Dogs thrive on high-quality food. According to pet nutrition expert Dr. Gary Richter, DVM, author of the Ultimate Pet Health Guide and member of Rover’s Dog People Panel, “the single biggest thing you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is provide them with optimal nutrition.”
But sometimes it seems like the best stuff costs way too much. However, it is possible to feed your dog a healthful diet on a budget. You just have to shop smart—and we’re here to help!
Before we get to the list of brands, let’s talk about how to identify a high-quality dog food. Different dogs may have different sensitivities and preferences, but in general, dogs need an appropriate combination of protein, fat, moisture, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Quality dog foods will contain easily-identifiable whole food ingredients and supplements. Ingredients to look for on the label include:
- Whole proteins like chicken, beef, fish, duck, and eggs
- Grain-free, or containing healthy whole grains like oats and quinoa
- Healthy supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin
- Healthy vegetables like sweet potatoes, peas, and carrots
Avoid ingredients like unspecified “meat,” corn and other unhealthy grains and fillers, and artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. Quality ingredients sometimes cost more, but feeding a high-quality, low- or no-grain food means you’ll be feeding your dog less overall. Plus, the health benefits of a good diet mean less time (and expense) at the vet. Over time, a quality dog diet adds up to a lot of savings! For more information on specific foods, the Dog Food Advisor is a helpful resource.
Read on to learn about some of the most affordable grain-free dog foods on the market.
Note that prices are subject to change.
9. Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Dry Dog Food / Avg. $1.69 per pound
Celebrity chef Rachael Ray’s Nutrish brand is a high-quality grocery store brand, and the grain-free formulas are especially healthy. This salmon and sweet potato formula is a great choice for dogs with protein and grain allergies.
8. Taste of the Wild / Avg. $1.63 per pound
For dogs with allergies, Taste of the Wild is a great option with 6 different protein sources to choose from.
7. Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe / Avg. $1.59 per pound
Whole Earth promises that all of their foods have no corn, no wheat, no soy, no poultry by-products, no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, and no artificial preservatives. That checks off all the boxes for a high-quality dog food, and the price is right, too.
6. Purina Beyond Natural Grain-Free / Avg. $1.59 per pound
Tuna, egg, and chicken meal and pea protein with cassava root as carbohydrate.
5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula / Avg. $1.53 per pound
With chicken for protein and brown rice, barley, and oatmeal for easily-digestible carbohydrates, this Blue Buffalo blend offers four-star nutrition at a reasonable price.
4. Diamond Naturals Grain-Free / Avg. $1.49 per pound
This grain-free brand boasts your choice of 3 different whole animal proteins for taste and nutrition and sweet potatoes for carbohydrate energy. Frankly, it sounds delicious!
3. Iams Grain-Free Naturals / Avg. $1.45 per pound
Salmon and red lentils? Gimme some of that!
2. Nutro Max Grain Free / Avg. $1.43 per pound
Three great proteins and two kibble sizes make this a well-priced option.
1. Sport Dog Food Elite Formula / Avg. $1.32 per pound
If your dog tolerates beef for protein, this is an almost unbeatable price for a grain-free diet. Other sizes and proteins vary in value proposition in this line, but this formula and size is a sweet deal.
Update: SportDogFood is so popular, it’s currently out of stock on Amazon. We found another top deal on grain-free dog food for you, however.
Purina Beneful Grain-Free with Chicken / Avg. $1.13 per pound
The 12.5-lb bag is only on average, $14 on Amazon, making this the best deal we’ve uncovered for grain-free dog food at the moment. If your dog tolerates chicken for protein, and many dogs do, this food is a great deal.
More money-saving dog food tips
Of course, the prices listed above are subject to change. When buying dog food, shop around for the best deal, and keep your eyes peeled for coupons.
If you buy online, you can often get a discount on bulk or subscription purchases. And if you want to get really serious about saving money while feeding your dog the best possible diet, consider making your own homemade dog food with locally-sourced, whole-food ingredients. A little effort up front can mean huge savings in the long run, and more time with your beloved dog.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to buy something when you click one, we may receive a small commission. Click here to learn more.