Dry dog food, also called kibble, chow, and vittles, is part of many dog diets. Dogs need diets full of high-quality ingredients to support proper growth and development and lasting health. Proper nutrition is a cornerstone of lifelong health.
Dry dog food can be tasty and has several benefits for dogs. It can be used alone but often is alternated or mixed with canned or wet food. Dry foods can be formulated to fit specific breeds, ages, sizes, and medical needs. Food gives canines energy, builds muscle, and keeps the body strong.
Kibble is a big business, and there is a wide array of products available. It can be intimidating for owners to find the right fit for their dogs. Fortunately, we have spent time researching many of the top brands around today. Our guide will explain what dry kibble is, what ingredients to look for, and provide reviews of some of the best dry dog foods available today.
At a Glance: Our Favorite Dry Dog Foods
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- 1 What Is Dry Dog Food?
- 2 Brand History
- 3 Ingredients To Look For
- 4 Best Dry Dog Foods
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 Final Thoughts
What Is Dry Dog Food?
Dry dog food uses a blend of ingredients, many of the same ones used in wet and fresh foods. These ingredients are all mixed together to make a dough. Once the dough is formed, it is heated while under pressure. Once cooked, it is pushed through a die machine and then into a rotary cutter to get kibble of different sizes and shapes. After that, the kibble is dried and cooled. Some manufacturers will spray or coat kibble once it has cooled down.
Dry dog food is a good source of nutrition and has several benefits. It is very convenient and often less costly than wet or fresh food. Kibble works better in puzzle feeders and slow feeders, which many pups need. It also works to promote dental health. It makes canines chew their food, which helps clear out and prevent tartar buildup. Many owners choose to mix dry and wet food to give the crunch of kibble and aroma, flavor, and added ingredients wet food has.
A brand’s history and reputation can give owners an idea of what the company stands for and what its reputation is like. Research the company a little to learn about what they do. What sets them apart from the rest? Look at where they get their ingredients and what they support. Learn about recalls, rebranding, or lawsuits a company may have had. Read other customer reviews. Reputable companies will work with pet nutritionists and veterinarians to ensure options are top quality and meet all a canine’s needs.
Ingredients To Look For
The dry food owners choose should be of excellent quality and nutritionally balanced. Kibble should be made from high-quality ingredients and contain the correct levels of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients canines need to grow strong and stay healthy. There are some general ingredients to look for. A good tip is to consult the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines to see if a product offers the correct level of nutrients recommended for canines. They are an association that monitors the manufacture and sale of pet food.
- Arginine – 0.62 for puppies. 0.51 for adults.
- Protein – 22% for puppies. 18% for adults.
- Fat – 8% for puppies. 5% for adults.
- Calcium – 1% for puppies. 0.6% for adults.
- Phosphorus – 0.8% for puppies. 0.5% for adults.
- Sodium – 0.3% for puppies. 0.06% for adults.
- Lysine – 0.77% for puppies. 0.63% for adults.
- Leucine – 0.72 % for puppies. 0.59 for adults.
- Chloride – 0.45 % for a puppy. 0.095 for adults.
- (This is not a complete list.
Make sure to read nutritional labels to see what goes into making a particular product. Ingredients in pet food products are listed by weight, and the most prominent are listed first. Always check to see these first ingredients, as they reveal good information about what is in the product. Examining labels to make sure that brand claims are valid is always worthwhile. Do not be swayed by a cute picture or slogan. What is in the food is what matters.
Protein is vital in developing everything from muscles, bones, skin, nails, and the immune system. Canines cannot store surplus protein in their bodies, so they always need this to be restocked. High-quality protein should always be the first ingredient of canine food. Protein is incredibly valuable to a dog’s overall health, playing a significant role in growth, muscle development, energy, immune system function, and skin and nail health. All high-quality kibbles should have whole meat or meat meal as a first ingredient.
Canines need 22 amino acids, half of which their body cannot make. These essential amino acids must come from their diet. Some common protein choices are whole meats like chicken, beef, fish, lamb, and duck. Dogs love the taste of meat, so you cannot go wrong with foods that use high-quality animal proteins.
Canines need healthy carbohydrates as part of their diets to provide glucose and drive them with energy. Healthy carbohydrates from nutritious grains, fruits, and vegetables give your dog energy along with some nutrients that meat does not. The list includes potatoes, peas, lentils, grains, rice, and sweet potatoes.
