Best Dog Foods 2023 – Forbes Vetted

Best Dog Foods 2023 - Forbes Vetted

As a dog owner, selecting food for your pet is one of the most important decisions you have to make on a regular basis. After all, the kind you pick is your pup’s main source of nutrition, designed to keep them healthy, happy and energized on a daily basis. But these days, there are hundreds of options available, including dry, wet and fresh varieties in every flavor imaginable, so it can be tricky to find the best dog food for your four-legged friend.

“When choosing which food is best for your pet, there are numerous things to consider,” explains Dr. Jennifer Frione, DVM, veterinarian and owner at Lakeside Animal Hospital in Plantation, Florida. For instance, “your pet’s age and stage of life,” she continues. “Puppies and kittens nutritional requirements vary from that of middle aged or geriatric pets.” You also want to make sure your pet’s main source of food meets the minimal nutritional requirements established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Other factors to keep in mind as you shop include your pet’s dietary needs and medical conditions, plus the types of food they like best (pets have preferences, too). If you’re unsure about what dog food is the best option for your pet, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian, who can help steer you in the right direction.

To help take some of the guesswork out of the shopping process, we spoke with trusted vets about some of the most popular, high-quality foods out there. With their tips and recommendations in mind, here are nine of the very best dog foods to keep your pooch healthy and happy.

Type: Dry | Life stage: Adult | Calories: 383 kcal/cup | AAFCO approved: Yes

Purina comes highly recommended by many vets, as the brand employs board-certified veterinary nutritionists and does extensive research on its formulas. If you have an adult dog who doesn’t have any specific dietary needs, Purina ONE dry dog food is one of the brand’s best options. 

Suitable for pups of all sizes, Purina ONE’s formulas rely on high-quality ingredients that support whole-body health. In the chicken and rice variety, for example, real chicken is the first ingredient, and the kibble is fortified with omega-6 fatty acids, prebiotic fiber, vitamins and four antioxidant sources. 


  • Suitable for adult dogs of all sizes
  • Made with high-quality proteins and vitamins
  • Affordable


  • The kibble size may be too large for smaller dogs

Type: Dry | Life stage: Adult | Calories: 416 kcal/cup | AAFCO approved: Yes

Dog Chow Complete Adult Dog Food is a wallet-friendly option for your pet, costing less than $1 per pound. Like our top pick overall, this dry dog food is also made by Purina, and it’s available in beef and chicken flavors. Fortified with 23 vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants to boost your dog’s immune system, this kibble is a complete and balanced source of nutrition for your pet. While it’s suitable for adult dogs of all sizes, just keep in mind that it’s higher in calories than other top options so you may need to feed your dog a bit less to prevent weight gain. 


  • Costs less than $1 per pound
  • Suitable for adult dogs of all sizes
  • Free from artificial flavors and preservatives 


  • Higher in calories than many other foods

Type: Fresh | Life stage: Adult | Calories: Varies by flavor | AAFCO approved: Yes

Fresh dog food has become increasingly popular over the past few years and JustFoodForDogs is one of the best brands in the game. The company offers a wide range of food flavors like fish and sweet potato or venison and squash, and each variety is made using gently cooked human-grade ingredients. (If your dog has specific dietary needs or a medical condition, the brand also has a line of prescription foods or they can create a formula tailored to your pet’s individual needs.) Each variety come packaged in 18-ounce pouches, and the servings can be stored frozen for up to a year until you’re ready to use them. 


  • Made from fresh, human-grade ingredients
  • Available in a variety of flavors, as well as variety packs
  • Can be stored for up to one year in the freezer


  • Notably more expensive than dry or canned food
  • Food must be used within three or four days after it’s thawed

Type: Wet | Life stage: Adult | Calories: 329 kcal/can | AAFCO approved: Yes

If you prefer to give your dog wet food, which has a higher moisture level and is generally easier to chew than kibble, this formula from Hill’s Science Diet is a winning pick. Designed for adult canines between the ages of 1 and 6, the formula—which comes in beef and chicken flavors—has a stew-like consistency that even picky eaters are guaranteed to love. It’s made with high-quality lean protein that promotes muscle maintenance and a healthy body weight, plus ingredients like biotin and vitamin E to support your dog’s skin and coat health. Since the wet food is easy to digest, it’s a great option for dogs with sensitive stomachs, too. Each can is 12.8 ounces and comes in a pack of 12.


  • Suitable for adult dogs of all sizes
  • Appealing to picky eaters
  • Made with easy-to-digest ingredients for healthy digestion


  • Larger dogs may need multiple cans per day

Type: Dry | Life stage: Puppies | Calories: 406 kcal/cup | AAFCO approved: Yes

Puppies need specific nutrients to support healthy growth, and the Purina Pro Plan Puppy Food is a top choice for young animals under 1 year old. This dry formula is high in protein to help your pooch grow big and strong, and it also contains DHA from fish oil to promote healthy brain and vision development. Additionally, the kibble has live probiotics to support your dog’s digestive and immune health. 

To make this kibble more appealing to young pups, it contains regular dry morsels, as well as tender “shredded” pieces that provide a tasty texture for your puppy. Just keep in mind that it might not be the best option for large breed puppies, who require specific protein levels so they don’t grow too quickly; instead, consider the Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Dry Puppy Food. 


  • Specially formulated to meet the needs of young dogs
  • Available in formulas for regular and large-breed puppies
  • Includes shredded kibble pieces for an appealing texture


  • Only one flavor available

Type: Wet | Life stage: Senior | Calories: 376 kcal/can | AAFCO approved: Yes

As your pet gets older, their nutritional needs change, which is why senior-friendly foods like Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Canned Food exist. Sold in 12-packs of 13-ounce cans, this wet food is designed to meet the needs of dogs who are at least 7 years old. Not only are the formulas soft enough for elderly dogs to chew, but they’re also crafted with high-quality ingredients to ensure appropriate nutrient absorption. For instance, each flavor (like beef and barley) contains a balanced amount of minerals for heart and kidney health, as well as antioxidants for immune health. Overall, Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Canned Food is a top choice to help keep older dogs healthy as they age. 


  • Senior-friendly
  • Soft consistency makes it easier to chew
  • Flavor and texture is appealing to picky eaters


  • Larger dogs may need multiple cans per day

Type: Dry | Life stage: Adult | Calories: 363 kcal/cup | AAFCO approved: Yes

For large breed dogs (pups who weigh 50 pounds or more as adults), Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Dog Food is formulated with their specific nutritional requirements in mind. Available in either chicken and barley or lamb and rice flavors, it’s designed to support the energy needs of larger dogs and promote joint health, as big breeds are prone to developing problems like hip dysplasia and arthritis. The food contains high-quality protein to promote lean muscle, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E to help keep their skin healthy and fur shiny. But the best part? The kibble is large—in other words, the ideal size for big dogs. 


  • Formulated to keep large dogs healthy
  • Made with high-quality, easy-to-digest ingredients
  • Promotes joint health in larger breeds


  • Only available in 15- and 35-pound bags

Type: Dry | Life stage: Adult | Calories: 449 kcal/cup | AAFCO approved: Yes

If your dog is prone to stomach problems, Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach is a veterinarian-recommended option that supports healthy digestion. The salmon and rice formula is easy for dogs to digest, thanks to carbohydrates like rice and oatmeal, and it contains natural prebiotic fiber that helps nourish beneficial intestinal bacteria. As a result, the food often improves stool quality. 

This food is also great for dogs with sensitive skin, thanks to its omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin A. These nutrients keep your pet’s coat healthy and shiny, and the formula is free of corn, wheat and soy, in case your dog is sensitive to these ingredients. 


  • Easy to digest and helps maintains stool quality
  • Formulated to support skin and coat health
  • Free from corn, wheat and soy


  • Higher in calories than many other dry foods

Type: Fresh | Life stage: Adult | Calories: Varies by formula | AAFCO approved: Yes

You can save yourself the hassle of trekking to the pet store every month with a dog food delivery service. Our top-recommended brand is Nom Nom Now, which delivers fresh dog food to your doorstep on a recurring basis. The brand helps you build a meal plan based on your pet’s individual needs, and they currently offer chicken, beef, turkey and pork recipes, all of which are gently cooked to preserve nutrients. 

Nom Nom Now dog food should be kept frozen until you’re ready to serve it, and the packs can be stored for up to 6 months. There are several delivery frequencies to choose from, including every week, every two weeks and every four weeks. And if you want to sample the food before committing to a subscription, the brand offers a Variety Pack. 


  • Formulated by a veterinary nutritionist
  • Delivered on a recurring schedule
  • Freezer-safe for up to six months


  • Can be quite expensive, especially for larger dogs

What To Look For In Dog Foods

AAFCO Nutritional Statement

When selecting a dog food for your pet, you want to look for a nutritional adequacy statement on the packaging. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (also known as the AAFCO) has specific nutritional guidelines that pet food needs to meet, and it’s important to choose a product that’s labeled as “complete and balanced” for your dog’s specific life stage (adult, puppy, etc.). This means that the food provides all the nutrients that your pet needs in the appropriate ratios. If a food is not labeled as complete and balanced, talk to your pet’s veterinarian about how you can best meet your dog’s nutritional needs.

Food Type

Dog food is available in several different forms, the most popular of which include dry food (or kibble), wet/canned food and fresh food. Each of these types has benefits and drawbacks. For instance, dry food is often the most affordable and easy to store, but it contains less moisture and may be hard for some dogs to chew. Wet food contains a high level of moisture and is highly palatable, often appealing to picky eaters, but it doesn’t help clean your dog’s teeth like dry food.

If you’re not sure what type of food might work best for your pet, your veterinarian can offer personalized advice. “Talk to your vet about what type of formulation best fits your pet’s needs,” recommends Dr. Frione. “For example, pets with severe periodontal disease will benefit more from a canned/wet food, as kibble may be too hard for them to comfortably eat.”


You may also want to look at the ingredients in your dog’s food; experts recommend selecting a product with high-quality protein as one of the main ingredients. “Some things to look for are what is the main type of protein and is protein one of the higher ingredients on the list, since dogs need protein as the main component of their diet,” recommends Dr. Zac Pilossoph, DVM, a consulting veterinarian at Healthy Paws Pet Insurance.

Some common protein sources for dog food include chicken, beef, turkey and fish. If your dog is a picky eater, you may need to try a few different options to find which protein they like best.

Dietary Needs

You also want to consider your pet’s dietary needs when selecting a food. “Certain medical conditions such as allergies, diabetes or urinary issues may require a special diet,” Dr. Frione notes. In these instances, you want to work with your pet’s veterinarian to select a food that will keep them healthy; they may even recommend a prescription diet.


Don’t forget to take cost into account while selecting a dog food. Dry and canned dog foods tend to be the most affordable, especially if you have a larger animal or multiple pets. Specialty varieties, such as fresh food, can get expensive fast, so it’s important to figure out how much you can comfortably afford within your budget.

What Is The Best Dog Food, According To Vets?

There are hundreds of dog foods out there today, and there’s no one-size-fits-all option that works for every dog. Different animals have varying nutritional needs based on their age, breed and medical status, and just like people, dogs have preferences in terms of flavors and textures.

To find the best dog food for your pet, veterinarians generally recommend selecting a product from several trusted brands. “When recommending a food, I generally stick to the big four: Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina Pro Plan, and Eukanuba,” says Dr. Frione. These brands are known for creating high-quality dog foods with the help of veterinary nutritionists, and they do in-depth research into the best formulas and ingredients to support pet health.

What Is The Number One Healthiest Dog Food?

Again, there’s no one dog food that’s healthiest for every pet. “Each dog has its own list of elements that need to be taken into account to choose the right type of dog food,” explains Dr. Pilossoph. However, he does note that there are benefits to selecting a fresh, whole food diet for your dog. “Over the last few years, there have been several reputable and trustworthy fresh whole food dog food companies to come out and put together a very high-quality list of dog foods,” he explains. “I look for those that are predominantly protein-based—80% or more—are human-grade, and that use minimal synthetic vitamins and nutrients.”

If you’re interested in feeding a fresh diet to your pet, brands like JustFoodForDogs and Nom Nom Now are worthwhile options to consider.

What Dog Foods Do Vets Not Recommend?

While raw dog food has become popular in recent years, many veterinarians recommend against feeding raw diets. The American Veterinary Medical Association advises against it, as well. Because it’s not cooked in any way, raw dog food can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, which can be harmful to both you and your pet. In one study by the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, 196 samples of commercially available raw pet food were analyzed and 15 were positive for Salmonella and 32 were positive for L. monocytogenes. If you have questions about feeding your dog a raw diet, don’t hesitate to consult your vet first.

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