Best Dog Food Brands: Reviewed for 2021

Published: December 6, 2021

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#1: Best Overall — Acana Highest Protein Dry Dog FoodAcana Highest Protein Dry Dog Food
#2: Best Grain-Free Dog Food Brand — ORIJEN Dry Dog Food and Crunchy Dog Biscuit TreatsORIJEN Dry Dog Food and Crunchy Dog Biscuit Treats
#3: Best for Large Breeds — IAMS Large Breed Adult Dry Dog FoodIAMS Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
#4: Best Wet Dog Food Brand — Wellness Complete Health Wet Dog FoodWellness Complete Health Wet Dog Food
#5: Best Fresh Dog Food Brand — JustFoodForDogsJustFoodForDogs

Choosing the best dog food brand for your dog is one of the more critical decisions you’ll make as an owner. Large breed food, foods for puppies, and choices for seniors all provide different benefits than many foods designed for all life cycles.

Everyone seemingly has different trusted brands that they prefer, and what is ideal for one dog may not suit another. Are raw or organic foods everything people claim they are, and does the term human-grade mean anything? There are many foods recommended by vets that owners often prefer to use. Many of the healthiest options contain natural ingredients that you will feel good about feeding. Many wet or dry options easily meet everyone’s criteria.

We’ve put together a list of some of the dog food brands that are best, including grain-free foods. We hope that you will at least find the best overall options from this list. Other issues that we have chosen to address include determining whether your dog needs certain food types, what to feed dogs with allergies or sensitivities, and how to deal with a picky eater.

Verified Review: Our Hands-On Experience

We enjoyed the range of life stages that many of these foods had varieties for when we tested them. Most of these foods were easy to fit into a modest budget. These foods also included excellent options for picky eaters.

One thing we had issues with was some varieties triggering food sensitivities that were not obvious at the time. Some foods were also a little less appetizing to the dogs when tested. Although the top foods are ideal for most dogs, they are not a universal fit for all.

The Top Picks for Best Dog Food Brands: Ranked

ACANA® Highest Protein, Appalachian Ranch, Grain Free Dry Dog Food, 25lb
  • Crafted with Fresh and Raw Ingredients: Matches the natural diets and physiology of dogs to best meet their natural nutritional needs
  • Made in the USA: Formulated in our state-of-the-art Kitchen using only ingredients from trusted sources; Packaging may vary
  • Grain-Free and High-Protein: High in protein and full of key nutrients with fresh or raw animal ingredients, whole vegetables, fruits, and botanicals
  • Nutrition for All Life Stages: Free of grains, gluten, potatoes, and tapioca, making it a nourishing food for dogs of all ages
  • No Artificial Colors or Preservatives: We skip the artificial ingredients in our Kitchen and provide key nutrients dogs need

Acana Highest Protein Dry Dog Food has raw and natural ingredients that make it one of the best overall options. This brand uses ingredients from trusted sources to help provide the highest quality experience for your dog.

We were pleased with the grain-free, high-protein formula that this food uses. There are no artificial colors or preservatives, which is also a major plus for us.

Our reviewers found that dogs of all ages, from puppies to seniors, enjoyed this food. However, a few of the puppies and seniors had difficulty with the kibble size.

Click here to check out Acana Highest Protein Dry Dog Food on amazon.com.

ORIJEN Dog Original Recipe, 13lb, High-Protein Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, Packaging May Vary
  • ORIJEN Original dog food delivers a diet rich and varied in fresh, whole animal ingredients from free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs
  • With 85% quality animal ingredients, ORIJEN nourishes dogs according to their natural, biological needs
  • Using fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs, cartilage, and bone, ORIJEN is the Biologically Appropriate, grain-free diet that dogs have evolved to eat
  • Our Fresh Regional Ingredients are supplied by people we know and trust, and are delivered to our kitchen fresh or raw, in their most natural and nourishing form

ORIJEN Dry Dog Food and Crunchy Dog Biscuit Treats uses organic ingredients ingredients from trusted sources. The ingredient mix helps make this food one of the healthiest options for your dog.

With natural ingredients most similar to a natural raw canine diet, this food was one that we found helpful for dogs with allergies or sensitivities. Each ingredient used in these foods arrives fresh or raw before preparation for optimal quality.

