Dry Dog Foods: Top 5 Best Brands, Advantages, Disadvantages & What To Look For When Buying

Are you a dry dog food advocate, or you prefer to serve your dog’s wet dog food? We have already discussed wet dog food extensively in a different article. Let’s talk about the most popular and most purchased type of dog food this time: dry dog foods.

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of dry dog foods, a purchasing guide, and some of today’s best dry dog food products.

Advantages and disadvantages of dry dog foods

Like wet dog food, the selection of dry dog products has advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few:


  • 1. Unless your dog has specific health requirements, you can buy her dry dog food anywhere.
  • 2. Water content is the major difference between dry and wet dog foods. Dry food has a water content of about 3%-12%, while wet food has a water content of about 60%-80%. This low moisture content makes dry dog food easy to store for a long time. On the other hand, wet food spoils easily because of their high moisture content.
  • 3. You can purchase dry dog food in bulk because of the long shelf life. This helps save shopping time as you don’t have to keep going to the pet store to purchase your dog’s food.  It also saves you money since buying in bulk usually saves even if it’s just a few dollars.
  • 4. It is also easy to store so you can bring some even during your travels.
  • 5. Many dry dog foods contain complete and balanced nutrition for your dog in just a few servings.
  • 7. You will not have to clean up after your dog even if she is a messy eater.


  • 1. Some dry dog foods contain low quality or over-processed ingredients, animal by-products, or fillers, so sometimes you do not get your money’s worth.
  • 2. Dry dog food is a booming business, so you have a lot of choices to make. Every brand always has great packaging that announces “human-grade” or “grain-free” or “balanced” things. You must always read the fine print so you won’t be swayed by genius advertising into buying something your dog does not need.
  • 3. Many dry dog foods contain grains, binders, chemicals, or preservatives, which could lead to skin problems or allergies for your dog.
  • 4. Some dry dog foods have been recalled due to bacterial contamination.
Pros Cons
1. Available anywhere
2. Long shelf life and does not spoil easily
3. Saves time and money
4. Easy to store
5. Complete and balanced nutrition in just a few servings
6. May help clean teeth
7. Not messy
1. Low-quality ingredients
2. Saturated market
3. May contain allergenic ingredients
4. Recalled products due to bacterial contamination

What to look for when buying dry dog food

Just like wet dog foods, it is best to read the labels when buying dry dog foods. Here are some things to look for:

  • 1. The first or one of the first five ingredients is the main source of protein. Recall that labels list ingredients by weight. This implies the first few ingredients on the label are the heaviest in terms of weight before processing. 

    Usually, poultry like livestock, sheep, or fish will be the primary source of protein. The best ratio of meat or fish to other ingredients is 70-80% meat or fish and 20-30% vegetables, fruits, and supplements. 

    Be cautious when you see ingredients like “with [animal meat],” e.g., “with beef,” “[animal meat] flavored,” e.g., “beef-flavored” or “[animal meat] entrée, platter, or dinner,” e.g., “beef entrée” because this means the product contains so little meat that it is almost insignificant.

    Take your dog’s health requirements into consideration. Some dogs are known to be allergic to chicken or fish.

    Also, take into account your dog’s age. Puppies will have different nutritional requirements than adult dogs.
  • 2. Animal by-products should not be a top ingredient. Such ingredients may include animal parts that have no nutrients, such as beaks, feathers, feet of a chicken, for instance. Companies using high-quality ingredients, however, use components of nutritious animal by-products such as liver or other offal.

    Try to check if the animal by-product is named—both the animal it comes from and which part of the animal is used. If it is not, the product may be using very low-quality ingredients.
  • 3. Contains minimal grains. Dogs do not need a lot of carbohydrates, which could lead to diabetes, arthritis, or other illnesses in dogs.

    Wheat, most notably, is known to cause allergic reactions in some dogs. Other dogs, however, are fine with eating such grains.

    However, some vets consider whole grains like rice, barley, and oatmeal as good sources of digestible nutrients.

    On the other hand, do not be swayed so easily by the growing popularity of grain-free products.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also issued a warning in June 2019 about grain-free products that use other ingredients like peas, lentils, and other legumes to compensate for the grains. The FDA indicated that these ingredients could be related to an increased number of cases of Canine Heart Disease or Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in smaller breeds. Although the relationship is not yet verified, this problem is being investigated by the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine with the Veterinary Laboratory Research and Response Network.
  • 4. The product should not have artificial coloring, additives, or other preservatives. Your dog could have adverse reactions to the artificial chemicals used by some products.
  • 5. See if the product has additional sources of nutrients like vegetables, fruits, and supplements.
  • 6. Look for the seal from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a group of volunteers who examine animal feed. The AAFCO has guidelines on what should be on the labels of such products.

    Also, be cautious when you see on the label a seal of “human grade.” Some vets warn that eating foods that are safe for humans may not always be safe for pet consumption.

    Furthermore, try to verify whether the product has passed feeding tests. Some firms feed their products to dogs to find out if dogs like the food and stay healthy while eating the meat.

Best Dry Dog Foods Brands

1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dog Food

Blue Buffalo is the best option for wet dog food so you can be sure that dry dog food from the company is a bestseller as well. It lists the primary ingredient of the source of protein. For instance, the chicken and brown rice lists deboned chicken as the first ingredient. You can, therefore, be sure that it includes real meat. It states that it does not contain any by-product of animals or any artificial flavor, color or preservative.

Instead of wheat, maize or soy, it includes rice, barley, and oatmeal. Even though it does not contain allergic grains, your dog may still need digestive requirements that do not allow grains to be used in her diet. However, it’s also a little more costly than other brands, with a restricted amount of recipes options.

Pros Cons
1. The first ingredient is the protein
2. Contains no animal by-product or artificial flavor, color, or preservative.
1. Contains grains but not wheat, corn, or soy
2. A bit expensive
3. Limited recipes

2. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Premium High Protein Dry Dog Food

Special recipes include buffalo, boar, salmon, venison, and wildfowl meat, which are usually the first ingredients on the label. The animals are raised from pasture so that the meat they produce is considered to be of high quality. Each recipe includes various protein sources plus fruit and vegetables and supplements. It is also free of grains and artificial preservatives.

Since the source of protein is not the usual type, the crude protein level may be too high for some dogs. It is also a bit more expensive than other brands.

Pros Cons
1. Many recipe options
2. Contains vegetables and fruits and supplements
1. Protein level might be too high for some dogs
2. A bit expensive

3. Iams Proactive Health

For old dogs and those with special needs, the formulas vary for puppies. The protein source is listed as the first ingredient, but it includes grain such as corn and preservatives. It’s more inexpensive than other brands.

Pros Cons
1. Formulas can be for all ages and even those with special needs
2. Lists source of protein as the first ingredient
3. Affordable
1. Contains grains and preservatives  

4. Purina Dry Dog Food

In addition to wet dog foods, Purina also provides a broad range of dry dog foods with various formulas, some of which are special needs for dogs. Choose the formula that targets the specific breed, size, stage of life, and weight of your dog. Generally speaking, these products list the protein source as the first ingredient you can be sure it includes real meat or fish.

Some recipes contain grains like rice and wheat. Also, these products are generally more expensive.

Pros Cons
1. Wide variety of choices, even for dogs with special needs
2. High-quality ingredients
1. Contains grains
2. A bit expensive  

5. Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

All Wellness Core products are guaranteed to be grain-free. Each recipe has distinct protein sources, so each pack contains about 80% of protein-based ingredients. For instance, the recipe for Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, and Chicken Meal includes deboned turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal as the first three ingredients on the label.

Like other products that contain quality ingredients, Wellness Core products are a bit more expensive than other brands.

Pros Cons
1. Grain-free
2. Contains different sources of protein
1. A bit expensive  


We all want our dogs to be healthy. Nutrition based on your dog’s breed, size, weight, and health requirements, though, is a very tricky thing to balance and achieve.

As always, before changing your dog’s diet, consult your vet, especially if your dog has allergies or digestive requirements. Your vet could offer you suggestions on the best food formula for your dog based on the prior check-ups of your dog.

Educate yourself so that you can make the best choice for your beloved dog. Most likely, your favorite brand will have a website, so spend a few minutes reading more about the products of the company.

Even though your dog has its distinctive demands, you might be able to investigate how other dogs respond to the products of your favorite brand. In this manner, if you observe the response of your dog to her new food, you may have prior knowledge of what to look for.

If she gobbles up her food with no problems, then you can breathe a sigh of satisfaction on having given your dog a meal worthy of her big, toothy smile.

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