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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 parents have to choose between stacks of lyrically-named sacks of dog food, boasting everything from blends of black Angus beef, wild boar, lamb, heritage pork and bison, to free-range turkey and rice. But reading dog food labels sucks, and it can be hard to tell whether premium, all-natural, limited ingredient dog food is actually better for your pup or just a bunch of marketing fluff. So we went straight to the source to find the best vet-recommended 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. Below, Dr. Carly Fox, a veterinarian at New York’s Animal Medical Center, weighs in.

The pet food industry is not well regulated,” says Fox. Because of this, she 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.

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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

Another 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.

If your adult dog has digestive issues, this could be a great choice for you. Top five dog food ingredients: Chicken, brewers rice, chicken meal, yellow peas, cracked pearled barley.

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.

This salmon-, egg-, and pumpkin-based dog food, shockingly affordable, is free from corn, wheat, soy, and poultry by-product meal. Top five dog food ingredients: Salmon, rice, whole barley, chicken meal, whole oat meal, beef fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols.

Of course Amazon has its own in-house brand of dog food and of course, it's pretty great. Salmon is the number one ingredient, and this dog food contains no added grain, corn, or wheat. Top five dog food ingredients: Salmon, salmon meal, lentils, pea protein, peas.

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.

Another premium dog food, this one is grain-free, easier for dogs to digest, and is heavy on the yams. Top five dog food ingredients: Sweet potatoes, salmon, fish meal, potato protein, canola oil.

The Best Small-Breed Dry Dog Food

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 Best Dry Dog Food with Grain

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.

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