Recommended Dog Food Brands 2018




Formulas:  (Formulas are slightly different depending on whether they are made in the U.S. or Canada; check website.) Dry line: Puppy, Large Breed Puppy, Adult/Original (poultry based), 6 Fish (fish based), Regional Red (meat based), Senior , Tundra (contains less common proteins)

Freeze dried raw formulas: Adult, Regional Red, Tundra



 (Formulas are slightly different depending on whether they are made in the U.S. or Canada; check website.)

Regionals line:  Meadowland/Wild Prairie (poultry based), Pacifica/Wild Atlantic (fish based); Grasslands (multiple proteins); Ranchlands/Appalachian Ranch (meat based)

Heritage line (lower protein and fewer protein sources than the Regionals line):  Canada: Puppy Small Breed, Puppy & Junior, Puppy Large Breed, Adult Small Breed, Adult Large Breed, Cobb Chicken, Sport & Agility, Light & Fit, Senior Dog

America: Free-Run Poultry, Heritage Meats, Freshwater Fish

Limited Ingredients Formulas (Singles):  Lamb, Duck, Pork, Mackerel/Pilchard

NOTE: In Canada, there is also the Classics Line, which contains grain in the form of oats. Three formulas: poultry, fish, red meat)




Formulas: Duck, Lamb, Trout & Salmon, Rabbit, Whitefish, Turkey, Zssential (multi-protein)

Also has canned lines.



Wild Callings

Formulas: Rocky Mountain Medley line(multiple proteins), Western Plains Stampede line (single proteins): Beef, Turkey, Whitefish, Xotic Essentials line (novel protein): Bison, Rabbit, Kangaroo

Also has canned formulas.


WellMade  (Cloudstar)

Formulas: Kibble: Chicken, Lamb, Duck, Large Breed Chicken, Low-cal Chicken

Also makes several dehydrated raw formulas and canned formulas


Open Farm

Formulas: Kibble: Turkey/Chicken, Whitefish, Lamb, Pork, and Salmon formulas
Also makes freeze-dried raw formulas, treats, and "stew" type wet formulas.





Grain-free Formulas: Four Star line: Surf & Turf (salmon, duck, chicken); Beef Frittata Veg, Salmon Tunalini, Game Bird (duck, turkey, quail pheasant), Lamb & Lentil, Pork & Peas 

Healthy Grain Formulas: Four Star line: Pork & Applesauce, Duck & Sweet Potato, Chicken A La Veg, Whitefish & Potato, Salmon A La Veg ; Gold line: Adult Gold, Large Breed Adult Gold, Puppy Gold, Large Breed Puppy Gold, Senior Gold, all poultry based; Heartland Gold, red meat based. Gold Coast, fish based. Adult and Mature Adult Classics (both Classic lines contain chicken)




Grain-free Formulas (Now Fresh & Go! Fit & Free lines):  Now Fresh Puppy, Adult, Small Breed, Senior, Large Breed Puppy, Large Breed Adult, Large Breed Senior (all contain turkey, salmon, duck), Go! Fit & Free Puppy, Adult and Senior (all contain chicken, turkey, salmon)

Healthy Grain Formulas (Go! Daily Defiance & Summit Holistic lines):  Go! Daily Defiance Chicken, Lamb (both all life stages), Summit 3 Meat Puppy, 3 Meat Adult, 3 Meat Reduced Calorie (3 Meats contain chicken, salmon, lamb),

Limited Ingredients Formulas (Go! Sensitivity & Shine line): Duck, Salmon, Grain Free Turkey



Solid Gold

Grain-free Formulas:  Barking at the Moon (fish, beef); Sun Dancer (chicken)

Healthy Grain Formulas:  Hundchen Flocken Puppy, Hund-n-Flocken Adult (both contain lamb); Wolfcub Puppy, Wolfking Adult (both contain bison), Holistique Blendz Senior (fish), MMillennia Beef & Barley Adult, Just a Wee Bit Adult (bison)




Grain-free Formulas (Core line):  Puppy, Small Breed, Original, Reduced Fat (all contain chicken, turkey), Ocean (fish)

Note: New as of July 2018, the Complete Health line also has grain-free formulas. 

