Worst Dog Food Brands to Avoid – 17 Worst and 15 Best choices

worst dog food brands

This is my detailed guide about the worst dog food brands in 2021.

If you don’t know anything about dog food, the huge supply can be quite confusing. You can come across dozens of brands when you go into a supermarket or shop at an online retailer. 

But which dog food should you choose and which shouldn’t? In my article, I will answer both questions. And how did I choose the worst dog food brands? Of course, I will answer that too.

I took a full day to find you the worst dog food brands on the market. And to make some balance in my article, I’ll provide you with some healthy and balanced dog food brands.

Let’s start!

Why you should trust me

Whether you’re experienced in dog and other pet topics or not, I’m sure you’re in the right place. I do my best to provide the best and most reliable information possible to my readers.

My name is Peter Laskay, and I have been a pet lover since I was a child. One of the most important places in my life is to gain as much knowledge as possible about pet care. And I want to pass this knowledge on to my blog visitors.

Should you have any questions at any time, feel free to contact me using the contact information on the website.

When should you avoid a dog food brand?

You may be wondering how to decide if a dog food brand is worth avoiding. Well, the answer is to be found in the ingredients. Unfortunately, many manufacturers don’t put enough energy into putting the right quality ingredients in their recipes. 

In many cases, questionable ingredients are fillers that are just empty calories. They do not provide any useful nutrients for your dog. However, there are worse ingredients. These can directly harm your dog’s health. 

Below are some examples of what to look for when choosing a dog food. You will know the sources of macronutrients, fillers, and chemicals that can make dog food poor or harmful.

Meat By-products and other questionable meats

Dog food production does not have as high requirements as human food. For this reason, many manufacturers use meat by-products as a source of protein. 

These are wastes left over from the animals at the slaughterhouse. Some say they are adequate protein sources, but I think the by-products are not suitable for feeding dogs.

Believe me, real meat is not only richer in nutrients but also tastier for your puppy. Another controversial source of protein is 4-D meats. These include euthanized domestic animals or meat from animals from the roadkill, for example. 

This sounds awful and carries several immeasurable dangers. You can’t want your dog to eat the meat of a sick animal.

The most worrying thing about it all is that manufacturers only write on the packaging that it is a meat by-product. You will not know the real source of that “protein source.”

Strive for wholesome meats or meat meals. The best animal protein sources are chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, duck, and fish.

Fillers

There are ingredients we call fillers. While they help dogs achieve a feeling of fullness, they don’t really have nutritional value. Examples of such fillers are wheat, corn, and soy. 

The fact that these ingredients are virtually empty calories wouldn’t even be that big of a problem. However, corn, wheat, and soy often cause tenderness and other health issues.

These fillers are very cheap. Corn, wheat, and soy grow very quickly and are easy to harvest. Therefore, these ingredients can greatly reduce the cost of producing dog food. In contrast, nutrient-rich, healthy, and complex carbohydrate sources are more expensive. 

Dog food containing fillers can also cause digestive problems, tenderness, allergies, obesity, and more serious health conditions.

Artificial ingredients

There are synthetic additives that have no place in good dog food. These include artificial colors, flavor enhancers, and preservatives. 

Dyes and flavor enhancers are not only harmful to dogs but also completely unnecessary. Think about it for a minute. Your pup won’t care how good the food looks. In terms of taste, all I can say is that if the food contains real animal meat and fat, it will be as desirable as possible for any dog.

Dog food needs to be preserved in some way to increase shelf life. However, synthetic preservatives are very harmful. They can cause different sensitivities and allergies in dogs. Fortunately, there is a natural solution. Mixed tocopherols are excellent for this purpose. However, they are also safe.

