This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Let’s talk about the worst dry dog foods!
They’re the ones with poor quality ingredients on the dog food label and can cost you a pretty penny in the long run even though their price tags are cheap.
Why is that?
Because lifetime accumulation of poor quality ingredients can lead to a weakened immune system and chronic diseases.
So if you feed your dog the same poor quality dry dog food every single day of their lives, prepare for frequent vet visits that add up along with a shorter lifespan of your furry loved one.
Obviously, we want to avoid both, right?
I mean, our dogs’ lives are already way too short as it is, so why take a chance on what we’re supposed to be fueling them with?
That’s why it’s important to take a good look at the respective dog food label before you pick up a bag of kibble.
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to read a dog food label, we’ll cover that next, followed by listing the worst ingredients in dry dog foods.
Last but not least, we’ll mention the 10 worst dry dog foods to avoid along with a few recommendations for better dry dog food options.
How To Read Dog Food Labels
Dog food ingredient labels list their ingredients by weight, and the top 5 ingredients are the most prevalent ones.
Now, since highly processed dry dog foods are cooked at very high temperatures, this results in the loss of naturally occurring minerals and vitamins.
That’s why the finished kibble product is sprayed with synthetic minerals and vitamins to put them back in.
You’ll find these synthetic minerals and vitamins in the last section of ingredient labels. They look something like this:
Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Choline Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride. O-4090.
Also, dogs need amino acids to thrive. They’re the building blocks of protein, and dogs do best with meat based protein sources.
Unfortunately, meat is more expensive than plant-and carb based protein sources, so many dry dog food brands choose to use more plant based protein sources than actual meat.
But dogs don’t thrive on a diet rich in carbs, which is why it’s important to avoid dry dog foods with too many carbs on the ingredient list.
Generally speaking, the longer the ingredient list, the worse the dog food.
You’ll notice the blatant differences in ingredient lists when you compare our list of worst dry dog foods with the list of much better dry dog foods.
But before that, let’s take a look at the worst ingredients in dry dog food. That way you know what to avoid when you inspect a dog food label.
Worst Ingredients In Dry Dog Foods
- Empty Fillers
- Corn Syrup
- Propylene Glycol
- Artificial Food Coloring
- Artificial Preservatives
- MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
- 4 D Meats/Unnamed Meat By-Products
For example, corn(meal/starch), wheat, barley, sorghum, soy(bean) meal, rice, beet pulp, peas, potatoes.
These particular fillers make your dog feel fuller because they’re very rich in carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, they’re poor amino acid sources that don’t provide the nutrients found in meat.
Barley and peas are also a high pesticide crop, and rice is often linked to arsenic contamination.
That’s a real problem because if your dog regularly eats a diet that mostly consists of empty calories, they can’t possibly thrive.
As a consequence, you’ll notice a lack of energy in your pup along with a dull coat, dirty teeth and ears and a tendency towards obesity.
Oh, and also large piles of poop because that’s what carbs will do!
These empty dog food fillers can also cause lots of digestive issues as well as severe itchiness that leads to excessive licking which in turn causes hot spots.
That’s because they’re rich in Omega-6 fatty acids that are known as inflammatories.
Beet pulp has even been linked to contributing to dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart condition.
So why do dog food companies choose to make their dog food with empty fillers?
Because they’re cheap and increase their bottom line.
Yep, sad but true.
(High-Fructose) Corn Syrup
Made from corn starch, it’s rich in sugar which is used to enhance flavor and encourage dogs to eat their dry dog food.
As we all know, too much sugar can cause obesity and diabetes, both of which severely impact your dog’s quality of life.
Artificial Food Coloring
Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 1 & 2, Titanium Dioxide, Synthetic Beta Carotene and Caramel Coloring are all examples of artificial food colorings that don’t belong in any dog food!
There’s absolutely no need for artificial food coloring in dry dog food, or any dog food for that matter, because it has no nutritional value at all.
Also, dogs simply do not care about the color of their food!
The only reason dog food brands include chemical food dyes in dry dog food is to appeal to the human buying the dog food.
So if you see any on a dry dog food ingredient label, that’s a huge red flag because they may all cause allergic reactions or even worse, cancer.
By definition, dry dog food needs preservatives because it has to be shelf stable.
