Hi there, my name is Jess, and I am the proud owner of a Cockapoo named Jimmy. I am here to share more about one of Jimmy’s (and my) favorite topics, which is the best affordable dog food.
If your dog is anything like mine, meals are the highlight of the day, but the cost of quality food can be challenging to manage on a fixed budget.
In this article I will take a look at the best dog food options, to help make sure your furry friend is eating well, while leaving you enough money to still buy food for yourself!
What Should Your Dog be Eating?
Just like us, dogs need a combination of vitamins, nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to stay balanced and healthy.
Although we are familiar with what to look for on our own food labels, it is not always as intuitive to recognize what should and should not be in their food.
Below are some of the things to look that you want included in your dog’s food:
Ingredients are listed by their weight in the dog food, so it is important to pay attention to what is listed towards the top. Looking for some sort of specific meat, such as beef, chicken, or lamb, ensures that your dog will be fueled and ready to go.
The mentioning of a specific meat also means that the protein in the food is from a natural source instead of a low-quality protein source.
Vegetables and Vitamins
Whole vegetables and grains are also important to look for because they contain vitamins and nutrients that are essential to your dog’s health. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it might be worth steering clear of grains for easier digestion.
Dogs who do not suffer from sensitivity benefit from grains because of the added nutrients and fiber.
Something else to be mindful of in looking for your dog’s food is the expiration date.
Of course, nobody wants the food to expire before it’s eaten, but if the expiration date is a couple of years out, that is indicative of excess preservatives.
The ideal time frame is anywhere between 6 months and 1 year.
The Right Fit for Size and Breed
I did not consider these factors in my earlier years with Jimmy, as I figured any dog food would suffice for him.
I quickly learned that it is vital to consider their size and specific needs in choosing to make sure they are getting the right blend of ingredients.
When I got Jimmy, my small, 20lb Cockapoo, I did not realize that I couldn’t feed him the same food as what I used to feed my Golden Retriever.
Jimmy put on some extra weight when he was younger, which was partially due to too many snacks (guilty), but also because he did not have the right food for his size.
Although he was eating natural food with a healthy blend of ingredients, the balance was not right for his size, and therefore, ineffective in keeping him healthy.
What Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food?
Not only is it important to consider what your dog specifically needs, but also what he or she does not need.
Just like our meals, when purchasing packaged foods, random ingredients can slip by us that may not be the best to consume.
Although it is impossible to know what every single word on the back of a food label might be, it is important to be aware of a few of the most common ingredients that should be avoided if possible:
Chemicals and Preservatives
For dogs specifically, it is ideal to avoid chemicals and preservatives that can have harmful effects on their digestive systems.
These add-ons can be detrimental to their health over time and prevent them from being their liveliest, happiest selves.
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) are common preservatives to look out for. Their goal is to prevent oils in foods from becoming rancid, but natural preservatives are a safer alternative.
Ethoxyquin is a preservative that is banned from being put in human food but not from dog food.
This chemical is believed to be linked to liver complications faced by pets in the past, which caused the Food and Drug Administration to require lower doses when integrated in dog foods.
It can be disguised on labels of dog food as being part of “fish meal,” which is why it is recommended to stick to foods that use vitamins and natural ingredients instead.
Artificial Sweeteners and Colors
Artificial sweeteners and color should also be avoided. Ultimately, dog food does not need modified color and should be flavorful enough for dogs to be willing to eat it without any added chemicals.
Foods that have a lot of added on chemicals and preservatives might be lacking in nutrition, which is one of the most important elements of dog food.
Foods that have ideal ingredients and avoid preservatives and chemicals might be a little bit more expensive than generic brands, but it is worth it to know your dog is being fed well and can avoid potential and unnecessary complications later.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best, affordable options that combine healthy ingredients and an economic mindset.
The Top 10 Affordable Dog Food Products
1. Nutro Max Adult Dry Dog Food
Nutro Max is made with farm raised chicken and has no added artificial flavors or preservatives.
It also does not have corn, wheat, or soy protein. It is also blended with whole grains to ensure your pet gets a good source of fiber.
Grains are good for some dogs, but if your dog has an uneasy stomach or digestion issues, it might be best to avoid this option.
There are multiple flavor and consistency options, such as beef, chicken, lamb, mini chunks, and adult.
Jimmy is a little picky when it comes to the size of his chunks, so the different options combined with the variety of flavors make Nutro Max an enticing choice. This is also ideal if you have a smaller dog who may not be able to properly swallow larger chunks.
2. Nutro Ultra Senior Wet Dog Food
Nutro Ultra combines 3 proteins and a blend of 14 superfoods and comes with a Happy Dance Guarantee! 100% satisfaction or your money back.
That is a huge selling point because there is minimal risk in trying Nutro Ultra with your dog (and definitely worth it to see the happy dance).
This option also comes with a Nutro Quality Pledge. Their pledge is to use natural ingredients sourced from local farms. This is a reassuring feature that allows you to take comfort in the fact that your dog will get the fresh quality that you seek for your own meals (without as much work). Additionally, there is no corn, soy, or chicken byproduct meal.
Nutro Ultra provides added benefits to dogs including supporting strong immune and digestive systems and healthy skin and fur health. That last point is ideal for dog owners who love posting pictures of their pups on social media (like I do) because they will always be looking their best!
3. Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe Dry Food
Whole Earth Farms focuses on high quality protein and a grain free recipe for easier digestion.
This is an important detail to note for owners who have dogs with more sensitive stomachs.
