Picking the Healthiest Dog Food Brand for Your Pup: The Ultimate 2023 Comparison

Choosing the right dog food is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a pet parent. The proper nutrition provides Fido with the building blocks for a healthy, active life. But with so many dog food brands on the market, how do you decide which one is best?

This comprehensive guide compares the top 10 best dog food brands of 2023. We evaluated each brand based on key factors including ingredients, processing methods, recalls, reviews, and value. Our side-by-side analysis makes it easy to see which brands rise above the rest to provide the highest quality nutrition tailored to your dog’s needs.

Outline of the 10 Best Dog Food Brands in 2023


  • Overview of the dog food market and key purchasing considerations
  • Our criteria for rating and ranking the top 10 brands
  • What to look for when choosing the healthiest dog food brand

Brand Reviews and Comparison Tables

Wellness CORE

  • Overview of brand values and product lines
  • Ingredients and nutrition quality
  • Recall history
  • Pricing and value
  • Pros and cons

Taste of the Wild

  • Overview of brand values and key product lines
  • Ingredients used and nutrition quality
  • Recall history
  • Cost analysis and value
  • Pros and cons


  • Summary of brand and ideals
  • Ingredient sources and nutritional value
  • Recall frequency and controversy
  • Affordability and pricing options
  • Pros and cons


  • Brand background and philosophies
  • Ingredient quality and nutritional standards
  • Recall incidents and transparency
  • Price ranges and affordability
  • Pros and cons


  • Background on WellPet’s brands and facilities
  • Examination of ingredients and nutrient profiles
  • Recall history and quality control
  • Pricing strategies and product lines
  • Pros and cons

Purina Pro Plan

  • Overview of brand history and manufacturing
  • Ingredient sourcing and nutrition analysis
  • Recall frequency and consumer trust
  • Cost considerations and product availability
  • Pros and cons


  • Brand overview and company vision
  • Nutritional standards and ingredient quality
  • Recall incidents and response
  • Price point accessibility
  • Pros and cons

Hill’s Science Diet

  • Brand ethos and approach to pet nutrition
  • Ingredient selection criteria and nutritional balance
  • Recall situations and brand reputation
  • Cost comparison across product lines
  • Pros and cons


  • Background on Nutro and manufacturing facilities
  • Natural ingredient sourcing and nutritional philosophy
  • Recall incidents and brand integrity
  • Affordability across product lines
  • Pros and cons

Diamond Pet Foods

  • Overview of brand history and facilities
  • Nutritional standards and quality controls
  • Recall incidents and response
  • Value and pricing options
  • Pros and cons


  • Final recommendations on the healthiest brands for your pup
  • Summary of key factors in choosing a high-quality dog food

How to Choose the Healthiest Dog Food Brand: What to Look For

Picking the optimal dog food goes beyond just reading the label. You need to evaluate multiple factors that contribute to providing complete, balanced nutrition tailored to your dog’s needs. Here are the criteria we used to compare and rate the top 10 best dog food brands:

Ingredient Quality

The first five ingredients should be high-quality animal or fish proteins like chicken, beef, salmon etc. Whole meats, meat meals, and fish meals provide better nutrition than plant proteins like pea or potato protein. Avoid fillers like corn, wheat, soy, and by-products.

Nutritional Standards

Look for brands that formulate recipes to meet AAFCO standards for complete, balanced nutrition profiles. Avoid artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. Seek out natural antioxidants like vitamin E and whole food sources.

Manufacturing Processes

The highest quality kibbles use gentler, slower cooking methods to preserve nutrients. Look for words like “low temperature” on the bag. Many top brands manufacture their own food in company-owned facilities.

Recall History

Responsible companies are transparent about any recalls and quality testing procedures. Limited recalls indicate strong safety protocols and quality control.

Customer Reviews

Read feedback from other pet parents about their dogs’ health, taste preferences, digestibility, and improvements after switching to the brand. But be wary of fake reviews.

Pricing and Value

Higher priced brands generally invest more into high-quality ingredients and processes. But great nutrition doesn’t have to break the bank. Compare cost per pound/per day across brands.

