BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Pets

The best dry dog food

Which dry dog foods are best?

The foundation of a happy and healthy life for your dog begins with the right food. Dogs require the proper nutrients and vitamins to support their specific lifestyle, age, breed and potential special needs.

Dry dog food is the preferred option for most dog owners, as it’s cost-effective, nutrient-packed and aids in dental hygiene. Hill Science Diet Adult Large Breed Dog Food is a comprehensive healthy option from a trusted brand that comes at a high price. With so many options available, and so many unique dogs, It’s important to take time to find the right dry dog food for your furry friend. 

What to know before you buy dry dog food


Most dry food focus on one of three life stages, including puppy, adult and senior. Puppies generally require more fat, protein and minerals, while senior food features fewer calories for less active dogs. It’s important to note that the puppy, adult and senior designation changes from breed to breed. Smaller dogs, like Jack Russell Terriers, may not enter the senior stage until 10 or 12 years of age, while large dogs, like Great Danes, may be considered seniors at 8 or 9 years old.


The extent to which your dog is active will influence the type of dry dog food they eat. These options tend to feature an active formula that provides calories and protein for working and adventurous dogs. Some dry food options may boast a serving guide that changes based on how active your dog is.


Dry dog food is offered in a wide range of sizes, from smaller packs around 5 pounds all the way up to large bags that may be 40 or 50 pounds in size. Owners prefer dry dog food since it can last a long time when properly stored, typically 2-4 months. If your dog consumes the whole bag within that time frame, and you are sure your dog enjoys that particular formula, it will be more cost-effective to buy larger bags provided you have the space for storage. 

Smaller dogs, as well as those trying something new, will be served well by smaller bags. These will also be easier to store as they will take up less space.

Special needs

Various dry dog foods specifically target special needs, such as weight management, joint pain, mobility issues or skin and coat concerns. These tend to come at a higher price than other formulas, but providing your dog with the help they need in their food may mean that you eliminate the need for frequent vet appointments and emergency visits that will cost much more.

What to look for in a quality dry dog food

Whole fruits and vegetables

Seek out recipes that boast whole fruits and vegetables, which will offer essential vitamins and minerals to your dog and help keep their diet balanced. Some options may include so-called superfoods, which are nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, including pumpkin, kale and blueberries.

Probiotics and antioxidants

Some formulas are reinforced with immune-boosting antioxidants as well as probiotics to help gut health and digestion. These are helpful for both adult and senior dogs, particularly older canines that may need assistance in absorbing vitamins and minerals.

How much you can expect to spend on dry dog food

Quality dog food tends to cost between $2 per pound, though buying large sizes will slightly reduce the per-pound price. Generally, more expensive options boast higher quality ingredients.

Dry dog food FAQ

What ingredients should be avoided?

A. Avoid those options that feature any artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. Most formulas will advertise this upfront. There are also common allergens that most owners may want to steer clear of, including eggs, soy, wheat and corn. There should be no sugar in the formula, either. Types of meat should be specifically identified, such as chicken, salmon, beef or lamb. 

Some dog owners want to avoid grains, though this is regularly contested, particularly by vets. Unless your dog has an allergy to grains, there is little to support eliminating grain from your dog’s diet.

How do I transition my dog to new dry food?

A. Introducing a new formula to your dog should be done over 10 to 14 days so that their stomach can adequately adjust. Mix in about 25% of the new food to the old formula in the first few days, adding a quarter of new kibble every 3 days while removing the equivalent amount of the previous recipe. Monitor your pet for reactions; some diarrhea may occur briefly, but any illness or irritation, including shedding, drooling or itching, that lasts more than a day can mean the food is not compatible.

What’s the best dry dog food to buy?

Top dry dog food

Hill Science Diet Adult Large Breed Dog Food

What you need to know: From a leading dog food brand, this specialized formula provides energy and an immune boost to medium size adult dogs.

What you’ll love: This is from one of the most trusted dog food brands, includes omega-3s, high protein and antioxidants, has an enticing aroma and is easily digestible.

What you should consider: It is one of the most expensive formulas available.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top dry dog food for the money

Diamond Naturals Premium Formula

What you need to know: This nutrient-rich formula provides balanced health coverage for various adult dogs.

What you’ll love: It’s a terrific value for a recipe that boasts antioxidants, whole fruits and vegetables and no artificial ingredients and it promotes healthy skin and coat.

What you should consider: The high protein diet is not ideal for less active, older dogs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Worth checking out

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

What you need to know: From a popular brand, this recipe features an array of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for a healthy balanced diet.

What you’ll love: This chicken and rice adult recipe supports immune function, mobility and healthy skin and coat. It’s free of gluten, soy and byproduct. It boasts whole fruits, vegetables and grains.

What you should consider: It’s rather pricey.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: