The Best Affordable Dog Food: Reviewed and Ranked

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: May 27, 2024
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Dogs can consume a lot of food, so it’s understandable that someone would attempt to locate a low-cost dog food to feed their companion vs. a higher-priced one. Although high-end brands’ ingredients might vary significantly, it’s normal to be focused on the quality of a cheaper brand. 

We’ve picked the best low-budget dog food on the market today. We’ll advise you on the pros and cons of each type, as well as some information on the ingredients and health advantages offered by each brand.

We’ve even included a brief buyer’s guide that explains what separates one brand from another and which elements each meal should include. Check out things like the kibble form, ingredients, health benefits, price, and more to assist you in making an informed decision.

  1. Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Real Salmon and Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
    • Contains at least 25% crude protein from fish meal and salmon
    • Added healthy and beneficial ingredients such as spinach, blueberries
    • Hypoallergenic formula
    • Great for the brain and gastrointestinal health
    Check Amazon
  2. Bundle: Purina Puppy Chow Tender & Crunchy Dry Food + Salmon Flavor Training Dog Treats
    • Contains carbohydrates that provide your pup with plenty of energy
    • Has 27% protein to help with growing muscles and overall health
    • Contains added vitamin C
    • Easily digestible
    Check Chewy
  3. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Senior Chicken Dinner
    • Contains healthy ingredients like fish oil, carrots, flaxseed, potatoes, chicken liver
    • Help promote healthy skin, coat, and the entire immune system
    • Doesn’t contain wheat, corn, soy, artificial flavors, by-products, or preservatives
    • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health and mobility
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

A-Z-Animals Top Picks For Affordable Dog Food

#1 Best Overall: Rachael Ray Nutrish Peak Open Prairie Recipe Dry Dog Food

Our top choice for most affordable dog food goes to Rachael Ray Nutrish Peak Open Prairie Recipe Dry Dog Food.

This food is best affordable dog food that will fill your dog’s belly while being high-quality and packed with nutrition. One of the reasons this one beat out the competition is because it has farm-raised chicken as the main ingredient. The other ingredients include things such as beet pulp and brown rice that give your pup plenty of fiber and prebiotics.

This dog food is also great for your dog’s digestive system and skin thanks to the healthy omega fats in it. Also, this food is grain-free and doesn’t contain corn, chemicals, soy, or preservatives that are unnecessary and harmful to our pets. However, grain-free might not the best option for all pets, so this is something you should consider before purchasing. Additionally, some owners found that fussy eaters simply wouldn’t eat this food.

Pros and Cons of the Rachael Ray Nutrish Peak Open Prairie Recipe Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains farm-raised chicken as the main ingredient.A grain-free option might not suit all pets.
It contains beet pulp and brown rice to provide fiber and prebiotics.Customers reported that some fussy eaters do not like this food.
It contains omega fats to promote a healthy digestive system.
This food is grain-free.
It is free from corn, soy, preservatives, and chemicals.
Best Overall

2. Best for Skin and Coat: Diamond Naturals Skin and Coat Dry Dog Food

Our selection as the best affordable option for a healthy skin and coat is the Diamond Naturals Skin and Coat Dry Dog Food.

This food contains high quality protein in the form of fresh, wild-caught salmon. It also contains tasty potatoes for a recipe that even the fussiest eaters will love. This food is also packed full of healthy and beneficial ingredients such as spinach, blueberries, chia seeds, kale, and more! It has added vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids to provide a nutritious meal that will promote all-round good health in your pup.

This food is also free from corn and wheat and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Unfortunately, some owners have reported that their pets do not like this food.

Pros and Cons of the Diamond Naturals Skin and Coat Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains fresh, wild-caught salmon as the first ingredient.Not all pets like this food.
It contains healthy spinach, blueberries, chia seeds, and kale.
It has added vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids
This food is free from corn and wheat and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Best for Skin and Coat
Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Real Salmon and Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
  • Contains at least 25% crude protein from fish meal and salmon
  • Added healthy and beneficial ingredients such as spinach, blueberries
  • Hypoallergenic formula
  • Great for the brain and gastrointestinal health
Check Amazon

3. Best for Puppies: Purina Puppy Chow Tender & Crunchy Dry Dog Food

Nothing beats the cuteness of an adorable new puppy. Our top budget option for puppies is the Purina Puppy Chow Tender & Crunchy Dry Dog Food.

Purina has been around for several decades and used a specific recipe designed for puppies. These kibbles are packed with carbohydrates that provide your pup with plenty of energy. It contains 27% protein to help with growing muscles and overall health. 

You won’t have to worry about your dog’s health as much thanks to the boost of vitamin C in this food. Plus, Purina designed this puppy food to be easily digestible which allows your puppy to digest it without any issues. This food also contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids and DHA to promote a healthy coat and skin.

What’s more, this puppy food comes in a bundle with a pack of Healthy Start Salmon Flavor Training Treats which means you can reward your pup with healthy treat while they’re learning those all-important commands. However, a small number of pup parents reported that their pets did not like the treats even though they loved the food.

Pros and Cons of the Purina Puppy Chow Tender & Crunchy Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains 27% protein to support muscle growth.Not all pets like the treats.
It has an easily digestible formula.
The added vitamin C, DHA, and omega-3 fatty acids promote all round good health.
This food comes with a bag of healthy training treats.
Best for Puppies
Bundle: Purina Puppy Chow Tender & Crunchy Dry Food + Salmon Flavor Training Dog Treats
  • Contains carbohydrates that provide your pup with plenty of energy
  • Has 27% protein to help with growing muscles and overall health
  • Contains added vitamin C
  • Easily digestible
Check Chewy

4. Best for Seniors: Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Senior Chicken Dinner

If you have an older dog, what they eat is even more important, which is why we recommend the Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Senior Chicken Dinner.