By keeping these factors in mind as you evaluate each brand, you’ll identify the healthiest option that fits your budget and provides real benefits for your pup!

Wellness CORE Dog Food Review

Wellness CORE leads the pack when it comes to premium nutrition without compromise. Their grain-free recipes packed with named proteins and probiotics set a new standard for natural pet food.


Launched in 1997, Wellness pioneered the natural, science-backed pet food segment. Wellness CORE debuted in 2003 as their protein-focused, completely grain-free line. Recipes are crafted in company-owned facilities in Indiana with majority ingredients sourced from North America.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 5/5

  • Protein-rich, grain-free recipes with premium animal proteins as first ingredients
  • Includes probiotics, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids for digestion and immunity
  • No meat by-products, fillers, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Meets AAFCO standards for all life stages

Recall History: 5/5

No history of recalls shows stringent safety and quality control protocols.

Reviews: 4.5/5

  • Praise from pet parents on improved energy, skin, coats, and digestive health
  • Some picky eaters dislike the low grain content
  • Issues resolving quickly via helpful customer service

Pricing: 4/5

Higher cost reflects premium ingredients and production standards. Competitively priced for the quality.


  • Nutrient dense recipes perfect for active, working dogs
  • Noticeable improvements to energy, skin, coat, eyes
  • Natural probiotics support healthy digestion
  • Company owned and operated production


  • Higher cost may not fit all budgets
  • Some recipes contain common allergens
  • Pickier dogs may dislike low grain formulas

Wellness CORE clearly lives up to its name with protein-packed grain-free recipes loaded with probiotics and natural nutrients for complete health. Their uncompromising quality standards result in premium nutrition you can feel good about feeding your dog.

Taste of the Wild Dog Food Review

This family-owned company harvests inspiration from wild ancestors to formulate nutrient-dense recipes guided by your dog’s natural diet. Their formulas feature quality proteins and proprietary probiotic blends for flavor and digestibility.


Made by Diamond Pet Foods, Taste of the Wild launched in 2007 to deliver high protein pet food featuring quality meat sources and nutritional science. Recipes simulate diets of wild pack animals with grain-free formulas inspired by each region.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 4/5

  • Formulated around premium proteins like bison, salmon, boar, lamb, venison etc.
  • Grain-free with nutritious fruits, vegetables, legumes, and antioxidants
  • Uses proprietary K9 Strain probiotics for digestion and immunity
  • Meets AAFCO nutritional standards

Recall History: 3/5

Diamond recalls in 2012 and 2018 involved some Taste of the Wild products due to potential salmonella contamination. Prompt action taken to resolve issues.

Reviews: 4/5

  • Noticed improvements in skin, coat, energy levels, and digestion
  • Picky dogs love the taste and lick bowls clean
  • Some mild stomach upsets switching proteins

Pricing: 4.5/5

Very affordable for the high-quality ingredients and formulation. Retails below average for premium brands.


  • Features novel proteins like boar, bison, duck for less common allergens
  • Added probiotics improve digestion
  • Grain-free carbohydrates from sweet potatoes, lentils etc.
  • High taste and palatability even for picky eaters
  • Very affordable for the quality


  • Some concerns over Diamond manufacturer recalls
  • Occasional changes in stool consistency
  • Limited size and life stage options

With exotic proteins inspired by ancestral diets and tailored nutrition, Taste of the Wild provides outstanding quality and value. Their uniquely formulated recipes help even the pickiest pups thrive.

CANIDAE Dog Food Review

This family-owned company partners with local farms to create premium pet food with simple, natural ingredients. Their “Clean Protein Philosophy” guides an emphasis on digestibility and whole food nutrition.


Founded in 1996 by Scott and Diana Whittaker, CANIDAE sources ingredients from trusted ranches to craft natural, affordable pet food. Recipes are produced in company-owned facilities in Texas using a gentler “Lead, Feed, Succeed” approach.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 4/5

  • Features premium proteins as first ingredients
  • Whole food carbohydrates like brown rice, barley, sweet potatoes
  • Fortified with probiotics, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Recall History: 3/5

A 2007 recall was due to potential melamine contamination. CANIDAE acted swiftly, enhancing safety protocols to restore consumer confidence.

