Many people think that there are few differences between dog food brands, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are minimum nutritional guidelines that formulas have to meet, there’s a world of difference between top tier premium dog food and brands that are rated as being at the bottom of the barrel. Some of the latter have even been involved in incidents where dogs got sick as a result of eating the food, and it’s shocking just how many brands contain little other than fillers, artificial ingredients, and ingredients that have been shown to adversely affect the health of dogs.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to feed your dog a high-quality product. Sure, premium pet foods cost a little more but if you think about the long term, the benefits of feeding your dog a high-quality diet outweigh the negatives. If you skimp on your dog’s food now, you could end up paying for it later with expensive vet bills to deal with your dog’s nutritional deficiencies and other diet-related health problems. But what makes a high-quality dog food and how can you tell one apart from a low-quality dog food?
Choosing a high-quality dog food for your canine companion is not as difficult as you might imagine – it just takes a little time and some research to learn how to read a pet food label. If you lead a busy lifestyle, however, you may have trouble finding time for even something as important as learning about your dog’s diet. That is why we’ve compiled a list of the 20 worst dog foods to review. Buckle down and keep reading to learn more about what you should and should NOT be putting in your dog’s body.
Here are the 20 worst consumer rated dog foods:
1. Purina Beneful Original Formula
This is one of the worst rated dog foods on the market, and it’s full of harmful fillers. What’s worse, this formula has been cited as the cause of skin and allergy issues, gastrointestinal problems, liver failure, and death in a number of dogs. Even though some dogs don’t experience any ill effects right away, feeding a dog Purina Beneful Original Formula daily is akin to a human eating fast food for each meal — the health benefits are few and far in between and such a diet is generally not worth the risk.
2. Blackwood 1000 Chicken Meal & Corn Formula
This brand of dog food has an ingredients list that’s full of items that provide no health benefits to dogs and can even be detrimental to their health. It also contains a lot of ingredients that contain GMOs. As the health effects of genetically modified foods haven’t even been firmly established in humans — although many studies that have been conducted suggest that GMOs are not safe for us to eat — it’s definitely not a good idea to fill your dog with such foods on a daily basis.
3. Wegmans Bruiser Kibble Variety Mix
This store brand dry dog food has ingredients that have been deemed unsafe for dogs to consume, as well as chemicals including BHT, BHA, xantham gum, corn gluten, and food coloring. Wegmans Bruiser Kibble Variety Mix proves the adage that you typically get what you pay for. The price of it is attractive, but if you’re looking to give your dog balanced nutrition you should look for an alternative.
4. Purina Dog Chow
Purina Dog Chow is so harmful to dogs that a class action lawsuit was launched to get the company to own up to the thousands of deaths that it has allegedly caused. In addition to online complaints about this formula, many dog owners are upset by the fact that Purina denies the problems with their dog food.
5. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food
This is one of the pricier dog foods that some vets recommend, although it’s difficult to see why. One look at the ingredients list and you’ll notice this formula is packed with the same fillers and toxic ingredients that cheaper brands have. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food has been associated with several cases of dogs who have died from anal cell carcinoma, while other dog owners have reported that their pets got sick soon after eating the food.
6. Walmart’s Ol’ Roy Dog Food
Corn, soybean meal, corn syrup, and ground wheat are foods that your dog doesn’t need and each can cause problems with allergies and their digestive systems. However, those are the top ingredients listed in Walmart Ol’ Roy Dog Food. This is yet another store brand that skimps on quality and nutrition for the sake of offering a lower price.
7. Purina Be Happy Beef Flavor Dog Food
Purina Be Happy Beef Flavor Dog Food has a very misleading name. For one, the first ingredient listed in it is ground yellow corn, followed by ground wheat and soybean meal. Beef and bone meal is the fourth ingredient — that hardly sounds like something that contains the nutritious protein that dogs need. You’d be better off mixing your own beef dog food or adding beef broth to a better quality product.
8. Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Beef Flavor Dry Dog Food
Pedigree brand dog food has many formulas that have garnered consumer complaints, but this one is the worst. In addition to reports of dog deaths, pet owners have said their dogs have gotten sick, vomited, or developed diarrhea after eating this food. Its top ingredients are ground whole corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, and animal fat. It also contains artificial coloring and vegetable oil, and Pedigree admits that its kibble contains pig hair. If you wouldn’t willingly eat food with animal hair mixed into it, why feed it to your dog?
9. Purina Veterinary Diets
It’s hard to understand why any vet would recommend a product with an ingredient list like the one on Purina Veterinary Diets. In this case, the name is just a marking scheme and there’s not much nutrition in the food at all. If your pet does have special dietary needs due to allergies or illness, it’s best to be very careful when you buy or make their food. What’s certain is that no dog benefits from ingredients like propylene glycol, caramel color, soy, and corn gluten.
