If the stars were aligned, tasty, healthy puppy food wouldn’t cost a dime. But while man’s best friend certainly deserves the very best kibble, we can’t always afford premium recipes. Whether you need to temporarily tighten your budget or feed a growing puppy family, it helps to know the best cheap dog food brands on the market.In this article, we’ll consider exactly that, so you can get your paws on the best dog food for the money!
Quick Review: Top-4 For The Money Dog Dood
What’s The Best Dog Food For The Money ?
No matter how tight your budget, your puppy’s nutritional health should always be your number one priority when shopping around for dog foods. The best dog food for the money involves cleverly balancing these essential dietary requirements with your need for cost-effectiveness and choosing a kibble that ticks all the right boxes.
The best dog food for the price will contain:
- A high-quality, animal-derived protein as the initial ingredient. We’ve included examples of the best cheap puppy food in our reviews below, which use main ingredients like chicken meal and lamb.
- The right protein quantities for your pooch’s life stage. Puppies and lactating dogs have a greater need for amino acids than adult dogs who are just maintaining muscle mass, so choose a formula which is appropriate for your pet’s life stage. Luckily, these life stages are often labeled on each package.
- Appropriate amounts of fiber. Good cheap dog foods will include anywhere between 4% and 10% fiber, which offers roughage and bulk to help your puppy digest his meal in comfort.
- Mineral and vitamin supplements. In addition to fruits and vegetables, good recipes include extra supplements to ensure a kibble meets the AAFCO industry standards for proper canine health. Micronutrients such as iron, copper, and zinc promote proper cellular functions and strengthen your pup’s immune system.
- Fat for sustained energy burn. All puppies and grown dogs require diets with sufficient animal fat to fuel their daily activities. Healthy fat sources include chicken fat, salmon oil, and similar, which also offer Omega acids for improved fur and skin. This is especially true of kibbles made for senior pups.
How To Spot Good Cheap Dog Food
A good cheap dog food will contain all the above macro- and micronutrients in the right ratios for your puppy’s breed and life stage. But finding the very best dog food for the price involves looking a little bit closer — at what the recipe doesn’t contain.
Poor-quality formulas often include filler or ‘bulking’ ingredients which are added only for one reason — to increase the volume of your puppy’s kibble. The following fillers won’t do your best friend’s health any favors, and because of their very low nutritional value, they will not be found in reputable dog food products. Some dogs even have food allergies to the following additives:
- Excessively processed carbohydrates – including cornmeal, cracked wheat, and wheat gluten;
- By-product fish or animal meals – such as chicken by-products and milled poultry by-products; and
- Citrus pulp – Which is almost exclusively added to bulk up pet foods, and provides very little of the vitamins and minerals that make whole fruits so nutritious.
Rather than settle for kibble with filler ingredients, try instead to look for natural puppy foods which include whole grains, recognizable meat meals or real meats, and unprocessed vegetables for fiber. If you don’t have time to read every puppy food label, however, the next section contains some respected brands that also happen to create affordable dog food which is good for your pet.
The Best Dog Food For The Price: Best Cheap Dog Food Brands
When trying to cut costs, you’ll come across many a no-name brand promising great things for a fraction of the price. You can do endless hours of background research to save a few extra bucks, but why bother?
Luckily, a large number of perfectly great dog food brands already make some of the best dry dog food for the money — without sacrificing quality or nutrition.
- Nature’s Recipe;
- Eagle Pack;
- Merrick Whole Earth Farms;
- Rachael Ray Nutrish;
- Blue Basics;
- Purina Beyond;
- Simply Perfection; and
- Taste of the Wild;
- Whole Hearted.
Reviews of The Best Cheap Puppy Food
- Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dry Dog Food Puppy
- Includes 25% protein for robust muscles and plenty of strength;
- Top ingredients are succulent, whole chicken, fiber-rich potatoes, and non-meat pea protein;
- Gives a lovely 4% fiber to encourage firm stools and easier food breakdown;
- Uses plenty of vitamin- and antioxidant-rich ingredients, including pumpkin, apples, and sweet potato; and
- Features DHA, the brain-healthy Omega fat which puppies get from their mom’s milk.
- Not for puppies who can’t eat potato.
- Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog Food Large Breed Puppy Food
- Made with delicious meaty flavors from tender lamb and juicy chicken meal;
- Appropriately balances calories with calcium and phosphorus for ideal puppy growth;
- Crafted without wheat, by-product meals, or synthetic preservation chemicals;
- USA-made by a brand with 25+ years of experience; and
- Includes lovely Omega fats that will promote glossier, shinier coats.
- Contains slightly less protein than the 25% we would ordinarily recommend – but at 23%, it’s only slightly less.
- Whole Earth Farms Puppy Dry Dog Food
- Suitable for every breed of puppy, adult, and even pregnant and senior dogs;
- Uses salmon oil for glucosamine to repair and protect your puppy’s joints;
- Includes fiber that can help remedy loose stools and regulate blood sugar levels;
- Contains immune system-supporting antioxidants from delicious ingredients such as blueberries; and
- With Merrick, you can always rely on high safety standards and strict quality controls.
- Not suitable for gluten-intolerant little puppies.
Best Dog Food For The Money
- Taste of the Wild Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- Puppies and adult dogs of all varied life stages can dig into this formula — including large breed pups such as Golden Retrievers, Pit Bulls, Boxers, and Huskies;
- Gives your dog 29% protein, which is a good figure for both maintenance and growth;
- Includes Vitamin E and selenium for improved coat and skin health;
- Provides your puppy or adult dog with Omega-6 and Omega-3 acids; and
- Contains DHA and a chondroitin-glucosamine blend in natural salmon oil.
- It’s not THE cheapest dog food, but it’s still very affordable given its high quality.
- NUTRO Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
- Gives your pooch a lovely 26% protein;
- Vitamin and mineral supplements are used to fortify this otherwise natural recipe;
- Includes apples, blueberries, and carrots for antioxidants — helping your best pal in the fight against disease!
- Contains plenty of Omega-6, which will help your fluffy friend’s skin health; and
- All of this at an economical price!
- Not for puppies or chicken-intolerant dogs.
- Simply Perfection Super Premium
- Uses protein-packed lamb meal and succulent lamb as key ingredients;
- Includes whole brown rice to ensure smoother food breakdown and easier digestibility;
- Added fish oil provides a glucosamine boost and gives your dog plenty of Omega fats;
- Offers real berries to enhance your pooch’s immune system with antioxidants; and
- Uses non-meat sources of protein for added goodness — including peas and egg.
- Contains brewer’s rice, a common ‘filler’ ingredient.
Best Grain Free Dog Food For The Money
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- Provides your puppy or older dog with glucosamine that promotes better quality cartilage and protects his joints;
- Includes useful fiber for better digestion and slower blood sugar absorption;
- Uses healthy, natural meat, meat meals, and a reasonably-sized serving low-GI peas for sustained release of energy;
- It’s a good price for a respected brand and nutritious formula; and
- Doesn’t include any by-product meals or artificial unhealthy add-ins.
- It’s a bit light on the veggies and fruits.
- Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Die Adult Dry Dog Food
- Contains no chicken, egg, dairy, soy, beef, or gluten — a safe, stress-free choice for dogs with allergies;
- This recipe also includes antioxidant and nutrient ‘bits’ of thoughtfully preserved ingredients to boost your adult dog’s immune health;
- Balanced and natural, this is a complete maintenance recipe;
- Provides 20% protein and 12% fat; and
- Includes useful glucosamine sources such as fish oil and salmon meal.
- Contains potato.
- Whole Hearted Grain Free Dog Food
- Grain free;
- Lean chicken as the source of protein;
- Added probiotics for digestive health.
- Does include chicken, so dogs with poultry allergies may not be able to enjoy this diet
Best Cheap Wet Dog Food
- Wag Amazon Brand Wet Dog Food
- The top ingredients are whole chicken and tantalizing turkey for lean delicious protein;
- Offers plenty of nutrients thanks to the inclusion of turkey liver;
- A smooth, appealing pate texture makes it an exciting choice for pooches big and small;
- Contains no animal by-products; and
- Uses only natural preservatives.
- Only for grown dogs; and
- Doesn’t include any veggies or fruits.
- Purina Beyond Grain Free Adult Wet Dog Food
- Never includes any milled, rendered by-products from chicken;
- Uses real, nutritious meat as the first (yummy!) ingredient;
- Includes veggies such as beans, and fiber-rich potatoes for added vitamins;
- It’s naturally colored and flavored, with zero synthetic additions for preservation; and
- It is absolutely perfect for mixing with dry kibble.
- Some owners have received slightly dented cans.
I’m a student who needs to save money, but I sometimes want to feed my puppy wet food. Any suggestions?
We certainly have got lots of suggestions for you! Wet puppy food has many advantages that make it well worth the cost. It is usually lower in synthetic preservatives and carbohydrates, and it is higher in moisture — a good thing for puppies who need more hydration. It also smells and often tastes much more appetizing than dry kibble, and can tempt picky eaters who turn their muzzles up at most formulas. If you haven’t found exactly what you’re looking for in the reviews above, we highly recommend our article on the Best Wet Dog Food. It’s full of canned puppy food suggestions that will give you some bang for your buck!
I want to exercise with my Labrador. What are some good ideas besides walking?
One of the great things about owning a large-breed dog is that they can easily match your pace when you’re out for a brisk walk together. While you bond, you’re also both getting some cardiovascular exercise, which helps reduce your blood pressure, strengthen your heart, and boost your stamina over the longer term.
Other activities that you might like to try include:
- Light jogging. Once your puppy has matured into an adult, start with some short jogs and work your way up to half-hour runs. Most small-breed dogs and some larger pooches (such as Whippets) are not built for long distances, but your Labrador should be just fine.
- Fetch, frisbee, or hide-and-seek. Whether it’s in the park or at the beach, this one’s self-explanatory!
- There are many cute life jackets available online to keep your pooch safe while you ‘doggy paddle’ together. It’s not a good idea to automatically assume that your Lab can swim, but if he’s a fan of the exercise, you can start slowly together in a safe pool or relatively shallow water. Keep a close eye on him to ensure he’s not drinking pool water – and it always helps to know some doggy first-aid!
- Taking that walk up a notch, a hike can be a great way for your dog to enjoy new smells, sights, and sounds. Why not hit up a trail together?
There are so many activities that you and your Lab can do together, and we’re so excited for you to get fit. Have fun!
Last update on 2020-07-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API