The 15 Best Budget-Friendly Dog Foods to Feed Fido Without Breaking the Bank

Budget-Friendly-Dog-Foods

When you’re looking for the best budget-friendly dog foods, you might be surprised at the elevated quality of the options at your disposal.

Just because you’re looking to save money on dog food – and what pet owner isn’t? – there’s no need at all to rely on food with cheap fillers and bulking agents.

You’ll first need to make the usual choices when you’re weighing up dog food…

Do you want wet or dry dog food for your fur baby? Most of the cheapest food out there comes in dry kibble form.

You’ll next need to think about whether you’re going for dog food with grains or grain-free dog food. There’s no right or wrong choice here, simply the right choice for your pup.

  • First three ingredients: You can tell a great deal about dog food by the quality of the first ingredients. You should ideally find the source of protein among these ingredients, and they should all be high quality
  • Premium source of protein: Your dog needs plenty of protein for energy and also to support lean muscle growth. Look for protein from premium sources like chicken, lamb, turkey, salmon, or beef. This should ideally be featured high on the list of ingredients
  • Moderate fat and carb content: You should ensure your dog gets enough slow-release carbs from healthy sources and moderate healthy fats. Food that’s too high in fat content could easily lead to weight-management problems and obesity
  • Fruits and veggies: Look for balanced formulas that contain more than just the three core macronutrients. Your dog needs enough fruits and veggies, so make sure the budget-friendly dog food you choose obliges
  • Healthy supplements, vitamins, and minerals: Glucosamine and chondroitin help support joint and bone health. Fatty acids promote skin and coat health. Vitamins and minerals are also key for your dog’s whole-body health. Make sure any cheap dog foods on your list deliver in this capacity
  • No cheap fillers and bulking agents: Just because you’re buying cheap dog food, that doesn’t mean you need to stoop to a formula packed with cheap bulking agents, fillers, and additives. Many of the pocket-friendly formulas on our shortlist contain nothing but healthy whole ingredients made in the USA
  • Brand: You don’t need to go off-brand when you’re buying affordable dog food. All the major brands offer cost-effective dog food lines

OK, with that skeleton in place, you should have a solid overview of what to look for in the best budget-friendly dog foods.

We’ll launch in now with our reviews of all the best cheap dog foods out there so you can decide which would make the best fit for Rover.

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The 15 Best Budget-Friendly Dog Foods

1. Our #1 Pick: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dry Dog Food

Blue-Buffalo-Life-Protection-Formula-Natural-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food

  • Type: Dry Life Protection formula with LifeSource Bits
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, rice
  • Best for: For all adult dogs
  • Price: $$$

Blue Buffalo has a hard-won reputation for producing great dog food at keen prices, and this is our overall pick for the best budget-friendly dog food out there.

Suitable for adult dogs of all breeds, this dry formula contains proprietary LifeSource Bits. This chunks of kibble are loaded with antioxidants to support immune system health. The bits are also crammed with vitamins and minerals.

Real meat features as the first ingredient so your dog gets plenty of protein here from deboned chicken. A balanced carb content complements this protein-fest and ensures your furball has the energy he needs to keep going all day long.

Whole grains and vegetables complement the other ingredients wonderfully and give Rover a shot of whole-body health.

This is a 15-pound bag, but you can opt for larger or smaller packs to suit your needs and the requirements of your canine. This is not only one of the best dog foods out there, but it’s highly affordable, too.


2. Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

Taste-of-the-Wild-Dry-Dog-Food-With-Smoked-Salmon

  • Type: Dry grain-free formula with salmon
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes
  • Best for: For all adult dogs
  • Price: $$

Taste of the Wild produces a deep bench of pet food that aims to replicate the diet your dog would eat in the wild. There’s something for all pet owners here. This iteration of the recipe is grain-free, but there is also an ancient grains version available. In addition to these two versions, there’s also a grain-free puppy formula.

This food has an elevated protein content at 32%. As well as promoting lean muscle growth, the protein-dense food also supports bone and joint health.

With real salmon featuring as the first ingredient, you’ll not only give your dog plenty of protein, but that protein comes from a premium source into the bargain.

Prebiotics and probiotics are included to smoothen your dog’s digestion and to promote immune system health.

You get no artificial flavors or colors in this formula. You won’t get any cheap nasty fillers either. If you’re looking to provide your furball with everything he needs and nothing he doesn’t, this is one of the best affordable dog foods out there.


3. Iams Mini Chunks

Iams-Minichunks-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food,-Lamb

  • Type: Dry formula with Mini Chunks
  • Design: All life stages
  • First 3 ingredients: Lamb, rice, chicken meal
  • Best for: For all adult dogs
  • Price: $

Iams has some excellent pet food that’s also keenly priced, so how does this formula with Mini Chunks stand out?

Well, this kibble comes in small pieces that are easy for your pooch to chew, and just as easy to digest. Not only is this formula brimming with prebiotics, but it’s also fiber-dense, promoting overall digestive health.

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

Fatty acids in this food help to bring out the very best qualities in your pup’s skin and coat.

You can serve this dry food to your dog as it is, or you can mix it with some wet food if your fur baby likes a bit of both.

Iams dog food is consistently recommended by vets and experts the world over, and you might be surprised at just how little this stuff costs. This flexible formula is ideal for all life stages, from puppies through to seniors.


4. Purina ONE SmartBlend Dry Dog Food

Purina-ONE-SmartBlend-Natural-Adult-Chicken-&-Rice-Dry-Dog-Food

  • Type: Dry formula with chicken and rice
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken, rice flour, corn gluten meal
  • Best for: For all breeds and life stages
  • Price: $$$

Of all the cheap dog food on our shortlist today, Purina ONE is among the more expensive, but it still represents solid overall value. What do you get for your money, then?

Firstly, choose from a wide variety of pack sizes from 8 pounds through to this bumper-value 40-pound bag.

You’ll then need to decide whether to go for the food alone or whether to take the bundle including some tasty canine dental treats.

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

The kibble is tasty enough that your dog will be wolfing down his food and you might want to consider a slow-feed bowl.

Ideal for all breeds of adult dogs, this food is versatile, affordable, and delivers whole-body health on a budget. What’s not to love?


5. Iams Proactive Health Dry Dog Food

IAMS-PROACTIVE-HEALTH-Adult-Minichunks-Small-Kibble-High-Protein-Dry-Dog-Food-with-Real-Chicken

  • Type: Dry formula with Mini Chunks
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken, corn, sorghum
  • Best for: For all adult dogs especially smaller dogs
  • Price: $

Another offering from Iams is up next with this dry dog food featuring the manufacturer’s trademark Mini Chunks.

The large 30-pound bag offers great value considering the quality of the ingredients. This brand proves that the best budget-friendly dog foods don’t need to be filled with garbage.

Protein comes from real chicken, the first ingredient in this powerhouse formula. You can guarantee your dog’s muscles grow as they should do, and he’ll also have the energy to keep going all day long. The chicken is farm-raised and the pieces of kibble are perfect for smaller breeds.

This chicken and whole grains recipe is rich in antioxidants, so your dog’s coat and skin as well as his immune system are all robustly supported.

As long as your dog can tolerate grains, there’s not much to knock about this food.

Recommended by vets the world over, why not treat your dog to some lip-smacking food that also supports whole-body health without plundering your bank balance?


6. Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food

NUTRO-ULTRA-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food,-Chicken-Lamb-&-Salmon-Flavor

  • Type: Dry formula with super foods
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice
  • Best for: For all adult dogs
  • Price: $$$

Nutro market the Ultra line as the superfood plate, but does it deliver as promised?

The first selling point is the protein derived from three sources (chicken, salmon, and lamb), giving your dog 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 blueberry and kale, these are not the ingredients you typically associate with cheap dog food.

All of the ingredients are non-GMO, and you should find there’s little chance of your dog developing an allergy to this food, even if he has known sensitivities.

