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The 9 Best Dry Dog Foods In 2024

If you are a dog owner, you likely want to give your dog the highest-quality food available. But with so many choices, how do you select the best one for your dog? Kibble, also known as dry dog foods, is one of the most popular choices among dog owners.

Dry dog food is straightforward to store, simple to serve, and cheaper than wet dog food. Additionally, it can help keep your dog's teeth healthy and clean. However, not all dried dog foods are created equal.

Some are made with high-quality ingredients and provide complete and balanced nutrition for your dog, whereas others contain harmful fillers, additives, and contaminants.

In this article, BestForPets will discuss various considerations when selecting the best dry dog foods, including ingredients, nutritional importance, quality criteria, calorie content, and flavor.

By the conclusion of this article, you will have a better understanding of how to compare different brands and varieties of dry dog food to find the best option for your furry friend.

icon Vet Approved
icon Reviewed & Fact - Checked by

Deborah R. Fletcher (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information provided is current and up-to-date, in line with the latest research conducted in the field of veterinary medicine.

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Compare Table

Image Product View on Amazon
1 Purina ONE Natural Dry Dog Food Purina ONE Natural Dry Dog Food View on Amazon
2 Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley View on Amazon
3 Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula View on Amazon
4 Purina Pro Plan with Probiotics Purina Pro Plan with Probiotics View on Amazon
5 Hill's Science Diet Advanced Fitness Hill's Science Diet Advanced Fitness View on Amazon
6 Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Adult Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Adult View on Amazon
7 Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks View on Amazon
8 Royal Canin Small Adult Dog Royal Canin Small Adult Dog View on Amazon
9 Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Purina Pro Plan Large Breed View on Amazon

What Are the Ingredients in Dry Dog Food?

Meat and vegetables in a bowl as opposite of dry dog food

The first consideration when selecting dry dog food should be the label’s list of ingredients. The ingredient list indicates the weight distribution of the food’s constituents.

Dry dog food contains a variety of nutrients, including protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial substances. These nutrients are crucial for the growth, development, maintenance, and health of your dog.

However, not every ingredient is healthy for your dog. Some are high-quality and healthy, whereas others are low-quality and unsuitable. Here are some examples of dry dog food ingredients you should look for or avoid:

High-Quality Ingredients

1. Specific animal proteins

These are animal-specific protein sources, including poultry, beef, lamb, seafood, and turkey. Animal protein is the most essential and digestible source of protein for dogs.

They provide canines with amino acids they cannot produce themselves and promote muscle growth, tissue repair, immune function, and healthy skin and coat.

2. Whole grains

These are carbohydrate sources that include the entire grain kernel, such as brown rice, oats, barley, and quinoa.

Whole grains provide dogs with energy, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Additionally, they aid in blood sugar regulation and support digestive health.

3. Fruits and vegetables

These are carbohydrate sources that also provide dogs with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber.

Fruits and vegetables can strengthen your dog’s immune system, reduce inflammation, prevent oxidative stress, and promote digestive health.

Examples of beneficial fruits and vegetables for dogs include carrots, pears, blueberries, spinach, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.

4. Healthy fats

These fat sources provide dogs with essential fatty acids that they cannot produce on their own.

Healthy fats provide energy, support cellular function, promote skin and coat health, reduce inflammation, and promote the development of the brain and eyes.

Examples of healthy fats include salmon oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, and poultry fat.

5. Natural preservatives

These are substances that prevent deterioration and extend the shelf life of dry dog food without compromising the health of your dog.

Examples of natural preservatives include tocopherols (vitamin E), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), rosemary extract, and citric acid.

 

Low-Quality Ingredients

1. Unidentified animal derivatives

These are protein sources that do not specify the animal or animal element from which they are derived.

They may include organs, bones, blood, feathers, hooves, and antlers, among other unsuitable animal tissues for human consumption.

Unidentified animal by-products are low-quality, indigestible protein sources that may contain hazardous substances such as hormones, antibiotics, or diseased tissues.

2. Fillers

These are carbohydrate sources with minimal or no nutritional value for dogs. They are used to bulk up food and reduce production costs.

Fillers can cause dogs to develop allergies, obesity, diabetes, and digestive problems. Examples of fillers include corn, wheat, soy, and brewer’s yeast.

3. Artificial additives

These are substances added to dry dog food to improve its appearance, odor, or flavor for humans or canines.

However, they provide no nutritional value for dogs and can lead to allergies, cancer, organ damage, and behavioral issues.

Examples of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives include Red 40, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and propylene glycol.

4. Allergens

These are substances that can trigger allergic reactions in certain dogs. Allergic reactions may manifest as irritation, scratching, licking, biting, hair loss, skin infections, ear infections, or digestive problems.

Common allergens for dogs include dairy, eggs, beef, poultry, wheat, maize, and soy.

To find the best dry dog food for your dog, look for a product with high-quality ingredients and avoid those with low-quality ingredients.

Check the ingredient list for any allergens or substances to which your dog is sensitive or allergic, and avoid them.

The ingredient list can reveal a great deal about the quality and safety of dry dog food, but it is not the only consideration.

Consider the nutritional value, quality standards, caloric content, and flavor of dry dog food as well.

Find expert reviews and recommendations on dog food at BestForPets.org. Feed your furry friend the best!

Reviews

To help you find the best dry dog food for your pet, we researched some of the top-rated brands and varieties on the market, evaluating them based on the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: We sought foods with high-quality ingredients and avoided those with low-quality components.
  • Nutritional value: We searched for foods that provide balanced nutrition for your dog’s life stage and activity level.
  • Quality requirements: Using a feeding experiment, we selected foods that met the AAFCO guidelines for complete and balanced nutrition.
  • Calorie content: We looked for foods that met your dog’s energy requirements.
  • Flavor: We selected foods with positive customer feedback and ratings for flavor and palatability.

Here are our top picks for the best dry dog foods this year:

1. Purina ONE Natural Dry Dog Food

Purina ONE Small Bites Beef and Rice Formula Small Dog Food Dry

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  • Protein: 26%
  • Fat: 16%
  • Beef, rice flour, and corn gluten meal are the primary components.

Purina One SmartBlend Small Bites is a great option for pet owners who want high-quality dry dog food at an affordable price.

This American-made formula is rich in protein, fatty acids, and antioxidants that support a healthy immune system and coat. The primary ingredient is real beef, which provides excellent protein to support muscle development.

The dog food also contains natural sources of glucosamine, which promote healthy joints and mobility. Additionally, it features prebiotic fiber that supports digestive health and promotes healthy digestion.

Purina One SmartBlend Small Bites places a strong emphasis on promoting a healthy intestinal microbiome, which is essential for overall health and wellbeing. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and E, which support healthy eyes and immune function.

Omega-6 fatty acids nourish the skin and coat, promoting a shiny and healthy appearance.

While some customers have reported issues with inconsistent quality and insects in the food when ordering by mail, many pet owners have had excellent results with this brand.

Overall, Purina One SmartBlend Small Bites is highly recommended for those looking for a high-quality dry dog food that offers exceptional value.

Pros

Made to meet or exceed U.S. dietary guidelines

Additives boost the protein content to an already impressive level.

Definitely worth the price.

Cons

It has been shown that the quality of food sent over the mail varies somewhat.


2. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley

 Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe with Roasted Venison Dry Dog Food

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  • Protein: 32%
  • Fat: 18%
  • Meat, lamb, and chickpeas are the mainstays.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Dry Dog Food is an excellent option for pet owners seeking a high-quality, grain-free, protein-rich, and digestive health-promoting dog food.

This dog food is manufactured in conformance with the standards established by the American pet food industry and contains deer as the first constituent.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley is distinguished by its emphasis on digestive health. This dog food is loaded with active probiotics and prebiotic fiber, which promote a healthy digestive system and a balanced digestive system.

In addition, this formulation is highly digestible, making it an ideal option for canines with sensitive stomachs.

It is essential to note that while this dog food is grain-free, not all canines require a grain-free diet. Always consult your veterinarian to determine if a grain-free diet is appropriate for your companion.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley is an excellent option for pet owners seeking a high-quality, protein-rich, digestive health-promoting dog food.

While there have been concerns regarding the use of legumes such as peas in dog food and their association with cardiac problems, it is essential to note that additional research is required in this area. Consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about the inclusion of legumes in your dog’s diet.

Pros

Alternative, easily absorbed protein

Probiotics in plenty; good for the tummy.

Nutritional guidelines for American pets are met

Cons

Includes pulses

Previously, there were some issues with the product’s quality.


3. Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula

 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food

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  • Protein: 24%
  • Fat: 14%
  • Brown rice, chicken meal, and deboned chicken make up the bulk of this dish’s key components.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is a high-quality, natural, powdered dog food that is AAFCO-compliant. It contains real chicken as the main source of protein and is packed with nutritious whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

This dog food is fortified with essential fatty acids and antioxidants to promote overall health and wellness. It contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

One of the unique features of Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is the use of antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits.

