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How To Choose The Best Dry Dog Food【2024】

To be able to find the best dry dog food, you need to have some factors in mind. This is for example:

  • Understanding the ingredient list.
  • Knowing what nutrients that are essential for your dog.
  • Learn what special needs your dog has depending on age, breed size.
  • If your dog has any allergies or a sensitive stomach, know what causes the problem so you can help in the best way possible.

What you should look for in dry dog food

The FDA key pieces of information regarding Pet Food Labels

  • Product name
  • Net quantity statement
  • The address and name of the manufacturer
  • Ingredient list

All ingredients must be listed in order by weight. The weight is determined when the ingredient is added in the formulation, with the water weight included.

  • Guaranteed Analysis

Pet food must guarantee the minimum percentage of crude fat, crude protein, and the maximum percentage of crude moisture and fiber. The word “crude” means the method that is used specifically for measuring this and not the quality of the nutrient.

  • Statement of nutritional adequacy

The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) has a statement of nutritional adequacy which means that for a pet food to be allowed to be called “balanced and complete”, it must be confirmed in one or two ways.

  • Feeding guidelines
  • Calorie Statement

The ingredient-list

The ingredient list can be a tricky part even though it looks simple. The list never tells you where the ingredients come from, and some sorts of food can be split into multiple different ingredients for it to seem like there are low levels, but when put together, the content is actually high. One example of this is soy, which can be divided into soy, soy protein, soybeans and so on. All of these can come further down in the ingredient list, but the content with all these combined is relatively high.

(A named) Animal protein

The first ingredient on the list should always be real meat, fish, or poultry. This ensures that the food contains protein, and the protein should always be named and not mentioned as “meat”. Just keep in mind that the ingredients weight is measured when going into the formula and animal proteins such as meat or poultry contain a lot of water, so the percentage of actual meat is lower after the processing of the food is done.

Fruits, grains, vegetables, and antioxidants

When you use an unprocessed and fresh ingredient it still has all its benefits and nutrients such as vitamins left. Look for a dry dog food that has fruits and vegetables included in the ingredient list.

The special needs of your dog

Just as humans, all dogs have individual nutritional needs that are determined by their age, size, weight, and activity level. Here you also need to take the breed of your dog into account in some cases and not only the size.


Growing puppies has different needs from an adult dog. They need more calories to be able to grow properly, and more protein and the amino acids that come with it. The amino acids are essential for the puppy’s tissue so it can both grow and repair in a proper way.


Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy

Information: This is a puppy food with fresh chicken as the main meat-source. It has LifeSource Bits, which is exclusive for this brand. LifeSource bits are a perfect blend between vitamins, minerals and antioxidants carefully selected by animal nutritionists and veterinarians that for example helps with the immune system and an oxidative balance.

First 6 ingredients on the list: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley & Menhaden Fish Meal.

Type of food: Grain-inclusive.

Suits: All puppies.

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If you want to read our entire list of the best dog food for puppies, click on the link.


All dogs have six basic nutritional requirements that need to be fulfilled. This is carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. All of these are required to be in a dog’s daily diet and have a function so your dog’s body can function.


Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food

Information: The dog food from Merrick Classic Healthy Grains has balanced nutrition and easy digestible recipes. It contains balanced protein together with fruits, vegetables and a good blend of whole grains and omega fatty acids.

First 6 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Turkey Meal & Oatmeal.

Why it is good: Merrick Classic contains leading levels of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy grains. The recipes focus on natural and nutritious ingredients.

Other recipes: Puppy, senior, small breed, large breed, real lamb and brown rice, real beef, and green peas and so on.


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If you want to read our entire list of the best dry dog food brands, click on the link.


Senior dogs need more protein because they need to maintain their muscle mass. Just as humans, their metabolism decreases with age, so they also need fewer calories than an adult dog.


Diamond Naturals Senior Dog

Information: Diamond Naturals Senior Dog is a dry dog food with high-quality ingredients and contains protein and fats that your aging dog needs. It has probiotics and good fiber for digestion, chondroitin, and glucosamine for the joints, and superfoods and other antioxidants.

The first 6 ingredients on the list: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice & Egg.

Type of food: Grain-inclusive dry food.

Calories: 347 kcal per cup.

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If you want to read our entire list of the best dog food for senior dogs, click on the link.

Small breed

Small breed dogs have a higher metabolic rate than larger breeds, which means they need more calories per pound of body weight. Since they have smaller stomachs than a bigger dog, they need a more nutrient dense food so they can get all the nutrients in before they’re full.


Taste Of The Wild Grain Free Appalachian Valley Small Breed

Information: This grain-free dry food is high-digestible and is good for your small dog’s teeth. It contains the recommended number of amino acids for lean muscles and a healthy heart and gives your active dog the best conditions. It is also rich in antioxidants with all the legumes and fruits to support your dog’s wellbeing.

