Dog Food

Choosing the Best Cheap Dog Food: A Buyer’s Guide

Dog count money spent on food on the calculator
Written by Eva Jones
Best Cheap Dog Food Quick Picks

Most Affordable: Pedigree Complete Nutrition – This brand provides low-cost dog food with complete and balanced nutrition. Apart from being budget-friendly, it’s made with natural ingredients and packed with omega-6 fatty acids.

Best Chicken Recipe: Blue Buffalo Life Protection – This pack has 27% high-quality protein from real chicken meat, as well as 17% fat and 50% carbs. Its omega 3 & 6 fatty acids make it perfect for your dog’s healthy skin and shiny coat.

Best Grain-Free, Protein-Rich Recipe: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream – This grain-free dog food contains the most protein – 28%. It’s the best inexpensive dog food that can save you money long-term, so I give it five stars.

Best Nutritional Value: Nutro Wholesome Essentials – This pack’s main ingredient is farm-raised chicken, providing a great amount of protein and nutrients at a reasonable price. It’s tasty, GMO-free, and almost entirely grain-free.

No. 1 Veterinarian Recommended: Hill’s Science Diet – This may not be the cheapest of these dog food recipes, but it gives your dog the best value. It’s the number 1 dog food recommended by veterinarians and contains clinically-proven antioxidants.

If you’re wondering where to get cheap dog food for your furry little friend, you’ve come to the right place. As a dog owner myself, I understand finding cheap, but good dog food can be challenging.

That’s why I decided to help fellow animal lovers and dog owners choose the best inexpensive dog food by creating this detailed buyer’s guide.

I’ve tested popular brands offering dry low-cost dog food (wet food is more expensive, but supplies the same nutrients), and found that the following products are the best on the market that you can treat your dog (and your wallet!) with.

Read through my reviews to learn more about these products, before exploring some useful tips on choosing the best cheap dog food.

Jack Russell Terrier eating cheap dog food

Pedigree Complete Nutrition

Description: Pedigree Complete Nutrition Roasted Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Dog Food is a healthy and inexpensive dog food formulated to provide dogs with the nourishment and energy they need for a healthy life. It’s a ground whole grain corn, meat, and bone meal, which makes it a great source of calcium.

Rich with omega-6 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins B and E, this recipe’s content is perfect for nourishing your dog’s skin and coat. It contains whole grains and fibers for improving digestion and all the necessary antioxidants for your dog’s healthy life. This crunchy kibble is also excellent for oral care, as it helps your dog keep its teeth clean.

AAFCO: Adult only (age 1+)

Flavor: Roasted chicken, rice, vegetables

Type: Dry

Pros:

  • Rich with omega-6 fatty acids
  • 100% complete and balanced nutrition
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • No additives, including artificial flavors, added sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup
  • Comes in 33-pound bags

Cons:

  • Made with whole grain corn
  • Contains rice
  • Contains a chicken by-product meal

Pedigree Complete Nutrition is recommended by 78% of customers on Amazon.com, which makes it great for adult dogs.

Buy on Amazon

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

Description: This Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food Recipe is a high quality, inexpensive dog food without corn. Its main ingredient is real meat.

It contains essential vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that strengthen the immune system, support joint health, help build strong muscles, and promote strong bones and teeth. Enriched with omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, it also supports healthy skin and coat.

AAFCO: Adult + formulas available for different life stages and breed sizes

Flavor: Chicken, brown rice

Type: Dry

Pros:

  • Real meat first
  • Deboned chicken supplies high-quality protein
  • 27% protein, 16% fat, 50% carbohydrates
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Contains wholesome whole grains (brown rice, barley, oatmeal)
  • No chicken/poultry by-product meals
  • No corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives

 Cons:

  • It may take some time for your dog to adjust

Blue Buffalo Life Protection is recommended by 71% of customers on Amazon, which makes it very good for adult dogs.

Buy on Amazon

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream

Description: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream (Grain-Free with Real Protein-Rich Smoked Salmon) is an inexpensive dog food without corn, one of the most nutritious energy sources, and a delicious kibble designed for keeping your canine’s teeth clean and healthy. The real salmon and ocean fish meal that are included promote strong and lean muscles, and together with sweet potatoes, and peas give your dog a great source of nutrients, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

AAFCO: Adult only + available recipes for puppies, senior dogs, and small breeds

Flavor: Smoked salmon, ocean fish

Type: Dry

Pros:

  • Real meat first
  • 28% protein, 17% fat, 48% carbohydrates
  • Grain-free
  • Packed with omega-3 fatty acids
  • Natural antioxidants
  • Fruit and vegetable supplements
  • No corn, wheat, fillers, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

 Cons:

  • Some people report their pets having stomach issues when consuming this dog food recipe

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream is recommended by 79% of Amazon customers, so it’s a great choice for adult dogs.

Buy on Amazon

Nutro Wholesome Essentials

Description: Nutro Wholesome Essentials High-Protein Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe has a formula designed for all life stages and breed sizes, but it’s mostly beneficial to adult dogs, as it strengthens their aging immune system. It’s great for promoting muscle strength, shiny coat, and healthy skin. It also contains natural fiber necessary for healthy digestion. 

AAFCO: All life stages and breed sizes

Flavor: Chicken, brown rice, sweet potato

Type: Dry

Pros:

  • Farm-raised chicken is the main ingredient
  • 22% protein, 14% fat
  • Packed with omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and essential nutrients
  • No chicken by-product meals
  • No corn, meat, or soy protein
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • GMO-free

Cons:

  • Not completely grain-free

Nutro Wholesome Essentials is recommended by 82% of customers on Amazon, which makes it an excellent option for all dogs.

Buy on Amazon

Hill’s Science Diet

Description: Hill’s Science Diet Chicken and Barley recipe helps your canine maintain wonderful skin and coat with a nice balance of vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids. The high-protein chicken included helps develop strong and lean muscles, and the natural fibers support your dog’s healthy digestion. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants combine to strengthen your canine’s immune system.

AAFCO: Adult (ages 1-6)

Flavor: Chicken, barley

Type: Dry

Pros:

  • Contains 5% protein and only 15% fat
  • Clinically-proven antioxidants
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Recommended by veterinarians

Cons:

  • Contains soy, whole grain corn, and wholegrain wheat
  • Contains dried raw beet pulp, pork flavor, and brewers rice
  • The most expensive dog food on this review list

Hill’s Science Diet Chicken and Barley is recommended by 75% of Amazon customers, so it’s a great choice for adult dogs.

Buy on Amazon

FAQ

What should I know before purchasing cheap food?

Every dog has different nutritional needs, so you need to know what to look for before buying cheaper food. So, what is the best cheap dog food for your canine? These factors will give you an answer.

  • Age consideration

Your dog’s weight and size change with age, so it needs adequate food formulated for every life stage.

  • Protein

Protein is essential for your dog’s overall health. The best protein-rich sources are chicken, salmon, beef, and turkey, which are also great sources of glucosamine. There’s also a range of ready-made heart, lungs, liver, or kidney supplements.

  • Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are necessary for energy and digestion. The best carb sources are sweet potato, barley, oats, and brown rice.

  • Fats

Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids from fats are essential for energy, immune system, healthy skin, and shiny coat. Make sure there’s a balanced level of protein, carbohydrates, and fats and oil.

  • Vitamins and minerals 

Vitamins and minerals are crucial for energy, immunity, and bones. They’re found in nature – in fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and grains.

  • Grains

Grains have a variety of nutritional values, but grain-free food has become quite popular. However, the FDA is investigating a potential link between grain-free dog foods and DCM (canine dilated cardiomyopathy), because many grain-free diets actually contain some grains.

That’s why it’s vital to ensure that grain-free foods are truly grain-free. If your dog doesn’t have grain allergies, make sure you find food with wholegrain grains. The healthier grains are brown rice, barley, and oatmeal, so avoid corn, wheat, white rice, and brewer’s rice.

  • Probiotics

Probiotics matter a lot, as they improve digestion. Most low-cost dog food brands omit them, so be sure to check before buying any food.

  • Artificial preservatives

Artificial preservatives can cause allergies, heart and brain diseases, obesity, and other health issues. Avoid artificial stuff for your dog’s safety.

Is there any difference between expensive and cheap food brands for dogs?

Just like with expensive brands, the FDA supervises the quality of cheaper food brands. So, lower prices don’t necessarily indicate low-quality diets and vice versa.

How do you understand that inexpensive dog foods are healthy?

Start by checking the package for the ingredients, ensuring it contains meat protein (chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, duck, salmon). Then make sure there isn’t any artificial stuff, and there’s an AAFCO certification that ensures balanced nutrition.

If you follow all the tips from this article, buying the best cheap dog food that your canine will love will be a piece of cake. Whichever of these cheap but good dog food recipes you choose, you can be sure that you’ll feed your dog the way it deserves. Whether it’s a puppy, adult, or a senior dog, you’ll ensure it always stays in perfect health.

One final piece of advice: make sure you slowly introduce the new food, adding 10% every day until your dog fully adjusts.

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