This precise combination of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants has been carefully chosen by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support the immune system, life stage requirements, and a healthy oxidative balance.

While some customers have reported quality control issues when purchasing this dog food online, many pet owners have reported excellent results with this brand. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula has received praise for its premium ingredients and delicious taste.

It is important to note that unlike many other Blue Buffalo dog foods, this formula is not grain-free. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if a diet that contains grains is appropriate for your dog.

Overall, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is an excellent option for pet owners looking for a natural, high-quality, dry dog food that promotes overall health and wellness.

Its focus on real meat as the first ingredient, whole food ingredients, and antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits makes it a great choice for your furry companion.

Pros

All-natural beef as the main protein source

Conforms to AAFCO dietary requirements

Contains no additives or preservatives that were not naturally occurring

Cons

There have been problems with the quality of internet purchases in the past.


4. Purina ProPlan with probiotics

Purina Pro Plan High Protein Dog Food With Probiotics for Dogs

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  • Protein: 26%
  • Fat: 16%
  • The main components are chicken, rice, and whole wheat.

Purina Pro Plan with Probiotics is a reputable brand of dry dog food that provides a balanced diet for canine companions.

This dog food is supplemented with probiotics and antioxidants to support digestive and immune health. The blend of real chicken and crunchy cereal creates a texture that dogs love.

Although some users have reported quality issues with the product, such as sacks contaminated with insects, many pet owners remain loyal to the brand.

However, a few pet owners have reported that their dogs became ill after consuming the new food.

One of the distinguishing features of Purina Pro Plan with Probiotics is the use of guaranteed live probiotics to promote digestive and immune health.

Additionally, this dog food contains essential vitamins and minerals to support overall health and wellness.

Overall, Purina Pro Plan with Probiotics is an excellent choice for pet owners who want a premium, well-balanced dry dog food that supports digestive and immune health.

The combination of tender chicken chunks and crunchy kibble is sure to be a hit with your furry companion.

It is important to note that if your dog experiences adverse reactions to this or any other dog food, you should consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate course of action.

Pros

Enjoyable in terms of both appearance and flavor

Produced by a seasoned manufacturer in accordance with AAFCO regulations

Includes healthy bacteria and antioxidants.

Cons

There have been problems with the quality of internet purchases in the past.

Many canines had problems after a recent formula adjustment.


5. Dry dog food from Hill’s formulated for adult dogs

 Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food

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  • Protein: 20%
  • Fat: 11.5%
  • Whole-grain wheat, cracked pearl barley, and chicken are the main components.

Hill's Science Diet Advanced Fitness is a premium dry dog food designed to provide mature canines with a nutritionally complete and balanced diet.

This dog food is fortified with vitamins E and C, fatty acids, and antioxidants to promote skin, coat, and immune system health.

One of the distinguishing features of Hill’s Science Diet Advanced Fitness is its emphasis on promoting healthy digestion with natural fibers.

Additionally, this dog food contains high-quality protein to help mature canines maintain lean muscle mass.

Hill’s Science Diet is a reputable brand that veterinarians frequently recommend due to its dependable nutritional profile and high standards.

Over 90% of reviewers worldwide have awarded this dog food five stars, making it one of the highest-rated dog foods on the market.

Although some reviewers have expressed concerns about the price, the majority have praised its nutritional value and overall quality.

Overall, Hill’s Science Diet Advanced Fitness is an excellent choice for pet owners looking for a high-quality dry dog food that supports healthy skin, coat, immune system, and digestion.

With easily digestible ingredients, natural fibers, and high-quality protein, this dog food is sure to provide your furry companion with the nutrients they need for optimal health.

It is important to note that if your dog experiences any adverse reactions to this or any other dog food, you should consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate course of action.

Pros

Ingredients that haven’t been genetically modified

Procured from local growers and distributors.

Includes antioxidants and fiber

Cons

There are quality problems with certain internet purchases.


6. Dry Nutro Food for Healthy Living

NUTRO NATURAL CHOICE Small Bites Adult Dry Dog Food

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  • Protein: 22%
  • Fat: 14%
  • Chicken, brewer’s rice, and chicken meal are the mainstays here.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Adult Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice for dog owners who want to avoid genetically modified ingredients. This dog food is made with non-GMO ingredients and does not contain any chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials emphasizes the use of high-quality protein sources, such as real chicken, to provide dogs with the nutrients they need to maintain lean muscle mass and overall health.

Additionally, this dog food is designed to promote healthy digestion with natural fiber and support a robust immune system with essential antioxidants.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials is a brand that takes pride in working directly with producers and distributors to ensure product quality.

While some customers have reported quality differences between packages received via shipment and those purchased in stores, the majority of reviewers have deemed this product to be an excellent value and highly nutritious for their dogs.

Notably, the kibble in this dog food is on the smaller side, making it a great option for small-breed dogs or those who prefer smaller kibble.

Overall, Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Adult Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice for pet parents who prioritize non-GMO ingredients and premium protein sources for their furry companions.

With its focus on healthy digestion and immune system support, this dog food is sure to provide your pet with the nutrients they need for optimal health.

If your dog experiences an adverse reaction to this or any other dog food, you should consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate course of action.

Pros

Ingredients that haven’t been genetically modified

Procured from local growers and distributors.

Includes antioxidants and fiber

Cons

There are quality problems with certain internet purchases.


7. Dry Dog Food from Iams, Promotes Optimal Health

IAMS Adult Minichunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food with Real Chicken

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  • Protein: 25%
  • Fat: 14%
  • Chicken, whole-grain cornmeal, and whole-grain sorghum flour are the main components.

Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food is an excellent option for pet owners seeking dog food made in the United States that consistently receives high ratings.

With decades of experience in the dog food industry, Iams has earned the loyalty of dog owners.

The high-quality protein and low-fat content in this dog food, derived from real chicken and wholesome cereals, can promote muscle growth.

The kibble’s texture can also help scrape the dog’s teeth during chewing, preventing tartar buildup. Inclusion of fiber, antioxidants, and prebiotics can aid digestion and strengthen the immune system.

Although some pet owners may choose not to purchase this product because it contains by-products, Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food remains a popular option.

Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food is formulated without artificial preservatives, flavors, or additives to provide complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs.

Veterinarians recommend Iams for its nutritious combination of fibers and prebiotics, which promote healthy digestion and a robust immune system.

This dog food is designed to meet the specific nutritional needs of dogs of various ages, sizes, and life stages, from puppies to adults to aging, and from small to large breeds.

Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food is a premium, high-quality formulation produced in the United States with the world’s finest ingredients.

Overall, Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice for pet owners who prioritize high-quality protein sources, digestive health, and robust immune systems for their furry companions.

If your dog experiences an adverse reaction to this or any other dog food, you should consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate course of action.

Pros

Its kibble form is useful for oral hygiene.

Incorporates prebiotics and dietary fiber for a sound digestive system.

Cons

Including Waste Products


8. Royal Canin Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food, 14 lb bag

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Royal Canin Small Adult Dog is an excellent option for dry dog food if you have a small-breed dog. This product is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of small dogs weighing between 9 and 22 pounds.

It contains chicken by-product meal, brewer’s rice, maize, chicken fat, and wheat gluten, providing essential proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Additionally, it contains fish oil, probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support your dog’s overall health.

One of the greatest features of Royal Canin Small Adult Dog is its ability to help small dogs maintain a healthy weight. L-carnitine helps meet their high energy requirements, and optimal levels of fatty acids such as EPA and DHA promote healthy skin and coat.

This product has a specialized kibble design adapted for small dogs, making it easier for them to eat and digest their food. Its palatable nature satisfies the finicky appetites of small dogs.

Royal Canin Small Adult Dog satisfies the AAFCO adult maintenance nutrient profile with 25% protein, 14% fat, 3.1% fiber, and 10% moisture on an as-fed basis.

Most small dogs enjoy the chicken-flavored small-kibble formula. This dog food has received many positive reviews from satisfied customers, earning a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com based on over 10,000 reviews.

Overall, Royal Canin Small Adult Dog is an excellent option for owners of small dogs seeking high-quality dry dog food with precision nutrition, weight management, skin and coat support, and a specialized kibble design.

Your small furry companion will enjoy the flavor, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’re receiving the highest quality nutrition.

Pros

Excellent ingredients

Complete and nutritious diet

Meets AAFCO standards

Chicken-flavored, small-sized kibble

Positive client feedback

Cons

Contains chicken by-product meal and wheat gluten, which may not be preferred by all animals.

Contains maize, which may not be suitable for dogs with a corn allergy or sensitivity.