Healthy Grain Formulas (Complete Health):  Chicken, Lamb, Barley & Salmon Meal, Whitefish & Sweet Potato, Healthy Weight, Just for Puppies, Just for Seniors, Adult Large Breed, Puppy Large Breed, Adult Small Breed, Small Breed Healthy Weight, Small Breed Puppy (final 8 contain chicken)

Limited Ingredients Formulas (Simple Solutions line):  Duck & Oatmeal, Salmon & Potato, Turkey & Potato, Lamb & Oatmeal

Note: As of July 2018, the Complete Health line has LID formulas that are exactly the same as the Simple formulas. 




Grain-free Formulas (Legacy line):  Puppy, Adult (both contain chicken, salmon, turkey); Also has Amicus line for small breeds (turkey, chicken, salmon); Also has Pulsar line with peas, lentils, chicken and fish

Healthy Grain Formulas (Complete line):  Large Breed Adult, Large Breed Puppy, Puppy, Adult, Senior (all contain chicken)




Grain-free Formulas (Pure):  Sky (duck, turkey), Land (bison, lamb), Element (chicken, turkey, lamb, ocean fish), Sea (salmon)

Healthy Grain Formulas:  Lamb & Rice, Chicken & Rice, Beef & Fish, ALS (chicken, turkey, lamb, fish), Platinum Senior (chicken, turkey, lamb, fish)

Limited Ingredient Formulas:  Chicken, Brown & White Rice (Single Grain Protein)



Lotus (has a raw formula also)

Grain-free Formula:  Duck

Healthy Grain Formulas: Wholesome Chicken, Wholesome Chicken Puppies, Wholesome Chicken Seniors, Wholesome Lamb



Earthborn Holistic

Grain-free Formulas:  Primitive Natural (turkey, chicken, whitefish), Coastal Catch (herring, salmon, whitefish), Great Plains Feast (bison), Meadow Feast (lamb)

Healthy Grain Formulas: Adult Vantage, Puppy Vantage and Small Breed (all contain chicken and whitefish), Ocean Fusion (whitefish and menhaden fish)



Eagle Holistic Select

Grain Free Formulas: Adult & Puppy Salmon, Anchovy and Sardines

Healthy Grain Formulas:  Adult, Adult Small & Mini Breed, Puppy, Puppy Small & Mini Breed (all 4 contain anchovy, sardines, salmon), Adult Chicken Meal & Rice, Adult Duck, Adult Lamb, Senior Chicken & Rice, Large & Giant Breed Chicken & Oatmeal, Large & Giant Breed Puppy Lamb Meal & Oatmeal, Weight Maintenance Chicken & Peas



Holistic Blend

Grain Free Formulas: Turkey

Healthy Grain Formulas: Hollistic Blend (Lamb & Rice; Chicken, Rice & Vegetable) and The Healthy Dog (Chicken & Herring Meal)




Grain Free Formulas: Salmon Bleu, Viva La Venison, Le Lamb

Healthy Grain Formulas: La Porchetta (Pork, Limited ingredient)

**Also has raw dehydrated formulas**



Great Life

Grain Free Formulas: Buffalo, Chicken, Salmon; Pioneers Natural Grain Free Chicken, GF Pork, GF Venison and GF Whitefist

Healthy Grain Formulas: Buffalo, Chicken, Lamb, Salmon; Pioneers Natural Buffalo, Chicken, Pork Venison and Whitefish

Limited Ingredient Formulas (Dr. E's line): Buffalo, Duck; Grain Free Buffalo, Grain Free Duck




Grain Free Formulas: Lean (chicken, duck, herring), Aqualuk (salmon, herring), Salcha (chicken, turkey, duck), Manitok (lamb, venison)

Healthy Grain Formulas: Adult (chicken, 23% protein), Encore (chicken, 25% protein), Extra (chicken, 26% protein), Option (salmon and venison, 24% protein), Ultra (chicken, 32% protein), Small Breed ALS (lamb, venison, coming soon)



Nature's Variety (has a raw line also)

Grain Free Formulas: Instinct Raw Boost (5 formulas: chicken, beef & lamb, lamb & salmon, duck & turkey, venison & lamb); Instinct Originals (5 formulas: chicken, beef & lamb, duck & turkey, rabbit, salmon)

Healthy Grain Formulas: Prairie Dogs (6 formulas: chicken, beef, lamb, duck, venison, salmon); Puppy and Large Breed Puppy (chicken and brown rice)

Limited Ingredient Formulas (Instinct Grain Free line): Turkey, Lamb, Duck, Rabbitt




Grain Free Formulas (N&D line): Chicken, Large Breed Chicken, Small Breed Chicken, Wild Lamb, Wild Boar, Wild Herring

Healthy Grain Formulas (20% Ancestral High Protein line): Chicken, Lamb, Wild Cod




Harmony line: Grain-free Chicken, Grain-free Chicken Turkey & Salmon, Venison & Salmon (contains healthy grains) Melody line: Grain-free Chicken, Grain-free Chicken Turkey & Salmon, Lamb (contains healthy grains).



Grain free and healthy grain kibbles, also make canned food and dehydrated raw food.




Chicken Soup for the Dog Lovers Soul

Healthy Grain Formulas: Adult, Large Breed Adult, Senior, Adult Light, Puppy, Large Breed Puppy, Overweight (all contain chicken, turkey).





Honest Kitchen:


Ziwi Peak:

Stella & Chewy’s:

(S & C also has kibbles, including an LID line)


Tucker's Raw

Vital Essentials:




Rayne Clinical Nutrition:



** Brands that look okay but have had recent recalls or buyouts; still better than Iams, Nutro, Hills, and grocery store junk…..


Taste of the Wild (grain-free):

EVO (grain-free):

Innova (healthy grains):

California Natural (recommended for dogs with sensitivities):

Merrick (Before Grain is grain-free; 5-Star is healthy grains; Castor & Pollux is also owned by Merrick): |


Natural Balance (known for limited ingredient diets; merged with DelMonte 6/15/13):

Bravo (raw; more than one recall in last year):


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  • Are there any reviews yet on the frest/frozen delivered food like Farmer's Dog or other similar food?


    • There is no way for me to evaluate the Farmer's Dog food, because there is zero nutritional information available on the website. No ingredients, no nutritional analysis, nothing. Apparently, you must enter a profile for your dog and they "formulate" a food specifically for your dog. I wonder if they even give you the nutritional information after that, lol. I want to see that BEFORE I buy something. More importantly for the purposes of this group, I cannot recommend something if I don't know what it is.
      I also don't like that the food can only be purchased through them, and you are dependent on them for delivery. That's too risky for me, I have to know that I can have my dog's food today if I need it. And it must be kept refrigerated, but according to their website, don't worry if you're not home when it arrives, they pack it in dry ice. LOL
      What do people do if they board their dogs, or if they travel with their dogs? 
      If you want to feed your dog fresh food, there are all kinds of better ways to do that. Honest Kitchen has base mixes to which you add your own fresh meat, poultry or fish. Other companies have the same. Many companies make supplements meant to be added to your own homemade food to ensure that it meets your dog's nutritional requirements. These solutions are much more convenient and flexible, and probably much cheaper. Farmer's Dog doesn't even give you prices until you've gone through their profile process. The most they will tell you is that prices depend on the dog's size and other factors and start at $2/day. I imagine that's for a senior Chihuahua, lol. 
      So we will not be recommending this type of food here. Farmer's Dog says they will be eventually be bringing out a base mix similar to Honest Kitchen's. If they do, I will revisit.

      • Here's the reply I got from Farmers Dog. Let me know your thoughts!  Thanks!
        "We measure our food by daily calories and as sections of a pack because the natural moisture content in our food can vary which slightly affects the weight/density (but doesn't affect the number of calories).

        With cups, the amount of food that can be packed down into one can also vary pretty significantly, resulting in portions that aren't quite what we've calculated for each pup.

        Bentley's portions are currently 1/4 of a pack per day or 231 daily calories. This means that each pack contains a total of 924 calories. For more info on why we measure portions in calories, feel free to check out this article:​​

        Since our food is very nutrient dense and doesn't contain any fillers or unnecessary ingredients, the portions can be a bit smaller than what you're used to seeing in other brands and can take some time to get used to.

        That being said, I'm happy to increase Bentley's portions if you think he needs a bit more — just let me know by the 5 PM EST on 2/24 ​:)

        Please find our recipes' full ingredient lists and guaranteed analyses below.

        Let me know if you have any other questions!

        All the best,
        The Farmer's Dog | Support


        INGREDIENTS: Turkey, Chickpeas, Carrot, Broccoli, Parsnip, Spinach, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sea Salt, Fish Oil, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Choline Bitartrate, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

        GUARANTEED ANALYSIS: Crude Protein: 9% min. Crude Fat: 4.5% min. Crude Fiber: 1.5% max. Moisture: 76% max.

        AAFCO STATEMENT: The Farmer's Dog Turkey Recipe for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages, including large sized dogs (70 lbs. or more as an adult).


        INGREDIENTS: Beef, Sweet Potato, Lentils, Carrot, Beef Liver, Water, Kale, Sunflower Seeds, Fish Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sea Salt, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

        GUARANTEED ANALYSIS: Crude Protein: 11% min. Crude Fat: 8% min. Crude Fiber: 1.5% max. Moisture: 73% max

        AAFCO STATEMENT: The Farmer's Dog Beef Recipe for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages, including large sized dogs (70 lbs. or more as an adult)


        INGREDIENTS: Pork, Sweet Potato, Potato, Green Beans, Cauliflower, Pork Liver, Fish Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sea Salt, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid

        GUARANTEED ANALYSIS: Crude Protein: 9% min. Crude Fat: 7% min. Crude Fiber: 1.5% max. Moisture: 75% max.

        AAFCO STATEMENT: The Farmer's Dog Pork Recipe for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages, including large sized dogs (70 lbs. or more as an adult).


        INGREDIENTS: Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, Chicken Liver, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salt, Fish Oil, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid

        GUARANTEED ANALYSIS: Crude Protein: 11.5% min., Crude Fat: 8.5% min., Crude Fiber: 1.5% max., Moisture: 75% max.

        AAFCO STATEMENT: The Farmer's Dog Chicken Recipe for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages, including large sized dogs (70 lbs. or more as an adult)."


        • Okay, so 231 calories a day would be sufficient for a dog who weighs 11 lbs. I'm guessing Bentley weighs more than that. He would literally starve to death on this "plan" if he didn't get more than that. 
          Calories are calories, and a food being "more nutrient dense" and having less fillers would simply mean that it contains more calories in a smaller portion. An example would be: A cup of Orijen Original formula kibble contains 470 calories. A cup of Natural Balance Chicken & Sweet Potato formula kibble contains 387 calories. This is because the Orijen food is more nutrient dense and contains less fillers, so if your dog's daily calorie requirement is 500 calories per day, you would need to feed about a third of a cup more of the Natural balance than you would the Orijen. This is an example of how nutrient dense foods allow you to feed less. But you couldn't feed your dog half a cup per day of the Orijen food, lol, nutrient dense or not. 
          Their feeding amount is absurd.
          Next, they list "fish oil" as one of their ingredients. That's a red flag. We never recommend any food that contains unnamed animal meals, fats or oils. What kind of fish? They are not all the same. Worse, this usually means that the food varies from one batch to the next, because they are using whatever fish oil is available or cheaper. I'm thinking this may be why they don;t give any info on the Omega 3 content of the food, or the Omega 6:3 ratio. This is important information. 
          So, I would not recommend this food.  

