundra
1
Goat
$4.49
Signature Pet Products: Leonard Powell Signature Series
6
Chicken, Pork, Bison, Duck, Lamb
$2.04-$4.17
Tender & True
5
Chicken, Turkey, Whitefish
$2.83-$3.90
Ziwi Peak
5
Mackerel, Beef, Venison, Lamb, Tripe
$13.25-$23.19

Our Top Picks for Best Wet Dog Food

Brand/Line
Number of Formulas
Main Protein Sources
Price per Ounce
AvoDerm Revolving Menu
3
Lamb, Beef, Turkey
$0.21
Berkeley & Jensen All Natural
1
Chicken
$0.11
Canidae All Life Stages
6
Chicken, Lamb
$0.15-$0.16
Canidae Grain-Free Pure
4
Duck, Lamb, Salmon
$0.14-$0.20
Chicken Soup for the Soul Adult & Mature
2
Chicken
$0.11
Eagle Pack
4
Turkey, Beef, Chicken, Lamb
$0.15
Evanger's Heritage Classics
8
Beef, Chicken, Lamb
$0.15
Evanger's Organics
2
Chicken, Turkey
$0.20
Evolve
3
Chicken, Lamb, Turkey
$0.16
Holistic Select
6
Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Duck, Turkey, Whitefish
$0.21
Hound & Gatos
12
Chicken, Salmon, Rabbit, Beef, Duck, Lamb, Pork, Turkey
$0.17-$0.36
Kasiks
4
Salmon, Chicken, Turkey
$0.25
Koha Limited Ingredient
5
Salmon, Turkey, Kangaroo, Lamb, Vension
$0.26-$0.45
Natural Planet
2
Chicken, Turkey
$0.24-$0.25
Nature's Logic
8
Beef, Chicken, Duck, Lamb, Rabbit, Sardine, Turkey, Venison
$0.19-$0.39
NutriSource
7
Chicken, Lamb, Salmon
$0.19-$0.27
Nutro Limited Ingredient Grain-Free
3
Fish, Turkey, Lamb
$0.18-$0.19
Party Animal
20
Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Venison, Duck, Lamb, Pork
$0.17
RedBarn Pate
5
Duck, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, Ocean Fish
$0.21
Tender & True
5
Chicken, Turkey, Whitefish
$0.24
Wellness Core 95%
3
Chicken, Turkey, Beef
$0.25
Wellness Core Grain-Free
5
Chicken, Whitefish, Beef, Turkey
$0.22
Wellness Simple
3
Duck, Turkey, Lamb
$0.21
Wild Calling
9
Chicken, Rabbit, Duck, Beef, Salmon, Turkey, Lamb, Pork
$0.20-$0.28
Zignature
11
Catfish, Pork, Salmon, Venison, Kangaroo, Ocean Whitefish, Duck, Lamb, Trout, Turkey
$0.23-$0.31
Ziwi Peak Moist
6
Mackerel, Venison, Lamb, Rabbit, Beef
$0.36-$0.52

Runners-Up for Best Dry Dog Food

Born Free: We couldn’t find this brand on Amazon, Chewy, PetSmart, or PetCo, and you can’t buy directly from their website, either. Currently only available at specialty pet food stores in the Midwest. Approved formulas: any.

Dynamite: Available directly from the manufacturer’s website, but not Chewy, Amazon, PetCo, or PetSmart. Approved formulas: any.

RedPaw: Not available on Chewy, Amazon, PetCo, or PetSmart. Can be purchased through the manufacturer and at some local pet stores nationwide. Approved formulas: X-Series.

Only Natural Pet: Again, not available at major online retailers but can be ordered directly from the company’s website. Approved formulas: MaxMeat Air-Dried.

Runners-Up for Best Wet Dog Food

Blackwood: Amazon currently carries one flavor, and it’s not available at all from Chewy, PetSmart or PetCo. We could only find it at one pet store in the greater Seattle area. Approved formulas: any.

Diamond Naturals: We had no trouble tracking down this brand’s mediocre dry food, but its wet formulas aren’t available on Chewy, Amazon, PetSmart, or PetCo. Approved wet formulas: any.

Grandma Mae's Country Naturals: Spotty availability on Amazon, and not available at all from PetSmart, PetCo or Chewy. Approved formulas: the brand's "Healthy" line.

Performatrin: Available from a small third-party retailer, PetSolutions.com, but not on Chewy, Amazon, PetCo, PetSmart, or manufacturer’s website. Approved formulas: any.

Pinnacle: Available in specialty pet food stores on the West Coast, but we couldn’t find this brand’s wet food at any major online retailer. Approved formulas: any.

PureVita: Available in some specialty pet food stores, and with hit-or-miss availability on Amazon. Approved formulas: any.

RAWZ: Available mainly in Texas. The company does not sell directly, and has a “strict” policy against 3rd-party ecommerce, so you’ll have to find it in person. Approved formulas: any.

Dog Food: A Feeding Guide

The “guaranteed nutrient analysis” label can be misleading.

Every dog food comes with a guaranteed analysis label, which lists the formula’s minimum percentage of protein and fat, and maximum percentage of fiber and moisture. (The guaranteed analysis doesn’t list carbs — but you can figure this out by adding up all the other percentages and seeing what’s left.)

If you’re just skimming through “guaranteed analysis” tables, you might be struck by the numbers difference between dry and wet foods: most wet dog foods average between 8-17% protein, while dry dog foods have a whopping range of 30-50% protein. That means you should always go for dry food if you want your dog to get more protein, right? Not necessarily. Remember that wet food has a very high moisture content — 78% — so a lot of sheer volume is taken up by water. Once you factor this in, wet food actually tends to have more protein.

Feed your dog twice a day.

All dog food labels include feeding suggestions, which list the recommended amount of food per day according to your dog’s weight. Feed your dog about two times each day at 8-12 hour intervals, making sure not to overfeed him.

Dr. Lindsey Bullen warns that free feeding is not a recommended feeding method; rather a minimum of 2-3 meals per day is suggested for the average pet (more frequent meals may be required in certain circumstances, like if your dog is ​pregnant or ​nursing puppies). She also recommends that wet food should never be left out for longer than 30 minutes to an hour. “Water creates the perfect environment for microbial contamination,” so make sure to clean up quickly if your pup leaves leftover food in his bowl. Additionally, regardless of food type, food bowls should be cleaned on a regular basis.”

Your dog's activity levels affect his caloric needs.

Your dog’s metabolism and lifestyle will factor into how much, and how often, he should be fed. If your dog gets over an hour of exercise per day, he may be hungrier than the dog that mainly remains indoors and only takes short walks. Dr. Gary Richter notes, “Just as with humans, a highly active pet is going to require more calories and protein to maintain muscle mass and energy levels.” In addition to feeding guidelines provided on food labels, pay attention to your dog’s body shape and energy levels to figure out how much food he needs to stay active and trim.

Be alert for cues that your dog is overweight.

Obesity is a major concern for American pets: according to a 2014 survey from the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, over 50% of pet dogs are obese. Though a chubby dog may be cute, those extra pounds can lead to health issues, including heart failure, muscle and skeletal problems, and even cancer. And because dogs with a healthy body weight live an average of 15% longer than overweight dogs, it’s important to watch your pup’s weight and maintain his diet carefully.

Since ideal weight varies depending on factors like age, breed, and gender, a rule of thumb is to assess your dog’s body shape. When viewed from above, your dog should have a visible waist, which looks like a gentle taper between the ribcage and hips. You should be able to feel, but not see, his ribs when placing your hands on the sides of his chest. If your dog’s ribs are showing, he’s too skinny. But if he’s oval when viewed from above, and has a wobbling belly when viewed from the side, he is likely overweight. If your dog is at a healthy weight, continue on with your feeding routine. Otherwise, consult your vet to determine a plan that will bring your dog back to a healthy weight.

Nutritional needs vary by size more than breed.

There’s very little research on breed-specific dog food formulas, and the FDA and AAFCO do not have regulations in place for them. Dietary differences are more certain between especially large and small breeds. Large breeds (think Great Danes or Saint Bernards) can benefit from diets lower in fat, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D: food formulated for to help prevent over-rapid growth, which can cause “hip and elbow dysplasia,” says Dr. Gary Richter. Small breeds like Chihuahuas require more calories per pound of food, and smaller kibble to prevent choking. Fromm Gold offers both large and small breed formulas that we like.

Here's how to file a pet food complaint.

You can report complaints or concerns about any commercial pet food through the FDA, who can investigate if enough complaints are directed at the same company. You can also contact a manufacturer directly, through the toll-free customer inquiry number listed on the product label.

The Best Dog Food, Summed Up

Best Dry Dog Food
Price per Pound
Fromm Classic
$1.13-$1.20
Fromm Gold
$1.52-$2.39
Holistic Health Extension
$1.70-$2.67
Horizon: Amicus
$3.00
Horizon: Legacy
$2.55-$2.80
Nutri Life
$1.47-$1.75
Orijen Tundra
$4.49
Signature Pet Products: Leonard Powell Signature Series
$2.04-$4.17
Tender & True
$2.83-$3.90
Ziwi Peak
$13.25-$23.19