Being a responsible pet parent means seeking out healthy foods to feed your dog! Unfortunately, this is not always an easy task. Pet food manufacturers are not always up front about their foods, and sometimes pet parents may think that they are feeding their dogs a good food, but they’re really not.
While the foods at the big box store come decorated with all kinds attractive pictures of fresh meats and vegetables, they rarely reflect what’s in the food! That’s because bad pet food companies are depending on you not being able to understand the nutrition label so they can dupe you into accepting a lower quality food.
In this article we’re going to help you learn to avoid these deceptive tactics so that you can be an informed consumer. We’ll also make some recommendations so that you can find a healthy food to feed your dog.
What should I look for to find healthy food for dogs?
The most important thing to know when searching for a high quality dog food is to learn how to read the ingredient label. Dog food manufacturers are required to list the ingredients on their products in order of prominence in the food.
This means that whatever the first couple of items are one the list is what the food is mostly made out of. If you go to a big box store and pick up any of their dog foods, you will most likely see corn in the first position.
Corn is a cheap filler item that is used by pet food manufacturers to save money. It provides little to no nutritional value for your dog. Many dogs are actually obese from eating the empty calories from corn.
In addition to this, sometimes the ingredients themselves can be confusing. When choosing a high quality dog food, seek out options which provide whole meat items and avoid anything that’s heavily processed or that the manufacturer will not name specifically.
If a meat item is listed as “poultry product” or worse “meat by-product” then the food could be made of pretty much anything. However, you can bet that they are not high quality. These items are the leftovers which were deemed not suitable to be sold to humans. So, they grind them up and put them into dog foods instead.
Canned dog food vs dry dog food: Which is healthiest?
While dry dog foods are convenient for pet parents and pet food manufacturers, they are not the healthiest food for dogs. Dry dog foods are always higher in carbohydrates, and if your dog only eats dry food, then the lack of moisture could cause urinary tract difficulties for them.
These often manifest themselves in the way of struvite crystals or bladder stones, because your dog is actually severely dehydrated. In many cases dogs will get most of their fluids through eating, and they may not drink enough to make up for the losses incurred by being fed a kibble diet.
If you really want to feed your dog a healthy dog food, then go for a wet food. Fresh foods and hydrated raw diets are best, but canned foods are a close second. Our most nutritious dog food reviews will always focus on these items.
If you have to feed your dog a dry food for cost reasons, then you should at least consider feeding him a portion of his calories in a wet food diet. This makes it much more affordable for pet parents looking for a healthy dog food on a budget, but it will still at least help some to improve your dog’s health.
Beanietoe’s Picks for: Healthy foods to feed your dog
When making our list of healthiest food for dogs we’ve chosen only foods which use whole meat items. The foods we’ve chosen are free from common fillers like corn or wheat, and they are low in carbohydrates.
The carbohydrates they do include come in the form of healthier and easier to digest ingredients like broccoli, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots. All of our picks are for wet foods, because they are simply healthier for your dog.
If you are on a budget and need to use a dry food for cost reasons, then most of our choices should have some acceptable dry food varieties as well that you can try. Alright, here’s our good dog food guide.
#1 – NomNomNow – The healthiest food for dogs
Our top spot for healthiest food for dogs goes to fresh food providers, and NomNomNow. It’s the cream of the crop when it comes to healthy pet foods. This company makes all their foods using only human-grade ingredients, and they cook everything fresh, weekly!
What’s even better is that they will deliver all of this to your door on a schedule so you can feed your pup the healthiest possible diet, but without the work of needing to cook or prepare anything yourself.
Everything comes in pre-portioned baggies for you so that it’s easy to feed your pup. Their canine nutrition experts will send exactly how much food your dog needs, helping them to maintain a healthy weight. Below you can see an example of one of their recipes and the ingredients.
As you can see, the ingredients for NomNomNow’s foods are all very limited and highly nutritious. They don’t use anything processed, and the only thing present are high quality meats like chicken or fish and easily digestible veggies like sweet potatoes, spinach and squash.
They don’t use any nasty filler items like corn or wheat, and they offer simply the highest quality dog food that you could ever hope for. NomNomNow is the number one choice when looking for healthy foods to feed your dog. Click here to see more recipes and learn about their cool service.
#2 – Wysong Archetype – Starch free healthy dog food
If you’ve ever been curious about feeding your pup a highly nutritious raw diet, then you might want to pick up some of this all natural and healthy dog food. This food is extremely limited in ingredients, making it a great choice if your pupper has any allergies or food sensitivities.
