Some pet owners and health professionals would agree that there are plenty of canine foods that are considered unhealthy. The brands mentioned in this article are the worst dog food brands by customer reviews, which include ingredient list examination as well.
Of course, different canine breeds will have different types of needs. Food for small canines, such as Shih Tzu might not be equally good for a Dalmatian.
Without further ado, read on to discover the “worst dog food brands” and a few honorable mentions of the “best dog food brands” by pet owners.
What Are The Worst Dog Food Brands?
Some of the main reasons why these dry dog food brands found their way on this list are their reviews and ingredients, which are far from welcome in a pet’s diet.
Of course, the feedback of canine lovers and owners must be included because it’s based solely on their own experience, without any biased opinions.
If all that’s taken into consideration, these are some of the worst dog food brands for your pet:
• Alpo, by Purina
• IAMS Pro-Active Health
• Diamond Dog Food
• Purina Dog Chow
• Gravy Train
• Purina Beneful
• Kibbles N Bits
• Cesar Filets
• Wegmans Bruiser Kibble
• Ol’ Roy Complete Nutrition Dog Food
• Twin Pet Dog Food
• Kal Kan Complete Adult Food
This list is based on the opinions and reviews of pet owners. Any views in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the PupVine team.
Worst Dog Food Brands
1. Alpo, By Purina
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only product by this brand that will be mentioned in this article, but there are good reasons for that, which can be read about below.
Purina is generally known as one of the most popular pet foods, which is still consumed by a great number of canines.
Although they state that they care about pets, the ingredients list might not state exactly the same, as the main ingredients include: soybean meal, beef fat with tocopherols (a sort of vitamin E), ground corn and corn gluten, potassium, choline chloride, etc.
Unfortunately, corn is frequently listed as an allergen in most canines, and it’s low on the list of nutritious foods and supplements.
Essentially, it serves just as a cheaper replacement for more expensive ingredients that might be even better for your pup.
Most of the ingredients serve as calories, which does add to your pet’s energy, but nothing more than that.
A lot of experts and pet owners have also noticed that this food was one of the reasons why their canines got sick.
Even though the brand states that this food has great quality for its price, some canine owners wouldn’t like to put their canine’s health at risk for a low-nutrition, inexpensive commercial food.
Unfortunately, the proteins that are contained in this dog food are of low-quality and don’t provide the pup with a satisfactory amount of proteins for a day.
Animal fat is usually not forbidden, but it’s important to clarify that “beef tallow (fat)” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a healthy ingredient.
Just because it states that it contains (some sort of) vitamin E isn’t a guarantee that your canine will become super healthy from it.
Basically, they’re using the magic word “vitamin” as a marketing strategy. However, this supplement won’t have any positive effect as the animal fat that is used for the canine food is highly processed.
2. IAMS Pro-Active Health
As a dry kibble for your canine, it contains at least one decent ingredient that serves as a natural source of protein. Chicken seems to be the sole item that can be considered real meat, and that’s why it’s placed as the first ingredient on the package.
However, just like all other kinds of low-quality canine meals, this one contains corn and meat by-products, which can cause more damage than good.
You might recognize beet pulp as a common ingredient in these types of food for canines, along with millet (sorghum), which is nothing but a substitute that contains negative effects just like corn.
Filled With By-Products?
The beet pulp is actually considered a by-product that is rich in fibers, but it still doesn’t have nutritional value.
It’s important to mention that a lot of buyers were displeased and reported that their pets had symptoms, such as vomiting and bellyache.
The beet pulp isn’t the only thing that might be problematic. Along with the chicken, this product contains chicken meat by-products, which can cause similar symptoms as mentioned above.
The main issue with by-products is that you never know what you’re actually getting, so why risk your dog’s health?
Is this the worst canine food on the market? Not really, but it’s far from good, which is why it deserves a place on this list.
3. Diamond Dog Food
Photo from: @gsoriginpetdepot
Diamond is one of the dog food brands that isn’t as bad as some other dog foods on this list, but some of its products are not nearly good enough to be called good dog food.
One of the main reasons for this is that there’s actually no real meat in this dry food. This is problematic because such a product is usually marketed as one of the best dog foods, and it’s barely considered an average.
One of the best things about this food is the fact that it contains minerals, but the issue is that it’s lacking proteins.
Proteins from plants are perfectly fine as an addition to meat proteins, but if they’re used alone, your pup would soon be protein deficient.
Ingredients like soy, wheat, and corn are the only things that carry nutritional value in this dry dog food, but it at least doesn’t contain any artificial colors or substitutes.