9. Purina Pro Plan High Protein, Digestive Health Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan High Protein, Digestive Health Large Breed Dry Dog Food

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Purina Pro Plan Large Breed is an outstanding dry dog food option for owners of large dogs. The first ingredient in this food is chicken, followed by rice, corn gluten meal, whole-grain wheat, and poultry by-product meal.

Additionally, it contains fish oil, glucosamine, probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support your dog’s overall health.

One of the finest features of Purina Pro Plan Large Breed is that it provides complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs weighing over 50 pounds.

It contains 26% protein, 12% fat, 4.5% fiber, and 12% moisture on an as-fed basis, and it satisfies AAFCO maintenance feeding trial requirements for adults.

Glucosamine and EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, are also present for joint health and mobility, and in conjunction with appropriate exercise, this product promotes muscle conditioning.

Most large dogs enjoy the chicken and rice flavor of Purina Pro Plan Large Breed. This dog food has received many positive reviews from satisfied customers, earning a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com based on over 5,000 reviews.

They praise its quality, flavor, digestibility, and support for large breeds.

Overall, Purina Pro Plan Large Breed is an excellent option for owners of large dogs seeking high-quality dry dog food with tailored nutrition, joint support, muscle conditioning, and a flavor that their beloved companions will adore.

It is a comprehensive and balanced meal that provides your dog with all the essential nutrients it needs to thrive. You won’t be disappointed if you give it a try!

Pros

Excellent ingredients

Complete and nutritious diet

Conforms to AAFCO requirements based on a feeding trial

Rice and chicken flavor

Positive client feedback

Cons

This product contains maize gluten meal and poultry by-product meal, which some dogs may find unappealing.

Contains wheat, which may not be appropriate for dogs with gluten intolerance or wheat allergies.

How to Compare the Nutritional Value of Dry Dog Food?

Bowls with dry pet food on color background

The next factor to consider when selecting dry dog food is the product’s nutritional value. The nutritional value indicates the amount of each nutrient in the food and whether or not it meets your dog’s nutritional requirements.

Depending on their life stage (e.g., adolescent, adult, senior) and activity level (e.g., low, moderate, high), dogs require varying quantities of nutrients. Among the essential nutrients a dog’s diet must contain are:

1. Protein

The most essential nutrient for dogs is protein. It contains amino acids that canines cannot produce on their own. In addition, it promotes muscle growth, tissue repair, immune function, and healthy skin and coat.

Dogs that are maturing (such as puppies), pregnant or lactating females, or extremely active (such as working or sporting dogs) require more protein.

2. Fat

Another essential nutrient for dogs is fat. It contains fatty acids that canines cannot produce on their own.

In addition, it provides energy, supports cell function, promotes skin and coat health, reduces inflammation, and promotes the development of the brain and eyes.

Dogs that are maturing (such as puppies), pregnant or lactating females, or very active (such as working or sporting dogs) require more fat.

3. Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that supports digestive health and helps regulate blood sugar levels. It also prevents constipation, diarrhea, obesity, and problems with the dog’s anal glands.

Dogs that are higher-weight, diabetic, or have digestive issues (such as colitis, IBD, etc.) require more fiber.

4. Calcium and phosphorus are essential minerals

Calcium and phosphorus are essential minerals for the development and maintenance of bones and teeth. In addition, they are involved in muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood coagulation, and the activation of enzymes.

Dogs that are maturing (such as puppies), expectant or lactating females, or have bone or joint issues (such as osteoporosis, arthritis, etc.) require more calcium and phosphorus.

5. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are lipids with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In addition, they promote healthy skin and coat, immune function, brain and eye development, and cardiovascular health.

Dogs that have skin or grooming problems (such as allergies, dermatitis, etc.), immune problems (such as autoimmune diseases, infections, etc.), brain or vision problems (such as cognitive dysfunction, cataracts, etc.), or heart problems (such as cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, etc.) require a greater amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

To compare the nutritional value of dry dog food, you should examine the guaranteed analysis and the AAFCO statement on the packaging.

6. Guaranteed Analysis

The guaranteed analysis is a table indicating the minimum or maximum percentage of each nutrient in the as-fed product. This means that the percentages are based on the food’s moisture content.

Four nutrients are typically included in the guaranteed analysis: crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and moisture. Some foods may also contain ash, calcium, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, or chondroitin, among other nutrients.

However, the guaranteed analysis does not provide information on the specific volume or bioavailability of each nutrient in the food. In addition, it does not account for differences in the moisture content of various diets.

