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Best dog food: Tasty meals to keep your pooch healthy

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best dog food
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The best dog food not only tastes great but it comes packed with a wide range of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep your canine companion firing on all cylinders. Delicious and nutritious? Now that's what we call a win-win! 

And yet just like when shopping for the best cat food for our feline friends, perusing the doggy food aisle can leave you feeling seriously overwhelmed. With so much choice available these days, it's hard to know which wet or dry food is the right one for you much-loved fur baby. To help you out, here's a few things worth considering before filling up your furkids food bowl.

If you're anything like most pet parents, one of the biggest decisions you're probably trying to make is whether to feed your pup wet food or dry food. You may be aware of the ongoing debate about which of these two is superior, but the good news is that as long as you're choosing a formula from a reputable brand, both wet and dry food has everything your dog needs to thrive.

One of the advantages to the best dry dog food is that kibble has an abrasive outer shell that acts like a toothbrush of sorts, sweeping away plaque and tartar to keep your canine's chompers in tip-top condition. The crunchy texture is also a real winner with dogs and unlike wet food, kibble can be left out for longer without going off and it's much easier to clean up, which is great if you have a messy eater on your hands!

That's not to say that the best wet dog food doesn't have plenty of perks of its own. While it may be messier and go off quicker, wet food has a melt-in-the-mouth soft texture that's easy to chew, making it a dream for senior dogs or any pup who has dental issues that make chewing a challenge. It's also super high in moisture, so it's great for keeping the kidneys and urinary tract in tip-top condition. 

After you've made a decision about whether to feed your dog wet or dry food, the next thing you want to do is to closely examine the ingredient list. Look for things such as Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are great for skin and coat health, and calcium, which is vital to help build strong bones. If your dog suffers from allergies or sensitivities, have a chat with your vet about whether a limited-ingredient formula may be easier for your dog to digest.

Now that you know a little bit more about what to look for, here's our pick of the best dog food lining the shelves in 2021including wet and dry options to suit even the fussiest furkid.

PetsRadar's pick of the best dog food

  • Best overall dog food: Hill’s Science Plan Adult Dog Food with Lamb and Rice
  • Best dog food on a budget: Bakers Adult Beef with Country Vegetables
  • Best wet dog food: Lily’s Kitchen Grain Free Multipack
  • Best dry dog food: Lily's Kitchen Complete Dry Food for Dogs
  • Best natural dog food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Chicken and Brown
  • Best grain-free dog food: Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food
  • Best dog food for puppies: N&D Ancestral Grain Canine Chicken and Pomegranate Puppy  
  • Best dog food for older dogs: Kinner's Field & Trial – Light & Senior
  • Best dog food for small dogs: Royal Canin Mini Adult 
  • Best air-dried dog food: ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog Food

Best dog food: Hill's Science Plan pack shot

(Image credit: Amazon)

Hill’s Science Plan Adult Dog Food with Lamb and Rice

Best overall dog food

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: 1 to 6 years
Key nutritional inclusions: Omega-6s, Vitamin E, high in protein
Flavor: Lamb and rice
Reasons to buy
+
Made with high quality ingredients
+
Promotes a healthy coat
+
Easily digestible
Reasons to avoid
-
Not suitable for puppies, pregnant or nursing females
-
Not suitable for older adult dogs

When it comes to the best dog food, Hill’s Science Plan Adult Dog Food with Lamb and Rice scoops up the gold medal.

While you should consider the age and lifestyle of your dog when deciding their diet, this dog food is ideal for dogs aged one to six-years-old and of medium size. So, if you’re the owner of a healthy Basset Hound, Labrador or an Alaskan Malamute – or any other dog of a similar size – this is the dog food you need.

If your dog isn’t in the one to six-years-old age bracket, or is pregnant or nursing, this isn’t the dog food you need, so take a look at the remainder of the guide for a food that’s perfect for your pup.

