What is Dry Dog Food?
Getting the right dry dog food for your dog can seem a bit daunting when there are so many dog food brands around on pet shop shelves, all offering you more or less the same thing. The ‘best’ dry dog food is quite a subjective concept, considering that all dogs are unique with potentially very different nutritional requirements. Added to that, the growing number of dogs that suffer from some sort of food allergy or intolerance, finding the right dry dog food may be a case of trial and error until you find what is best for your beloved pet.
You will find there are hundreds of different dry dog food brands available online. The United Kingdom is home to some of the best dog food brands available in the world. So what’s the best dry dog food brand?
We cannot guarantee that our list of top 10 dry dog foods will contain the exact requirements for every dog breed, but we have researched the market to bring a selection of the best selling and well loved dog food brands as bought and rated by real customers. As with any review you read, the choices will differ, and therefore we recommend that you make an informed choice, possibly with your vets help especially if your dog has particular health needs.
We have chosen ‘complete’ dry dog foods which are made with the aim of fulfilling your dogs’ nutritional needs, however check the ingredients and nutritional information of each food before choosing the right food for your individual pet.
In doing our research, we’ve also tried to highlight some of the smaller UK companies and independent brands as well as larger commercial brands of pet food. There is such a wealth of choice nowadays.
Here are our top 10 best dry dog food brands on sale in 2020.
Best Dry Dog Food UK
For your dog to stay healthy a complete dry dog food will do the trick as it provides various nutrients without adding any supplements. The right dry food for your dog will have the required level of calories considering the health requirements for him.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach or is allergic to various food types you can give it special dog food to cater for this. Dry dog food can be used as a treat for training. Check our article on Dog cameras for more insight into this. If your dog is a slow eater dry dog food is healthier as it is not prone to spoilage because of staying for long in the feeding bowl. The only precaution is plenty of water should be available for dogs on a dry food only diet to quench their thirst.
They are various varieties of dog foods with tasty and balanced recipes with vital nutrients for your dogs needs. We know that good nutrition is vitally important, so we have come up with a variety of dry foods that are tasty (as verified by satisfied pets!), healthy and well balanced.
Some terms about meat used in dry dog food
From researching the pet food market, we learned about the types of meat product used in pet foods. These terms might help guide your decision making process with regard to the type of meat product you wish your pet to consume:
- Whole/natural meat – meat in its whole form. It has not undergone a rendering process. It is limited to the muscle and attached skin/bone. Whole meat contains a lot more water than meat meal (65-70%), which gets removed during cooking. It may result in a comparatively lower protein content than using meat meal, and you may see concentrated vegetable proteins used to increase overall protein content in the end product. However, many dog owners would prefer to know that fresh whole meat products were used in the manufacture rather than a dried powdered form.
- Meat meal/rendered meat – meat meal is the dry end product of the rendering process. Rendering meat involves the cooking of the meat product to remove micro-organisms and parasites, applying pressure to remove fats from the protein and solid bones, and grinding into a dry powder that is the end product used in pet food.
‘Meat meal’ is generally the parts of the animal that are not for human consumption – organs connective tissue and blood for example. This may be up to a third of an animal and therefore using it does reduce waste in the food industry while producing a safe meat product for our pets.
The advantage of meat meal is that it becomes a concentrated source of protein because it contains only 5-7% water, so much less is needed in the making of dry dog foods. It may therefore not be the number 1 product on the ingredients list for this reason.
Meat meal, for example chicken, may be listed as ‘dried chicken’, ‘chicken meal’, ‘dehydrated chicken’, or ‘rendered chicken’.
‘Meat meal’ which doesn’t specify an animal, can come from ‘any species of warm blooded land animal’.
Ultimately, it is your choice to decide whether you are happy for your pet to have this concentrated source of protein in their complete dry dog food, or whether you would prefer to source products made from whole meat.
Grains or grain free?
As we’ve mentioned, more dogs are suffering food intolerances. Grains are a common contributor, and many companies are now producing grain free foods. Bear this in mind when making your choices.
From our research and experiences, we came up with a great selection of the 10 best dry dog foods with affordable prices that considers the nutritious needs of your dog, focusing on adult dogs in this article. If you are looking for puppy specific food take a look at our article on best dry puppy food here. We came up with an assortment of tasty dog food recipes that offers the balanced and dietary needs of your dog.
