12 Best Healthy Dry Dog Foods

Dog Food Nutrition Popular September 20, 2023
12 Best Healthy Dry Dog Foods
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12 Best Healthy Dry Dog Foods

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Dog food is much more diverse and complicated than many dog owners realize. Not all dog foods are created equal, and each recipe is unique.

When choosing dog food, dry food is a great option. Dry food has a longer shelf life than wet food, helps keep your dog’s teeth clean, and is generally easier to feed. Plus, there are many different types of food to choose from, so you can customize your dog’s diet according to its unique nutritional needs.

Keep reading to learn more about the dietary needs of dogs and how to choose a healthy dry dog food. You’ll also receive our top picks for the best dry dog food.

At a Glance: The Best Healthy Dry Dog Foods

Compare Best Healthy Dry Dog Foods

Best Overall
Open Farm Wild-Caught Salmon & Ancient Grains Dry Dog Food

1. Open Farm Wild-Caught Salmon & Ancient Grains Dry Dog Food

Premium Pick
Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

2. Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best for Toy Breeds
Nutro Ultra Toy Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

3. Nutro Ultra Toy Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Best for Small Breeds
Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe with Freeze-Dried Raw Bites Dry Dog Food

4. Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe with Freeze-Dried Raw Bites Dry Dog Food

Best for Large Breeds
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult Fish & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult Fish & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best Grain-Free
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

6. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best Limited Ingredient
CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Bison, Lentil & Carrot Recipe Dry Dog Food

7. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Bison, Lentil & Carrot Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best High-Protein
Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous Weight Control Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato & Green Bean Dry Dog Food

8. Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous Weight Control Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato & Green Bean Dry Dog Food

Best for Senior Dogs
ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

9. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best Affordable
Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Chicken & Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food

10. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Chicken & Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best for Puppies
Castor & Pollux Organix Healthy Grains Organic Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food

11. Castor & Pollux Organix Healthy Grains Organic Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best GMO Free
FARMINA N&D OCEAN CODFISH & ORANGE ANCESTRAL GRAIN ADULT DRY DOG FOOD

12. FARMINA N&D OCEAN CODFISH & ORANGE ANCESTRAL GRAIN ADULT DRY DOG FOOD

Protein
26% Min
Protein
22% Min
Protein
27% Min
Protein
38% Min
Protein
20% Min
Protein
32% Min
Protein
25% Min
Protein
26% Min
Protein
38% Min
Protein
27% Min
Protein
26% Min
Protein
30% Min
Fat
15% Min
Fat
10% Min
Fat
16% Min
Fat
17% Min
Fat
13% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
14.5% Min
Fat
9.5% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
14% Min
Fat
16% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fiber
4.5% Max
Fiber
4.25% Max
Fiber
4% Max
Fiber
3.5% Max
Fiber
6% Max
Fiber
4% Max
Fiber
4% Max
Fiber
10% Max
Fiber
4% Max
Fiber
3.5% Max
Fiber
5% Max
Fiber
2.9% Max
Calories
3,745 kcal/kg
Calories
416 kcal/cup
Calories
371 kcal/cup
Calories
412 kcal/cup
Calories
323 kcal/cup
Calories
370 kcal/cup
Calories
462 kcal/cup
Calories
345 kcal/cup
Calories
449 kcal/cup
Calories
348 kcal/cup
Calories
362 kcal/cup
Calories
400 kcal/cup

12 Best-Rated Dry Dog Foods Reviewed

A quality dry dog food will feature animal protein as the main ingredient, along with digestible carbohydrates, healthy fats, and beneficial supplements to ensure nutritional balance.

It should also come from a reputable brand that doesn’t use fillers or artificial additives.

Best Overall
1.

