When it comes to buying natural dog food, be careful. “There is no law when it comes to using the term, and not all foods labeled as ‘natural’ are created equal,” says Jamie Richardson, medical chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary in New York City. There are, however, choices if you want a dog food that is responsibly made and free of potentially questionable ingredients like pesticides, chemical preservatives, and genetically modified ingredients.
Tip: Often check for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on the food’s container before buying, advises Dr. Richardson. She explains, “Which ensures the food is made to be nutritionally full for your pet and meets minimum requirements.”
Here, our picks for the best natural dog foods available now:
Best Overall: Organix Organic Adult Canned Dog Food at Amazon ($38)
“All of the ingredients in this wet food are organic and preservative-free, including chicken, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables.”
Best for Large Breeds: DIAMOND NATURALS Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food at Amazon ($37)
“This formula is high in glucosamine, a nutrient that’s important for joint health, particularly in older dogs.”
Best for Small Breeds: Merrick Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food at Amazon ($20)
“This company goes so far as to list the first five ingredients on the front of the bag to cover the needs of small breed dogs.”
Best Budget: Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Premium Dry Dog Food at Amazon ($42)
“Meat from chickens raised in the United States is the top ingredient in this budget-friendly, raw dog food.”
Castor & Pollux Organix Canned Wet Dog Food
Dr. Richardon’s practice recommends Castor & Pollux Organix because of its GMO-free ingredient list. Chicken, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables are all USDA-certified organic ingredients. Grain, wheat, soy, artificial colors, or preservatives are seldom used, and it’s made in small batches.
The balanced ingredient list and overall high quality of this food should please the owners. After all, why would you do something different for your dog if you’re feeding yourself organic, new ingredients?
Important note: This food contains a lot of calories, so it’s best to avoid it if your dog is overweight.
Also, See 5 Best Pure Balance Dog Food
Diamond Naturals Premium Large Breed Formulas Dry Dog Food
What’s the right natural dog food for a big dog like yours? Take a look at Diamond Naturals. This dry food is made in the United States and contains cage-free chicken, whole grain brown rice, fruits, and vegetables. (To be honest, the ingredient list appeals to people as well as dogs.)
It’s packed with nutrient-dense ingredients designed specifically for large-breed dogs, and it’s free of artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, as well as filler ingredients. This food is also high in glucosamine, a nutrient that is important for joint health in dogs, particularly as they get older.
Also, See Diamond Naturals Dog Food
Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food
Smaller dogs like food that comes in smaller bits so that they can chew and swallow it easily. But it’s not just about size; small breed dogs have unique dietary requirements. Merrick is one of the products that Dr. Richardson recommends when it comes to natural dog foods to meet those needs.
Merrick proudly lists the first five ingredients on the front of the package, indicating that the ingredients are of high quality. To aid digestion, whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa are also included.
Rachael Ray Nutrish Super Premium Dry Dog Food
Are you looking for natural dog food that isn’t too expensive? The number one ingredient in Nutrish is actual, USA-raised meat, not filler. Prebiotics—food that feeds the healthy bacteria in your pet’s gut—are often included in the formula to aid digestion. The company boasts about its “wholesome” ingredients and discusses why the top ingredients are essential in your pet’s diet. That is not the case.
Due to its USDA-certified organic ingredients and lack of artificial flavors or preservatives, we recommend Castor & Pollux Organix Canned Dog Food (available at Amazon) as the best quality dog food on the market. If you prefer to feed your dog dry food, we suggest Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Original Recipe Dry Dog Food (available at Petco).