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Feeding your canine companion a nutritious and healthy meal is an important part of being a dog owner. However, the options for natural dog food seem to be endless and even overwhelming. Plus, your dog may have additional dietary needs or allergy restrictions. How can you choose the best natural dog food for your pet?
01 of 08
Best Overall: Merrick Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe
For a natural dog food that meets the nutritional needs of dogs of all ages and sizes, Merrick’s Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe is our best overall choice.
Available in a few different varieties including poultry, fish, pork, beef and lamb, each recipe is grain free for higher digestibility and is free of poultry by-products, corn, soy, wheat and artificial ingredients. The product is also made in the USA, and doesn’t include ingredients sourced from China.
People find that the taste and smell of the food are appetizing to dogs and many pet owners that had to add toppers to their dog’s kibble in order to get them to eat it report that this is no longer necessary with Whole Earth Farms dog food. Additionally, it improves consistency and regularity of elimination for many dogs. If you’re looking for a natural dog food that will meet your pet’s nutritional needs and digest easily, then choose Merrick Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe in one of four varieties.
02 of 08
Best for Puppies: Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Development, Puppy Formula
Puppies grow fast and need the right diet to support proper development for a lifetime of health and vitality. Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Development, Puppy Formula is our top choice for a natural dog food.
As with any quality natural dog food, this product is free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. It also includes naturally-occurring DHA found in fish oil, which is beneficial for the development of the brain, eyes and skeletal system. To keep your puppy healthy, it has an antioxidant blend with Vitamins C and E. It also is available in two kibble sizes; ‘regular bites’ for larger puppies and ‘small bites’ for petite puppies.
Dog owners say that their puppies seem to thrive on this formula, and cite shiny coats, firm stools, and healthy weights as the evidence supporting this conclusion. Chicken meal and pork meal are in the first three ingredients, and many experts agree that meal made from high-quality sources is a concentrated way to pack protein into a dog food recipe. If you want a food with quality ingredients designed to fit your puppy’s rapid growth and development, pick Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Development.
03 of 08
Best for Senior Dogs: Canidae Grain Free Pure for Seniors
Make your canine’s golden years a little bit tastier with Canidae Grain Free Pure –– our top choice for a natural dog food for senior dogs.
The recipe is simple, to allow for easy digestion as your dog ages. It includes nine ingredients earmarked by Canidae as beneficial for senior dogs, including chicken, menhaden fish meal, peas, lentils, whole egg, chicken fat, alfalfa, flaxseed, and a combination of beneficial vitamins, minerals and probiotics.
One thing to note is that some pet parents found that this food initially led to a larger volume of stool. However, company representatives state that it may take a period of time for some dogs to adjust to the higher fiber content and alfalfa included in this food before waste volume returns to normal. This proved to be true for many dog owners that tried this recipe for their pets. Overall, senior dog owners agree that this formula produces consistent and regular elimination in their pet is appetizing to their dog and includes a high-quality, grain-free ingredient list.
04 of 08
Best for Dogs with Allergies: Wellness Simple
It can be tough to meet the nutritional needs of a dog with allergies, but there are many limited-ingredient foods available that can prove beneficial. One of the best foods for a dog with allergies is Wellness Simple.
This food features a variety of recipes, formulated with novel protein sources. All the recipes are considered to be ‘limited ingredient diets’ and several are also grain-free. By keeping the ingredient list simple, it’s easier to avoid common allergy triggers (such as chicken, corn, wheat, artificial additives and more). It can help to eliminate itchy paws, hot spots and dry skin while reducing gastric upset for sensitive stomachs. A few pet owners found that the lamb formula continued to aggravate allergy issues, so you may need to try a different recipe if this is the case for your pet. However, many dogs with sensitive stomachs or chicken allergies have found the Wellness Simple food to be easy on their digestive tract with no side effects.
As a storage perk, this food features a convenient plastic zipper closure to keep the kibble inside fresh and bug-free. The Wellness Simple natural dog food is pricier than some other natural dog foods, but the limited ingredients and high-quality recipes seem to work wonders for many dogs with allergies.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Best for Small Dogs: AvoDerm Natural Revolving Recipe
Smaller dogs have special dietary needs compared to their larger canine companions. AvoDerm Natural Revolving Recipe is the best natural dog food for small-breed dogs.
This formula from AvoDerm takes into account the higher metabolism common in small dogs and delivers the right protein levels in an easy-to-crunch kibble size. Additionally, this food stands out thanks to its ability to rotate a variety of flavors. AvoDerm offers turkey, beef and lamb recipes that are consistent in terms of protein and starch levels, minimizing the chance of gastric upset if you switch flavors. This is a nice option, as switching protein sources can help your dog to avoid developing food sensitivities.
Small dog owners comment on the very small size of the kibble, and make mention of the fact that it’s much easier for their tiny companions to chew up. Many people also add that their dogs enjoy the variety made possible by the revolving menu and that quality and nutritional value seem consistent across all varieties. AvoDerm is known for producing high-quality pet foods that give dogs a shiny, healthy coat and this formula is no exception. So for a natural food for small dogs that has different protein options, give AvoDerm Revolving Menu a try.
06 of 08
Best for Large Dogs: Eagle Pack Natural Dog Food
Eagle Pack Natural Dog Food is top dog when it comes to a natural dog food for your large breed canine companion.
This quality formula is praised by pet owners for its high-quality ingredient list offered at a reasonable price point — an important factor when you’re feeding a large breed dog with a big appetite! Eagle Pack Natural Dog Food is also made in the United States and has no corn, wheat, meat by-products or artificial ingredients.
There are a few special considerations to meet the needs of large or giant breed dogs, including a larger kibble size and glucosamine hydrochloride for joint health. Some owners reported significant improvement in the joint function or hip problems when they began feeding their dog Eagle Pack Natural Dog Food. One concern that popped up for some pet parents was an increase in gas when feeding this formula, though this is sometimes a concern with a variety of premium food formulas — not just an isolated occurrence with Eagle Pack.
07 of 08
Best for Chihuahuas: Nutro Wholesome Essentials
If the canine in your life is a chihuahua or other toy breed, you’ll want to pick a natural dog food tailored to their unique needs. Nutro Wholesome Essentials, Toy Breed formula is a top pick for the smallest of dogs.
This natural dog food features kibble smaller than the size of a pea. Owners report that this makes it easier for small dogs with petite mouths to chew and swallow the kibble. While not labeled as a ‘limited-ingredient’ food, the ingredient list is simple and straightforward and many dogs with sensitive stomachs have done well on this formula.
The protein content is higher in this food than it is in some other formulas, due in part to the active metabolism of many toy dogs, including chihuahuas. Be sure to follow the feeding instructions on the bag to avoid overfeeding. All in all, Nutro Wholesome Essentials is a top pick for your tiny canine thanks to its petite kibble size and quality formula.
08 of 08
Best Budget: Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
If you’re looking for a quality natural dog food on a budget, Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food is a great choice.
This formula is for all breeds over one year old and offers well-rounded nutrition at an affordable price point. If you have a puppy, you can buy the same dog food in the special puppy formula, too. The simple ingredient list omits corn, soy, wheat, meat by-products and preservatives. Dogs seem to love the taste, and many prefer it to other brands of natural dog foods.
Pet parents consistently comment on the benefits this food has for dogs with allergies, sensitive stomachs, diabetes or just a need for a simple, nutritious food. If this is what you’re seeking on a budget, pick Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food.