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As you read through this article today, there is one thing that I want you to take into account and that is: cheap dog food does not signify inferior quality. What this means is that you will have to spend ample time doing your homework to find the best cheap dog food brands.

As dog parents, we want the best for our canine pals and diet is one of the factors to ensure they live a healthy and happy life. Even when working on a tight budget, there are dog food brands healthy for our dogs with high-grade dog food from the best cheap dog food brands in the market. They have premium animal-based protein, fatty acids, vitamins & minerals, antioxidants, and are available for all life stages. 

Different dogs and breeds have unique nutritional needs and finding the healthiest cheap dog food will typically depend on their life stage. Puppies, for instance, need more protein to support their developing muscles and body compared to adult dogs and senior dog diets. And although most cheap dog foods offer poor nutrition, there are those that are worth it as reviewed here in our cheap dog food brands list.   

Today, I am going to review the 10 best cheap dog food brands in 2021 that prepare affordable kibble and canned dog foods with your pooch in mind. I will cover the best cheap dog food brands rated as healthy for your dog.

Is there Good Cheap Dog Food in the Market?

Yes, there is good cheap dog food in the market but it will not be easy to come across as it requires good research. Some dog food companies are producing quality cheap dog food for average and low income earners who want to feed their dogs with the best diets.

These cheap dog food brands are now enriching their formulas with vital ingredients such as fiber, amino acids, omega fatty acids, probiotics, prebiotics, minerals, and vitamins. This helps promote your dog’s overall health as they compete with giant expensive pet food firms.

You need to understand that price is not a guarantee of high quality products and that applies for dog foods as well. It is not a surprise to find dog foods with high price tags and stylish ads yet are full of fillers and less health benefits for your pooch.

Basic Nutritional Needs for Dogs

As a rule of the thumb, the basic nutritional needs for dogs are a nutritious and balanced diet comprising of animal-based protein, fat, and carbs. These ingredients help support muscle growth, provide energy and promote skin and coat health, as well as provide fiber for healthy digestion, respectively. It must also include minerals & vitamins to support a healthy immune system.

For optimal health and happiness of your dog, make sure that the dog food does not contain fillers, synthetic colors and additives. That is how you know which dog food brand is best for your canine buddy.

Review of the 10 Best Cheap Dog Food Brands in 2021

1.     PEDIGREE Complete Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food

First five ingredients: Ground Whole Grain Corn, Meat & Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat, and Soybean Meal

Our overall cheap dog food brands best for your canine friend is the roasted chicken, rice, and vegetable flavor dry dog food from PEDIGREE. This dog food helps your adult dog live his life to the fullest as it is formulated to provide the energy and nutrition he needs to thrive. Roasted chicken makes the dog food palatable even for picky eaters.

Even best, this cheap dog food comes packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals for a healthy immune and lifestyle. In addition, it is prepared using whole grains and a unique blend of fiber to support healthy digestion. Zinc and omega-6 fatty acid helps nourish the skin and promote a healthy, lustrous coat. It is among the best cheap dog food brands in South Africa.

What I like most is the unique, crispy texture in dog food brands Pedigree that helps clean your dog’s teeth to support pleasant oral health. It has 21% protein, 10% fat, 4% fiber, and 12% moisture.

Pros:

  • Palatable
  • Supports overall health
  • Quality dog food

Cons:

  • Contains corn as the first & biggest ingredient
  • Chicken flavor not chicken

Check on Chewy or Amazon

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2.  DOGSWELL Happy Hips Dry Dog Chicken & Oats Recipe

First five ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oats, Barley, and Brown Rice

If you are looking for the best cheap dog food brand under $40, DOGSWELL got you covered with their happy hips dry dog food chicken & oats recipe. Prepared with real, hormone-free chicken as the first ingredient, this cheap dry dog food includes animal-based protein to provide vital amino acids to support muscle growth and maintenance. This is also one of the dog food brands high in fiber in the list today.

The dog food includes glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate which helps support healthy hips and joints and is ideal for all life stages. Antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber from real superfoods and veggies like apples, sweet potato, blueberries, and carrots help promote a healthy immune. Even best, it features healthy carbs such as brown rice, and oats that provide optimal energy.

In my opinion, I find it the best cheap dog food for seniors and active dogs. This cheap but high-quality dog food contains 24% protein, 12% fat, 5.5% fiber, and 10% moisture.

Pros:

  • Great taste for fussy eaters
  • Suitable for all life stages
  • Supports joints & bone health
  • Healthy ingredients

Cons:

  • Bad batches on Amazon

Check on Chewy or Amazon

3. Rachael Ray Nutrish Premium Natural Dry Dog Food Chicken & Veggies Recipe

First five ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Dried Peas, Soybean Meal, and Whole Ground Corn

Rachael Ray Nutrish Premium Natural Dry Dog Food is yet another great option in our best cheap dog foods list. This chicken & veggies recipe features real chicken as the first ingredient and animal-based protein which provides essential amino acids for building strong muscles.

This premium cheap dog food brand under $50 is made with natural ingredients as well as minerals and vitamins to promote healthy immune. It also includes wholesome whole grains that provide fiber and other essential nutrients that promote healthy digestion and overall happiness. Other than this dog food brands dry option, you can also choose from their wet food recipes.

This formula includes poultry fat which provides natural omega fatty acids sources for a healthy skin and shiny coat. It contains 26% protein, 14% fat, 4% fiber, and 10% moisture.

Pros:

  • Supports healthy digestion
  • Great taste
  • Rich in wholesome fiber

Cons:

  • Many complaints regarding quality
  • Poultry fat source not identified

Check on Chewy or Amazon

4. Natural Balance L.I.D Dry Dog Food with Grains

First five ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran, and Canola Oil

If you are looking for a limited ingredients diet cheap dog food brand under $60, this lamb meal & brown rice recipe from Natural Balance is a fantastic choice. With lamb meal as the first ingredient for animal-based protein, this dry dog food helps retain strong muscles in adult dogs. It is ideal for all breed sizes.

This cheap dry dog food brand helps minimize the number of ingredients your pooch is exposed to keeping him off common allergens. It has been crafted with wholesome grains which helps promote and maintain a healthy digestive system and contains fats to support healthy skin and coat. The recipe offers the best complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs.

This quality dog food contains 22% protein, 12% fat, 4% fiber, and 10% moisture.

Pros:

  • Single animal protein source
  • High quality dog food
  • Vet recommended
  • Great for allergies

Cons:

  • Grains may be bad for some dogs
  • Complaints about changed formula or quality

Check on Chewy or Amazon

5.  Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Turkey Recipe Grain-Free

First five ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes, and Canola Oil

Are you in the hunt for the best cheap dog food brand for sensitive stomachs? This grain-free turkey recipe for both puppies and adults from Nulo is a fantastic choice. It consists of a single animal-based protein source from turkey and turkey meal to promote muscle growth. As such, it is the best limited ingredient nutrition your dog with sensitivities needs.

This dog food brands natural recipe comes with all the essential ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help promote your dog’s overall health. To support immune and digestive health, the formula comes packed with probiotics. In addition, it contains omegas from canola oils and salmon for skin health and a shiny coat. It is one of the dog food brands best for your puppy or adult’s optimal health.

This cheap dry dog food brand contains 30% protein, 17% fat, 3.5% fiber, and 10% moisture.

Pros:

  • Low carbs content
  • High protein source
  • Best for sensitive stomach
  • Limited ingredient diet

Cons:

  • Some dogs prefers grains
  • Hard to get sometimes

Check on Chewy or Amazon

6. Taste of the Wild Free High Protein Dry Dog Food

First five ingredients: Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, and Pea Protein

This grain-free, bison & roasted venison dry dog food from Taste of the Wild is the best cheap dog food brands for puppies in the list today. It is crafted with real meat as the first ingredient which is a high protein source to support your dog’s joints, bones, as well as lean, sturdy muscles. You can feed puppies of all breed sizes.

The recipe is nutrient-rich and provides your dog with all the energy he needs to thrive as it is packed with minerals & vitamins from superfoods and fruits to support immune health. In addition, canola oil and flaxseeds provide omega fatty acids that promote skin and coat health. Even best, this cheap dry dog food brand includes proprietary probiotics that support healthy digestion.

Formulated for the overall health and wellness of your puppy, this dog food contains 28% protein, 17% fat, 5% fiber, and 10% moisture.

Pros:

  • Formulated for pups of all breed sizes
  • Rich taste
  • Healthy ingredients
  • Excellent quality

Cons:

  • FDA warnings on brand

Check on Chewy or Amazon

7.  Purina Beneful IncrediBites for Small Dogs Dry Dog Food

First five ingredients: Beef, Whole Grain Corn, Barley, Soybean Meal, and Chicken By-Product Meal

Small dog breeds have specific nutritional needs and Purina Beneful IncrediBites is among the best cheap dog food brands best for small breeds in our list today. This recipe contains a single source of animal-based protein from real, farm-raised beef as an excellent source of premium protein to support lean, strong muscles. Beef is the first ingredient and there is a choice for chicken too.

Other ingredients included in this nutrient-rich formula are accents of real carrots and peas that the recipe uses to add variety to your dog’s diet. Essential minerals and vitamins are also included to promote your pooch’s overall health. I also love the easy-to-chew mini-bites in these dog food brands beneful that are ideal for your small dog’s mouth.

This cheap dog food brands Purina also includes beef fat which provides omega fatty acids for a healthy skin and lustrous coat, and contains 28% protein, 13.5% fat, 4% fiber, and 12% moisture.

Pros:

  • Small kibble for small dogs
  • Perfect for picky eaters
  • Real, farm-raised beef
  • Fresh & sealed

Cons:

Check on Chewy or Amazon

8.  Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

First five ingredients: Bison Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca, and Dried Egg

This formula from Earthborn Holistic is our best cheap dog food brand without chicken in the list. It includes real, red meat bison meal as the first ingredient which is a high animal-based protein source that helps grow and sustain energy and strong muscle mass. What I like most is that it is free of chicken and other common allergens making it a worthy pick.

Other healthful ingredients include L-carnitine which helps convert fat in dog food into energy to promote lean, muscle mass and omega-3 & 6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat. It is one of the best cheap dog food brands that are rich C & E vitamins (antioxidant nutrients) plus a blend of veggies and fruits that support a healthy immune system and optimal dog health.

This high quality cheap dog food brands best for chicken allergies contains 32% protein, 18% fat, 4% fiber, and 10% protein.

Pros:

  • Grain & gluten-free
  • Supports excellent digestibility
  • Complete & balanced
  • High protein content

Cons:

Check on Chewy or Amazon

9.  Wellness Simple L.I.D Turkey and Potato

First five ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Peas, and Dried Ground Potatoes

Yet another grain-free limited ingredient diet, in our list today, this recipe from Wellness is among the best cheap dog food brands in USA. With deboned turkey as the first ingredient and single animal-based protein source, the recipe helps support the growth of strong muscles to keep your pooch strong and lively.

This turkey & potato formula is among the dog food brands high in omega-3 from flaxseeds that is skillfully balanced with easily digestible carbs and natural prebiotics for a healthy digestive system. It also features antioxidants that help promote a strong digestive system. In addition, there are omega fatty acids that support skin health and a lustrous coat as well as taurine for a healthy heart. It is also among the best cheap dog food brands NZ.

I pick this recipe as the best cheap dog food for allergies as it is free of common allergens like chicken and contains 26% protein, 12% fat, 5.5% fiber, and 11% moisture.

Pros:

  • Hypoallergenic dog food
  • Palatable for fussy eaters
  • Great for allergies & sensitive tummies

Cons:

  • Tomato pomace is not good for some dogs

Check on Chewy or Amazon

10.  American Journey Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

First five ingredients: Beef, Chicken, Beef Broth, Chicken Liver, and Potatoes

This review on the best cheap dog food brands names would be incomplete if I do not mention American Journey. This beef & chicken grain-free recipe has real meat as the first ingredient which is a great source of animal-based premium protein to help maintain lean muscle mass. Mix that with chicken and savory beef broth and you have a great taste your pooch can’t get enough of.

It comes with a loaf style and is among the best cheap dog food brands canned option in our list today. In addition, the recipe contains a blend of omega fatty acids from flaxseeds, fish oil, and sunflower oil that help promote a healthy skin and lustrous coat, plus vitamins & minerals for a healthy immune system. The dog food is also grain-free for dogs sensitive to grains while keeping your pooch healthy and happy.

This cheap dog food brands wet option contains 9% protein, 6% fat, 1.5% fiber, and 78% moisture.

Pros:

  • Highly nutritious
  • Premium protein blend
  • Healthy ingredients

Cons:

  • Some dogs refuse it

Check on Chewy or Amazon

Buyer’s Guide for the Best Cheap Dog Food Brands

As mentioned above, finding the best affordable dog food brands is not easy given most of the brands with these dog diets offer low nutrition. So, one of the questions that people ask me regularly is what to look for in the best cheap dog food brands in the market.

My advice to pet parents when it comes to buy cheap dog foods is that affordability should not compromise the quality. Here are the six things to look for in cheap dog foods:

1)    Dog’s Life Stage

Regardless of the price, all dogs and breeds have different dietary needs and that is why a dog’s life stage should be an important factor to consider. Are you feeding a puppy, adult, or senior dog? These stages have different nutritional needs and so does the breed size (small, medium, or large).

2)    Proteins

Proteins play a vital role in promoting the growth of lean, strong muscles for growing pups and maintaining muscles in adults and seniors. Make sure that the primary source of protein in the dog food is animal-based, that is, real meat.

3)    Fatty Acids

Fatty acids help promote a healthy skin and lustrous coat in your canine friend, as well as healthy joints. Most costly brands use fish-based omega fatty acids, but you can look for other sources like flaxseeds or canola oil.

4)    Antioxidants

Useful in supporting a healthy immune system, antioxidants should be in a dog’s diet so make sure that the cheap dog food brand you pick has that in their list.

5)    Vitamins & Minerals

I recommend dog foods with vitamins and minerals because they have a basketful of benefits for your doggie. These micronutrients help promote vision and cognition health to keep your pooch happy.

