A Closer Look at the Best Dog Food Brands on the Market

young girl gives food to dog in bowl at home, woman feeds golden retriever, hungry dog looks at bowl of food and licks its lips

Key Points

  • Some of the best dog food brands range from Merrick and Acana to Blue Buffalo and Canidae. 

  • Ideally, your dog's food contains healthy protein at a rate of at least 18 percent, healthy fats from sources like flaxseed and fatty fish, and healthy carbs like pumpkin or sweet potatoes. 

  • Choose a veterinarian-recommended diet to give your dog the proper nutrition

  • Consider grain-free options if your dog is sensitive to grains, as not all pets do well with a diet rich in legumes. 

  • Avoid giving your dog kibble containing artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors, specifically Yellow 5 and 6, Red 40, and Blue 1 and 2. 

As a responsible pet owner, you understand the importance of high-quality dog food for your pet's overall health and well-being. This article looks closer at the best dog food brands in the comprehensive, booming market that continues to grow through 2023 and beyond. The following complete and detailed overviews of some of these companies assist you in making an informed decision when choosing the ideal dog food for your pet.


This United States-made dog food has received stellar reviews from pet owners who have tried it. With an average fat and above-average protein content, this option fits this species, unlike many other commercial alternatives you're likely to encounter in your quest to find the best dog food brand. 

Merrick recipes have the first ingredient as meat, which accounts for up to 70 percent or more of each variety. No matter the type of protein you opt for, the next ingredient is often a meat meal, a concentrate that provides dogs up to three hundred percent more protein than actual meat. 

Most Merrick pet food options have grains with ingredients such as brown rice, oatmeal, or barley. Still, these are better when compared to the wheat and corn utilized by other manufacturing companies. Multiple recipes contain flaxseed and sunflower oil, which provide the necessary fat to your dog's diet, along with alfalfa meal, a plant source rich in protein and fiber. 

The sky's the limit for your pet regarding diet palatability and age appropriateness. Merrick recipes range from chicken and brown rice to beef and brown rice. They also include formulations designed for seniors and puppies and different types of breeds based on their size variations. 

Freeze-dried recipes are also available; opt for these if you don't want your dog exposed to any additional ingredients, mainly used as preservatives. 


Acana is another dog food brand you should closely examine, especially since there were no past recalls of this company's products. Although its price is somewhat premium compared to other canine kibble, most pet owners have nothing but good things to say about how this pet food makes their dogs feel. Subscription diets are also available and highly recommended for pets with specific health conditions. 

The ingredients and nutrition largely depend on each recipe in part, but the central aspect to consider is that all of the components of every pet food variety are on the nutrition label. Acana clearly states what goes into each kibble option, unlike the widely used 'meat by-products' statement you might know. 

Consequently, you should expect chicken cartilage, chicken and turkey gizzards, hearts, and livers. Still, you should know that all these provide dogs with a healthy dose of protein. Acana dog food also contains ingredients such as legumes like chickpeas and lentils, dried kelp, collard greens, apples, carrots, supplemental vitamins and minerals, and probiotics for good digestion. 

Typical protein sources like chicken are available if you feed your dog Acana. Still, there are some varieties, such as Duck & Pear or Grain-Free, which vets recommend for pups with food intolerances and allergies. Recipes for different breeds, sizes, and life stages are also available. Try the Premium Wet Chunks or Dog Biscuits if you train your pet. 

A hungry beagle eats from a bowl.

Blue Buffalo

Many dog owners highly recommend Blue Buffalo because it focuses on high-quality, natural ingredients and comprehensive product lines catering to dogs of varying ages, sizes, and dietary needs. Blue Buffalo pet food has received positive reviews for its taste and nutritional content, and many pet owners reported improvements in their dogs' skin, coat, and overall well-being after switching to Blue Buffalo.

Blue Buffalo dog food boasts high-quality, natural ingredients, including real meat, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Their primary protein sources are deboned chicken, salmon, and lamb. 

Blue Buffalo also uses a proprietary blend called LifeSource Bits, which consists of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for your dog's optimal health. These nutrient-rich recipes provide a balanced diet, ensuring your dog receives what they need for strong bones, a healthy coat, and overall vitality.

