Which is the best dog food for your dog? As with people, dogs need a high quality, well balanced diet in order to live a healthy and long life. In reviewing dog foods, you should not just focus on what a dog needs to survive - as they say, 'dogs evolved to be survivors' - but look for what food a dog thrives on. And what a dog thrives on are the ingredients optimized to 'mimic his ancestral diet.'
How We Picked Our Top 5 Recommended Dog Foods
We checked a variety of dog food reviews that specifically focused on nutritional value of wet and dry dog foods, as well as the balance of protein to carbs, and added vitamins and minerals specific to a dogs needs at all stages of his life. We took several of their top picks which are widely available at Amazon, PetSmart, and other online and local pet stores, double-checked the ingredient lists, and then put them through the sieve of user reviews on both Amazon and PetSmart.
So here are our 5 top Dog Foods for 2017 based on how well they meet your dog's dietary and health needs, their digestibility, and their dog-yumminess.
Among the top 5 dog foods, Stella & Chewy's arguably comes closest to a dog's natural diet than the others in our list because its foods are prepared raw and frozen or freeze dried, so no nutrients are lost in the cooking process. Though you can purchase Stella & Chewy's frozen dog foods in many local pet stores (call first), the easiest way to purchase and serve these foods is freeze dried.
Stella & Chewy's dinners are made from many proteins - beef, duck, chicken, venison, pheasant, rabbit, or surf and turf. And they are made with pure meats (not meat meals) and fresh fruits and vegetables (no grains), with the addition of vitamins and minerals to support the health of your dog's vital organs and a healthy coat.
Adding water or, better yet, organic chicken broth to these freeze-dried dinners make them deliciously edible for your dog - but some dogs apparently prefer eating the dinner patties dry.
Stella and Chewy's is pricier than the other 5 top dog foods, but for those who can afford these dinners, they are both a healthy and convenient choice for your dog's diet.
This grain-free dry dog food lists all proteins among its top five ingredients, although Orijen does use protein meals among the top five ingredients. The reviewers like the whole egg, fruit, and vegetable choices the company adds to some of its formulas, but for puppies, senior dogs, and large breed dogs, Orijen diets are tailored to their special needs. Orijen receives very high marks, but some dog parents complain that formulas change periodically and new ones may cause reactions in their dogs. Check the ingredients on each bag before purchasing. (find Orijen here.)
Among the pricier of our top 5 dog foods, Wellness receives a very high rating from customers, and the reviewers found little to complain about too. Available wet and dry, Wellness has different lines of dog food especially formulated for puppies, older dogs, and dogs with allergies. At the top of the line, you'll find Wellness Core, a grain-free line of wet and dry dog foods.
If you have purchased cans of the soft food, you will probably note how similar the food looks to a human stew, and it smells good too! In the case of Wellness, it is definitely a food you pay more for because of it's higher quality. (Wellness here.)
Taste of the Wild is a grain-free brand which comes in dry and canned formulas. It uses a variety of lean meats and fish, nutrition-packed vegetables, and good carbs. The brand also adds egg to their mix so it helps dogs have nice shiny coats. Customers give Taste of the Wild high ratings, as they note immediate changes in the health and energy of their dogs. Taste of the Wild is not as expensive as the above foods in this column, but it is equally high-rated by reviewers and customers.
I adopted my own dog from a kennel that feeds Taste of the Wild, so I continued him on the food. I switch the dry foods from fish to meat occasionally and he loves them both. I have no complaints, he even lets me get away with giving him the Taste of the Wild kibble as treats! (Taste of the Wild here.)
Natural Balance is widely available and less expensive than the other dog foods on the top 5, so dog owners like it and dogs find it quite delicious. Reviewers are happy with the food for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the brand makes its test results available to the public, but also because it offers a very high quality, filler-free, meat-based product. Here again is another canned dog food that smells like human food, and that is not missed by the dogs. Natural Balance dry dog food is equally tantalizing and affords plenty of good nutrition in its formulas.
Nature Balance is a great value as it provides good nutrition in a tasty form that is more affordable than other quality dog foods. (Natural Balance here.)
There are some smaller, highly-rated brands of dog food that contain high-grade ingredients and customer loyalty, but these brands are not widely available. Here are some of the high quality smaller brands you can find on Amazon.
FirstMate Dog Food (available at Amazon here)
Instinct Dog Food (available at Amazon here)
Evo Dog Food (available at Amazon here)
Fromm Dog Food (available at Amazon here)
Honest Kitchen Dog Food (available at Amazon here)
Dr. Tims Dog Food (available at Amazon here)
Nature's Logic Dog Food (available at Amazon here)
Halo Dog Food (available at Amazon here)
As with people, dogs need a high quality well-balanced diet in order to live a healthy and long life. The above dog foods are some of the best available and the ones we recommend for your dog.
That's the buzz for today!
(Originally published in 2012 and revised annually. Most recent update in January 2017)