Choosing the right dog food is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your furry friend’s health and wellbeing. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which brand is truly the best for your beloved pup.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ve researched over 75 top dog food brands to bring you our picks for the 15 best dog foods for healthy adult dogs and puppies. We evaluated each brand on ingredients, nutritional value, pricing, recalls, manufacturing, and real customer reviews.
Whether you’re looking for dry kibble or wet canned foods, grain-free or limited ingredient recipes, organic or veterinarian prescribed diets – we cover it all. Read on for detailed reviews of our top recommendations, along with an expert buyer’s guide to help you find the ideal dog food for your pup!
How We Chose the Best Dog Food Brands
With countless dog food options out there, we developed a rigorous testing methodology to select the best of the best. Here are the key factors we evaluated:
- Ingredients: We analyzed the quality of ingredients, looking for whole meats, fruits and veggies as the first ingredients. We avoided artificial preservatives, colors and flavors.
- Nutritional Value: We chose balanced formulas meeting AAFCO standards with optimal protein, fat and carbs for energy. Recipes high in omega fatty acids were preferred.
- Product Safety: We examined each brand’s track record for recalls and quality control issues. Our top picks have excellent safety records.
- Manufacturing: We favored USA-made recipes produced in company-owned facilities under tight controls. Transparency around manufacturing was valued.
- Customer Reviews: Real reviews from dog owners provided key insights into their pup’s health, energy and cravings on the food. Brands with consistently positive feedback ranked higher.
- Price vs Value: We found options across budget ranges, ensuring you get optimal nutrition and quality at any price point.
Using this multi-point inspection process, we separated the best from the rest. Keep reading for reviews of our top recommended dog food brands!
15 Best Dog Food Brands for Healthy Dogs
1. American Journey Active Life Formula
- Grain-free recipe with added glucosamine & chondroitin
- High in protein and omega fatty acids
- Made in the USA
American Journey offers premium dog food at budget-friendly prices. Their Active Life Formula gets top marks for its optimal protein and fat levels to fuel your active pup. Deboned chicken and turkey provide lean protein, while sweet potatoes and chickpeas add carbohydrate energy and fiber.
This grain-free recipe also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health. Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies provide natural sources for vitamins and minerals. With excellent quality at a great value, this formula tops our list.
2. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free
- Grain-free recipe with smoked salmon as first ingredient
- Probiotics added for digestive health
- Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat
This premium grain-free formula from Taste of the Wild features smoked salmon as its number one ingredient, providing optimal protein for energy and muscle maintenance. Legumes like peas and lentils offer carbohydrate energy.
Natural sources of probiotics support healthy digestion. A blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids nourish your pup’s skin and coat. With excellent nutritional value using quality ingredients, this salmon-based recipe is a winner.
3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dog Food
- Whole chicken is the first ingredient
- Contains glucosamine for joint health
- Made without corn, wheat or soy
This popular recipe from Blue Buffalo contains delicious deboned chicken as its first ingredient, providing high-quality protein. Whole grains like brown rice and barley offer carbohydrate energy, along with healthy fruits and vegetables.
It contains an optimal blend of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to nourish skin and coat. Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin support joint, hip and mobility health. Made without corn, wheat or soy, this formula provides complete and balanced nutrition.
4. Wellness Core Original Turkey & Chicken
- 38% protein, 12% fat ratio
- Contains probiotics and antioxidants
- Made in the USA
With an optimal balance of 38% protein and 12% fat, this grain-free formula provides excellent nutrition for energic medium to large breed dogs. It features deboned turkey and chicken as the first ingredients.
Added probiotics support healthy digestion, while antioxidants from fruits and veggies promote a healthy immune system. It’s made in the USA with meticulous quality standards. While one of the pricier options, it delivers outstanding nutritional value.
5. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice
- Real salmon is the #1 ingredient
- Fortified with live probiotics
- Contains omega-3 fatty acids
This specialized formula contains premium salmon as the first ingredient, making it a great choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies. The single animal protein source avoids common allergens.
