Beanietoe’s big list of the healthiest food for dogs! -Updated for 2020!
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, these images rarely reflect what’s in the actual 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 how to avoid these deceptive tactics so that you can purchase pet food as an informed consumer. We’ll also make some recommendations for some of the healthiest foods for dogs that we’ve found during our market research process!
We have written the following section to assist you in learning about canine nutrition and healthy foods, but if you’d prefer to just go to our picks, then you can click here to get the list of recommended foods.
What does a healthy dog food look like?
Knowing how to read the ingredient label is the most important thing here. Dog food manufacturers are required to list their ingredients in order of how much of it is in the food. This means that the first few ingredients are the most important. Whatever is in the first three slots is what the food is mostly made of.
In the case of most grocery store brands, this is corn. Corn is a cheap filler item that pet food manufacturers use to save money, and you should avoid it at all costs. Foods that use corn are full of empty calories and very little nutrition for your dog. Corn is a sure sign that you’re looking at a bad dog food.
You should also watch out for tricky lingo like “meat by-product”. This ingredient can literally be anything, including products taken from farm animals that died of mysterious causes. This could include animals that were diseased, or the farm equivalent of road kill pretty much.
Settle for nothing less than whole meat products, and avoid ingredients that manufacturers won’t name specifically! Meat meals can be okay in some cases, but they are a more heavily processed protein, so not as nutritious as whole meat ingredients.
Canned Food vs Dry Food vs Fresh/Frozen
While dry dog foods are the most convenient, they aren’t usually the healthiest. These foods are normally carbohydrate heavy, and the lack of moisture could cause urinary tract problems for pooches that don’t drink enough water. Fresh or frozen foods are the best, but if you’re on a budget, then try a mixture of dry and canned foods. This helps to provide much needed fluids without putting as much strain on your wallet.
How We Pick Dog Foods
In order to make our “Top Picks” list, a dog food needs to meet certain criteria.
- Quality meat as first ingredient
- Healthy vegetables
- NO corn or wheat fillers
- Low in carbohydrates
- No mystery meats
- Limited ingredient profile
Editors Note: We truly believe that wet foods are healthier, and all of our picks reflect that, BUT if you’re on a budget, most of these brands have companion dry diets too. Ok, here are our top picks!
#1 – NomNom
NomNom, previously NomNomNow, is our number one pick when it comes to healthy dog foods.
That’s because they offer fantastic nutritional value and ingredient quality that simply can’t be beat.
If you’re looking for the best food to feed your dog, then this is it, and it’s suitable for pretty much any diet type, even if your dog has been put on a specialty diet.
In the video below, you can see how these recipes are cooked.
While NomNom, of course, uses a commercial kitchen for bulk cooking, the process is the same. The above video is an example of their Chicken Chow-Wow recipe, and it has just four main ingredients.
Chicken, spinach, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Limited ingredients diets like this are fantastic for dogs with allergies or digestive issues. So, if your dog has any problems with vomiting, diarrhea, itching, or hair loss, then a food like this could greatly improve their health, as their issues are very likely food tolerance related.
Okay, but what makes NomNom so great when compared to other foods?
Well, it’s the fact that the company makes all of their foods using only human-grade ingredients. You could literally eat this stuff yourself, and people have done so on television to prove it.
All of NomNom’s recipes are also made fresh every single week. They’re then boxed up and sent out to pet parents all over the country. Try comparing this to a big box store brand, which could be sitting on the shelf for 18 months or more.
All of their foods also come in pre-portioned baggies, making it easy to feed your dog exactly the right amount. This goes a long way in helping your dog to maintain a healthy weight, which is huge health issue right now.
So many pet parents have no idea how much they should actually be feeding their fur babies, and it’s estimated that 56% of dogs are actually obese. This causes a ton of health problems down the road, and it needlessly shortens your fur baby’s life!
If you’ve been struggling to help your dog lose weight, then having pre-portioned food can really help you to get them on track. Plus, your NomNom plan will be adjusted to fit their needs.
If you’re interested in giving NomNom a try, then you can use this link to save 50% on your first order. We’ve also got some great tips on how to save money on this great food in our in-depth NomNom review!
#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.
Wysong Archtype is one of the few starch free dog foods available. So, if you have a pup that needs a very low carbohydrate diet, then this could be a good choice. It also comes in several “novel” protein varieties like rabbit and quail if your pup has issues with traditional pet food proteins.
This is actually a freeze dried raw pet food, which makes it very easy to feed your pet a nutritious raw food diet. They use a thermal process that kills bacteria but preserves the nutrition that would otherwise be lost during the cooking process.
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. It’s more expensive than Halo, but it also features a high percentage of organic meat, which adds to the price. Dog foods which are high in meat content 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 factor if you struggle to get your dog to eat. 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 decided to add some healthy dry food options to the list as well. However, we do recommend giving them a mix of canned and dry foods. This is both cost-effective and better for their health.
#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 meat 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, but if your dog is a bit of a couch potato then you’re better off going with another brand on the list. 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.
Wait at least 14 days before you decide that a food doesn’t work for your dog as this is the typical adjustment period recommended by manufacturers.