Worst dog food brands to avoid

  • Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food

  • Cesar filets dog food trays

  • Kal Kan complete adult dog food

  • SPORTMiX Wholesomes Medium Variety

  • Twin Pet Adult Dog Food

  • Purina Dog Chow

  • Gravy train dog food

  • Purina Beneful dog food

  • Ol’ Roy Complete Nutrition Dog Food

  • Pedigree dog food

  • Diamond dog food

  • Kibbles ‘n Bits Dry Dog Food

  • Blackwood 1000 dog food

  • Purina Alpo

  • Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original Dog Food

  • Wegmans Bruiser Kibble Variety Mix

  • Great Choice Complete Nutrition

Below I have compiled a list of the worst dog food brands for you. I’m also going to write here about why I think these recipes are worth avoiding. This list and order are, of course, subjective. I don’t want to infringe on any brand. I am just describing my opinion on products and ingredients. 

Don’t worry. My article isn’t just about that. After the section, you will find a list of the best dog food brands. I suggest you check it too.

Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food

worst dog food brands iams

The primary ingredient and the main source of protein in this dog food is chicken. This in itself is not a problem, as the chicken is very high-quality meat. 

The problem is with the second ingredient, which is cornmeal. As I mentioned above, corn is a highly questionable cheap filler in dog food. The manufacturer saves a lot with it, but its nutritional value is not much. This is bad news for your dog. 

Not to mention that many canines trigger sensitivities, allergies, or various digestive problems. Sorghum, mentioned as a third ingredient, tends to be included in dog food as a similarly inexpensive filler. However, it is also gluten-free and has a low glycemic index. This is definitely a plus point.

The fourth ingredient is chicken by-meal. By-products are sources of protein that can contain any part of a dead animal. Bone, skin, beak, internal organs. Almost anything except the plumage. Although meat by-products have protein content, they cannot be considered a suitable source of protein. 

The fifth ingredient is beet pulp. It is a by-product of sugar beet processing. Its fiber content is very high. 

So overall, you can see that although this product has the right amino acid profile, it is not considered good quality dog food.


Cesar filets dog food trays

There are many flaws in the ingredients of this food. The most serious mistake is high salinity. Dogs are much harder to bear high salinity than humans. In addition to dehydration, this can have several other health disadvantages. 

But there are also harmful ingredients in this food. Examples are wheat gluten and wheat flour. They are also considered fillers and contain gluten. And then there are the meat by-products and dyes. I have already mentioned the by-products. They are worth avoiding because they are not the ideal sources of protein. 

Dyes can be harmful to the health of dogs. Plus, they’re completely unnecessary. Your dog will not be interested in the color of the food achieved.


Kal Kan complete adult dog food

worst dog food brands kal kan

I also put this product on the list because of its questionable ingredients. They are either not rich enough in nutrients or can be harmful to dogs. 

I have already mentioned corn several times in this article. It is an inexpensive cereal that is a filler and can also be harmful to dogs. 

The second ingredient is meat and bone meal. The latter, although it may contain useful nutrients, has lower digestibility than real meat. Besides, it has a low amino acid content and high ash content. Meats are good in the product anyway (cattle, pigs, goats, or sheep) but are not well defined. 

The third ingredient is soy meal. Soy, like corn, tends to be a cheap filler in dog food. Soy meal is quite high in protein, but obviously, it has a weaker biological value than meats. So don’t be confused if the product is high in protein. 

The fourth ingredient is wheat. It has similar properties to soy and corn on the one hand and contains gluten. This is especially harmful to sensitive dogs. 

The fifth ingredient is the chicken by-product, which I have written about several times, that it is not the most preferred protein source in dog food. 

Looking at the ingredients, I do not recommend considering this product.


SPORTMiX Wholesomes Medium Variety

worst dog food brands wholesomes

Sportmix products are of acceptable quality, and this brand also produces dog food at an affordable price. (I also wrote a detailed review article about the Sportmix brand.) 

Unfortunately, this product is not acceptable. The proportion of macronutrients is approximately 25% protein, 6% fat, 10% moisture, 5.5% fiber. The rest are all carbs, which I think is a bit much. However, what is more, worrying is the added colors. On the one hand, they are unhealthy, and on the other hand, they are completely unnecessary for dog food.


