The Best Cheap Dog Foods
I grew up on a farm. We loved our farm dog, but my parents were more worried about keeping their kids fed, and yould buy the cheapest food possible for our dogs. Consequently, our dogs tended to have shorter lives.
When I was 8 years old we lost a beagle to kidney disease, and the veterinarian informed us that “old Roy” from Walmart was a poor choice of dog food and that it led to health problems. From a young age, I’ve understood that even cheap dog food must have good nutritional value.
The Highest quality dog foods can be insanely expensive (I’m looking at you Royal Canin Hydrolyzed… or Ziwi Peak Air Dried Lamb). If you dog has any kind of stomach issue, or allergy – your food bill will get expensive.
Cheap dog food tends to have more fillers in them. These low-nutrition ‘foods’ are designed to keep your dog alive and pass minimal safety and nutrition standards. However, they tend to create a nutritional deficit when used for a long period of time.
But what is a happy medium? Are there some brands that you can trust when the money is tight?
We have compiled a list of dog foods that we have found to be the most trusted.
One of these brands I have seen used for over 17 years to keep a farm dog happy and healthy. (More on that below!)
The Reality About Cheap Dog Food
Some dog foods on the market use condemned meats and have barely enough nutrition to keep your dog alive and healthy.
Some of them have more corn than meat and vitamins.
Now doesn’t that sound healthy?
The trick is to read the ingredients and find a dog food that has a high quality as its first ingredient.
Below I review some of the best economical dog foods on the market.
1. Diamond Naturals
To begin with, it uses a protein meal: lamb, beef or chicken. So your dog gets a goodly amount of real, animal-based protein.
Meat meal isn’t the highest grade source of protein. But its more complete than a plant source of protein.
There are other healthy additives – like flaxseed oil – which istypically only find in top-level dog foods.
Until recently Diamond was been carried at the major farm feed stores and has long been a favorite in rural communities.
Buy the biggest bag – and its typically less than $1 per pound.
2. Science Diet
Like Diamond, it is focused on a protein meal (lamb, chicken). If possible go for the chicken and barley – it uses straight chicken rather than chicken meal.
Whereas Diamond can be found for just shy of $1 a pound, you are going to cross that $1 mark in order to get Science Diet.
3. IAMs Proactive Health
Most cheap dog foods are doing their best to offer the bare minimum in the way of nutrition. These foods are a far cry from limited ingredient dog foods.
Iams is a fairly low-end brand, but this formula does have chicken as the first ingredient. However it is heavy on grain – so not the food for any dog with allergies.
4. Canidae All Life Stages
This formula has chicken meal, turkey meal, and lamb meat as the primary protein sources. The carbohydrate sources are better than previous foods listed, but you will pay a little more.
Look for the 44 lb size (the “big bag”).
5. Taste of the Wild High Prairie
The primary protein is buffalo, followed by lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, etc. At 32% protein and completely grain-free, this is a great option if you’re willing to pay up to $1.75 per pound.
Tips for Getting Cheap Dog Food
- Buying in bulk saves you money on the per-pound price.
The savings can be significant (as much as 30% cheaper).
- Look for sales where smaller packages are sold for less than big ones.
- Look for closeouts and short-run flavors
Read the ingredients and do the math and see which one gives you the best value pound per pound.
- If buying from Amazon, you can get a 5-10% discount when using their monthly subscription.