The Healthiest Dog Food Options, According To Vets
For healthy and happy pups 🐶💪
Your pup deserves the best, so you probably want to make sure he’s eating the healthiest dog food possible.
We reached out to Dr. Hilary Jones, chief veterinary officer of DodoVet, and Dr. Antje Joslin, a veterinarian for Dogtopia, to find out what makes the best dog foods healthy.
Plus, here are some of our top picks for healthy dog food:
- Best dry dog food: Purina Pro Plan High Protein Dog Food With Probiotics for Dogs, Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula
- Best wet dog food: Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Chicken & Vegetables Entree
- Best puppy food: Purina Pro Plan High Protein Dry Puppy Food, Chicken and Rice Formula
- Best senior dog food: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Mature Consult Medium Breed Dry Dog Food
- Best dog food for small breeds: Hill's Science Diet Adult Small Paws Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
- Best dog food for large breeds: Purina Pro Plan Adult Large Breed Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
- Best dog food for sensitive stomachs: Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food
- Best limited-ingredient dog food: ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Duck & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food
- Best hydrolyzed protein dog food: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Dog Food
- Best raw dog food: Instinct Raw Boost Whole Grain Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food
- Best fresh dog food: The Farmer’s Dog
- Best budget-friendly dog food: Wag Wholesome Grains Dry Dog Food
Key features of healthy dog food
When trying to find the healthiest food for your pup, you should look for a few things: food that’s complete and balanced, contains plenty of quality ingredients, and is appropriate for your dog’s age, size and health conditions.
Complete and balanced
It’s super important for you to make sure that your pup’s dog food is complete and balanced.
“[The food] should meet minimum Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards for a complete and balanced diet,” Dr. Joslin told The Dodo.
Check out the label on your dog’s food to make sure it says “complete and balanced” or that the guaranteed analysis percentages meet the AAFCO recommendations.
Another good thing to look for is the nutritional adequacy statement on the packaging. It’s usually in small print, so you may have to do some searching to find it.
“There are many reputable companies that have done the research and tested the food and its nutritional value,” Dr. Jones told The Dodo. “The quickest way to find out a particular food’s adequacy is by looking for the nutritional adequacy statement.”
The statement should say something like, “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [brand] provides complete and balanced nutrition for [certain life stage].”
According to Dr. Jones, all of your dog’s dietary needs should be met if he’s eating a complete and balanced food. “Unless there are specific conditions that your dog may suffer from, they [typically] won’t need additional supplements to meet their daily dietary needs because it is included in the food.”
According to Dr. Joslin, check for ingredients you recognize, like chicken and rice. Your dog’s food should also contain fruits, vegetables, grains, vitamins and minerals to round out his nutritional requirements.
“Vitamins and minerals are also necessary when looking for a high-quality dog food,” Dr. Jones said. “Your dog’s food should include fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.”
These are some important vitamins to look out for in your dog’s food.
Fat-soluble vitamins include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Water-soluble vitamins include:
- Vitamin B12
Essential minerals that your dog’s food should contain include:
Unless your pup has a grain allergy, be sure to choose food that includes grains. Feeding grain-free food to a dog who doesn’t need it can lead to a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, Dr. Jones said.
Formulated for your dog’s health conditions, size and age
Some pups will need special food for allergies, food sensitivities or medical conditions.
You should also feed your dog food that’s appropriate for his age and size. There are foods formulated for small- or large-breed dogs, and you can buy different foods for puppies and senior dogs.
Our top healthiest dog food picks
We’ve found some of the healthiest dog food options you can buy that have high-quality ingredients and meet the AAFCO guidelines.
This limited-ingredient dog food is a great option if your dog has food allergies. Pumpkin and squash provide lots of fiber to ease digestion, and it’s made with only one protein source (duck) that’s also considered exotic to minimize reactions.
Your pup will love this dog food that has real chicken as the first ingredient. It combines kibble with shredded pieces of chicken, plus live probiotics to keep your dog’s digestive and immune systems healthy.
This puppy food contains DHA to support your pup’s brain and eye development, plus antioxidants to keep him healthy as his immune system develops. High-quality protein will help your puppy grow up to be strong.
This wet dog food contains 23 vitamins and minerals to keep your dog’s immune system strong and give him a shiny coat. It’s made with real chicken in a gravy sauce and healthy veggies, like carrots, potatoes and green beans.
This prescription senior dog food is formulated for dogs over 7 years of age. It contains amino acids and balanced nutrients to make sure your dog maintains muscle mass as he gets older. It also has antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, for a strong immune system.
Made for dogs who weigh up to 25 pounds when fully grown, this dog food contains vitamins C and E and antioxidants to support your pup’s immune system. Omega-6 fatty acids will keep your dog’s skin healthy and coat shiny.
Glucosamine and EPA in this food support your big dog’s joints. It’s made for dogs weighing over 50 pounds, with 26 percent protein and 12 percent fat to keep your pup strong and maintain his weight.
If your pup has stomach issues, try this highly digestible dog food. It’s made with ActivBiome+ technology and prebiotics to balance your dog’s gut bacteria and reduce symptoms, such as diarrhea.
If your dog has food allergies, you can try this prescription hydrolyzed protein dog food to avoid triggering a reaction. It contains plenty of fiber to support digestion, plus amino acids and vitamins to keep your dog’s skin healthy.
Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient in this raw food. It includes kibble and freeze-dried raw chicken. It’s also made with probiotics for digestion and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
The real ingredients in this fresh dog food can actually be eaten by humans, so you know it’s good for your pup. We even gave it The Dodo’s Paw of Approval because we liked it so much. One Dodo pet parent said, “Bean was immediately absolutely OBSESSED. He'd be SO excited for dinner.”
This budget-friendly pick is made with sustainably raised salmon. You can also get other proteins, including lamb, beef and chicken, so you can choose your pup’s favorite flavor. The food includes phosphorus and calcium to help your dog’s teeth and bones grow to be as strong as possible, and there’s glucosamine for his joints. Plus, it also contains DHA for brain function and antioxidants. There’s also a puppy formula for young dogs.
Ensuring their pups are healthy is one of the main concerns for pet parents. And feeding your dog the healthiest dog food possible is an excellent step toward making sure your pup grows big and strong.
Want access to a vet 24/7? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone or text with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and have all your pet parent questions answered anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.