Selecting the right dog food is one of the most important decisions you can make for your furry friend’s health and wellbeing. With so many options on the market, it can be challenging to determine which brands are truly the best for your pup.
This comprehensive guide compares the top 12 dog food brands of 2022 based on quality of ingredients, nutritional value, safety, and real customer reviews. We’ll go over everything you need to know to choose a high-quality dog food that will keep your best friend happy and healthy.
How to Choose the Best Dog Food Brand for Your Pup
There are several key factors to consider when selecting the ideal dog food for your pet:
Always review the ingredient list and look for whole, natural ingredients like meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables. Avoid fillers like corn, wheat, and soy.
Check that the food meets AAFCO standards and provides balanced nutrition. Look for adequate levels of protein, fat, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.
Allergies and Sensitivities
If your dog has food allergies or sensitivities, select a limited ingredient or hypoallergenic formula.
Age and Size
Choose a formula tailored for your dog’s life stage and size – puppy, adult, senior, or breed-specific.
Some health conditions like obesity or kidney disease require specialized dog food. Consult your vet.
Quality and Safety
Only buy from reputable brands that follow quality control and food safety protocols.
Factor your budget but don’t compromise on quality. Free from artificial additives may cost more.
By keeping these criteria in mind, you’re sure to find a top-notch dog food to keep your pup happy and healthy.
The 12 Best Dog Food Brands of 2022
After extensive research into dog food reviews, expert opinions, brand reputation and quality, we’ve compiled this list of the 12 absolute best dog food brands to feed your pup.
1. American Journey [Most Affordable Quality]
Key Features: Grain-free recipes, raw meat inclusions, limited ingredients for dogs with allergies, made in the USA.
This Chewy-exclusive brand offers premium dog food at an affordable price point. Sourced and manufactured in the USA, American Journey is packed with high-quality proteins and digestible grains and veggies for complete nutrition.
Nutrition: Formulated to meet AAFCO standards with 30% protein and 18% fat minimums. Contains probiotics for digestion and DHA for brain health.
Ingredients: Real meat like chicken, salmon, turkey, or duck is the first ingredient. Whole foods like sweet potatoes, peas, carrots with no corn, wheat or soy.
Range of Formulas: Puppy, adult, senior and breed-specific dry foods plus canned varieties. Grain-free and limited ingredient recipes for allergies.
Price: $$ Very budget-friendly for the quality.
What Customers Say: Thousands of five-star reviews praise the affordable price, quality ingredients, and healthy results. Many report improvements in coat, energy levels, and digestion after switching to this brand.
Bottom line: With quality nutrition at a fraction of the cost of premium brands, American Journey takes our top spot for most affordable quality dog food.
2. Taste of the Wild [Best Grain-Free]
Key Features: Protein-rich, grain-free recipes based on ancestral dog diets, made in the USA.
Taste of the Wild offers grain-free formulas with unique proteins like bison, venison, boar and fish. Designed to mimic what dogs would eat in the wild, this dog food is packed with digestible energy and natural flavors dogs crave.
Nutrition: Guaranteed levels of probiotics and omega fatty acids support immunity and skin/coat health. Antioxidants from fruits and veggies act as natural preservatives.
Ingredients: Real meat, fish or fowl is the first ingredient. Sweet potatoes, peas, tomatoes, blueberries etc. Meat is from sustainable, trusted North American suppliers.
Range of Formulas: Puppy to senior dry foods, wet foods and treats. Grain-free and limited ingredient varieties. High Prairie, Pacific Stream, Sierra Mountain, Wetlands etc.
Price: $$$ Mid-range price for premium grain-free nutrition.
What Customers Say: 88% give five stars for the quality ingredients, protein content, and improved coat, energy, stools etc. Some dogs don’t tolerate peas.
Bottom line: Taste of the Wild offers protein-packed grain-free nutrition inspired by ancestral canine diets. A superb choice for quality and balanced nutrition.
3. Wellness Core [Best Grain-Free for Puppies]
Key Features: High protein grain-free recipes packed with meat and superfoods for puppies to seniors. Made in the USA.
Wellness Core formulas are naturally grain-free and loaded with premium proteins and nutrients for energy, immunity and digestive health. Puppies especially thrive on the DHA for brain development.
Nutrition: At least 34% high-quality protein with 12% fat content. Enhanced with probiotics, antioxidants and omegas. Calcium and phosphorus levels support bone growth.
Ingredients: Deboned chicken, turkey or salmon are the first ingredients. Features superfoods like kale, broccoli, chia seeds etc. No corn, wheat, soy or fillers.
