10 Dog food brands to avoid in 2023 [+5 we recommend]

A dog is the best friend of many people. Almost every pet-owning family treats their pet as a family member, no less. However, new pet owners might not know what’s the right thing to feed their dogs.

The tussle between homemade food and store-bought food is unending. Now, after considering all the points, if you zero down on commercially-manufactured food for your dog, your next task is to see what to consider and what to avoid. You would have many brands available in the market, each trying to surpass the other in advertising their products most attractively. The onus lies on you to judge which dog food would be a boon to your dog and which would be a bane. Read more to understand the dog food brands you must avoid. The article would also help you learn the significant factors in making a dog food brand worth avoiding.

What Makes a Dog Food Brand Worth Avoiding?

The ingredients are important in deciding which dog food brands to select and which to avoid. Not all kibble comprises components that best suit your dog’s health. Many would have unapproved dyes, colorings, and unhealthy fillers. Avoiding such brands of dog foods should be the first thing you need to do. When purchasing dog foods, don’t go for the ones with the ingredients mentioned below:

1. Presence Of Meat By-Products In The Food And 4-D Meats

Can you give your dog kibble that has meat by-products? Well, there is mixed opinion in this regard. Many sources say that meat by-products like liver and bones have more Vitamin A and calcium not found in muscle meat.

However, regarding nutrition and hygiene, nothing beats actual meat. Besides the bones and liver, the by-products can contain other leftover ingredients like the breast, spleen, lungs, and feathers. Leaving alone the nutrient content of the by-products, what could be more alarming is the hygiene issues associated with it. Is there any guarantee that the by-products aren’t just slaughterhouse wastes?

They could even contain the 4D meats – Dying, Disabled, Diseased, or Dead. You certainly wouldn’t want your dog to feed on the meat of diseased animals, those euthanized to death or killed on the road due to an accident or any other reason. Furthermore, when buying kibbles with meat by-products, you wouldn’t even know the exact source of the meat. So, it is best to avoid brands with meat by-products altogether.

2. Corn And Other Fillers

One of the marketing gimmicks followed by several dog food companies is to add ingredients like corn, soy, wheat, and several grains to the kibble. They often function as fillers. True, each one is of use to dogs when eaten in moderation. Like, corn contains vitamins, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. It helps prevent cell damage and ensures a healthy coat and skin. On the other hand, soy is alright for dogs without soy allergy.

Wheat also helps boost immunity and promote heart health. However, when so many fiber-rich ingredients are present in a single food source, it would pose digestive problems to your dog. As a result, your dog would feel full but may not get the balanced diet needed for his overall development.

Most ideal dog food combines meat, fruits, vegetables, and grains. So, when buying your pet’s food, don’t get tempted by brands high on calories. Instead, go for the ones with a combination of all essential ingredients.

3. Synthetic Ingredients

Do synthetic ingredients sound like jargon to you? To put it in simple words, artificial dyes and preservatives are often added to dog food to give it an outward appeal. But, save for the fact that they would attract your pet to the food immediately, these synthetic ingredients won’t benefit your dog in any way. On the contrary, they would do more harm than good, triggering allergic reactions and gastrointestinal distress. Some food dyes may even cause cancer in the long run. So you should avoid them and go for natural ingredients.

So, here we have a list of some dog food brands you should avoid.

Dog Food Brands We’d Avoid

When giving your dog store-bought food, it is important to choose wisely. You would get a lot of brands in the market with lucrative one-liners and showy packaging. Don’t fall prey to attractive covers. Instead, thoroughly research which dog food is good for your dog and which isn’t. Always remember that dog foods with preservatives and artificial colorings are a strict no-no for your pet.

Moreover, there are many things that your dog isn’t allowed to have, like onions, leeks, chives, and so on. So check the ingredients carefully before giving them to your pet. Also, your dog could be allergic to products like soy. In that case, you shouldn’t choose a dog food for your canine with soybean as one of its ingredients.

1. Gravy Train

Gravy Train

The most significant reason why you should avoid Gravy Train is that it contains the BHA preservative. BHA can cause cancer, as classified by the World Health Organization. In addition, the canned dog food brand manufactures products that contain food coloring, wheat flour, and animal fat. All of these ingredients degrade your puppy’s health, and you surely would not want that.

Additional listed ingredients include bone meal, soybean meal, meat. These ingredients are harmful to dogs, and they provide enough reason to put this brand on this list. Long story short, Gravy Train is a dog food brand to avoid because it does not contain sufficient nutritional ingredients for the strong growth of a dog.

2. Purina Alpo Come’ n’ Get It

Purina Alpo Come' n' Get It

Purina Alpo contains yellow corn, soybean, corn germ, bone, pork, corn gluten, preservatives, and animal digest. All these ingredients are harmful to your dog and shouldn’t be there in their diet.

The ideal dog food would have higher quality ingredients, lower salt content, and an absence of meat by-products to help your dog grow healthy and strong. Not only this, but this particular formula focuses on carbohydrates more than proteins, which should not be the case. Due to the reasons mentioned above, it certainly is dog food you should avoid.

