As doggy moms and dads, we know how important what we feed our dog is. Picking the best dog foods for adult dogs that are specifically formulated for their bodies based on breed, size and age is what matters most.
Top 10 Best Dog Foods for Adult Dogs
Everything that they take in should have some sort of benefit to their health. Dogs need macronutrients, vitamins and minerals the same way humans do, but adult dogs eat differently than their younger counterparts and it’s important to take note of that.
There are of course generally best foods for dogs, and those are often human-grade, holistic and USDA organic foods that may come with a higher price tag. In fact, our editors have spent days researching the pet food market to pinpoint which pet food manufacturing company produces the most healthy dog foods. This has been covered in an article called What Is The Best Dog Food Brand Overall?
When there's so much choice, it can get confusing. Finding the best dog foods for adult dogs isn't easy because it takes a lot of research and analyzing dog food labels of many different brands and reading what customers have said about the product, but it's been done now.
Best Dog Foods for Adult Dogs (2016 listing)
OVERVIEW: The primary ingredient in Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato is deboned chicken, which is an animal protein, meaning it contains a complete amino acid profile. This food for dogs itself is composed of 70% meat and 30% produce, so there’s a mix of protein and vitamins/minerals. The recipe is grain free. Grain is an ingredient that can cause obesity in dogs.
Dogs’ diets should not be grain-based, as that’s not the diet they ancestrally were on back in the caveman days and, as the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Grain should not be a primary ingredient in your dog’s diets; keep it minimal and at a low ratio when compared to meat. This Merrick food comes in a 4-pound, 12-pound, and 25-pound bag. It contains Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, which aid in skin and coat health, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which boost digestion.
Why is this dog food at #1? People were pleased with this company’s honesty. None of the ingredients in Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato comes from China, a region that has a bit of a bad track record (understatement) when it comes to product-safety. Customers reported that a wide range of their dog’s health issues were improved by this food, though the claim cannot be made that it is curative. One of the common health problems that this food addressed was tear stains and eye gunk that many white-furred dogs experience. Dog food that is rich in fatty acids and vitamins can help that and customers found that it did, clearing up the tear stains.
Many customers remarked on the convenience of being able to buy such a big bag at a reasonable price—those of us with large-size dogs know that that’s not always the case. The fatty acids contain many benefits for your dog’s coat, so if he or she is shedding or having issues, consider this product for him or her. Customers didn’t report many complaints. Those who had been feeding their dog food with grain in it found that breaking their dog of the grain habit was more difficult than they thought it would be; yet very necessary.
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “I recently switched to Merrick after my ‘fave' food, Evo ancestral diet, had three recalls in four months and was ‘off-shelf' a considerable time between recalls. Like many pet owners, I buy high end kibble because I'm looking for both the ingredient and for a special product–in my case, I want only US-sourced meats and vegetables with no ‘fillers'. I have a deep distrust of Chinese produced products (especially after the melamine thing) and…”
OVERVIEW: Another grain-free product, the Wellness brand is often at the top on many lists of best dog foods and is well-known for its organic products and the CORE line formula contains the “core” vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, and carbs necessary for your dog’s growth. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food works for dogs of all breed types and stages of adulthood.
The food is made with turkey, salmon oil, fruits, vegetables, and chicken. The high count of animal proteins from the meats and oil provides a high count of amino acids. In addition to there being no grain in this food, there is also no meat by-products (think pink slime), wheat, gluten, preservatives, artificial colors, corn, or soy.
Why is this dog food at #2? Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food is second on the list of best dog foods because there were complaints about the packaging and the company in general. But for customers who didn’t experience those issues, they found this food to be gentle on dogs with digestive issues and pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of the pancreas that causes abdominal pain. Although this food is expensive, it’s extremely high quality and organic.
The grain-free nature means that dogs that are overweight or that need to lose weight won’t be adversely impacted by this food. It is a digestible, tasty food that works well with dogs at least one year old that are of an average activity level. One customer had a problem with packaging—he said that the food he received was moldy, and attributed that to the company’s buyout and discombobulation. The food was replaced and no one else seemed to have had that same issue, so it shouldn’t be a big concern.