However, if you could afford better food for your pup, I’d strongly recommend you do so.
4. Purina Dog Chow
This brand might be a surprise for most people who have already heard about it because they’ve been producing food for pets for more than a century.
Unfortunately, it seems that dog food products might not be their strongest point, at least according to the ingredients list and the experiences of their customers.
First of all, it’s clearly visible that they use artificial ingredients in their food, which is generally one of the main reasons why pets have digestive problems.
In addition to that, it consists of meat and bone meal, which, even in minute quantities, does not pose any health risks if you know what type of meat it is.
It is possible for this food to cause congestion as well as an obstruction in the intestines.
Another thing that makes most customers unsatisfied is that this food is rather on the expensive side. Generally, there might not be anything wrong with it if it’s high-quality dog food. However, if it contains ingredients such as this food, it might be a waste of money.
5. Gravy Train
This is another of the more established companies that provide canines with food and treats. If you asked a dog owner twenty years ago about their favorite dog food brand, they would mention either Purina or Gravy Train.
This brand enjoyed a favorable public image in the past, but these days, a lot of people claim it to be one of the worst dog food brands.
They were the first dog food manufacturers that introduced a sauce that could be created by combining dry food and water for a more flavorful meal.
Even though this is a great thing, it’s not a reason why you should purchase their meals. Unfortunately, many people leave negative ratings, and there’s a good reason for it.
First of all, it’s a fact that this brand uses at least some real meat to make their food. Still, the by-products prevail on the ingredients list, so it’s not really clear what kind of nutrients your pet is getting (if any).
The Most Problematic Ingredients
Was there a need for a dramatic intro with this subtitle? Actually, yes.
This brand has confessed that it used medications for euthanasia that if consumed in sufficient quantities, it could affect your pet in a negative way and cause it to lose its consciousness.
This is one of the most affordable wet dog foods on the market, and as you can see, there’s a good reason for that, so I’d recommend you pay a bit more and get a higher-quality meal for your pup.
6. Purina Beneful
This type of food is marketed as a healthy meal for puppies, although it’s completely unhealthy for them.
I know, the Golden Retriever puppy looks so cheerful on the box, but I’m not sure it would be as happy to go through the same type of stomach issues as its peers.
Chicken is the number one ingredient, which is praiseworthy, but it doesn’t help much once you take a look at the other ingredients.
For example, grain and corn are ranked high on the list, along with synthetic proteins, unnatural dyes, preservatives, and other food ingredients that can cause more serious health issues.
Why Are Fillers So Bad?
Essentially, fillers are the more inexpensive substitutes for high-quality ingredients that might cost a bit more during production.
They’re unhealthy and contain a low level of nutrients (or no nutrients at all), and they usually have nothing but empty calories.
There are claims that fillers also have an impact on the canine’s skin, and they might be the cause of some allergies and skin irritations.
Unfortunately, according to customers, Purina is in the lead among canine food on the market that lacks quality, although there are plenty of pet owners who are satisfied with their products.
7. Kibbles N Bits
Corn is once again in the lead when it comes to this product’s list of ingredients, which might be potentially harmful to a canine’s intestines and its whole digestive system.
With the addition of soybeans and wheat flour, this type of meal is just confirming the bad dog food label it has on the market.
Instead of the high level of nutrients, this food contains a high level of carbohydrates, which puts pressure on the stomach and stands as one of the main reasons for dog obesity.
Another component of Kibbles N Bits that might be a cause for concern is the fat that is taken from animal body parts because they might hold Butylated Hydroxyanisole, also known as BHA.
BHA is a component that is often connected to kidney diseases and general issues regarding this part of the body.
The Influence Of BHA On Canines
According to a study conducted in 2018 , BHA is considered as a solid food that is meant to be an antioxidant in animal food, with limited use in food for canines (150 mg per kilogram).
However, there have been certain speculations about the number of cancerous components in BHA, although this is still a highly debatable topic.
For example, California has limited the use of this ingredient, and listed it as a component that is related to cancer. On the other hand, the Food And Drug Administration ( FDA ) still approves its usage as one of the efficient ways to retain fats.
8. Cesar Filets
This type of wet food is still quite popular among canine owners, especially those who have tiny breeds such as the:
There are several issues with this dog food according to the experts and customers.
First of all, this food contains an unusual concentration of salt if compared with other foods on the market.
This is an issue mainly because a high amount of salt leads to dehydration, sickness, and nausea. It can also affect cardiac and kidney functions, and cause more serious damage in the long run.
