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Dog Food Nutrition

20 Best Dog Food Brands For 2019

April 23, 2019

20 Best Dog Food Brands For 2019

We all want to feed our dogs the best, healthiest dog foods available. The trouble is that every dog is different. And information about what makes the “best” dog food is changing all the time.

People can have very different ideas about which foods are best. One dog lover might prefer a raw food diet while another believes organic dog food is best.

If your dog has a health problem such as diabetes, you might need a different “best” food for that condition.

In this article we’ll look at a wide range of best dog food brands, including our #1 choice of best dog food that most dogs would be able to eat.

We’ll also look at some kinds of dog food to avoid. They may not be the foods you think based on recent research and FDA warnings.

Our #1 Choice for Best Dog Food

Farmina N & D Ancestral Low Grain Dry Dog Food

Farmina N & D Ancestral Low Grain Dry Dog Food lamb

Rating:

  • Ingredients: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety:  5 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research:  5 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes:  5 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Our choice for the best dog food brand today is Farmina N & D Ancestral Low Grain Dry Dog Food. Farmina has been little-known in the U.S. until recently but it’s well-known in Europe.

We have found this food to be excellent. With the announcement in the summer of 2018 that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration was concerned about grain free dog foods and their possible link to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs, many dog lovers began looking for good grain-inclusive foods.

We believe that Farmine N & D Ancestral Low Grain is the best grain-inclusive food available today.

We especially like the cod formula but all of the low-grain formulas are very good.

The food is made in Italy and the company works with the Chair of Animal Nutrition at the University of Naples to formulate the food.

It contains 60 percent high quality animal ingredients for protein, 20 percent organic spelt and organic oats, and 20 percent vegetables, fruits, vitamins, and minerals.

Farmina’s low-grain foods have been in high demand recently so they have been hard to find at times but the company says they have caught up with the demand.

These low-grain formulas have been performing very well in dogs that have had their taurine levels tested.

Our Criteria

Our list of best dog food brands will probably look a little different than other lists you see online.

That’s not because we’re not familiar with the top selling brands or the ratings that dog foods usually receive from other sources.

It’s because we look at what’s healthy for your dog and follow the latest scientific and veterinary health information.

For the last 10-15 years, grain-free dog foods have been skyrocketing in sales, partly due to marketing.

There have never been any studies that showed grain-free dog foods were healthier for dogs.

Many dog foods have also become popular based on the trend toward feeding dogs what humans like to eat.

According to veterinary nutritionists, boutique dog foods that are grain-free or that use exotic ingredients can be more likely to lead to health problems for dogs.

This became clear in the summer of 2018 when the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) put out a warning about grain-free dog foods and their possible link to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. DCM is a serious heart problem that can kill dogs.

It is associated with a few breeds genetically but there has been a surge in cases in recent years.

It is now being diagnosed in all kinds of dogs, even small breeds – dogs that have no genetic predisposition to DCM.

Research is showing that the form of DCM that is being seen so often now appears to be diet-related in some dogs.

Per the FDA warning, dog lovers were advised to be careful about feeding their dogs food that contained large amounts of peas, legumes, lentils, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

These are the ingredients that are often found in grain-free dog foods. The FDA and veterinary cardiologists continue to investigate the problem.

Veterinary nutritionists and other experts indicate that the problem may not be simply grain-free dog foods. Instead, the problem may lie with the dog food companies.

Many companies have won AAFCO approval for their foods based on nutrient profiles instead of feeding trials, for example.

They may not employ veterinary nutritionists to formulate their foods or conduct nutrition research.

They may lack appropriate quality control measures or testing of their foods after production.

All of these things can result in pet foods that are lacking in nutrients that dogs need for long-term health.

A product may have a great label and the ingredients can look good but your dog’s health could be put at risk in the future.

That’s why our criteria for choosing foods takes into consideration the FDA’s warning about the ingredients to avoid (in large amounts).

We are staying informed about the testing for taurine levels and the dog foods that have been associated with low levels; as well as the foods dogs have been eating that are testing with good taurine levels.

