Our Top 3 Picks
- Certified content. This has been fact checked and verified by our veterinary advisor.
Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM
Many people don’t realize that the most important item on their dogs’ shopping list is their food. However, alongside human groceries, things can get expensive for dog owners.
Cheap foods have a reputation for reliance on fillers, which lack nutritional content and necessary vitamins. While this is still true for many brands, many others now consider your dog’s diet and nutritional needs.
Your dog’s food options determine their well-being and behavior. As such, owners need to consider what is the best affordable dog food for both their dogs and wallets. This list is designed to help you determine just that.
We have researched and reviewed the facts, customer opinions, and ingredient lists of each of the best cheap dog food brands to identify the best, most nutritious, and cheapest dog food options, so you don’t have to.
View the Best Cheap Dog Food Brands Below
1. Ollie Human-Grade Dog Food with Zero Fillers
When searching for the cheapest dog food on the market, a good place to start is Ollie. They believe that all dogs deserve a dog bowl packed full of nutrition every day. They also understand that nutritional needs often come at the cost of affordability of pet foods.
Their answer to this was to develop a wet dog food for your canine companion for just $2 per day. Their precise portion recommendations are tailored to weight, age, breed size, activity level, and allergies.
Ollie’s dog food has been a best-seller since its launch a few years ago. Bowls disappear in minutes, leaving dogs satisfied without compromising their health.
Each ingredient is carefully selected by veterinarian experts, and rigorously safety tested, with no fillers, preservatives, and minimal processing.
Ollie’s brand wet dog food is sealed in airtight packages that boast a shelf life of multiple weeks.
They also utilize resealable packs to minimize waste for the eco-conscious household.
Ollie’s adult and young dog foods come in various flavors:
- Hearty Beef Eats – with sweet potatoes, sunflower oil, and carrots.
- Chicken Goodness – with peas, spinach, and blueberries.
- Healthy Turkey Feast – with pumpkin, lentils, and carrots.
- Tasty Lamb Fare – with butternut squash, kale, and strawberries
These options ensure every dog will find something they love without compromising their nutritional needs. With varied vegetables, the diversity doesn’t end at the first ingredient.
Ollie’s wet dog food blends minerals, vitamins, fruits, and vegetables for a human-grade food that is complete and balanced.
This food contains everything dogs need, from natural antioxidants to omega-3 fatty acids to keep your dog’s skin pampered, their coat shiny, and their energy levels high. No wheat, corn wheat, or other fillers are found in this ingredient list.
Ollie’s wet food features optimal amino acids and protein-rich compounds for dog food, which develops lean, strong muscles.
Ollie’s high-quality dog food is manufactured in the USA under our nation’s strict guidelines and safety protocols.
+ No filler foods.
+ Highly digestible.
+ Protein rich.
+ Vitamin packed.
+ Free monthly delivery.
+ Omega fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat.
– This dog food could become expensive for larger breed dogs.
Why We Liked It:
Ollie’s wet food was a favorite among our editors. Of all the dog food labels reviewed in this article, it may earn the most accolades for the best cheap dog food. Its veterinarian-developed formula considers every dog’s diet without costing a fortune.
Even fussy breed dogs lap this one up, making it one of the best cheap dog food options on the market.
Starting at $2/day, with their 50% off for first-time customers offer – it’s a no brainer to take the advice of our editors and give it a try!
2. Instinct Original Grain-Free
Nature’s Variety is another of the best cheap dog foods on the market. Their goal is to provide the most organic product possible, using only natural ingredients.
Nebraska-founded Nature’s Variety is a leading brand of dry food for dogs, up there with Instinct, Royal Canin, and Prairie.
If you want the best natural, dry food for dog nutrition, look no further. Customers report a noticeable change in their dogs within just weeks of feeding them Nature’s Variety complete and balanced foods.
Related: Dry vs. Canned Dog Food
Nature’s Variety Instinct Original grain-free dog food offers a 4lb and a 20lb pack, giving you the option of bulk buying for fantastic value for money.
Instinct Original, affordable grain-free dog foods are composed of wild-caught salmon, which is protein-rich to keep your dogs strong, lean and encourage their growth.
The ratio of animal ingredients to fruits, veggies, and vitamins is 72:28. For those of you keeping count, that is 0% grain and no fillers!
For a meat-free accompaniment, try these vegan dog treats.
Nature’s Variety dry foods include no corn, wheat, soy, potato, or grain products. They also lack artificial colors and preservatives to ensure your dog’s nutritional needs are only fulfilled by the best real, quality dog food ingredients.
Instinct Original dog food is packed full of the freshest vitamin-rich foods, all sourced in the USA.
+ 72% animal ingredients, 28% veggies & fruits.
+ Comes in 4lb or 20lb bags.
+ Made without grain/potato/corn.
+ Pure, raw vitamin nutrition.
+ Suitable for a grain-free diet.
+ A high-quality dry dog food.
– The salmon smell in this dog food may linger for around an hour after serving.
3. Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free
Next up is Amazon’s Choice for the best cheap dog foods.
With over 800 reviews and 35 years on the market, this tried and tested raw food is specially formulated to provide healthy kibbles with something beneficial in every bite.
This raw food is undoubtedly one of the best dog foods for furry friends that prefer a raw food diet. Nature’s Recipe has grown, developed, and expanded its recipe over three decades to include the best ingredients.
Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free dog food is available in 4 sizes to suit all buyers, breeds, and life stages. The options are 4lbs, 12lbs, 14lbs, and 24lbs.
The first ingredient in Nature’s Variety food is real salmon, to provide natural protein perfect for high energy levels.
Nature’s Variety steers clear of grains and wheat products. Your dog will get its full nutritional value from the salmon base, as well as other vitamin-filled elements provided in-pack.
This product uses special ingredients rarely found in budget dry dog food brands: sweet potatoes and pumpkins. These wonderful carbohydrate-alternatives to grains provide your dog with boundless energy without compromising the high-quality dog food.
No artificial colors or flavors mean this product is 100% safe. It’s expertly formulated for all breeds and for use as puppy food, for adult dogs, or senior food.
+ Contains sweet potato & pumpkin.
+ Ideal for all life stages & breeds.
+ Pet owners love this natural dry dog food.
+ The best budget dog food.
– This dog food is not filling enough for some larger breed dogs.
Related: 10 Best Large Breed Dog Foods in 2021
4. Blue Wilderness High Protein
BLUE was named after the owner’s dog, who developed cancer and prompted a deep delve into pet nutrition and the health issues facing dogs worldwide.
Their solution was BLUE’s best cheap dog food. It provides high-quality dog food developed by leading nutrition experts and veterinarians to keep dogs healthy and thriving for as long as possible.
All BLUE foods contain real protein bases like chicken, lamb meal, or fish. These work with enhanced oils and vitamins to keep energy levels high.
BLUE’s best dry dog food for sensitive eaters comes in 4.5lb, 11lb, and 24lb options.
The BLUE packages come in various flavors, including salmon, chicken, and duck. This range in the first ingredient contained ensures even the fussiest pup will find something they like.
Alternatively, try these dog food options for fussy dogs.
BLUE boasts one of the best dog food varieties, which is a combination of inexpensive, protein-rich, and grain-free. Your dog will get all the beneficial protein they need for healthy, strong muscle groups.
As well as real meat or fish, BLUE is also packed with fruits and veggies to provide all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs.
No chicken by-products are included in the BLUE dog food: no soy and no wheat!
+ Contains real meat/fish.
+ Rich in high-quality protein.
+ No by-product meals.
+ Contains vitamin/mineral blend.
+ The best inexpensive dog food, according to Amazon.
– May prove to be expensive dog food products for long-term purchasing.
5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
Next up is another Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula, with a slightly different recipe but the same focus on sensitive eaters. It’s still the best affordable dog food for any owner with health as a priority.
