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The Best Five Brands of Dog Food

Updated on June 5, 2014

Option Overload!

There are so many different brands of dog food available in pet stores that it can be difficult for a pet owner with the best intentions to select a product that will benefit their pet's long-term health while still remaining affordable. Which products should you choose and which should you avoid?

Considerations When Selecting A Dog Food

When it's time to go about selecting a brand of dog food for your faithful friend, there are a number of important considerations that you need to make before you actually do your shopping. Your pet's age, lifestyle, and breed should all be taken into account when you are deciding which type of food is best suited for them. Most brands of dog food produce blends that are specifically geared towards puppies or older dogs. Others produce different types of food depending on the activity level of the pet or their breed size. Selecting a food that is specially formulated to your pet's individual traits will be likely to benefit them in the future.

Brand Breakdown

1. Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo is a relatively high-end dog food brand that will typically cost you around $50-55 for a 30 pound bag (as of 2014). While the price may be too high for some shoppers, the product is well-attested to and is made with quality ingredients. Blue Buffalo is also fortified with various vitamins and minerals that are necessary for your dog's continued health. The food is marketed as an affordable alternative to a raw diet, which is generally too expensive for most owners to consider. Here are some of the brand's features:

  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • High-quality ingredients
  • No poultry or chicken byproducts are used in Blue Buffalo products
  • Highly positive reviews
  • Somewhat expensive

2. Natural Balance

With a somewhat more competitive price point than Blue Buffalo, Natural Balance is the dog food of choice for many pet owners and veterinarians alike. In fact, this brand is what I use for my dogs' staple food. You can typically expect to buy a 30 pound bag of natural balance for anywhere from $40-45. While the ingredients may not be quite as selective, they are still of very good quality. In addition, the food has a relatively non-offensive smell.

Some of the notable qualities of Natural Balance dog food:

  • Mid-range price point
  • High quality
  • Scientifically formulated ingredients including fresh vegetables and meats
  • Contains many essential vitamins and minerals
  • Very reputable brand with good ratings from a variety of retailers

3. Eukanuba

Slightly cheaper than Natural Balance or Blue Buffalo but still well-reputed, Eukanuba dog foods are generally a good choice for your canine companion. Eukanuba foods tend to be priced at slightly above $40 for a 33 pound bag, so they are fairly affordable for most pet owners. Eukanuba foods do not use artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, and their foods do not contain fillers. In addition, Eukanuba markets a wide variety of different food formulas for dogs of different ages, breed sizes, and dietary needs which makes it easy to select a food that will really be a good fit for your pooch.

  • Mid-range price point
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Positive reviews on retail websites
  • Wide variety of flavors and formulas for different dog types

4. Pinnacle Holistic

Another good mid-to-high end choice of dog food is Pinnacle Holistic. While it may not be as well-known as brands like Blue Buffalo and Natural Balance, it has received extremely high reviews on websites like Amazon, where it currently has a five-star rating for most of its products. Pinnacle dog food formulas are very healthy and made with all-natural holistic ingredients, with names like "Holistic Duck and Potato", "Trout and Sweet Potato", and "Holistic Chicken and Oatmeal" being among their selections. Pinnacle foods are priced from around $50-60 dollars on Amazon, with free shipping included.

  • All natural, holistic ingredients
  • Omega fatty acids
  • Relatively affordable, especially for all-natural ingredients
  • Excellent variety of healthy and flavorful formulas

5. Science Diet

The cheapest brand on this Top 5 list is Hill's Science Diet. While it may be "cheap" compared to the other brands on this list, don't make that your reason for passing this brand up; overall, Science Diet receives highly positive reviews and is formulated with quality ingredients while still maintaining a more competitive price point than many other brands. It is currently priced at about $44 for a 38.5 pound bag from Amazon - that's quite a bargain! In addition, Science Diet is the number one recommended food from veterinarians.

One downside to Science Diet is that it contains both wheat and corn-meal gluten. These ingredients are not easily digestible by many canines and can cause food allergies, so if your dog has trouble with Science Diet, it may be time to move to another brand.

  • Somewhat more affordable than many other premium brands
  • Veterinarian-recommended
  • Quality ingredients
  • Positive reviews
  • Con: Contains wheat and corn-meal gluten

Brands To Avoid

While there are a multitude of excellent dog food brands available - some of which have been named on this list as recommended products - there are also brands that should be avoided for the sake of your dog's health and longevity. Many of these brands are very cheap and are tempting to select based on their price point alone, but the simple fact of the matter is that buying these kinds of products may result in compromising your dog's health and happiness. It may also result in expensive veterinary bills in the future due to digestive, developmental, or physical problems which could have been prevented or minimized by providing your pet with a higher-quality diet.

Here are just a few of the dog food brands that you should probably avoid, or at least research heavily before selecting to ensure that they will not be harmful to your pet's long-term health and dietary needs:

  • Purina
  • Beneful
  • Ol' Roy
  • Pedigree
  • Diamond Dog Food
  • Iams
  • Alpo
  • Kibbles 'n Bits

While there are always exceptions (and some people may contest various brands being on the above list), a good rule is that if the dog food is sold in Walmart or other major department stores, it's probably not advisable as a long-term food choice. While this may be disappointing to those whose primary concern is to save money, bear in mind that in all likelihood you really will save yourself headaches and complications down the road by selecting a food that is most likely to encourage a healthy, happy pet. A quality food now may mean far fewer expensive veterinary visits in the future!


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    • rustedmemory profile image

      David Hamilton 

      4 years ago from Lexington, KY

      You get what you pay for! Too bad I am too broke to buy the good stuff.


    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I'm currently feeding my five months old boerbole with propac and I'm little bit scared for putting my dog in so many dogs diseaes .Any advise for me

    • David Hagar profile imageAUTHOR

      David Hagar 

      4 years ago from Michigan, USA

      jcfenner - Your comment is the first I've heard of that lawsuit, and I don't feel I have enough information to side with either company at this point. I'll keep an eye on the news and see if anything about the "independent" testing ever comes out; I'm fairly skeptical about a lawsuit filed by Purina. But if it does turn out that Blue Buffalo hasn't been honest about their product ingredients, it would certainly merit removing them from this list.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Good information. I'm guilty of using the grocery store brand, but our vet has never made a big deal about it. However, he does yell at me for all the people food my dog gets!

    • jcfenner profile image


      4 years ago from Wisconsin

      I currently feed my dogs Blue Buffalo but with all the talk about Purina testing Blue's food and finding it's filled with chicken by product and grains when they say it's not..I'm thinking looking into other brands. What do you think of Merrick? Iam's came out with a supposedly better food now (Iam's Naturals). Supposedly made with real meat and is grain free. I will be greatly disappointed if I find out I've been spending 56.00 every 3 weeks for the past 4 years on a dog food that's no better than the crap you find in every big box grocery store.

      I want what is best for our dogs. Thoughts? Have you heard about Purina's claims/lawsuit?

    • David Hagar profile imageAUTHOR

      David Hagar 

      4 years ago from Michigan, USA

      Hi Susan, it's true that the brands I listed are on the more expensive side, but I've given my reasons for that in the article. However, I'm definitely open to adding some more affordable brands in an 'Honorable Mention' section - could you let me know what brand you're using so I can do a bit of research? Thanks.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I can't afford any of the brands you have listed in your top five. I do have my 2 Newfoundland dogs on a grain free kibble though that seems to be good for them. I also give them supplements.


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