For example, a dry dog food containing 25% crude protein and 10% moisture contains more protein per cup than a wet dog food containing 10% crude protein and 80% moisture.

To compare the nutritional value of various foods on an equal footing, the guaranteed analysis must be converted to a dry matter basis.

7. Dry Matter Basis

The dry matter basis is a calculation that eliminates the moisture content from the guaranteed analysis and displays, on a dry matter basis, the percentage of each nutrient in the food.

This means that the percentages are based on what remains after all the water has been extracted from the food. To convert the guaranteed analysis to a dry matter basis, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the food’s moisture content using the guaranteed analysis.
  2. Subtract the moisture percentage from 100 to determine the food’s dry matter percentage.
  3. To determine the percentage of each nutrient on a dry matter basis, divide the percentage of each nutrient in the food by the percentage of dry matter and multiply by 100.

For example, if a dry dog food’s guaranteed analysis is as follows:

The calculation on a dry matter basis would be as follows:

  • Dry matter content = 100% – 10% = 90%
  • Crude protein on a dry matter basis = (25 / 90) x 100 = 27.8%
  • Crude fat on a dry matter basis = (15 / 90) x 100 = 16.7%
  • Crude fiber on a dry matter basis = (4 / 90) x 100 = 4.4%

Using this method, you can compare the nutritional value of different dry dog food products on a dry matter basis and choose the one that best meets your dog’s nutritional needs.

8. AAFCO Statement

The AAFCO statement indicates whether the product satisfies the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) nutritional standards, which regulate the purity and safety of animal feed in the United States.

Typically, the AAFCO statement consists of two sections: the nutritional adequacy statement and the feeding trial statement.

The nutritional adequacy statement indicates whether the food provides complete and balanced nutrition for your dog, taking into account their life stage and level of activity.

Complete and balanced nutrition indicates that the food contains all of the essential nutrients that your dog requires in the proper proportions and quantities.

A food can meet AAFCO standards for complete and balanced nutrition in one of two ways: formulation or feeding trial.

Formulation indicates that the food has been formulated to meet the AAFCO nutrient profiles for a particular life stage or activity level, which indicate the minimum or maximum quantities of each nutrient that a food should contain for a particular life stage or level of activity.

For instance, a product designed for adult maintenance must contain at least 18% crude protein and 5% crude fat on a dry matter basis, according to the AAFCO nutrient profile for adult maintenance.

Feeding trial indicates that the food has been tested on dogs in a feeding trial and proven to provide complete and balanced nutrition for a particular life stage or level of activity.

A feeding trial is an experiment in which a group of dogs is fed a particular diet for a specified period of time while their health and performance are monitored. A product that has been evaluated in a feeding trial for growth should promote normal growth and development in dogs.

The feeding trial statement indicates whether or not the product has undergone a feeding trial and what type of feeding trial was conducted. AAFCO recognizes four different categories of nutrition trials: growth, adult maintenance, gestation and lactation, and all life stages.

  1. Growth: This indicates that the food has been evaluated for its ability to support normal growth and development in dogs from weaning to adulthood.
  2. Adult maintenance: This indicates that the food has been proven to maintain the health and condition of adult dogs with normal activity levels.
  3. Gestation or lactation: This indicates that the food has been proven to meet the nutritional requirements of pregnant or lactating females and their progeny.
  4. All life stages: This denotes that the food has been proven to provide complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages, from puppies to senior dogs.

To find the best dry dog food for your dog, look for an AAFCO statement that corresponds to your dog’s life stage and level of activity. Additionally, you should choose a food that has been tested in a feeding trial, as this provides greater assurance of its nutritional adequacy.

While the nutritional value of dry dog food can tell you how many and what types of nutrients are in it, it cannot tell you how many calories it has or how it tastes. Therefore, you should also consider the caloric content and flavor of dry dog food.

How to Determine the Calorie Content of Dry Dog Food?

dog food in bowl and women hand

When selecting dried dog food, the next factor to consider is the product’s caloric content. The calorie content indicates the amount of energy in the food and whether it meets your dog’s energy requirements.

Dogs have varying caloric needs depending on their age, size, breed, spay/neuter status, health status, and level of activity. Calories fuel your dog’s daily activities, including walking, playing, digesting, and more.

However, too many or too few calories can be detrimental to your dog’s health. Excessive caloric intake can result in obesity, diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic conditions.

