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The 7 Best Budget-Friendly Dog Foods (What We Found!)

When you’re looking for the best budget-friendly dog foods, you might be surprised at the number of high-quality options you have to choose from.

Just because you’re looking for less-expensive dog food options doesn’t mean you have to settle for choices with cheap fillers and bulking agents. 

When choosing the right food for your pup, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether to go with wet or dry food. Dry kibble might be a good option if you’re budget conscious because it’s typically the cheapest.

If you’re looking for the best food for your puppy, check out our top picks specifically formulated for the needs of growing puppies.

Our Top Picks

  Product Details    
01 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dry Dog Food Best Overall: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dry Dog Food This Blue Buffalo product is the best for all adult dogs. With the first 3 ingredients being chicken, chicken meal, and rice, you know your furry best friend is getting the high-quality nutrients they need. Check Price
02 Taste Of The Wild Dry Dog Food Best Grain-Free Formula: Taste Of The Wild Dry Dog Food If you’re looking for grain-free dog food, this Taste of the Wild product is hard to beat. This formula has 32% protein, which promotes lean muscle growth and bone and joint health. Check Price
03 Iams Mini Chunks Best For All Life Stages: Iams Mini Chunks One of the hallmarks of this product is that it’s designed for all life stages, which means you don’t have to worry about introducing different dry foods as your dog grows up. The mini chunks are also easy for your pup to chew and digest. Check Price
04 Purina ONE SmartBlend Dry Dog Food Best Chicken Blend: Purina ONE SmartBlend Dry Dog Food Although this product is one of the more expensive options on our list, real chicken is the first ingredient of Purina ONE’s SmartBlend, and that premium protein for your dog is worth every penny. Check Price
05 Iams Proactive Health Dry Dog Food Best For Small Dogs: Iams Proactive Health Dry Dog Food If your dog is on the smaller side, consider choosing this kibble from Iams. Iams’ trademark Mini Chunks are made from farm-raised chicken and perfectly sized for smaller breeds. Check Price
06 Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food Best Superfood Formula: Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food If you’re looking for kibble that’s packed with superfoods, Nutro’s got you covered. This product contains a blend of 15 non-GMO superfoods, along with chicken, to help your pup have a well-balanced diet. Check Price

How We Chose the Best Budget-Friendly Dog Foods

First, we researched a wide variety of budget-friendly dog foods, and the 3 factors we focused on were cost, nutrition, and brand. We made sure that each product in our list met the criteria for being budget-friendly. 

Of course, you want the best for your pup, but your dog food purchase shouldn’t break the bank! We zoomed in on dry food for our list because kibble is typically cheaper than wet food. 

Second, we took a deep dive into the nutritional contents of each product. Your dog is your best friend, and you want to make sure they’re eating food that’s right for them. Here are the nutritional aspects we focused on.

First 3 Ingredients

You can tell a great deal about dog food by the quality of the first ingredients. The products we included in our list have a source of high-quality protein such as chicken, lamb, turkey, salmon, or beef listed among the first 3 ingredients. Your dog needs plenty of protein for lean muscle growth and energy.

Moderate Fat and Carb Content

You want your dog to get enough slow-release carbs and moderate healthy fats from good sources. The average dog should have less than 25% of its diet composed of fat. With this in mind, the fat content of each product featured in our list is less than 25%.

Fruits and Veggies

Your pup needs more than just the 3 core macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat), and a well-balanced formula is important for your dog’s diet. We looked for kibble with fruits and veggies listed as part of the formula.

Healthy Supplements, Vitamins, and Minerals

There are specific supplements, vitamins, and minerals that should be part of your dog’s food. For example, glucosamine and chondroitin support joint and bone health, and fatty acids promote healthy skin and coat. When evaluating the different options, we searched for products that contained these necessary ingredients.

No Cheap Fillers and Bulking Agents

Inexpensive dog food doesn’t have to contain cheap fillers, bulking agents, and additives that can be detrimental to your dog’s health. Many budget-friendly options in our list contain nothing but the healthy, whole ingredients your pup needs. 

Lastly, we took into account the brand of dog food. Affordable dog food doesn’t have to be off-brand, and we wanted to make sure our list included options from brands that you can easily find online or at your local grocery or pet food store. 

We found 15 dog food products that fit all of our criteria, and tested them with our dogs to see which ones we all agree on. 7 of the foods made our list of top budget-friendly dog foods, and 8 we included as honorable mentions.

READ MORE: The Best Water Fountains for Dogs. We tried the best water fountains available for dogs to see if they were worth the money. Here’s what we found!

Best Budget-Friendly Dog Foods

1. Best Overall: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dry Dog Food

Product Ratings

Affordability3/5
First 3 Ingredients Quality5/5
Formula Makeup5/5
Brand5/5

Type: Dry Life Protection formula with LifeSource Bits | Designed For: Adult Dogs | First 3 Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, rice | Best For: All Adult Dogs | Brand: Blue Buffalo

What We Liked

  • Real meat is always the first ingredient, regardless of the flavor you choose
  • The LifeSource Bits contain the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for your dog’s health
  • Good for all adult dogs
  • Bag sizes range from 5 pounds to 34 pounds

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not good for dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • Not all of our dogs will eat the LifeSource Bits
  • Higher in calories per serving compared to other brands
  • Not the most affordable option compared to others we tested

Blue Buffalo is well known for its great dog food at reasonable prices and with its high-quality formula and real meat as the first ingredient, it’s our overall pick for the best budget-friendly dog food available.

The first ingredient of this dry food is real meat, and in this specific product, your dog gets plenty of protein from deboned chicken. This option also has a balanced carb content, which complements the protein and ensures that your dog has the energy needed to keep going all day long. 

Cranberries, blueberries, and carrots complement the other ingredients wonderfully and give your dog a shot of whole-body health.

Another noticeable component of the formula is Blue Buffalo’s proprietary LifeSource Bits. These chunks of kibble are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support your dog’s immune system. 

The product we have listed here is the 15-pound bag, but bag sizes range from 5 pounds to 34 pounds, so you can find the perfect size that fits your needs. This is not only one of the most highly-recommended dog foods out there, but it’s budget-friendly as well. 

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2. Best Grain-free Formula: Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food 

Taste Of The Wild Dry Dog Food

Product Ratings

Affordability4/5
First 3 Ingredients Quality5/5
Formula Makeup3/5
Brand5/5

Type: Dry grain-free formula with salmon | Designed For: Adult Dogs | First 3 Ingredients: Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes | Best For: All Adult Dogs | Brand: Taste of the Wild

What We Liked

  • Lots of protein in this formula at 32%
  • Real salmon as the first ingredient
  • No artificial flavors or colors
  • Offers both grain-free and ancient grain formulas

What We Didn’t Like

  • Canola oil is one of the ingredients which is not as healthy for your dog’s diet as a lighter oil like olive oil
  • More expensive compared to other brands
  • Can cause your pup to have slightly smelly breath right after eating

Taste of the Wild aims to replicate the same diet your dog would have in the wild. This means you don’t have to worry about any artificial flavors or colors in this product, and there are no cheap fillers. 

The Taste of the Wild variety that made our top picks is the grain-free recipe for adult dogs, but there is also an ancient grains version available along with a grain-free puppy formula, so they have a formula for every dog.

One of the things we love about this product is the elevated protein content. This kibble packs a punch with 32% protein content, promoting lean muscle growth and supporting bone and joint health. 

We love that real salmon as the first ingredient so our dogs get a premium protein at a budget-friendly price. Prebiotics and probiotics are included in the formula to ease digestion and promote a healthy immune system.

The salmon in the food makes our dogs’ breath a bit stinky after eating, but we still think this is a great food to provide dogs with everything they need and nothing they don’t at an affordable price.

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3. Best for All Life Stages: Iams Mini Chunks

Iams Mini Chunks

Product Ratings

Affordability5/5
First 3 Ingredients Quality4/5
Formula Makeup3/5
Brand5/5

Type: Dry formula with Mini Chunks | Designed For: All Life Stages | First 3 Ingredients: Lamb, rice, chicken meal | Best For: All Adult Dogs | Brand: Iams

What We Liked

  • Real lamb is the first ingredient
  • One of the most affordable dog food brands
  • Flexible formula is suitable for all life stages, so there’s no need to switch formulas as your pup grows up
  • Iams is consistently recommended by veterinarians

What We Didn’t Like

  • Formula contains corn, which does not have as much nutritional value as other forms of carbohydrates
  • Chunks can be a little tough for smaller dogs to chew
  • Formula includes more grain ingredients compared to other brands

Iams has some excellent pet food options at excellent prices. So how does this formula with Mini Chunks stand out?

This kibble comes in small pieces that are easy for your dog to chew and digest, and the prebiotics in this fiber-dense formula promotes overall digestive health. Additionally, the omega-6 fatty acids in this food help bring out the best qualities in your pup’s skin and coat.

Real lamb is the primary ingredient in this product, so your dog gets protein from a premium source and food he’ll wolf down until the bowl is clean.

We found that it works to serve this dry food as-is, but we also mixed it with wet food for our dogs who need more variety. We moistened this kibble for our dogs that have a tough time chewing the kibble and they gobbled it up.

Vets and pet experts consistently recommend Iams, and your wallet will be thanking you for the lower price point! We love that this food is appropriate for dogs in all life stages.

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4. Best Chicken Blend: Purina ONE SmartBlend Dry Dog Food

Purina ONE SmartBlend Dry Dog Food

Product Ratings

Affordability3/5
First 3 Ingredients Quality3/5
Formula Makeup3/5
Brand5/5

Type: Dry formula with chicken and rice | Designed For: Adult Dogs | First 3 Ingredients: Chicken, rice flour, corn gluten meal | Best For: All breeds and all life stages | Brand: Purina ONE

What We Liked

  • Bag sizes vary from 8 pounds to 40 pounds
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • Wide recipe variety so you can find the right option for your dog based on flavor preference, size, and breed

What We Didn’t Like

  • Formula contains more corn and grain than fruits and veggies
  • Higher crude fat content compared to other options (16% vs 14% in Blue Buffalo and 8% in Iams)
  • More expensive than other product options

Although Purina ONE is among the most expensive options on our list, it still represents solid overall value. What do you get for your money?

First, you can choose from a wide variety of bag sizes, from 8 pounds to this bumper-value 40-pound option. You’ll then need to decide if you’d like to just purchase the food alone or take the bundle that includes some tasty treats for your pup.

Real chicken is the first ingredient in this formula. As long as your dog doesn’t have chicken allergies, you’ll be delivering plenty of protein from a premium source, ideal for supporting lean muscle growth. 

This kibble also contains a healthy antioxidant blend and glucosamine, promoting a healthy immune system and strong joints. Ideal for all breeds of adult dogs, this food is versatile and delivers whole-body health for a budget-friendly price.

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5. Best for Small Dogs: Iams Proactive Health Dry Dog Food

Iams Proactive Health Dry Dog Food

Product Ratings

Affordability5/5
First 3 Ingredients Quality3/5
Formula Makeup3/5
Brand5/5

Type: Dry formula with Mini Chunks | Designed For: Adult Dogs | First 3 Ingredients: Chicken, corn, sorghum | Best For: Adult dogs, especially smaller dogs | Brand: Iams

What We Liked

  • First ingredient is farm-raised chicken
  • Smaller kibble size is friendly for small breeds
  • 25% crude protein content
  • Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids promote a healthy, shiny coat

What We Didn’t Like

  • Formula is not grain-free, which could cause digestive issues for sensitive stomachs
  • Corn is the second ingredient which is not as healthy for dogs
  • Higher calories per cup versus other options (380 calories per cup compared to 320 calories in Purina ONE)

Another offering from Iams is next on our list with this dry food, which features the manufacturer’s signature Mini Chunks.

The protein in this formula comes from real farm-raised chicken. With this premium source of protein, you can guarantee that your dog’s muscles will grow as they should, and he’ll also have the energy to keep going all day long. 

This chicken and whole grains recipe is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, so your dog’s coat, skin, and immune system are supported; and the small kibble size is perfect for smaller breeds.

The large 30-pound bag offers great value considering the quality of the ingredients in the formula. This brand proves that budget-friendly dog food doesn’t need cheap fillers and bulking agents. 

As long as your pup can tolerate grains, there’s not much to knock about this dog food from one of the most recommended brands by vets. Why not treat your dog to some lip-smacking food that supports whole-body health without breaking the bank?

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6. Best Superfood Formula: Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food

Product Ratings

Affordability3/5
First 3 Ingredients Quality4/5
Formula Makeup4/5
Brand5/5

Type: Dry formula with superfoods | Designed For: Adult Dogs | First 3 Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice | Best For: All adult dogs | Brand: Nutro Ultra

What We Liked

  • Formula is made with non-GMO ingredients
  • Protein is derived from three high-quality sources
  • No chicken by-product, corn, or soy

What We Didn’t Like

  • One of the most expensive options on our list
  • Not received well by picky eaters
  • Owners have reported mixing the food with broth, bacon grease, or food toppers to entice their dogs to eat it

Nutro markets its Ultra line as, “The Superfood Plate,” but does it deliver as promised?

The first selling point of this dog food is the protein derived from 3 sources (chicken, salmon, and lamb), giving your pup all the energy and muscle-building fuel he needs.

15 blended superfood ingredients make up the remainder of this powerful food. From coconut and chia seeds to blueberries and kale, this formula gives your dog a diet that’s packed with nutrients and flavor.

This formula is free of chicken by-products, wheat, corn, and soy; and best of all, all of the ingredients are non-GMO, so there’s little chance of your dog developing an allergy to this food, even if he has known sensitivities.

With no bulking agents or fillers in the recipe, this is one of the finest budget-friendly dog foods from a highly reputable brand. All that remains is which size bag to pick.

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7. Best Charity Formula: Rachael Ray Nutrish Premium Dog Food

Product Ratings

Affordability3/5
First 3 Ingredients Quality4/5
Formula4/5
Brand5/5

Type: Dry formula | Designed For: Adult Dogs | First 3 Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, soybean meal | Best For: All adult dogs | Brand: Rachael Ray Nutrish

What We Liked

  • This product is gluten-free, so it’s great for sensitive stomachs
  • Farm-raised chicken is the first ingredient
  • A portion of the proceeds from each bag sold goes to help animals in need

What We Didn’t Like

  • Slightly more expensive than some of the other options we’ve listed
  • Contains soybean meal and corn, which could be difficult to digest
  • Does not contain as many fruits and veggies compared to other brands

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray serves up this delicious dry formula ideal for all breeds and despite the celebrity name it comes from, this food is very affordable.

We’re featuring the 28-pound bag here so you should have a decent supply if you have just one adult dog in the house. For multi-dog households, you’ll want to buy in bulk. The first ingredient in this formula is real, farm-raised chicken, so you’ll be giving your pup plenty of energy and muscle-building fuel from a premium source.

This formula is free from chicken by-products, gluten, wheat, and cheap fillers. These unwanted extras can often get into budget-friendly dog food, making this product a nice exception.

We also love that a portion of each sale of this food goes to help animals in need, so you can do some good while also feeding your pup something good!

The natural ingredients are cooked in the USA, and the food is loved by pet owners worldwide. If you’re looking for budget-friendly dog food that helps your dog and dogs in need, give Nutrish a try.

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Comparison Chart

ProductAffordabilityFirst 3 IngredientsFormulaBrand
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult3/55/55/55/5
Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food4/55/53/55/5
Iams Mini Chunks5/54/53/55/5
PurinaONE Smartblend3/53/53/53/5
Iams Proactive Health5/53/53/55/5
Nutro Ultra3/54/54/55/5
Rachel Ray Nutrish3/54/54/55/5

The Winner

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dry Food is our favorite budget-friendly dog food. Although it’s not one of the cheapest options on the list, we love the high-quality ingredients this food has to offer, especially real chicken as the primary ingredient.

The LifeSource bits also provide your pup with a great balance of vitamins and minerals that promotes your dog’s healthy, active lifestyle. 

READ MORE: Best Dog Foods With Grains. See which tried and tested dog foods with grains made our list!

How to Choose the Best Budget-Friendly Dog Food

Look at the First 3 Ingredients

Like with human food, the first 3 ingredients on a bag of dog food are the main components of the formula. Always ensure that the first ingredient in any dog food, even when you’re shopping for budget-friendly dog food, is a premium protein ingredient.

Fat Content

Avoid feeding your dog a diet that’s too high in fat. Too much fat can easily lead to obesity (doubly so in smaller breeds), which can then cause a host of serious health conditions. 

Look for dry dog food with a fat content of roughly 15%. This will give your dog enough fat to promote a healthy, shiny coat while fueling his energy needs.

For Sensitive Stomachs, Avoid Corn, Wheat, and Soy

Corn, wheat, and soy are sometimes derided as poor sources of carbohydrates because they can cause digestive problems in dogs. If your dog has frequent digestive upset, look for formulas without these ingredients.

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, barley, and rice are all superior options for carbohydrates. That said, unless your dog has a food intolerance, you should not need to avoid grain-free dog foods.

READ MORE: Best Automatic Dog Feeders. We reviewed the top automatic dog feeders that are great for busy households!

Honorable Mentions

Here’s a look at some other options that didn’t make our list of top budget-friendly dog food options.

Before you go, be sure to stop by our related article on Why Your Dog Won’t Eat Dog Food. Discover the reasons behind a lack of appetite and what to do about it.

1. Diamonds Naturals Dry Dog Food

Although this food contains LifeSource bits, the first 3 ingredients in this dog food are beef meal, grain sorghum, and ground white rice. Beef meal is the first ingredient and includes a mix of superfoods, it has a fat content of 15%, which is higher than we like.

When it comes to a dog food option that packs a superfood punch, we found that Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food has higher quality ingredients for your pup and a better price point for your wallet.

2. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

This product from Whole Earth Farms is specifically designed for dogs with allergies or sensitivities. Some owners have recently reported their dogs getting sick more frequently, causing them to question if the formula has changed. 

If you’re looking for a grain-free dog food option that’s easy for your pup to digest, consider trying Rachael Ray Nutrish Premium Dog Food. The formula is free from gluten and wheat and you get more bang for your buck.

3. Pedigree Complete Nutrition Dry Dog Food

Pedigree is a household name that is priced firmly in the budget territory. However, this well-known brand didn’t make our shortlist because of its first ingredient: ground whole grain corn. We preferred products with real meat as the primary ingredient.

Regarding household dog food names, we found that Iams Mini Chunks is a better option than this product from Pedigree. Real lamb is the first ingredient in Iams Mini Chunks, and it’s a great option for all life stages.

4. Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food

This kibble from Nature’s Recipe is designed for dogs with allergies and sensitivities. The first ingredient in this dog food is real chicken, making it a contender for our shortlist. 

It missed the mark because sweet potato is the second ingredient in the formula, and the FDA recently stated that foods containing potatoes as a primary ingredient could increase the risk of heart disease in dogs.

If you’re on the hunt for a grain-free option, check out Rachael Ray Nutrish Premium Dog Food. Real chicken is still the primary ingredient, and it’s easy on your pup’s tummy.

5. Victor Purpose Performance Dog Food

The formula in this dry food from Victor Purpose is loaded with glucosamine and chondroitin, so it’s a great option for adult dogs and senior dogs. The first ingredient in this kibble is beef meal. We prefer to feed our senior dogs chicken formulas, so this one didn’t make the cut.

We prefer Purina ONE SmartBlend Dry Dog Food because chicken is the first ingredient and it has the vitamins and minerals that help our older dogs’ joint and bone health.

6. Eukanuba Dry Dog Food

This formula from Eukanuba is designed for large breeds ages 15 months and up with chicken as the first ingredient. We decided to test it, but we got a little bit of sticker shock from the hefty price point for a 16-pound bag. We also found that cornmeal is the second ingredient, knocking it out of contention.

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food is a better option in this case. You’ll get the higher protein content that you need for your large breed, and the prebiotics and probiotics in the formula will support the overall health of your dog.

7. Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog Food

Eagle Pack serves up some of the best budget-friendly dog food out there, and this dry food is no exception. The formula is expertly balanced to optimize your dog’s energy levels. This was a serious contender, but it got bumped out of the top picks by large amounts of brown rice in the formula.

We found that the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dry Dog Food has a perfect balance of carbohydrates to proteins, and the deboned chicken gives our dogs the energy to keep going all day long. 

8. American Journey Dry Dog Food

This American Journey dry food caught our eye because of the 32% protein content. However, the price point was higher than we would have liked and we’re not loving chicken meal and turkey meal among the first 3 ingredients.

We found that Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food was a better choice than American Journey. Your pup still gets 32% protein, and Taste of the Wild has more options so you can find the right kibble for your dog.

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