The 13 best dog food brands of 2022, per veterinarians

The 13 best dog food brands of 2022, per veterinarians

If Buddy is barking at you to fill his bowl, listen up.

He may also be speaking up to demand a switch in his daily dinner, or breakfast and lunch too, for that matter.

Since we all love our fur babies as our own, what we feed them matters. Finding the right kibble can be difficult, as there is a sea of choices for pooches of all shapes and sizes with less-than-helpful packaging and guidance.

The first step when choosing a dog food is to consult your local vet, as they know what is best for their favorite, slobbery patients. However, for those that want even more recommended or even a place to start before your annual visit, we have that covered.

We spoke with Dr. Danielle Bernal, a veterinarian for Wellness Pet Company as well as Dr. Katy Nelson, senior veterinarian at Chewy about what to look for in a dog food formula, what to avoid and also any tips and tricks for choosing the right chow for your Chihuahua and the best munchies for your Maltese.

Read on for the answers to those questions and more, plus our top picks for pet food brands you can buy online right now.

How to choose a good dog food?

Natural dog food Hungry brown dog lying near its bowl full of meat food looking at camera, top view
Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are a bunch of factors that go into choosing the right food for your dog, many of which will be addressed by your vet. If not, we also got expert intel from Dr. Bernal, breaking it down into simple steps — trust of the brand, nutrition, ingredients and format. We’ll get into a lot of this later, but here are a few tips.

  • [Look for] trust in its manufacturing practices, food safety processes and quality assurance programs
  • See if the brand has undergone AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) testing and meets requirements
  • Dry vs. wet food? Neither is the better format, as both have benefits. For example, dry recipes deliver more nutrient dense nutrition while wet recipes have a high moisture content.

What ingredients should I look for?

young beagle waits for food...has been blurred some so focus is on eyes and actual dog food.
Getty Images

The ingredients list of a dog food bag can be confusing, with buzz words like “healthy,” “raw,” and “organic” thrown around. But what ingredients should we really be looking for when choosing a substantive and delicious dish for your dog?

“Look for [bags that] include fresh meat as the first ingredient, concentrated meat meals as second and or third ingredients,” said Dr. Bernal. “You then want to see ingredients you recognize.”

In addition, other vitamins and minerals are important for well-rounded health of your pup, said Dr. Nelson.

“Amino acids, which build and repair tissues, help maintain healthy skin and coat and support the immune system; fatty acids, which also maintain healthy skin and coat, and are essential for joint health and a healthy immune system. Vitamins and minerals are important to ensure that the pet’s nutrient requirements are met,” she said.

What ingredients should I avoid?

cute little pitiful sad pug puppy dog, lying down on wooden floor
Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are a few ingredients that you want to watch out for. Dr. Nelson warns of a few specific ingredients to be on the lookout for.

“Items like BHA, melamine and artificial dyes are the products that I steer pet parents away from when choosing foods,” she said.

There is also a misconception that grains and corn are bad for dogs, when really they do serve a purpose aside from just a filler for pet food companies.

“Grains provide a healthy source of carbohydrates in pet food and meat meal is simply a dried end-product of the cooking process and can contain high quality and digestible whole meat products,” explained Dr. Nelson.

The best dog food brand for puppies

1. Purina Pro Plan High Protein Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Puppy Food, $19+

A puppy dog food brand

“The recipe is crafted with high-quality protein, including chicken as the #1 ingredient to help build lean muscles and the food includes glucosamine and EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, for joint health and mobility,” said Dr. Nelson. “Plus, vitamin A and omega-6 fatty acids will help nourish your pup’s skin and coat.”

This dry dog food is sold in a variety of sizes from six to 34 pounds, lasting your pup a while until they become a big kid… well, big dog.

2. ORIJEN Amazing Grains Puppy Dry Dog Food, $27+

A dog food bag

“With 4.9 stars, ORIJEN Amazing Grains Puppy Dry Dog Food is specially crafted to meet the nutritional needs of your growing puppy and protein-packed with poultry and fish to support your pup’s muscle development,” said Dr. Nelson. “This food also supports your dog’s digestive health with prebiotics and probiotics—soluble and insoluble fiber from inulin—and a premium grain blend.”

ORIJEN is sold at Chewy in a variety of flavors and sizes, with this dry food kibble coming in a small four-pound bag and a larger 22.5-pound bag.

3. Wellness CORE Puppy (Grain Free), $20+

A bag of puppy food

“CORE recipes are crafted based on the nutritional philosophy that dogs, based on their primal ancestry, thrive on a natural diet mainly comprised of meat. Packed with premium protein along with nutrient-rich superfoods and nutritional supplements to ensure your puppy has everything they need to thrive from the CORE,” said Dr. Bernal.

Starting at $20 for the four-pound bag, the dry kibble can be ordered to pick up in store, or shipped to your home for easy feeding.

4. American Journey Puppy Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, $19+

A bag of puppy food

“This high-protein dog food with real, deboned lamb is not only delicious for your pup but full of amino acids that help maintain lean muscle mass, plus salmon oil and flaxseed provide omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, including long-chain DHA, help support your dog’s skin and coat health and brain and eye development,” said Dr. Nelson.

There are an array of sizes to order, should you shop at Chewy. We love the option to bundle and save, with two four-pound packages or two 12-pound bags, shipped right to your door.

The best dog food brand for elderly dogs:

1. Wellness CORE Digestive Health Age Advantage (grained), $20+

A bag of elderly dog food

“Designed specifically for the needs of senior dogs, Wellness CORE Digestive Health Age Advantage is a highly digestible, probiotic-coated kibble crafted with a unique blend of prebiotic fibers to support digestive health. This recipe is made with guaranteed levels of Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, and Calcium to support healthy joints and bones. So, every dog, at any age, can live their best life,” said Dr. Bernal.

Digestive health is really important for any age, but senior dogs especially. That’s why this formula sold at Petco is made with small, easy-to-eat kibble bits.

2. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Chicken Meal, Barley & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food , $17+

A dog food bag

“This is an easy-to-digest food for senior dogs who prefer a smaller kibble size. Its synergistic ingredient blend encourages youthful vitality and promotes an ideal weight,” said Dr. Nelson.

These small bites come in many sizes, from a small five-pound bag to the largest 33-pound package, all sold on Chewy’s site.

3. American Journey Senior Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, $55

A bag of dog food

“This is a grain-free senior dry dog food that helps support healthy aging with real chicken as the first ingredient, plus a blend of targeted nutrients. Its antioxidant blend helps support a healthy immune system while omega fatty acids help maintain skin and coat health and medium chain triglycerides naturally occurring in coconut oil help support brain health in aging dogs to encourage cognitive wellness,” said Dr. Nelson.

No need to journey to the store, either, as Chewy can ship this 24-pound bag of kibble right to your home. You can also set up an Autoship subscription, saving more time and money when you need a refill.

The best dog food brand for weight loss/diets:

1. Wellness Complete Health Healthy Weight, $20+

A bag of Wellness dog food

“This natural dry food for dogs is specially formulated with reduced calories and lowered total fat to support healthy weight loss and weight maintenance in less active or overweight adult dogs,” said Dr. Bernal.

Keeping your pet’s weight under control is no small feat, which is why the vets recommended this kibble made with nutrient-rich whole foods to fill up your pup.

2. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Hearty Vegetable & Chicken Stew Canned Dog Food, $40

A can of dog food

“If you’re looking for canned food, this is a good pick as its lean and delicious recipe delivers 100{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} precisely balanced nutrition and contains prebiotic fibers for gentle digestion,” said Dr. Nelson. “When fed this nutrition, over 70{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} of dogs lost weight within 10 weeks adding not only to their life expectancy but also their overall quality of life.”

We wanted to add in an option for wet food, should your dog prefer the whole and hearty taste of vegetable and chicken stew, sold in a package of 12 or 24.

3. JustFoodforDogs, prices vary

A chart showing dog foods

“This brand has some great fresh and frozen recipes including JustFoodForDogs Fish & Sweet Potato Recipe Frozen Human-Grade Fresh Dog Food which is a high-protein, low-calorie recipe promoting healthy weight and crafted with fresh, human-grade ingredients including wild-caught Alaskan cod, sweet potatoes, broccoli and green beans,” said Dr. Nelson, using Chewy’s Fresh and Prepared Food Finder for help.

Like the brand says, this shop is just for dogs and puppies. Shop the full selection at, making sure to take a look at the variety pack listed above.

The best dog food brand for sensitive stomachs:

1. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Dry Dog Food, $38+

A black bag of dog food

“With a With a 4.8 rating, this is a great-tasting dry dog food for a healthy GI tract featuring MCT vegetable or coconut oil. The recipe was developed in collaboration with nutritionists, researchers and veterinarians using high-quality ingredients including prebiotic fiber and healthy antioxidants and designed to promote optimal nutrient absorption and total digestibility,” said Dr. Nelson.

This formula not only has the vet’s stamp of approval, but the star-rating to back it up with customer satisfaction. The bag of dry food comes in a variety of sizes, from a five-pound bag all the way up to a 32-pound amount.

2. Wellness Bowl Boosters Freshly Chicken (Fresh/Frozen), $9

A package of frozen fresh dog food

“Packed with mouthwatering pieces of turkey, grains and sweet potatoes, Wellness Bowl Boosters Freshly will not only be gentle on stomachs but also satisfy your dog’s taste buds and support her total health. The wholesome ingredients included help support skin, coat, energy, digestion and immune system, too. Serve it straight from the fridge as a full meal or use it to top off your dog’s daily kibble,” instructed Dr. Bernal.

We also wanted to give a fresh pick for Fido and friends. This Wellness Bowl Boosters are sold in stores or shipped frozen, able to be stored in the fridge or freezer and defrosted when dinner time comes around.

Other expert-recommend dog food brands to shop:

1. Freshpet Vital Chicken Recipe Fresh Dog Food, $38

A bag of dog food

“I’ve been feeding Freshpet to my pups for years!” said Dr. Nelson. “I love that the only preservative that they use is your refrigerator. Fresh, natural ingredients are used and they’re slowly steamed to preserve the maximum nutrient availability.”

This expert pick made the list, as this is what Dr. Nelson feeds her own furry family member. The Freshpet collection can be found on Chewy, including the chicken recipe pictured above.

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