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We all want to be able to afford those top of the line, gourmet foods for our dogs. However, not all of us have the budget to allow for this. A lower budget doesn’t mean that you have to give up quality food, but it does mean that you have to do a little more legwork to find the best cheap dog food brands.

Every dog is different, and every pet has their own unique nutritional needs. These needs will vary depending on your dog's age, weight, activity level and health condition. While your budget is certainly a priority, a dog's health is always of utmost importance (if for no other reason then because it will cost you more in veterinary bills later). Good quality dog foods that provides all the nutrition your canine needs will eventually strengthen his immune system, aid in skin and coat health and keep your pup's digestive system in good health too.

Unfortunately, the cheapest dog foods do not offer the best nutrition. It's simple logic that the higher the price of the food, the higher the quality of the ingredients and the better the manufacturing process. When it comes to the most completely balanced and high quality top dog food brands, not all products will be affordable for every pet owner.

Luckily for pet owners, when it comes to choosing the best cheap dog food brands that are made with quality ingredients, online retailers are conquering the market. It seems like the choices are growing now, and I've narrowed down the options and found 20 of the best cheap dog food brands available.

BUDGET DOG FOODS: The Best Dog Food for the Money – 17 Brands Worth Their Price (from Cheap to Costly)

The 20 Best Cheap Dog Food Brands

best cheap dog food brands

1. Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Grain-Free Food

Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog FoodPrice: $46.87 /28lb.

This food offers a unique protein source, no grains, holistic nutrition, antioxidant-rich formula, rich in omega fatty acids, and is an environmentally friendly brand. Plus, this is one of the best cheap dog food brands recommended for all life stages.

2. Wellness Complete Health Grain Free Adult

Wellness Complete Health Grain Free Adult Grain Free ChickenPrice: $51.99 /24lb.

This is a grain free food option with no meat-by-products, no fillers, no artificial flavors, no artificial preservatives, and guaranteed levels of Omega-3’s. This food also comes with a wellness guarantee, so any unused portion can be returned if you are not satisfied with the food.

3. Solid Gold Wolf King with Bison

Solid Gold Wolf King with BisonPrice: $52.34 /24lb.

Fresh bison is the first ingredient in this medium and large breed formula with 20 superfoods, only whole grains, no corn/wheat/soy, no artificial preservatives, no artificial colors, no added sugar, healthy levels of omega fatty acids, and digestive support.

4. Victor Beef Meal and Brown Rice

Victor Beef Meal and Brown RicePrice: $52.99 / 40lb.

Victor is a recall-free company. This recipe is a corn/wheat/soy/gluten free food with digestive support, immune system support, without GMO, and using red meat as a protein. Plus, this is one of the best cheap dog food brands that is available in a 40lb. bag – a huge bonus if you have an extra-large dog or multiple dogs.

5. Nature's Recipe Adult Food Lamb Meal and Rice

Nature's Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food Lamb Meal and RicePrice: $26.49 / 30lb.

This food is made with high-quality protein, no corn or wheat, no artificial flavors or colors, is high in omega fatty acids, is gentle on digestive health, and contains high levels of antioxidants for long-term health.

6. Newman’s Own Adult Formula

Newman’s Own Adult Dog Food FormulaPrice: $42.26 / 25lb.

Made with organic grains and vegetables, this food is formulated with the perfect protein to fat ratio for adult dogs. Free from antibiotics, added hormones, and chemical additives, this formula also incorporates omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics for full body health.

7. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food, High Prairie FormulaPrice: $48.99 / 30lb.

A grain-free formula made with bison and venison proteins, this food is a great solution for dogs with allergies or protein sensitivities. Antioxidants, probiotics, and superfood anti-oxidants provide added health benefits for the dog with a questionable constitution.

8. Avoderm Natural Original

Avoderm Natural OriginalPrice: $56.40 / 24lb.

This oven-baked food is antioxidant rich and balanced with omega fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat. Cooked in small batches, this food is approved for all life stages and nutrient dense with beef as the main protein source making one of the best cheap dog food brands for dogs that need red meat protein sources.

9. Diamond Naturals Beef and Rice Formula

Diamond Naturals Beef and Rice FormulaPrice: $31.99 / 40lb.

An affordable food, this formula is made with no corn, no wheat, and no soy. Real beef provides a red meat protein source and added omega fatty acids and vitamin E provide skin and coat support. Added probiotics support digestive health and glucosamine chondroitin supports large breed joint health.

10. Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Adult Formula

Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Adult FormulaPrice: $49.99 / 30lb.

Formulated for adult dogs, this food has antioxidants for overall health, vitamin E for skin and coat health, omega fatty acids for immune system health, and added nutrients for dental health too! This holistic food also offers metabolic support and whole grains provide plenty of fiber.

11. Adirondack Puppy & Performance Recipe

Adirondack Puppy & Performance Recipe Dry Dog FoodPrice: $49.49 / 30lb.

This high fat and 30% protein food formula comes from a reputable company that makes its food in the U.S.A. Made with premium ingredients, this food contains no corn, wheat, or soy, and has no artificial colors or flavors. Ideal for puppies as well as performance dogs, added nutrients and probiotics make this an all-around healthy and nutritious food.

12. Whole Earth Farms Adult Formula

Whole Earth Farms Adult FormulaPrice: $39.98 / 30lb.

Made in America, this food is formulated for adult dogs with no ingredients sourced from China. Rich in amino acids with added probiotics, this balanced dry food contains no corn, wheat, soy, by-products, artificial preservatives or artificial colors. This is one of the best cheap dog food brands for adult canines.