Hill’s Science Plan Adult Dog Food with Lamb and Rice is a dry kibble-style food, designed to support your dog’s dietary requirements while they’re in the prime of their life. While ensuring they get the energy they need for bounding about, this dog food offers a reliable source of Omega-6s and Vitamin E – ideal for promoting healthy skin and a glossy coat – as well as lamb and rice as central protein-rich ingredients. These high-quality ingredients not only taste great for your dog, but they’re also easy to digest, and can help support the development of lean muscles.

As another great bonus, the total ingredients list is delightfully small. The dry feed comprises maize, wheat, lamb meal, soybean meal, animal fat, maize gluten meal, brewers' rice, digest, vegetable oil, flaxseed and minerals. Created with the high-quality ingredients that your dog deserves, there are no hidden nasties here.

It’s worth noting that, as with all dog foods, you’ll have to weigh out the amount of food served based on the weight of your dog – so it can be worth having a food scale to hand.

Best dog food: Baker's Adult Beef pack shot

(Image credit: Amazon)

Bakers Adult Beef with Country Vegetables

Best dog food on a budget

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: 1 to 6 years
Key nutritional inclusions: Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Zinc
Flavor: Beef and vegetable
Reasons to buy
+
Affordable price point
+
Enriched with vitamins and minerals
+
No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives
Reasons to avoid
-
Tender kibble can harden up over time

The best dog food for those on a budget, this dry kibble is a beef and country vegetable flavor, comprising tender meat chunks and vegetables. Said to include all the nutrients your dog needs to consume in one day, this Bakers feed also contains no added artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, and includes probiotics and antioxidants to help promote healthy digestion and support their immune system.

Additionally, the dry kibble contains Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Zinc and other minerals – all things that can help encourage healthy and strong teeth, bones, skin and coat.

However, it is worth noting that, in the ingredients, wholegrain cereals account for 55% of the feed. Grain is often used as a filler in dog food, which can become problematic for dogs that have wheat and other gastric intolerances.

In comparison to another affordable dry kibble, Pedigree Complete Dry with chicken and vegetables, grains (listed as cereals) are still the most prevalent ingredient. There is 5% more ‘Meat and Animal Derivatives’ listed in the pedigree ingredients, but on average this food comes in at £3-4 more expensive, for 2kg less in the bag than the Bakers option.

Though it is more affordable to buy in larger quantities, the kibble might get a little hard over time – but dog owners recommend sealing the top of the bag as tightly as possible once opened to help retain freshness.

Overall, Bakers Adult beef with country vegetables should be considered a reliable and affordable dry dog food that’s suitable for many kinds of adult dogs. While it’s not the Michelin Star food of the dog world, it contains everything your dog needs to thrive at a lower price point.

Best dog food: Multiple cans of Lily’s Kitchen Grain Free dog food

(Image credit: Amazon)

Lily’s Kitchen Grain Free Multipack

Best wet dog food

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: 1+ years
Key nutritional inclusions: Grain-free, meat meal, bone meal and rendered meat-free
Flavor: Assorted
Reasons to buy
+
Entirely grain-free recipes
+
Created with fresh meat and vegetables
+
Multipack offers four flavour options
Reasons to avoid
-
Fine ingredients increase cost
-
No added nutrition as with dry dog food

It’s widely understood that wet food is generally more appetizing for dogs, and who can blame them when the flavor options in this multipack are ‘Cottage Pie’, ‘Sunday Lunch’, ‘Fishy Fish Pie’ and ‘Wild Campfire Stew’. But, Lily’s Kitchen Grain-Free wet food isn’t pumped full of water and ‘filler’ products such as wheat, soya or corn grain. Each tin is made with fresh meat, and organic vegetables and herbs, so you can be entirely sure of what your dog is consuming at their mealtimes.

There has been some debate as to whether the quality of the product has dropped since the company was bought by Nestle in April 2020, but many pet owners still vouch for the food, claiming it has drastically helped if their dog has had suspected wheat allergies or intolerances.