These are actually freeze dried raw diets which are preserved using a thermal process that kills any bacteria but preserves nutrition which would be lost during processing like normal dog foods endure.
This allows Wysong to offer an exceptional and healthy raw food diet for dogs, while also being long lasting and shelf stable. It’s also surprisingly affordable, at least as far as freeze dried raw diets go.
Archetype gives pet parents the best of both worlds. Archetype is as convenient as a dry food, but it has all the benefits of a wet and raw food diet. That’s because you can re-hydrate this food using water.
This will not only make the food more attractive to your dog, but it will also give him much needed fluids. If you have a particularly picky pup, then you’ll be glad to know that freeze dried diets have superior palatability.
This is because Archetype is made of over 95% high quality meat protein, making it extra attractive to dogs who are picky about their food. It’s also probably the healthiest dog food for dogs who need a starch free diet such as diabetic dogs.
If you’re interested in trying this food for your pup, then you can get the best price directly from Wysong, and they also offer a 10% discount on every order if you sign up for their auto-ship program. Click here to see the full ingredients list and learn more about this awesome limited ingredient dog diet.
#3 – Halo Dog Food – Healthy dog food on a budget
If you’re a pet parent on a budget fretting over the cost of offering your darling pup a healthy diet without going bankrupt, then fear not, because Halo has you covered. This attractive and healthy option is made using only human-grade ingredients.
It’s a good dog food company to consider if you’re concerned about heavily processed food ingredients but can’t afford fresh foods for your dog. Halo does not used heavily processed meat meals in any of their food, instead opting for higher quality whole meats that offer superior nutrition.
Halo offers many different options for pet owners including grain-free varieties and diets for senior dogs or overweight dogs as well. They also offer a wide variety of flavors, making it easy for you to find a food which your dog will eat.
If your pup frequently has issues with upset stomach or diarrhea, then you’ll be happy to know that this is a highly digestible food. Many of their recipes even include pumpkin which greatly assists dogs in staying regular and settling upset stomachs.
If you need a companion dry food to save on costs, then Halo also makes the healthiest dry food for dogs, which does not use any heavily processed meat meals, and they have grain-free varieties of those as well. Click here to read the reviews and browse the full ingredients list for this food.
#4 – Wysong Adult Dog Diet – Healthiest canned dog food
Wysong makes our list again thanks to their high quality and healthy dog diets. This item is their canned offering for adult dogs, and it uses organic, whole meat chicken as the first ingredient. In fact, chicken is actually over 95% of the composition of this high quality dog diet.
The food also features easy to digest and beneficial fruits and veggies like sweet potatoes and blueberries, and it’s an affordable option if you’re looking for an organic food with organic meat products. It does not look like every item in the food is organic though, just so you’re aware.
It’s more expensive than Halo, but it also features a high percentage of organic meat. This adds to the price of course. Dog foods which are high in meat are also very tasty for pups, helping picky dogs to be excited about meal time.
The ingredients are also very limited, making this a solid choice for dogs with allergies. If you’re interested in seeing the full ingredients list, then click here. Similarly to the Archetype, you can save 10% with auto-ship on what’s possibly the healthiest wet food for dogs.
#5 – Stella and Chewy – Healthiest Natural Food
Looking for a super digestible raw diet for your pup? Stella and Chewy offers the benefits of raw while still allowing for some helpful digestion helpers like pumpkin and pro-biotics. This is a good choice for pups with sensitive stomachs, and it’s pretty tasty to boot. The only downside is that it’s on the pricey side, and your dog will likely never want to go back to kibble again after this!
Stella and Chewy also offers an interesting raw-coated kibble if you’re interested. The ingredients are pretty good for this product as well, but not as good as Halo, because they use meat meals. The good thing about this food is that dogs love it, and they have a wide variety of flavors to choose from, so there will likely be some great options here for picky dogs.
If you don’t care for the meat-meals, then they also make a raw topper which you can add to your own dry dog food that better fits your qualifications. Doing this will significantly up both the nutrition and taste factors of feeding a raw diet. If you’d like to see the full ingredients list for Stella and Chewy’s products and read ecstatic reviews from pet parents and their pups, then click here to do so.
The healthiest dry dog food brands
While Beanietoes believes that fresh or canned foods are the best for doggie nutrition, we can also understand that this is sometimes outside of the budget for many pet parents. So, we’ve added to the list the healthiest dry foods which you can feed to your dog as well.
