8 Dog Food Brands to Avoid [+ 5 You Should Buy ]

You need to take special care when buying food for your dog. Because there are a large number of dog food brands available in the market. And many of them do not provide quality food for your pup. So you should know which dog food brands to avoid before shopping for them. It will ensure the proper nutrition for the furred member of your family. And you can avoid feeding your dog any unhealthy diet that may lead to health issues for them.

Your four-legged kid is no different than a human kid when the concern is nutrition. So you need to gather knowledge about dog nutrition. It means you should know which elements are necessary for their growth. Also, it is important to identify the allergic ingredients that their body cannot absorb or digest. Suppose a particular brand says their products include chicken. Then it is also important to know which part of the chicken has been used because this confirms whether the food contains real protein sources or some cheap leftovers.

Dog food brands offer both dry and wet food. And all of them claim to include healthy protein in their products. Our job is to carefully check the ingredient list and know the source of these elements. Also, you can research a particular dog food brand. Thus you will learn about their production factory, how they source the ingredients, and reviews about their products. But this is a complex and time-consuming task. And we are here to do all this additional work for you.

In this article, we have listed the dog food brands to avoid. We have also listed the best brands to buy from. So sit peacefully and read out this article before you go shopping for your beloved pup.

What Makes a Dog Food Brand Worth Avoiding?

How to identify which food brands are not suitable for your dog is a big question. Because every brand claims to supply healthy protein-rich food for your dog. The simple way is by analyzing the ingredients used in the products. Make sure that the food products do not contain fillers and additives that are harmful to dogs. Also, some brands do not specify the source of protein in clear words. You should avoid those brands too. We have compiled our list based on the below points:

1. Meat By-products and 4-D Meats

Meat and meat by-products are two different things. While meat is the flesh, including the bone of an animal, meat by-products are the waste and leftovers at a slaughterhouse.

Though it is said that meat by-products contain protein, they are not a healthy source of protein. Real meat is healthier and tastier. Another awful meat by-product is 4-D meat.

4-D, unfortunately, stands for these four types of animal flesh:

  • Dead
  • Dying
  • Diseased
  • Disabled

This type of meat is considered bad because it may be contaminated with bacteria or pathogens and is unsafe for human consumption.

Additionally, the conditions under which 4-D animals are raised and slaughtered may not meet the standards for animal welfare. If an animal that died because of a contagious disease ends up in your dog’s food bowl, it is a possibility that it might catch the same disease.

Too often, dog food producers are not required to disclose where these products come from. Companies don’t have to specify if the term “meat by-product” refers to an animal’s scraped off the roadside or its discarded lung from the meat processing plant.

2. Corn And Other Fillers

Some ingredients have no nutritional value and are only empty calories. The dog bowl looks full, but there’s hardly any nutritional requirement being met with fillers.

We call them fillers because these can look like there is more food than there is. These fillers include corn, soy, wheat, etc., which are easy to harvest and thus cost-effective for the manufacturer.

Corn fillers can make your dog’s stomach feel as full as meat-based food. But the presence of these fillers in the food may cause allergy, digestive issues, tenderness, etc., for your dog.

Corn increases an animal’s blood sugar levels more than other common ingredients in dog food.

Countless credible complaints from dog lovers, trainers, communities, and veterinarian websites pointing to cornmeal and other grain products as a potential reason for their pets’ allergies are difficult to miss.

See also  7 Best Fish Oil For Dogs in 2023 {Expert's Choice}

Another thing to remember is that corn is not the most digestible food for dogs.

Also Read: How Long Till A Dog Poops After Chicken And Rice? (Answered)

3. Chemical Additives in The Dog Food and Synthetic Ingredients

What pleases your dog is protein and fat-rich simple meat. And they never care about what the food looks like. So it is unnecessary to add artificial color to dog food which is harmful to them.

Also, artificial preservatives are not suitable for dogs. Some dogs may have an allergic reaction to certain artificial preservatives, which can manifest as skin irritation, itching, and other symptoms.

Furthermore, some preservatives can bind to vitamins and minerals, making them less available for absorption. This may eventually result in dietary deficits.

It is important to carefully read the ingredient list on dog food labels and avoid foods that contain artificial preservatives.

Several dog food manufacturers eliminate artificial additives in favor of plant products like Vitamin E & Vitamin C. It is wiser to opt for a brand that uses natural solutions to preserve dog food.

List Of Dog Food Brands to Avoid

Now we know how to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy dog food. So it is easier for us to define good brands of dog food and the brands to avoid. Here is the list of dog food brands to avoid.

1. IAMS – Proactive Dry Dog Food Minichunks 

IAMS - Proactive Dry Dog Food Minichunks

It is a chicken-based food that is the primary source of protein for this product. Also, several vitamins, minerals, and amino acids make this dog food undoubtedly healthy.

But the problem arises from whole grain corn and sorghum, chicken by-product, and caramel color.

As we have discussed above, these ingredients are harmful to dogs. So it is not considered good quality dog food.

Some pet owners have reported that their dogs have had digestive issues. It has happened after switching to IAMS Proactive Dry Dog Food Minichunks, such as upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Apart from the above issue, others reported that their dogs had allergic reactions to certain ingredients in the food.

The minichunks also have a strong odor that dogs don’t seem interested in, and they are so small that dogs have trouble chewing them.

2. Twin Pet – Adult Dog Food

Twin Pet - Adult Dog Food

The first ingredient of this food is yellow corn that, which makes it a plant-based food. This cheap ingredient reduces the manufacturing cost but increases the health risk of your dog.

Also, it includes wheat middlings, which is a by-product of wheat.

It contains little carbohydrates and acts as a harmful filler. Because they are inexpensive, carbohydrates help lower food prices while providing dogs with essential nutrients in the proper quantities.

High carbohydrate intake, however, can lessen the essential animal flesh protein and fat composition.

The second bad thing about the product is that no protein content is given. What kind of meat and in what proportion is used is not mentioned. So it is not a reliable food product for your dog.

3. Cesar – Filets Dog Food Trays

Cesar - Filets Dog Food Trays

The owner of this brand Cesar Felipe Millan has immense canine experience. And he knows well what dogs prefer to eat. So he produced this meat-based fillet dog food. But it is a business, after all, and the manufacturer has to take care of the cost-effectiveness. So, use as many fillers as possible.

This product contains wheat flour that has gluten. It is frequently used in dog food as a supplier of both protein and carbohydrates.

Nevertheless, certain canines may be sensitive to or allergic to gluten, resulting in gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Additionally, consuming gluten can harm the small intestines of some dogs who have celiac sickness or gluten sensitivity, which can result in malnourishment and many other health issues.

Also, there are meat by-products and artificial colors that make this food unhealthy for your dog.

4. Purina Dog Chow

Purina Dog Chow

I know you have raised eyebrows seeing Purina’s name on this list. It is one of the most affordable food brands out there.

Did you know that they can only reduce costs by using fillers as the main components of their brand, such as whole grain corn, wheat, and soy?

You may be impressed seeing real chicken written on the front of the package. But the ingredients list contains poultry by-products without mentioning the exact proportion.

Several artificial colors, flavors, and chemicals, which do not provide anything of value to your dog’s meals and are also never vital, can be found in this dog brand.

 So it is justified to include Purina in the list of dog food brands to avoid.

5. Kal Kan – Complete Adult Dog Food

Kal Kan - Complete Adult Dog Food

The prime ingredient in this dog food is yellow corn. Also, there are soybean meal, ground wheat, wheat middlings, corn gluten meal, etc. They are all low-cost fillers that offer zero nutritional value to a dog’s diet.

And the second ingredient that is primarily present in Kal Kan is meat and bone meal. This is also a controversial matter.

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Meat and bone meal is a foodstuff made from processed mammalian tissues. Especially bone, without any additional fluids, fur, paw, horns, clippings from trims of skin, excrement, stomach components, or intestinal elements.