While these benefits and flavors are available in tin multipacks, it’s fair to say that it’s not the cheapest dog food on the market. It’s also worth noting that several of these Lily’s Kitchen dog food flavors are also available from Lily’s Kitchen in grain-free dry kibble form – which includes added vitamins and other nutritional supplements to help support your dog’s healthy diet.

Lily's kitchen dry dog foodPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Lily's Kitchen)

Lily's Kitchen Complete Dry Food for Dogs

Best dry dog food

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: Over 4 months old
Key nutritional inclusions: Grain, wheat and dairy free
Flavor: Chicken & Duck; Venison and Duck; Lamb
Reasons to buy
+
Grain-free
+
Only whole-meat formula
+
No artificial additives
Reasons to avoid
-
Premium price

Available in three flavors: Chicken and Duck, Venison and Duck and Lamb, there's plenty of choice here for even the fussiest of pooches to enjoy, but for pet owners the key draw lies in the brand's ethos. The company proudly advocates an eco-friendly approach, from its organic ingredients to environmentally friendly packaging. 

The idea with this food is to stick to whole meat and no hidden ingredients. One of the primary selling points of the formula is the 0% animal ‘meal’ content: it offers a high-protein formula without the inclusion of animal meal.

The formula is particularly fantastic for dogs that suffer easily from an upset stomach or who have food intolerance issues. The kibble’s small bite-sized pieces are perfect for smaller, aging dogs with weaker jaws. Plus, this grub is likely to leave your pooch feeling fuller for longer and with an increase in energy levels across the board if you're prepared to shelve out the extra cost.

The one knock against it is the price, which is towards the top-end of the market so be prepared to budget for it.

Read more:

Is dry dog food best?
What are the benefits of homemade dog food?
5 dog treats for sensitive stomachs

Best dog food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula pack shot

(Image credit: Amazon.com)

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe

Best natural formula

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: 1+ years
Key nutritional inclusions: Omega 3 & 6, essential vitamins & minerals, antioxidants
Flavor: Chicken & Brown Rice
Reasons to buy
+
Natural ingredients
+
Balanced formula
+
Vet approved
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive

If you’re after a natural and high-quality kibble for your canine companion, this nutritious formula from Blue Buffalo is hard to beat. Available in a variety of mouth-watering flavors, the chicken and brown rice blend is crammed full of everything your dog needs to stay happy and healthy.

Featuring Blue’s exclusive LifeSource Bits, this kibble contains the perfect blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help your furkid thrive, including Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for a shiny coat and healthy skin.

We love that real chicken is the first ingredient on the list, followed by a wholesome blend of whole grains, fruits, and garden vegetables. Carefully designed in collaboration with veterinarians and animal nutritionists, the kibble has a precise balance of fat, carbohydrate, and protein, supporting immune system health and oxidative balance.

Made with the finest natural ingredients, this formula doesn’t come cheap but what you get is quality and it’s also free from many known allergens, such as corn, wheat, soy, and animal by-products. 

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

(Image credit: Amazon)

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

Best grain-free dog food

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: Adult
Key nutritional inclusions: Probiotics, B12, Calcium, vitamin D3, folic acid, vitamin E
Flavor: Roasted Bison and Venison
Reasons to buy
+
Real meat
+
High protein
+
Great for dogs with allergies
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive

If you have a dog who suffers from allergies or one who has a delicate digestive system, then this grain-free formula from Taste of the Wild is well worth considering.  Free from grain, corn, wheat, artificial colors and flavors, this nutritent-rich but gentle formula has everything your pup needs to thrive and none of what they don't.

Packed with 32% highly-digestible protein from pasture-raised bison and venison, this roasted kibble has a rich meaty texture your hound will love. It also contains Taste of the Wild's proprietary K9 Strain Probiotics that have been developed specifically for dogs and added after the cooking process to ensure viability. With 80 million live active cultures per pound of food, this kibble supports the health of the immune and digestive systems.