Most of the companies that conduct feeding trials, do nutrition research, and employ veterinary nutritionists are big companies.

They are not always popular companies and they aren’t usually the “boutique” brands. The small, trendy companies can’t always afford to do these things.

But, when it comes to your dog’s health, good nutrition should be more important than buying a popular or trendy food.

Best Dry Dog Food Brands

Royal Canin

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

Rating:

  • Ingredients:  4 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall  Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Royal Canin is one of the best dog food brands you can buy today for any kind of dog. Regardless if you have a small or large breed, Royal Canin makes various foods for different breeds and sizes of dogs.

Their foods are tailored to the unique needs of different dogs based on their size and breed.

They also make different lifestage formulas so if you have a puppy, adult dog, or a mature older dog, your pet can get the nutrition he needs.

We can especially recommend the Golden Retriever formulas if you have a Golden Retriever and you are concerned about dilated cardiomyopathy. Dogs with arthritis or other joint mobility problems can benefit from the company’s mobility formulas.

A regular medium-sized dog with no particular health problems would do well eating Royal Canin Dog Food for Medium-Sized Dogs.

If you have an extra small or small dog, she could do well eating Royal Canin X-Small or Royal Canin Small dry dog foods which come in various lifestyle formulas.

Purina Pro Plan Sport

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30-20 Formula Dry Dog Food

Rating:

  • Ingredients: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Purina Pro Plan Sport is one of Purina’s top foods. It comes in several different versions. The 30/20 version has 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat. Owners often buy it for very active dogs because of the high fat content which provides lots of calories for dogs that are hunting, doing agility, or working.

It’s available in the all life stage formula, the maintenance chicken and egg formula with no grain or soy, and the salmon and rice formula. Pro Plan Sport also comes in a turkey and barley formula that is 27/17 protein and fat.

It contains no corn, wheat, or soy. There is also an active 26/16 all life stage formula for dogs that don’t need quite as much fat or calories in their diet.

We can recommend the 30/20 and 26/16 all life stage formulas. These formulas do contain grains and they seem to be doing better with dogs that have been tested for dilated cardiomyopathy.

Purina invests heavily in pet nutrition research, producing breakthrough products such as Pro Plan Bright Mind (another product we can recommend) that helps improve memory and cognition in older dogs.

Eukanuba Active Performance 28/18 Dog Food

Rating:

  • Ingredients: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall Rating 4.8 out of 5 stars

Eukanuba makes several good foods you could consider if you’re looking for a good dog food for your dog.

We particularly like Eukanuba Active Performance 28/18 Dog Food. This food could be higher in fat than some pet owners like since it’s formulated for very active dogs but it’s been performing very well for people who feed it.

If you prefer a food that has less fat or one that isn’t formulated for very active dogs, Eukanuba also make foods that are tailored to specific breeds and to dogs of different sizes.

For example, they have breed specific formulas for Boxers, Dalmatians, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Yorkshire Terriers, and more. Eukanuba also has weight control and mobility dog foods, if your dog needs these products.

You will find that some of these brands (perhaps all of them) also make grain-free dog foods.

We only recommend their grain-inclusive foods that fit the FDA’s criteria.

We haven’t seen evidence that grain-free foods from these companies are necessarily any better than grain-free foods from other companies that have been having problems.

Also ReadBest Dry Dog Food

Best Raw Dog Food Brands

Most raw dog food brands have been recalled at some point in time, usually for Salmonella, so we have not used that as our criteria.

The government inspection process has become so advanced today that even the slightest trace of Salmonella can be found in a facility and that’s enough to instigate a recall.

With raw dog foods, a dog’s health often depends on other things that are added to the diet, especially if you’re only buying raw meat from a company.

Raw companies sell various kinds of packages ranging from mixes that let you add your own meat to companies that sell the meat and let you add your own veggies and other ingredients.

Some sell frozen products and some sell dehydrated foods. There’s a wide variety of raw. Here are our choices for the best raw food brands for your dog today.

Bravo

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Rating:

  • Ingredients: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety:3 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bravo raw meats are sold as frozen chubs – 2, 5, or 10 pounds; or as 4 or 8 ounce frozen patties.

