What are the top rated dog foods by veterinarians? We consulted experts to help you make a choice from the many options out there, from raw and natural to organic, canned, and grain-free.
Dog food is food specifically formulated and intended for consumption by dogs and other related canines. Dogs are considered to be omnivores with a carnivorous bias. They have the sharp, pointed teeth and shorter gastrointestinal tracts of carnivores, better suited for the consumption of meat than of vegetable substances, yet also have 10 genes that are responsible for starch and glucose digestion, as well as the ability to produce amylase, an enzyme that functions to break down carbohydrates into simple sugars – something that carnivores lack. (source)
Dogs have managed to adapt over thousands of years to survive on the meat and non-meat scraps and leftovers of human existence and thrive on a variety of foods, with studies suggesting dogs’ ability to digest carbohydrates easily may be a key difference between dogs and wolves.
Aiming for the best food for dogs gives them distinct health advantages, too, says Jennifer Freeman, DVM, resident veterinarian, and pet care expert at PetSmart. “Premium dog food will include meat for protein, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruit, and omega fatty acids for a shiny coat,” Freeman told NBC News, adding “it’s also likely to have fewer fillers such as corn, wheat, and soy.” (source)
How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Your Pup
Figuring out the best food for your dog may take some trial and error as well as research.
Related: Best Dry Dog Foods Ranked By Vets
One of the most important steps in figuring out the best dog food is through the ingredient list, noting the first three are the most critical. This will help you determine if the formula is vegetable-based with things like corn and rice or meat-based with chicken, fish, or lamb. While each dog is different, they generally do best on a protein-rich, meat-based diet.
Next, analyze what type of meat is within. Look for brands that specifically name the type of meat, like beef, chicken, or lamb. Meat, bone meal or meat byproducts could come from any animal. Similarly, “poultry meal” signals any bird.
The ingredients will also highlight some of what you want to avoid. vets recommend avoiding dog food that includes: dyes (dogs do not care what color their food is), sugar, and high salt (which could be used as preservatives), as well as other solvents and preservatives like propylene glycol, BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. (source)
Top Rated Dog Foods By Veterinarians (Updated)
Below we have a list of the top rated dog foods by veterinarians that you should consider for your dog.
All of the following dog food brands are recommended by veterinarians. Still, before you pick and feed your dog any of the following, always talk to your veterinarian first.
Best Overall: Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food is the top rated dog food by veterinarians that you should consider feeding your dog. Nothing beats Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food. The food meets the nutritional requirements set by AAFCO and it is made with carefully added ingredients. It helps your dog to manage his weight and sensitive skin and stomach.
Why Choose Hill’s Science Diet for your Dog?
- Made with all-natural and nutritionally dense ingredients
- Meets and exceeds the nutritional and quality standards of the food industry
- Clean from all kinds of additives, chemicals, preservatives, and unnatural colors and flavors
Science Diet Large Breed dry food for dogs contains vitamin E, omega-6 fatty acids and other key nutrients to help keep your dog’s skin in peak condition and make his coat noticeably more shiny in as little as 30 days (vs. previously fed grocery foods).
Rated #2: Royal Canin Dog Food
Royal Canin is a trusted name in the world of pet foods. The brand offers specifically designed and prepared dog food formulas for puppies and adult dogs. It offers some specific foods for particular breeds, which can be very helpful.
While certain breeds don’t require different nutrients from other breeds, some characteristics of the Royal Canin breed-specific foods are quite appropriate.
It incorporates a combination of dry and wet dog food that can benefit your dog
- Dry: Concentration of nutrients and texture provides a brushing effect.
- Wet: Moisture content can help support hydration.
Rated #3: Purina ProPlan
Purina Pro Plan Pet Food & Nutrition offers a full spectrum dog nutrition. Its unique blend of dry dog food, kibble, and shredded morsels of canned food. The combination adds a unique flavor to the food that offers a hearty meal to your dog.
Why Choose Purina Pro Plan Pet Food & Nutrition for your Dog?
- Real chicken is the primary ingredient that provides about 26% protein-to-fat ratio
- The food is rich and has a healthy blend of vitamin A, Omega 6 fatty acids and probiotics
- Helps in maintaining healthy digestion
With real beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, or salmon as the #1 ingredient, these formulas feature crunchy kibble and tender, meaty pieces for a taste and texture.
Each formula is highly digestible to promote optimal nutrient absorption. They’re rich in antioxidants to support his immune health and contain guaranteed live probiotics and natural prebiotic fiber to support his digestive health.
These flavorful dry dog foods deliver complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs, so you can be sure your dog gets the nutrition he needs with a meal he’ll enjoy.
Wellness CORE’s grain-free dog food formulas are made with organic and high-quality protein options like chicken, fish, turkey, and duck.
It is 100% natural and grain-free made with turkey, chicken, salmon oil, and fruits and vegetables to help support your dog’s optimal health and fortified with antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals, including fish and flax omega blend for healthy skin and coat.
It is based on the nutritional philosophy that dogs thrive on a diet mainly comprised of meat. Each grain-free, nutrient-rich formula provides high-quality protein for your dog with no meat by-products or fillers, grain, corn, soy, wheat-gluten or artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors.
Rated #5: Nutro Ultra
Nutro Ultra provides a natural blend of ingredients for optimal nutrition. Nutro Ultra believes that dogs deserve to enjoy their food as much as we enjoy ours.
And like us, they shouldn’t have to compromise on taste. Every Nutro Ultra recipe is crafted using quality ingredients that satisfy and nourish. These delicious recipes start with real chicken as the #1 ingredient and feature a trio of high-quality protein from chicken, lamb, and salmon and a blend of 15 vibrant superfoods like coconut, chia, kale, and blueberries.
The recipe provides a balanced diet for adult dogs that’s nutrient-rich and full of flavor that’ll help your dog thrive. These dry recipes are made with Non-GMO ingredients and have no chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy protein and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Plus, these nutrient-rich recipes are full of flavor and have high-quality protein as the foundation of every recipe.