There are plenty of vitamins and minerals to be found in this formula with calcium for bone health and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and a shiny coat. And you don't need to worry about your dog being low on energy as the grains present in many other kibbles are replaced here by vegetables such as sweet potatoes that are rich in complex carbohydrates. 

Best dog food: Farmina N&D packet shot

(Image credit: Amazon.com)

N&D Ancestral Grain Canine Chicken and Pomegranate Puppy

Best dog food for puppies

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: 0-1 years
Key nutritional inclusions: 90% meat, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, zinc
Flavor: Chicken and pomegranate
Reasons to buy
+
Designed for puppy development
+
High-quality natural ingredients
Reasons to avoid
-
Only suitable for puppies

If you’re in the market for a reliable puppy feed, this N&D Ancestral Grain Canine Chicken and Pomegranate Puppy dry food could be a good choice for the new addition to the family.

While this recipe does include grain, the emphasis with this brand is on the quality of the ingredients used, all of which have been inspired by nature. Spelt, oats, fresh chicken combine with pumpkin, apples, carrots, spinach and blueberries to create a delicious puppy food.

What’s more, the balance of ingredients used means that 90% of the feed is protein-rich chicken, supported with the vegetables, fruits and grains – with no artificial preservatives hidden in there either. The choice of certain ingredients is designed to bring certain vitamins and minerals into play in a natural way.

For instance, the use of pumpkin adds antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and zinc into the feed, and the spinach, blueberries, apples and carrots add a generous dose of fiber. All of the natural qualities of the ingredients combine to serve up a puppy food that’s able to support the development of the immune system (as well as keeping it well maintained), help with your puppy’s skin and coat, and aims to prevent urinary and sensitive stomach issues.

It’s fair to say that N&D Ancestral Grain chicken and pomegranate is a little pricier than other puppy feeds, however, the quality of the ingredients is the reason why. A great choice for any new four-legged friend.

Best dog food: Skinner's Field & Trial Light & Senior pack shot

(Image credit: Amazon)

Skinner's Field & Trial – Light & Senior

Best dog food for older dogs

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: Approx 6 years, breed dependant
Key nutritional inclusions: Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, iron and zinc, no artificial colours or flavours
Flavor: Chicken and rice
Reasons to buy
+
Formulated for older or inactive dogs
+
Designed to avoid weight gain
+
Nutritionally balanced
Reasons to avoid
-
Colour variation can occur in the kibble

As your dog ages, it’s important that their feed matches their physical habits. If they begin to slow down a little, and yet still consume the same food as they’ve always done, this can lead to weight gain. This is where a dedicated dog food for senior dogs becomes vital.

Skinner's Field & Trial – Light & Senior offers dogs a nutritionally balanced food that can help quell any noticeable weight gain in less active dogs. Though it’s worth noting that the packaging doesn’t give any indication of calorie content per portion, the food is formulated with reduced levels of fat and protein to encourage a ‘holistic weight management strategy’.

The kibble itself is shaped into ovals to help encourage a feeling of fullness in your dog and, as it’s less-energy dense in its formulation, larger meals can be fed too – your dog doesn’t have to feel short-changed at meal times once they hit their twilight years!

The food aims to support joint health too, with the inclusion of glucosamine and chondroitin, and linseed and sunflower oils provide fatty acids. These are great for your dog’s skin and coat, and have little impact on how fat-full the feed is.

The feed is also wheat gluten-free, which is great for dogs with wheat allergies or intolerances, but it is worth noting that maize and oats are still at the top of the ingredients list – and these grains are often used as a filler to help bulk the food out.

To counter that, the third-most present ingredient is chicken meal, which can help a dog’s digestion, and also has low purine levels. This makes the food an ideal choice for mature or less active dogs that also have sensitive stomachs to consider.