Blue Buffalo offers several product lines catering to different sizes, life stages, and dietary needs. These include their Blue Life Protection Formula, Blue Wilderness, Blue Basics, and Blue Freedom lines. Their recipes are available in various flavors, such as chicken, lamb, and salmon, allowing you to choose the best option for your dog's preferences and dietary requirements. The company also offers an extensive selection of wet food and treat options.


Canidae receives high marks from dog owners for their high-quality ingredients, nutritional content, and focus on providing multiple options to suit individual needs. Customers appreciate the brand's commitment to using premium ingredients and its inclusion of beneficial supplements, such as probiotics and omega fatty acids. Many owners noted improvements in their dogs' coat appearance and energy levels after switching to Canidae.

Canidae uses premium ingredients such as real meats — including chicken, turkey, lamb, and salmon –, legumes, whole grains, and various fruits and vegetables. They don't use corn, wheat, or soy in their recipes, which helps reduce the risk of food allergies and sensitivity. 

Canidae also focuses on optimal nutrition by incorporating essential vitamins, minerals, and other healthy ingredients such as probiotics, antioxidants, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to promote overall health and robust immune systems.

Canidae offers grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes within its product lines, catering to various dietary requirements, such as dogs with grain sensitivities or intolerances. Their grain-free options use alternative healthy carbohydrates like potatoes, peas, and lentils. At the same time, their grain-inclusive recipes contain nutrient-dense whole grains, such as brown rice and barley.

Hill's Science Diet

Many pet owners choose Hill's Science Diet based on their veterinarian's recommendations and have observed positive changes in their dogs' health, such as improved energy levels, shiny coats, and better digestion. Customers appreciate the brand's focus on addressing specific health issues through their tailored formulas and its dedication to delivering high-quality products backed by scientific research.

Hill's Science Diet pet food relies on high-quality ingredients, including real meat, vegetables, and whole grains. Their protein sources primarily consist of chicken, lamb, and salmon meal. They also have prebiotic and gentle fibers for sensitive stomachs and easy digestion. Additionally, Hill's Science Diet contains clinically proven levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to boost your pet's immune system and support overall health.

Veterinarians highly recommend Science Diet due to its commitment to clinical nutrition and the careful development of its recipes, which often cater to dogs with specific health issues or dietary requirements. They partner with over 220 veterinarians, Ph.D. nutritionists, and food scientists to ensure their products meet the standards for optimal canine nutrition. Hill's Science Diet also offers various prescription diets for dogs with specific health concerns.

Two hungry dog sit at a table.


Nutro has a dedicated following of pet owners who appreciate the brand's commitment to sourcing clean, non-GMO ingredients and providing diverse recipes for different dog sizes, ages, and dietary preferences. Customers have reported improvements in their dogs' coat health, energy levels, and digestion after switching to Nutro.

Nutro dog food prides itself on using clean, GMO-free ingredients. Their non-GMO guarantee ensures that their products contain only natural, wholesome ingredients. Nutro's primary protein sources include real meat such as chicken, lamb, and salmon. The brand uses healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables to provide energy and fiber. Nutro also includes essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in its formulas to support a robust immune system and overall health.

One of Nutro's main selling points is its commitment to using non-GMO ingredients. This means you're providing your dog with a diet free from genetically modified organisms, which some consumers believe could pose potential health risks. Nutro ensures its products undergo rigorous quality testing and adhere to strict guidelines to meet non-GMO standards.


Dog owners who choose Orijen appreciate the brand's commitment to high-quality, fresh ingredients and their dedication to biologically appropriate nutrition. Many customers have reported improvements in their dog's coat, reduced shedding, increased energy levels, and overall better health after switching to Orijen.

Orijen's philosophy revolves around creating biologically appropriate dog food, which means their recipes closely mimic the natural diet of dogs in the wild. They use fresh, regionally sourced ingredients such as free-run poultry, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs. 