Some of our reviewers reported problems with diarrhea after eating this food. If your dog has an undiagnosed bowel or digestive condition, you may need to think about whether this might become a problem.

Click here to check out ORIJEN Dry Dog Food and Crunchy Dog Biscuit Treats on amazon.com.

IAMS Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food Lamb & Rice Recipe, 15 lb. Bag
  • Contains (1) 15 lb. bag of IAMS Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food Lamb & Rice Recipe
  • Real lamb is the #1 ingredient in this dry food for large breed adult dogs
  • Provides a tailored blend of natural fibers and prebiotics that promote healthy digestion
  • Supports healthy skin and coat with omega-6 fatty acids
  • Supports strong muscles in your big dog with quality-sourced protein

IAMS Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food is one of the most popular brands recommended by vets. This dog food brand is perfect for those looking for quality food while staying within a budget.

Real lamb or chicken is the first ingredient, appealing to picky eaters. Natural fiber and prebiotics keep your dog’s digestion healthy, omega-6 fatty acids support coat and skin health, and quality protein supports muscle growth.

One of our reviewers reported that their dog had issues with diarrhea after eating this food. Another reviewer had an issue with a bag that had mold.

Click here to check out IAMS Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food on amazon.com.

Wellness Thick & Chunky Natural Canned Dog Food, Lamb & Beef Stew, 12.5-Ounce Can (Pack of 12)
  • SAVORY TASTE YOUR DOG WILL LOVE: This all natural, canned dog food is a slow cooked stew with delicious, chunky, tender cuts of high quality lamb and beef and vibrant, nutrient rich veggies
  • ENJOY A LIFETIME OF WELLBEING: High quality proteins and antioxidant rich veggies are expertly balanced to deliver a complete diet packed with the nutrients your dog needs to thrive
  • ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS: This recipe is made with all natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals and contains no meat byproducts, fillers, or artificial preservatives
  • FIND THE RIGHT FOOD: We offer a full range of foods to support your dog's specific needs, including grained and grain free options, high protein recipes and limited ingredient diets for dogs with food sensitivities
  • WELLNESS NUTRITION: Created by nutritionists, veterinarians and animal lovers, our recipes provide an ideal balance of nature's finest ingredients, carefully selected to nourish and sustain your pet's wellbeing

Wellness Complete Health Wet Dog Food provides a quality dog food that is close to human-grade. The food is prepared in a savory strew formula that dogs will love.

We enjoyed the range of natural ingredients that were unlikely to trigger food sensitivities in dogs. The protein and antioxidant-rich food can give your dog optimal health.

One of our reviewers reported some cans not being filled to the top. Another concern that some had was this food upsetting their dogs’ digestive systems.

Click here to check out Wellness Complete Health Wet Dog Food on amazon.com.

JustFoodForDogs Pantry Fresh Dog Food and Puppy Food, Human Quality Ingredients Natural Ready to Serve Soft Food for Dogs - Lamb & Brown Rice Wet Dog Food Pouches (Set of 6)
  • Real food for dogs - Human-edible Lamb Hearts, Brown Rice, Cauliflower, Carrots, Spinach, Safflower Oil, Blueberries, Cod Liver Oil, & JFFD's vet-developed Nutrient Blend.
  • Whole-food ingredients – This is not dog food. It is food. For dogs. And every single ingredient is fit for human consumption to ensure the highest quality, whole fresh food for dogs to help them look and feel their best.
  • Zero preservatives – and zero rendered meats, zero artificial coloring, and zero scary acronyms like BHA, BHT, or LFBT.
  • Ready-to-serve nutrition - Every recipe is formulated by our team of veterinarians and canine specialists, and then gently cooked to maximize nutritional value and promote a healthy immune system
  • #1 vet recommended fresh food brand – "JustFoodForDogs diets are formulated with a novel protein source: lamb. This provides me with an excellent option for dogs with a chicken or beef allergy but who could also benefit from a whole food diet." - Dr. Julie Stegeman, DVM, DACVIM Internal Medicine

JustFoodForDogs PantryFresh Dog Food offers human-grade food in flavorful varieties. This brand is also recommended by vets, providing assurance that you are making a good choice for your dog’s health.