Insufficient caloric intake can result in malnutrition, lethargy, anemia, and other severe problems. To determine the caloric content of dried dog food, you need to examine both the calorie statement and the feeding guide on the label.

1. Calorie Statement

The calorie statement indicates the number of calories per unit of weight in the food. Weight can be measured in kilograms (kg), pounds (lb), grams (g), or ounces (oz).

Typically, the calorie statement displays the calories in both kilocalories per kilogram (kcal/kg) and kilocalories per cup (kcal/cup).

  • Kilocalories per kilogram (kcal/kg): This indicates the number of kilocalories per kilogram of food. A kilocalorie equals one thousand calories. For instance, 3500 kcal/kg indicates that there are 3500 kilocalories in one kilogram of food.
  • Kilocalories per cup (kcal/cup): This indicates the number of calories in one cup of the product. A cup is a standard unit of measurement equal to 8 ounces or 237 milliliters. For instance, 400 kcal/cup indicates that there are 400 calories in one cup of the product.

The calorie declaration can help you compare the calorie density of various foods and select the one that best meets your dog’s energy requirements. However, the calorie count does not indicate the amount of food that should be fed to the dog. To determine this, consult the feeding guide.

2. Feeding Guide

The feeding guide is a table that indicates how much food you should feed your dog daily based on their weight and level of activity. Typically, the feeding guide provides a range of quantities for various body weights and levels of activity.

For instance, a feeding guide for dry dog food may appear as follows:

Weight (lbs) Activity LevelAmount (cups/day)
5Low 1/2 - 2/3
5 Moderate2/3 - 3/4
5High3/4 - 1
10 Low 3/4 - 1
.........

You can use a measuring cup or a scale and the feeding guide to determine how much dry dog food to feed your companion.

However, the feeding guide is only a recommendation and may not meet the individual requirements of every dog. You may need to adjust the quantity of dried dog food based on your dog’s body condition score and weight fluctuations.

3. Body Condition Scoring

The body condition score is a scale that indicates your dog’s level of fitness based on how they look and feel. The score for physiological condition ranges from 1 to 9, where:

1: Emaciated

2: Very thin

3: Thin

4: Underweight

5: Ideal

6: Higher weight

7: Heavy

To determine your dog’s body condition score, examine and feel their ribcage, pelvis, abdomen, and spine. Additionally, compare your dog’s physical appearance to a body condition chart, such as this one from Purina:

Depending on their breed and type, your dog’s optimal body condition score is between 4 and 5. Adjust the quantity of dried dog food if your dog’s body condition score is too high or too low.

For instance, if your dog’s body condition score is seven, you should feed them less than the amount recommended by the feeding guide. If your dog’s body condition score is three, you should feed them more than the recommended amount.

Additionally, you should monitor your dog’s weight and body condition score every month. To determine your dog’s weight and girth, you can use a scale or a tape measure. You should strive for a gradual and consistent weight loss of 1% to 2% per week.

The calorie count and feeding guide can help you determine how much dry dog food to give your pet, but they do not describe the flavor. Additionally, you should consider the flavor of dried dog food and determine what your dog prefers.

How to Choose the Flavor of Dry Dog Food?

hungry chihuahua dog behind food bowl

When selecting dry dog food, the flavor should be one of the considerations you keep in mind. The flavor of the food can influence your companion’s appetite, enjoyment, and satisfaction.

There are numerous varieties of dry dog food, including poultry, beef, lamb, fish, turkey, and more. Some varieties may also have additional flavors, such as cheese, bacon, peanut butter, or gravy.

Individual taste, scent, texture, temperature, and familiarity are among the variables that influence a dog’s flavor preferences. Some dogs may prefer certain flavors over others, while others may have little interest in flavor.

There is no one best flavor for all dogs, as different dogs may prefer different flavors. The best way to determine which flavor your dog prefers is to observe their reaction and appetite to a variety of flavors in small amounts.

You can also periodically rotate flavors to prevent boredom and improve palatability. However, you should not change flavors too frequently or abruptly, as doing so may cause digestive distress or food intolerance in some dogs.

Additionally, you should avoid flavors to which your dog is allergic or sensitive, as well as those that are unsuitable for their health condition. For instance, if your dog has kidney disease, you should avoid flavors like fish and cheese that are high in phosphorus.

Buying Guide

Choosing the right dry food for dogs can be a complex task, with considerations like macronutrient content, vitamin content, and taste. However, with some basic knowledge, you can easily choose the best dry food for your pet.