Best dog food: Royal Canin Mini Adult pack shot

(Image credit: Amazon)

Royal Canin Mini Adult

Best dog food for small dogs

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: 10 months to 12 years
Key nutritional inclusions: Vitamin D3, Vitamin E2, E4 and E5, zinc
Flavor: Meat and gravy
Reasons to buy
+
Designed for smaller sized dogs
+
Nutritionally complete wet food
+
Supports healthy weight maintenance
Reasons to avoid
-
Meat products unspecified in ingredients
-
Uses cereal to bulk out the feed
-
High moisture content

As we’re sure you know, small dogs have bags of personality. They know what they like – and that’s especially true when it comes to their food. Finding a pet food they like that also supports everything they need as a small breed is really important – and an area where Royal Canin Mini Adult can really help.

This is a wet feed, which is widely considered as being tastier for our pups, simply because the moisture allows their senses to engage with the taste and smell of the meal more.

However, be aware that the moisture content can, in some food, mean that water is replacing food substance. Though the moisture content here sits at 80%, the ingredient list gives you reassurance that the feed offers a balanced, nutritious diet. 

As a comparison, in a high-end and more expensive puppy feed produced by Lily’s Kitchen, the moisture content is still 80% – the price difference is explained by the types of meat products used in the food.

It’s important, especially in small dogs, that excess weight doesn’t become an issue. Royal Canin Mini Adult offers a moderate energy content for active adult dogs of a small breed, and also contains a whole host of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy digestive system and top-notch coat.

Along with supporting your dog nutritionally, the feed is also made with your dog in mind. The soft chunks themselves are small enough for Yorkshire Terriers, Pomskies and other small breeds to eat comfortably. In turn, the shape of the feed – or the ‘kibble technology’ – is able to help reduce the build-up of tartar on the dog’s teeth. This helps owners prevent oral problems appearing, without having to supplement tartar-avoidance specific food into their pup’s diet.

Ziwi Peak Air Dried Lamb Dog Food

(Image credit: Amazon)

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog Food

Best air-dried dog food

Specifications
Recommended suitable age: All
Key nutritional inclusions: High in magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, vitamin D
Flavor: Lamb
Reasons to buy
+
High protein and nutrient dense
+
Grain free and low-carb
+
Ethical and sustainable
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive

Okay, so first things first - this one is definitely not for the budget conscious! ZIWI Peak is a NZ-based brand that's known for being expensive, but they've also grown a solid reputation in recent years for producing high-quality dog food with only the best and cleanest ingredients and this air-dried lamb dish is no exception.

High protein and nutrient-dense, it features 96% free-range lamb, organs, bone, organic kelp and NZ green-lipped mussels. It's incredibly rich in a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health and Omega fatty acids to keep the skin and coat in tip-top condition.

Suitable for all life stages from puppy all the way up to senior level, it can be used as a complete meal or as a topper to kibble or wet food to add a nutrition and flavor boost. Ethical and sustainable, the brand uses only wild-caught seafoods and grass-fed meats that are farmed without hormones, antibiotics or growth promotants.

How to choose the best dog food

Choosing the best dog food for your pup can feel like a daunting task. There are so many factors to consider – from the size of the dog to their age and their breed, it can feel like a bit of a minefield.

There are many products to sift through and select from, but understanding the common elements in dog food and what each ingredient can offer is the key. Most foods offer a balance of vitamins and minerals to help boost your dog’s immune system and to help promote healthy skin and coat – but what are the core ingredients?

You should also be aware of the grain and meat content in a food when selecting it. More affordable products will include cereal and less specific meat products, whereas high-end options are likely to include less cereal and high-quality meat content.

But, ultimately, as the owner, you know your dog and the priorities you hold for them better than anyone. Here, you’ll find the best dog food we’ve found for all types of dog – and we’re confident you’ll make a choice that your dog will truly love.

Amy is a freelance digital content specialist, with ten years of experience under her belt. Though her young daughter keeps her busy enough, we seem to be the unofficial foster home for many of the neighbourhood cats.