Secondly, the ingredients list mentions wheat flour, which contains gluten – a component that might easily result in severe allergic reactions.
This might possibly be one of the worst dog food brands out there, at least according to the customer reports that are far from brilliant.
Artificial Dyes: Yes Or No?
According to Cesar Filets and the majority of the brands on this list, the answer is yes.
On the other hand, some pet owners wouldn’t agree with it. They find unnatural dyes as one of the common causes of allergies in canines, or other serious issues that might appear over time rather than immediately.
Of course, most people would ask the same question: Why use such chemicals if they’re harmful?
The simplest answer would be because the experts from the FDA approve color additives in food. However, each additive is tested and sent for an evaluation.
If the FDA finds a product that contains chemicals that haven’t been approved by them, it’ll be immediately removed from the shelves.
However, it’s praiseworthy that this canine food contains a high percentage of protein (45%) and a low amount of carbs.
This is another well-known pet food brand that doesn’t seem to be very popular among pet owners nowadays, according to the reviews on the Internet.
Let’s dive into the main ingredients and find out if this dog food has what a dog needs!
Some of the first components are chicken by-product meal (not good, not bad), corn, wheat, soybean, and bone meal.
Chicken by-products are definitely more specific than “by-products” themselves, but it’s still not clear whether it’s about the chicken entrails or the waste meat, which might disrupt the function of the digestive system.
There was a high number of pet owners who reported that their pets started vomiting after eating dog food from this brand.
10. Wegmans Bruiser Kibble
Photo from: @ljsundevil
According to the pet owners’ comments and ratings, this is one of the worst dog food brands because it contains nothing but empty substitutes.
Cornmeal, soy, chicken by-products, and gluten are all components that take a high position on the list of ingredients.
There have been reports of dogs falling ill and experiencing digestive problems as a result of this.
Unnatural preservatives are also a part of this meal, which just proves its inexpensive price.
This type of dog food is plant-based, which means that the highest percentage of proteins comes from plants instead of meat.
Most customers recommend paying more for high-quality food than risking a dog’s health for a less expensive price.
11. Ol’ Roy Complete Nutrition Dog Food
This item contains a significant proportion of powdered yellow cornmeal as its main component.
The product is filled with an excessive number of by-products, along with the BHA, which is among the top chemicals listed on the box.
According to the manufacturer, this product does contain at least 21 percent of protein, which is good, but it still depends on whether it’s from meat or plants.
Ol’ Roy Dog Food: Yes Or No?
If you check the online reviews, you’ll notice that there are two different sides to the story regarding this dog food.
Some owners have been feeding their pets with this product, and they haven’t found anything wrong with it.
On the other hand, there are customers who claim this is one of the worst dog foods they ever used for their pets.
Even though this might sound confusing, it’s completely normal. Some canines might prefer one type of food, while others can go for other types and try foods until they find the one that suits them best.
This type of food is considered more appropriate for adult dogs – if it’s really necessary.
Ol’ Roy is affordable, and it does possess nutrients as well, but they mostly come from plants, whereas the main ingredients are rather inexpensive substitutes for higher-quality products.
12. Twin Pet Dog Food
Cornmeal, wheat middlings, and bone meal are the key ingredients of this type of food that is plant-based – just like most of the canine foods from this list.
Just to be clear, experts agree that some plants have plenty of benefits for all dog breeds. But, canines require meat proteins as well for healthy development, especially large breeds like Great Danes, Doberman s, German Shepherds , St. Bernards , etc.
Animal fat is a common component of questionable canine food, which is one of the main reasons why most customers and experts don’t find this canine food reliable for pups.
What Are Wheat Middlings?
This component is called wheat mill runs in some cases, and it’s literally the byproduct of whole-grain processing.
It is believed that this ingredient has a negative impact on a canine because it might cause dry and irritated skin, along with itchiness.
However, the issues regarding this component don’t just stay on the surface. According to the experts, this type of ingredient can easily cause stomach issues, including bloating and constipation.
This is because there is an insufficient quantity of nutrients containing vital amino acids.
Although it may be purchased at a low cost, it is strongly recommended that you steer clear of it even if it is suitable for canines, according to those who had negative experiences.
13. Kal Kan Complete Adult Food
It seems that Kal Kan is quite a disappointment for the majority of dog owners who used to hear only good things about this brand, which is owned by the same company that owns Pedigree.
According to them, the quality and the ingredients don’t measure up to the reputation this dog food once had. On the other hand, Kal Kan still has quite a lot of satisfied customers.
At the top of the ingredients list, you can find by-products, which seem to be a big no-no in today’s world.