To save you some time we’ve created this handy table with our top pick for every category.
1. Pure Pet Food – Wholesome Chicken
In recent years, the demand for ultra high quality dog food has certainly increased. We are more aware of what we are feeding ourselves and our pets too. The pure pet food brand was born out of the question ‘would you feed your pet anything you wouldn’t eat yourself’. In a short space of time, Pure pet food has gone on to win awards, and creates high quality, human grade revolutionary freeze dried pet food from their facility in Yorkshire. Pure pet food is human and animal food authority certified, and PETA approved.
Pure have a range of tasty complete dinners, for example let’s look at Wholesome Chicken.
A single source protein meal which is grain free, chicken dinner contains 25% fresh chicken (equivalent to a dry kibble of 60% meat), potato, carrot, parsnip, green beans, apple, cabbage, chicory root, salmon oil and necessary minerals. This wholesome chicken is certified nutritionally complete meaning it contains every nutrient required by a dog in sufficient amounts to keep the dog healthy with an excellent nutritional rating.
“Pure foods contain no rendered meats or derivatives, no wheat, corn or soya, colours, taste enhancers, sweeteners or any other nasty bits.”
A feeding guide is available for each food, which just requires the addition of warm tap water to make it into a delicious, palatable meal yet which has a shelf life of 12 months.
Pure pet food isn’t going to be the cheapest pet food on the market, when you compare it to the huge commercially produced dry dog foods out there. But for approximately £1.71/day you could feed a large 20kg dog (based on an 8kg bag of wholesome chicken) human grade, hypoallergenic, super high quality food, and it goes without saying that we are super impressed with it too.
2. Lily’s Kitchen Adult Chicken and Duck Complete Dry Dog Food
A highly rated product, Lily’s kitchen is a nutritionally complete and grain free dry dog food for dogs over 4 months of age. It contains no derivatives, preservatives or fillers, and contains only natural ingredients. Proper meat is used, no meat meal or rendered meat.
Lily was a border terrier whose owner was incentivised to devise wholesome natural recipes with the help of vets and nutritionists which she was happy to feed her beloved dog. Lily’s kitchen provide both dry and wet dog food, treats and chews, and do their best to provide complete nutrition for every life stage.
Lily’s kitchen even has a Royal Warrant! Now if that’s not an incentive to give it a try, what is?! Even royal pooches have a taste for this luxury dry dog food. Lily’s kitchen are also a certified B-Corp company, which identifies companies genuinely acting in a positive way and making a positive impact upon the world.
Lily’s Kitchen dry dog food has the look of a regular dry dog food but with only freshly prepared natural ingredients. It is therefore not cheap, however less costly than raw dog food or those like Pure above, which are made from novel processes, and it comes so highly rated that we are sure your pooch would love to give it a try!
We’ve chosen the chicken and duck recipe for this review.
The recipe contains freshly prepared chicken and duck with added glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint support, prebiotics for healthy digestion and essential nutrient for dogs health. Salmon oil is a source of omega 3 fatty acids, good for coat, heart brain and joints. Herbs, vegetables and essential vitamins and minerals also make up this wholesome recipe.
- Nutritionally complete, grain free dry food for dogs 4 months +
- Freshly made with 31% Chicken, 8% Duck
- Packed full of fruits, Vegetables and Botanical Herbs
- Support healthy bone & joints and boosts the immune system
- No derivatives, preservatives or fillers – all natural healthy goodness
- Natural ingredients, complete nutrition, grain free recipes
- Bone and joint support, immune system boost
- Approx £5.46/kg (12kg bag)
- Rated 4.6 on Amazon
3. Harringtons Dog Food Complete Lamb and Rice Dry Mix
A best selling favourite. Harringtons is a family run business, with food made in Thirsk, North Yorkshire. Harrington’s USP is their commitment and focus towards the environment. This means that from raw materials to end product, “all environmental aspects are monitored and controlled”. Packaging is recyclable and some products are even in compostable bags.
From an ingredients point of view, it means that where possible, Harringtons source locally which in addition supports local business.