A few years ago, Jimmy had a surgery that left him feeling nauseous and uneasy for a matter of weeks. He was not able to eat his regular food consistently, but Whole Earth Farms would have been a great substitute for him at the time.
There are no poultry by-products, corn, or soy, and their blend supports less shedding, which some dog owners might really appreciate! The recipe also promotes a shinier coat.
For dogs who do not face digestion issues, it might be worth considering a food that includes grains to ensure they are getting a healthy mix of fiber in their diet.
4. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food
Wellness Complete Health is a complete and balanced blend to support your dog’s healthy weight. This is something Jimmy could have used when he was putting on some extra pounds!
This is a great alternative for dogs who may be facing weight issues due to older age or even inability to get out and play often enough. It is hard to consider feeding your dog less when he or she is already on a routine schedule, so feeding them healthier might be the better choice.
The recipe is made of deboned chicken and peas to provide flavor and to fill your dog up free of fatty ingredients.
It is all natural, and only contains premium ingredients, excluding soy, wheat, and corn.
This food is also made in the United States and backed by a Wellness Guarantee.
Although it is a little pricier than the other options so far, it comes in a 30lb bag! This is a great option for dog owners, such as myself, who find themselves going to the store to restock food too often. Also, knowing your dog is at his or her ideal weight and therefore more energetic and lively is absolutely priceless.
5. Crave High Protein Grain Free Adult Wet Dog Food
Crave comes with 24 3.5oz trays of wet food with shreds of real chicken. This is one of my favorite aspects of this option because it assures the owner that their pet is getting the quality ingredients and protein that they need.
Crave has no corn, chicken by-product, wheat, soy protein artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
An intriguing detail about this recipe is that it’s based on the diets of dog’s wolf ancestors. This might be an important detail for dog owners who value strength and agility, or even have a fascination with wolves!
This would not be as important for Jimmy, as most of his free time is spent cuddling and napping, but for dogs who are more active outside, this might be a great option.
6. Rachel Ray’s Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food
For any Rachel Ray fans, this is your chance to bring her expertise from your plate to your dog’s!
Nutrish is a blend of chicken and vegetables that helps to support healthy digestion. It is made with farm raised chicken and does not contain by-product meat, wheat, filler or wheat gluten ingredients.
What I like about Nutrish is that is contains vegetables. As mentioned earlier, dogs also need a balance of healthy ingredients, so it is nice to have an option that includes both meat and vegetables.
7. Kibbles n Bits Bistro Dry Food
Kibbles n Bits contains oven roasted flavors and vegetable and apple flavors.
Its recipe has a complete and balanced nutrition for all stages of a dog’s life, and specifically mentions containing 23 essential vitamins and minerals.
One thing that it does not specifically mention is whether it has preservatives, byproducts, and soy. Not to say it does or does not, but other options in this article specify the exclusion of these ingredients.
The best part of Kibbles n Bits is that it’s only $18.82 for a 34.1lb bag! Not only is that affordable, it might even save you money!
8. Wag Dry Dog Food
Wag comes with a money back guarantee and a full refund if you or your dog is unhappy for any reason (no return necessary)! This food contains vegetables, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Flavors include Beef & Lentil with Wild Boar, Chicken & Lentil, Lamb & Lentil, Salmon & Lentil, and Turkey and Lentil. There is even an option specifically for puppies.
Wag is made in California and sources quality ingredients with no added wheat, grain, or chemical preservatives.
Wag is conscious of the potential effects switching your dog’s food may have on his or her digestive system, which is why they have a recommended method of easing your dog into the new food.
This is a nice feature because I would have never considered how drastic of a change new dog food is for your pet, but their process makes it easy and smooth to get your pup accustomed.
I also like that Wag is an Amazon brand, because the company is well-known and reputable. Those who are familiar with Amazon know the quality of their other offerings, which could be a swaying factor in making a choice.
9. Purina Beyond Grain Free Natural Adult Dog Wet Food
This grain free, wet food comes in packs of 12 with real chicken as the number one ingredients. Grain free is important to note for dogs who struggle with digestion.
There is a variety of combinations to choose from, such as Chicken, Carrot & Pea, Beef, Potato & Green Bean, and Ocean Whitefish, Salmon & Sweet Potato.
There is no poultry byproduct and no artificial flavors or preservatives.
I like the idea of the variety because in my house, wet food is considered a treat. Purina Beyond provides an affordable option that could make it so I could feed Jimmy wet food everyday!
10. Greenies Pill Pocket Soft Dog Treats
With the focus on what your dog is eating, it is important to consider snacks, too! Greenies come in packs of 30 snacks that are loaded with a rich peanut butter flavor.
This helps to disguise the taste of a pull if you choose to put on in there (for necessary medications).
These are vet recommended and make medications an easier, more pleasurable experience. I wish I had these when Jimmy was taking pills for his teeth.
It was a struggle trying to hide his pill in his food or in real peanut butter. What I did learn, though, is that he loves peanut butter and therefore would most likely love Greenies!
Greenies are all natural and a tasty treat for your dog even if he or she is not needing to take medication. They are good to have around in case!
Overall, there are plenty of great options to choose from in considering a new food for your dog. Whether you value price the most, or maybe the quality and blend of ingredients, there is something for everyone.
The one that caught my eye the most is Wag. Wag is backed by guarantees that make it no risk to try, and it is made in California with fresh sourced ingredients.
I would love it from the price and convenience and Jimmy would love it for the flavor.
It might take some time to find just the right food for your furry friend, but it is worth looking into, and your dog will thank you!