However, if you’d like to offer your pup most of the benefits of wet foods without breaking the bank, then you can try a mixture. Add something like Wysong’s raw diet to your pup’s food or some fresh foods like Ollie’s who can do partial food plans.
This allows you to give them a nice nutrition and liquids boost without spending a ton of money on their food if you can’t afford to feed them this all the time.
#1 – Halo Dog Food – Healthiest Budget Dog Food
One of our favorite foods here at Beanietoes is Halo, and that’s because they’ve managed to make a super high-quality dry food that blows most of their competition out of the water. Plus, if you’re a pet parent on a budget, then you’ll also be glad to know that all of Halo’s foods are also very affordable!
In fact, you can start feeding your dog some one of the healthiest dry dog food brands without spending much more than what you’d pay for a decent food at a big box store. All without skimping on quality when it comes to feeding your pup.
Why are Halo’s foods so good? Well, it’s because they only use premium ingredients. Everything they use is human grade, and that means you’ll never get any scary “meat by-products” or mystery meats when you buy Halo for your dog.
They also use only whole meat ingredients which offer more nutritional value than meat meals. It’s one of the few commercial dog foods that actually uses no meat meals, and that’s why they’re number one on our list.
Halo’s recipes are also low in carbohydrates, focusing on providing nutritious meat for your dog. They also offer many specialty diets like grain free, senior, puppy, small dog formula, gluten free and more, allowing their foods to appeal to a wide audience.
Though their best feature is likely that the foods they make are very easy to digest and limited in ingredients. This makes them a great choice for dogs who have issues with skin allergies, vomiting or diarrhea. Your suffering pup would thank you if they could for switching to this great food.
#2 – Orijen Dog Food – Healthiest High Meat Dog Food
Looking for a little more meat in your dog’s diet? Then Orijen has a high quality dry food that might be what you’re looking for. While they are more expensive than Halo, they also offer a very good mix of proteins and some tasty dehydrated bits that dogs love.
They use only high-quality ingredients and their diets are biologically appropriate. This means that their foods use whole meats, organs and bones, just like dogs would get in the wild. Not only do dogs love this, but it also gives them some excellent nutrients and vitamins they might otherwise be missing out on.
Orijen’s foods are over 85% meat, and a 13 pound bag of food will contain 11 pounds of fresh, raw or dried animal based proteins. This includes healthy proteins like dehydrated boar, goat, salmon, pork, chicken and more.
Orijen’s foods are also grain, potato and tapioca free if you’d prefer a food that doesn’t use these items. Their vegetable content comes from other sources like beans, peas and pumpkin, which is great for digestion!
While Orijen makes excellent products, if your dog has food sensitivities then this one may be a bad choice. This is because they use a lot of different proteins in each recipe and sometimes sensitive dogs have problems digesting these mixes.
If your dog is not sensitive to proteins though, this is a great foods. You can learn more about it here and see reviews from other happy pet parents.
#3- Bully Max – Healthiest High Performance Dog Food
This is more of a niche pick, but if you have a high energy dog breed like a Pitbull, then Bully Max is a premium food that you might want to know about. It’s specifically formulated for muscular dogs, and it’s very high in calories and protein.
If you have a toy dog then this is obviously a bad choice, but it’s excellent for working dogs. Does your dog expend a ton of energy running through the woods or training? Then this food can help them to get even stronger.
It’s also one of the few foods to get a perfect 5 star rating on dog food review sites, which is no easy feat! If your dog is not a super start athlete though, you’re better off going with another brand.
High performance dog foods aren’t cheap, and if your dog isn’t burning off tons of energy, then a higher calorie food will just make them fat.
If you do have a bully that you’d like to give this food to, then you can check Bully Max’s stellar reviews here.
Tips for transitioning your dog to their new food
Sudden changes in diet can cause undesirable effects for your pup. A dog who has been eating a diet mostly composed of corn can become ill or experience intestinal distress if introduced to a mostly meat based food too suddenly.
If you think your dog may be prone to vomiting or diarrhea, then it’s best to introduce them to the new food slowly. Many pet parents fail to do this and then wrongly label the food as bad when their dog throws up or has a nasty bout of diarrhea.
In most cases, these things will pass unless your dog has a food allergy, which is an entirely different issue. When changing foods it’s recommended to mix a bit of the new food in with your dog’s old food. You should continue to introduce larger amounts of the new food until they are completely switched over.