Best Dog Food

The search for the right food for your dog can be exhausting. With so many choices and factors that go into your dog’s health, it’s tough to make a decision. We did the research to help simplify that decision and find the best dog food made in the USA. Several of the large manufacturers cut corners and source their mysterious ingredients from China and other locations. We set out to find the companies that are producing the highest quality dog food with local U.S. ingredients that are going to keep your dog feeling great for years to come. Below are our top recommendations, additional details on each recipe, and the factors we considered in our research.

Our Findings

Overall, we found just a few brands that are making high quality dog food that is truly sourced and cooked in the USA. This research process was tough. There are a ton of dog food makers out there that cook in the U.S., but don’t source their ingredients locally. It took some digging in ingredients lists, testing, and extensive research to really get down to the brands that are doing the best job. We broke down our findings into what type and size dog each recipe is for, along with some other highlights that we felt like made their product shine extra bright.

Top Recommendations

Best Dog Food Made in the USA Best for:
Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food – Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe Adults, All Breeds
Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food – Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe Puppies, All Breeds
Castor & Pollux Natural Ultramix – Grain Free and Poultry Free Salmon Recipe Adults, All Breeds
Bil-Jac Small Breed Select Dry Dog Food Adults, Small Breeds
Holistic Health Extension – Chicken & Rice Large Breed Dry Dog Food Adults, Large Breed
Tender & True – Organic Chicken and Liver Recipe All Life Stages, All Breeds

Recommendations: Going Deeper

Here are some additional details on our top picks, along with what we liked, didn’t like, and links to where you can view the broader product lines for each of these great manufacturers.

Best Dog Food for Adults (All Breeds) and Having Great Real Meat

Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food – Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe


We were really impressed with Merrick’s sourcing and cooking process for all of their grain free dog foods. This Texas beef and sweet potato recipe is one of their best in our opinion and one of their most popular. The #1 ingredient? Real, de-boned beef. The next four ingredients are lamb, sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes. Most of their ingredients are sourced locally from farmers in the Texas area where they operate, and they get absolutely zero ingredients from China. In addition to being grain free, all of their recipes have zero poultry by-products, artificial preservatives, corn, wheat, soy, or gluten. We also really like that they include Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which are great for helping your keep a healthy skin and coat.

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Full Merrick Product Line

Things we like:

  • Real meat is #1 ingredient
  • No grain or other fillers
  • Good glucosamine and chondroitin levels for healthy joints
  • Locally sourced ingredients

Things we don’t like:

  • None

 

Best Dog Food for Puppies (All Breeds)

Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food – Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe


The dry puppy food from Merrick has a lot of the same qualities as we talked about above for their adult line – locally sourced ingredients, real de-boned meat, and no grains or other bad fillers. The puppy product line has some great added benefits that their customers love over the competition, like added DHA for brain development. It also has other vitamins and minerals to help with physical development. The chicken and sweet potato recipe is absolutely loved by most of the puppies who try it – it’s one of their highest rated recipes.

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Full Merrick Product Line

Things we like:

  • De-boned chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Most ingredients sourced from local farmers
  • No ingredients from China
  • Added vitamins and minerals for development

Things we don’t like:

  • None

 

Best Poultry Free Dog Food (Adults, All Breeds)

Castor & Pollux Natural Ultramix – Grain Free and Poultry Free Salmon Recipe


In our opinion, Natural Ultramix is the best option out there if you want to stick with a grain free and poultry free recipe. The #1 ingredient is salmon, followed by real fruits and vegetables (like peas, bananas, and carrots) that you can actually see in the bag! Along with these wholesome ingredients, Natural Ultramix is packed with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (healthy skin and coat), calcium and phosphorus (healthy bones and teeth), and prebiotics to help support digestion. This recipe contains zero soy, corn, or wheat as well. Natural Ultramix is a good fit for pretty much any dog size or breed, and is typically for dogs in their adult stage of life. Natural Ultramix is just one of the product lines for Castor & Pollux, who also make great recipes under their PRISTINE and ORGANIX product lines.

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Full Natural Ultramix Product Line

Things we like:

  • Poultry and grain free
  • First ingredient is real fish
  • Additional vitamins

Things we don’t like:

  • None

 

Best Dog Food for Small Breeds (Adults)

Bil-Jac Small Breed Select Dry Dog Food


This Bil-Jac recipe is formulated with small dogs in mind, and the best small breed recipe we found among the competition. It has small, easy to chew bites and the three primary ingredients are chicken, oatmeal, and yams. This recipe is great for small senior dogs as well – if you mix with a little bit of water or wet food, this food softens up easily and is chewable by pretty much any dog, even ones with arthritis or bad teeth. Bil-Jac Small Breed Select also has naturally sourced Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to help your dog maintain a strong coat, and other vitamins to support their immune system.