6)    Carbs

Opt for dog foods with complex carbs such as sweet potatoes and whole grains to provide long-lasting energy so your dog can eat less for more liveliness. White and brown rice are also good options but provide less energy.

Make sure that the dog food meets the FDA pet food requirements.

Ingredients to Avoid in Cheap Dog Foods

As we all know, not everything a dog food manufacturer puts in is healthy for our dog which is why we should be watchful. Here are the ingredients you should avoid in cheap dog foods:

1)    By-products

If you see by-products in the ingredients list, especially from unnamed sources, keep your hands off the brand! Other than having low to no nutritional value, they can be sourced from almost anything, including road kills and unsavory animals.

2)    Artificial Preservatives & Additives

Although they increase shelf-life, taste, and appeal, artificial additives and preservatives eventually bring health complications, especially on dogs with sensitivities. In addition, they can result in allergies in the long-term and you certainly do not want that for your pet.

3)    Fillers

Fillers, such as corn and processed grains, have no significant value in your dog’s health and are used to substitute healthy ingredients. If you see these and more in the ingredients list, keep off.

It is also worth mentioning that, many cheap dog food brands use grains in plenty. And while they are not dangerous for your doggie, avoid grain-inclusive dog foods if he is sensitive to grains. Beware, too, of dog food brands recalled for causing ailments and life-threatening infections to dogs.

Where to Buy

I personally buy the best cheap dog foods from Chewy or Amazon which are good platforms despite having some flaws here and there. You can also search dog food brands Petsmart, dog food brands Petco, or even dog food brands at Walmart or Costco and you will get what you are looking for. Just make sure that the dog food meets the specific requirements of your pooch.

How to Safely Switch into a New Dog Food Brand

To safely switch into a new dog food brand, the process must be done gradually. Just pour 10% of the new dog food into the bowl and 90% of the old. Continue making these slight changes as you introduce your pooch to the new food every day until it constitutes 100% of the bowl.

Check out the video below on how to safely switch into a new dog food brand:

Homemade Dog Foods vs. Commercial Dog Foods

Given the high costs on high quality dog foods, risk avoidance, and dog food recalls in recent past, most dog parents are opting for homemade diets. And while it is a good thing, they are misinformed that is less costly than commercial dog foods.

To tell you the truth, it is riskier to feed your doggie homemade dog diets as a cheap option because 1) high quality & edible ingredients are costly, and 2) you will not use the right ratio which means your dog will not eat a balanced meal every time.

In my opinion, just take your time to look for cheap but healthy dog foods because they are there.

Dog Food Brands to Avoid

Please try to avoid are those dog food brands on FDA list as some of these dog food brands linked to heart disease among other deficiencies. If you have seen any dog food brands under investigation, it is good to keep off or look for recipes of the brands that are not suspicious. After all, not all recipes from a single brand are to be kept away from.

In short, any dog food brands recalled frequently is to be avoided.

FAQs

How cheap should cheap dog food be?

That is a very good question. Although you are looking for cheap dog food brands, I would not recommend you to buy any dog food that is below $30 because I also cannot. Dog foods with that low price tend to be full of fillers and low-quality ingredients. As you can see, I provided cheap dog foods under $60, $50, and $40, so $30 is how low you can go.

What is the best cheap dog food brand?

I cannot provide an overall answer to this question because as mentioned earlier, different dogs and breeds have different needs. As such, the best cheap dog food brand is the one that meets the specific needs of your pooch by providing quality diets at an affordable price. If a certain brand matches the size, age, and dietary needs of your dog, it is the best!

Is all cheap dog food bad for dogs?

Yes and no! How good or bad a cheap dog food brand is depends on the nutritional value and quality of the diets. According to a commercial dog foods research, not all labeled ‘premium dog foods’ are high quality. In fact, most of them are inferior yet expensive. Yet, many brands selling premium dog foods at an affordable price.

Is dry dog food cheaper than wet dog food?

Yes, dry dog food is cheaper than wet dog food despite having a longer shelf-life. The reason why wet or canned dog food is expensive than dry dog food is because it has high protein and moisture concentration and is more palatable. Even best, dogs tend to eat more wet food.

Why are some dog foods cheaper than others?

Typically, the price difference between dog foods is dictated by the quality of ingredients used to make the dog food. The use of natural ingredients in high-quality dog foods makes them costlier but some brands are doing a terrific job of cutting the production cost while maintaining quality.

Wrap-Up

That is my dog food brands review for the best cheap dog foods in the market that are healthy and nutritious for your dog. From dog food brands recommended by vets to those specifically formulated for different life stages, breeds, and sizes, there is quality cheap dog food for you out there free of fillers and with high nutritional value.

All these dog food brands ranked high in customer reviews and meet the needs of almost every dog and are available in different regions. Hope you find the best option for your doggie or this review gave you some good ideas.

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