Orijen dog food is rich in high-quality protein, which makes up 85 percent of their recipes, alongside nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and botanicals. They also incorporate fatty acids like EPA and DHA to support healthy skin, coat, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

Orijen's focus on biologically appropriate nutrition means that your dog receives optimal levels of essential nutrients and protein designed to mirror your dog's evolutionary diet. This approach ensures that your pet's nourishment contains natural and species-appropriate food, contributing to their overall health, energy levels, and vitality.

Royal Canin

Many pet owners appreciate Royal Canin's focus on breed-specific nutrition and report positive changes in their dogs' overall health after making the switch. Customers also value the brand's dedication to addressing the unique nutritional needs of different breeds, sizes, and life stages through their extensive range of specialized products.

Royal Canin dog food uses high-quality ingredients, such as real meat, poultry, and fish, alongside carefully selected carbohydrates and fibers for steady energy release and healthy digestion. 

Their recipes also contain a tailored blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support a robust immune system. Royal Canin takes canine nutrition a step further by tailoring its formulas to specific dog breeds, sizes, and life stages, ensuring optimal nutrition for each pet.

One of Royal Canin's unique features is its range of breed-specific recipes catering to different dog breeds' nutritional requirements and preferences. Their specialized formulas consider a breed's typical energy levels, growth patterns, and potential health concerns. 

In addition to breed-specific options, Royal Canin offers size-based formulas — such as those for small, medium, and large breeds — and caters to various life stages, from puppies to seniors.


Wellness enjoys a strong reputation among dog owners thanks to its high-quality, natural ingredients and focus on providing a balanced, nutrient-rich diet for pets. Many customers have observed improved skin and coat conditions, increased energy levels, and better digestion in their dogs after switching to Wellness dog food.

Wellness dog food boasts high-quality, natural ingredients, such as real meat, wholesome grains, and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Their primary protein sources include deboned chicken, turkey, lamb, and salmon. 

Wellness recipes also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to promote overall health and a better immune system. Many of their formulas include easily digestible, high-quality carbohydrates such as brown rice and barley.

Wellness offers several product lines catering to various dog sizes, life stages, and dietary needs, including their Wellness CORE, Wellness Complete Health, and Simple Limited Ingredient Diets. Their diverse range of recipes ensures that there's an option for every pet, whether they require grain-free, high-protein, or limited-ingredient diets. In addition to their dry food offerings, Wellness has a wide selection of wet food and treat options.

Fresh dog food ingredients

What To Look For in Dog Food

As per the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, one of the most important aspects to consider when opting for one dog food brand over another is whether it employs a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist to develop the recipes. The person formulating the diet makes a difference and whether they have a degree in nutrition, along with the quality control process for finished products and ingredients. 

Additionally, clinical professor at the Veterinary Health Center in Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine Susan Nelson, states, "If the pet food does say it is complete and balanced, then it must also have a specific statement, known as the AAFCO statement, saying that it meets these requirements either by feeding trials and/or meeting specific formulation guidelines."

Like any other type of pet food, your dog's diet should contain proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. As dogs aren't obligate carnivores like cats, you might get away with a crude protein content of 18 percent to 22 percent, depending on your dog's life stage. 

Consider grain-free options only if your dog has a grain sensitivity, as not all dogs do well with a diet rich in legumes. Healthy fats include anything ranging from flaxseed oil to omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish like salmon. 

Some ingredients to avoid range from corn and soy to meat by-products, nitrates and nitrites, melamine, artificial colors, preservatives, and artificial flavors. Not only do these ingredients –like food dyes — provide your dog with no nutritional value, but they have the potential to cause imbalances and potential health conditions. Unfortunately, it doesn't prevent TikTok users from using food dye for lip color.

Speak to your veterinarian about the diet for your dog, depending on their breed, life stage, and health considerations. Homemade pet food is another option if you have the time and resources, but consult a pet nutritionist to ensure you have the right balance of ingredients. 

A Healthy Outside Starts From The Inside

The highly-regarded dog food brands mentioned in today's article have distinct features, benefits, and nutritional profiles to cater to the unique needs of individual dogs. As a pet owner, it's essential to consider your dog's specific requirements and preferences when choosing the ideal dog food. Continue researching these brands and consult your veterinarian for the best option for your beloved furry companion.

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