3. IAMS Proactive Health Adult Chunks

IAMS Proactive Health Adult Chunks

Though the first ingredient you will see on the label is chicken, you would have to go through all ingredients to realize why it is on this list. First off, it contains cornmeal. Cornmeal is used as a filler. Next, it uses Chicken By-Product, which cannot be accounted for.

It also contains sorghum and beet pulp. Sorghum is another ingredient that provides low nutritional value to dogs, and beet pulp comprises high amounts of fiber by-products, which leads to weight gain. Thus, it is another item present on this list because of the nutritional value of the ingredients.

4. Twin Pet Dog Food

Twin Pet Dog Food

Twin Pet dog food is plant-based. A plant-based diet is not a good idea since dogs also require meat. Moreover, the first ingredient on the list is corn. Not the correct ingredient to be in the maximum amount.

Next, it has wheat middlings. For the unaware, wheat middlings are the by-product generated while milling wheat. Additionally, it also contains meat & bone meal, which, as discussed above, are harmful to your dog and harder to digest. Because of its high grain and preservative content, Twin Pet is on this list.

5. Kal Kan

Kal Kan

Kal Kan Dog Food might fulfill the protein requirements of your pet, but there are several red flags you might want to avoid. For starters, it contains corn. Of course, we probably would not have to say about corn now that nearly all items in this list would have it, probably as a filler.

Next, it has soybean meal, bone meal, and meat by-products. As a pet owner, you cannot pinpoint the animal (or animals) used for making this dog food. Lastly, it contains the BHA preservative, which makes it unfit for consumption, and thus an addition to this list.

6. Ol’ Roy Complete Nutrition

Ol' Roy Complete Nutrition

This brand is on this list because it contains traces of BHA preservatives, which, as talked above, facilitate the growth of cancer cells. Not only this, but it also includes poultry by-product meal, soybean meal, bone meal. By-products cannot be classified into the type of animal they are manufactured from.

Moreover, soybean meal, bone meal, and meat meal are generated using leftovers. So, it might be harmful to your pet if they are allergic to some specific animal.

7. Pedigree


Pedigree complete nutrition adult is a product that seems like meat-based dog food, but it isn’t. The first five ingredients include three plant-based nutrient sources (ground whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, and soybean meal). Unfortunately, these don’t provide enough nutrition to your dog.

Now, the protein sources are meat meal and bone meal, and there is no way of knowing which animal (or animals) were used for this product. Also, it contains artificial coloring, which harms your dog. Thus, even if it is affordable, you should avoid it.

Also Read : Puppy Feeding Tips And Tricks

8. Cesar Filets

Cesar Filets

Cesar filets have a significant hold on the market. It is present in many stores and is said to be an indulgent food for small dog breeds. The biggest issue with Cesar filets is the salt content. It has an extremely high amount of sodium. It puts your dog’s health at critical risk as they grow old.

Not only the salt but also the meat by-products used in its production raise eyebrows. With dog foods, meat by-products should be avoided if their source is not specified. Also, it offers fewer carbohydrates than the typical canned dog food, and the artificial coloring is not good either.

9. Kibbles’ N’ Bits

Kibbles' N' Bits

This dog food is heavily based on plant sources of nutrition. There is a high amount of corn and grains. This means that it is carbohydrate-based and not protein-based. That is not a good thing for a dog diet.

It also contains corn, wheat, and soy ingredients, that too, in unnecessarily large amounts, which are harmful to your dog in the long run. Also, there is corn syrup added to it. So, again, it is not nutritionally necessary, and if your dog is struggling with obesity, it will worsen the situation.

All these ingredients are used as fillers and have lower nutritional value than standard ingredients and proteins. Hence, it is dog food to avoid and is on this list.

10. SPORTMiX Wholesomes

SPORTMiX Wholesomes

SPORTMiX Wholesomes should not be your first choice when choosing dog food products. This is because it contains a lot of carbohydrates and relatively fewer nutrients than other brands (24% proteins, 13% fat, and close to 54% carbohydrates).

SPORTMiX Wholesomes should not be your first choice when choosing dog food products. This is because it contains a lot of carbohydrates and relatively fewer nutrients than other brands (24% proteins, 13% fat, and close to 54% carbohydrates).

These were the top 10 dog food brands you would want to avoid because their ingredients might not suit your dog.

Dog Food Brands We’d Recommend

Well, it’s not that all dog food products are harmful. On the contrary, some of them are very nutritious and beneficial, and we have listed five of them right here.

1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Dog Food
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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food is one of the best and most reliable dog food brands out there. They consistently manufacture high-quality products that are beneficial for your dog and help it grow strong and healthy.

It has chicken meat as its first ingredient, and that probably is the ingredient with the maximum amount. Real meat is beneficial for muscle growth in dogs since they act as a high-quality source of proteins.

Not just proteins, it also contains many ingredients that are excellent sources of antioxidants, kelp, carrots, blueberries, and sweet potatoes, to name a few.

One of the best things about this dog food brand is that it does not contain wheat, corn, or soy. It does not have artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives either. These ingredients prove to be harmful to your dog in the long run.