There is no chicken by-product in this recipe, and there is no corn, wheat, or soy either. With no bulking agents or fillers thrown in, this is one of the finest pocket-friendly dog foods from a highly reputable brand. All that remains is to choose which size bag makes the best fit.


7. Rachael Ray Nutrish Premium Dog Food

Rachael-Ray-Nutrish-Super-Premium-Dry-Dog-Food

  • Type: Dry formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, dried peas
  • Best for: For all adult dogs
  • Price: $$$

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray serves up this delicious dry formula ideal for all breeds and life stages.

This is a 28-pound bag of food so you should have a decent supply if you have just one adult dog in the house. For multi-dog households, you’ll likely want to buy in bulk. Despite the celebrity chef stable it comes from, this food is very affordable.

The first ingredient in this formula is real farm-raised chicken, so you’ll be giving your dog plenty of energy and muscle-building fuel from a premium source.

There is no chicken by-product meal in this stuff, and there’s no wheat, no gluten, and no cheap fillers. These unwanted extras often find their way into budget-friendly dog food, making this a nice exception.

The natural ingredients are cooked in the USA and the food is loved by pet owners the world over. If you’re looking for cheap dog food with a difference, put your trust in Rachael Ray.


8. Diamonds Naturals Dry Dog Food

Diamond-Naturals-Dry-Food-for-Adult-Dog,-Beef-and-Rice-Formula

  • Type: Dry formula with LifeSource Bits
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Beef meal, grain sorghum, ground white rice
  • Best for: For all adult dogs
  • Price: $$

Diamonds Naturals is a dry dog food on a budget that doesn’t force you to compromise on the quality of ingredients, and it doesn’t rely on cheap fillers or bulking agents either.

Protein in this food comes from pasture-raised beef, so you’ll be giving your dog all the energy he needs to play throughout the day, and you’ll also be supporting lean muscle growth so he put on size without straying into obesity.

As well as the premium source of protein, this recipe is also packed with fruits and vegetables to deliver a balanced canine diet on a budget.

There’s no corn, no wheat, and no soy in this stuff. You won’t find any artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors either.

The food is highly digestible, with prebiotics and probiotics to help regulate digestive health.

Overall, you’re getting an all-natural from a highly reputable brand at a cost-effective price point here.


9. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Whole-Earth-Farms-Grain-Free-Dry-Dog-Food

  • Type: Dry grain-free formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Pork meal, potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • Best for: For dogs with allergies or sensitivities
  • Price: $$$

Many dog owners today prefer grain-free dog foods, and this formula from Whole Earth Farms is a winning example.

If your dog suffers from allergies or sensitivities, a grain-free food can make a good fit.

The protein comes from pork meal which is not the most premium source, but will still provide your dog with clean, long-lasting energy.

Carbs come from sweet potatoes, another form of slow-release energy, making this great for active dogs in need of plenty of sustenance on a budget.

There are none of the cheap additive, flavors, and colors that sour some of the less palatable budget-friendly dog food. You get no corn, wheat, or soy in this stuff either.

The food is designed to be easily digestible, too.

All of the foods from this manufacturer are cooked from real ingredients in the USA, so you can rest confident that you won’t be shortchanging Fido to save yourself a few bucks.


10. Pedigree Complete Nutrition Dry Dog Food

PEDIGREE-Complete-Nutrition-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food-Roasted-Chicken

  • Type: Dry formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Ground whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal
  • Best for: For all adult dogs
  • Price: $$

Pedigree is a household name in the dog food vertical with just cause. This Complete Nutrition formula is dry dog food at its very best, and it’s priced firmly in budget territory. How does it stand and fall, then?

This dry food is the chicken, rice, and vegetable flavor, designed to appeal to a broad base of dogs.

The kibble is designed to slide smoothly down, and your furball shouldn’t have any problems digesting this stuff either.

The formula is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, ideal for promoting skin and coat health in your fur baby.

This is a 36-pound bag, offering an ample supply for a single dog for perhaps a month. If you have several dogs at home, you’ll need to consider buying more than one bag.


11. Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food

Nature's-Recipe-Grain-Free-Easy-to-Digest-Dry-Dog-Food-with-Real-Meat

Features

  • Type: Dry grain-free formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, garbanzo beans
  • Best for: For dogs with allergies or sensitivities
  • Price: $$

Nature’s Recipe serves up a grain-free food that makes a neat choice if your dog suffers from allergies and sensitivities.

Real chicken is the first ingredient, so you’ll be sure your pup is getting all the protein he needs from a premium source.

The food is super-simple for your dog to digest, loaded with prebiotics to help it slip on down with ease.

Designed for all life stages, from puppies through to senior dogs in their golden years, this food makes a smart choice for multi-dog households looking to streamline feeding with a single food for all dogs in the house.

You don’t get any of the cheap contaminants, fillers, or bulking agents that pollute many cheap dog foods, and you won’t get any corn, wheat, or poultry by-products.

This is a highly effective and budget-friendly dog food from a household brand.


12. Victor Purpose Performance Dog Food

Victor-Purpose---Performance,-Dry-Dog-Food

  • Type: Dry formula supporting joint health
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Beef meal, grain sorghum, whole grain millet
  • Best for: For adults and senior dogs
  • Price: $$

Victor delivers some budget-friendly dog food that combines healthy ingredients with a taste your dog will love.

This food is intended for adult and senior dogs of all breeds. The high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin in this stuff mean that joint and bone health are supported, both crucial for older dogs.

The first ingredient of beef meal could be improved, but you always expect some sacrifices when you’re buying cheap dog food. That said, if your dog is allergic to meat proteins, you’ll find this formula could be just what you’ve been looking for.

Although there are grains in this formula, they are gluten-free grains.

The energy this food delivers makes it a sensible choice if you have an especially active dog or a working dog. You can give him all the nutrients and energy he needs without taking out a bank loan.


13. Eukanuba Dry Dog Food

Eukanuba-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food-Chicken

  • Type: Dry formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken, corn meal, sorghum
  • Best for: For large breeds
  • Price: $

Eukanuba’s dry dog food comes in this 33-pound bag, or a smaller 16-pound starter pack. If you’re trying your dog on a new food, it’s always worth starting with the smallest size until you’re confident they like it.

This formula is ideally suited for large breeds, so if you have a beefier pup at home, read on.

The protein in this food comes from chicken, featuring as the primary ingredient. The recipe is designed for dogs aged 15 months and up, weighing 55 pounds or more. The ingredients are blended to support the growing needs of a large dog.

This formula contains more chondroitin and more glucosamine than the regular formula in this line, ideal for the bone and joint health of bigger breeds.

Not only do you get all the protein and carbs your dog needs in this stuff, but it also contains enough of the right fats, too. This whole-body formula will keep Rover fit and healthy as well as fully satisfied at meal times.

If all that sounds appealing, you’ll be delighted to hear that this is also one of the cheapest options on our shortlist.


14. Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog Food

Eagle-Pack-Natural-Dry-Dog-Food-Chicken-&-Pork

  • Type: Dry formula with LifeSource Bits
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken meal, pork meal, ground brown rice
  • Best for: For all life stages
  • Price: $

Eagle Pack serves up some of the best budget-friendly dog food out there, so what do you get for your money?

Firstly, you’ll be buying into a brand with decades of experience helping pet owners just like you.

The ingredients in this formula are balanced to support whole body health in your dog without costing a fortune.

Protein and carbohydrate levels are in perfect proportion, giving your dog the muscle growth support and the energy he needs without overloading him with calories.

As with all dog foods, what’s not included in this stuff is just as important as what makes it into the ingredients list. Here, you get no cheap fillers or additives, no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

As an added kicker, there is glucosamine for joint health and omega fatty acids to bring out the sheen in your fur baby’s coat.

Made in the USA, you can buy with complete confidence from a brand you can trust. Your dog would thank you if he could.


15. American Journey Dry Dog Food

American-Journey-Salmon-&-Sweet-Potato-Recipe-Grain-Free-Dry-Dog-Food

  • Type: Dry grain-free formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Deboned salmon, chicken meal, turkey meal
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $$$

For dog owners looking to feed their fur babies a grain-free diet, American Journey’s dry dog food is one of many options at your disposal, but is it the right one for you?