Omega Fatty Acids
Dogs need fatty acids in their food. Fatty acids provide essential elements like energy, stimulate healthy growth supports brain development, eye health, and skin and coat health. Fatty acids also strengthen the bone and joints and are essential for the overall well-being of a canine. They play a role in fat-soluble vitamin absorption, help regulate inflammation, and serve a critical role in the structure of cell membranes. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most significant and can be found in fish, poultry, and meat.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, which is essential to a canine’s digestive system. They also boost the immune system and help fight off disease and infection. These are sometimes included as part of a dog’s diet or can be added as a nice treat. Sweet potatoes, pineapple, cranberries, and blueberries are foods one might not usually think to feed a dog, but they have great nutritional benefits.
Glucosamine is an important compound in cartilage and is a crucial component of joint health in canines. Dog foods will have varying levels, and some manufacturers may add it in. Pups may need supplements as they age, for specific medical conditions, or if they are a larger-bodied breed. Always discuss supplements with your veterinarian before combining them with a dog’s diet.
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are critical elements in food that support canines in many ways. Just a few of the most important are listed below.
- Vitamin A works to bolster the immune system.
- Vitamin B12 is essential in strengthening the nervous system.
- Vitamin D regulates things like calcium and phosphorus.
- Vitamins C & E are antioxidants and support whole health.
- Vitamin K works to metabolize calcium and helps avert blood clots.
- Iron carries calcium throughout the body.
- Calcium and phosphorus are essential in bone structure.
- Zinc works to promote healing.
Make sure to offer pets lots of water when they eat dry food. It has less moisture than wet or fresh food. Water is essential to prevent dehydration and low energy. Kibble can be soaked in water or broth to add moisture if needed.
Best Dry Dog Foods
We review many diverse kinds of food for different breeds and ages of life. Puppies, adults, and senior dogs all have unique nutritional needs. Getting something that will support your dog in whatever phase of life they are in is essential. In no particular order, here are some of the very best dry dog food choices around.
- Wide selection of products.
- High-quality proteins including chicken, turkey, lamb, salmon, and whitefish.
- Good for dogs of all breeds and sizes.
- Grain-free and grain-inclusive options.
- A healthy selection of fruits and veggies for vitamin and nutrient boost.
Wellness Complete Health is an excellent overall choice. This brand makes kibble with chicken, turkey, lamb, salmon, and whitefish. They have plenty of options for puppies, senior, small, and large breeds. The recipes are formulated to support whole dog health.
Wellness has both grain-inclusive and grain-free options, giving owners many choices. Ingredients like oatmeal stand out, as they are not often found in pet foods. It has chicken and chicken meals as its primary source of animal protein. Ground barley, peas, brown rice, chicken fat, and carrots are all ingredients in this tasty kibble.
We love that this option has such a wide variety of choices. This makes it easy to stay in the same brand but try different things. They are consistently well-reviewed, and pups love the taste. A great holistic health choice for canines.
Orijen Dry Original
- 85% animal protein.
- Regionally sourced ingredients.
- All production is done in-house.
- Whole animal ingredients.
- No recalls, ever.
- The first five ingredients are real animal proteins.
Orijen Dry Dog Food Original recipe is popular for a good reason. The company is highly reviewed and has never had a recall. They work to provide biologically appropriate recipes in line with the natural meat-based diet pups need. Ingredients are regionally sourced, and production is all in-house. It contains 85% animal protein and 15% from fruits, veggies, and botanicals.
Note: Before feeding your dog a high-protein food like this one, be sure to check with your vet to make sure you don’t need to mix it with rice or another grain to maintain the nutrition but reduce any possible high protein risk to your dog’s kidneys, weight, or other health concerns.
Proteins include whole animal ingredients from free-run chickens and turkeys, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs. Recipes are grain free and come in various choices, including high protein. Whole fruits and vegetables, as well as natural herbs and roots for antioxidants. The first five ingredients are high-quality, natural animal proteins.
We love that Origen uses high-quality ingredients, offers a wide selection, and is affordable for most income levels. The selection and taste are very well received, and pets love this kibble.
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream
Picky eaters will love this delicious dry kibble by Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream formula. It is made from a delicious smoke-flavored salmon. Real fish is the first ingredient. This one has 25% protein and is formulated to support bones, joints, and strong, healthy muscles. The brand makes several varieties and flavors. We are focusing on the salmon-based option. Kibble is easy to chew and uses healthy carbs like sweet potatoes for energy, along with blueberries, raspberries, and tomatoes.