Open Farm Wild-Caught Salmon & Ancient Grains Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 26% Min
  • Fat: 15% Min
  • Fiber: 4.5% Max
  • Calories: 3,745 kcal/kg
Pros
  • Wild Pacific salmon as the first ingredient
  • Herring and salmon oils for omega fatty acids
  • No animal by-products or vaguely named ingredients
Cons
  • Contains a significant number of plant-based ingredients
  • Doesn’t contain the moisture your dog needs
Open Farm’s ingredients are all 100% human-grade and ethically sourced. Open Farm Wild-Caught Salmon & Ancient Grains Dry Dog Food features wild Pacific salmon as the first ingredient, followed by ocean whitefish meal and ocean herring meal. While it may not be a single-source protein recipe, it is rich in species-appropriate animal-based protein and healthy fats.

In addition to being loaded with animal-based protein, this Open Farm formula contains herring oil and salmon oil as natural sources for omega fatty acids, though it’s worth noting that the first source of added fat is plant-based (coconut oil).
Premium Pick
2.

Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 22% Min
  • Fat: 10% Min
  • Fiber: 4.25% Max
  • Calories: 416 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Formulated to maintain lean muscle mass with 22% protein and low fat (10%)
  • Made with high-quality animal proteins and digestible whole grains
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables plus supplements for nutritional balance
Cons
  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
  • Not a grain-free recipe, some dogs are sensitive
As your senior dog gets older, its metabolism will slow down. This means that it needs fewer calories to maintain a healthy body weight, but protein is still essential for lean muscle mass.

This Wellness Complete Health Senior Recipe Dry Food is a great choice because it is protein-rich with moderate fat content and plenty of fiber for healthy digestion.

This recipe features deboned chicken and chicken meal to provide 22% crude protein with digestible whole grains like oatmeal, barley, and brown rice for carbohydrate support. This recipe also contains a blend of omega fatty acids as well as beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics.
Best for Toy Breeds
3.

Nutro Ultra Toy Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 27% Min
  • Fat: 16% Min
  • Fiber: 4% Max
  • Calories: 371 kcal/cup
Pros
  • High protein and fat content for fast metabolisms (27% protein, 16% fat)
  • Made with 12 superfood ingredients for nutritional balance
  • Small kibble size for tiny mouths, helps prevent plaque and tartar buildup
Cons
  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
  • Not a grain-free recipe, some dogs are sensitive
If you have a toy breed dog, you need a recipe that is high in protein and healthy fats that also comes in a smaller kibble size. This Nutro ULTRA Toy Breed Adult Recipe is a great choice for toy breeds because it features a blend of superfood ingredients including protein-rich chicken and chicken meal, whole brown rice, chicken fat, and dried fruits and vegetables.

The high fat content of this recipe doesn’t just provide for your dog’s high energy needs; it also supports its skin and coat. Plus, the kibbles are small enough for tiny mouths to eat with ease.
Best for Small Breeds
4.

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe with Freeze-Dried Raw Bites Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 38% Min
  • Fat: 17% Min
  • Fiber: 3.5% Max
  • Calories: 412 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Protein-rich and high in fat to support the faster metabolism of small breeds
  • Plenty of healthy fats for energy and healthy skin and coat
  • Smaller kibble size for small breed dogs to eat more easily
Cons
  • Somewhat expensive compared to other brands
  • High protein content may not be good for dogs with kidney problems
Small breed dogs have very fast metabolisms which means that they burn through calories more quickly than larger breeds. A high-protein and high-fat recipe like this Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Small Breed Recipe is a great choice because it provides for these needs while also being made with high-quality ingredients.

This formula is made with both fresh chicken and chicken meal to ensure high levels of protein with healthy fats like chicken fat and flaxseed oil for essential fatty acids. It also contains chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and probiotics for digestion. Plus, it is made in a smaller kibble size for your small-breed dog’s small mouth.
Best for Large Breeds
5.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult Fish & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 20% Min
  • Fat: 13% Min
  • Fiber: 6% Max
  • Calories: 323 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Uniquely formulated for the protein and energy needs of large breed dogs
  • Rich in healthy fats for healthy skin and coat plus energy
  • Supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for nutritional balance
Cons
  • Not a grain-free recipe (some dogs are sensitive)
  • Kibble size could be bigger for larger dogs
Large-breed dogs have high needs for protein to maintain their lean muscle mass with moderate fat for energy. This Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large-Breed Adult Recipe is uniquely formulated to meet the protein and energy requirements of large breeds while also supporting bone and joint health.

