Good Cheap Dog Food | Ultimate Guide To Affordable Dog Food

You love your dog and you want to do the best for your furry buddy. However, your budget may be driving you to ask the question, “Is there such a thing as good cheap dog food?”   The answer might surprise you.

Owning a dog is a serious responsibility and it can be costly. The current estimated annual cost of owning a dog is $1270. Pets are just like our immediate family members and dogs tend to rate almost as high as children in many homes. It only follows that you want the best for your dog. To you, your dog is your best friend and your constant companion.  You only want to give your dog the very best of everything, especially the food that can help your friend live the longest life possible. So good cheap dog food is a must if you’re on a budget.

How do you know you’re giving your dog the best though? The adage, “you get what you pay for,” used to be true, but is it still true? In some cases, yes, but sometimes we can get away with scoring good deals. There are an estimated 32 million dogs kept world-wide as pets. Surely the most expensive food can’t be the single best food for all those dogs. Dogs, like people, have different needs and therefore different foods that suit them best. It is very possible to find a good cheap dog food that will serve your canine better than simply the most expensive brand. 

Good Cheap Dog Foods: A Look at 4 of Our Favorite Options

1. Iams Proactive Health Minichunks Premium Adult Dry Dog Food

Good Cheap Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude protein minimum 25%
  • Crude fat minimum 14%
  • Fiber maximum 4%
The Top Five Ingredients in Iams Proactive Health Minichunks are:
  • Chicken
  • Corn Meal
  • Ground Whole Grain Sorghum
  • Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Dried Beet Pulp 

Iams Proactive Health Minichunks Premium Adult Dry Dog Food starts with real meat as the first ingredient. It contains no wheat or soy making it a good choice for many dogs with allergies. It also employs all-natural preservatives and contains protein from chicken and egg to build strong and lean muscle. It has Omega -6s that helps in promoting a shiny healthy coat and 7 essential nutrients to ensure complete nutrition. Lastly, it contains L-carnitine to help burn fat and maintain a healthy metabolism.


2. Pedigree Complete Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food

best Good Cheap Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude protein minimum 21%
  • Crude fat minimum 11%
  • Fiber maximum 4%

The Top Five Ingredients in Pedigree Complete Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food are:

  • Ground Whole Grain Corn
  • Poultry By-Product Meal
  • Corn Gluten Meal
  • Animal Fat
  • Meat and Bone Meal

Pedigree Complete Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food has no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors, and no added sugar. It is a good cheap dog food brand that has been widely used for 61 years. It includes B vitamins, zinc, and omega-6 fatty acids.  It also has Vitamin E which helps build a strong immune system. Pedigree has a special fiber blend to aid in digestion. It contains glucosamine and chondroitin which help to support joint health in your dog.


3. Kibbles 'n Bits Original Dry Dog Food

top Good Cheap Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude protein minimum 19%
  • Crude fat minimum 8%
  • Fiber maximum 4%

The Top Five Ingredients in Kibbles ‘n Bits Original Dry Dog Food are:

  • Corn
  • Soybean Meal
  • Beef and Bone Meal
  • Whole Wheat
  • Animal fat

Kibbles ‘n Bits Original has a lower protein minimum and less crude fat making this a good cheap dog food option for dogs with a lower protein need. More sedentary older dogs can find a well balanced and complete nutrition in this food. Kibbles ‘n Bits also contains vegetables and has 23 essential vitamins and minerals providing a nice healthy benefit. A large bonus for this food is that many dogs find it very tasty and therefore it makes a great cheap dog food, even for finicky eaters.


4. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food

Good Cheap Dog Food available

Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude protein minimum 26%
  • Crude fat minimum 14%
  • Fiber maximum 4%

The Top Five Ingredients in Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food are:

  • Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Soybean Meal
  • Whole Ground Corn
  • Dried Peas

Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food starts off strong with U.S.A. Farm Raised chicken as the main ingredient. It has natural prebiotics that help support the digestive system. It contains no poultry by-product and no fillers; no wheat or wheat gluten. It also uses all-natural preservatives giving this food a big thumbs up. For many dogs who can tolerate soy, this food is a good cheap dog food.



Paying for a Pretty Package and a Dose of Guilt

Feeding your dog has become an exercise in spending money and feeling guilty.  More and more, dogs are becoming people’s best friends and emotional support systems. They are important to us and many of us will gladly pay the very best that we’re able for their nutritional needs.  The current trending belief is that the more expensive the food, the better for your dog, and the more you love your dog, the more money you will spend.  However, that is not always the truth. There are good cheap dog food options, we promise!

Expensive packaging and marketing campaigns drive the cost of many dog foods up. Trends such as the Raw Food diet and the No Grain diet are hot topics now. Each diet has both pros and cons and are only a couple of the many diets being debated in the world of canine nutrition.  Passionate people argue for what they feel is the best for the canine population.  Furthermore, the debate promises to continue about the optimal diet for your dog.  But who is right? How do you know which side to go with when making decisions? With so much up for debate it’s easy to forget to look at the individual dog.  What is critical to know in choosing a good cheap dog food for your dog is what ingredients fit your dog’s needs the best.  Every dog is an individual and there is no one best dog food for all.

