The 25 Best Dry Dog Foods (Vet Review)

  • By:

    Dr. Linda Simon
    Dr. Linda Simon

    Author: Dr. Linda Simon

    Dr. Linda Simon is a veterinary surgeon working with seven years of experience. She is a fellow of the British Veterinary Association and specializing in animal medicine. Also, she has been the Woman magazine resident vet for the past two years and writes a regular column for them, focusing on pets and their health.

    View all 18 articles Learn about our editorial process and veterinary review board.
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  • Updated on: 02/18/2021

With so many types available on the market, it can be tough to know which type of dry food will be most preferred. Many pet owners are searching for a superior quality that they can feed to their pets. Making sure that their pets can get access to the best quality of food can be crucial.

best-dry-foods-for-dogsImage by Mat Coulton from Pixabay

At a Glance: Our TOP-5 Picks of Dry Foods for Dogs

We looked into some of the best types of dry dog foods on the market today and presented this comparison chart to you.




Our #1 Rated
canidae dog food all ages

1. Canidae Dog Food: All Ages

  • The formula for all ages.

  • It only uses healthy grains.

  • Offers a complete profile of fat, carbohydrates and proteins with little wheat.

Our #2 Rated
wellness core natural dry dog food original turkey chicken

2. Wellness CORE Natural Dry Dog Food Original Turkey & Chicken

  • Great sources of protein.

  • Completely grain-free.

  • All-natural ingredients.

  • Excellent omega-3 content.

Our #3 Rated
merrick grain free real texas beef sweet potato dry dog food

3. Merrick Grain-Free Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

  • Grain-Free.

  • High protein and fat content (while beneficial for active and sporty dogs, beware high-fat contents in those dogs predisposed to obesity and/or pancreatitis).

  • Packed with antioxidants to help with canine arthritis.

Our #4 Rated
pedigree adult complete nutrition roasted chicken rice vegetable flavor dry dog food

4. Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Roasted Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Flavor Dry Dog Food

  • Designed for affordability.

  • Uses whole grains in a healthy formation.

  • Offers supplemented nutritional benefits.

  • A higher moisture content than other pedigree products.

Our #4 Rated
wellness complete health natural dry small sreed dog food

5. Wellness Complete Natural Dry Dog Food Natural Lamb, Barley Meal Recipe 

  • Healthy whole grains only.

  • No artificial ingredients.

  • Designed to bolster the nutrition of active dogs.

*Ratings are formed by the author of the article based on own research and combined with customer reviews.

What is the Best Dry Dog Food brand on the market?

Taste of the Wild is probably one of the better options for affordability. If you’re looking at upgrading your dog’s diet and you’d like to consider a high-protein option that is just a little more expensive than the bulk food that you may have been purchasing, this can be a great starting place.

If you would like to treat your dog to some of the best food on the market and you aren’t too concerned with the cost, you might want to consider a more expensive option that is higher in protein and better quality ingredients such as the Merrick grain-free Formula. When upgrading, it’s important to make sure that you consult with your vet first as well as follows a strict policy on transitioning your dog over to new food! Diet changes should be made gradually over several days to avoid stomach upset.

What is the Best recommended by Vets?

Manufacturers can mention that some types of dry dog food are hypoallergenic, but that is not quite right. They still may contain a limited number of ingredients making them a better choice for those with allergies, but hypoallergenic foods should usually have a hydrolyzed protein source, e.g.

Please remember, grain-free food not the healthiest as it may occur. This is actually a really controversial topic as there is some evidence that grain-free diets might actually be linked to heart disease in some dogs. Studies are currently being undertaken.

Due to this, it’s the best not to simply choose grain-free food, if possible, chose it for dogs those sensitive to grains.

The Best Dry Dog Foods (All Reviews)

1. Canidae Dog Food: All Ages

canidae dog food all ages
Our #1 Rated

The goal of this product was to produce dry food that could be perfect for households that have multiple dogs. This is a healthy option for adult dogs for all sizes. The healthy grains included here do not include filler materials, which can deliver many added health benefits.