1. Macronutrient content

Proteins, lipids and carbohydrates are the three macronutrients that every organism needs in a specific ratio to grow. When we feed our dogs commercial dog food, it is our responsibility to choose the right macronutrient content.

According to one study, canines need a high-protein and high-fat diet, so it’s important to choose dog food that follows this ratio. Unfortunately, many dog foods are high in carbohydrates due to low grain prices.

Although whole grains are not inherently harmful, they are low in protein and fat. You should choose a dog food with a higher protein and lipid content. The protein and lipid content of the dry dog food can be easily found on the package’s guaranteed analysis label.

2. Ingredient

Any dog food you choose should have a high percentage of meat. Ideally, meat should be the first ingredient in any dish. Ideally, animal products should be among the first five ingredients specified.

If your dog has allergies, avoid giving them foods that contain that particular type of meat. Dogs are allergic to the foods they eat on a regular basis, so a diet that includes a variety of meat sources is recommended.

Grains are not always harmful, and many premium dog foods contain a variety of whole grains. However, grains should not make up the bulk of the diet. Refined grains are significantly less nutritious than other ingredient options.

3. Additional vitamins

If your dog has a specific health condition, choose a dog food that contains additional ingredients and micronutrients that can aid in their treatment.

For example, omega fatty acids are beneficial for a dog’s skin and coat, and glucosamine and chondroitin are beneficial for joint health.

FAQs

1. What should I consider when selecting powdered dog food?

When selecting powdered dog food, it’s essential to consider the quality of protein sources, balance of nutrients, and absence of maize, wheat, and soy.

Adhering to AAFCO guidelines and taking your dog’s unique dietary requirements into account are also crucial factors.

2. What amount of dried dog food should I give my dog?

The amount of dried dog food to feed your dog depends on their age, weight, and level of activity. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage for your dog.

3. Can I alter the brand of dried food my dog eats?

Yes, you can change the brand of your dog’s dry food, but it should be done gradually to avoid digestive issues. Mix the new food with the old food for several days until the transition is complete.

4. Can desiccated dog food promote dental health?

Dried dog food can promote dental health as the kibble’s texture encourages chewing, aiding in digestion and tooth cleaning.

5. Is it healthful for a dog to consume only dried food daily?

Yes, it’s healthy for dogs to consume only dry food daily. Quality dry dog food provides all the essential nutrients necessary for a healthy and active life, though individual dogs may have different flavor preferences.

Dry dog food is a complete and balanced diet that can be fed exclusively to dogs.

6. What is the best dry dog food in the US?

It is difficult to determine the best dry dog food in the United States due to the unique dietary needs of each pup. Hill's Science Diet , Royal Canin , and Blue Buffalo are, however, some of the highest-rated brands.

These brands prioritize protein sources of superior quality, balanced nutrient profiles, and natural ingredients. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best dry dog food for your pet’s specific dietary requirements.

7. What is the best grain-free dry dog food?

The best grain-free dry dog food should contain high-quality sources of protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. Taste of the Wild , Merrick, and Wellness Core are examples of prominent grain-free brands.

These brands replace cereals with alternative sources of carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes or legumes.

It is crucial to note, however, that grain-free diets may not be necessary for all canines, and some research suggests they may be linked to heart problems in certain breeds.

Consult your vet to determine if a grain-free diet is appropriate for your dog.

Conclusion

Choosing the best dry dog food for your dog can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for finding the best dry dog food:

  1. Look for products with superior-quality ingredients and avoid those with inferior-quality ingredients by examining the ingredient list.
  2. Consider the nutritional content and choose a food that provides complete and balanced nutrition for your dog’s life stage and level of activity.
  3. Examine the quality standards and choose a food that meets the AAFCO standards for complete and balanced nutrition based on feeding trials.
  4. Consider the caloric content and select a product that meets your dog’s energy requirements.
  5. Consider the flavor and choose a dog food that your pet enjoys and tolerates well.

If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s nutrition or want to change their diet, consult your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you determine your dog’s nutritional requirements and recommend the best dry dog food.

BestForPets hope that these tips will help you find the best dry dog foods for your furry friend. Happy eating!

Author Image

Dr. Heidi Bigham

Dr. Heidi H. Bigham, DVM is an expert in small animal veterinary care, specializing in emergency medicine, geriatric pet health, and internal medicine. She has five years of expertise as a general practitioner of small animal medicine in facilities that provide preventative care, surgery, and 24-hour emergency treatment. 

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Heidi Bigham

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