However, you should avoid dry dog foods with artificial preservatives such as:
- BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
- TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone)
BHA and BHT are suspected to be cancer-causing compounds and BHA may also cause kidney damage.
TBHQ is a fat preservative that’s also used in lacquers and has been linked to pre-cancerous tumors.
Ethoxyquin is also used as a pesticide that’s likely linked to kidney and liver damage.
So instead, look for dry dog foods that are made with natural preservatives.
For example, rosemary oil, mixed tocopherols and alpha- tocopherols (but not synthetic dl-alpha tocopherols).
Propylene glycol is a food moisturizer that’s used in dry dog foods with a soft interior.
It’s also used in antifreeze and has been linked to causing the blood disease Heinz Body anemia!
So if you see it on your dog food label, toss the food and opt for a healthier dry dog food choice.
By the way, did you know that propylene glycol is banned in cat food?
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
MSG is an artificial flavor enhancer that works by making the brain think that a food tastes good and to keep eating it.
This can be particularly problematic in dogs who are free-fed kibble with MSG on the ingredient list. That’s because dogs who overeat will quickly become obese and may also become diabetic.
But beyond contributing to obesity, MSG can also cause damage to your dog’s brain including seizures.
MSG is also frequently listed as monosodium glutamate.
Beyond that, it’s also found in hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed yeast, soy extracts/concentrates and natural flavor, so those are other bad ingredients to watch out for.
4 D Meat Products/Unnamed Meat By Products
Meat from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals is known as 4 D Meat Products.
Sometimes, they’re labeled as meat by-products, so it’s best to avoid any dry dog foods that list unnamed meat by-products on the label.
Because here’s the thing with unnamed meat by-products. They can mean anything from all sorts of organs to hooves, teeth, ears, cartilage, etc.
While those cuts of meat actually play an important role in raw dog food, dry dog food labels don’t specify where they source their meat by-products.
So technically speaking, they can be from slaughterhouse waste, roadkill, euthanized animals or even dead zoo animals, including sick animals!
10 Worst Dry Dog Foods
Now without further ado, let’s take a look at the 10 worst dry dog food brands to avoid – you’ll thank us later!
#1 Purina Dog Chow
First on our list of worst dry dog foods is Purina Dog Chow.
The first ingredient in this dry dog food is corn, an empty filler without any nutritional value for dogs, followed by an unnamed source of meat and bone meal, as well as wheat.
Remember, unidentified meat and bone meal can be from slaughterhouse waste, roadkill, euthanized animals or even dead, sick zoo animals.
While it doesn’t feature any chemical preservatives, it lists 4 artificial food dyes (Yellow 5 & 6, Red 40, Blue 2).
Ingredients: Whole Grain Corn, Meat and Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Soybean Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Egg and Chicken Flavor, Whole Grain Wheat, Animal Digest, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Mono and Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Yellow 6, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Yellow 5, Red 40, Manganese Sulfate, Niacin, Blue 2, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Garlic Oil, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Folic Acid, Biotin, Sodium Selenite. D-4101.
#2 Alpo by Purina
Second on our list of worst dry dog foods is Alpo by Purina.
Among the first 5 ingredients, 3 are empty fillers: corn, corn germ meal and soybean meal. There’s even more corn (gluten meal) listed as ingredient #9!
It also lists bone meal but doesn’t specify which animals those bones are from.
Remember, unidentified meat and bone meal can be from slaughterhouse waste, roadkill, euthanized animals or even dead, sick zoo animals.
While it doesn’t feature any chemical preservatives, it lists 4 artificial food dyes (Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 2).
Ingredients: Ground yellow corn, corn germ meal, beef and bone meal, soybean meal, beef fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, pork and bone meal, egg and chicken flavor, natural flavor, corn gluten meal, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, minerals [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate], sodium selenite, natural grill flavor, vitamins [Vitamin E supplement niacin (vitamin B-3), vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B-6), vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B-1), vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B-2), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (vitamin K), folic acid (vitamin B-9), biotin (vitamin B-7)], dl-methionine, l-lysine monohydrochloride, l-tryptophan, red 40, yellow 5, calcium carbonate, blue 2, yellow 6, garlic oil.