Range of Formulas: Puppy, adult maintenance, weight management, senior. Grain-free wet foods too.
Price: $$$$ A premium price for exceptionally high protein levels.
What Customers Say: 85% give five stars based on seeing notable improvements in pup’s energy, coat shine, muscle growth, stool quality and allergy issues. Some report vomiting.
Bottom line: Wellness Core grain-free formulas packed with meat and superfoods offer complete all life stage nutrition with the protein levels puppies need to thrive.
4. Blue Buffalo [Most Trusted Brand]
Key Features: Real meat is the first ingredient. Cold-formed to preserve nutrients. Formulated by animal nutritionists and veterinarians.
This widely trusted brand offers premium nutrition tailored to each dog’s needs. Cold forming their kibble preserves potency of antioxidants and vitamins.
Nutrition: Protein-rich with carefully balanced carbs, vitamins, minerals for comprehensive nutrition. Enhanced with omegas and antioxidants.
Ingredients: Chicken, beef, lamb or fish meal, followed by whole veggies, fruit, and supplements. Brown rice for carbs. No corn, wheat or soy.
Range of Formulas: Extensive recipes for puppy through senior. Sensitive stomach, healthy weight etc. Canned and treat options too.
Price: $$$ Mid-range pricing given the brand reputation and quality.
What Customers Say: 79% award 5 stars based on excellent results in coat shine, muscle tone, energy, digestion etc. Some report vomiting or allergies.
Bottom line: This trusted brand uses premium ingredients for balanced nutrition tailored to your dog’s needs. Worth the moderate cost.
5. Nature’s Logic [Best Whole Food Focus]
Key Features: Entirely all-natural. Never any synthetic vitamins or minerals. Whole food focus.
Nature’s Logic dog food is unique for relying solely on whole foods for nutrition. You won’t find any synthetic supplements or artificial anything.
Nutrition: Nutrient-rich whole foods offer complete, balanced nutrition. Focus is on digestibility and bioavailability.
Ingredients: Meat, organs, bone, vegetables, seeds etc. No added synthetic minerals, vitamins or preservatives.
Range of Formulas: All life stages. Dry and canned varieties. Some recipes contain millet or sorghum.
Price: $$$$ Among the most pricey due to small-batch production and costly ingredients.
What Customers Say: Those who can afford it rave about the noticeably improved skin, coat, energy and focus. Some dogs show no interest.
Bottom line: Nature’s Logic sets itself apart with a meticulous whole food approach. A pricier option but unparalleled for all-natural quality.
6. Orijen [Highest Protein Grain-Free]
Key Features: Unmatched protein levels from premium animal ingredients. Nourish as nature intended.
Orijen’s “biologically appropriate” recipes contain up to 90% animal ingredients to nourish dogs as close to their natural evolutionary diet as possible.
Nutrition: Also packed with 20% vegetables, botanicals, prebiotics for a balanced grain-free formulation.
Ingredients: Fresh, raw or dried meat, fish, organs and bone make up most of each recipe. Also features fruits, veggies, even nest-laid eggs. No plant protein boosters needed.
Range of Formulas: Several protein-packed recipes for all life stages. Regional Red, Tundra etc. Plus freeze dried and treats.
Price: $$$$ One of the most expensive brands due to the incredibly high meat percentages and unique proteins like boar, bison and catfish.
What Customers Say: Those who can afford it say it’s worth the cost. Dogs thrive on the high protein and limited carbs. Too rich for some pups.
Bottom line: Orijen takes a biologically appropriate approach with industry-leading protein levels from premium ingredients. Worth it for dogs thriving on high protein.
7. Castor & Pollux [Best Organic]
Key features: Organic, ethically raised meats and sustainably farmed veggies. Grain-free and raw infused recipes.
Castor & Pollux organic formulas feature free range, grass fed meats and organic fruits and vegetables. A superb option for pet parents wanting cleaner ingredients.
Nutrition: Non-GMO superfoods deliver antioxidant rich complete nutrition. Prebiotics and fatty acids nourish digestion and skin.
Ingredients: Organic chicken, lamb etc plus antioxidant-rich produce like spinach and sweet potatoes. Some grain-free and raw-infused recipes.
Range of Formulas: Dry and canned recipes for puppies through adult dogs.
Price: $$$$ Among the most costly due to organic ingredients.
What Customers Say: Most feel it’s worth paying more for the peace of mind organic brings. Dogs enjoy taste and digest easily. Helps reduce shedding.
Bottom line: For organic quality, Castor & Pollux formulas with ethical meats, superfoods and raw infusions are worth the splurge.
