As a veterinarian, dog lovers are always asking me for my opinion on what are top vet recommended dog food brands that are healthy for dogs. But one thing owners want to consider is the price range which they can afford, so I have to consider the best cheap dog food brands that are also good enough for pets. This list of veterinarian recommended dog foods will help you make a better choice for your Fido.
One thing I always mention is that even though I have my favorite vet approved dog food brands, each individual canine will have specific needs, and there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to dog nutrition and foods (source).
It is best to have a chat with your veterinarian about your specific dog's individual needs before you switch his diet, but for the purpose of this article, I've put an arbitrary list of ten vet recommended dog food brands that are good enough for a large majority of canines.
Top Dog Tips have done a complete breakdown of the pet food market and picked the best dog food brand that's holistic, human-grade and completely natural. I can't say I disagree with their top dog food choice pick. The Honest Kitchen is on my veterinarian recommended dog foods list as well. However, it's also very expensive, which may not be ideal for many pet parents.
Further in the article, I mention all the reasons why vets consider these dog foods best for our pets. Scroll down for more details on my picks of ten veterinarian recommended dog food brands. In short, here are top five most commonly recommended brands:
|Vet Recommended Dog Food Brand||Price||Quality||Rating|
|Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed||$$||A+||4.5/5|
|ROYAL CANIN Size Health Nutrition||$$$||A||4.7/5|
|Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food||$$||B+||4.6/5|
|Orijen Adult Food||$$$$||A-||4.4/5|
|Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free||$$$||B-||4.6/5|
* Click on the dog food brand for more information, prices and nutrition or scroll down below to read our overview.
The nutrition that your dog requires is based on a lot of variables. It's affected by his breed, size, age, weight, skin and coat condition, medical history, and overall health just to name a few.
Your veterinarian knows your pet and understands his specific health needs. They will be able to give you a list of vet recommended dog food brands that will best meet your dog's needs and also suggest any additional pet supplements that he may require that can't be met by dog food alone.
Actually, because the dog food market is so huge, today there are lots of great vet recommended dog food brands that offer blends for dogs with sensitive stomachs, skin allergies, and other special dietary requirements. For more on commercial dog food safety and humanization of pet food, I recommend you these two podcast interviews:
- Podcast: Humanization of Dog Food with Dr Jennifer Adolphe, PhD
- Podcast: Safety of Commercial Dog Food Brands
- Guide: Best Food for Dogs – The Buyers Guide
Dog owners can purchase commercial dog food recipes with certain supplements and vitamins for dogs added to them. Glucosamine and chondroitin are two common supplements found in a lot of dog foods made specifically for active dogs and senior dogs. Making homemade dog foods is also a viable option if you know what you're doing.
Below I've chosen my top 10 vet recommended dog food brands, and I hope to explain a little more in detail what goes into my selection process. Then you can use similar criteria when selecting your dog’s diet. However, as I mentioned, you really should consult with your dog's veterinarian before making any large changes to his diet.
Often you can do this over the phone without having to pay for an office visit. Just remember that paying for a vet visit won't be much compared to the bill for treating a dog with allergies or some other issue related to the wrong diet.
RELATED: Top Vet Recommended Dog Supplements
Selecting 10 Vet Recommended Dog Food Brands
As a pet parent, when choosing the best dog food brand for your Fido you need to consider the health and nutritional benefits of that dog food. Don't just take the company's claims as proof that the food is healthy.
There are certain things that you should be looking for in order to make sure the dog food you select is going to give your pet the nutrition that he requires. Start by reading dog food labels closely and analyze well what's on them.
Basic Criteria for Selecting a Dog Food
Does it meet AAFCO standards for balanced nutrition?
AAFCO stands for the American Association of Feed Control Officials. This is not a government regulatory agency but a voluntary quality standard group that sets nutritional standards for each stage in a pet’s life.
Most commercial dog food companies formulate their dog foods for puppy, adult, and senior/mature life stages based on AAFCO’s standards. I use AAFCO's and FDA's recommendations to go by, including for this list of best vet recommended dog foods. I think you should too.
Look for the AAFCO statement on the bag or can of dog food — if it’s there, it’s a sign of quality. Commercial raw diets and “freshly prepared” diets should also meet AAFCO requirements or NRC (National Research Council) standards. All of my vet recommended dog food brands meet AAFCO standards.
How reputable is the dog food company?
On the other hand, in an era of Salmonella contamination scares and the 2007 melamine pet food recall, it is hard to know which “big brand” you can trust these days. It seems that every food company out there has had problems with bacterial contamination at some point or another, so there is always a risk that a dog food will be recalled.
Going with a “boutique” raw diet or freshly-prepared diet won’t necessarily prevent food contamination either. Some food companies have had more problems than others (“repeat offenders”), and those companies are not included on my list. As far as commercial pet food companies are concerned, my favorites for balanced nutrition, palatability (how tasty dogs think it is), and quality control are listed below.
The Top Ten of Vet Recommended Dog Food Brands
Topping my list of vet recommended dog food brands is Hill’s Science Diet. It has been a forerunner in quality control and AAFCO nutrition standards since the 1930s. Since the 2007 melamine scare, it sources its raw ingredients from North America only and manufactures all of its products in the USA.
Royal Canin is about on par with Hill’s Science Diet for quality and nutrition. It offers some specific foods for particular breeds, which can be very helpful. While certain breeds don’t require different nutrients from other breeds, some characteristics of the Royal Canin breed-specific foods are quite appropriate.
For example, the Royal Canin Yorkshire terrier dog food has appropriately sized and shaped kibble, making eating dry food much easier for tiny mouths. Breed specific diets aren't extremely common, but in some instances they are necessary.
Purina is one of the oldest pet food companies in North America and provides solid nutrition for a good price. Over the last 80 years, much of the published nutritional research in canines was done by Purina. ProPlan, Purina’s more “premium” line, is a favorite of veterinarians and dogs alike. With some of the recent publicity they've been having lately, the company continues to innovate and satisfy majority of their customers.
Orijen is the best that you can get if you are concerned about human-grade food traceability. Orijen is a Canadian pet food company dedicated to sourcing its raw ingredients from Canada only. On their website, the company publishes the exact province where the fish, meats, fruits, and vegetables are sourced for its products. All Orijen products meet AAFCO standards and Fido’s taste test, too!
If you are a health nut and want the convenience of a relatively inexpensive commercial food, Wellness may be a good option for your pup. Wellness provides whole-food based nutrition with a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and a boost of antioxidants and probiotics for healthy digestion. Wellness have been in the dog food business for the longest time and they continue to lead the way for many vet recommended dog food brands.
Castor & Pollux offers one of the only USDA Organic brands of dog foods. Many of their canned diets resemble home-cooked “stew” type of meals, which is tasty for your dog and more pleasing to human eyes. Personally, I have used them before myself with my own dogs and taste-wise, canines usually love this brand. It's a great option and I have a lot of trust in their future dog food releases.
Like Royal Canin, Iams/Eukanuba offers a variety of diets for specific breeds and for dogs with specific medical issues at a more affordable price. If your dog has sensitive skin and is a toy breed that needs a small kibble, Iams/Eukanuba will have the diet for you. The price is also great to at least start it off and see if your pets like the taste of Iams/Eukanuba dog food brands.
Nutro Ultra provides a natural blend of ingredients for optimal nutrition. It offers a variety of formulas for large and small breeds alike. While it offers the trendy “grain-free” formulas, it also makes most of its dog foods with grains that are less likely to cause allergies such as whole-grain oats and brown rice. Many veterinarians would recommended this brand of dog food as one of the top choices among grain-free dog foods.
If you are interested in whole, human-grade dog foods but don’t have the time to cook a balanced diet for your dog, The Honest Kitchen provides balanced, freeze-dried dog food that makes it easy to “cook up” your pup’s dinner in no time. Their offerings include low-allergen duck and fish and whole grains like quinoa. The company also continues to grow, innovate with human grade dog food and provide better products for pet parents in America.
Natural Balance is one of the more affordable “natural” diets that contain balanced nutrition with a boost of healthy omega-3s. While Natural Balance is not a “hypoallergenic” diet, many dogs with allergies benefit from its novel protein and carbohydrate recipes such as salmon and potato or venison and sweet potato. Many owners see an improvement in their dog’s coat without a prescription diet.
While this list is a “top 10” of my vet recommended dog food brands, it is best for you to select the best food for your own budget, lifestyle, and dog’s individual needs. Some dogs are more “picky eaters” than others while some will eat whatever whenever. The goal is to provide the best nutrition that you can and for your dog to enjoy eating it. Speak to your veterinarian if you are concerned about your pet’s diet or health.