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “I'll start with the long story, but you can skip to the bottom for the quick version… I happen to like listening to stories, and gathering information from reviews, so I suppose I should allow others to do the same with mine! A little over a year ago we adopted a beautifully chubby (75#), wonderfully sweet, low maintenance (5yrs old and very mellow) pit-bull from our local kennel. She seemed pretty hearty and easy…”
OVERVIEW: This formula is made with roasted bison and roasted venison, so it’s a different sort of food than we’ve looked at with the previous two. Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food is much more “wild” (hence the name) and contains pure animal proteins that provide an extra dose of amino acids straight into your dog’s bowl. It also contains fruits and vegetables and has antioxidants that support your dog’s immune system. Other animal proteins in the mix come from eggs and lamb.
Why is this dog food at #3? This food for dogs is third because although it was a hit taste-wise, some customers found that it was a little rough on digestive systems of dogs that were sensitive or who had problems gastrointestinal-wise. Owners whose dogs didn’t have such problems with their digestive tract found that Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food was a hardy meal for dogs that were of a higher activity level and were fond of the taste of more gamey meat.
Dogs that had concerning skin problems also seemed to benefit from the amino acids and Omega fats provided by this food. Omega fatty acids are very beneficial for skin and coat health, so if your dog is in need of some improvement in that area and doesn’t have a sensitive digestive system, this food could be one that you’d want to try out.
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “Unlike most pet owners in the world, I have fed my dogs high quality foods for years, with taste of the wild(TOTW) being one of them. Both the high prairie and the wetlands are foods I'd recommend for those on a budget wanting to feed quality foods to their dogs. The pacific stream, and sierra mountain aren't high enough in meat content for me to recommend. what do I like about this food? dogs are…”
OVERVIEW: This fourth best dog food, made by a branch of actress Jessica Alba’s company, is made of human-grade ingredients that are made in America—nothing comes from China in this food. Turkey & Whole Grain Dog Food contains oats, potatoes, flax, kelp, cabbage, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables that can provide the vitamins and minerals necessary for your dog to have a good energy level.
You make this food by adding water; it’s ready in three minutes, so it is convenient. It makes up to forty pounds of food from a ten pound box, so it’s very economical. The food is also low-gluten, which is a substance that is best kept in small quantities, as it doesn’t always work well with the digestive system.
Why is this dog food at #4? The Honest Kitchen Keen: Turkey & Whole Grain Dog Food is fourth on our list of best dog foods because some people are unsure about the “add water” part. Customers felt like that made the food seem too packaged and, as one put it, “like astronaut food.” Whether that’s true or not is debatable, but this dog food is certainly healthy and, according to a company survey of customers, 80% said that their dog’s digestive health was improved after eating this food.
There is minimal processing, so owners can feel confident that their dogs aren’t ingesting some sort of processed or artificial material. Most dogs love the taste, though some owners with perennially picky dogs found that their pups were resistant to the taste and were lukewarm on it. The digestive health part is what makes this food a real winner, though, and if your dog likes the taste, then it’s a home run for them and you (no one likes a sick doggy).
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “First, my dog gobbled it down just like it was canned food. It was pleasant for a human to work with. Super easy-just add water. High quality human grade ingredients. Tasted it myself.Felt like I was really giving her something healthy and alive instead of uniform baked brown kibble. Very versatile because it can stand on it's own, or you can mix it with their kibble. You can even add in your own touches if you want…”
OVERVIEW: This dog food is made by Hill’s, a company which uses scientific formulation to engineer the best food for your dog and one that vets often recommend. This food promotes intestinal health and balance, as well as skin health and coat shininess. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or has problems with digestion, consider this food.
Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Dog Food contains the necessary nutrients, vitamins, proteins, and other substances essential to healthy living; they’re just delivered in a more gentle way so that sensitive dogs aren’t adversely affected. This food contains chicken as the primary animal protein source. There are no by-product meats or artificial flavorings, colors, or preservatives.
Why is this dog food at #5? This food is fifth on the list of best dog foods because it is formulated for sensitive dogs and it does contain grains in them. They are whole grains, but grains nonetheless and owners with dogs that are accustomed to and need a regular diet formulated for a regularized digestive system may not decide that this is the food for them. Grains can help a dog with a problematic digestive system and loose stool, as one owner found. Her dog had toilet issues that came from a lack of fiber, and the grains in Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Dog Food helped him with that and firmed up his stool.
Other owners with dogs that had sensitive or problematic skin found that this food assisted in relieving those issues, primarily the ones that caused shedding, dryness, redness, or other irritation. This food is made for a particularly sensitive dog, which comes as a relief for owners that don’t know what to do with their seemingly impossible canines.
