Looking after a dog is one of the greatest pleasures life affords us: their wagging tails are one of the best reasons to get up in the morning.
However, particularly when you have more than one canine companion, they can be expensive to care for – their food, insurance, toys, veterinary care and grooming costs can really pile up!
That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways of saving yourself money here and there. Consider what you’re feeding your pup(s) for instance!
Buying their meals in bulk saves you money, and if you shop around, you’ll be surprised what quality of food you’re able to get for just a few dollars a week.
Luckily, we’ve also prepared a list of five options for you! Each one is healthy, packed full of nutrition and the equivalent of the price of a coffee per week. All you have to do is decide which one sounds best, then get ready to save.
- Best Cheap Dog Food Reviews
- Buyer’s Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Cheap Dog Food Reviews
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Prioritizing real and recognizable ingredients that owners can trust, Nutro Natural’s dry dog food uses only the highest quality sources of protein as its number one ingredient, from lamb and beef to chicken and venison. Your dog will love it!
Every single one of their “Feed Clean” recipes is trustworthy, simple and makes sure every ingredient has a purpose: not one of them is a GMO, nor will you find any corn, wheat, chicken by-product, meal, or soy – just nourishing food.
With each piece of kibble being smaller than average in size, this recipe is ideal for smaller breeds or dogs who prefer smaller bites in general; for dogs a year and older, it is purposely formulated to offer just the right amount of goodness.
Curated to provide all of the natural fiber, essential antioxidants and other nutrients needed for healthy immunity and digestion, this food is particularly good for dogs with weaker joints, or pups with allergies to other brands.
Rest assured that every bag of Nutro Natural has been cooked up in their US-based facilities, using the finest ingredients taken from around the world. Those all important first five ingredients are lamb, chicken meal, brewers rice, whole grain brine rice and rice bran.
- Recommended for all breed sizes
- Comes with either lamb or chicken as the primary ingredient, to suit your dog’s preferences
- Easy pour bag that reseals to keep food fresh for longer
- No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
- Not suitable for dogs under the age of one
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From TV personality and passionate dog lover Rachael Ray comes her take on the perfect dog food, which comes at far more affordable a price than you might expect. The primary ingredient is farm-raised, premium beef – the best you can get.
Carefully selected for a specific purpose, each ingredient is useful in some way to your dog, from being a high source of protein to providing essential minerals, vitamins and other nutritional requirements .
You’ll find it does not contain any artificial flavors or preservatives, as well as being free of poultry by-product meal, any fillers, wheat, gluten or other possible allergens. This is a recipe curated to be appropriate for the most sensitive of dogs!
Maintaining lean muscle mass and supporting healthy organs, the peas and brown rice are incredibly digestible, being both high in natural fibers and low in unhealthy fats: this supports a balanced diet and provides all the energy your dog needs.
Not only is this product good for your dog, by purchasing it you’re helping pups everywhere: a portion of every purchase of Nutrish dog food and treats is donated to the Rachael Ray Foundation, which helps animals in need to get medical supplies, food, veterinary treatments and much more.
- Available in four different sizes to suit your needs and budget
- Naturally rich in omega-3 and omega-6 rich fatty acids
- Promotes a healthy coat and skin as well as proper digestion and nutritional health
- First five ingredients are clearly recognizable
- Not grain free
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As a longstanding provider of quality dog food, Pedigree is a manufacturer trusted by dog owners around the world: their formula for dry adult dog food will help your beloved pet stay healthy and it has a deliciously meaty flavor that they will love.
By delivering complete and balanced nutrition, made in the USA using only the world’s finest ingredients, this great tasting recipe offers extra oral care, whilst helping with health immunity and digestion, as well as promoting a glossy coat.
There’s nothing nasty hidden in the recipe: free of artificial flavors, added sugars and high fructose corn syrup, it simply offers whole grains and supports your dog’s diet by enriching it with omega-6 and other fatty acids.
The first five ingredients are whole grain corn, mean and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fats and soybean meal, so you know there’s nothing unappetizing or bad hiding in their food: just all the goodness they need to grow big and stay strong.
Chock full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, you can ensure your pet lives a healthy lifestyle and will continue to thrive and develop for as long as they can. As the most affordable on our list, it will surely help you save a chunk of cash, too.
- Flavored with meat and meat by-products
- A full and complete meal in steak and vegetable flavor
- Large bags, available in three different sizes
- Budget-friendly, without compromising on quality
- Only suitable for fully grown, adult dogs
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Rich in protein and containing all the goodness your dog needs to thrive, the shredded blend of chicken and rice from Purina is an ideal meal for an adult canine. The tender shredded pieces and harder kibble will create textures they love eating!
Packed with additional live probiotics, which are guaranteed to offer good digestion and optimal immune function, real chicken is the first ingredient of this food for a formula that gives them all of the energy they need to get through the day.
The manufacturers also include plenty of omega-6, fatty acids and vitamin A, for a glossy coat and healthy skin – this isn’t just good for your dog’s insides! Oh no, it will also work wonders on their outside as well.
Unlike other food recipes, this one is planned perfectly to allow for the optimal protein to fat ratio – this will help your pup maintain the ideal body conditions to live a long, healthy and happy life as they should.
As the first five ingredients are chicken, rice flour, whole grain wheat, poultry meal, soybean meal and beef tallow – all recognisable as meat or other known food sources – you can be sure as an owner there’s nothing in there your dog doesn’t need.