8. Nutro [Best for Skin and Coat]
Key Features: Tailored nutrition with vitamins and minerals for healthy skin and a shiny coat. Non-GMO.
Nutro dry and wet dog food formulas are designed to nourish skin and coat with the right balance of proteins, fats, fiber and vitamins. A great choice for dogs prone to dry or itchy skin and dull coats.
Nutrition: Sunflower oil provides healthy fats. Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health. Probiotics aid digestion.
Ingredients: Features real chicken, lamb etc. as first ingredients. Whole grain rice, barley or oats. Veggies and fruits. No corn, wheat or soy.
Range of Formulas: Puppy, adult, senior and breed specific recipes. Skin and coat treats.
Price: $$ Budget friendly for the quality.
What Customers Say: 75% award 5 stars based on notable improvements to dull, dry skin and coarse coats after switching to Nutro. Some dogs did not like taste.
Bottom line: With tailored nutrition enriched with vitamins and minerals, Nutro delivers healthy skin and shiny coat support.
9. Canidae [Best Limited Ingredient]
Key Features: Limited ingredient recipes ideal for dogs with food sensitivities. Grain and gluten free options.
Canidae removes everything nonessential to simplify formulas for dogs with allergies. Excellent for sensitive dogs who react to certain proteins, grains etc.
Nutrition: Potato, sweet potato or brown rice provide gentle carbs. Formulated with probiotics, vitamins and minerals for full nutrition.
Ingredients: One novel protein source like duck, salmon, or lamb. Wholesome grains, fruits and vegetables. Nothing extra.
Range of Formulas: Several limited ingredient dry and canned varieties. Plus treats.
Price: $$ Affordable for the niche formulas.
What Customers Say: 73% award 5 stars for resolving skin issues and digestive upset. Dull coats became soft and shiny. Some odor improvements.
Bottom line: Canidae’s limited ingredient approach is a lifesaver for dogs with sensitivities or allergies. Quality nutrition without triggers.
10. Instinct [Best Raw Food]
Key Features: Raw coated kibble provides natural enzymes. Grain-free. Made with ranch raised, cage-free ingredients.
Instinct combines the convenience of kibble with benefits of raw. Each piece is coated with freeze-dried raw meat and wholesome oils to naturally support digestion and immunity.
Nutrition: High animal protein levels support an active lifestyle. Fruits and vegetables provide natural fiber. Probiotics aid digestion.
Ingredients: Raw coated kibble features real beef, chicken, lamb etc plus sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries and coconut oil. No grain, corn, wheat, or soy.
Range of Formulas: Puppy to senior recipes including grain-free and limited ingredient. Raw diets also available.
Price: $$$$ Among the most expensive but fans say worth it.
What Customers Say: Dogs love the taste and owners appreciate balanced nutrition with the benefits of raw. Some report softer stools. Expensive.
Bottom line: Instinct Raw Boost combines 100% raw natural nutrition with the convenience of kibble. A superb choice for pet owners wanting to feed raw.
11. Merrick [Best for Senior Dogs]
Key Features: Tailored senior dog recipes with glucosamine, omega oils and probiotics. Grain free options.
Merrick offers recipes with ingredients and nutrients needed by senior dogs like glucosamine for joint health, probiotics and easily digestible protein.
Nutrition: Moderate protein and fat levels suitable for less active seniors. Features joint-supporting compounds. Lower calories.
Ingredients: Deboned chicken, salmon etc plus potatoes, peas and sweet potatoes for grain-free carbs. Superfood additions like turmeric.
Range of Formulas: Several senior-specific dry food and wet food recipes. Some grain-free choices.
Price: $$$ Mid-range pricing.
What Customers Say: 74% award 5 stars for the way these formulas help aging dogs maintain energy, mobility and ideal weight. Some mild stomach upsets reported.
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Bottom line: Merrick’s senior dog recipes provide tailored nutrition including glucosamine and probiotics to support joint health and digestion.
12. Purina Pro Plan [Veterinarian Recommended]
Key Features: Veterinarian-recommended recipes precisely balanced for each life stage. Research-backed nutrition.
This trusted brand offers veterinarian backed formulas containing optimized protein, fat and carbs for peak health and vitality at every age. Research-driven nutrition you can feel confident about.
Nutrition: Formulated with a balance of protein and fat tailored life stage needs. Probiotic fiber supports digestion. Enriched with vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients: Features real poultry, meat or fish as first ingredient. Whole grains like rice, barley and oatmeal. Veggies like carrots and peas.
Range of Formulas: Extensive selection of dry and wet recipes for puppies through senior dogs. Size, breed and condition specific formulas.