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “I made the mistake of trying to switch my dog (large breed boxer) to one of the currently trendy “grain-free” dogfoods… and he did not thrive at all. Loose stools, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, etc. 6 long months of misery for both of us before vet recommended this food. It solved all of his digestive problems; his weight is getting back to normal and his coat is shiny. He feels better too – lots of energy, doesn't…”
OVERVIEW: Castor & Pollux Organix Adult Dry Dog Food has a great reputation for making high-quality dog food and treats. This food is no exception. It contains chicken, flaxseed, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants that support a healthy immune system.
In this food, there is also Quinoa, which is a goosefoot grain that comes from the seeds of a plant found in the Andes. Quinoa is an “Old World” grain that has been around for thousands of years—it was cultivated by ancient indigenous peoples. It also contains Omega-3 fatty acids, but has no artificial substances, wheat, soy, or corn. This C & P food is made in America.
Why is this dog food at #6? This food is sixth one of the best dog foods because it does contain grains, be it Old World, healthy ones that can help dogs with digestive issues. If you believe your pup is sensitive to grains, however, this might not be the food for him or her. For those whose dogs don’t have a grain problem, Castor & Pollux Organix Adult Dry Dog Food sources most of its protein from animals.
The main meat is chicken, which has a complete amino acid profile. Customers were happy with this product and those that had dogs that suffered from loose stool, diarrhea, and other issues such as that found that it was successful in helping them firm up their bowels. The Omegas in this food also promote coat health for dogs that need an extra boost of furry shine.
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “I've always been interested in nutrition, and spent a LOT of time researching different dog foods. It REALLY bothers me that there's no longer an element of “common-sense” with how people view dog foods. Scraps and treats do wonders for a lot of (less sensitive) dogs, and dogs on unarguably bad foods can be very healthy dogs if they have other sources of nutrition. So, take all of this with a grain of salt – some foods, good or…”
OVERVIEW: Standing seventh on the list of best dog foods, Earthborn is a brand that is well-known for its organic, natural foods and treats. Earthborn Holistic Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is labeled as holistic; holism is a homeopathic way of thinking about health that emphasizes the treatment of the body as a whole (for example, if one thing is going wrong in the body, there could be other problems causing that besides just that one spot’s particular problem).
The Earthborn foods come in several flavors: bison, seafood, lamb, and lamb and bison mixed. It does not contain any grains and the animal proteins are complete and the antioxidants support the immune system.
Why is this dog food at #7? This food got great reviews from customers, but be aware that if your dog has a sensitive stomach, this could upset it. This result was not found by many customers, but it is something that we felt the need to mention in the spirit of full disclosure. For owners that were thrilled by Earthborn Holistic Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, they found it successful in improving the overall health and quality of life of their dogs.
One dog owner said, “I cut my vet bill down 100% since we started our dog on this.” Many people found the seafood and the lamb and bison mix were the most delicious for their dogs. Those who started their pups on the seafood found that the fatty acids—which are very plentiful in seafood—improved coat and skin health immensely.
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “I first purchased this food at the Pomona Pet Expo this year and as I do all my cooking for my animals I was looking for a natural grain free dry to add to their wet. I learned that feeding your dogs the right food from an early age is key to keeping them healthy and with you for as long as possible. This by far is one of the best Natural foods I…”
OVERVIEW: Canidae ALS Dry Dog Food is good for dogs that are any age. The “ALS” stands for “All Life Stages.” The proteins are sourced from four different meats: chicken, lamb, turkey, and fish. There are no fillers, artificial substances, hormones, or antibiotics in this food.
Antibiotics in dog food should always be avoided, as those can wreak havoc on your dog’s health as remnants are found in the meat. The organic nature of Canidae means that none of these harmful substances will be in there to harm your dog.
Why is this dog food at #8? Canidae ALS Dry Dog Food is eighth because although the proteins are great and have a wide base of animal sources, this food can be a little rough on dogs that have a sensitive digestive system. For dogs that don’t have that problem, the protein is an excellent source of energy and helps build lean, strong, muscles.
If your dog has a high activity level, consider this dry dog food as part of his or her diet because of the high protein count as it's deservedly placed on the shortlist of top best dog foods for adult canines. Protein is important for an active dog, and this food will help him or her get what he or she needs.