You keep them frozen until you are ready to use them. You can buy Bravo Boneless (red meat or fish); Bravo Basics (a medley of meat, bone, and organ meat for you to customize); Bravo Blends (a four-part limited ingredient formula that you add supplements to); and Bravo Balance (complete balanced dinners that contain essential nutrients your dog needs).

It’s up to you how “raw” you want to go with Bravo and how much you want to formulate the meals yourself. They also have freeze-dried raw diets that you don’t have to freeze. These meals could be more convenient for some owners.

Darwin’s

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Rating:

  • Ingredients: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Darwin’s Raw Dog Food makes Natural Selections Raw Dog Food Premium Line.

It contains 75 percent meat and 25 percent vegetables. It contains no steroids, no hormones, and no antibiotics. It’s a high protein, moderate fat, low carbohydrate formula that’s made with grass-fed beef, cage-free poultry, and organic vegetables. These are nutritionally complete meals.

This food is also available in a prescription line called Intelligent Design for dogs with health issues; and as Biologics Raw Dog Food, a value line (Requires a prescription.)

The value line is made with conventionally-grown meat and vegetables.

The formulas are available in chicken, turkey, and beef. (The premium line has more meat protein choices.) Darwin’s foods are vacuum-sealed and arrive frozen .

They will keep in your freezer for four to six months. Thaw what you need for your dog a day or two ahead of time.

K-9 Kraving

K-9 Kraving

Rating:

  • Ingredients: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

K-9 Kraving uses 100 percent certified human-grade ingredients. The company works with a PhD in animal nutrition to make their foods. According to the company, their foods are biologically-appropriate frozen raw dog foods.

Each recipe is a blend of USA-sourced human-grade muscle meat, organ meat, ground bone, vegetables, essential vitamins, minerals, and a trace mineral mix.

They are sold in 1, 2, and 5-pound rolls and individual patties.

The company uses real muscle meat as the first ingredient. They use no chemicals, additives, or preservatives.

The food arrives frozen and should be kept frozen in your freezer until you are ready to thaw it. Large rolls will take 10-12 hours to thaw.

Individual patties will take 1-2 hours to thaw. Once thawed, the food will stay fresh in your refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Best Natural Dog Food Brands

“Natural” is a rather vague term. There are no real rules regarding the use of the term “natural” in the United States. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”

As long as the product doesn’t contain something that you wouldn’t normally expect to be there, companies can get away with calling their product “natural.”

Dog food companies have taken full advantage of this term in marketing their foods. After all, calling a dog food “natural” makes it much more appealing to the buyer.

Who doesn’t want to feed their dog a “natural” food? You should be careful about dog foods that are marketed as “natural” foods but in the case of the foods here, we think these are very good brands.

We are happy to recommend these natural dog foods.

Annamaet

Annamaet

Rating:

  • Ingredients: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Family-owned and operated since 1986, Annamaet makes a wide range of dog foods including grain-inclusive and grain-free foods.

They have formulas for puppies, adults, and seniors, as well as formulas for active dogs; plus foods for your average dog. Their meat and fish are passed fit for human consumption.

Products are holistic and GMO-free and the company maintains strict standards of quality control.

All products are free of corn, wheat, and soy and the company is now using algae as a source of omega-3 fatty acid. Their original canine formulas are made with low ash chicken, salmon, or venison and whole grains, along with chelated minerals for better mineral absorption.

We particularly recommend Option Formula with 24 percent protein – made with wild caught salmon and free range, grass fed lamb; and Extra Formula with 26 percent protein and a slightly higher fat content.

Sport Dog Food

Sport Dog Food

Rating:

  • Ingredients: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety:  5 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate to High
  • Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Sport Dog Food makes three lines of food that are all free of peas and flax. While some pet food companies tout flax as a source of omega-3 for dogs, the truth is that dogs cannot efficiently convert plant sources of omega-3. They need fish and animal sources of omega-3.

So flax in a dog food as a source of omega-3 is wasted, though it can be a useful fiber.