  • Great for multi-pet households.
  • Contains optimal protein.
  • Five different varieties.
  • None.

2. Wellness CORE Natural Dry Dog Food Original Turkey&Chicken

wellness core natural dry dog food original turkey chicken
Our #2 Rated

The blend of ingredients here includes whitefish, Herring, salmon and more. The overall goal of this product is to deliver high-quality protein ingredients that can offer a better omega-3 fatty acids level. Wellness court provided a quality food here with only natural ingredients for dogs of all ages. Some formulas include wild duck, rabbit, or in Turkey. Wellness core doesn’t contain any type of soy, corn or wheat to offer the best natural experience for your pet.



  • Only high-quality ingredients.
  • Grain-free.
  • High omega-3 content.
  • It can have a shorter expiry.

3. Merrick Grain-Free Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

merrick grain free real texas beef sweet potato dry dog food
Our #3 Rated

Merrick has produced a premium brand of dog food that is delivered with an exceptional antioxidant blend. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are included in this formula to ensure that healthier joints can be sustained over the lifespan of your pet. Produced using Texas beef, venison, rabbit and chicken, some recipes include duck, turkey and salmon. The natural proteins that are produced are also supplemented with many nutrients and vitamins.



  • Excellent source of protein.
  • Perfect for preserving joints over time.
  • An excellent option for adult dogs of all ages.
  • Quite expensive for a 25-pound bag.

4. Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Roasted Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Flavor Dry Dog Food

Pedigree introduced a new premium line quite recently with complete nutrition. The formula is available in steak, lamb, chicken, and more. There’s a series of whole grains and healthy veggies that make this an excellent option for a dog food that can generate improvements for better canine health.

The product has been supplemented with a variety of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that can lead to preserving health as a dog’s age. Most contains less than 10% moisture while this one has 12% moisture, which may be beneficial for kidney and bladder health.



  • High moisture content that’s perfect for dogs transitioning from wet food.
  • Well-balanced nutritional supplements.
  • Antioxidants added.
  • Still contains grains (so grain sensitive dogs may react) although they are healthier whole-grain.

5. Wellness Complete Natural Dry Dog Food Natural Lamb, Barley Meal Recipe

wellness complete health natural dry small sreed dog food
Our #5 Rated

Wellness Complete Health is available in lamb and chicken. Design is a healthy dog food preparation. Wellness Complete offers some finest natural ingredients with only natural grains included. If your pet’s wellness is a real priority, the health benefits that can be added here from only healthy grain food can make sure that your pet can enjoy more energy from less food and without the chance of added chemicals.



  • A healthier option with natural meats and added supplements.
  • Designed without artificial ingredients.
  • Only two options available: in chicken and lamb.
  • Usually only available in smaller bags.

6. Diamond Naturals Real Meat

The Diamond Naturals recipe is designed to provide a simple recipe for your dog that offers excellence in a nutrient profile. Diamond Naturals has always worked to build a flavor profile closer to the ancestral diet of canines.

The goal of this pet food is to promote healthier digestion as well as enjoy a more delicate balance between helpful bacteria in your dog’s digestive system. The immune system boosting supplements, as well as the high protein content in this product, have lead to improvements for the beef and rice formula over some other products that have been put out by the company.

Key Features:

  • Beef proteins sourced from grass-fed cattle.
  • Supplements added for nutrient-dense food.
  • 80 million CFU (use of probiotics) included.
  • 25% protein and 15% fat as a minimum.



  • Well-balanced formula.
  • Includes probiotics.
  • High protein content.
  • Still only contains beef meal rather than better cuts of the meat.

7. Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food

Iams has been a world-renowned dog food producer for many years and their mini chunks formula is designed as a farm-raised alternative to their traditional food. The blend includes an I-Carnitine mix that can improve the metabolism of your dog. If you had struggles with maintaining weight in the past, this is a high-protein formula that can help your dog to keep a healthier weight by making metabolic adjustments.