Because the proportion and the condition of the meat used are not mentioned, such products cannot be suitable for your dog.

6. Gravy Train – Dog Food 

Gravy Train - Dog Food 

This is again a corn-based food and includes soy meal, wheat middling’s, and Wheat Flour. It provides meat & bone meal which is a source of protein but is not easily digestive for dogs.

The main issue with this product is the artificial beef flavor and red 40. Red 40 may be the most infamous inorganic food color because of its widespread use and negative reputation; nonetheless, it is contaminated with carcinogens.

Not only that, such colors are only added to please naïve consumers. Whichever color their food is doesn’t matter to your dog. Dogs can’t perceive colors as clearly as humans, and naturally colored dog food will turn brown when cooked.

Gravy Train deserves to be on this list for taking advantage of unknowing customers.

7. SPORTMiX – Wholesomes Medium Variety Dog Food

SPORTMiX - Wholesomes Medium Variety Dog Food

This dog food product is based on pea flour and includes comparatively better pea protein. Also, it contains chicken fat and pork meal as a good source of protein. But it is higher in carbs in proportion to protein.

And the main issue is again the use of artificial color. The product contains Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1.

There is much artificial color added, which is unnecessary and harmful. According to certain research, artificial color ingestion may be connected to behavioral issues in dogs, such as aggressiveness and agitation.

Additionally, some artificial colors have been linked to a higher risk of health issues, such as cancer and allergies. In contrast, others have been proven to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in animal research.

8. Pedigree Dog Food

Pedigree Dog Food

This is a well-known and popular dog food brand. But their products contain fillers, artificial colors, and meat by-products. Corn is listed as the main ingredient in some of the products. While corn may be excused as the third or fourth ingredient, it should never be the prime ingredient of any dog food.

Overall, Pedigree contains most of the ingredients that we have discussed negatively so far. Yet, Pedigree advertises itself as the best dog food brand to justify the high pricing of its products.

It may not be exceedingly bad for your dog, but it certainly does not fit the “premium dog food criteria.”

Also Checkout: 7 Best Fish Oil For Dogs In 2023 {Expert’s Choice}

5 Best Dog Food Brands We Recommend

We have discussed the harmful ingredients used in dog food. And the bad dog food brands that supply unhealthy products. But it doesn’t mean that healthy dog food is not available in the market. Many dog food brands supply healthy and nutritious food for your dog. Here is the list:

1. Wellness Dog Food

Wellness Dog Food
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It is one of the best dog food brands producing healthy and nutritious food for your dog. They offer protein-based dog food. Offering dry and wet food with boneless meat as their primary ingredient to ensure high levels of protein, Wellness Dog Food leaves all other brands behind.

And the products ensure a healthy source of protein from chicken, turkey, etc. Besides, products of this brand contain fruits and vegetables, ensuring the presence of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in the food. They use gluten-free grains as a source of carbohydrates. Flaxseed, which is a source of the essential Omega-3, is present as well.

In order to take it a step further, the products do not include artificial colors or preservatives. Wellness Dog Food has gained the trust of its customers without any cheap gimmicks.

2. Solid Gold Dog Food

Solid Gold Dog Food
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Solid Gold has been a premium dog food brand for over four decades. The brand is known for using high-quality, natural ingredients and avoiding artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. They also use a variety of protein sources, including bison, lamb, and fish. Many dog owners and veterinarians have reported positive experiences with Solid Gold dog food. The ingredients are considered high quality, and the company is renowned for producing nutritionally balanced and holistic dog food.

This brand uses premium quality protein sources in its products. Also, they ensure a natural source of vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables.

3. Eagle Pack Natural Dog Food

Eagle Pack Natural Dog Food
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The high-end brand called Eagle Pack Natural Dog Food stays away from including preservatives and additives, colors, and flavors in favor of using only the best organic ingredients in their products. They use a range of protein ingredients, including chicken, seafood, and mutton, and their meal is designed to satisfy the dietary requirements of dogs at all developmental stages.