We love that this food is so high in good protein and omega fatty acids. It is free from corn, wheat, or grains. This is an excellent option for pooches who are fussy eaters, have a sensitivity to grains, or have sensitive digestive tracts. It has a boost of probiotics and antioxidants to support healthy digestion.
Other Notable Dry Foods
- Made with real bison, it provides essential amino acids.
- Made with simple ingredients that help support healthy digestion.
- Formulated with added taurine to help support your dog’s heart health.
- Great for sensitive stomachs.
- No added fillers or preservatives.
Bison-based is a growing trend in the dog food market. It is considered an exotic protein, and many dog owners find their pups genuinely enjoy it. Bison is high in protein, low in fat, and higher in Vitamin B12 than beef, pork, and chicken. Natural Balance Dry Dog Sweet Potato & Bison is a top choice. Made with very simple natural ingredients to promote healthy digestion and support heart health. Added taurine to boost heart health.
Every batch is tested for quality and safety. No fillers or added preservatives are used. This chow does have extra vitamins and minerals to support overall health. Sweet potato and bison are the first two ingredients. Salmon oil is added for a boost of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. This option supports a healthy coat and is easy to digest.
We love that this recipe has top-quality, limited ingredients. This gives owners more input in what they feed their dogs and has a high nutritional benefit. Options for all ages of pups, the original formula can be used for puppies and adults.
Hill's Science Diet
- Omega 6 acids for coat health.
- Glucosamine boosts joint health.
- Antioxidant blend for immune health.
- Chicken is the first ingredient
- 363 Calories per cup.
- 20% Protein, 11.5% Fat, 4% Fiber.
Hill’s Science Diet uses chicken as the first ingredient. This formula is loaded with everything a big breed like the German Shepherd, Great Dane, or Cane Corso could need. Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin support healthy cartilage and joints for ideal mobility. Added vitamins like C and E, minerals, and nutrients deliver clinically proven antioxidant benefits. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
We love that this is specially formulated for large and giant breeds, providing a burst of flavor without sacrificing quality or ingredients. Made for dogs who weigh 55 pounds and over. Fully manufactured in the United States and held up to rigorous quality standards.
- Meat is the first ingredient.
- Small breed formula for up to 30 pounds.
- Smaller kibble size.
- No poultry by-products.
- High in protein and carbs to support small breed health and energy.
- No artificial preservatives or flavors.
Blue Buffalo makes an excellent, flavorful kibble for small-breed dogs. They always use meat as the first ingredient. The small breed formula has extra protein and carbohydrates to support the high energy and exertion most small breeds have. They are designed for dogs up to 30 pounds.
No chicken or poultry by-products like meals, corn, soy, wheat, artificial flavors, or preservatives are used. Kibble is smaller to fit better in small breed’s mouths. Antioxidant-rich, designed with input from holistic veterinarians and nutritionists. It can be used for all life stages.
We love that this packs a huge punch of nutrition and flavor but is formulated for smaller breeds. Real meats, garden veggies and fruits, and a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids make this a tasty, supportive choice.
Purina Pro Plan Puppy
- Formulated for puppies.
- Probiotics and antioxidants for immune and digestive health.
- Omega fatty acids for skin health.
- DHA for brain development.
- 468 Calories per cup.
- 28% Protein, 18% Fat, 3% Fiber.
Purina Pro makes a large selection of puppy-formulated kibble. These are high protein formulas, 28%, 18% fat, and 3% fiber. Offers 100% balanced nutrition for puppies of all breeds. Chicken is the number one ingredient, along with other high-quality protein sources. It also comes in a salmon flavor.
DHA from omega-rich fish oil nourishes brain and vision development. Calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals build strong teeth and bones. Live probiotics support immune and digestive health.
We love that this one is specially formulated to include all the support puppies need, like DHA, antioxidants, calcium, and Omega-6 fatty acids. High in protein and calories and does not sacrifice taste.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness
- Grain-free formula.
- No by-product meals.
- No corn, wheat, or soy.
- No artificial preservatives.
- Rich in antioxidants & healthy carbohydrates.
- 409 Calories per cup.
- 34% Protein, 15% Fat, 6% Fiber.
Blue Buffalo makes several lines of high-quality dog chow. The company’s ethos is to ‘love them like family, feed them like family.’ Our favorite option for adult dogs is the Blue Buffalo Wilderness line. Comes in chicken, duck, and salmon options. This recipe is high in protein to support active adult dogs’ muscle mass and energy needs.