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “We've been feeding our dogs this for at least 10 years, and that includes puppies and seniors. It's very well balanced, and we never have a weight problem with our dogs. Their stools are nice and firm, and really, isn't that what it's all about? Their coats are nice and shiny, they love the food, and no one has had any allergic reaction to it. It's medium-small sized dry bits are fine…”
OVERVIEW: Ninth one of the best dog foods, this dog kibble is for diets that require limited ingredients. The acronym “LID” stands for Limited Ingredient Diet. Dogs that can’t have certain foods may find that this Natural Balance formula works for them, as it sources protein and carbs from ingredients that won’t harm sensitive systems.
Bison, a lean meat, has a lot of amino acids in it that promote a health immune system. Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato & Bison Dry Dog Formula is grain free. The carbs come from organic potatoes, which are a natural source of energy that won’t bother your dog’s systems.
Why is this dog food at #9? While this food definitely contains high-quality and important ingredients for dogs that are on limited diets, be aware that it does contain food from China. The company changed their outsourcing so that some of their ingredients come from China. This is a feature that is unattractive for many people.
Customers who purchased the brand didn’t seem to have any issues with that outsourcing, and those with sensitive dogs found that it wasn’t a problem for their systems. The potatoes provided energy. Dogs that have limited diets can struggle with low-energy because of their stifled nutrition, but Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato & Bison Dry Dog Formula stepped in and supplemented where necessary to provide balanced nutrition.
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “My friend runs an animal shelter so I was able to feed this to a couple of foster dogs. The kibble is nice and round. I found the smell of the kibble to be a typical dog food smell that had a cabbage or vegetal overtone. The hound dog went right for this food and kept eating it. The terrier had to warm up to the food before he would eat it. Based on the ingredients of this food, I feel it's a good quality brand. The package claims this premium…”
OVERVIEW: The main ingredient in this tenth best dog food Merrick Classic Real Chicken dog food (as with the first one on the list) is deboned chicken. This food’s composition is 60% meat protein, 20% fresh produce, and 20% grains. The food contains Omega-6 acids and glucosamine.
There is also chondroitin, which aids in digestibility. There are no ingredients outsourced from China; all the food is American-made. The produce in the food consists of apples, carrots, blueberries, alfalfa, and more.
Why is this dog food at #10? Although deboned chicken is an excellent animal protein, keep in mind that one-fifth of the dog food also contains grains. The grains are whole, but some owners might not find that acceptable to feed their dogs for fear that it will upset their digestive systems.
Many customers were satisfied with Merrick Classic Real Chicken, however, and those switching from brands such as Taste of the Wild found the Merrick food a successful transitory food. It’s very tasty and dogs loved chicken taste. It also ranges for all ages, so you can start your dog on it as a puppy once they’re weaned and then go with it through adulthood.
Most Helpful review (read the full review): “Shiba Inu (35lb) and Malamute (80lbs) owner here. I had been shopping for a new dog food since my old Taste of the Wild brand got hit with a recall. Ideally I try to keep my dogs' food in as close to the dollar:pound ratio, but it's getting harder and harder to find a good premium dog food in that range. At the time of this review, this Merrick product was creeping up on the two-dollar per pound mark, but I decided…”
Importance of nutrients in best dog foods for adult dogs
Back to the topic of dog nutrition, adult dogs have different health considerations than younger ones do. The age of adulthood for dogs depends on their breed, but a good broad estimation is two years. Once they reach that age, it may be time to switch them to one of these best dog foods for adult canines. Older dogs need a balance of nutrition that is specific to their age range.
They need dog food that matches their energy levels, with working dogs and show dogs needing more than the average house pet. Weather and health levels are also important factors in what you feed your dog. The ASPCA recommends that dogs be fed twice daily. These meals comprised of best dog foods should have eight to twelve hours between them, too.
There are several different categories of nutrients that your dog needs and the best dog foods we’ve listed below contain the proper amounts of nutrients for those categories. Proteins are a majorly important nutrient for your canine. Proteins have amino acid profiles, which are considered protein “building blocks.”
Amino acids that come from animal proteins are “complete,” whereas amino acids that come from soy, grain, and vegetables have an incomplete profile, meaning that they don’t have all the amino acids in a profile and often aren’t essential to the diet the way animal proteins are. However, needless to say it's always best to feed your dog a mixture of both.
Fats and carbohydrates, those things that sound like they should be avoided according to some dog experts but in reality they shouldn’t be, are an important component in your dog’s diet, and the list of best dog foods below has plenty of dog food brands with a complete nutrient profile. Fats provide energy—twice the energy that proteins and carbs give your pet.
They also play a role in absorbing vitamins that are fat-soluble. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are two important fats that can help reduce and even heal inflammation that your dog’s body is experiencing. Fats are best when they’re kept in a ration. You don’t want your dog to be ingesting too many fats, nor do you want him or her to get too few. Carbohydrates help the body’s tissues and aid digestibility. What carbs are is essentially glucose, which is vital for supplying dog's brain with the energy it needs to focus and function.
Vitamins and minerals in these best dog foods are two other groups of essential nutrients—these are the most obvious ones as well. Small amounts of vitamins keep your dog’s metabolism and enzymes functioning properly and they act as catalysts for enzymatic processes. You don’t need to give your dog a vitamin supplement unless the vet tells you too because your dog has some sort of specific deficiency. Minerals are compounds that are inorganic. Because they’re not synthesized by animals and because they contain no energy, they have to actually be given to your pet in their diet; otherwise, he or she won’t get any. Minerals are important to the body’s structure; they help build strong bones and teeth.
The list of the top ten best dog foods for adult dogs below contains each one of these essential nutrient categories supplied in a way that provides enough to match an adult dog’s energy level and, in some cases, sensitive dietary needs. I'll give you the brand name, a quick overview, and tell you what customers have been saying about these best dog foods and their effects on their pets—likes, dislikes, benefits, disadvantages, etc. This list will assist you in selecting the appropriate kibble for your adult dog’s sensitivity level and health requirements.
How to Pick the Best Adult Dog Food
When selecting the best adult dog food, know your dog’s health, activity level, and general likes and dislikes. Each dog is different, health-wise. Your dog might have a sensitive digestive system that gives him or her gastrointestinal issues when he or she eats a certain food. And there are digestive problems common to dogs, so make sure to choose wisely when browsing the above list of best dog foods for adult dogs. Some of these dog food brands are better for your pet than others depending on many different factors, as ASPCA says.
For example, inflammatory bowel disease and gastritis are two of the most frequently-seen gastrointestinal problems with dogs. The first, IBD, is caused when the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and painful, causing stomach upset and discomfort. The second, gastritis, is symptomized by frequently vomiting (more than once every two weeks) because of stomach inflammation. Both of these are painful and extremely unpleasant for dogs. They require extra-special attention towards their diets and carefully picked best dog foods and dog treats based on your vet's recommendations.
Veterinarians constantly talk about how dog's health concerns such as these are exemplary of why you need to document your pet’s health problems (or lack thereof) and base your selection of best dog foods on them. Canine food can work wonders in alleviating or ameliorating a condition—but it can also make it worse if you’re not careful and choose the wrong food.
Your dog’s activity level is another variable that you should take into the equation when selecting a dog food for him or her. If your dog is a working dog or therapy dog, he or she is going to be up and about more. If he or she is a show dog, the same goes for them. If they have a high activity level, their food should contain enough energy to keep them at a high level. This means an extra dose of fats and carbs, as well as the other nutrients listed.
However, if your dog’s energy level is average or below average (if they’re an older dog), you shouldn’t give them food for high-energy dogs because that may lead to weight gain. Your dog’s weight is another factor; maintenance, gaining weight, or losing poundage are all considerations when selecting a food. Know your dog’s breed’s goal weight and select food that will help him or her reach that weight and stay there.
Your dog’s likes and dislikes matter as well. Though you might think that they don’t because you’re the human and you’re the one paying for it, you don’t want your dog to resent mealtime. A food can be good for them and also be not tasty. Find a food that’s both delicious and healthy, that way it’s a win-win situation for both you and your dog. The foods on the list above are both nutritious and yummy—hope you found what you were looking for!
We want to make sure that our readers are aware that we are NOT sponsored by any of the manufacturers and dog companies mentioned in this article. Please note that we do our best to provide accurate information, but we highly encourage dog owners to always double-check other sources for additional tips on best dog foods so that you can make a more accurate decision of what’s best for you, and your canine.
The above overview of best pet food for dogs should give pet owners a good idea of best rated dog supplies, but please also make sure that you read the more about top dog food reviews from multiple customers before you purchase any dog products. Sometimes, those reviews from pet parents can provide more information than any dog supplies website ever could. Finally, I hope this list was helpful, and if you tried any of these dog products, please let us know of your experience in the comments below.