#3 Pedigree Complete Nutrition
Third on our list of worst dry dog foods is Pedigree Complete Nutrition.
Similar to the previous 2 dry dog foods, Pedigree lists corn as its first ingredient, followed by unidentified meat and bone meal.
Besides corn, there’s several other empty fillers that don’t have any nutritional benefits for dogs: soybean meal, beet pulp, rice, wheat and peas.
It also features Natural Flavor which means it’s likely that it contains the artificial food enhancer MSG.
While there’s no artificial preservatives, there’s 4 artificial food colorings: Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 2 and Red 40.
Ingredients: Ground Whole Grain Corn, Meat And Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat (Source Of Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Preserved With BHA & Citric Acid]), Soybean Meal, Natural Flavor, Chicken By-Product Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Grain Wheat, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Dried Peas, Dl-Methionine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Monocalcium Phosphate, L-Tryptophan, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Dried Carrots, Blue 2, Niacin [Vitamin B3], Red 40, D-Calcium Pantothenate [Source Of Vitamin B5], Copper Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B2], Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Folic Acid.
#4 Ol’ Roy
Fourth on our list of worst dry dog foods is Ol’ Roy.
This dog food lists 3 empty fillers within the first 5 ingredients: corn, soybean meal and wheat middlings. There’s also corn gluten meal and ground wheat a little further down on the ingredient list.
Meat and bone meal appear on the list as ingredient #3, which could be sourced from anywhere and can include sick and euthanized animals.
It also lists one artificial food color, Red 40.
Ingredients: Ground Yellow Corn, Soybean Meal, Meat and Bone Meal, Wheat Middlings, Animal Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Wheat, Animal Digest, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Garlic Oil, Added Colour (Red 40), Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Choline Chloride, Niacin, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Sulfate, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K).
#5 Kibbles ‘n Bits
Fifth on our list of worst dry dog foods is Kibbles ‘n Bits.
This dry dog food has 4 empty fillers in its 5 first ingredients, while some sort of meat (source?) doesn’t show up until ingredient #3 (beef & bone meal).
There’s also more empty fillers further down on the list (peas and wheat flour).
Kibbles #n Bits lists a whopping 6 artificial food dyes on their ingredient label: Caramel Color, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5 & 6, Red 40 and Blue 1.
It also lists one artificial preservative, BHA.
Ingredients: Corn, Soybean Meal, Beef & Bone Meal, Ground Wheat, Animal Fat (BHA Used As Preservative), Corn Syrup, Wheat Middlings, Water Sufficient For Processing, Animal Digest (Source Of Chicken Flavor), Propylene Glycol, Salt, Hydrochloric Acid, Potassium Chloride, Caramel Color, Peas, Sorbic Acid (Used As a Preservative), Sodium Carbonate, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Choline Chloride, Calcium Sulfate, Wheat Flour, Carrots, Green Beans, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, BHA (Used As a Preservative), Blue 1, DL-Methionine.
#6 IAMS Minichunks
Sixth on our list of worst dry dog foods is IAMS Minichunks.
While IAMS Minichunks has chicken as its first ingredient, it’s followed by corn and sorghum, two empty fillers that don’t have any nutritional benefits for dogs.
There’s also beet pulp fairly high up on the list of ingredients at #5 followed by Natural Flavor at #6.
Remember, beet pulp is a cheap by-product of sugar beets that’s linked to dilated cardiomyopathy, and Natural Flavor often has MSG in it, an artificial flavor enhancer that can cause obesity, diabetes and seizures.
While it doesn’t feature any chemical preservatives, it does have an artificial food coloring (caramel color).
Ingredients: Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken By-Product Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Caramel Color, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide), Potassium Chloride, Carrot, Choline Chloride, Fructooligosaccharides, Calcium Carbonate, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract.
#7 Purina Beneful
Seventh on our list of worst dry dog foods is Purina Beneful.
While beef is listed as the first ingredient, it’s followed by lots of empty fillers rich in carbohydrates: corn, barley, rice and wheat.
Additionally, it also features soybean meal, a somewhat unidentified source of by-product meal (poultry – which animals exactly?) and peas.
It also lists a taste enhancer, chicken flavor, which is made from hydrolyzed chicken. Since MSG is almost always present in hydrolyzed protein, this is a red flag.
Ingredients: Beef, Whole Grain Corn, Barley, Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Beef Fat Naturally Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Soybean Meal, Oat Meal, Poultry By-Product Meal, Glycerin, Egg and Chicken Flavor, Mono and Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Poultry and Pork Digest, Potassium Chloride, Dried Spinach, Dried Peas, Dried Carrots, Iron Oxide (Color), Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Choline Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride. O-4090.
#8 Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight
Eighth on our list of worst dry dog foods is Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight.
Hill’s Science Diet lists chicken as its first ingredient, but it’s followed by 4 empty fillers: barley, rice, pea and corn gluten meal.
It also lists chicken liver flavor and pork flavor, which are taste enhancers made from hydrolyzed chicken liver and from hydrolyzed pork. Since MSG is almost always present in hydrolyzed protein, this is a red flag.
Beyond that, there’s also Natural Flavors, meaning more MSG, and Beta-Carotene, an artificial food coloring.
Ingredients: Chicken, Cracked Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, Pea Fiber, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Meal, Dried Tomato Pomace, Oat Fiber, Chicken Liver Flavor, Flaxseed, Dried Beet Pulp, Coconut Oil, Pork Flavor, Lactic Acid, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine, DL-Methionine, Carrots, Iodized Salt, Lipoic Acid, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Cranberries, Green Peas
#9 Rachel Ray
Ninth on our list of worst dry dog foods is Rachel Ray’s dog food.
The first 2 ingredients are beef, which is fair enough.
But ingredients 3-6, 8-10, 13 and 15 are empty fillers without any nutritional value for dogs:
- Soybean meal
- Whole corn
- Grain sorghum
- Dried peas
- Corn protein concentrate
- Brown rice
- Pea starch
- Beet pulp
- Malted barley flour
That’s A LOT of fillers/carbs!
However, there’s neither artificial food dyes or preservatives, so that’s a plus.
Ingredients: Beef, Beef Meal, Soybean Meal, Whole Corn, Grain Sorghum, Dried Peas, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Corn Protein Concentrate, Brown Rice, Pea Starch, Natural Flavor, Salt, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Carrots, Malted Barley Flour, Inulin, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid (Source of Vitamin C), Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Citric Acid (preservative), Sodium Selenite, Annatto Extract (Color), Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Rosemary Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement
#10 NUTRO NATURAL
And last on our list of worst dry dog foods is NUTRO NATURAL.
Similar to Rachel Ray’s dry dog food we just looked at, the first 2 ingredients in Nutro Natural’s dog food are two meat protein sources, chicken and chicken meal.
However, they’re immediately followed by 4 empty fillers (whole grain barley, split peas, brewers rice and whole grain brown rice).
A little further down on the ingredient list are rice bran and beet pulp, which are more fillers without any nutritional value.
It also lists Natural Flavor which translates into MSG, the artificial flavor enhancer we’ve already mentioned a few times.
Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Barley, Split Peas, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Rice Bran, Whole Grain Oatmeal, Whole Flaxseed, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Citric Acid (preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (preservative), Chia Seed, Dried Coconut, DL-Methionine, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Egg Product, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Kale, Dried Spinach, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract
5 Better Dry Dog Food Options
By now, you have an idea of what’s considered a red flag ingredient in dry dog food!
Thankfully, the following 5 dry dog foods have much higher quality ingredients than the foods we just looked at.
You’ll truly notice a huge difference in the ingredient lists, starting with their length – or lack thereof!
1. Carna 4 Chicken
There’s really not much to criticize in Carna 4’s Chicken dry dog food, except that they add a total of 4 empty fillers that are rich in carbs.
However, while regular farmed Barley is rich in pesticides, the kind they use in this dry dog food is organic!
Did you notice that there’s no artificial vitamins and minerals in this food? That’s because it’s been oven baked and air dried.
Those are much gentler processing methods that don’t cause the nutrient loss of regularly processed dry dog food that’s cooked at very high temperatures.
Ingredients: Fresh Chicken, Chicken Liver, eggs, organic sprouted barley seed, wild salmon, whole vegetables (peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach), amaranth, ground whole brown rice, organic sprouted green lentils, potato starch, organic sprouted flaxseed, organic sprouted red lentils, whole apples, sea salt, kelp, rosemary, parsley.