Pet owners are learning more day by day, and they are trying their best to find the most suitable products for their furry friends, especially when it comes to food.
What’s With The Proteins?
Proteins in a dogs’ diet are a hot topic that has divided even the experts in the field. While some claim that canines, as omnivores, can live a great life on a plant-based diet and take proteins from plants only, others are sure that canines evolutionarily require meat proteins as well in order to survive.
Proteins that come from animals are indeed “stronger” than the ones that can be found in plants. However, some question whether the percentage of animal protein can be replaced completely by plant protein.
Although both claims have their pros and cons, if you’re in a dilemma about which one is better for your pup, I’d advise you to ask for professional help from your pet’s vet.
As with almost every product, there will be bad reviews and good ones as well. It’s up to you to decide whether you want your pup to be fed by this brand or not.
What Are The Best Dog Food Brands?
If we have listed the worst dog food brands, it’s natural to make an honorable mention of the few reliable canine food brands that are loved by the majority of pet owners.
Here are some of the best picks of canine foods in one place:
1. Blue Buffalo
This brand is capable of competing with other leading companies for the title of the finest canine food.
When you look at the list of ingredients, you’ll be amazed to see the number of nutrients, including real chicken, flaxseed, and whole grains, which are the real deal – not just substitutes for a higher quality component.
The product even contains brown rice as a healthier choice for dogs.
In case you’re wondering what flaxseed serves as, the answer is quite simple – omega 3 and 6 healthy fats. Of course, you can get them from fish meals, but if your pet isn’t a fan of fish, flaxseed will work just fine.
2. Orijen Dog Food
Photo from: @wow_perrosygatos
This is a company that earned its place at the forefront of the competition for the best pup food.
This brand caters to pooches of all types and ages. You can choose between wet or dry kibble, or between different types of meats, including turkey, chicken, or beef.
The Orijen has fatty acids as well that have a positive effect on a canine’s overall well-being.
This product also contains carbohydrates, but they’re generally gluten-free, or without corn gluten meal, which causes bloating and digestive issues.
Sweet potatoes, chickpeas, navy beans, green peas, and other legumes are also great sources of carbohydrates, which provide your pooch energy without causing any medical issues.
3. Canidae Grain-Free Dog Food
Photo from: @gooddoodpics
Essentially, the primary selling point of this brand is the presence of salmon in the canine food, not only because of its price, but because of its numerous health benefits.
This type of food received an overwhelming number of amazing reviews that came from delighted pet owners.
Canidae is completely safe to consume, especially for those pups with a delicate stomach.
There are no unnatural components that might harm your pet in any way.
4. Taste Of The Wild
This is a natural-flavor food for pups that contains only the best quality ingredients. It has almost every desirable quality you might want from canine food.
Every part of this product is easily digestible, and it contains all the essential supplements that your pet needs.
The food is also filled with proteins that are found in salmon, beans, sweet potatoes, beef, etc.
Another great thing about this product is that it contains probiotics, which regulate the function of the digestive system.
5. Wellness Dog Food
Photo from: @kuzcosnewgroove_
There aren’t any great differences between the foods on the “good side” – only slight nuances, which include the type of meat or veggies used in the mix.
Fruits and veggies are both important parts of every type of diet, including a canine’s. Without these essentials, there would be no fibers, vitamins, minerals, or other crucial supplements.
Wellness food is rich in fibers and fatty acids, which can be found at sufficient levels.
According to the reviews online, your pet will thank you for choosing this food!
6. Merrick Dog Food
Photo from: @braverpups
The key component that is found in these food packages is 100% pure meat.
Along with meat, Merrick canine food also contains sweet potatoes, green peas, beans, and potatoes, which makes them the main ingredients that provide your pet with carbohydrates.
Judging by the amazing online reviews provided by pet owners, your canine’s health will be greatly improved by the use of this food.
Worst Dog Food Brands: Final Thoughts
I hope this article about the worst dog food brands has helped you make the final decision on which food is the best for your pup.
Keep in mind that customer reviews might not always be 100% accurate because one dog might prefer food that another canine is allergic to or doesn’t like at all.
Also, it’s important to mention that different dog breeds require different food types as well. For example, the food for a large dog like a Cane Corso might be the worst food for a Pomeranian, and vice versa.
If you know that your canine is allergic to whole-grain corn, you can choose one of the “best dog foods”. I’m sure you won’t make a mistake! If you don’t know where to get them, try shopping sites for pets, such as Chewy or Amazon!
This list is based on the opinions and reviews of pet owners. Any views in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the PupVine team.