Harrington’s food is free from artificial colours and flavours. Not all products by Harringtons are grain free, but they have incorporated grain free products to their range.
Harringtons balances lower cost more commercially produced pet food, with the use of natural ingredients and consideration for locally sourced ingredients to produce a dry dog food that has been loved by dogs for years and comes highly regarded.
Not all dogs need a specifically grain free diet, so we’ve chosen one of their Naturals range, complete lamb and rice dry mix to review here. If you like the sound of Harringtons and your pet needs a grain free diet, try Harringtons Grain free hypoallergenic chicken and sweet potato.
The lamb and rice is a complete dry food mix using lamb and meat meal along with other natural ingredients, and enriched with vitamins and minerals. It is a highly rated trusted brand, and owners reviews suggest happier tummies and healthy pets.
- A complete pet food for all dogs
- Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids
- Citrus antioxidants
- Nutrient rich kelp
- Reduces flatulent odours
- Rich in Lamb & Rice
- The natural choice
- Natural ingredients
- Approx £1.50/kg (18kg bag)
- Rated 4.6 on Amazon
4. Field and Trial Complete Dry Adult Dog Food Duck and Rice
Skinners, another family milling business from Suffolk, began producing their Field and Trial food in the 1970’s. Formulated and targeted at all stages of a working dogs’ life, field and trial is a popular choice. Working dogs are highly active dogs, therefore often require a higher protein diet than your average pooch.
The duck and rice mix we’ve looked at contains 22% crude protein made from British duck meat meal (although we did note that the Harringtons lamb and rice above contains only slightly less at 21%). However if you look at their muesli mix or maintenance formulations you will see the lower protein content highlighted for dogs with a lighter workload or for the ‘closed season’ i.e. your working dog is doing less. So it doesn’t mean that Field and Trial is exclusively for working dogs; if you have a particularly active dog and lifestyle this food may be what your pet needs.
Field and Trail aim to manufacture hypoallegenic dry foods, free from artificial additives, flavourings or preservatives, wheat gluten, soya and dairy in the hope of reducing skin, coat and digestive problems. With added glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints, Field and Trial have produced an all round balanced diet for your active dogs’ needs.
Price wise, on a par per kilo with Harringtons’, this is an affordable quality food.
- For working dogs
- Free from wheat, maize, barley, gluten, soya and dairy
- Maintains energy
- Maintains healthy coat
- Contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin
- Approx £1.51/kg (15kg bag)
- Rated 4.6 on Amazon
5. Wagg Complete Sensitive Wheat Free Chicken and Rice Dog Food
Wagg, a popular well known commercial pet food brand produces good quality dry dog food at an affordable price. In fact, it is made by the same company (Inspired Pet Nutrition) as Harringtons, and is therefore their more budget end product whereas Harringtons is affordable premium, but both produced in Thirsk North Yorkshire by the family business.
We did say in the creating of our reviews that we always try and take a balanced view of the market, bringing the best most affordable products as well as higher end luxury products so that there is something for everyone.
Wagg dog food is a balanced food range but more at the budget end, and yet remains highly rated by happy dogs and owners.
They even produce hypoallergenic grain free food which is what we’ve chosen to review here. The food contains no added wheat, dairy, soya or artificial colours. Made in Britain from ingredients including meat and chicken (4%) derivitaves, vegetable protein, oils and fats with added vitamins and minerals and yucca extract, Wagg meets your dogs nurtritional needs with a complete balanced food.
Yucca is an ingredient often added for digestion and to reduce flatulence as are the added prebiotics, and citrus extract to aid immune health. You only need to read the copious amounts of happy reviews from other dog owners to know that Wagg is not to be sniffed at!
- Wheat Free
- Made in Britain
- Contains probiotic MOS to support the population of healthy bacteria within the gut.
- Contains an extract from the yucca plant thought to help reduce flatulent odours.
- We do not add any artificial colours, flavours or sugars to our foods.
- Approx £1.25/kg (12kg bag)
- Rated 4.4 on Amazon
6. Arden Grange Adult with Fresh Lamb and Rice
Back up to a slightly higher price range feed now, because Arden Grange use a combination of human grade fresh lamb meat alongside lamb meat meal in their Fresh Lamb and rice Adult dry dog food. It therefore makes Arden Grange a ‘middle of the road’ food in terms of budget, a great balance of premium quality ingredients and price.