13. Canidae Chicken Meal and Rice Formula

Canidae Chicken Meal and Rice FormulaPrice: $36.69 / 30lb.

A nutritionally dense food, this formula contains no corn, wheat, or soy, and is approved for feeding all life stages. Vet formulated, this is another food rich in antioxidants and omega fatty acids. The balance of nutrients in this food makes it the ideal solution for families with multiple dogs in their household who are working with a limited budget.

14. California Natural Limited Ingredient Formula

California Natural Limited Ingredient Chicken Formula

Price: $58.99 / 26lb.

Although a little costlier than some other foods on this list, this California Natural food is formulated with no soy, corn, dairy, eggs, white potatoes, or artificial preservatives. A great option for dogs with multiple ingredient sensitivities, this is also a food that offers omega fatty acids for optimal skin and coat health.

15. Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health

Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Dry Dog FoodPrice: $52.10 / 30lb.

Made with premium protein and formulated for immune health, heart health, strong bones, strong teeth, and healthy skin and coat. Made with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, this is another of the best dog food brands with no artificial colors or flavors and is approved for feeding during all life stages.

16. EVO Grain Free Turkey & Chicken Formula

EVO Grain Free Turkey & Chicken Formula Small Bites Dry Dog Food

Price: $49.11 / 28.6lb.

A grain-free high protein, low carbohydrate diet, this is a food that contains no grains, no potato, and no gluten. Based on an ancestral diet, 18% of ingredients of this food come from fruits and vegetables and the remaining 82% is from animal-based ingredients. Highly digestible, this food is a good option for dogs with unique dietary needs.

17. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

best cheap dog food brands

Price: $39.99 / 24lb.

A salmon based formula, this is another grain-free food that is approved for feeding during all life stages. Containing no corn, wheat, or soy, this high protein, fiber-rich diet is affordable and loaded with superfoods offering immune support. Sweet potatoes and chickpeas provide long-lasting energy and added nutrients make this one of the best cheap dog food brands for immune system and urinary tract health.

18. Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult

Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog FoodPrice: $56.52 / 30lb.

A great and affordable dry food option for large breed dogs, this formula contains optimal ratios of omega fatty acids as well as glucosamine chondroitin for joint health. Added probiotics boost digestive health in this food that contains no wheat, no corn, no soy, no meat by-products, no artificial colors/flavors/preservatives.

19. Victor Dog Food GMO-Free High Energy Beef Meal

Victor Dog Food GMO-Free High Energy Beef Meal for DogsPrice: $53.99 / 40lb.

Made by a company with zero recalls in their history, this food is ideal for high energy dogs with a preference for red meat protein. Made in the U.S.A. this is a GMO-free, soy free, gluten free, wheat free food with added nutrients for immune and digestive support.

20. Nutrisource Lamb and Rice

Nutrisource Lamb and RicePrice: $53.99 / 33lb.

Made in the U.S.A. this lamb meal and rice formula is made with New Zealand lamb and is free from corn, soy, and wheat. High in proteins and carbohydrates and formulated with omega fatty acids, glucosamine chondroitin and digestive enzymes, this is one of the best cheap dog food brands that is good for the whole body. This is another food approved for feeding during all life stages including the growth of large size dogs.

RECOMMENDED: 25 Best Puppy Food Brands (2018)

best cheap dog food brands

Choosing the Best Cheap Dog Food for Your Pet

When deciding which budget food choice above is the best option for your dog consider the following factors:

1. Protein Source

Choose a protein source that suits your dog’s dietary needs, for example, if your dog has an allergy to chicken you can eliminate chicken based foods from the list above. Be sure to scan through the ingredient list for other chicken-based products like chicken fat as well.

2. Protein Percentage

Find out what your dog’s daily protein requirements are based on their current life stage, activity level, and existing health conditions. If you’re not sure where to begin, talk to your vet. It is particularly important to speak to your vet about protein levels in your dog’s food if your dog has any compromise in kidney function.

3. Filler Ingredients

If it’s within your budget, select one of the foods advertised as having no filler ingredients. If this isn’t possible, select a food with as few fillers as possible. The more filler, the more waste your dog will produce and the less nutrition they will get from their food per serving.

4. Carbohydrate Source

Foods with simple carbs like white rice and brown rice do not provide the long-lasting energy found in complex carbohydrates like whole grains and sweet potatoes. So, if it’s within your budget, opt for a food with complex carbohydrates to stop your dog from getting hungry again soon after eating.

5. Additives and Preservatives

Just like human foods, dog foods that have no added preservatives, colors, and flavors, are a better choice for your dog. These foods provide more whole nutrition with less potential for long-term health effects from artificial ingredients.

Can't Find a Budget Dog Food Brand That Works for You?

If you are having trouble finding an affordable dog food brand that works with your budget, don’t panic. There are plenty of other great cheap dog food brands out there to choose from that we didn’t include on our top 20 list. You can begin looking into these other foods by looking into these brands:

  • AdirondackThe 20 Best Cheap Dog Food Brands
  • American Journey
  • Avoderm
  • Black Gold
  • Blackwood
  • Canidae
  • Earthborn
  • First Mate
  • Solid Gold
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Victor
  • Wellness

A Note from the Author

You may notice the glaringly obvious absence of Blue Buffalo dog foods from the list recommended above. This is an intentional choice after my Labrador Retriever almost lost his life to aflatoxins in Blue Buffalo brand food and many other pet owners reporting similar issues with the Blue Buffalo foods.

Fortunately, rapid veterinary care stabilized my dog. But, Blue Buffalo’s insistence that their food played no role in his illness and their refusal to assist with veterinary bills showed just how much that company cares about their customers and their pets. 

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