Some characteristics of this dog food are:

  • Chicken meat is the first ingredient.
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives have been used.
  • There is no wheat, corn, or soy present.
  • Several natural antioxidants are also present.
  • It’s made in the USA.

It is one of the best choices you can go with for a healthy diet for your dog.

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2. Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food
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This is another top-quality dog food product that can be trusted with your dog’s nutrition. This brand responsibly manufactures high-quality dog food that provides nourishment to the dog for ideal growth.

Its first ingredient is Water Buffalo, an excellent protein source. Lamb meal and Chicken meal come next, two other sources of high protein. These ingredients support your dog’s bones and joints and let them grow lean, strong muscles.

A rich mixture of vitamins and minerals from fruits and superfoods provides them energy to thrive and stay active all day. In addition, Omega fatty acids enable your pet to have healthy skin and coat growth.

This one has it all! No wheat, no corn, no grain, and no artificial flavors & colors are the standard features of high-quality dog food brands. Another nutrient that makes it better than others is the presence of antioxidants and prebiotics, along with K9 Strain proprietary probiotics, which are unique for every species.

Some characteristics of this dog food are:

  • Water Buffalo is the first ingredient.
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives have been used.
  • There is no wheat, corn, or grain present.
  • Several natural antioxidants, prebiotics, and probiotics are also present.
  • It’s made in the USA.

This is a good choice for all-rounder growth and diet fulfillment for your dog.

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Also Read: What To Add To Dog Food For Dry Skin: 15 Effective Ingredients!

3. Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Dry Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Dry Dog Food
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Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Dry Dog Food is a great dog food product. It has the perfect combination of nutrients if you are looking for superior muscle growth along with beautiful skin & coat.

It contains adequate amounts of high-quality protein obtained from wild salmon and without grains. It also has the perfect amino acid profile for lean & strong muscles.

Another plus about this dog food is that it uses premium-quality ingredients with some additional vitamins and minerals. In addition, the fatty acids help with a shiny and smooth coat & healthy skin.

It also has superfoods that facilitate antioxidants and a variety of essential hypoallergenic ingredients. But, unfortunately, it contains no amount of corn, wheat, or fillers.

It does not have artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, since it has been made with scientific food safety protocols.

Some characteristics of this dog food are:

  • Wild Salmon protein is the first ingredient, along with an all-natural list of other materials.
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives have been used.
  • There is no wheat, corn, or filler grain present.
  • It has a wide variety of natural antioxidants and probiotics.
  • It’s made in the USA.
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4. Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food
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This brand is a good choice if you’re looking for dry dog foods. The Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food is one of the best dry dog food products out there.

For starters, the first ingredient is beef. Farm-raised beef serves as an excellent source of protein. It is followed by beef meal, chicken fat, and other natural ingredients like peas and brown rice.

These natural ingredients are low in carbohydrates but high in fiber. Thus, they improve digestion and provide energy. In addition, beef supports healthy organs and helps in maintaining a lean muscle mass.

Meanwhile, chicken fat is a natural source of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, essential for healthy skin and coat. Along with all this, there is a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals added, vital for ideal growth.

Some characteristics of this dog food are:

  • Farm-raised beef is the first ingredient.
  • It contains Natural prebiotics that helps support healthy digestion.
  • No artificial flavors or artificial preservatives have been used.
  • No poultry by-product meal, filler, wheat, or wheat gluten ingredients have been used.
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5. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food
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Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food is a good choice if you’re looking for an all-rounder diet and good body growth. The first ingredient all of its variants contain is deboned meat (chicken, lamb, beef, or salmon), which fulfills the protein requirements of your dog well. Then, paired with brown rice, it helps in building and maintaining healthy muscles.

A good thing about this dog food is that it contains a blend of natural grains in the right amount. That facilitates supreme digestion. There is also a hearty amount of glucosamine and chondroitin. These aid your dog’s hips and joints by supporting them.

Omega-6 & Omega-3 fatty acids ensure that your dog has healthy skin and a beautiful, shiny coat. Vitamins and Minerals are also included in the mixture, which makes it a balanced diet.

Using these ingredients, Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food is manufactured. It does not use potatoes, peas, or lentils.

Some characteristics of this dog food are:

  • Deboned meat is the first ingredient.
  • It has a balanced blend of various grains.
  • It contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.
  • No Potatoes, peas, or lentils have been used.
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What ingredients should dog food have?

Good dog food has a balance of several essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, Omega-3 fatty acids, and much more. The components in dog food should be balanced to have multiple functions, like boosting a dog’s immunity, taking care of the skin and coat, and maintaining good heart health.

How can dog food be identified as good?

The dog food that meets most of your pet’s nutritional needs is categorized as good dog food. Complete dog food has minimum quantities of all necessary nutrients required by dogs. The kibble should have vegetables, meat, fruit, and grain as its primary ingredients that would suffice the dog’s need for vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbohydrates.


These are the five dog food brands we recommend. They provide nutrition and ideal body growth to your dog, along with a proper balance of all nutrients, without causing harm.

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