Reviews: 4/5

  • Owners praise improved digestion, skin, coat on sensitive dogs
  • Some dogs don’t care for taste/smell of grain-inclusive recipes
  • Good value for ingredients that didn’t break the budget

Pricing: 5/5

Very affordable pricing given the quality ingredients and processes used. Great for budget-conscious pet parents.


  • Wholesome recipes loaded with premium proteins
  • Fortified with probiotics for easy digestion
  • Affordable pricing accessible to wider demographic
  • Family-owned company with farm-to-bowl traceability


  • Slightly more carbohydrates than pure ancestral diet
  • Limited grain-free options
  • Occasional changes in stools when transitioning

CANIDAE delivers quality nutrition from locally sourced ingredients. Their natural recipes provide gentle digestibility at affordable price points for health-conscious pet parents.

Merrick Dog Food Review

Merrick crafts recipes that balance old world cooking traditions with leading-edge nutrition to create the best of both worlds—authentic quality at a foods-based level.


Founded in 1988 in Hereford, Texas, Merrick believes passionately in creating nutritious food with trusted ingredients. Recipes are cooked in small batches at their own Texas and New York kitchens then combined with hand-selected fruits and vegetables.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 5/5

  • Features deboned meat, fish, and poultry as first ingredients
  • Grain-free options use sweet potatoes, peas, or tapioca
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Backed by in-house veterinary nutrition experts

Recall History: 5/5

No history of recalls shows rigorously controlled sourcing and production.

Reviews: 4.5/5

  • Owners describe shinier coats, better digestion, increased energy
  • Picky pups love the taste and aroma
  • Some concerns over softer stools

Pricing: 4/5

Higher than average but competitive for the premium quality. Worth the investment for many owners.


  • Deboned meats and canned meats boost protein levels
  • Added glucosamine/chondroitin for joint health
  • Potent probiotic strains aid digestion
  • Rigorous safety protocols to avoid recalls
  • Independent, family-owned company


  • Higher cost for premium ingredients and processes
  • Some dogs experience looser stools
  • Limited exotic protein options

Merrick delivers the best of both worlds for pets and pet parents. Their recipes blend wholesome natural foods and proven nutritional science for optimal canine health.

WellPet Dog Food Review

This pioneering pet food company combines vet-formulated nutrition with sustainably sourced ingredients for WOOF: wholesome, original, organic, and fresh recipes tailored to each life stage.


Formed by the combination of Wellness, Holistic Select, Eagle Pack, and Old Mother Hubbard, WellPet is the wellness pet food company. Recipes are manufactured in company facilities in Indiana, Illinois, Canada, and the Netherlands.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 5/5

  • Features lean proteins like deboned chicken, salmon, lamb etc.
  • Natural grain-free carbohydrates
  • Enriched with guaranteed levels of probiotics
  • Formulated by in-house veterinary nutritionists

Recall History: 4/5

A limited recall in March 2017 due to potential elevated beef thyroid hormone levels. Prompt action taken.

Reviews: 4/5

  • Improved skin, coat, energy levels, digestion on sensitive pups
  • Some picky eaters dislike taste or smell
  • Customer service resolves issues quickly

Pricing: 4/5

Higher than grocery brands but very competitive for premium natural nutrition. Worth it for many pet parents.


  • Veterinary formulated recipes for optimal health
  • Natural ingredients with strict quality control
  • Probiotics and guaranteed levels of DHA for brain
  • Company owned and operated production


  • Cost is higher but competitive for quality
  • Some finicky pups dislike taste
  • Limited protein/carb options

By combining food-based nutrition with science-backed formulations, WellPet delivers premium quality tailored to your dog’s needs. Their natural ingredients and vet expertise promote health and happiness.

Purina Pro Plan Dog Food Review

Purina Pro Plan provides outstanding nutrition formulated for each lifestage, breed size, and health need. Their recipes are backed by over 85 years of canine research and feed trials.