It’s fortified with guaranteed live probiotics to support digestive and immune health. Omega-3 fatty acids nourish the skin and coat. While a pricier name brand, users say it’s been a “miracle food” for dogs with chronic stomach/skin issues.
6. Merrick Grain Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Grain-free with deboned chicken as first ingredient
- Gluten free and limited ingredients
- Made in the USA
Merrick crafts this grain-free recipe with deboned chicken as the first ingredient, offering a quality protein source. Sweet potatoes provide fiber and carbohydrate energy.
There are limited ingredients to minimize food sensitivities. It’s gluten free and contains industry leading levels of omega fatty acids for skin and coat health. Made in the USA with top-quality ingredients, it’s a great choice for many breeds.
7. Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin
- Grain-free with farm-raised chicken as first ingredient
- Contains probiotics and natural fiber
- Made in the USA
This grain-free recipe from Nature’s Recipe contains farm-raised chicken as its number one ingredient, offering a concentrated source of protein.
Nutrient-rich sweet potatoes and pumpkin provide fiber, vitamins and minerals. It’s fortified with guaranteed probiotics for digestion. With quality ingredients made in the USA, it provides complete nutrition in a limited ingredient formula.
8. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Lamb & Rice Formula
- Formulated for large breeds with glucosamine
- Lamb meal is first ingredient
- Probiotics added for digestion
Designed especially for large breeds, this formula from Diamond Naturals has lamb meal as the first ingredient, providing an optimal protein level.
It contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support which is crucial for large dogs. Guaranteed probiotics aid digestion. With quality ingredients at a budget price, it’s a great choice for big dogs with big appetites!
9. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe
- Veterinarian recommended formula
- Prebiotic fiber technology for digestive health
- Contains omega-6s and vitamin E for skin
This specialty formula from veterinarian recommended Hill’s Science Diet contains both prebiotic fiber and omega-6 fatty acids to nourish sensitive skin. It also utilizes “prebiotic fiber technology” to promote regular digestion.
While made with quality ingredients, this brand has faced some criticism over its use of synthetic vitamin K. But for dogs with chronic stomach and allergy issues, pet owners say it can provide welcome relief.
10. Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken & Rice Adult Formula
- Real chicken is the first ingredient
- Blended with rice, barley and oats
- Natural sources of glucosamine
Purina ONE blends real chicken with grains like rice, barley and oats for an optimal protein-carb balance. It contains guaranteed levels of glucosamine for joint health.
Natural fiber sources like beet pulp promote healthy digestion. While not as high-end as some pricier brands, SmartBlend provides quality nutrition at a more budget-friendly price point.
11. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken
- Designed for large breeds
- Non-GMO ingredients
- Made in the USA
Nutro crafted this recipe specifically for large breeds, using farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient. It’s optimized with glucosamine and chondroitin to support big dogs’ joint health.
Non-GMO ingredients provide quality nutrition you can feel good about. Made in the USA, it hits the nutritional marks while keeping within a more affordable price range.
12. CANIDAE All Life Stages Premium Dog Food
- Formulated for all life stages
- Whole foods recipe
- Made in Texas
This premium formula from CANIDAE contains a protein-packed blend of chicken, turkey, lamb and fish meals as the first ingredients. It’s uniquely formulated for all life stages from puppies to seniors.
Whole foods like brown rice, barley, peas and sweet potatoes provide natural sources of carbohydrates and fiber. It’s proudly crafted in Texas facilities. An excellent choice for multi-dog homes with all ages.
13. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free
- Grain-free with chicken meal as first ingredient
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
- Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for skin and coat
This high protein, grain-free formula from Blue Buffalo provides a concentrated source of protein from chicken meal as the first ingredient. It contains optimum levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to support joints.
The grain-free recipe includes carbohydrate energy from peas and sweet potatoes. With boosted protein and lower carbs, it’s great for energetic dogs. Contains Blue’s special blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
14. Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken
- Grain-free with cage-free chicken as first ingredient
- Made in the USA
- Freeze-dried raw food coated kibble
This protein-packed recipe from Instinct contains real cage-free chicken as the first ingredient. It combines the convenience of kibble with the benefits of raw food via freeze-dried pieces.