IAMS has produced an extremely well-balanced product using only their most exquisite ingredients. The moisture content (also ensures that pets won’t have any trouble eating it as they age or experience any problems with their dental health) may be beneficial for older dogs and the size of the kibble can make it easier to eat than other dry foods.

The nutrients included are built from fruits, vegetables and wholesome grains. This formula is an excellent way to keep your pets’ skin and coat as healthy as possible and you can support the immune system functions with the quality of ingredients included.

Key Features:

  • Produced using beet pulp, fruits, vegetables and farm-raised chicken.
  • Does not contain soy or wheat.
  • It contains L-Carnitine, which is needed for optimal heart function and may aid in healthy weight loss.



  • Excellent quality of ingredients.
  • L-Carnitine enriched.
  • Contains many grains, so grain sensitive dogs may react.

8. Rachael Ray Nutrish

Rachael Ray showcase her love of her pets this year by releasing her own natural brand. The components provided in this natural dog food are not organic, but it does not contain any artificial ingredients. The gluten grain-free formula offers more than a 10% moisture content, and it can be the perfect choice for pets that regularly experience difficulty with allergies and irritation if they suffer from a grain or gluten allergy.

If you have a pet that is particularly sensitive to their food or that regularly experiences problems with digestion, this could be an excellent choice for satisfying a fussy stomach and making sure that you can feed your dog only healthy options.

Key Features:

  • All-natural grain-free and gluten-free.
  • The moisture content of 11%.
  • Formulated with vitamins and minerals.
  • Contains no artificial ingredients.



  • No artificial ingredients.
  • Excellent moisture content.
  • Formulated with vitamins and minerals.
  • Not organic (light) like some available other products.
  • Those with allergies to other ingredients (such as chicken, pea and rice would still react).

9. Purina Beyond Simply

Purina produced Beyond as a product that included limited ingredients. There’s usually only one protein source in each type of blend, and the goal is to provide owners with an improved level of fiber as well as a product that they can easily digest.

This can’t be considered part of a hypoallergenic diet, but because the company is only using white meat chicken, it can be excellent for dogs seeking a high protein diet, with protein levels of at least 30%. This can be an excellent choice for your dog as they age, but it may not be wise for pets that are experiencing problems with their kidneys, who are less able to deal with high amounts of protein.

Key Features:

  • Includes chicken and chicken meal.
  • Contains wholesome grains like rice, oatmeal and barley.
  • Contains sunflower oil, natural liver oil, beef fat and canola meal.



  • Easy to digest.
  • Contains only white meat.
  • Contains grains, so grain sensitive dogs may react.
  • It is not a great formula for aging dogs who may have underlying issues.

10. Wellness Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe 

The Wellness Complete Health formula is designed as a dry food that derives the majority of its meat protein from chicken and chicken meal. With 27% protein content, the fat to protein ratio is around 50% in this formula. As a high-protein formula, this remains one of the better grain included kibbles on the market.

What makes the brand even more impressive is that they have created a series of formulas designed for puppies, small breeds, large breeds and more. With 14 different varieties from the company, you can find a recipe that will work for your pet individually.

Key Features:

  • Contains only healthy grains.
  • Produced using deboned chicken and chicken meal.
  • Has 14 different recipes available.



  • Plenty of varieties to suit your dog.
  • Excellent protein to fat ratio.
  • Still contains grains, so grain sensitive dogs may react negatively.
  • A significant degree of the protein comes from chicken meal rather than white chicken meat.

11. Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Coated

Instinct Original has created a unique product line deriving their proteins from duck, rabbit, salmon, beef, chicken and more. Because of the multiple flavor options of the company provides, many have considered this to be an excellent option for finding a high-protein dog food that’s great for picky eaters. The company also include some varieties like small and large breed and a grain-free formula that can be the perfect idea for digestive issues.

What is unique about this product is that it is one of the first raw coated products. Its raw coating allows for an added level of nutrients that can enhance flavors. The coating is added by instinct during the time that the food is freeze-dried and this can enhance flavors to produce food that is going to be better tasting than some other options on the market. 

Key Features:

  • Grain-Free.
  • Raw coated kibble for added nutrients.
  • High Protein.



  • Unique coating for added flavor.
  • High protein formula.
  • Grain-free so grain sensitive dogs will not react.
  • The majority of proteins come from the meal rather than whole.

12. Purina ProPlan Savor Adult

Purina ProPlan Savor is produced with shredded tender bites. It is infused with Linoleic acid, omega-6 fatty acids as well as other features. It is not a grain-free formula as it contains what bran. Purina wanted to introduce a product that was going to offer support for daily energy and in a wide range of different flavors. The real meat proteins which are used here can promote a healthy lifestyle, and they are enhanced with flavors like salmon, beef, lamb and rice.

Key Features:

  • Unique formula with shredded meats and kibble together.
  • Real meat is the first ingredient.
  • Filled with added vitamins for enhancing health.



  • Unique formula.
  • Designed with enhanced vitamins.
  • Better flavors with real meat.
  • Still contains rice and whole grains, so grain sensitive dogs may react and develop symptoms such as an upset stomach and itchy skin.

 13. Amazon Brand Wag Turkey Lentil Recipe

Wag is an Amazon brand of dog food that is considered one of the best budget products available now. The main formula here is made up of lentils and peas. The mixture also does not contain any added grains, which can lead to an upset stomach in susceptible canines. Each batch is produced with quality in mind in a lab-tested facility. The servings of the product contain a 35% protein rating, which is quite competitive in the market.

Key Features:

  • Delivered with high food standards in mind.
  • Contains extra meats.
  • Does not contain grains so grain sensitive dogs would not react.
  • Great vitamins and antioxidant support.



  • Excellent antioxidant support.
  • Plenty of real meat.
  • High safety standards.
  • Can only be purchased on Amazon.
  • Peas and lentils act as a filler instead of grains.

14. Canidae Pure

The company has gone out of their way to produce simple dry food with just 10 main ingredients. With formulas in Lamb, Turkey and Chicken Meal. This is a simple product produced in Texas-based facilities. Containing omega 6 and 3 fatty acids is a recipe that can properly support a healthy coat and improve energy levels.

Key Features:

  • Simple ingredients.
  • Does not require a prescription.
  • No grains.



  • Plenty of varieties.
  • Simple and healthy.
  • Can be expensive.

15. Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula

purina pro plan bright mind adult 7 chicken rice formula

As your dog continues to age, getting access to a better quality food source can be important. This formula is designed with safer ingredients that can keep your dog’s mind and body active as they age. Designed with the goal in mind of improving cognitive health in canines, the ingredients here include high-quality chicken and other proteins which can improve the health of dogs who decide to diet using these products.

Key Features:

  • Above-average protein (37%).
  • No BHA, a preservative that has been linked to certain cancers.
  • Designed for aging dogs with a focus on aiding cognitive function and healthy immune systems.



  • Perfect for dogs as they age.
  • Designed with high-quality ingredients.
  • Usually limited to smaller bags.

16. Halo Holistic Surf & Turf Grain-Free 

Halo produced this product with the goal in mind of making a grain-free dog food produced with whole whitefish, chickpeas, and lentils as well as excellent quality turkey. Halo supports farmers that are using only non-GMO feeds for their animal products and the fish that are used in the food are only caught sustainably. There is no use of Fish meal or turkey meal in the production of this product. No artificial flavors or preservatives are used either.

Key Features:

  • Made with whole fish.
  • Non-GMO vegetable ingredients.
  • Super digestible.



  • Non-GMO.
  • No artificial colors or flavors.
  • No use of meat meal.
  • Quite expensive and still a relatively new company.

17. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe 

Hills produced this formula specifically in several varieties to suit the needs of each sized dog. The goal of this food is to help with weight regulation. The larger kibble is designed to satisfy larger dogs, whereas the smaller kibble size (assists with) is easier for smaller dogs to chew.

The product is made in the USA with trusted ingredients. The nutrients added to the food improve joint health as well as maximize energy levels. Added Glucosamine and Chondroitin (ensure)can promote ongoing joint health as your dog ages. The natural sources for these ingredients also (ensure that there are no dietary problems) help prevent digestive upset in sensitive dogs.

Key Features:

  • Formulated for energy and fitness.
  • Helps with weight control.
  • Above-average protein.



  • Perfect for weight control.
  • Contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
  • Corn gluten meal and other fillers are present.

18. I and Love and You Naked Essentials Lamb & Bison Recipe Grain-Free 

This product is produced without any by-products or any fillers. The chickpea and pea proteins ensure that the formula contains no rice or grains which can be valuable for dogs sensitive to these ingredients.

There are also no artificial preservatives present, and the colors and flavors are all their own. The dog food comes in two flavors, including lamb and whitefish. The 30% protein ration ensures that this is an excellent nutritional value. Flaxseeds and fish oils provide a much-needed boost of omega 3’s and 6’s.

Key Features:

  • Made with lamb and bison.
  • Probiotics and prebiotics included.
  • Enhanced with omega-3. 



  • Grain-free (useful for those who react to grain).
  • Designed to improve digestion.
  • Low-fat formula.
  • Only comes in small bags.

19. Nature’s Recipe Adult Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nature’s recipe is a fantastic option for healthier food. The mixture contains some healthier and more wholesome grains and nearly 0 gluten. Nature’s recipe uses oatmeal and barley to assist with digestion but ensures the majority of calories are delivered via proteins. The low-fat formula also helps with weight control and is better for dogs prone to high cholesterol and pancreatitis.

Key Features:

  • Lamb, oatmeal and barley are the main ingredients.
  • Enhanced with omega 3.
  • Does not contain corn or wheat.



  • Low gluten formula and designed for healthy digestion.
  • Protein-rich and includes vitamins and minerals.
  • It still contains oatmeal and other fillers as well as meat meals.

20. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Roasted Bison & Venison

High Prairie produces a large amount of their food with fresh buffalo, lamb and chicken meal. The 36% protein rate doesn’t put this product at the top of our list, but the fat to protein ratio is around 56% in this formula.

The company produces a completely grain-free formula that has some unique flavors for your dog. They also have special formulations for small breed, large breed and puppy. High Prairie is definitely known for offering (of) food that’s easy on the stomach as well as being great for pets that have allergies to many traditional protein sources such as chicken and turkey.

Key Features:

  • Made with superfoods and antioxidants.
  • Produced using sustainable and trusted sources.
  • Protein-rich and made with roasted bison and venison.



  • Grain-free which is beneficial for those dogs that react to the grain.
  • Unique flavors.
  • Affordable.
  • High caloric content (although this could be seen as a pro for very active and working dogs).

21. Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Turkey Recipe 

Nulo has produced eight dry kibble recipes as part of its line of grain-free formulas. The recipes include lamb, cod, trout and more. There are also formulas for seniors, puppies, large breeds and small breeds. The majority of the protein in many of these recipes includes Turkey as well as Salmon. This formula contains 37% protein.

The grain-free formula is designed to help dogs that have experienced problems with allergies to grains in the past. The overall lack of many of the filler ingredients and cheaper proteins that you would find in other products can provide a boost to many pets that have experienced problems with allergies from dry food in the past.

Key Features:

  • Made without wheat, soy, eggs or tapioca.
  • Added probiotics support.
  • Fresh and natural ingredients.



  • Made with unique ingredients to prevent allergic reactions.
  • High protein formula.
  • Contains probiotics.
  • Can be expensive and often comes in smaller bags only.

22. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Pork, Beef & Lamb Recipe

Whole Earth Farms produces their product using the bulk of its meat protein from turkey and chicken. Only a 29% protein rating in this food makes it not quite as nutrient-packed as some other blends on our list, but it is highly affordable. The formulas here include puppy, small breed, Turkey, pork, and salmon. The product is grain inclusive, and it does provide barley, oatmeal and brown rice.

Key Features:

  • Healthy grain formula.
  • Built with multiple proteins sources.
  • Designed for any age range of dogs.