Some of the product lines of Eagle Pack are AAFCO-approved (Association of American Feed Control Officials). This non-profit organization sets standards for pet foods. They produce flaxseed-based dog food, an excellent source of fatty acid, omega acid, and high-quality carbohydrates. This provides a healthy effect on your dog’s skin and hair.

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4. The Honest Kitchen

The Honest Kitchen
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The Honest Kitchen only employs components that are of a level of quality that is comparable to that of food meant for human intake. In addition, the company provides a range of gluten-free and grain-free choices. It may be advantageous for pets with food allergies or sensitivity to grains and give the animals unadulterated nutrients.

The best part is that you can customize that dog food to meet your dog’s needs. They offer various recipes, and you can choose the one that best suits your dog’s dietary needs. The special healthy recipes of this brand earned them a place among the top dog food brands.

5. Acana Dog Food

Acana Dog Food
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Acana is a premium dog food brand made by Champion Petfoods, a Canadian company. The brand is known for its unique ingredient selection and sourcing; they use regionally-sourced ingredients, all made in their kitchen.

The significant amount of protein in Acana dog food is well known for supporting muscle growth and preservation. It is formulated to mimic the diet of wild dogs, which means that it is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. The best thing about this brand is that they disclose everything in their ingredients list and recipe. You will know the name of the meat and the proportion that the product contains.  Also, they use a natural source of vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables.


How do you decide what brand is best for dog food?

You have to look at several things, such as whether the ingredients are organic and preservative-free. You should look at the product’s price, whether there is transparency in the nutritional content listed on the packaging, and what kind of reviews have been given to the brand. However, the pet’s breed, stage of development, and health should be the most crucial factors.

Should I make my pet food at home?

It depends on the individual pet’s dietary needs and the owner’s ability to provide a nutritionally complete and balanced diet. It is recommended to consult with a veterinarian or a professional nutritionist before making homemade pet food to ensure that the diet meets the pet’s nutritional requirements. Additionally, it is important to use safe food handling practices when preparing homemade pet food to avoid food safety issues.

Are pet food items labeled “premium” better?

The term “premium” is not regulated. It can be used to describe any pet food, regardless of its ingredients or quality. However, generally speaking, “premium” pet foods tend to use higher quality ingredients and have more strict standards for sourcing and manufacturing. They may also have specialized formulas for specific dietary needs or life stages. However, just because a pet food is labeled as “premium” does not necessarily mean it is the best option for a particular pet. It’s always important to read the ingredient list and understand the nutritional content of the food before making a decision.

How Should I introduce a new diet to my dog?

Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with the dog’s current food. Gradually increase the proportion of new food over the course of several days. Monitor your dog’s digestion and watch for any signs of upset stomachs, such as vomiting or diarrhea. Halt the change if the dog reacts poorly to the fresh diet and seek advice from a vet.

How can I tell if my dog has a food allergy?

 There are several signs that a dog may be allergic to their food, including:

Itchy skin: Dogs with food allergies often scratch, chew, or lick their skin excessively, which can lead to hair loss, redness and infections.
Digestive issues: Dogs with food allergies may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or gas.
Ear infections: Some dogs with food allergies may develop recurrent ear infections.
Chronic or recurring skin or ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues, can signify food allergies.

What traits distinguish a healthy dog?

A dog must have a glossy coating, sparkling eyes, and a clear, rosy tongue to indicate good well-being. They ought to be attentive and energetic, have a good diet, and keep their weight under control. They should also be free from signs of illness such as coughing, runny nose, or vomiting. Additionally, their skin should be free of any signs of infection or irritation, and their ears should be clean and free of discharge.

Conclusion on the Worst Dog Food Brands to Avoid

Now you have a clear idea about what kind of food is good for your dog and what is bad. In the article, we have included a list of dog food brands to avoid because they produce unhealthy products. We have also compiled a list of top dog food brands that offer healthy food for your dog. And we also have discussed in detail what makes a dog food product good or bad. So, now you can easily decide which dog food brand is the best for buying food for your canine friend.