Twin Pet Adult Dog Food

worst dog food brands twin pet

It is worrying that plant-based food is listed as the very first ingredient in dog food. Well, that’s the case with the Twin Pet product. 

The very first ingredient is ground corn. This is a somewhat questionable and controversial source of carbohydrates for dogs. On the other hand, it is cheap, and therefore many manufacturers put it into their product. 

The second ingredient is Wheat Middlings. This is a by-product left over from the processing of cereals. From here, you can guess that its nutritional value is not very high. However, it is also very cheap. If you want to give your dog everyday food, you should avoid any product that has wheat listed on it. 

Although the meat and bone meal listed as the third ingredient contain nutrients, their digestibility is lower than that of real meat.

And unfortunately, that’s not all. The amount of animal fat and salt is not specified on the packaging. I would definitely avoid this dog food brand.


Purina Dog Chow

worst dog foods purina dog chow

It’s hard to believe that a Purina product is on such a list. This brand was launched in 1893. It represents several product lines and is currently one of the most famous pet food industry companies. However, unfortunately for Dog Chow, I still say it’s better to avoid it. I have a reason for that. 

The manufacturer has added ingredients such as wheat, soy, and corn to this product. These are all cheap fillers and can even be harmful to your dog. Also, corn is the primary ingredient in this dog food, which is not very reassuring. 

And then I didn’t even mention artificial preservatives and dyes. Don’t be fooled by the Purina name and the special price. Do not buy this dog food.


Gravy train dog food

worst dog food brands gravy train

Let’s look at the first 5 ingredients of this dog food. Corn, Soybean Meal, Meat & Bone Meal, Wheat Middlings, and Animal Fat. It is clear from this that it contains things that are harmful or questionable for dogs. The other problem is that it does not provide adequate nutrients. 

I have already written about corn, soybean meal, and wheat middlings. These are inexpensive fillers that have inadequate nutritional value. Besides, many dogs are sensitive to them. Wheat middlings contains gluten. For this reason, this recipe is especially harmful to sensitive dogs.

 Meat and bone meal contain useful nutrients, but their digestibility is not ideal. The most worrying thing about this dog food is the artificial colors and preservatives. If you see such ingredients in the chosen dog food, be sure to avoid it.


Purina Beneful dog food

dog foods to avoid purina beneful

Unfortunately, for another dog food made by Purina, I have to say it doesn’t live up to my expectations. Beneful has been around since 2001. 

This brand offers several types of dry and wet dog food for canines. However, looking at the ingredients in the recipes, I am not satisfied. Although it contains real meat, it has plenty of fillers in it. 

Almost all Beneful products contain wheat, corn, and unspecified meat by-products. Undoubtedly, this is the most positive brand on my list so far. But I think it’s better to choose something different for your dog because of the ingredients mentioned above.


Ol’ Roy Complete Nutrition Dog Food

dog food brands to avoid ol roy

Ol ‘Roy, manufactured by Mars Group, is a trendy dog food brand in America. Still, I was forced to put it on the list of the worst dog food brands. 

This is because the manufacturer puts cheap fillers in the recipe. Examples include wheat, corn, and soy. These have very little nutritional value and can cause negative reactions in many dogs. 

And that’s not all. This dog food contains inexpensive meat by-products and artificial ingredients such as flavor enhancers. 

And then, what makes this dog food so popular? The answer is that it is very cheap. I always tell you not to try to save on dog food.


Pedigree dog food

Mars manufactures pedigree. It also offers wet and dry food and treats. The brand pays great attention to making food for dogs of all ages and sizes. Unfortunately, however, this attention can no longer be said about the ingredients. 

In many Pedigree recipes, the primary ingredient is corn. It is a grain that can be harmful to dogs’ digestion, and its nutritional value is not adequate either. Besides, many recipes contain additional carbohydrates, fillers, by-products, and artificial ingredients. 

The reason why this brand has become famous is still to be found in the price.


Diamond dog food

worst dog food diamond

This Diamond dog food is poor in nutritional value and full of questionable fillers.

Examples are wheat, corn, and soy. Also, unnamed meals and meat by-products occur among protein sources. 

Although Diamond dog foods usually do not have artificial ingredients, I would still recommend choosing something other than the brand.


Kibbles ‘n Bits Dry Dog Food

bad dog food brands

Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food is also quite popular as it is very cheap. On the other hand, cheapness is always a red flag for me. That’s when I know it’s worth looking into the recipe. 

This formula was not accidentally included in the list of the worst dog foods. Looking at the ingredients, you can see that the essential nutrients that are essential are missing. Also, we can find harmful ingredients such as wheat, corn, and soy. 

Besides, corn is the primary ingredient, although the brand promises delicious meats to our dog. I think that’s why you better avoid this brand.


Blackwood 1000 dog food

bad dog food

At first glance, this dog food seems to be of good quality. The price is also in the medium category, and the packaging is also nice. However, it can soon be seen that, for example, its protein content is unsatisfactory. The 23% is not terrible, but there are plenty of products with higher protein content in this price range. 

Corn is the second ingredient on the list. I have already written about corn that it is not the healthiest ingredient for dogs. However, this product contains ingredients that contain GMOs. This is harmful not only to human health but also to dogs.


Purina Alpo

worst dog food purina alpo

Based on the ingredients, I definitely wanted to rank this product among the worst dog foods. Corn and soy are inexpensive fillers that have more disadvantages than advantages. Also, corn is a primary ingredient. 

However, you should be aware that there have been many complaints about Purina Alpo dog food. Many customers report that their dog has died or become ill from this brand. The FDA has begun an investigation into the matter.


Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original Dog Food

worst dog food brands

If we accept the fact that we need to pay attention to dogs’ diet, then this is exponentially true for puppies. This IAMS product has the term Health Smart, but unfortunately, that’s not so true.

The product contains some questionable ingredients. Examples are corn, and various meat by-products, and other fillers. But that’s not the most worrying thing about this dog food either. There have been complaints about the formula that it can cause digestive complaints. Experts also confirmed this.


Wegmans Bruiser Kibble Variety Mix

worst food for dogs

This dog food is very cheap, so you can guess that its quality is not very good. This is also confirmed when we look at the list of ingredients. It contains artificial substances that are very harmful to the health of dogs.

Examples include BHA, xanthan gum, BHT, and various dyes. If you want to ensure the right quality for your dog, look for another option.


Great Choice Complete Nutrition

This dog food is made by one of the largest pet food companies, PetSmart. Great Choice offers food for dogs of all sizes and ages. It is available almost everywhere and can be purchased at an affordable price. 

Seeing the ingredients, you will soon be struck by the fact that this product contains everything a lower quality dog food is used to. Examples include soy, wheat, and corn. Unnamed bone meal and poultry fat are also not among the most reliable ingredients. 

It can be clearly seen that this dog food does not provide enough nutrients for dogs. It has plenty of fillers and even added artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives to the manufacturer.


I don’t want this article to be just about the worst dog food. For this reason, as I promised, here is a list of the very best dog food brands. 

Having a dog is a beautiful thing and a lot of fun. However, you need to know that a healthy, long, and happy time spent together is based on proper nutrition. This is why you should give your doggie the best. 

Of course, it is impossible to analyze all the right brands in the world in one article. However, if you choose food for your dog from the list below, you will definitely not make the wrong decision.

It is important to note that the following list is not in order. So the first product is not the best, and the last is not the worst among the “best dog foods”.

Solid Gold Dog food

I like Solid Gold dog food because they have a lot of natural and nutritious ingredients in them. There are fresh fruits and vegetables, for example. Kelp, spinach, carrot, cranberry, blueberry, pumpkin, and apple contain essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that your dog desperately needs. 

Proteins are of premium quality and well digestible. Other useful ingredients can be discovered in the recipes. Examples include rosemary, peppermint, and thyme. Not only do they make food tastier, but they also have a positive effect on health. 

Solid Gold products are free of artificial chemicals, dyes, preservatives, and flavors. Be sure to consider this brand of dog food when choosing.


Eagle pack dog food

It was no accident that this brand came on this list. I have dedicated a separate article to Eagle Pack because I believe it produces outstanding quality products. It provides proper nutrients to the body of dogs, without any fillers and artificial ingredients. 

The ratio of macronutrients in the recipes is just ideal. The manufacturer also makes sure that antioxidants and omega fatty acids are included in all dog food. 

Protein sources are of good quality and highly digestible. Carbohydrate sources are grains that are also easily digestible and contain enough fiber. The latter further supports the digestive system of dogs. 

The added flaxseed also contains omega fatty acids but is also an excellent source of fiber. In addition to the excellent ingredients, you don’t have to be afraid that Eagle Pack products contain questionable things. They do not contain fillers, artificial additives, flavors, dyes, and preservatives. This is a highly recommended brand.


Wellness Dog Food

Wellness is undoubtedly one of the best brands when it comes to pet food. I have an article comparing Wellness and Blue Buffalo. Wellness recipes include high-quality protein sources such as chicken, chicken flour, turkey, and more. 

Almost all foods contain vegetables and fruits. These are needed because of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. 

Carbohydrates are generally not grain-free, complex, and gluten-free. Wellness dog foods contain adequate amounts of fiber and omega fatty acids. The former supports digestion, the latter supports skin and coat health.


The Honest Kitchen

The Honest Kitchen brand is famous for trying to make the healthiest products possible. The primary ingredient in every recipe and the main source of protein is always some real meat. This, in itself, is very positive. 

Carbohydrate sources are usually not grains and are gluten-free. The manufacturer also pays attention to the inclusion of vegetables and fruits in its products. So every The Honest Kitchen recipe contains the right amount of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. 

The manufacturer also adds these micronutrients to foods. Your dog will definitely not have a problem with his health if you buy these products.


Canidae dog food

Canidae dog food is of excellent quality, so it is on this list. Like The Honest Kitchen, these recipes contain high-quality ingredients. This is most evident in the fact that every dog food has real meat, in some cases, more. 

Carbohydrate sources are generally not grains and gluten-free. The omega fatty acid content of the products has a good effect on dogs’ skin and hair. 

Minerals are chelated, which means that absorption will be better, which will have an even better effect on overall health.


Taste of the Wild dog food

Taste of the Wild produces high-quality grain-free food for dogs. These products have all the positive features. 

Carbohydrates and proteins are well digestible and provide all the useful nutrients for canines. 

Quality sources of protein, such as buffalo and salmon, can be found. Carbohydrate sources include sweet potatoes, potatoes, and various legumes. Added fruits, fiber, and probiotics make every dog healthier.


Acana dog food

The first few ingredients in any Acana recipe are real meat or meat meal. These meats are all named. You take what is written on the recipe. Also, Acana dog food is grain-free and contains easily digestible nutrient-rich carbohydrate sources. 

They do not contain fillers or artificial ingredients. The added fruits and vegetables provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Consider this brand when looking for dog food.


Dr. Harvey’s dog food

Dr. Harvey’s is a relatively new brand, but the above-average quality is immediately reflected in his prescriptions. Freeze-drying is a process that allows the nutrient content of meats and other ingredients to be easily preserved. This procedure is used by Dr. Harvey’s in the preparation of his products. 

In addition to high-quality meat, these products contain complex and easily digestible carbohydrates. Besides, vegetables and fruits can be found among the ingredients. Therefore, the health of your dog will also be ensured. 