If your pup is a fish lover, he’ll relish this formula with protein derived from real deboned salmon, the first ingredient in a powerful line-up.

This is the 12-pound bag, but you can also pick up a small 4-pound starter pack, and a value pack of 24 pounds.

As with as the macronutrients your dog needs for robust overall health, this formula contains enough of the right fatty acids so his coat looks resplendent.

Carbs come from the long-lasting energy sources of chickpeas and sweet potatoes, so you’ll avoid the cheap fillers and bulking agents that permeate some cheap dog food.

There are plenty of fruits and veggies in this formula to round out a comprehensive ingredient list, including carrots, blueberries, and dried kelp. You would never imagine budget-friendly dog food could taste this good.


II. FAQs

1) I need to switch my dog’s food. How can I do this safely and with minimal chance of a stomach upset?

The key is to make the switch gradually over a 10-day period. For the first three days, mix in 25% new food with 75% old food. For the next three days, give him a 50/50 mix of old and new food. Then, increase the ratio so he’s eating 25% old food and 75% new food. After ten days, your dog will be ready to eat a bowl of all-new food. By taking this approach and patiently giving your dog a little more new food each day, the transition should be seamless and you shouldn’t get any stomach upsets either.

2) What is the importance of the first ingredient on dog food?

Just like with human food, the first ingredient is the one present in the highest volume. Always ensure that the first ingredient on dog food – even when you’re shopping for budget-friendly dog food – is a premium ingredient, and ideally a source of protein, too.

3) I heard that grain-free dog food could be dangerous. Is this true?

There is some concern about a link between grain-free dog food and DCM (canine dilated cardiomyopathy). More research is needed in this area. If you have any concerns at all about feeding your dog grain-free food, you should voice these concerns with your vet.

4) Is all cheap dog food bad?

Absolutely not! As you’ll see from our roundup today, pretty much all of the major brands are represented here, so you won’t need to go off-piste and take a chance on a complete unknown. As you’ll notice from the quality of the ingredients and the flexibility of the formulas we review today, there is no need to rely on cheap food containing low-caliber ingredients. The best news is, you don’t even need to take the time and trouble to sift the wheat from the chaff. Place your trust in any of the dog foods we highlight today and you’ll be giving your dog a tasty treat as well as all the nutrients he needs.

5) Why are corn, wheat, and soy derided as poor sources of carbohydrate?

These ingredients often cause problems with digestion in dogs, and many owners don’t want them anywhere near dog food for this reason. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, barley, and rice are all superior options. That said, unless your dog has a stomach intolerance, you should have no need to avoid grain-free dog foods.

6) What sort of fat content is the optimum in dry dog food?

You should avoid feeding your dog a diet that’s too high in fat as this can easily lead to obesity, doubly so in smaller breeds. Obesity in dogs can trigger a raft 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, and this will also serve to fuel his energy needs alongside the protein and carbs he takes on board.

7) How much protein and carbs should be in dog food?

Unless your dog has special dietary requirements, most of the best regular dog food formulas are reasonably high in protein. They typically contain a moderate carb content. When combined with fat at the ratio described above, your dog will have all the macronutrients he needs in the right ratios.

8) Can I find cheap wet dog food?

Some wet dog food is inexpensive, but it’s not the best option overall for your furball. Wet food is up to 80% moisture, where dry food contains nothing but nutrients and goodness. If you want budget-friendly dog food, you’ll have a much harder time finding it.


III. Conclusion

Well, we hope if you arrived here today at BarkVA despondent about finding the best budget-friendly dog food, you should now be confident of finding some food that your furball will appreciate while also benefiting from whole-body health.

If you stick with any of the foods on our comprehensive shortlist, you’ll be giving your pooch everything he needs and nothing he doesn’t. If you find a food we didn’t review today, we hope our brief buying guide informs your decision.

Take a moment to bookmark our blog before you go and pop back soon for more of the best dog content out there. See you soon!

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