Many vets and pet owners will suggest transitioning into canned food for your senior dog as it’s a lot easier for them to eat, especially if your pooch has dental issues. This food by Blue Buffalo is a great option, but it’s important to mention it only comes in this one flavor.

However, this food contains healthy ingredients like fish oil, carrots, flaxseed, potatoes, chicken liver, and more! These ingredients can help promote healthy skin, coat, and the entire immune system. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to provide support for joints. Plus, this food is free from wheat, corn, soy, artificial flavors, by-products, or preservatives. 

Although this food has a lot going for it, some customers have reported that the quality is inconsistent as sometimes it is more watery than others.

Pros and Cons of the Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Senior Chicken Dinner

ProsCons
This food contains fish oil, carrots, flaxseed, potatoes, and chicken liver to promote a healthy immune system, skin, and coat.The quality is not consistent with some the food being more watery in some cans than others.
It contains chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health.There is only one flavor available.
This food is free from wheat, corn, soy, artificial flavors, by-products, or preservatives. 
Best for Seniors
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Senior Chicken Dinner
  • Contains healthy ingredients like fish oil, carrots, flaxseed, potatoes, chicken liver
  • Help promote healthy skin, coat, and the entire immune system
  • Doesn’t contain wheat, corn, soy, artificial flavors, by-products, or preservatives
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health and mobility
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Choosing the Best: What to Look For

Now that you know about the top budget dog foods, how did these choices come to be? There are a few things you’ll want to look for when you’re comparing one type of food to another. Let’s talk about them! 

Dog’s Age 

As you can read about in the reviews above, not all dog food is created equally. While the majority of adult food is similar, you may want to compare things like the ingredients. You wouldn’t want to give a puppy adult dog food because pups need more protein and carbs than older dogs. 

Food Consistency

The two most common types of affordable dog food are dry and soft. Dry dog food is by far the most popular and common feeding choice. The dry kibble helps with dental health by rubbing away plaque and tartar.

Dry dog food tends to be more budget-friendly and won’t get stale easily. Wet dog food on the other hand is great for senior dogs and pups that are dehydrated or constipated. It’s also a handy way to serve your dog medication they wouldn’t otherwise swallow. 

Ingredients

Pet owners should care about what goes into their furry friends’ bodies just as much as they do on their own. You’ll want to avoid any food with unneeded preservatives, corn, wheat, or soy byproducts. Look for real food, such as meat, potatoes, and veggies. 

The Different Types of Affordable Dog Food: Pros and Cons Compared

Let’s talk a little bit about the advantages and disadvantages of the most common types of dog food. 

Dry Dog Food 

ProsCons
It comes in bigger packages.It can become moldy if not used quick enough.
It tends to be a cheaper option.
It is more widely available.
Dry food helps with dental health by rubbing away plaque and tartar.

Wet Dog Food

ProsCons
It is more palatable and easier for dogs to eat.It doesn’t get rid of tartar or plaque from teeth.
It is great for hiding medication in.
It tends to be more appetizing to picky eaters.

Our Criteria and Experience: How We Chose the Best

As pet owners, we love our pets, and would not nothing more than to spoil them! But not everyone has the budget to splurge on pets. That’s why we at A-Z-Animals felt that it was important to compile a list of quality dog foods that you can trust will help your dogs grow up healthy and strong…without breaking the bank. When researching the best affordable dog foods on the market, we had certain criteria we referred to, ensuring that the food would do well for your puppy, adult, or senior dog. Those criteria are: nutrition, ingredient quality, flavor, and value for money.

  • Nutrition: We analyzed the vitamin and nutrient content of all the products we recommended to make sure your dog was receiving the proper daily allowance the essential ones, based on their age and weight.
  • Ingredient Quality: The dog foods we recommended had healthy percentages of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and other healthy ingredients. We looked for options that avoided fillers such as corn or wheat, and contained no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
  • Flavor: Of course, if your dog doesn’t like it’s food, there’s a problem. Flavors like chicken, beef, or salmon are popular with dogs, though every dog’s palate is unique.
  • Value for Money: We strove to find good hearty foods that were affordable. Our wet food recommendation averages around $35 for a 12 can pack, but the cans are 12.5 ounces, so should cover at least two meals. With our choice for puppies, we found a great bundle where you can receive a pack of training treats with your purchase — a great value! Our other dry food options met our criteria for good value for the money too.

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

The Best Affordable Dog Food: Reviewed and Ranked FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What amount of dry dog food should I feed my canine?

Most dog food companies include a chart on each bag of dry dog food. Oftentimes, the weight of a dog is what dictates how much dry food it needs. So, it’s best to go by the weight chart on the back of a dry dog food bag to ensure you’re giving your dog the proper amount of nourishment.

Can I mix a combination of dry and wet dog food together?

Yes, wet and dry dog food can be mixed together. Many owners mix a little wet food in with dry food to make the food more appealing and tastier for their dogs. However, keep in mind that when mixing foods, it is important to make sure both the wet and dry foods are designed to match the dietary needs of your dog. For example, this means that you should avoid mixing dry puppy food with wet adult food.

Does dry food contain more protein than wet food?

No, most dry foods have a lower protein content than wet foods. Wet foods are often formulated with premium meat, poultry, or fish ingredients as the first ingredient.

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