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Best Overall: Royal Canin at Petco
Large or small, puppy or senior, this brand will have a formula that has your dog's specific nutritional needs in mind.
Best Budget: Taste of the Wild at Chewy
This budget food doesn't cut corners on quality—the top ingredient is always meat, not grains or fillers like with some brands.
Best Dry: ORIJEN at Chewy
Along with formulas for different ages and sizes, this brand has food for dogs that require special diets, like grain-free.
Best Wet: Hill’s Science Diet at Amazon
You can feel good knowing that this brand has veterinarians and pet nutritionists involved in the development process of their food.
Best for Puppies: Blue Buffalo at Amazon
While many brands have a limited range of food specially made for puppies, this one has multiple lines based on your pup's needs.
Best for Large Dogs: Purina at Chewy
The Pro line has plenty of options for large and giant dog breeds, which have different nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Best for Small Dogs: Wellness Pet Food at PetCo
To meet your small dog's nutritional needs, this company packs plenty of calories into smaller kibble bites that are easy to chew.
Dogs aren’t necessarily super picky when it comes to what they eat. Haven’t we all observed them scrounging through the trash for a tasty bit of leftovers or a bone to gnaw on? But your pooch’s voracious appetite doesn’t mean that just any food is a good option for dinner—or breakfast or lunch.
When choosing a dog food brand, you’ll want to consider the ingredients that are used, along with the company’s ethos. That is, you’ll want to feel confident that the company cares about your pet’s health and safety as much as you do.
Here are the best dog food brands on the market to keep your pup's system in top shape.
Best Overall: Royal Canin
Think of it as pet food fit for kings and queens—Royal Canin offers foods for all sorts of dogs: purebreds, young, old, large, and small. Plus, you can choose from wet and dry food options with this brand.
The company’s values are inspiring: Not only do they focus on making food that’s healthy for pets, but they are also intent on reducing their environmental impact. The company got its start in France in the 1960s, and has gone on to be an international brand, with food sold around the world. Royal Canin is available for sale at local pet foods stories and vet offices, as well as many popular online retailers.
Best Budget: Taste of the Wild
Tread carefully when it comes to budget-friendly dog food. Sometimes, you get what you pay for—many cheap dog foods are made with poor quality ingredients or stuffed with fillers. Not so for Taste of the Wild: While this family-owned company prides itself on being affordable, it also touts its use of high quality ingredients.
The proteins in the food are all foods that your dog’s ancestors would eat (hence the name). And the ingredients go beyond chicken and beef: you’ll also find more unusual meats, like trout and bison, on the ingredient list. No matter what, the first ingredient on the ingredients list is always meat, poultry, or fish (not grain or another filler).
Taste of the Wild products are all made in the United States. The brand has safety and testing protocols in place to ensure that food is both healthy and safe. All products are made without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Taste of the Wild is available for sale at major online retailers as well as local pet food stores. The brand makes both wet and dry food, as well as food for many stages of a dog’s life: puppy, adult, senior, and pregnant/nursing dogs. Grain-free foods are also available for pets with allergies or sensitive stomachs.
Best Dry: ORIJEN
Made by Champion Petfoods, Orijen offers dry food options for both cats and dogs. The brand prides itself on three pillars. First, all food is biologically appropriate—that means it’s made from ingredients that dogs and cats are supposed to eat. Second, Origen is made from fresh, regional foods and all suppliers go through a comprehensive screening process. And finally, the food is never outsourced to other factories or kitchens.
Origen makes food for puppies, adults, and senior dogs, as well as foods tailored to large-, small-, and medium-sized dogs, and foods for dogs on special diets (eg, grain-free or a weight-loss diet). Even dogs that are picky about their food seem to like options from this brand, which is widely available for sale online and in stores.
Best Wet: Hill’s Science Diet
Given the brand’s name, it’s no surprise that Hill’s Science Diet puts science at the heart of their products. They also rely on expert input: Hundreds of veterinarians and pet nutritionists are involved in the food development process, according to Hill’s.
Hill’s Science Diet offers wet food options based on the dog’s size and age, and also offers options for dogs that need help with weight management, have limited mobility, and other lifestyle factors and health conditions.
Best for Puppies: Blue Buffalo
Puppies have specific nutritional needs, since they are constantly growing and developing. Blue Buffalo offers several product lines aimed at puppies: Blue Basics, Baby Blue, Blue Freedom, Blue Life Protection Formula, and more. Food for puppies is also available in both canned and dry options, as well as in options tailored by breed size. This gives pet owners lots of options to choose the best food for their dog.
Blue Buffalo prioritizes the quality of ingredients—all food (wet and dry) is made from natural ingredients. There is a thorough explanation for why every ingredient is included in food available on the manufacturer's website, so you can better understand your dog's diet.
All food is made in the company’s two United States-based factories, and adheres to nutritional standards from the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the Global Nutrition Committee of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Blue Buffalo products can be purchased at major online retailers.
Best for Large Dogs: Purina
Of course, Purina is a big-name brand with plenty of options for pets of all sizes. But they particularly excel at providing options for large-breed dogs, like Newfoundlands and Great Danes. From when they’re puppies through to adulthood, large dogs have different nutritional needs than smaller ones.
In the Purina Pro line, Purina offers several options for large dogs—there are choices for large and giant dogs, and options geared toward puppy, adult, and senior large dogs. And, there are both wet and dry choices. While some owners save it as a special treat meal, it’s also affordable enough for every day.
Purina has been making pet food for more than 90 years and calls out two big priorities: creating innovative new products and promoting sustainability.
Best for Small Dogs: Wellness Pet Food
Just like larger dogs, small dogs have special nutritional needs—they burn more calories per pound than larger dogs, for instance, and of course, have smaller mouths which may make smaller kibble more comfortable for them to eat.
Wellness Pet Food makes food for both cats and dogs, and like many of the brands on this list, the company prioritizes using natural ingredients and doesn’t include fillers on the ingredient list. They offer many options—both wet and dry—for small and toy breed dogs.
"The label should include the phrase 'complete and balanced.' Usually this is in reference to a particular life stage of the pet. Complete and balanced pet foods have either met nutrient profiles established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) or passed a feeding trial using AAFCO procedures.
The first five ingredients should be recognized to you as foods. Owners should be aware that higher prices do not alway equal higher quality and pet owners should trust their veterinarian as a resource for information on veterinary nutrition. The American College of Veterinary Nutrition is a good resource for owners interested in learning more about pet food and nutrition in pets."
Dr. Joanne Intile DVM, MS, DACVIM (oncology), Assistant Clinical Professor of Medical Oncology, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine