dry dog food shaped like bones

Inexpensive Good Quality Dry Dog Foods

Your dog is your family and only deserves the best. But can you get “the best” dog food cheaply?

The very best can get insanely expensive.  There are some that we review that cost as much as people food (not necessarily a bad thing, if you have the budget for it!)

Inexpensive food options do tend to have more fillers in them — low nutrition food sources that are designed to keep your dog alive and pass minimal safety and nutrition standards — than the high-end ones do. This is especially important for large breeds who need joint support, breeds that are prone to kidney stones and aging pooches.

But what is a happy medium?  Are there some brands that you can trust when the money is tight?

The good news is that you can pick one of these quality options and continue to give your pet the nutrition it needs … for as little as $1 per pound of food.

In a lot of cases, these foods offer more nutritional value than some of the high-end foods (you might be surprised at how non-nutritious some of the top brands are).

Variation is The Key To Life

Just because you find a good dog food does not mean that your pup would not benefit from a little variety now and then.

Now you don’t want to do dramatic substitutions as that can lead to an upset tummy.

However, mixing in some different foods, or adding some human food — like well-cooked sweet potatoes — to their dish, can help offer your pet a well-rounded diet with some variety that brightens their day.

Cow bones are another excellent option. I like to get them fresh from the local butcher, when possible. They are less expensive and have more fresh marrow.

The Lie About Cheap Dog Food

Here’s the dirty secret that dog food companies don’t want you to know:

Their food is not optimal.

Many dog foods on the market right now use condemned meats and have barely enough nutrition to keep your dog alive and healthy.

Sure, they may fill the belly, and they can create heart-string-pulling ads for TV, but some of the top, most expensive brands, actually have more corn in them than they do meat and vitamins (often that corn was often rejected for human consumption).

Case-in-point Corn gluten — a byproduct of high-fructose corn syrup production — is commonly used as the primary source of protein in some of these brands.

Now doesn’t that sound healthy?

howling terrier catching dog snatch in the air

Here’s your insider tip: The most expensive, most advertised dog food is not always the best choice.

The trick is to read the ingredients and find a dog food that has meat as its first ingredient.

Real, whole food that offers a quality source of animal-based protein is what makes a healthy dog.

Too many dog foods use everything but that.

Tips For Finding Affordable, Good-Quality Dog Food

It’s a well-known fact that buying in bulk saves you money on the per-pound price. Generally speaking, you are going to get more per dollar when you buy a 50-pound sack over purchasing a 20-pound one.

However, sometimes you can find sales where smaller packages are sold for less than big ones.

Closeouts and short-run flavors are a great way to watch for this. Read the ingredients and do the math and see which one gives you the best value pound per pound.

In addition, if you buy your dog food from Amazon, you can sometimes use their monthly subscription service to get an even larger discount.

Below I review some of the best economical dog foods on the market.

Top Pick: Diamond Naturals Dog Food

This is one that I’ve had a lot of personal experience with.

To begin with, it uses some sort of 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 it more complete than a plant source of protein. 

In addition, as you read the ingredients, you’ll notice many other healthy additives — like flaxseed.  High in Omega-3’s and fiber, this is an ingredient you’d typically only find in top-level dog foods.

Traditionally Diamond has only been carried at the major farm feed stores and has long been a favorite in rural communities.  However, it is now offered at Amazon, making it easily available to everyone.  

Through the years they have created new formulas and flavors. They even offer a Grain-free option.

I’ve used it for a lot of years on all sizes of dogs.  They love it and they stay in tip-top shape.  If you are savvy enough, you can even find it for less than $1 a pound. Buy Diamond Naturals Dog Food

diamond dog food package

# 2 Pick: Science Diet

Science Diet is one of the best dog foods on the market.  In fact, it is one of the most-recommended dog foods by veterinarians.

Why?  Well, to begin with, look at the first ingredient.  Unless you are looking at the vegetarian version, you will see “chicken” or “beef”.  By comparison, Diamond uses “Beef Meal” and “Chicken Meal”.  By sticking to whole meets, Science Diet ensures that your dog gets the maximum nutrition possible from each bite.

Whereas Diamond Dog Food can be found for just shy of $1 a pound, you are going to barely cross that  $1 mark in order to get Science Diet. Buy Science Diet Dog Food

hill science diet package

#3 Pick : Premium Edge For Sensitive Skin

Most cheap dog foods are doing their best to just offer the bare minimum in the way of nutrition. (In fact, a lot of expensive dog foods are doing the same thing. )

The beautiful thing about Premium Edge is that they actually include high-end meats such as salmon and fish meal as their two main ingredients.  These rich in-omega-3 oil foods are a great way to give your dog a full range of nutrition while simultaneously feeding its coat.

And then, for filler, they use rich foods like Potatoes, Kelp, Blueberries, and Flaxseed.  It’s pretty impressive. If that’s not enough this food is fortified with vitamins such as Glucasomine for the dog’s joints and Taurine for their heart health.

I realize, you will pay a little bit more for this brand than you will for the other 2 that we have reviewed so far, but it is so much better, that, if your budget will allow, I have to highly recommend this option. Buy Premium Dog Food.

premium edge dog food package

Bonus Pick: Canidae Dog Food

Canidae is actually produced in the Diamond Dog food factories.  So it isn’t much surprise that the ingredient lists are a very similar.  The great thing about Canidae is that their dog food is very simply meat and grain.  No additives.

So if you have a dog with a sensitive stomach, this would be a great one to consider. However, it costs a little more, and I, frankly, would be more inclined to try Hill’s Science Diet for dogs with sensitive stomachs, since it is quite often recommended by veterinarians for exactly that reason.

But, if one of the other brands suddenly raises their prices, this is another high-quality dog food brand to consider. Buy Canidae Dog Food.

Any of these brands would be ideal.  The trick is to keep trying different brands until you figure out which one is the best cheap dog food for your family.

canidae dog food package