- Multiple bag sizes available – get the one that suits your budget, but either way it’s an affordable price
- Available in other meaty flavors like lamb, salmon or beef, depending on your dog’s tastes
- Well known brand that vets recommend
- Can be given to all breeds and sizes
- The formula is not grain-free
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Though it’s the priciest food on our list, Hill’s Science is still very much an affordable formula, especially if buying in bulk. Designed for smaller breeds, it contains more easily digested ingredients to keep their bowels moving as they should.
Being tailored to the unique needs of miniature and small sized adult dogs, the kibble is also on the smaller side itself, so their smaller mouths have less trouble chowing down on it properly and there’s less chance of choking.
A blend of antioxidants curated specifically to offer a long lasting immune support to petite dogs, as well as all the high quality protein required to maintain their lean muscles, it’s full of everything your dog needs to live to the fullest.
Also great for your furry friend is the good amount of omega 6, vitamin E and fatty acids the formula contains, which promotes a shiny, soft coat, healthy skin and a lack of irritation – they’ll look just as good as they feel!
Since every bag is made in the USA, using only the best global ingredients, as well as being recommended by veterinarians, you can be sure you’re getting the best your pet can have, without breaking the bank to do so.
- Supports heart health and a totally balanced diet
- Extra small kibble more appropriate for miniature breeds
- Nourishing to the stomach, teeth and coat
- Comes in either chicken or lamb and rice flavors
- Only recommended for small and toy breeds
How To Spot High Quality Dog Food
Unlike our human food, with all of those scientific words and chemicals, understanding what food is good for your dog is actually quite an easy process.
First of all, be aware: just because something costs more, does not mean it is going to be the best for your dog. Rather than going for which is the most expensive, consult your veterinarian for nutritional information, or check out the online resources from the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, where you’ll find a wealth of information.
One good rule of thumb is to see if you can recognise the first fire ingredients listed on the label – they should be known to you, otherwise they’re superfluous and unnecessary.
That being said, make sure that the label says the food is “complete and balanced” – it might also state what doggy life stage it is designed for in this phrase, for instance infant or adult.
This is because this phrase can only be used if the food meets the nutrients outlined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), or have passed a trial that met AAFCO’s feeding procedures.
Switching Your Dog’s Diet – How To Do It Right
You might not know this, but when changing your dog’s diet, it is important not to do so suddenly, going from one brand to another in one fell swoop.
Randomly switching their food for a new kind without any overlap can give them stomach problems and possibly cause diarrhoea, and in some situations, you might notice your dog stops wanting to eat their food altogether.
You should in actual fact take a few weeks to gradually introduce them to this new food a little at a time, being patient and encouraging throughout, to have as little fuss as possible when making the big switch.
For the first couple of days, keep feeding them the old food as you usually would. Take a different bowl and put in a few bits of the new kind – it is important not to mix the two foods yet. You’ll notice they will likely sniff the food, possibly even eat it, but don’t expect them to start munching straight away.
After around three or four days of this, you can begin the process of mixing both old and new foods.
At first, limit the new food to a few pieces – should they eat all of the food no problem, gradually add a little more each day, slowly reducing how much of their old formula is going into the bowl.
Should they start to notice the swap and stop eating altogether, you might have to take it down a notch and use a bit more of their old food again, before recommencing the phasing out once they stop turning their nose up at the mixture.
If your dog is especially fussy, then putting each food in a separate bowl or on a different plate, even though you’re using less of the old food over time, will help them adjust to the change.
As soon as your dog has been eating the combination of new and old food consistently, around a week or so is a good timeframe, you should try to put in as little as possible until they don’t notice it’s gone.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to make this change with little effort, but if your dog is struggling with the change more than you expected, then seeking advice on their diet and the amount you’re feeding them amongst other things is important, so get a vet appointment booked.
Frequently Asked Questions
What dog food do vets recommend?
According to Dr Jennifer Freeman, who is the Veterinarian for Services at PetSmart, and boasts decades of experience, your dog food ought to “include meat for protein, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruit, and omega fatty acids for a shiny coat.”
She notes that it is “also likely to have fewer fillers such as corn, wheat and soy.” This means that, where possible, you should try to pick out a grain free dog food recipe that clearly lists its ingredients and utilizes ones that you recognize.
Is premium dog food really better?
That depends on what you’re defining as premium. Expensive dog food is not necessarily going to be the best, healthiest or most nutritional for your pup – rather than focusing on its price, instead pay close attention to the list of ingredients and the food’s packaging.
So long as it proclaims that it offers a full and balanced diet for your dog – a claim that manufacturers are prevented from making falsely by law – you can be sure that your canine companion will be eating exactly what they need to thrive.
Why shouldn’t you feed your dog raw meat?
It’s potentially quite dangerous for them and your family, amongst other reasons!
In the same way that by cooking our meat and carbohydrates properly as humans keeps us safe from bacteria, as well as easier to digest generally when we eat it, feeding your dog “cooked” food makes sure they can properly digest and absorb all of the nutritional value it contains.
It’s also worth noting that it’s been noted that raw meat likely does not contain enough goodness to provide any dog with a balanced diet, but this is particularly true if you’re talking about a younger dog that is still growing, and especially puppies who are continuing to develop at a rapid rate.
Likewise, elderly dogs also require more nutritional value from their food to keep them going, as they become weaker and less able with age. A raw food diet could cause your dog to be more susceptible to illness or deficiencies, which may shorten their lifespan – for no reason other than they haven’t had the right food.
Raw food diets have been condemned by not only the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but also the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all of which note the dangers of carrying one out.