Part of Nestle Purina PetCare, Pro Plan is founded on research into advanced canine nutrition. Recipes are manufactured in company-owned facilities in the U.S using high protein, prebiotic-rich ingredients tailored by life stage.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 4/5

  • Features real meat, fish or poultry as #1 ingredient
  • Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics for digestion
  • DHA from fish oil for brain/vision development
  • Formulated by Purina scientists and veterinarians

Recall History: 4.5/5

Very limited isolated recalls involving a few products. Swift action taken to resolve issues.

Reviews: 4.5/5

  • Noticeably improved energy levels, skin, coats
  • Picky dogs love the taste
  • Some concerns over corn, wheat, soy in formulas

Pricing: 5/5

Very affordable, with regular sales and coupons available. Great for budget-conscious owners.


  • Veterinary and scientifically formulated recipes
  • Fortified with guaranteed probiotics
  • Specific lines tailored by life stage and breed
  • Highly palatable even for picky eaters
  • Very affordable pricing


  • Some formulas contain corn, wheat, soy fillers
  • Mixed reviews on taste for some dogs
  • Changes in stools when transitioning

With advanced nutrition formulated for each lifestage and breed size, Pro Plan delivers proven results. Their expertise provides a lifetime of health at very affordable costs.

IAMS Dog Food Review

Guiding dogs to good health since 1946, IAMS crafts vet-approved recipes backed by clinical research into advanced nutrition. Their proven formulas range from puppy to mature to fit each need.


Founded by Paul Iams as a animal nutrition lab, IAMS has perfected the balance of natural ingredients and clinical science to enhance pet wellbeing. Recipes are produced in company-owned facilities in Ohio, Nebraska, and North Carolina.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 3.5/5

  • Features named poultry, meat, or fish as first ingredient
  • Added carbohydrates like brewers rice and corn
  • Enriched with nutrients like glucosamine and antioxidants
  • Tested in IAMS pet health centers

Recall History: 4/5

Limited recalls related to potential salmonella (2010) and aflatoxin (2013) contamination. Prompt action taken to resolve issues.

Reviews: 3.5/5

  • Improved skin, coat, digestion, stools on many dogs
  • Some report lower palatability and increased shedding
  • Affordability praised

Pricing: 5/5

Very affordable, often significantly lower than competing premium brands.


  • Prices are very affordable for buyers on a budget
  • Formulated to meet nutritional standards for each life stage
  • Added joint support nutrients
  • Research tested in Iams pet centers


  • Some concerns over chicken by-product meal
  • Uses inexpensive fillers like corn, wheat
  • Lower palatability for picky eaters

With time-tested recipes formulated for each lifestage, IAMS provides quality nutrition at very wallet-friendly price points to enhance your dog’s health.

Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food Review

Guided by science to provide precisely balanced nutrition, Hill’s crafts recipes backed by 220+ PhD nutritionists and veterinarians using high quality ingredients.


Founded in 1939 by Dr. Mark Morris Sr., Hill’s has pioneered clinically proven nutrition to enhance and lengthen pets’ lives. Recipes are produced in company-owned facilities in the U.

S. using high quality natural ingredients and advanced food technologies.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 4/5

  • Features chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, eggs as primary proteins
  • Natural grain-free carbohydrates like peas and tapioca
  • Fortified with essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids
  • Developed by PhD nutritionists and vets

Recall History: 4.5/5

Very limited recalls related to potential excess vitamin D (2010). Issues swiftly addressed.

Reviews: 4/5

  • Owners see improved digestion, skin, coats, energy
  • Some concerns about ingredients like corn, wheat
  • Palatability issues for picky pups

Pricing: 3.5/5

Moderate pricing, but costs more than grocery brands. Worth it for many pet parents.


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  • Clinically tested recipes by PhD and vets
  • Proven to improve signs of health
  • Fortified with vitamins, minerals, amino acids
  • Effective therapeutic diets for conditions


  • Some use of corn, wheat other fillers
  • Higher cost than grocery brands
  • Mixed palatability for picky eaters

Hill’s clinically proven recipes provide tailored nutrition to enhance health, longevity, and quality of life for your dog. Their science-backed formulations promote optimal wellbeing.