Where to Start to get the Best Cheap Dog Food

The place to start your investigation into building the best diet for your dog is looking first at each food’s ingredient list. Ingredient lists always show the food product with the highest percentage, i.e. what the food is mostly made from, as the first ingredient. The second listed ingredient has the second highest percentage and so on.  Understanding what nutrition your dog needs and what special circumstances your dog has will help you decide which foods are good cheap dog food and which are merely cheap non-nutritious filler foods that your dog would be better without and your budget could be used better for.

Herbivore, Carnivore, and Omnivores

Dogs are naturally omnivores with a strong preference for meat. By design, they are built like a carnivore with sharp teeth for tearing, not grinding. However, their ability to consume vegetation and obtain nutrition from it is a shared trait with herbivores.  This allows for a wide range of dog food ingredients in many combinations and recipes. Factors such as dog size, age, breed and health can make one type of cheap dog food better than another for your dog.  

First you must take an honest assessment of your dog’s needs. 

  1. Is your fur covered companion young, middle aged, or a senior?
  2. How about weight? Is it over, under or, just right?
  3. Consider factors such as male or female, pregnant or lactating
  4. What breed or body structure does your dog have?
  5. What health issues does your dog have, i.e. joint problems, age-related issues, or skin problems?

Consider these Factors for Optimal Health

Even veterinarians are not in complete agreement with each other on the one best dog food, but many advise that the best foods may, in fact, not be the most expensive foods.  Instead of price as an indicator of the best food for your dog, here are some more helpful factors in determining a good cheap dog food for optimal health.

  • Carbohydrates/Grains
  • Protein
  • Oils/Fats
  • Vegetables
  • Preservatives


Carbohydrates, usually obtained from plants and grains, are used in dog foods to provide easily accessible and usable energy for your dog. Most dog foods range from 30 to 70 percent carbohydrates. Where your dog needs to be in that range depends largely on his activity level, age and weight. Additionally, some dogs have allergies to different grains and, in these cases, alternatives to grain carbohydrates are required. Soy and wheat are two of the grains dogs are most commonly allergic to. Luckily, many good cheap dog foods have multiple options available that contain no soy or wheat.  

Protein in Good Cheap Dog Foods

Protein in dog food can come from a wide range of sources. Everything from beef, chicken, lamb and venison to many other meat sources have been made into dog food. Your dog’s protein needs can vary widely due to age and physical conditioning and activity levels. A high-performance dog, such as a sled dog or a grey hound racing dog, have a higher need for protein than a sedentary dog does. Puppies require more protein to support their growth than adults and large breed puppies need even more protein to support their rapid growth and development.  There are many good cheap dog foods that have wide ranges of protein levels to accommodate your dog’s needs.

Oils/Fats in Good Cheap Dog Foods

Oils and fats are essential to your dog’s diet. Not only do they provide energy, but they also provide essential fatty acids in the Omega 3 and 6 groups. Fats and oils are also necessary for normal development of body cells, nerves, and tissues.   A healthy adult dog does best with a diet of 10 to 15 percent fat. Just like other nutritional elements in his diet though, other factors can change the optimal amount of fats needed. Coat conditions can sometimes be treated by raising your dog’s intake of oils and fats. Digestion concerns can be affected in both directions by the levels of oils and fats, and weight issues can also be affected by the oils and fats in your dog’s diet.  Different breeds also have wide ranges in their specific needs for oils and fats. Attention to this area of your dog’s nutrition can go along way in both your dog’s comfort and happiness as well as your dog’s appearance and shine.

Fats in good cheap dog food come from animal fats and oils from plants.  Some of the most common sources come from fish oils, fats from chicken, beef, and pork, and flaxseed, canola, and sunflower seed oils.

Vegetables/Fruits in Good Cheap Dog Foods

Vegetables and fruits are not mandatory to your dog’s diet, but they are very beneficial. Vegetables are the only source for phytonutrients which are protective antioxidants and enzymes that have many terrific uses.  To name a few, they are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and even aid in preventing worms.  But maybe one of the greatest things about fruits and vegetables are their cancer fighting benefits. Cancer is the leading cause of death in domesticated dogs. A rate of 1 in 3 dogs die of cancer, which is the same rate as mankind. Considering this, adding vegetables and fruit to your dog’s diet is usually a good thing. Do watch out for allergic reactions when introducing new vegetables and fruits. 