Arden Grange pride themselves on being an independent family run business from just outside Brighton, a company of pet owners producing premium quality food and treats over 20 years. It’s great learning that so many pet food companies started out this way.
Arden Grange are very clear about the sources of their meat ingredients on their own website, and we like the clarity in the information they have produced . For example in this lamb product, we know that the 5% fresh lamb will have come from outdoor reared UK stock which is surplus to the human food industry. The lamb meat meal is also from UK grass-fed stock, and contains meat, bone and some offal.
Another independent family owned company, they have been producing hypoallergenic pet food and treats since 1996. They do not contain wheat gluten, soya, beef, dairy products, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
I noticed that Arden Grande complete adult meals are high in protein at 25%, probably due to the fact that meat or meat meal is the main ingredient in their food, whereas other dry dog food containing meat meal usually has a carbohydrate like rice, as the first ingredient by weight. So do take care to follow the feeding guide and check it suits your dog.
So far, Arden Grange has really excited us. It is the most highly rated product in our review by amazon UK customers, and a huge number of them too, and we think it strikes a great balance between price and quality.
- Diet for normally active dogs
- A delicious and digestible alternative to chicken
- Contains prebiotics FOS and MOS
- Benefiting from joint support
- Naturally hypoallergenic
- Approx £2.50/kg (12kg bag)
- Rated 4.7 on Amazon
7. Barking Heads Dry Dog Food – Bowl Lickin’ Chicken
If there’s one thing that we noted during our market research, it is that dry dog food has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. There is so much more choice than when we used to feed our first dog Titch (without much thought really for the ingredients or whether it was her food that affected her skin). Barking heads is another dog food that we hadn’t used or heard of and we were interested to do more as it comes so highly reviewed.
In fact, this brand is relatively new. Started in 2008 by 3 chaps who originally worked for a large commercial pet food company who wanted to produce high quality food for their own pets, Barking Heads and Meowing Heads was formed.
They now produce a range of high quality dry and wet dog and cat food and treats.
We looked specifically at the Bowl Lickin’ chicken for our review, and found it is made with 100% natural free-run chicken and natural ingredients.
The composition of their Bowl Lickin’ Chicken dry food is a mixture of 34% fresh and 21% dried chicken, along side brown and white rice, natural fats and oils and dried herbs with added glucosamine and chondroitin. Again like some of the foods we have seen that has meat and meat meal as their prime ingredient, it raises the protein content, so follow the feeding guide for healthy feeding. We’re sure with all that meat, that any dog will lick his bowl clean when fed with this premium dry food!
- 100% NATURAL FREE-RUN CHICKEN – with garden veg and herbs
- NATURAL INGREDIENTS – This dry dog food recipe is made using only the best quality, natural ingredients. Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives
- AIDS DIGESTION AND JOINT HEALTH – This pet food is made using a formula that aids healthy digestion and contains added joint support too.
- BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM – This dog food boosts your furry friend’s immune system and has everything you need to feed a happy, healthy dog
- APPROVED BY VETS – Our natural dog food is approved by vets for adult dogs of all breeds
- Approx £3.92/kg (12kg bag)
- Rated 4.7 on Amazon
8. James Wellbeloved Complete Dry Adult Dog Food Turkey and Rice
Produced in Somerset, James Wellbeloved came about as a reaction to the poorly stomachs of two beloved boxer dogs, whose owner decided to feed more simple foods. Seeing them improve, and inspired by nature, recipes for the James Wellbeloved dog and cat food began. Now owned by Mars company, James Wellbeloved make dog food free from allergenic sources of protein such as dairy, beef, pork, eggs and soya, as well as being free from wheat, cheap bulking agents and artificial preservatives, flavours and colours. They only contain one protein source.
We chose to take a closer look at the Turkey and Rice option, with its main ingredient being 25% turkey meal, with potato and vegetables, oils, herbs, yucca, glucosamine and chondroitin for an all round balanced diet.
Over 1000 reviews on retailer Amazon UK with an overall rating of 4.7 (15kg bag when available) suggest to us that we’re not the only ones who are impressed with the James Wellbeloved range of dry dog food and we couldn’t complete our review without including it.