Nutro Dog Food Review

Guided by their nutritional philosophy of feeding clean, simple, natural recipes, Nutro enhances pets’ wellbeing through high quality ingredients and purposeful products.


Part of Mars Petcare, Nutro has perfected the balance between natural nutrition and convenience since 1926. Their kitchens craft small batch dry food and treats using premium ingredients from trusted sources.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 4/5

  • Features farm-raised chicken, lamb, fish etc as first ingredients
  • Grain-inclusive recipes use brown rice, barley, oats
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Backed by animal nutritionists and veterinarians

Recall History: 3.5/5

Isolated recalls in 2015 related to potential mold contamination. Swift action taken to resolve issues.

Reviews: 4/5

  • Shiny coats, improved digestion and energy praised
  • Picky dogs love the taste and aroma
  • Concerns over ingredient splitting

Pricing: 4/5

Competitively priced for a premium natural brand with regular sales/deals.


  • Made with non-GMO ingredients
  • Natural antioxidants support immunity
  • Probiotics aid digestion
  • Noticeable improvements to skin, coat, energy


  • Questionable ingredient splitting
  • Limited high protein, grain-free formulas
  • Some recipes contain corn, wheat

Nutro delivers premium natural nutrition guided by quality ingredients and purposeful products. Their simple recipes help pets thrive at various life stages.

Diamond Pet Foods Review

Providing quality nutrition since 1970, Diamond crafts recipes across dozens of brands, guided by the belief that pets and people deserve affordable, natural formulas.


A family-owned company started in 1970, Diamond makes premium food across four U.S. facilities for brands like Taste of the Wild, Diamond Naturals, Kirkland. Their massive production allows economy of scale.

Nutrition & Ingredients: 3.5/5

  • Features named proteins like chicken, lamb, beef
  • Uses inexpensive fillers like rice, corn, wheat
  • Has some grain-free and limited ingredient formulas
  • Fortified with vitamins and antioxidants

Recall History: 2.5/5

Multiple recalls due to salmonella between 2005-2015 show need for improved quality control. But problems seem to be resolved in recent years.

Reviews: 3.5/5

  • Noticeable improvements to skin, coats
  • Affordability makes premium diet accessible
  • Some concerns around ingredients used

Pricing: 5/5

Very affordable, especially for grain-inclusive recipes. Great for budget-conscious owners.


  • Very affordable pricing, even for large dogs
  • Formulated to meet AAFCO standards
  • Some grain-free and limited ingredient formulas


  • Numerous recalls from 2005-2015
  • Corn, wheat, soy fillers in many recipes
  • Production outsourced across facilities

Diamond provides satisfactory nutrition at very wallet-friendly prices. While their large scale production increases risks, they offer convenience and affordability.

Key Takeaways – Choosing the Healthiest Dog Food Brand for Your Pup

Picking the right dog food brand goes beyond just price or ingredients. You need to balance factors like quality, safety, reviews, and affordability. Here are the key takeaways from our 2023 comparison:

  • Ingredients – Prioritize named proteins like chicken, lamb as first ingredients. Avoid artificial additives or fillers like corn, wheat, soy.
  • Nutrition – Look for recipes formulated by vets and scientists that meet AAFCO standards for complete, balanced nutrition.
  • Production – Brands that self-manufacture in company-owned facilities generally have better quality control.
  • **Recalls **- Limited, isolated recalls indicate safety and rigorously enforced protocols. Multiple large-scale recalls could indicate systemic issues.
  • Reviews – Feedback from other pet parents provides real-world benefits across parameters like skin, coat, energy level, taste, stool consistency.
  • Pricing – You often get what you pay for with dog food. But some brands like Taste of the Wild still offer great value for the quality.

While Wellness CORE led our ratings with their uncompromising quality and standards, each brand has strengths and weaknesses that could fit your individual needs and budget. Use our detailed reviews as a guide while factoring in your own dog’s preferences and requirements.

Providing Fido with the building blocks for an active, healthy life starts with the ideal nutritional foundation. We hope this definitive dog food brand comparison for 2023 helps you pick the healthiest option tailored perfectly for your pup!

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