A Guide to Choosing the Best Dry Dog Food

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french bulldog with a mountain of the best dry dog foodAs pet owners know, shopping for dog food is a trip down a culinary lane! The design of packaging and marketing on pet food products often appeals even to our taste buds – we are the ones purchasing it after all! However, it’s not all meat and sweet potatoes! When you are buying the best dry dog food, it is important to look past the packaging.

Read on to learn how to identify which dry foods are the best for your dog, along with some recommendations for different dry dog food products to try.

What is the Best Dry Dog Food for Puppies?

The answer to the question of what is the best dry dog food for dogs and puppies is – there is not just one! Dogs at all life stages need the very best nutrition you can give them.

Young puppies are growing rapidly. They need a diet that includes the protein, nutrients, and calories needed to ensure that the bodies and brains of a pup develop and grow as they should.

When you are looking at what pet food to feed your pup you need to take into consideration the needs of the type of dog you have, their life stage, and any health conditions. Then look at what the many different products available can offer to meet your individual dog’s dietary and protein needs.

Breed or Size Specific Puppy Food is Always a Good Idea!

Obviously, the size and the appetite of a small breed such as toy Shih Tzu versus the magnificent Saint Bernard are not going to be the same! It’s not hard to appreciate that different breeds and sizes of dogs may have different dietary needs. Many manufacturers cater to different sizes and breeds, especially for puppies to reach their full potential.

For example:

Royal Canin’s Chihuahua Junior Dry Food has a shape and size of dry kibble to suit their smaller mouths, with ingredients to suit their systems. It is also designed to build up defenses against medical conditions the breed is prone to developing at a later stage in life.

At the other end of the scale, Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Puppy Food has everything big dogs need to develop strong and healthy muscles and bones to support their body weight as adults.

best dog food for puppies puppy eating kibble

For Very Young Puppies: Try the Vets Preferred Milk Formula!

If you have a very young puppy, a pregnant or lactating dog, or even older dogs, you might want to look at supplements. Products such as Vets Preferred Milk Formula are a dog milk replacer with colostrum that can help nourish those pups needing an extra boost.

Science is Cool! Best Dog Foods Designed to Manage Skin and GI Conditions!

For any dog with a skin or gastrointestinal condition, your first port of call should be to check with a veterinarian. A vet will advise on any treatment and dietary requirements specifically needed and suited to your dog.

Best Food for Dogs with Allergies

When you are managing skin and GI conditions, dry pet food won’t contain any drugs or medications to treat your dog’s health condition. However, combinations of ingredients are formulated to help with some conditions affected by diet. They may use alternative ingredients or, reduce quantities of ingredients, such as grains, that may result in food allergies.

For example:

Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin and Stomach for adult dogs is made from salmon and rice. This grain-free dog food has no grains such as corn and wheat, or soy, poultry by-product meal, artificial colors or flavors.

Hill’s Science Diet Science Sensitive Stomach and Skin for adult dogs is made from chicken meal and barley in a formulation that is easy to digest. This dry food includes omega 6 fatty acids and other nutrients to help with skin and coats.

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain Free products for adult dogs are a combination of meats and vegetables and proprietary probiotics. This grain-free dry dog food does not include any grain, corn, wheat, fillers, artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.

The Best Dog Food is Not Always the Most Expensive Dog Food! 

Price does not always indicate a high-quality dog food. Many factors can influence the price of any product. Dog food is no exception! Sometimes the best dog food for your pet is not always the most expensive one you can buy.

Not all dog foods are the same – some may be better than others may for your particular pooch.

golden retriever puppy chef wondering what is the best grain free dry dog food

Do Your Homework and Look What’s Inside!

Read a little further than the delicious sounding descriptions and cute canine pictures often used to sell both wet and best dry dog food! The small print on a label usually contains the most important information about what is included in the product.

The labeling of pet food in the United States falls under State-specific regulations, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The information required on labels is:

Nutritional Adequacy Statement

This includes two key pieces of information. These are the type of food and the life stage of the dogs that the products are intended for. You will usually find this statement somewhere on the back or side of the packaging.