This recipe features fish and oatmeal as the main ingredients to provide protein, dietary fiber, and healthy fats for skin and coat support. In addition to high-quality proteins and digestible carbohydrates, this recipe also features Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits which are made with a proprietary blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to ensure complete and balanced nutrition.
Best Grain-Free
6.

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 32% Min
  • Fat: 18% Min
  • Fiber: 4% Max
  • Calories: 370 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made with premium animal proteins like roasted bison and roasted venison
  • Naturally grain-free with digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas
  • Fresh fruits and veggies for nutrients plus beneficial supplements for balance
Cons
  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
  • First source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)
If your dog has trouble digesting grains, or if it is allergic to them, a grain-free dog food like this Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Dry Food might be a good option. Not only is it completely grain-free, but it is made with premium animal proteins like roasted venison and roasted bison.

This recipe contains 32% protein and 18% fat which makes it a great choice for active breeds and dogs who need to gain weight, but it can also be a good choice for smaller dogs that have high protein and energy requirements. It is supplemented with fresh fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients but still contains vitamin and mineral supplements for balance and probiotics for healthy digestion.
Best Limited Ingredient
7.

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Bison, Lentil & Carrot Recipe Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 25% Min
  • Fat: 14.5% Min
  • Fiber: 4% Max
  • Calories: 462 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made with a limited number of ingredients and novel proteins
  • High-quality, digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas
  • Supplemented with vitamins and minerals for nutritional balance
Cons
  • First source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)
  • Very expensive compared to many brands
Dogs with food allergies and sensitivities often require a diet made with a limited number of high-quality ingredients like this Canidae Grain-Free PURE Land Dry Dog Food. This formula is not only grain-free, but it also features novel protein and carbohydrate options – this simply means that your dog is unlikely to have had them before which reduces the risk for allergies and sensitivities.

This recipe features protein-rich bison as the main ingredient with lamb meal and pork meal for supplemental protein. It is naturally grain-free, made with digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, peas, and lentils. Plus, it is rich in healthy fats, chelated minerals, and probiotics.
Best High-Protein
8.

Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous Weight Control Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato & Green Bean Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 26% Min
  • Fat: 9.5% Min
  • Fiber: 10% Max
  • Calories: 345 kcal/cup
Pros
  • High protein and fat content for weight gain or active breeds
  • Grain-free, digestible carbohydrates and fresh fruits/veggies
  • Numerous animal proteins with no by-products
Cons
  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken and beef ingredients
  • Contains some plant-based protein (potato protein)
If you’re trying to help your dog gain weight, or if it leads a very active lifestyle, this Solid Gold High Protein Dry Dog Food is a great option. Formulated with 38% crude protein and 18% fat, this recipe will help build and maintain lean muscle mass while also providing for your dog’s energy needs.

It is naturally grain-free, featuring digestible carbohydrates like garbanzo beans and peas with fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients. It also contains several premium animal proteins and beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics.
Best for Senior Dogs
9.

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 38% Min
  • Fat: 18% Min
  • Fiber: 4% Max
  • Calories: 449 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made with fresh, regional ingredients like free-run poultry and wild-caught fish
  • Very high in protein and fat (38% protein and 18% fat)
  • Supplemented with vitamins, chelated minerals, and probiotics
Cons
  • Very expensive compared to most dog food brands
  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
If you’re in the market for a healthy, high-quality diet for your adult dog, then look no further than this Orijen Original Dry Dog Food. Made with regionally sourced ingredients, this recipe is designed to mimic the natural diet of wild dogs which makes it protein-rich and highly digestible.

This formula features high-quality animal proteins like free-run chicken and turkey plus wild-caught fish for a total of 38% crude protein. It also contains plenty of healthy fats for energy and essential fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.

You’ll also be glad to know that it is low-glycemic and supplemented with vitamins and chelated minerals for optimal nutritional balance with probiotics for healthy digestion.
Best Affordable
10.

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Chicken & Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 27% Min
  • Fat: 14% Min
  • Fiber: 3.5% Max
  • Calories: 348 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Highly affordable but also high in quality
  • Made with lean proteins like chicken and turkey
  • Grain-free digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas
Cons
  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
There are plenty of cheap dog food brands out there, but Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Dry Food is an affordable option that offers decent quality. This brand is produced by Merrick, one of the top dog food brands on the market, and most of their recipes are grain-free. This particular recipe features lean proteins like chicken and turkey with digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas.

This dog food is free from byproducts as well as low-quality fillers like corn, wheat, and soy. It is made in the USA and designed to support balanced nutrition as well as healthy skin and coat. You’ll also love that it contains beneficial supplements like chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption as well as probiotics for healthy digestion.
Best for Puppies
11.

Castor & Pollux Organix Healthy Grains Organic Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 26% Min
  • Fat: 16% Min
  • Fiber: 5% Max
  • Calories: 362 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made in the USA with certified organic ingredients
  • Plenty of high-quality animal protein like chicken and chicken meal
  • Naturally grain-free with digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and chickpeas
Cons
  • Very expensive compared to many puppy food brands
  • Some puppies are sensitive to chicken ingredients
Growing puppies need a healthy and high-quality diet that is rich in protein to support their growth and development as well as plenty of fats for energy. This Castor & Pollux Grain-Free Organic Puppy Food meets these nutritional needs in a healthy way with plenty of organic-quality ingredients.

This recipe features organic chicken and organic chicken meal for a total of 25% crude protein, with nutrient-rich fats like chicken fat and coconut oil. It contains organic fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients with chelated minerals for balance. It also contains probiotics to support your puppy’s health and regular digestion.

What are the Basic Nutritional Needs of Dogs?

All dogs require a blend of protein, fat, and other nutrients in their diet; these nutrients must come from their dog food. Adult dogs need at least 18% crude protein and 5% fat, with no more than 5% fiber in their diet.

For the most part, dog foods that provide more than 18% protein are ideal. Puppies, in particular, need as much protein as they can get, as do active and working breeds.

It is also important to remember that dogs are primarily carnivores, so most of their nutrition should come from animal-based sources. Animal proteins like meat and poultry are complete proteins, containing all the essential amino acids your dog needs.

Plant proteins are typically incomplete and are not as easy for your dog’s body to absorb. Plant-based fats can help balance omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, though chicken fat and salmon oil are typically preferable to canola oil.

Here are some things to look for in good dry dog food:

  • Quality Ingredients. The ingredients’ quality determines the product’s quality, so look for whole-food ingredients and a lack of artificial additives and by-products.
  • Animal Protein. High-quality, animal-based protein should be the first ingredient in any good dry dog food. Things like meat, poultry, and fish are good options.
  • Healthy Fats. Fat provides a highly concentrated source of energy for your dog as well as essential fatty acids for brain development and healthy skin and coat. These fats should come from animal-based sources as much as possible.
  • Digestible Carbohydrates. Dogs don’t have specific requirements for carbohydrates, but whole grains and other digestible carbs are a valuable source of energy, essential nutrients, and fiber.
  • Beneficial Supplements. In addition to protein, carbohydrates, and fat, your dog needs a blend of vitamins and minerals. Helpful supplements like vitamins and chelated minerals ensure nutritional balance in high-quality dog food.

Considering all of these things, you’re now prepared to learn how to choose the best dry dog food. Here’s what you need to know:

How Do You Choose the Best Dry Dog Food?

When it comes to dry dog food, the ingredients are the most essential thing to consider because they determine the quality of the product.

If the list of ingredients is a mile long and contains numerous by-products, unnamed ingredients, chemicals, and artificial additives, then it is a safe bet that it isn’t a high-quality product for your dog.

Protein is the most essential nutrient for dogs, so that’s where you should start your search.