10. Kibbles ‘n Bits Original Formula
This dog food is famous for two things: its signature commercials and begin related to dog deaths and illnesses. There’s so many preservatives in this dog food, including BHA and sorbic acid, but whats really disturbing are the vague ingredients listed on the package. Apparently, “animal digest” gives Kibbles ‘n Bits Original Formula its chicken flavor, and the “wheat middlings” are to bulk it up and make it cheaper to produce. This is food that you should definitely avoid if you’re concerned about your dog’s nutrition.
11. Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original Formula
Puppies are much like human children in that what you feed them early on can have a big effect on their growth and development. Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original Formula may have the phrase “Health Smart” in its name, but it’s actually not all that healthy. In one particularly disturbing account, a dog owner on the Consumer Affairs website noticed that her pet displayed symptoms of a parasite soon after eating this food. However, a vet evaluation confirmed the digestive problems were due to the food, and no parasites were present in the dog.
12. Purina Dog Chow Healthy Morsels Formula
Seriously, what’s the deal with dog foods claiming to be healthy when the formulas are anything but? Purina Dog Chow Healthy Morsels Formula contains these not so healthy ingredients: brewers rice, sugar, salt, potassium chloride, and colorants including Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 2. The artificial colorants alone have been proven to be harmful to humans and animals when ingested regularly, so it’s best to keep this food out of your dog’s dish.
13. Kal Kan Dog Food
Kal Kan is a brand that’s rated very poorly by consumers across the board, and it’s largely because of the controversial ingredients that it contains. The first eight ingredients in the Complete Adult formula — which includes ground yellow corn, soybean meal, and corn gluten meal — are noted as being bad for dogs’ health and nutrition.
14. Alpo by Purina
So many complaints about dogs getting sick and dying came in about Alpo by Purina that the FDA started its own investigation into the company’s processing plants. The agency issued a warning in late 2015 to a Purina facility that cans the dog food stating that their processing didn’t align with minimum standards, not all of the food was heated to the proper temperature, and the conveyor belt system has no checks to prevent unprocessed cans from going out to consumers. If the brand doesn’t care to meet basic production guidelines, then there’s no reason to assume that it’s a good option to feed your dog.
15. Gravy Train Dog Food
One of the better known brands of dog food is Gravy Train, which is widely available in grocery and big box stores and supermarkets. It’s appealing to some dog owners because of its affordable price, but a quick glance at the label on it will reveal some of the most commonly used, nutrition-poor ingredients. The beef flavored formula has caused the most problems, doesn’t actually contain much beef, and it was subject to a large recall in 2007. Like many other lower quality dog food brands during that year, there were concerns that Gravy Train Beef Sticks contained melamine.
16. Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food
This dry dog food is known for causing digestive problems, illness, and allergies in dogs, and the ingredients list reveals why. Even though the first item listed is “chicken”, the formula also has corn meal, ground whole grain sorghum, potassium chloride, brewers yeast, salt, and flax, all of which are unnecessary in a dog’s diet and can cause chronic health issues if eaten over a long period of time. This Iams formula is much like the brand’s other types of foods and should be avoided, especially if your dog has existing allergies or health problems.
17. Purina Senior 7+ Healthy Morsels Soft & Crunchy Bites Dog Food
Older dogs are especially vulnerable to becoming sick, and their diet is a key part of keeping them healthy and active for as long as possible. This Purina dog food formula, which is aimed at owners of senior dogs, is noted for containing some of the worst ingredients that you could possible give any dog, especially an aging one. Aside from the GMO corn, ground wheat, soybeans, sugar, salt, phosphoric acid, preservatives, and artificial coloring, it also contains various bone meals and animal fats. Exactly what animals are contained within the food isn’t clear and, unfortunately, regulations don’t stipulate that it has to be disclosed. For any senior dog or one with fragile health, the better option would be mixing up your own food for it that’s made of natural and whole ingredients — you’ll find that the cost is comparable to buying this brand.
18. PRO PAC Adult Chunk Premium Dog Food
PRO PAC Adult Chunk Premium formula dog food comes in a total of three formulas — Adult, Adult mini chunk, and Performance Puppy — and purports to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines. One must question why, then, the food contains so many fillers, artificial ingredients, preservatives, and things that re known to be detrimental to the health of dogs. Just as too many cheaper brands contain such ingredients, this higher priced dog food does as well.
19. Science Diet Adult Dog Breed
Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Meal, Pork Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Soybean Oil, Lactic Acid, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Oat Fiber, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.
20. Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb Meal & Rice Recipe
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe looks like an average dry product. But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating. Nature’s Recipe is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken, lamb or fish meals as its main sources of animal protein which isn’t ideal. All dog foods are not created equal but most of the low-quality dog food brands have a few things in common.
Some of the worst dog food brands on the market load up their products with inexpensive fillers like corn and wheat products – their products also tend to be carb-heavy instead of meat-based. Low-quality pet foods make heavy use of by-products and plant proteins, plus they often use artificial colors and flavors to make their products more palatable for pets and the people who care for them. Something else these foods have in common is frequent product recalls.