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The Best Dry Dog Foods, According to a Top Veterinarian

This canine grub will keep your dog healthy and active.

There are endless varieties of what’s billed as the best dry dog food, much of it crammed with exotic-sounding ingredients that are fancier than what most humans have for dinnerDog owner have to choose among stacks of lyrically named sacks of dog food, which boast blends of ingredients like black Angus beef, wild boar, lamb, heritage pork, bison, and free-range turkeys. But reading dog food labels sucks, especially when it all sounds delicious, and it can be hard to tell whether premium, all-natural, limited-ingredient, grain-free, “healthy” dry dog food is actually better for your pup or just a bunch of marketing fluff. So what, actually, should the best dry dog food contain? We went straight to the source and asked a veterinarian to recommended their picks for best dog food

What’s the Best Dog Food?

Not all dry dog food is created equally, and premium labels can be deceiving. Dog food quality (and price) are all over the place.

The pet food industry is not well regulated,” says Dr. Carly Fox, a veterinarian at New York’s Animal Medical Center. Because of this, Dr. Fox warns buyers to not be fooled by packaging and marketing and not to discount the bigger sellers. 

Fox recommends shoppers make sure dog food has been evaluated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) first, and then read the ingredient list to make sure the dog food is rich in high-quality protein and doesn’t contain cheap fillers like corn (here’s a list of recalled pet food). Pretty packaging and ‘premium’ small-batch blends don’t necessarily make the best dry dog food.

Artisanal brands may have not been evaluated by AAFCO. Larger brands that are more familiar to you have the money and research to make their food the best it can be,” says Fox. 

Dry dog food is more convenient because it can be left out for hours, or days, and it doesn’t stink (all that much). But if your pet doesn’t drink enough water, or is older, wet food is a good choice because it provides extra hydration and is easier to eat, which can be important for elder pooches with dental issues.

As for raw dog food, Fox says to opt-out, especially if you have small children. It’s the equivalent of leaving raw chicken on your floor and letting your kids root around in it. The FDA reports that raw food is more likely to be contaminated with bacteria, including salmonella and listeria monocytogenes, which can spread to people when you handle the meat, when your dog licks your face and mouth after eating, or if you don’t scrub your hands after touching it. And we all know just how thoroughly little kids wash their digits. These dry dog food options are high quality and low risk.

The Best Dry Dog Food

Along with a premium price comes premium ingredients, and several brands specialize in these more natural meats, which would include boar and, as with this one, venison. It also adds low-glycemic carbs from the cassava. It's preservative-free, a perfect source of all 23 amino acids, and includes digestive enzymes and encapsulated pro- and prebiotics.

Amazon's in-house dog food lets you choose between chicken, salmon, or beef as the main ingredient. It contains no corn, or wheat, and is solid all-purpose dog chow. The top five ingredients in the beef formula are beef, beef meal, sweet potatoes, peas, and lentils.

With foundation of turkey, chicken, and salmon oil (the good stuff, not meat byproducts), Wellness starts its kibble out right. Then it adds fruits and veggies to add easy-to-digest carbs. Also in there: a host of omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, taurine, vitamins, and minerals for longevity and overall health.

A top seller, this dog food is heavy on chicken protein, and has no by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy. Top five dog food ingredients: Deboned chicken, peas, pea protein, tapioca starch, Menhaden fish meal.

This recipe provides complete nutrition for your young canine, and is egg-free, so it's great for pooches that aren't into dairy. Plus the kibble is sized for small mouths. Top five dog food ingredients: Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes.

The super-luxe dog food from Canada is loaded with quality protein, much of it flash-frozen, and is suitable every life stage of the dog. Top five dog food ingredients: Fresh chicken meat, fresh turkey meat, fresh cage-free eggs, fresh chicken liver, fresh whole herring.

The Best Small-Breed Dry Dog Food

Corn-free, this option by Nutro proves that big things can come in small packages. While its piece-size is small and optimized for toy breeds, it retains a crunchy texture to reduce plaque buildup. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also added for longterm joint support and health. Real chicken is the first ingredient, with zero poultry by-product meal, wheat, or soy.

A well-rounded dog food for all adult dogs, especially those on the larger side, that contains no corn, wheat, or soy. Top five dog food ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal.

A solid and popular all-around dog food that comes in smaller-sized chunks for smaller jaws. Top five dog food ingredients: Chicken, ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal, dried beet pulp.

The added cost ensures your smaller dog receives zero rendered meats, byproduct meals, and grains, while adding pre- and probiotics and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and a shimmering coat. Top five dog food ingredients: deboned turkey, whole dried egg, peas, pea flour, potatoes.

The Best Dry Dog Food With Grain

There's grain, and then there's the grain that Victor uses for its chow. Guaranteed to be gluten-free, it's healthy for your pup and easy on its digestive track. Adding fish, chicken, beef, and pork meals, it's also nutrient-dense and ready to fuel active breeds for long days of play and exercise.

Different chunks have different textures, to keep things interesting for your canine gourmand. Top five dog food ingredients: Chicken, rice flour, whole grain wheat, poultry by-product meal (source of glucosamine), soybean meal.

This particular brand of dog food is loaded with brown rice, barley, and quinoa. So we're talking grains galore. Top five dog food ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, turkey meal.

Even the scraps in Rachel Ray's spotless kitchen must be top shelf, because her kibble sounds good enough for us to eat. U.S.-grown chicken is the first ingredient, and it only gets better from there. Top five dog food ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, dried peas, soybean meal, whole ground corn.

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