In addition, there is some evidence that, since flax is a phytoestrogen, it can interfere with a dog’s hormones so some dog owners look for foods that are free of flax.

Sport Dog Food has grain-free, highly active, and performance product lines.

Most of these foods are geared toward active dogs so they tend to have higher protein and fat percentages but you can still find foods that would be suitable for the typical pet dog.

You can find some foods in the Active Series that would be suitable for many dogs. The K-9 Series also has some foods we can recommend such as Police K-9 Chicken and Fish formula.

This food has 26 percent protein and 19 percent fat. Animal protein makes up 82 percent of the protein.

It has no peas, flax, white potatoes, or rice; and no corn, wheat, or soy. It contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joints. Chicken meal is the first ingredient. This would be a good dog food for many dogs.

Best Grain Free Dog Food Brands

We have not included many popular grain-free dog foods in our lists because of the FDA warning and because many grain-free dog food companies have been having issues.

Many companies are either denying they have a problem with taurine and dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs; or they are in the process of changing their formulas.

That limits the number of grain-free dog foods that we feel comfortable about recommending at this time. There are a few individual formulas from some companies that we feel comfortable recommending and we have listed them below.

Holistic Select Grain Free Adult & Puppy Health Salmon Anchovy & Sardine Meal Recipe

Holistic Select Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Rating:

  • Ingredients: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety 4 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research 4 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes 5 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

If you really want to feed a grain-free dog food, then Holistic Select Grain-Free Adult & Puppy Health Salmon, Anchovy & Sardine Meal Recipe dog food stands out in this category.

This food contains no meat or poultry by-products, no wheat or wheat gluten fillers, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

It has omega-3 fatty acids from salmon oil, along with prebiotics, probiotics, live yogurt cultures, digestive enzymes, and natural fiber. Salmon, anchovy, and sardine meal is the first ingredient.

Plus, this food has done well with dogs that have had taurine levels tested, even though it contains potatoes and peas in the first five ingredients. (Sardines and other fish are sources of taurine for dogs.)

We can also recommend Holistic Selects grain-inclusive dog foods. This is a good brand.

Earthborn Coastal Catch

Earthborn Coastal Catch

Rating:

  • Ingredients 4 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety 4 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research 3 out of 5 stars
  • Multiple Recipes 4 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Moderate
  • Overall Rating 4 out of 5 stars

We can’t recommend all of Earthborn’s foods at this time but Earthborn Coastal Catch stands out for this company.

Coastal Catch is grain-free, gluten-free, potato-free, and high in protein. It’s fish-based with herring meal as the first ingredient.

It also contains salmon meal and Pacific Whiting meal. It has 32 percent crude protein and 18 percent crude fat.

Once again, this grain-free food has been doing well with dogs that have had taurine levels tested despite the fact that it has peas, pea protein, and pea starch in the first several ingredients, perhaps because it’s a fish-based food.

Taste of the Wild Wetlands

Taste of the Wild Wetlands

Rating:

  • Ingredients 4 out of 5 stars
  • Food Safety 4 out of 5 stars
  • Nutritional Research 3 out of 5 stars
  • Price: Affordable
  • Overall Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Taste of the Wild is enormously popular but the Wetlands formula is the only recipe that we can recommend at this time.

This is not a fish-based food but, for whatever reason, this seems to be the only TOTW food that has consistently been doing well with dogs that have been tested for dilated cardiomyopathy.

This doesn’t mean that people should rush out to buy this food.

We hope you will still heed the FDA’s advice. But, if you really prefer a grain-free food or your dog has to have one, we can recommend the Wetlands formula.

It has 32 percent crude protein and 18 percent crude fat. Duck, duck meal, and chicken meal are the first ingredients.

Sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes are the next three ingredients. TOTW adds probiotics developed for dogs, dried chicory root as a probiotic, and antioxidants from various fruits and vegetables.

This is a good dog food if you are looking for a grain-free food.

Best Wet Dog Food Brands

Merrick Backcountry

Merrick Backcountry

Rating:

  • Ingredients: 5 out of 5 stars