- No unhealthy additives
- Full of natural goodness
- Nourishing turkey with brown and pearl rice, plus whole oats in crunchy tasty kibbles
- Gentle on your dog’s digestion
- For adult dogs from 12 months to 7 years
- Approx £4.27/kg (7.5 kg bag)
- Rated 4.4 on Amazon
9. Pooch and Mutt ‘Calm and Relaxed’ Turkey and Sweet Potato
We first started noticing pooch and Mutt when we were looking at dog treats. I enjoyed reading about their mission. The brand was started in 2007 by Guy Blaskey who wanted to treat his 3 month old puppy who had hip dysplasia, with a natural joint supplement. The supplement was a great success, and it eventually led Guy to develop a range of treats and foods that embrace ‘positive nutrition’ similar to sports nutrition, including supplements and ‘neutraceuticals’ with the aim of a healthy, happy dog.
So what does their dry dog food add to the market? We’ve looked at the popular selling ‘Calm and relaxed’ with turkey and sweet potato. Aimed at dogs who tend to be anxious or excitable, it contains 45% lean turkey (25% fresh turkey), which is rich in L-tryptophan (an amino acid used in serotonin, the feed-good hormone), alongside natural ingredients like sweet potato, which contains B-vitamins for -anti-stress’ benefits as well as being low-gi and high fibre for good digestion. The feed is grain free, it also contains chamomile, traditionally used for relaxation, and brewers yeast, again for B-vitamins. Prebiotics aid with healthy digestion, as well as other vitamins and minerals required for a balanced diet. The unique supplement in this food is ‘Nutra-Bionic’ which contains glucosamine, chondroitin, Omega 3 and 6, yucca and cranberry. Individually, of course, we see some of these ingredients in other dry dog food anyway, and I was more interested to read about the relaxing ingredients like chamomile and brewers yeast, since this is marketed at calming down your pooch.
Are we sold? We’re certainly impressed. We like the mission, the ethos, the efforts to change the pet food market from one saturated by mass produced products made by multinational companies like Mars and Nestle, and we like anything made from natural ingredients. Pooch and Mutt is about the mid-priced product of our whole review, so it doesn’t come particularly cheaply, but it may be just what your dog needs.
- Premium, grain free complete dry dog food
- To help anxious dogs stay calm & relaxed
- Single source protein – 45% turkey an l-tryptophan-rich protein source
- Includes chamomile, l-tryptophan, Prebiotics and Brewers yeast
- Free from Grain, Cereal, Gluten, GM produce, Artificial flavours, colours and preservatives
- Vet recommended
- A small, ethical, award winning Great British company
- Approx £3.50/kg (10kg bag)
- Rated 4.3 on Amazon
10. Beta Adult Dry Dog Food with Chicken
If you do a lot of reading about your pet’s food, you may have read articles about the risk vs benefit of commercially produced dog food. We have, and as with many health related articles, you can usually find an argument for and against. It’s worth pointing out though, that we’ve looked at the ingredients of many dry dog foods, and on the whole they are pretty similar, whether that be an independent manufacturer or a multinational company like Nestle’s Purina.
Read about the history of Purina for yourself, it is a huge global brand that has merged many market leading pet food brands over the years.
But I wouldn’t discount a pet food because it was mass produced, necessarily. Purina works with vets and nutritionists to produce a wide range of products for pets, including Bonio, ProPlan, Bakers, and Winalot.
We have reviewed Purina Beta Adult Dry Dog Food with Chicken.
It is a higher protein dog food at 25%, for active adult dogs.
The kibbles of this food are dual sized to encourage slower chewing. Made in Suffolk, we are pleased to see that even brands affiliated with multinational companies are still being produced here in the UK.
Priced very reasonably, it is still one of the highest rated foods we looked at, and we can’t argue with that!
- Made with selected natural ingredients
- No added artificial colours, flavours or preservatives
- With natural prebiotic, proven to help improve digestive health
- Dual shape and size kibbles for slower chewing
- Tailored Nutrition to help maintain a lean body mass for your large breed dog
- Approx £1.64/kg (14kg bag)
- Rated 4.7 on Amazon
‘Last Updated April 2020’