No corn, wheat, or soy, and no artificial preservatives or added ingredients. 34% protein gives this one a powerful punch and keeps dogs well-supported throughout the day. Uses no poultry or chicken by-products meals. This kibble uses high-quality real chicken and healthy carbs like sweet potatoes and peas.
We love that Blue Buffalo offers a wide variety of meats and different formulas for adult dogs. Their food is wholesome and very flavorful. Canines love the taste, and the price is reasonable for owners.
Diamond Naturals Senior
Diamond Naturals offers a tasty formula to support the needs of senior dogs. This nutrient-dense formula supports the changing needs of aging canines. It is made in the United States by a family-owned company. Balanced protein and fat levels, the recipe also contains omega fatty acids for skin and coat health. It features vitamins and minerals from superfood fruits like kale, peas, blueberries, oranges, and even coconut.
Easy for digestion with senior dogs, no corn, wheat, artificial flavors, or added colors. It is formulated to promote nose-to-tail health and keep senior dogs going strong. Real cage-free chicken is the number one ingredient.
We love that this formula is made just for older dogs and does not sacrifice taste or quality. This kibble is part of a holistic approach to wellness for pups at every stage of life.
- Grain, gluten, and potato-free formula.
- Low-fat content.
- L-Carnitine for muscle retention.
- Healthy vegetables &
- 325 Calories per cup.
- 25% Protein, 7% Fat, and 9% Fiber.
- 100% recyclable packaging.
Earthborn Holistic is a reputable maker of high-quality kibble. This particular choice has low sodium, something many dogs need, and is perfect for dogs who need weight management. Grain, gluten, and potato-free formula. Protein comes from premium chicken meal, giving a high protein boost. Lots of natural healthy fibers from vegetables and fruits, including peas, apples, blueberries, cranberries, carrots, and spinach.
This kibble is designed to help pups feel full without the high-calorie intake of some other options. Chicken meal is a concentrated protein and a natural source of glucosamine for supporting joint health. Healthy omega fats build a shiny and healthy coat and boost organ function and nutrient absorption, helping the body optimally regulate sodium.
We love that this is a low-sodium kibble that has a tremendous flavor. It keeps dogs full while providing them with everything they need to be healthy. A good choice for weight management. Additionally, the packaging is BPA-free, resealable, and 100% recyclable through the Earthborn ReBorn Program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is dry dog food better than wet?
Dry dog chow is an excellent choice for dogs and can provide complete nutrition. The quality of the ingredients and cooking process has more to do with this than dry or wet. Both offer benefits and have distinct things that appeal. Dry kibble is less expensive and can store longer, making it a popular choice for many owners.
Contrary to some claims, most kibble is made from whole, real, highly nutritious ingredients. Avoid budget brands that use a lot of filler, artificial ingredients, and dyes.
Can dry dog food cause constipation?
Dry dog food can factor into canine constipation if it is not good quality or does not have enough fiber. Dehydration can also be a factor, as kibble has less water. Owners can avoid this by ensuring the products they pick have enough fiber. They can also make sure to offer dogs extra water and can mix wet and dry.
Will my dog get enough water if he eats dry food?
Dogs always need to be offered fresh water in multiple places. Dogs will not become dehydrated simply because they eat dry chow, but owners should pay attention to their water intake. Dry is about 10% water, while wet is close to 80% water. So, pups who only eat kibble will need to get more fresh water than those that eat wet or fresh. Some dogs love wet kibble. So, adding water or broth to kibble can spice things up a bit.
How to make dry dog food more appealing?
To make the kibble more appealing, owners can try a few approaches. Offering different flavors can help. Adding bone broth, freeze-dried, wet food, or even toppers can make kibble more appealing. Dogs need variety, and if they eat the same thing day after day, they will get bored. Always offer a variety of choices, including kibble, to keep them fed well and interested in eating.
There are a staggering number of choices when it comes to dog food options. Dry or kibble is a widely popular choice for many reasons. High-quality kibble is tasty, full of nutrients, and well-liked by dogs of all breeds. There is something for every dog, small, large, picky eaters, and more.
Owners are responsible for ensuring their pups get all the good nutrients they need from food. A dog’s diet supports them from the day they are born until their senior years and significantly impacts their health. Always pick high-quality products. This is not a place to try and save money, as it will affect a pup’s lifelong health. Hopefully, our list of some of the best dry dog foods available will help you choose the tastiest, most nutritious option for your sweet fur baby.