With all of this in mind, I think this brand of dog food is highly recommended.


Merrick Dog Food

In all Merrick dog food products, the primary ingredient is some real meat. The most commonly used carbohydrate sources include Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, and Peas. Not only are they complex and nutrient-rich, but they are well digested. 

The company does not use artificial preservatives. Tocopherols are used for this purpose, which is also rich in vitamin E. The added fruits and vegetables ensure the health of your dog’s overalls. 

All Merrick dog food has an omega fatty acid content, which has a good effect on skin and coat health.


Orijen Dog Food

Orijen is a deservedly popular brand in the pet food industry. It offers wet and dry food for dogs of all ages and activities. Each recipe contains real meat such as chicken, turkey, or beef. 

But there may also be fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids among protein sources. The omega fatty acid content is important because it can have an excellent effect on the health of dogs’ skin and coat. 

The other ingredients also have a positive effect on overall health. The added fresh vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

The carbohydrate sources of Orijen products are usually gluten-free or grain-free. Examples are legumes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. Besides, they contain fiber, which, together with the added probiotics, maximally supports the digestive system’s health.


Nutro dog food

If you want a nutritious and balanced diet for your dog, be sure to consider Nutro products. Each recipe contains delicious real meat and the best possible for muscle building and healthy bodily processes. 

Healthy carbohydrate sources such as oats promote the digestive system and are rich in nutrients. Besides, there are carbohydrates in Orijen products such as brown rice or sweet potatoes. None contain gluten, but they do contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. 

Besides, the company does not use artificial ingredients that could harm your dog’s health. So these products are not only delicious but also healthy.


Dogswell 

Dogswell founder Marco Giannini has realized that proper nutrition has some positive effects on dogs’ health. This is also reflected in the composition of Dogswell products.

All recipes are made exclusively from natural and genuine ingredients. Also, they contain added vitamins and minerals to support the dogs ’immune system further. And, of course, they don’t contain any artificial ingredients.


Evanger’s dog food

In addition to those listed so far, Evanger’s is a lesser-known brand. However, that doesn’t mean it would be of lower quality. The manufacturer strictly ensures that all its products meet the requirements of AAFCO for dogs. 

Usually, some sort of named real meat is the main protein source for any Evanger’s dog food. This is followed by some quality carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and so on. These recipes do not contain substances harmful to dogs. 

You can see that this brand is rightly on my list of the best dog food brands.


Natural Balance dog food

Natural Balance dog foods offer exactly what the brand name means. Natural ingredients and a balanced diet. Therefore, this dog food brand could not be left out of my list. Most recipes contain limited ingredients. This is very positive for sensitive dogs. 

These foods also contain easily digestible, grain-free carbohydrates. In addition to quality protein, carbohydrates, and fat sources, there are also added vitamins and minerals in Natural Balance dog foods.


Earthborn Holistic dog food

Earthborn Holistic dog foods are high in protein and provide all the canines with the nutrients they need. They contain high-quality protein sources such as Lamb meal and Bison meal.

They are easy to digest and full of useful amino acids that are essential for muscle building. 

Most Earthborn Holistic recipes also contain egg white, which has a very high biological value. 

The added fruits provide the right levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Examples of such fruits and vegetables are peas, apples, blueberries, carrots, spinach, and cranberries. If you want to choose a healthy dog food, you can feel free to consider this brand.


Final words

If you love pets as much as I do, you know very well that they are exactly like family members. This is why you need to provide the best possible diet for your dog. 

You cannot be satisfied with the average, especially below the average. That’s why you need to avoid the worst dog foods and brands. 

I am confident that my article has helped you recognize the worst dog food brands. Choose something better that is sure not to harm you or your dog.


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Peter Laskay

Peter Laskay

Hi there, my name is Peter Laskay and I am the person behind this site. I’ve been a fan of pets since I was a little kid and want to help people with similar interests. I want everyone to be able to provide the most appropriate care for pets.