• December 15, 2017 - We’ve updated this review to include recommendations for dog food meal delivery services. These companies ship minimally processed meat and veggie mixes directly to your door. Our favorite is NomNomNow, which offers five different recipes plus portion sizes customized for your dog.
  • November 14, 2017 - To keep up with new brands and changing formulas, we've completely revamped our dog food review from 2015. We've also updated our methodology so that it's consistent with current nutrition research. Our new top picks feature the 36 best dog food brands, including which of their dry food and wet food lines meet our criteria.

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 already know which of the best dog food brands you prefer, and just need a recommendation for which line of formulas to try, 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 10 Favorite Dry Dog Food Brands & Lines

  1. Fromm Classic
  2. Fromm Gold
  3. Holistic Health Extension
  4. Horizon Amicus
  5. Horizon Legacy
  6. Nutri Life
  7. Orijen Tundra
  8. Signature Pet Products: Leonard Powell Signature Series
  9. Tender & True
  10. Ziwi Peak

Our 26 Favorite Wet Dog Food Brands & Lines

  1. AvoDerm Revolving Menu
  2. Berkeley & Jensen
  3. Canidae All Life Stages
  4. Canidae Grain-Free Pure
  5. Chicken Soup for the Soul
  6. Eagle Pack
  7. Evanger's Heritage Classics
  8. Evanger's Organics
  9. Evolve
  10. Holistic Select
  11. Hound & Gatos
  12. Kasiks
  13. Koha Limited Ingredient
  14. Natural Planet
  15. Nature's Logic
  16. NutriSource
  17. Nutro Limited Ingredient Grain-Free
  18. Party Animal
  19. RedBarn Pate
  20. Tender & True
  21. Wellness Core 95%
  22. Wellness Core Grain-Free
  23. Wellness Simple
  24. Wild Calling
  25. Zignature
  26. Ziwi Peak

Our 3 Favorite Dog Food Meal Delivery Services

A fairly new option, meal delivery services offer a compromise between the minimal processing of raw food diets and the convenience of store-bought kibble. We explore them in-depth in a separate review, but our favorites are:

  1. NomNomNow
  2. The Farmer’s Dog
  3. Pure Dog Food

10 Great Dry Dog Food Lines From Our Favorite Brands

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

26 Great Wet Dog Food Lines From Our Favorite Brands

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 Brands

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.

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.

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.

TimberWolf: Not available at major online retailers, but can be purchased directly from the manufacturer and at a handful of locations in Florida and along the East Coast. Approved formulas: any.

Runners-Up for Best Wet Dog Food Brands

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.

For Something Different, Try Our 3 Favorite Dog Food Meal Delivery Services

NomNomNowFresh food in personalized, easy-serve portions that are matched to your dog's size and weight.

We evaluated 15 meal delivery services, but only NomNomNow truly won us over. The company offers five recipes, each with a blend of proteins and veggies, like “Heartland Beef Mash” and “Chicken Chow-Wow.” Meals arrive in pouches that can be torn open and portioned out without making a mess or requiring additional kitchen utensils. And because NomNomNow customizes its portion sizes to match your pet’s size and weight, you won’t have to deal with storing half-opened bags of leftovers (a complaint testers voiced about our other finalists). The online ordering process is simple and can accommodate multiple dogs per subscriber. As with all our top picks, each NomNomNow meal is certified “complete and balanced” by AAFCO.

The Farmer’s DogMessier to serve, but an easy online ordering process with flexible delivery.

It only has three recipes to choose from, but The Farmer’s Dog offers a flexible delivery schedule that allows you to order as frequently or infrequently as you want, from every two weeks to every three months (NomNomNow locks you into weekly deliveries unless you pause each order). Portioning out meals is messy, requiring you to open each pouch with scissors and then fold down and store the unused portion in the refrigerator, but as with NomNomNow, it’s easy to add multiple dogs per account.

Pure Dog FoodBeautifully packaged meals that come in 7-ounce or 14-ounce portions.

Beautifully packaged food cups that even the humans in our office found enticing, plus a five-recipe range that matched NomNomNow. But Pure Dog Food’s portions come in only two sizes — a 7-ounce portion and a 14-ounce portion — and, unlike our other two picks, the company doesn’t offer a free trial. Still, if you want to try it out before committing, it’s easy to purchase a la carte portions through the company’s website.

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.

We’re confident in the nutritional quality of all our top picks. But if you want to know exactly how to calculate nutrients like protein, or if you have a specific nutritional concerns, calculating the dry matter basis between different formulas will let you accurately compare nutrient levels.

Dry matter basis is just is a fancy term for everything besides the moisture percentage. To find it, subtract the moisture percentage:

  • 100 – moisture % = dry matter %

To accurately compare protein (or any other listed nutrient) across different dog foods without having the results skewed by moisture, you can then plug your number into the following formula:

  • (nutrient & / dry matter &) x 100 = dry matter nutrient %

Here’s an example: Divide the labelled amount of protein (in this case, 10%) by the total amount of dry matter (the sum of all the nutrients listed, minus moisture. In this example, 25%). Then, multiply the result by 100. The Dry Matter Protein = (10/25) x 100 = 40%]

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

Our Other Dog Food Reviews

We also looked at the best dog food based on specific types. If you're interested in seeing our top picks for each type, check out the articles below: