Top 10 healthiest dog food brands – Give her the best!

Dog and food

What makes a healthy dog food?

Before we get to the top 10 healthiest dog food brands, let’s talk about what makes a healthy dog food. To begin with, dogs are basically carnivores, although they also eat vegetables, fruit and grains. Some dogs more so than others. In fact, I have known a couple dogs who will eat absolutely anything! But, that’s not such a good thing because some foods are not healthy and some downright harmful.

When you chose a healthy dog food the first ingredient you will look for is some kind of meat like beef, turkey or chicken and NOT a meat byproduct (I am a vegetarian so it hurts to even say that). But, be that as it may, I am not going to convert my pooch to vegetarianism or veganism. However, if I have another dog, that may be a different story. So in a later article, I will write about vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs and if they are feasible.

Next, look for a meat source followed by the word “meal” like “chicken meal.” It’s considered a relatively high protein source.

The next ingredients should be vegetables and a whole grain like brown rice. However, grain-free is probably better (but be aware of potatoes which are added as starch). Furthermore, organic grains are better. Whole fruits are OK.

You should also make sure there are no cheap fillers like corn, soy or meat by-products. Also, check the label to make sure there are no artificial preservatives, additives or coloring such as BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin and propylgallate. Considering this, artificial ingredients are a sign of a cheap, unhealthy food. When you spot an ingredient that is not familiar or too scientific sounding, the chances are it’s a non-natural food item (but not always). Instead, foods preserved with vitamins E and C, often called tocopherols, are the ones you should buy.

Further, check the package for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that the food is “complete and balanced.” “Complete” means that the food has all the nutrients a dog needs at that life stage and “balanced’ means the nutrients are in the correct proportions.

List of ingredients

According to Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, the healthiest dog food would look like this:

  • Lots of high-quality protein (muscle meat, not pieces and parts)
  • Animal fat in moderate levels
  • High levels of EPA/DHA
  • Has high moisture content
  • A few fresh cut veggies and a bit of fruit (to mimic stomach contents of prey)
  • No grains because carnivores don’t have a biologic requirement for grain
  • No wads of potatoes or other starches to offset meat content

More comments about labelingDog food label

Yes, look for the AAFCO label but that sill doesn’t attest to the quality of the food. Furthermore, food manufacturers throw around the terms “natural, “holistic” and “organic” to entice buyers. However, there is very little oversight from the FDA or USDA so food manufacturers can pretty much say what they want. Thus, keep this in mind when you shop and read labels carefully!

Different dogs different needs

Fat: Some dogs, such as puppies and working dogs will need a higher amount of fat.

Low fat: Dogs with pancreatitis need low fat food.

Meats: Protein provides essential nutrients. Puppies, pregnant dogs and dogs with diabetes, intestinal diseases and heart disease need more protein.

Low Protein: For dogs with kidney disease and hepatic encephalopathy, a condition in which liver disease has advanced so far that the brain has become affected.

Carbohydrates: Grains, beans, fruits and vegetables provide energy. Fiber and antioxidants result in good intestinal health.

Low Carb: Dogs with cancer might be given a low-carb diet to starve cancer cells. However, the evidence for this seems to be more anecdotal than scientific.

Mineral Content: Some breeds can’t tolerate normal amounts of copper because It can build up in the liver and cause serious problems. Dogs like Malamutes and Siberian Huskies need more zinc in their diets.

Low Calorie: Obese dogs are an obvious choice for this kind of diet.

Considering above, always check with your vet before embarking (get it?) on a specialized diet.

Canned or dry – that is the question

So, what’s better? I think that’s a choice your dog can make. Some dogs seem to prefer one over the other. It’s also possible that your pooch may like a combination or switch back and forth. Again, read the label to make sure the food contains the proper nutrients and take into consideration that canned food is about 75% water.

Healthy dog food reviews

OK, so now that you know about choosing a healthy dog food, let’s get into our healthy dog food list. Here are 10 that we think are the best – 5 are dry and 5 are canned:

5 of the best dry foods:

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food – Chicken & Sweet Potato Formula

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

  • Made from a single animal protein source
  • Maintains digestive health
  • Supports healthy skin & coat
  • Limited carbohydrates
  • There are no artificial colors or flavors
  • Balanced Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids
  • It is easily digestible for dogs with sensitive systems

Price: $57.41 Buy Here

Merrick Limited Ingredient Chicken Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

  • This is a single-source animal protein recipes
  • Chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Has simple ingredient panel for dogs with food sensitivities
  • Potatoe-free
  • Grain free with no gluten ingredients
  • Contains powerful levels of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids to aid in a healthy skin and coat
  • Has Glucosamine and Chondroitin for healthy hips and joints
  • Cooked in the USA

Price: $64.99 Buy Here

Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food

Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

  • Real lamb is the number 1 ingredient
  • Protein rich
  • Has an optimal amino acid profile
  • Contains no grain
  • There are no fillers
  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Added fruits and vegetables
  • There are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
  • Nutrient rich
  • Highly digestible
  • Made with the most scientifically advanced food safety protocols

Price: $49.99 Buy Here

Canidae Grain Free Pure Dry Dog Food

Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

  • Simple recipe with 10 key ingredients for sensitive dogs
  • Lamb is the number one ingredient
  • Also contains chicken meal and turkey meal
  • Has probiotics for healthy digestive tract
  • There are added whole vegetables
  • Contains antioxidants for a healthy immune system
  • Has Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids

Price: $62.82 Buy Here

Orijen ACANA Heritage Meats Dry Dog Food

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars rating: N/A

  • Grain free dog food
  • Has no potatoes
  • Limited ingredients
  • Contains 60% Beef, pork and lamb ingredients
  • Contains 40% vegetables, fruits and botanicals
  • High palatability

Price: $51.49 Buy Here

5 of the best canned foods:

Blue Buffalo BLUE Family Favorite Recipes Wet Dog Food

Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

  • NUTRO ULTRA Adult Chunks in Gravy
  • Has 3 quality proteins
  • Contains 14 vibrant superfoods
  • It is rich in nutrients
  • There is no corn or soy
  • There are no artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Delivers balanced nutrition for a strong immune system
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed
  • They say your dog will do a happy dance when he gets a whiff of this!
  • 12 – 12.5 oz cans

Price: $30.99 Buy Here

Nutro Ultra Wet Dog Food

Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

  • NUTRO ULTRA Adult Chunks in Gravy
  • Has 3 quality proteins
  • Contains 14 vibrant superfoods
  • It is rich in nutrients
  • There is no corn or soy
  • There are no artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Delivers balanced nutrition for a strong immune system
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed
  • 12 – 12.5 oz cans

Price: $26.28 Buy Here

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food

Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

  • Wholesome ingredients
  • Made with salmon
  • Contains no artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Contains high-quality protein
  • Made with natural vegetable fibers
  • Has Omega fatty acids
  • Vitamins C & E from apples
  • Recommended for dogs 1 – 6
  • 12 – 12.8 oz cans

Price: $22.56 Buy Here

Weruva Grain-Free Jammin’ Salmon Canned Dog Food

Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

  • High quality protein
  • Made with skinless white breast chicken and wild salmon
  • Minimal carbohydrates
  • Has a high moisture content
  • Contains Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Contains tomatoes, green peas, sweet potato in a pumpkin soup
  • There are no added antibiotics or hormone
  • Grain free
  • Great for dogs with sensitive systems and allergies
  • Has added vitamins and minerals
  • Suitable for all stages of life
  • 12 – 14 oz cans

Price: $39.16 Buy Here

Canidae All Life Stages Platinum Chicken, Lamb & Fish Wet Dog Food

Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

  • Made with chicken, lamb & fish for optimum protein
  • Contains premium ingredients for great taste
  • Simmered in broth
  • Has Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids
  • Vitamins and amino acids
  • Contains Glucosamine
  • There is no wheat, corn or soy fillers
  • Contains no artificial ingredients
  • 12 – 13 oz cans

Price: $35.88 Buy Here

Homemade healthy dog food recipes

Buying the healthiest dog food can be pretty expensive (but well worth it). However, a less expensive alternative is to make your own healthy dog food.

Always make sure you buy foods that contain protein, calcium and other essential nutrients. The three basic ingredients you will need are some form of meat, a vegetable or two and something like lentils to hold it together

However, never include bacon, ham, onion, sugar, grapes, raisins, avocado, chocolate or dairy products.

Here are a few easy-to-make recipes.Weiner chef

Chicken dinner:

  • 5 pounds of chicken
  • 2 cups of red cabbage
  • 2 skinned, diced apples
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 5 whole eggs – raw or cooked
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

This meal can be cooked or served raw. With a raw diet make sure the chicken is fresh.

If you cook, chop up the chicken and boil it in a pot until it’s almost fully cooked. Reduce to a simmer and then add the cabbage, spinach and apples. Simmer until the chicken is finished cooking and let cool. Afterwards add the eggs and olive oil and stir.

Two and a half cups is usually enough for a dog of around 60-75 pounds. This meal can be kept in the refrigerator for up to five days in an airtight container.

Fish dinner:

  • 2 pounds of frozen Mackerel of Whiting fillets
  • 1 – 2 cans of Alaskan wild pink salmon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 pound beef liver
  • 1-3 eggs (optional)
  • 2 cups of chopped cooked veggies or fruits – any combination of the following – carrots, cabbage, broccoli, squash, green beans, yams, kale, spinach, apples or berries (no grapes or avocado)
  • 1/2 cup of pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp tumeric powder
  • 2 tbsp Thorvin kelp powder

Put frozen liver, fish, vegetables, and seeds through a meat grinder. Grind into a big bowl. Then mix in the canned salmon, eggs, honey, dried herbs, and powdered kelp.

Keep in fridge and feed when needed. You can also roll the ingredients into meat balls and keep in freezer at least 3 months.

In Conclusion

We hope this information is useful. Yes, some effort and expense is involved if you’re going to feed your dog the healthiest dog food brands or make your own. But, don’t you think it’s worth it?

We love comments so please leave yours below!


8 comments on “Top 10 healthiest dog food brands – Give her the best!

  1. Karen

    Very informative blog on best foods for our dogs. The dry dog food our Airedale Terrier loves has the first ingredient listed as salmon. What are your thoughts about salmon being the first?
    I like that you included a few recipes for homemade dog food and I can’t wait to try them.

    1. Christopher Mitchell

      Hi Karen:

      My thoughts are that if it’s a whole meat or fish and not a byproduct, that’s a good thing and what you should look for.


  2. Kai

    Hi! Great reviews and information on dog foods.
    My dog like both dried and wet foods and whatever I am eating at that moment, hehe.
    I agree with you, I am not a big fan of by-products as well. One reason is that we don’t know exactly what they are. They could be high-quality and digestible (like intestine), or they could be from bones and fatty tissues that are hard to digest and offer little nutrients. So, it is best to choose foods without by-products.
    I like all these foods you recommended, my dog has tried the Orijen brand (six fish) before, which was really good. His hair becomes really soft and fluffy. I will definitely consider other brands in your review.
    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Christopher Mitchell

      Thanks Kai. Yep, you never know what’s in by-products although some of the things I’ve heard make me cringe!

  3. Matt's Mom

    I actually do science diet canned/dry for one of my dogs and Natural Balance healthy weight for the other. I wholeheartedly believe that we should feed our dogs healthy dog food. We want to eat healthy ourselves to live a good life, so I want the same for my little guys. Each of my two have different needs, so they each get what works best for them. Great information! I learned a little bit as well.

    1. Christopher Mitchell

      Thank’s Matt’s Mom:

      I agree. Our pets are our children and we should give them the best lives possible!

  4. Reyhana

    I used to own a pet store but due to medical conditions, I could not run it anymore. But I do agree with your ratings and your steps for looking into the best food for your dog.

    My number 1 selling brand was Natural Balance and people always kept coming for more. I had the dry and the canned food as well.

    I agree that there is a lot of water from the canned food but if I may also add, that it depends on how much water your dog is also drinking. If your dog does not seem to drink a lot of water, then serving canned food is one of the best ways to keep your dog hydrated.

    Many people are under the misconception that canned food is not good but I can affirm that you should not be afraid to feed it to your dog. It does have its benefits.

    1. Christopher Mitchell

      Hi Reyhana:

      Thank you.

      I’m glad you mentioned that about the water content because it’s important for people to know.

      Do you think you will ever have a pet store again?


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