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Christina Montoya Fiedler @ChristinaMontoyaF

Mom, wife, copy writer, parenting blogger, lux travel writer, former publicist, dog lover, Los Angeles native, coffee drinker extraordinaire

The 24 Best Dog Food Brands of 2015

The 24 Best Dog Food Brands of 2015

Many factors -- such as the age, weight and breed of your dog -- go into choosing the best dog food for your furry companion. But not all brands are created equal. Pet experts stress there are definitely some ingredients you'll want to steer clear of and others you'll want to include in your dog's diet.

"The phrase 'healthy dog food' means different things to different people," says dog trainer and behavior specialist Tonya Wilhelm of Toledo Dog Training. "Dry dog food is by far the most common and easiest to use, but also the most processed and carbohydrate-heavy food you can find," she notes. She strongly recommends that pet owners who choose to feed a pre-made dog food -- whether dry, canned or dehydrated -- first read all the dog food ingredients carefully. "Yes, the actual ingredient list -- not just the front of the package," she stresses.

Overall, the best dog food has familiar ingredients, high levels of protein and antioxidents and should not have artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup or cane sugar or animal by-products. You will want to read all the ingredients, paying close attention to the first five on the list. 

What to Look for in a Dog Food
The best dog foods have a simple ingredient list with familiar food sources you can recognize. Basically, if you don't want it in your food, you probably shouldn't want it for your dog.

Look for foods that have a named meat ingredient as the first ingredient (like chicken or turkey or beef), not just "meat" since that is mystery meat. It's okay if it's a meal instead of a whole meat," says Dr. Judy Morgan, a veterinarian with more than 30 years of experience helping dogs and their owners. "Some companies use a whole meat, which includes moisture, so the protein contribution actually ends up being lower than a meal would contribute (because meal has already had the moisture taken out). The first 5 ingredients are the big players in the food."

What to Avoid
Stay away from any foods that have artificial colors and flavors. A food should never include high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup or cane sugar or animal by-products and other artificial binders. "Avoid 'meat and bone meal' or anything labeled as 'rendered,'" says Dr. Morgan. Rendered means an un-named source from rendered animals.

These can include "zoo animals, road kill, euthanized pets and waste meats from supermarkets," she says. "In canned food, avoid anything with any kind of gluten (corn, wheat, soy), any dyes, any high fructose corn syrup or any carrageenan." In addition to avoiding any un-named "meat" products or "meat by-products," she recommends staying away from semi-moist products because many of these contain high fructose corn syrup, wheat, dyes and propylene glycol.

Now that you know what to look for and what not to look for, you can take charge of buying the best dog food for your pet.

Here are 24 of the best brands to get you started:

Best Dog Food Brands
 

  1. Wellness Natural Pet Food
    Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Formula has zero artificial colors and flavors and no by-products.
     
  2. Wellness Natural Pet Food
    Wellness CORE Grain Free Reduced Fat Dry Dog Food has 80 percent more protein than other brands so that your dog gets what he needs to build more lean muscle with no added fillers.
     
  3. Taste of the Wild
    Hi Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Venison is one of the easiest dog foods to digest with lots of antioxidants.
     
  4. Nature's Variety
    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is great for owners who still want standard dry dog food but are looking to introduce freeze-dried options to their pets, as well.
     
  5. Natural Balance
    L.I.D Limited Ingredient Diets Lamb Meal and Brown Rice Dry Dog Formula is the best option for dogs with food allergies. Lamb and brown rice are the main ingredients.
     
  6. Organix
    Castor & Pollux Organix Canine Adult Weight Management Formula Dry Dog Food is gluten-free with added flax seed oil.
     
  7. Hill's Science Diet
    Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food is great for large dogs who eat large quantities. The brand is easy to digest and great for bone and joint support that larger dogs need.
     
  8. Purina Pro Plan
    Focus Dry Dog Food is full of beneficial omega-3s for dogs with skin allergies and problems.
     
  9. Blue Buffalo
    Small Breed Chicken & Rice Dog Food focuses on eating the way a dog should -- grain free. It includes added vitamins and minerals in its "Life Source Bits" that are vegetable flavored.
     
  10. Fromm
    Four Star Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Game Bird Recipe features duck, quail and pheasant as main protein sources.
     
  11. Rachel Ray Nutrish
    Nutrish Zero Grain Dry Dog Food shows the celebrity's commitment to pets, with this line of dog food that's considered top-notch, with no grains, no byproducts and only high-quality protein.
     
  12. Honest Kitchen
    Embark: Grain Free Turkey Dog Food is pure human-grade food. If it's good for you, it's good enough for your pup.
     
  13. Dr. Harvey's
    Veg to Bowl Dry Dog Food is for those who want to go the homemade route. This food makes that easy -- just add water for a hot, wet meal for your dog.
     
  14. Acana
    Puppy and Junior Dog Dry Mix is a puppy formula that's great for little pups just starting out with the vitamins, minerals and protein they need to grow big and strong.
     
  15. Nature's Variety
    Instinct Raw Freeze Dried Meal or Mixer is a freeeze-dried raw food that comes in a variety of flavors.
     
  16. Stella & Chewy's
    Freeze Dried Dog Food for Adult Dogs, Chicken Patties are single-serving meals for dogs, which are convenient for picky pets.
     
  17. Primal Pet Foods
    Freeze-Dried Canine Beef Formula is just what it sounds like -- freeze-dried raw ground meat, which is what dogs really want.
     
  18. Newman's Own
    Organic Beef and Liver Grain-Free for Dogs. This is a popular brand you may already be familiar with for household food items, and it makes the same quality products for dogs.
     
  19. Hill's Science Diet
    Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Dog Food is designed with gentle ingredients for pups with sensitive stomachs, and it includes antioxidants and some fiber.
     
  20. Nutro Ultra
    Adult Dry Dog Food is good for dogs with beef allergies. It's made with chicken, salmon and lamb.
     
  21. Iams Veterminary Formula
    Glucose & Optimum Weight Control Plus Dry Dog Food is one of the best brands for helping keep diabetes in dogs under control.
     
  22. CANIDAE
    All Life Stages Formula For Dogs offers a mix of probiotics, antioxidants and healthy omega oils for optimal nutrition.
     
  23. Wellness Natural Pet Food
    Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Wet Canned Dog Food is great because sometimes dogs simply can't eat dry food because of dental problems. If so, this food is rich in high quality ingredients.
     
  24. Pedigree
    Choice Cuts in Gravy With Lamb & Vegetables promotes good digestion in dogs with nutrients that are easily absorbed.

 

What's for dessert? Check out 17 Tasty Dog Treat Recipes Your Pup Will Beg For
 

Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Her furry friend is a rescue dog named Zuma. Follow her twitter.

3 comments

Oldest comments are listed first

  • There are some good names on this list: Canidae, Fromm, Acana, Wellness, Newman's, BB and TOTW. The other brands however I would suggest to anyone with a dog or cat to avoid feeding their pet. Orijen, Blackwood, Earthborn, Merrick, Authority should have been on this list in place of the others: Pedigree, Purina, Hill's, Iams

  • My dog needs a yeast free diet , what dog foods would you recommend ( she always has ear infections ) she is a large dog 90 lbs.

  • Please be aware ..Orijen..and Acana.. are the Same Company ....excellent small top tier company based in Alberta Canada... It's Orijen in Canada but is Acana..in the States Both are excellent...and yes they ship ..I agree with about questioning Purina, Iams,Pedigree,.. Hardly comparable. Do the research, it was eye opening for me .

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