7 Healthy Dog Foods Guaranteed to Make Your Dog Drool

The number-one decision you can make for your pet’s overall health is choosing the right dog food. But is it possible to find a dog food that is healthy, reasonably priced, and tasty?

Today, we will count down 7 healthy dog foods guaranteed to make your dog drool—and beg for more.

Let’s get started!

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I’ve done the research for you and included links to the products highlighted in this post. Some of these links pay me a tiny commission, at no additional cost to you of course, which helps fund this website & my research! Happy reading!)

Dog Food 101

The latest research indicates that many popular dog food brands need more nutritious ingredients. More pointedly, like-ability does not equal quality nutrition!

Notably, dogs should not eat grain of any kind nor anything listed as a meal by-product

Regular meal is meat or grain that’s been cooked down and ground up as a natural additive. However, meal by-product includes things like chicken feet, beaks, cartilage, intestines, grain husks etc. In short, manufacturers remove the meat or grain, and what’s left behind are the meal by-products.

This is not only unappetizing, but experts also don’t know what our pets are able to digest and utilize of these by-products.

In contrast, the best dog foods combine premium meats, fruits, and vegetables as their core ingredients. Then they fortify the food with vitamins, minerals and probiotics.

Taking things a step further, top-of-the-line foods include raw, freeze-dried meats, organs, fruits and vegetables. Freeze drying retains freshness and nutrition. No wonder dogs love them.

Let’s evaluate the competitors to see how they measure up.

Rachel Ray Nutrish

Rachael Ray formulated Nutrish in 2008.  She was trying to find the right food for her pit bull, Isaboo. Unsuccessful, she derived her own formula.

Nutrish is reasonably priced @$1.20/lb. The line carries about fifteen varieties based upon age and size of dog, grain or no-grain, flavor, and protein preferences.

If you buy their Nutrish Real line, the first five ingredients include chicken, chicken meal, soybean meal, grain sorghum, and dried peas, plus added vitamins, minerals and taurine.

Thankfully, Nutrish has no poultry by-product meal, filler, wheat, or wheat-gluten ingredients. Unfortunately, Nutrish is loaded with grains such as corn, barley and brown rice. As noted above, this is a no-no for dogs.

On the other hand, for $1.65/lb you can buy Nutrish Zero Grain varieties whose ingredients are much better. They contain meal of various kinds rather than more premium meats, but are truly free of grains and by-products.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain scores 6.5 out of 10

Wellness Core

Next on the list, Wellness Core focuses on optimal nutrition plus flavor. Its protein is derived from meats and fish. It is both grain and filler-free, with added supplements and probiotics.

The first five ingredients include deboned turkey, turkey meal, chicken meal, peas, and dried ground potatoes. The rest of the Wellness Core ingredients look really great. Wellness Core does contain some meals rather than 100% whole meats, but there are no by-product meals, artificial flavors or preservatives.

Additionally, their formula includes lentils, flaxseed, chicory root extract, spinach, broccoli, carrots, parsley, apples, blueberries and kale. That’s a host of healthy foods.

You will pay $2.88/lb for these wholesome ingredients. Dog owners love Wellness Core.

Wellness Core scores 7 out of 10

Blue Buffalo Freedom

The Freedom line by Blue Buffalo is their grain-free option. Weighing in at $2.50/lb, it’s just under the Wellness Core price.

BBF is full of healthy carbs, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. It is also 100% free from poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors and preservatives.

Their first six ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, pea protein, tapioca starch and fish meal.

Like Wellness Core, there are also a host of other healthy, natural ingredients. But I had to stretch the normal first five ingredients to six in order to get that 3rd meat source.

How do they claim their product to be grain-free with the included alfalfa pellets and barley grass listed in their ingredients?

Well, barley is considered a grass until it matures, and alfalfa is a grassy legume included in many livestock feeds. Thus, both alfalfa and barley are technically gluten-free grasses.

Blue Buffalo Freedom scores 7 out of 10

American Journey, Grain-Free

American Journey’s tagline is to fuel your dog’s everyday adventures. This grain-free dog food is free of corn, wheat and soy to help food sensitive pets avoid fillers that might upset dogs’ stomachs.

Look at these ingredients:

Deboned salmon, chicken meal, turkey meal, peas, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, pea protein, chicken fat, dried plain beet pulp, natural flavor, flaxseed, Menhaden fish meal, blueberries and carrots, plus a host of vitamins, minerals, omega 3s and 6s, and probiotics.

WOW! Your dog will have plenty of variety to choose from with salmon, chicken, beef, and lamb flavors. Equally important, the American Journey GF formula is reasonably priced @$2/lb. Considering these ingredients, that’s incredibly affordable.

American Journey scores 8 out of 10 and is well loved by dogs and dog owners alike. 

Taste of the Wild High Prairie

This wildly popular food gets awesome customer reviews. Dogs love it. So do their skin and coat.

These grain-free recipes combine premium meat, vegetables, legumes and fruits. This should satisfy your pet’s natural cravings for a taste of the wild, providing a balanced diet.

Water buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes and peas are the first five ingredients, plus fruits and vegetables, pre- and probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. Check out these benefits from their site:

  • TOW is high in protein (32%) to help support bones, joints and lean muscles.
  • Crafted with vitamins and minerals from real fruits and superfoods, omega fatty acids for skin and coat health, and nutrients for the energy dogs needs thrive
  • Contains species-specific K9 Strain Proprietary Probiotics, along with antioxidants and prebiotics to help support healthy digestion, immune system health and overall health and wellness
  • Made in the USA by a family-owned brand that only uses quality ingredients from trusted and sustainable sources.
  • Made without grains, corn, wheat, artificial flavors or artificial colors.

The best news? It’s reasonably priced at $1.96/lb.

Taste of the Wild earns 8 out of 10 points

Nulo Freestyle

Nulo carries puppy, adult, and senior varieties in beef, chicken, duck, seafood, sweet potato, turkey and vegetable flavors.

Benefits speak for themselves:

  • Single animal protein formulas have only one whole-meat source to support lean muscle mass.
  • Provides 30% crude protein plus essential nutrients for a complete and balanced diet
  • Has specially-formulated probiotics that help support a healthy gut and immunity
  • Lower in carbs, free from potatoes or tapioca, and great for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies
  • Made in the USA without chicken, eggs, peas, pea protein, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors or preservatives

Lamb, turkey meal, salmon meal, yellow peas, and chickpeas are the first five ingredients for healthy, fit dogs. Nulo is one of the more expensive choices @$3.19/lb, however.

Want their freeze-dried, raw variety with 42% protein? LOOK at this ingredient line-up: beef, beef heart, beef liver, beef kidneys, ground beef bone, apples, broccoli, sweet potato, carrot, kale, spinach, parsley, blueberries, apple cider vinegar and ground flaxseed plus probiotics, vitamins and minerals. WOW!

Then again, @$2.77/oz those amazing ingredients are at a price that might make it most useful as a topper for dog food.

In like manner, some owners use it as dog treats. Dogs love Nulo Freeze-dried that much.

Nulo Freestyle earns 9 out of 10 points for ingredients

Orijen Original, Grain-Free

Orijen is formulated to “nourish your dog as nature intended.” It provides a biologically appropriate diet that’s packed with different types of animal ingredients.

Key Benefits:

  • Crafted with 85% premium animal ingredients including poultry and fish, for a strong source of essential protein, vitamins, and minerals
  • The first 5 ingredients are always fresh or raw animal protein
  • Packed with WholePrey nutrition featuring nutrient-rich organs and bone
  • Made in the USA with the world’s finest ingredients
  • Freeze-dried coated for a burst of raw flavor

Ingredients include chicken, turkey, flounder, whole Mackerel, chicken liver, turkey giblets (liver, heart, gizzard), whole Herring, eggs, fruits, vegetables, legumes, vitamins, and minerals.

Truly, Orijen is high-protein, grain-free, gluten-free, all-natural and raw—with no corn, wheat, soy or ground meal.

Whew!

I love the whole, raw, freeze-dried ingredients in Orijen—most especially the organ meats which are so terrific for dogs. At $99.99 for a 25 lb bag of dog food ($4/lb), purchasing Orijen is unaffordable for many dog owners other than as a dog food topper.

Orijen earns 10 out of 10 for ingredients

Top 3 picks

My top 3 picks have all-natural ingredients including whole meat, fruits and vegetables. Additionally, they contain no grains, artificial colors or preservatives, and their prices won’t break the bank.

Orijen Original, Grain-Free*—2nd Place @$4/lb

Taste of the Wild High Prairie AND American Journey, GF—TIED for First Place @$1.96 & $2.00/lb

 

As usual, I would love your feedback or questions! I would also like to hear what your favorite dog food is, and why. Have a different opinion? Let’s hear it!

 

Cheers!

carrie@dogloversexpress.com

* You will notice that Orijen, though scoring 10/10 points, came in second place because of its price, NOT its ingredients. When determining final ranks, I took both price and ingredients into consideration. For the same reason, Nulo Freestyle would be my choice after Orijen as a runner up. Although cheaper than Orijen, its ingredients rank just under Orijen.

2 thoughts on “7 Healthy Dog Foods Guaranteed to Make Your Dog Drool”

  1. Wow, didn’t realize any of the Nutrish real line had grains. I would’ve thought it was all meat. Thanks for the info!

    1. It is surprising how many dog foods still have grains in their blends, especially as their primary ingredients. Many companies who believe grains are fine for dogs have at least tried to improve the grain quality included in their recipes. I applaud them for their efforts! However, far too many still need to make major changes.

      Peace!

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