This food has no rendered meats or preservatives. Each container arrives ready to serve, so you can get your furry friend fed as quickly as possible.

Some reviewers reported that their dogs didn’t want to try the food, despite not usually being picky eaters. A few other reviewers thought that the food had a bad smell and did not look like the pictures on the packaging.

Click here to check out JustFoodForDogs on amazon.com.

Determining Whether Your Dog Needs Certain Food Types

Most dogs will be able to eat a balanced diet without any problems. However, dogs diagnosed with certain conditions or nutritional dogs may require certain foods. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you about which foods are best for your dog’s needs.

For example, a dog that is over or under the ideal weight may require food for losing or gaining weight. Breeds with high energy levels may need food with increased protein and fewer grains. Pregnant or lactating females require more food, regardless of the brand or type.

What to Feed Dogs With Allergies or Sensitivities

Dogs that have allergies or sensitivities do best with limited ingredient foods free of allergens or triggering ingredients. Of the conditions, allergies are the more serious of the two. Allergies are likely to cause persistent rashes that often get infected, and, somewhat rarely, anaphylactic reactions.

Sensitivities usually present as digestive upsets. Sometimes, a dog will not show outward signs of sensitivities right away. The process of elimination is useful for pinpointing the cause.

How to Deal With a Picky Eater

Creativity is sometimes helpful for dogs that are picky eaters. Even though a dog will eat eventually, going too long without eating can cause low blood sugar in small breeds. One thing that owners should avoid is hand-feeding or otherwise encouraging fussy behavior.

Mixing wet and dry food can sometimes entice a hesitant dog to eat. You may also want to consider adding savory gravy products or plain chicken to the meal. One thing that is often helpful is only leaving the bowl down for 15 minutes, which usually encourages the dog to finish.

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

Dry

Pros!Cons!
Shelf-stableSometimes difficult to store
Appealing to most dogsHarder for dogs with dental issues to manage
Good for dental health
No preparation needed
Ideal from puppyhood to adulthood

Wet

Pros!Cons!
Easily stored in a pantryDoes not have the teeth-cleaning abilities of dry food
Usually in flavors that dogs loveRequires refrigeration if not finished after opening
Better for dogs that have bad teeth
Ready to serve immediately after opening
Helpful as a standalone food or as an addition to dry food

Fresh

Pros!Cons!
Contains healthy ingredientsRequires refrigeration and cannot be left out
Designed to be as appetizing for dogs as possibleSome dogs dislike the texture
A variety of flavors that even fussy dogs enjoy
Many brands are human-grade
Likely to use natural and organic ingredients

Raw

Pros!Cons!
As close to a natural canine diet as possibleNot suitable for every budget
Free from artificial ingredients and preservativesMeat ingredients may not be suitable for dogs with food sensitivities
Suitable for adult dogs of all sizes
Easy to store in most fridges
Contain a variety of ingredients that most dogs love

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Summary

Best Overall

Acana Highest Protein Dry Dog Food
  • Crafted with Fresh and Raw Ingredients: Matches the natural diets and physiology of dogs to best meet their natural nutritional needs
  • Made in the USA: Formulated in our state-of-the-art Kitchen using only ingredients from trusted sources; Packaging may vary
  • Grain-Free and High-Protein: High in protein and full of key nutrients with fresh or raw animal ingredients, whole vegetables, fruits, and botanicals
  • Nutrition for All Life Stages: Free of grains, gluten, potatoes, and tapioca, making it a nourishing food for dogs of all ages
  • No Artificial Colors or Preservatives: We skip the artificial ingredients in our Kitchen and provide key nutrients dogs need
About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Best Dog Food Brands: Reviewed for 2021 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the number one healthiest dog food?

Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie is ranked as the number one healthiest dog food because of its range of ingredients that include millet and sorghum.

What is the most trusted brand of dog food?

The most trusted brand of dog food overall is Purina Pro Plan, a brand preferred by most breeders and veterinarians.

What is the safest dog food to buy?

The safest dog food to buy is Wellness Core Grain-Free, which contains mega-6 fatty acids and probiotics for easier digestion.

What puppy food do most vets recommend?

Most vets recommend Hill’s Science Diet, which offers a nutritionally-complete puppy formula.