The Best Affordable Dog Foods

High quality dog food can get 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.

Inexpensive food options tend to have more fillers in them. These low nutrition ‘foods’ are designed to keep your dog alive and pass minimal safety and nutrition standards.

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

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.

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?

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


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

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.

(Discounted at Amazon)

2. Science Diet


Science Diet is heavily promoted by veterinarians – most likely because they sell it at a very high markup.

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.

(See at Amazon)

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.

(Discounted at Amazon)

4. Canidae All Life Stages


Canidae is actually produced in the Diamond Dog food factories.  So it isn’t much surprise that the ingredient lists are similar.

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”).

(See at Amazon)

5. Taste of the Wild High Prairie


With Taste of the Wild you are starting to move to a more premium food, however this formula is reasonably priced.

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.

(Available at Amazon)

Tips for Getting Cheap Dog Food

  1. Buying in bulk saves you money on the per-pound price.
    The savings can be significant (as much as 30% cheaper).
  2. Look for sales where smaller packages are sold for less than big ones.
  3. 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.
  4. If buying from Amazon, you can get a 5-10% discount if using a monthly subscription.