Price: $ Lower priced than premium brands but backed by science.
What Customers Say: With an 86% 5 star rating, pet owners say ProPlan delivers balanced nutrition vet recommended for optimal health at every life stage.
Bottom line: You can trust the research behind Purina Pro Plan’s precise protein and calorie levels to meet your dog’s needs. A top choice vet recommended food.
How to Transition Dog Food Brands
Switching your dog to a new food brand should be done gradually over 5-7 days to allow their digestive system to adjust.
Follow these steps for a smooth transition:
- On days 1-2 mix 75% old food with 25% new food.
- On days 3-4 do 50% old food, 50% new food.
- On days 5-7 do 25% old food, 75% new food.
- After day 7 feed 100% new food.
Go slowly and if you see any digestive upset, ease up on the ratios. Monitor stool quality for improvement.
Buying and Feeding Tips
Follow these guidelines to get the most out of your chosen dog food brand:
- Compare prices online and at major retailers. Sign up for brand websites and Chewy.com to get discounts on regular purchases. Buy larger bags to save but watch expiration dates.
- Unless specified by your vet, follow package feeding guidelines based on your dog’s ideal weight. Adjust up or down to maintain optimal weight and body condition.
- Store in a cool, dry place. Put dog food in an airtight container to retain freshness and prevent bugs.
- If your dog has any refusal, upset stomach, or other reactions to a new food, stop feeding immediately and call your veterinarian. Transition slowly to the next brand.
- Monitor energy levels, coat quality, eyes, skin, and stool quality for indications your dog food is providing balanced nutrition. Adjust quantity or try another recipe if needed.
- For puppies, feed 3-4 times a day. Adults twice a day, but adjust as needed to maintain ideal weight. Don’t free-feed.
- Always provide fresh water available at all times. Change water frequently.
Investing in a high-
quality dog food from a reputable brand is one of the best health decisions you can make for your furry best friend. While premium brands come at a higher cost, they offer superior nutrition, tailored formulas and premium ingredients you simply can’t find in cheap dog foods.
Prioritize quality especially in puppy and senior dog foods, where nutrition is critical. Follow our transition tips, storage guidelines and feeding best practices to get the most from your investment.
Monitor your dog closely and adjust recipes or quantities until their energy, eyes, skin, coat and stools indicate they are thriving on their diet. Consult your veterinarian for any concerns.
We hope our detailed, side-by-side analysis of the 12 best dog food brands of 2022 gives you confidence in choosing the ideal formulas to keep your pup happy and healthy all year long!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the healthiest dog food brand?
There is no definitive “healthiest” brand, but our top picks for premium quality are Taste of the Wild, Orijen, Canidae limited ingredient formulas, Castor & Pollux organic, Nature’s Logic whole food recipes and Instinct Raw Boost. Always check labels for quality ingredients, expiration dates and proper nutrition.
Is it OK to mix two different dog food brands?
It’s fine to mix two high-quality dog food brands or formulas together during the transition process. Just go slowly to avoid digestive upset. Once transitioned though, stick to one formula for at least 2-3 months to properly gauge its effects and avoid complications from constantly changing foods.
When should I switch my puppy to adult dog food?
Follow your puppy formula until your pup reaches around 80% of their expected adult weight – usually between 9 and 15 months old depending on breed. Ask your veterinarian for the ideal time to transition to adult dog food based on their growth rate and breed size. Transition slowly over 5-7 days.
What dog food ingredients should I avoid?
Avoid meat by-products, unspecified animal sources (“meat meal”), artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, and fillers like corn, soy, wheat, sugar and artificial colors or flavors. Look for identifiable whole food ingredients like chicken, brown rice, peas, sweet potatoes etc.
Why does my dog need grain-free food?
Dogs generally don’t require grain-free food unless they have a specific grain intolerance, allergy or sensitivity. Grains themselves don’t cause problems unless of poor quality. Focus instead on choosing whole grains like barley, brown rice and oatmeal which are easily digestible.
Is raw dog food better than kibble?
Raw food diets can have benefits but also carry risks of pathogenic bacteria if not handled properly. Kibble offers convenience and is safer for most owners. The best of both worlds is a nutritionally balanced kibble containing some raw food inclusions like Instinct Raw Boost formulas. Discuss with your vet.
What is the most affordable high quality dog food?
You can find great deals on premium brands if you watch for sales, buy in bulk, use coupons and shop at online retailers like Chewy.com. But our top pick for affordable quality is American Journey dog food offered exclusively at Chewy for savings of 25-30% off comparable foods.