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Full Bil-Jac Product Line

Things we like:

  • Easy to chew
  • Chicken is #1 ingredient
  • Added vitamins and minerals

Things we don’t like:

  • Has some corn

 

Best Dog Food for Large Breeds (and Vitamin Rich)

Holistic Health Extension – Chicken & Rice Large Breed Dry Dog Food


Holistic Health Extension does a great job making sure that their recipes have the vitamins that your dog needs to stay healthy, especially when it comes to large breeds who have an increased risk of joint problems. All of their recipes meet the requirements of the AAFCO Dog Food Nutritional Program, which basically means that their food is okay for dogs at all stages of life. This chicken and rice recipe of theirs is one of the best (and most popular) – dogs love it! The first ingredient is real, de-boned chicken. It contains absolutely zero by-products, rendered animal fats, corn, gluten, soy, artificial preservatives, wheat, added sugar, or other artificial flavors. Holistic Health Extension also makes dry and wet dog food for all other sizes and stages of life, and has an extensive line of vitamins and supplements for your pet.

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Full Holistic Health Extension Product Line

Things we like:

  • Added vitamins
  • Never sourced any ingredients from China
  • Never had a product recall
  • Great taste
  • All recipes start with USDA inspected fresh meats

Things we don’t like:

  • None

 

Best USDA Certified Organic Dog Food (All Life Stages, All Breeds)

Tender & True – Organic Chicken and Liver Recipe


If you’re all about organic, Tender & True is for you. These guys start all of their recipes out with USDA certified organic chicken (the #1 ingredient), just like you would get from your local butcher. Their chicken and liver recipe is grain free, has other vitamins and minerals, contains zero artificial preservatives, and has no added hormones either. All of their chicken has been certified humanely raised by the Global Animal Partnership. Outside of chicken and liver, this recipe also contains peas, chickpeas, and potatoes, all of which their customers’ dogs seem to love.

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Things we like:

  • Certified organic
  • Added vitamins for healthy development
  • Real meat and vegetables are primary ingredients
  • Grain free

Things we don’t like:

  • None

Recap: Best Dog Food Made in the USA


Why Does it Matter Where Your Dog Food is Made?

Simply put, there are more regulations in the U.S. than abroad when it comes to pet food production. This allows overseas manufacturers to cut corners with more heavily processed ingredients and other low quality ingredients like propylene glycol, which is commonly found in antifreeze.


Related articles: Dog toys made in the USA, dog treats made in the USA


Factors We Considered

Meat Quality

Meat quality is super important and some larger dog food manufacturers cut the corners here. For starters, you want your first ingredient to be de-boned meat of some kind. We also eliminated several brands from consideration that had unnamed meats or meals in their ingredients list.

A meal is essentially just concentrated meat. However, manufacturers aren’t required to tell you the specific breakdown of the meal itself. Therefore, we flagged any foods with a generic “meat meal” description that typically is a tip-off that they used something unnatural as a filler.

Non-Primary Ingredients

There are a lot of ingredients out there that are not safe for dogs. Many people know about stuff like chocolate, avocado, and grapes, but ingredients like onions and garlic are also harmful for dogs. Here are some of the things we looked for and avoided in our evaluation.

Good things:

  • Specific proteins (chicken, beef, lamb, etc.)
  • Natural preservatives like vitamin E and vitamin C
  • Certifications from health organizations like the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials)
  • Omega 3 and 6 acids for healthy skin and coats
  • Calcium and phosphorus for healthy bone and teeth development
  • DHA for brain development in puppy mixes

Bad things:

  • Unnatural preservatives (BHT, BHA, TBHQ, etc.)
  • Non-specific proteins (just “meat” or “animal meal”)
  • Toxic foods like chocolate, garlic, or onions
  • Artificial colors or flavoring (can potentially be labeled as “natural flavor” additive)
  • Ingredient mix is very heavy on plant-based proteins
  • “Gravy” ingredient

Product Recalls

You don’t want to be living in fear over some potentially harmful ingredients in your dog’s food bowl. We eliminated several brands that had a history of several product recalls.

Value & Price

Of course, we want to make sure that you are getting the best dog food for your money. There are several dog food manufacturers out there who throw fancy marketing terms at you to try and buy their products. We got rid of a few manufacturers from our consideration where we felt like the quality of the food did not match the price.