Look for a recipe that lists a quality animal protein like meat, poultry, or fish as the main ingredient.

Plant-based proteins can boost the total nutrient content, but they are less biologically valuable for your dog and thus should only be used as a supplemental.

The next most important nutrient is fat, a highly concentrated source of calories (energy) for your dog. Again, these should come from animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil for optimal absorption.

In addition to calories, fats provide essential fatty acids for your dog’s healthy skin and coat. Healthy fats also play a role in the brain development of puppies.

Dogs don’t have specific needs for carbohydrates, but any recipe you choose should contain digestible options like whole grains, starchy vegetables, and legumes.

These foods provide energy, dietary fiber, and essential nutrients. Look for a recipe that contains no more than 5% crude fiber, because anything higher could upset your dog’s digestive system.

Your dog’s food may also contain synthetic vitamins and minerals to ensure nutritional balance.

Chelated minerals are the best mineral supplements to look for because they have been bound to protein molecules to increase their absorption.

Other beneficial supplements include prebiotics and probiotics to ensure healthy digestion and optimal nutrient absorption.

See our top 12 recommendations for the best dry dog food.

How Much and How Often Should You Feed Your Dog?

How often you feed your dog depends largely on the type of dog you have and its age.

Puppies need to eat frequently (four meals a day or more) to sustain their growth and development, while senior dogs need a reduced calorie load to prevent weight gain.

Adult dogs should be fed two or three meals daily, determined by size. Small breeds have faster metabolisms and need three meals a day, while larger dogs need only two.

The amount you feed your dog is determined by its age and size.

Check the feeding recommendations on your pet’s food to see how much to feed your dog.

These recommendations are based on the dog’s age and body weight, so you must weigh your dog.

As you feed your dog, keep a close eye on its body weight and condition to ensure it isn’t gaining or losing too much weight. Your veterinarian can help you determine a healthy weight for your dog.

What About Food Allergies and Sensitivities?

Food allergies are much more common in dogs than people realize. While a dog can be allergic to any ingredient, the most common culprits are corn, wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, chicken, and beef.

Food allergies become more common as dogs age, and certain breeds have a higher risk for allergies than others. Some breeds most highly prone to allergies include retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Terriers, and Collies.

When choosing a dry dog food for food allergies and sensitivities, the fewer the ingredients, the better. Limited Ingredient Diets (LIDs) use a few main ingredients to reduce the risk of triggering food allergies, and they are also generally easy to digest.

Grain-free recipes are a good choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs, as long as the carbohydrates they use are highly digestible. Make sure that any grain-free recipe you choose still lists a high-quality protein as the first ingredient to meet your dog’s basic nutritional needs.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the best dry dog food is the one that will provide for your dog’s unique nutritional needs. It’s a good idea to start with a recipe formulated for your dog’s size (small breed vs. large breed) and age (puppy vs. senior). From there, choose a recipe made with high-quality ingredients. Dry dog food comes in different flavors; each brand is unique, so take your time shopping to make the best choice. If you need help getting started, try one of the top 12 healthy dry dog foods reviewed above!

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Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.
5 Comments
  1. Edward Casanave

    how come Farmina or Victor not on the list ?

    • David

      Hi Edward, Thank you for your commnet Both Farmina and Victor are solid dog food brands and we'll keep them in mind the next time we update the article :)

    • David

      Hi Edward, Those are really good brands, we'll keep them in mind for the bext time we update the article

  2. Irene

    My dog has struvites and she eatsRoyal canin so hidrolized dog food ,my question is :is this okay to give to her? ,she is12 pound,5year old. Thank you

    • Kate Barrington

      Good question, Irene! I'm not sure which Royal Canin recipe you're referring to, but generally speaking we don't recommend this brand. Their foods tend to be carbohydrate-based and use a lot of fillers like corn, wheat, and soy. If you're looking for a prescription diet, Blue Buffalo has a urinary support formula. Otherwise, you might talk to your vet about fresh dog food - it is higher in protein but also higher in moisture which may benefit your dog's urinary health.

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