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Best Dry Dog Food

By: Carl Laron on July 06, 2017

Top-rated dry dog food

In the dry food category, we found a number of high-quality dog foods that earn great grades from pet-food advocates. Though we name Orijen Adult Dog Food (Est. $105 for a 25 pound bag) as our Best Reviewed selection, any of the top-rated foods that we discuss below deserve consideration. In the end, cost, availability and how much your dog likes or does not like a particular food will likely tip the balance for you.

But on to our top pick: Orijen Adult Dog Food is a grain-free dog food that earns nothing but praise and the highest ratings from every respected expert reviewer, and tons of praise from dog owners, too. This food is loaded with meat, 85 percent according to the maker: Fresh chicken meat, fresh turkey meat, fresh whole eggs, fresh chicken liver, fresh whole herring, and fresh whole flounder are the top six ingredients -- all preservative-free and delivered fresh daily to Orijen's Canadian factory, along with whole eggs, fruits and veggies. Poultry is raised cage free, while fish is wild caught. Because production is never outsourced, and food sources come from a stable of trusted suppliers, Orijen is less susceptible to health issues caused by a third party, and the food has, to date, never been the subject of a recall.

Reviewers are ecstatic about the Orijen, and it lands at or near the top of every list of top foods we consulted. "Orijen Dog Food receives the highest rating for ingredient quality and nutritional value, with a conspicuous lack of controversial or low nutrition ingredients," says PetFoodTalk.com. "Highly recommended, I've heard nothing but good feedback from those who feed Orijen," says Mary Straus at DogAware.com. At Reviews.com, Orijen is number one on the site's list of its 10 favorite dog food brands.

However, we do have to share one caveat regarding most expert feedback. Orijen Adult Dog Food has recently undergone a formula change. Looking at the ingredient list, there's nothing to indicate that the quality and freshness has changed. The formula draws its meat content from five different sources designed to closely resemble what a dog would eat in the wild. A few users have said that the new version wasn't accepted by their dogs, but most say that their pets love it just as much as before. The biggest repository of user feedback is at Chewy.com, where Orijen Adult Dog Food earns a rating of 4.6 stars based on roughly 1,300 reviews, and recommendations from 93 percent of dog owners.

If Orijen is simply beyond your price range, and you want a grain-free dog food that you can pick up in a local big-box pet store, Wellness Core Grain Free Original Formula (Est. $60 for a 26 lb. bag) is worth considering.

Most experts are impressed with the food. It's a five-star selection at DogFoodAdvisor.com, and does well with lots of other normally very strict dog-food critics. Users like it, too. It earns a 4.5 star rating at Amazon.com, based on over 3,000 reviews. There's less feedback at Chewy.com, but the food rates an impressive 4.9 stars with more than 430 happy dog owners weighing in. The ingredient list starts off with deboned turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal, followed by peas and potatoes.

However, as noted, Wellness hasn't been entirely free of concerns. In 2012, one Wellness dry dog food (not a Wellness Core variety) was recalled as part of the big Diamond Pet Foods salmonella recall. Wellness immediately stopped using Diamond to make any of its products.

Good dry dog foods on a budget

If you're looking for a high quality, grain-free dog food with an even smaller price tag, Taste of the Wild High Prairie (Est. $50 for a 30-lb. bag) looks like an excellent choice. "If you are looking for a quality pet food brand that offers a decent assortment of high-quality products made with fresh, wholesome ingredients, look no further than Taste of the Wild Dog Food, says Kate Barrington at Dog Food Guide. This dog food contains no grains, soy or artificial preservatives, and it has beneficial bacteria, fruits and veggies -- all kinds of stuff you usually only find in super-premium dog kibbles.

Buffalo meat is Taste of the Wild's first ingredient, with venison down the list (both great meat sources, although Mary Straus at DogAware.com recommends holding back on some exotic proteins in case your dog ever develops allergies to more common proteins or needs an elimination diet). Lamb meal and chicken meal come second and third, followed by sweet potatoes and peas.

This dog food is not as meat-rich as Orijen -- or as squeaky-clean safety-wise. Taste of the Wild dog food was recalled in the spring of 2012 over concerns regarding possible salmonella contamination. Still, experts say it's a stellar value if you want to feed grain-free; most rate it either 4 stars or 5. Note that some other Taste of the Wild varieties have lower meat levels, and hence score a little lower in expert reviews. User reviews of Taste of the Wild High Prairie are abundant and very positive -- 4.5 stars at Amazon.com following nearly 10,000 reviews and 4.8 stars at Chewy.com based on more than 1,600 ratings.

Dr. Tim's Pursuit Active Dog Formula (Est. $70 for a 44-lb. bag) isn't grain-free, but experts say it's a good runner-up choice. Created by veterinarian Tim Hunt for his Alaskan Husky sled dogs, Dr. Tim's is made by a family-run Ohio company and uses North American ingredients, with no artificial preservatives. Each batch is tested for salmonella, and Dr. Tim's has never been recalled.

Dr. Tim's Pursuit has chicken meal as its first ingredient, followed by brown rice flour, chicken fat, oat flour and dried beet pulp. To some critics, that sounds great -- but to others, it's too much grain. Some criticize the beet pulp as just low-cost filler (it's left over from sugar beet processing), while others say it aids digestion. Interestingly, Dr. Tim's Pursuit is lower-carb than the grain-free Taste of the Wild High Prairie. Mary Straus at DogAware.com notes that the protein meals used are low ash, meaning less bone and more meat.

Whether they include grains, any of the dry foods discussed above are a far better choice than most supermarket dry foods. One possible exception is Kirkland Signature dog food, which is sold exclusively at Costco. The ingredients list of Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken, Rice and Vegetable (Est. $40 for a 40-lb. bag) formula, for example, falls short compared to the best choices, but the food doesn't cost nearly as much. Chiara Fucarino at PetFoodGuru.com says that "It's not one of the best brands on the market, but it's definitely one of the best in its price range." Meat content is good and, while grains are used, they are mostly higher quality. It earns a 4 star rating at DogFoodAdvisor.com, and is "highly recommended."

One negative is that Kirkland brand dog foods have not been immune from recall issues -- and certain batches of Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken, Rice and Vegetable dog food were voluntarily recalled in the spring of 2012 because of possible salmonella contamination. In fairness, however, the same could also be said of some of the best-regarded foods -- and several of those were also caught up in the same recall. The bottom line: Regardless of which food they use, pet owners should keep an eye out in case safety issues arise. The FDA website is an excellent resource.

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  • Complete nutrition.
  • Whole meat or a named meat meal as its top ingredient.
  • No fillers or low-quality grains.

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