  • Type: You will usually see two types of the best dry dog food – complete and balanced. The word “complete” says that the product includes all the nutrients a dog at that particular life stage needs. The word “balanced” says that the nutrients in the product are at correct ratios.
  • Life Stages: Manufacturers may use four main life stages on their labels. These are gestation/lactation, growth, maintenance, and all life stages. Gestation/lactation products are for pregnant or nursing dogs. Growth products are for puppies, and maintenance and all life stages for other adult dogs.


Get to know a little about the ingredients used by pet food manufacturers. The ingredients listed on the packaging are listed sequentially by weight and must be listed individually. You should be able to tell from the ingredient list exactly what type of meat is in the product, what animal by-products, vitamins and minerals, and all the other various ingredients used in the making of the product.

Other Labeling Information

The other information required on labels includes the product name, feeding directions, caloric content, drugs, pet food additives, expressions of guaranteed analysis, and the manufacturer or distributor.

Pet food manufacturers also use the same terms as the “free from” classification you see on human food. Grain free, lite, lean, or reduced this or that. When you see these descriptors, check that the nutrients and ingredients shown on the label stack up.

Top-Rated Dog Food: 5 Things the Best Dog Food Brands Have in Common

  1. Best dry dog food brands number one ingredient and protein sources are real meat!
  2. They do not use artificial colors or controversial chemicals.
  3. They develop science-based recipes for different species and life stage needs.
  4. Their fat to protein ratio and nutrition content is appropriate, they use high-quality protein, and include the range of vitamins and minerals dogs need.
  5. They are committed to the overall health and well-being of dogs!

Even Good Dog Food Can Be Improved: Vets Preferred and Honest Paws Has You Covered!

Companies that are committed to research and development into improvements and innovations in the nutrition of dog food and dog products deserve support. Two that we wholeheartedly support are Vets Preferred and Honest Paws.

Best Dry Dog Foods: A List of the Top Dog Food Brands!

Here are some brands of the best dry dog foods. This list includes some of those rated at least four stars by the good folk at dogfoodadvisor.com.

  • Acana
  • Adirondack
  • American Natura
  • Back to Basics
  • Beaverdam
  • Bench and Field
  • Canidae
  • Canine Naturals
  • CaniSource
  • Dave’s
  • Diamond Naturals
  • DNA Ancestral
  • Elevate
  • Eukanuba
  • Evolve
  • Farmina
  • FirstMate
  • Forza10
  • Gather
  • Go!
  • Good Natured
  • Harvest Blend
  • Health Extension
  • Hill’s Science Diet
  • Iams
  • Instinct Be Natural
  • Jack’s
  • Kinetic
  • Kirkland
  • Leonard Powell
  • Life’s Abundance
  • Merrick
  • Millies Wolfheart
  • Muenster
  • Native Performance
  • Natural Balance
  • Nature’s Logic
  • Only Natural
  • Open Farm
  • Orijen Dog Food
  • Party Animal
  • Paw Tree
  • PC Nutrition
  • Q Holistic
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish
  • RAWZ
  • Royal Canin
  • Sator
  • Simply Wild
  • Skoki
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Tender and True
  • Tiki Dog Aloha
  • Under the Sun
  • Valens
  • Victor
  • VitaLife
  • Wag Dog
  • Wild Calling!
  • Wild Frontier
  • Young Again
  • Zach’s
  • Zignature

What is the Best Dog Food? The One That Meets Your Dog’s Individual Needs!

chihuahua and rottweiler waiting for their best dog food brands

Take the time to delve into what is going to be the best type of dog food to put into your dog’s bowl. Check the ingredients, and buy food with protein that suits your dog’s life stage and condition.

You may be feeding your dog a combination of canned food, raw food, and dry food, or supplementing a raw diet or wet food diet with dry kibble from time to time.

Just like people, dogs have different dietary needs and you will get to know what is best for your pooch to lead a healthy and happy life! Just be sure that whatever the make-up of your dog’s diet consists of, as a whole it makes one nutritionally balanced diet with what your dog needs!

Common Questions on the Best Dry Dog Food

Do puppies need to be fed specific dry food recipes? 

Should you feed different types of dry food to big and small dogs?

What does all the information on best dry dog food labels mean?

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