The first 6 ingredients on the list: Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Lentils & Pea Protein.

Type of food: Grain-free dry food.

Calories: 422 kcal per cup.

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If you want to read our entire list of the best dog food for small dogs, click on the link.

Large breed

Large breed dogs have a lower metabolic rate than small breeds and therefore need fewer calories per pound of body weight. They also tend to have problems with the joints and bones and benefit from a food that has for example chondroitin and glucosamine included.


Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight Large Breed Adult

Information: This food is made specifically for large breed adults that need to lose weight. It’s lower in calories than other options on our list and has a recipe with protein and fiber for a healthy weight loss. The fiber supports digestion, and it has antioxidants for the immune system.

The first 6 ingredients on the list: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Rice Bran, Split Peas & Whole Grain Brown Rice.

Contains calcium, chondroitin, and glucosamine: Yes.

Calories: 245 kcal per cup.

Type of food: Grain-inclusive.

Suits: Large breed adults that need to lose weight.

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If you want to read our entire list of the best dog food for large breed dogs, click on the link.

Sensitive stomach

A sensitive stomach means that your dog shows symptoms such as vomiting, excessive gassing and/or diarrhea connected to for example digestive problems or an intolerance to a specific ingredient. After you have figured out what causes the problem, you can buy a food that either is easier to digest or a food with limited ingredients that exclude the food your dog is sensitive to.


Wellness Simple Natural Limited-Ingredient

Information: The ingredients in this recipe are carefully chosen to fulfill a purpose in your dog’s diet and only provide good food that your dog’s stomach will be able to handle. With all natural ingredients, one protein source from salmon and without extra fillers or additives, this food is easy on your dog’s stomach and helps with overall health. In our opinion, this is one of the absolute best dry dog foods for a sensitive stomach.

The first 6 ingredients on the list: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes & Tomato Pomace.

Type of food: Grain-free.

Purpose: Limited ingredients & easy to digest.

Suits: Adult dogs.

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If you want to read our entire list of the best dog food for dogs with a sensitive stomach, click on the link.

Food allergies

A food allergy is when your dog’s immune system reacts to a food with a defensive reaction such as itchy skin, skin rashes and/or diarrhea. When you have figured out what type of ingredient your dog is allergic to, we recommend you find a good dog food with limited ingredients that exclude that specific food or foods.


Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Adult

Information: Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet is a dry dog food that was created specifically for dogs with a food allergy. With only one source of animal protein and one vegetable it is easy to make sure your dog can eat this food without having to read through a long ingredient list. According to us, it is one of the absolute best dog food for dogs with allergies.

The first 6 ingredients on the list: Salmon Meal, Salmon, Peas, Tapioca, Canola Oil & Montmorillonite Clay.

Type of food: Grain-free.

Suits: Adult dogs.

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If you want to read our entire list of the best dog food with limited ingredients for dogs with allergies, click on the link.

Wet dog food

Some prefer to give their dog wet food. It could either be because you simply want it instead of dry food, your dog is a picky eater, or you want to give your dog a delicious topping on the dry food. You should make sure the canned dog food has real ingredients and a real animal protein as the first ingredient.


Chicken Soup For The Soul Grain Free

Information: Chicken Soup For The Soul’s stew has real beef as a first ingredient and contains no by-product meals. It is a well-balanced canned dog food that gives your dog all the nutrients from the finest and simplest ingredients. We think this is one of the best affordable wet dog foods if you have a limited budget.

The first 6 ingredients on the list: Beef, Beef Broth, Ocean fish Broth, Beef Liver, Dried Egg Whites & Pea Flour.

Type of food: Grain-free.

Suits: Adult dogs.

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If you want to read our entire list of the best wet dog food, click on the link.

Other things to keep in mind

You often see dog food that says for example “premium” or “extra premium” on the label. One thing to keep in mind is that it isn’t required for a food to contain any higher quality or special ingredients to be able to call it that, so don’t think that you are buying a food with higher nutritional standards just because the label says that it is a premium food.

Frequently asked questions

1. What is the best dry dog food?

A good dog food always meets the AAFCO nutritional standard and has a real, and named, high-quality animal sourced protein as the first ingredient. It shall also contain fruit, vegetables, antioxidants, and grains that your dog needs to live a happy and healthy life.

2. What is the best dry dog food for picky eaters?

This is very individual depending on what your dog likes. Some dogs only prefer to eat kibbles, others only want wet food. Just as humans, dogs can also like some ingredients more than others. Choose a food that is high in protein and full of taste, that can make even a picky eater love it!

3. What is the best-tasting dry dog food?

Often, the best-tasting dry dog food has not gone through any treatments. This keeps the nutrients still there. This is good for your dog’s health but also a big benefit for the taste. If it still tastes like real meat, your dog will love it since it is a part of their natural diet.

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