          • Wow, this is disappointing. Aren't there any regulations to control what companies are doing on this.  Now I'm afraid to even use what I have in the freezer as a small topper. Thank you for this info!! 

            • Well, I wouldn't be afraid to use it as a topper, as long as you've already purchased it, lol. There doesn't appear to be anything unsafe in it. It's just not a great choice nutritionally as a dog's main food, particularly when there are so many other much better choices out there.
              As far as regulations on pet foods, there are not many, and that has loosened up even more under the current administration, which has rolled back more than 100 governmental protections on food, water, and other health related restrictions on corporations. Fortunately, we only have 5 more days until things hopefully start swinging back in favor of the consumer rather than the shareholders.  

              • I joined a facebook group that only allows vets to respond to questions - thinking there might be something interesting to read. I was very disappointed to see them recommend that "big 4" foods and justify that they have a vet nutritionist on staff and conduct food trials. I don't understand how they can discount the sourcing of those foods. Those brands really bounced back from killing so many dogs from melamine contamination. And I am almost positive they didn't stop buying ingredients from China. Purina Pro Plan seems to be the big recommendation these days. I can't forgive the lack of quality control that led to the death of thousands of dogs. I feel like people have a really short memory.

                • That "they have a vet nutritionist on staff and conduct food trials" comes directly from the Purina-Mars-Hills sales manual. (It's the "big 3" foods; Mars owns Royal canin as well as Iams) It's repeated over and over in the advertising, in the literature that the sales reps give the vets, and at the facility tours these companies invite vets to attend, all expenses paid. 
                  I don't know how to get it through people's heads that vets are not well educated on nutrition and should not be consulted on food. Dietary issues related to illness, maybe. Not brands, not formulas, not ingredients. 
                  It is exactly the same with our medical doctors. You work with doctors; one of these days if there ia an opportunity to chat about foods or diets with one, try it. I still remember my father once telling me that tomato juice was more fattening than orange juice, lol, and that hasn't changed. Read this for further proof, it's about a growing movement of doctors studying culinary arts just to learn about food.
                  Of course, the difference is that your doctor doesn't sell you food or recommend food brands. Make no mistake about it, when vets do, that is a clear conflict of interest, and that's not only my opinion. 

                  • I agree with you. And I don't think I'm gullible. I have a healthy dose of skepticism for things I read, even if sometimes I like to play devil's advocate. I do a lot of questioning. But I think the thing that gets me with this specific topic is how overwhelminingly they all say "We get no kick-backs. There is no incentive for us to recommend this food. We just feel like it's the best food." I want to be able to trust my vet. I would respect them saying that they don't have enough knowledge to make a professional recommendation, but here is their personal preference - and why. But they are using their credentials to push this food on people.

                    And I'm still reading from actual real life vets that grain-free causess DCM. We know there is not enough scientific evidence to make that claim. I'm so disappointed to hear them continue to spew that without data to back it up. Something is going on - maybe. But if what they are saying is true there should be many many more incidences than what they are seeing. 

                    And no, my vet and I don't talk about food. It's better that way.

                    • I'd be disappointed that the vet doesn;t even keep up with his/her own professional newsletters. That's pretty easy to do, skim through it while you eat lunch, lol. Because the verdict is in, and any vet who is still saying grain-free food causes or even contributes to DCM is simply not up to date on important issues in veterinary medicine, and therefore is not qualified to be advising patients on anything, IMO. 
                      Maybe ask them about THIS is that group:


                      Grain-free diet not linked to DCM in dogs, research review finds
                      Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs is largely an inherited disease and not the result of a grain-free or legume-rich diet.
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