  • Highly affordable.
  • Many formulas to suit your pet.
  • Excellent protein sources.
  • It contains a high carb rating, which may promote obesity in less active dogs.

23. Holistic Select Adult Health Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Recipe

The Holistic Select formula derives the majority of its protein from fresh fish, including salmon, sardines and anchovies. A 32% protein ratio makes it excellent for dogs of all ages and there are formulas that can include turkey and lamb.

This is a highly recommended choice because of the added digestive enzymes that the company coats the food with. This could be the perfect option for many picky eaters as well as dogs that have had problems with digestive problems in the past.

Key Features:

  • Designed with probiotics, natural fiber sources, probiotics, botanical, and digestive enzymes.
  • Made with premium proteins.
  • No meat by-products.



  • Includes digestive enzymes.
  • Many flavors.
  • High-quality protein sources.
  • Lower protein rating when compared to some other products on the market.

24. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Adult High Protein Grain Free with Chicken 

Blue Buffalo is a manufacturer that is producing the blue wilderness line. The goal of this natural product is to produce a single ingredient dog food that’s freeze-dried and made out of fruits, vegetables, and zero grains. The formulations include duck, salmon and chicken.

The formula is also enhanced with a series of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to improve the health of pets. With a high dosage of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, you may see a difference in your dog’s coat using this product. It’s also an excellent choice if your pet experiences digestive issues.

Key Features:

  • Single-ingredient and grain-free.
  • Packed with nutrients in every bite.
  • No artificial ingredients.



  • High-quality ingredients.
  • Excellent source of omega 6 and 3 fatty acids.
  • Natural formula.
  • Only 27% protein and a high degree of carbs.

25. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials line is a perfect choice for the healthy, active dog. With high quality chicken as the number one ingredient, this kibble is the ideal source of all your dog’s protein needs. With no ‘nasties’, you can rest assured that there are no artificial flavor enhancers or preservatives contained in this dog food and it is chock-full of wholesome, filling ingredients like sweet potato and brown rice. These carbohydrate sources release their energy over time, ensuring your pooch will have plenty of oomph all day long.

Key Features:

  • All-natural ingredients so you don’t have to worry about what you’re feeding your dog each day.
  • The soluble fiber aids healthy digestion.
  • Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids for joint and skin health.



  • Non GMO.
  • Natural Ingredients.
  • Not grain free, so those allergic to grain should stick to another.

­Dry Dog Food Buying Guide

how to choose dry dog food for my dogImage by @eugeneshemyakin9 from FreePik

Why feed Dry Dog Food?

This type is recommended by vets for several reasons. Not only are the dry foods on today’s market nutritionally complete and packed full of vitamins and minerals, but they also offer great value for money. It is easy to store and generally lasts for longer than wet alternatives. 

Dry food is the best choice when a dog is on a diet (and with over 50% of our pet dogs being over-weight, this is a common occurrence!) as it is very easy to measure out using a kitchen scales allowing for good portion control each mealtime. It is nutritionally dense as it is low in moisture, so it is packed full of calories, meaning a little goes a long way.

Another major benefit of feeding dry dog food is that it ensures good dental health. The dry kibble can crack off calculus and minimizes the risk of plaque building up over time. Those breeds prone to dental diseases such as Yorkshire Terrier, Greyhounds, and Shih Tzus should ideally be few a dry diet where appropriate. Be cautious not to add water to the food as this softens it and eliminates any dental benefits it provides.

From an owner’s perspective, dry food is generally the best dietary option as it makes for quick and easy mealtime and is simple to clean up.

READ MORE: Wet vs Dry Dog Food

What size of the Packet should I buy?

While it can be economical to purchase a larger bag, this may not be the best choice for all dogs. Open bags of food go off relatively quickly (usually in a couple of months) and can attract storage mites, which many dogs will be allergic to. Those pets with allergies are the best fed from small packets that are replaced frequently. It is also sensible to keep the open bags within airtight plastic containers.

What should I look for in healthy Dog Food? 

READ MORE: How many treats per day for Puppy?