The grain-free formula avoids common allergens like corn and wheat. It’s made in the USA with the highest quality standards. While a pricier option, it delivers outstanding nutrition from quality whole food ingredients.
15. Iams Proactive Health Adult Minichunks
- Features real chicken as first ingredient
- Whole grains and veggies
- Probiotics added
Iams Proactive Health uses fresh chicken as the first ingredient for a concentrated protein source. It blends chicken with whole grains like barley and rice alongside fruits and veggies.
Added antioxidants and probiotics support a healthy immune system and digestion. It provides complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs at a very affordable price point, making it a great choice for owners on a tight budget.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Your Pup
When selecting the ideal dog food for your furry friend, there are a few key factors to consider:
Whole proteins like chicken, fish, turkey or lamb should be first on the list. Look for whole fruits, vegetables, and grain sources like brown rice further down. Avoid artificial preservatives, colors and flavors.
Choose an AAFCO approved food with an optimal balance of 30-40% protein, 15-25% fat and 25-35% carbs. Look for omega fatty acids and natural sources of glucosamine.
Purchase foods specially formulated for puppy, adult or senior dogs. Puppies need higher protein, fat and calories for growth. Seniors need lower fat and more glucosamine for joints.
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If your dog has food sensitivities, gastrointestinal issues or joint problems, choose a formula designed for those needs like limited-ingredient, grain-free or probiotic-fortified recipes.
Brands made in the USA in company-owned facilities under tight quality controls are ideal. Brands with clean safety records are preferred.
Factor your budget, getting the highest quality nutrition you can afford. Prioritize investing in premium foods which can prevent long-term health issues.
By keeping these factors in mind while comparing different dog food brands, you can zero in on the ideal formula to keep your pup happy and healthy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is healthier, wet or dry dog food?
Both wet and dry foods can be nutritious if made with quality ingredients. Wet foods contain more moisture, which can help with hydration. Dry kibble helps clean teeth. For optimal variety, you can mix wet and dry or rotate recipes.
Should I feed grain-free dog food?
Unless your dog has grain allergies, grain-inclusive recipes are fine. Whole grains like rice and barley provide carbohydrates for energy. Focus more on choosing quality proteins, veggies, and natural ingredients vs strictly grain-free.
How much should I feed my dog?
Check the feeding guidelines on your dog food package based on your dog’s weight and activity level. Remember that feeding amounts are just a starting point – adjust up or down as needed to maintain an ideal body condition.
Are by-products bad in dog food?
Not necessarily. Chicken or lamb by-product meals contain organ meats which provide important nutrients. Avoid artificial preservatives like BHT, BHA, or ethoxyquin in by-products though. Focus on whole meats like chicken, lamb or fish as the first ingredients.
Should I rotate dog foods?
Rotation feeding different proteins, brands or recipes can help provide variety and prevent food sensitivities. Introduce new foods slowly by mixing with your dog’s old food over a period of 5-7 days though to avoid GI upset.
When should I switch from puppy to adult dog food?
It varies by size, but many larger breed dogs can switch at 6 months, medium dogs at 8-12 months, and small breeds at 9-12 months old. Follow your vet’s recommendations. You can gradually transition over a period of 5-10 days mixing old and new food.
The Final Word
Choosing the right dog food is one of the most important investments you can make in your pup’s long-term health and happiness. By feeding a premium quality diet made with fresh, whole ingredients you can help your furry friend thrive.
We hope our guide to the 15 best dog food brands for healthy adult dogs and puppies helps you find the perfect formula to keep your dog wagging! Whichever recipe you choose, be sure to transition slowly and feed the proper amounts for your dog’s needs.
Above all, your dog’s nutrition should be customized to their unique breed, life stage, activity level and any special needs. Consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns. With a high-quality diet tailored for your pup, you’re sure to have many healthy years together ahead. Happy feeding!