2. Nature’s Logic Distinction Grain-Free Duck & Salmon
There’s even less to criticize in Nature’s Logic Distinction dog food than in Carna 4’s dog food as they only include one empty filler, millet.
However, they do include Natural Flavor, which means that the natural flavor enhancer MSG is likely present in this dog food – although they claim that their food is MSG-free.
But again, there’s no need for any artificial minerals and vitamins.
Ingredients: Duck Meal, Millet, Chicken Meal, Chicken Fat, Salmon Meal, Montmorillonite, Brewer’s Yeast, Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Spray Dried Chicken Liver, Pumpkin Seed, Animal Plasma, Kelp, Natural Flavor, Cottage Cheese, Suncured Alfalfa Meal, Egg Shell, Avocado, Chicory Root, Tomato Powder, Almonds, Spray Dried Cod Liver Oil, Apple Powder, Blueberry, Apricots, Carrots, Pumpkin, Cranberry, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsley, Artichoke, Rosemary, Fermentation Products (Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Products)
3. Orijen Six Fish
Orijen Six Fish only features whole peas and pea starch as far as empty fillers.
However, they do include Natural Fish Flavor, which means that the natural flavor enhancer MSG is likely present in this dog food.
But again, there’s no need for any artificial minerals and vitamins.
Ingredients: Whole mackerel, whole herring, monkfish, Acadian redfish, flounder, whole hake, mackerel meal, herring meal, blue whiting meal, pollock meal, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, safflower oil, whole peas, whole green lentils, whole navy beans, sunflower oil, lentil fiber, natural fish flavor, whole chickpeas, pea starch, herring oil, vitamin E supplement, mixed tocopherols (preservative), whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, collard greens, whole apples, whole pears, dried kelp, zinc proteinate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, dried chicory root, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries, citric acid (preservative), rosemary extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: This is one of the dog foods Colby gives to his pups.
4. Raw Paws Pet Food Freeze-Dried Rabbit
Freeze-dried dog food is one step up from conventional dry dog food as you can tell by the short ingredient list of this freeze-dried rabbit dog food from Raw Paws Pet Food:
Ingredients: Ground whole rabbit, rabbit liver, rabbit heart, rabbit lung, herring oil, mixed tocopherols, vitamin E supplement.
Freeze-drying is a very effective way of making a dog food shelf stable without the need for any harmful artificial preservatives.
As the food isn’t baked or cooked at high temperatures, there is close to no nutrient loss and therefore no need to add any synthetic minerals and vitamins back onto the food!
5. 360 Pet Nutrition Freeze-Dried Multi Meat
Here’s one more freeze-dried option by 360 Pet Nutrition.
They only add one ingredient that’s rich in carbs – pea flour.
Ingredients: Beef, Chicken, Salmon, Whitefish, Beef Liver, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, Flaxseed, Sweet Potato, Egg, Pea Flour, Apples, Blueberries, Carrots, Cranberries, Pumpkin Seeds, Spinach, Kelp, Ginger, Salt, Sunflower seeds, Broccoli, Kale, Mixed Tocopherols
As a general rule of thumb, dry dog foods with the cheapest ingredients and the longest ingredient lists are also the worst dry dog foods.
That’s because they’re rich in empty fillers with little to no nutritional value for a dog’s body and can contribute to digestive upset, obesity, diabetes and seizures.
Remember, when you’re reading the ingredient list on any dog food label, you’ll want to pay close attention to the first 5 ingredients.
They’re the most prevalent ones and should never begin with an empty filler such as corn.
Also avoid dry dog foods with unnamed meat-by products as they can be sourced from anywhere, including from roadkill, euthanized animals and dead zoo animals.
Other red ingredient flags are artificial preservatives and flavor enhancers as well as synthetic food dyes.
After all, dogs don’t care about the color of their food!
What about you – have you recently looked at the ingredient list on your dry dog food?
If you did, were you surprised, shocked and decided to feed your dog a different food? Or were you happy with the ingredients?
Either way, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!
Save To Pinterest
Top Picks For Our Puppies
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs – Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
- BEST DOG CHEW
We Like: Mighty Paw Naturals Bully Sticks – All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats – We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer’s Dog – A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer’s Dog.
Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.