Vegetables and fruits also provide many nutrients and add fiber to your dog’s diet. Some vegetables and fruits can be used as snacks or healthy filler when trying to help your dog lose weight. A common trick suggested by concerned veterinarians trying to slim down a client’s dog is to feed them green beans as a snack. Vegetables and fruits can have a healthy place in your dog’s diet.  Some of the best additions to your dog’s diet are:

  • Apples without the seeds
    • These great treats help clean your dog’s breath while providing a good chew toy that adds antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamins A and C.
  • Bananas
    • These wonders of the fruit world add fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6 and Vitamin C.
  • Blueberries
    • Blueberries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C and they have been shown to aid in brain function.
  • Brussel Sprouts
    • Brussel Sprouts help by reducing inflammation in your dog’s body and also improves blood circulation.
  • Cantaloupe
    • This melon is a good source of Vitamins A and C as well as beta carotene, fiber, antioxidants and folic acid.
  • Carrots
    • Like green beans, carrots are a good alternative to high fat dog treats. They are low calorie and crunchy. Dogs enjoy them as chew treats and get the benefits of their fiber, vitamin K and potassium.
  • Pumpkin
    • Pumpkin is extremely beneficial to the digestive system. It is easily digested, and many dogs enjoy its flavor. It is rich in antioxidants, has beta carotene and is very high in fiber.
  • Spinach
    • Spinach provides a good amount of vitamins A, B, C, and K. It helps your dog’s immune system and is thought to help fight against cancer and heart disease in dogs.
  • Watermelon
    • Watermelon contains a high vitamin and mineral content for such low calories. Your dog will benefit from its potassium, magnesium, beta carotene and vitamins A, B6, and C.
  • Sweet Potatoes
    • Very similar in nutritional value to pumpkin, sweet potatoes also offer a nice nutritional boost for your dog. A small amount goes a long way with these sweet potatoes though due to their sugar content. Keep small and medium dogs to one teaspoon a day and large dogs at 1 tablespoon a day.

Fruits & Vegetables That Can Be Toxic to Dogs

Not all vegetables and fruits are created equal though and they’re not all beneficial, or even safe, for dogs. It is the owner’s responsibility to watch out for vegetables and fruits that are toxic or a potential allergen to their dog. Here are a few of the common ones that can be harmful and why you should avoid them.

  • Grapes
    • Grapes and raisins can cause traumatic kidney damage in dogs. Signs of toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
  • Onions
    • Onions destroy a dog’s red blood cells causing kidney damage. Signs of weakness, breathlessness, vomiting, bloody urine and exhaustion are all signs to seek emergency care.
  • Mushrooms
    • Just like in humans, some mushrooms are toxic and even fatal to dogs. Signs to watch out for are wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea, and irregular heartbeat.
  • Potato Skins
    • Many people don’t know that both people and dogs shouldn’t eat raw potatoes and especially if they have green coloring on their skin. Potatoes are part of the nightshade family and contain solanine, a toxin that can build up and cause extreme damage to the body, including death.
  • Rhubarb
    • The stems and leaves of rhubarb are poisonous to both humans and dogs. This toxin causes problems with your pet’s nervous system and reduces the calcium in your dog causing renal failure.
  • Garlic
    • Garlic is similar in nature to onions and should also be avoided in your dog’s diet.
  • The seeds of peaches, plums, apricots and cherries.
    • The seeds of these fruits contain cyanide and can cause intestinal obstructions and respiratory failure in both dogs and humans.
  • The stems and leaves of tomato plants
    • These parts of the tomato plant contain atropine and tomatine, which can be poisonous to dogs and cause symptoms such as dilated pupils, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling.

It is a good idea to check if a vegetable or fruit is toxic before giving it to your dog and when offering a vegetable or fruit for the first time, keep an eye out for any allergic reactions. Thankfully there are good cheap dog food options that take the guess work out by having the appropriate vegetables and fruits in the kibble.

Preservatives to look out for in Good Cheap Dog Foods

The best preservatives in a good cheap dog food are natural preservatives.  Preservatives like tocopherols and ascorbic acid or Vitamin C help your dog’s food stay fresh without compromising health.  Artificial preservatives such as ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) have extremely long shelf lives but they are thought by many to have harmful effects on dogs.  The argument is ongoing over artificial versus natural preservatives but even with half the shelf life of artificial preservatives, many people opt for buying smaller bags and feeding naturally preserved dog food.

So, what are a few good cheap dog foods to try? Taking into consideration what your dog’s needs are, here are a few selections to try. While not all inclusive, these dry dog foods cover the nutritional needs of many dogs. Discover your dog’s particular needs in three main categories, protein, fats and fiber to build a solid foundation in your friend’s health.

Don’t be Afraid of Cheap Dog Food if it Suits Your Canine

There are many avenues to an optimal diet for your dog. Your dog is a family member and, as such, you want to know that you are giving the best possible diet to your furry companion.  Amid the current climate that shouts blindly to buy the most expensive brand dry dog foods without a personalized assessment of your dog’s specific needs, it is important to remember that the real path to optimal care is through personalized attention to strengths and weaknesses in the individual dog. Some dogs need an extremely expensive dry dog food.  However, most do not.  Many dogs are much better served with a dry dog food that matches their nutritional needs without regard to marketing. Many dry dog food brands offer nothing extra for the expensive price tag except an image that may be more about marketing than overall health. The time has come that you can make practical and informed decisions for your dog family members, as well as your budget. Don’t be a victim of over-inflated marketing. Finding a good cheap dog food is possible and it might be easier on your pocketbook than you imagined!

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