There are a number of things we need to consider when selecting the food we are going to feed our precious pooches:

  • A reasonable protein content comes from real meat or fish sources rather than only by-products. Whether this protein source is chicken, fish, beef or lamb doesn’t matter so much unless, of course, your dog has any allergies. An adult pet with a normal activity level usually needs a diet that consists of 18-25% protein, though this varies from animal to animal. If the food contains more protein than this, this isn’t necessarily concerning for the average dog, but those with underlying liver or kidney issues may need a reduced protein diet. Ideally, the meat would be fit for human consumption.
  • Dog foods will contain anywhere from 30% to 60% carbohydrates. Carbs are an important energy source, though they can easily lead to weight gain if overfed. Those pets who need to lose weight are the best fed on a diet that is higher in protein and contains a carbohydrate amount at the lower end of the scale. A variety of foods are used as carbohydrate sources, including rice, potato, sweet potato and barley.
  • Dogs need fat in their food as an energy source and those that are very active such as working dogs will require a high-fat food. At a minimum, we are looking for 5-10% fat. Both plant and animal sources will usually be used, and we want a balance of both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which can have anti-inflammatory effects and can contribute to good skin and fur health. 
  • Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables such as peas, pumpkin and carrots. As well as providing vital micronutrients from a natural source, many are an important source of fiber.
  • Beneficial additives. In the competitive world we live in today, many dog foods are supplemented with some fantastic ingredients. These can include prebiotics and probiotics for gut health, glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate for joint health and milk thistle for liver support.

READ MORE: How Much to Feed a Puppy

Which Ingredients are the best avoided?

how much dry food should i feed my dogImage by Mat Coulton from Pixabay
  • ‘Grains’ are currently a bit of a buzz word in the pet food industry as many owners believe they can affect their dog’s negatively by causing symptoms such as itchy skin and digestive upset. The truth is, the vast majority of dogs are not adversely affected by grain and there is even some concern that a 100% grain-free diet may be linked to heart disease in larger dogs. Certainly, those who have tested positive to a grain allergy should avoid them, but this will be the minority of the canine population.
  • Meat by-products do not cost manufacturers as much and can be used as a substitute for better quality protein sources. By-products can include organs such as the liver, lungs and intestines.
  • Added ’nasties’ such as coloring, flavorings and sweeteners, just like in the human food industry, are the best avoided where possible. While they may make the food look ‘prettier’ or taste better, they do not add any nutritional benefit. Good quality should not require these additives for a dog to enjoy it.

READ MORE: Can older Dogs eat Puppy Food

What if my Dog has specific needs?

Of course, every pet is an individual. Diet requirements will vary depending on a dog’s breed, age, sex, activity levels and general health. Young and active dogs often have far higher protein and calorie requirements than older dogs. Females who are pregnant or lactating will also have specific needs. Rather than searching for ‘the ideal dog food’ we should seek out the food that the best suits individual needs.

Importantly, when an animal is neutered, their nutritional requirements will change and failing to alter their food can lead to obesity. Similarly, once an animal reaches their senior years we need to switch them to senior to maintain optimum health.

When it comes to medical issues, there are prescription diets available that will be advised by a veterinarian. Those with kidney and/or bladder issues may be advised to avoid dry diets and stick to wet foods as they have higher moisture requirements than the average dog.

READ MORE: Kidney Care for Dogs


how long dry dog food stays freshPhoto by @okeykat on Unsplash

🐕 How much Dry Food should I feed my Dog?

Any owner who is used to feeding wet food or who has never purchased dry food before will be surprised at just how little of it their dog actually needs. Unlike moist foods, the water content in dry food is very low so it is nutritionally dense and a little goes a long way.

A problem often arises when owners over-feed their dogs’ dry food, thinking that the amount suggested on the packet seems too small. If consumed, this over-feeding will inevitably lead to weight gain over time. Not only does being overweight negatively impact a dog’s quality of life by reducing energy levels and their ability to exercise, it can also lead to certain health conditions developing such as diabetes, arthritis and even some cancers.

Companies assume that you are feeding their food and nothing else. This means that if we offer the amount of food that they advise giving, we should not be supplementing this with things like training treats, human scraps and dental sticks throughout the day. The reality is that most dogs do get given other food sources during the day, so we need to account for these and offer less of the dry food.

The beauty of dry food is that it is easy to measure, ensuring we give the right amount every time. Ideally, measuring cups should not be used as several studies have shown that ‘eyeballing’ the amount we give using a scoop or measuring cup can lead to differences of up to 10% at each feed. Thus, we should be using small kitchen scales each meal time if we are to be accurate. This is especially important for those pets who are on a diet.

When determining how much dry food to give, it is always sensible to consult the back of the packet which will have a chart that goes by weight. However, navigating this chart is not always as simple as it seems. We must be sure we are feeding for the correct age and lifestyle. The guidelines provided are simply guidelines and will not be right for every dog. An inactive, lazy Maltese will need far fewer calories than an energetic Jack Russell Terrier who participates in agility classes every few days, even if they weigh the same amount. So, we need to use our common sense when determining if the suggested amount will be right for our pet. Monitor your pet continually as you may find their calorie requirements change as they age and change.


The feeding chart on food packets will suggest the correct amount to feed, assuming that the weight the dog is, is the weight we want them to be. So, if they weigh 10 kg but are roughly 10% over-weight, we should feed them for a 9 kg dog rather and a 10 kg dog.

🐶 How long does Dry Food stay Fresh & what is the best way to store this food?

Dry foods will stay fresh for a varying amount of times depending on the ingredients they contain, so always check each individual the best before date’. Most will last a long amount of time, some even for one or two years. Once opened, a dry food will go stale much quicker (in a matter of weeks or months) and dogs dislike the taste of the food when it is less crunchy or when air and moisture has gotten to it.

As storage mites are attracted to dry food, it is essential to store the bag in an airtight container once it has been opened. Sensitive dogs can develop itchy and red skin when exposed to storage mites.

🐩 What’s the safest way to switch my Dog to a new Dry Food?

It is really important to be cautious and patient when introducing a new diet to our dogs. Switching foods abruptly will commonly cause a stomach upset and symptoms such as vomiting, bloating and diarrhea. This can then lead to food aversion, meaning they choose to avoid the new food that has been bought so, not only are you cleaning vomit from your new rug, you’ve also just wasted money on a food that will go uneaten!

The best way to change foods is to do so gradually over 5-7 days. This means that, on day one, we would offer about 80% of the regular diet with 20% of the new food and watch for any adverse reactions. If this is well tolerated, we would increase the amount of new food the next day to about 40% and reduce the old food to roughly 60%. If at any stage the dog develops a stomach upset, we would need to take a step back and introduce the new food more slowly.

When giving a new food for the very first time, offer it when the dog is hungry to ensure they are more likely to accept it. Try not to make a big deal of it and watch the dog, as they may feel pressured and refuse to eat.

🐕 What are the ingredients that should be avoided ?

The vast majority of dog foods on the market today are of good quality and are safe to give to our canine companions. However, there are a few ingredients that we should be on the lookout for. 

  • Food coloring and dyes are sometimes added to make the food look more appealing, but they add no nutritional value and may cause adverse reactions in some, so should be avoided.
  • An artificial antioxidant called ‘Ethoxyquin’ is commonly found in dog food outside the EU and Australia but can potentially cause both health and behavioral issues so it is the best not to buy dog foods that contain it. Tellingly, it is illegal for human foods to contain this dangerous ingredient.
  • Antioxidants including BHA and BHT have been linked to certain cancers, so should be steered clear of at all times.

Whenever possible, look for natural alternatives ­to the above ingredients such as vitamin E and Rosemary Oil, which are naturally occurring preservatives.

READ MORE: Dog’s Gum Health

ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.

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Laura Adamson January 15, 2021

Thank you so much! This was so detailed! So many of these online resources just peddle products and give you the same old recycled information. This felt as though it was actually written by dog loves for dog lovers. I’ve ordered three of the big dry food bags to see which one my two dogs enjoy most! I’m so excited!

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