With nearly 5,000 reviews, this is a real best-seller. The main difference between this and the previous product is its Life Protection Formula.
This package comes in various bundles: 4lbs, 6lbs, 15lbs, 30lbs, and a variety bundle, which provides a great flavor range.
As usual with Blue Buffalo, variety is the order of the day. With a huge range including chicken, chicken meal, fish, and lamb- also catering for small breed and healthy weight considerations – there is something for even the fussiest eaters.
Chicken meal combination of clean chicken flesh and skin, derived from whole carcasses of chicken, exclusive of heads, feathers, feet, and entrails. Providing pets with energy and nutrients and aiding the digestive system.
This Blue package is protein-rich and filled with healthy, deboned meats and fish.
Dog owners report their dogs to end up clawing for more, so who better to vouch for flavor?
Blue’s goal is to provide healthy kibbles for your best friend. This means no by-product meals, wheat or grains are included – only wholesome garden fruits and veggies!
No preservatives or artificial colors mean these items need to be consumed soon after purchase. However, this the price of the health benefits involved in fresh food.
+ Deboned fish/meats.
+ The recipe contains a chicken meal.
+ No meat by-products.
+ Various packaging sizes.
+ Healthy & Nutritious.
+ Affordable dog food
– Not the ideal dog food brand for pets trying to lose weight.
6. IAMS Proactive Health
IAMS has been one of the most reputable dog food brands for many years. With nearly 1,000 reviews from happy customers, it’s easy to gauge owner satisfaction. When it comes to cheap dog food brands, IAM has been helping their customers out with this product line for a long time. Their dry dog food is some of the best on the planet.
The company started in 1946 with the mission to extend the lives of pets through collaboration with veterinarian experts to create a fully-rounded Proactive Health package. What brand better to feed your dog than the one that revolutionized the pet food industry by realizing dogs are obligate carnivores.
The IAMS dry dog food label is available in 3.3lb, 7lb, 15lb, 30lb, and 38.5lb bags.
The IAMS Proactive Health brand food uses only quality, farm-raised chicken to ensure enough protein for high energy levels for a house dog and farmer’s dog alike.
IAMS provides fiber and prebiotic blends proven to maintain healthy digestion. It also includes antioxidants to ensure a strong immune system and fewer veterinarian visits.
IAMS’s ingredients boast 100% real chicken, prebiotics, fiber, antioxidants, and L-Carnitine to help your furry friend maintain a healthy metabolism.
Iams has the explicit backing of veterinarian specialists and other associated professionals to ensure their Proactive Health Minichunks do exactly as their name describes.
+ 100% real chicken.
+ Supports the immune system.
+ Maintains healthy digestion.
+ Supports healthy metabolism.
– Bigger portions of this dog food may be needed for bigger dogs.
7. PEDIGREE Complete Nutrition
Pedigree provides a great variety of quality pet food for dogs. They boast some of the best wet and dry food blends, developed to the standards of the Pedigree Complete Nutrition package to provide a well-balanced diet for energy and vigor.
Pedigree believes that to make sure we get the best out of our animals, we must put the best in.
You can get the Complete Nutrition pack in the following sizes: 15lbs, 20.4lbs, 33lbs, and 40lbs.
The Pedigree Complete Nutrition comes in two flavors: chicken and steak. These classic flavors ensure this is one of the brands with the best wet and dry food options for fussy eaters.
The Pedigree recipe comes complete with balanced nutritious Omega 3 fatty acids, which help keep your dog’s coat healthy and glowing.
They also include several vitamin compounds, such as vitamin B, vitamin E, and zinc.
The Pedigree pack contains all the necessary vitamins (E and B) to help give your dog a strong immune system, healthy metabolism, and healthy digestion.
The kibbles themselves are crunchy to help keep your dog’s jaws, gums, and teeth healthy.
All of the Pedigree dog food packages are made in the USA with the highest-quality ingredients and no fructose syrups, unnatural sugars, or artificial additives.
+ Full of vitamins.
+ Helps with metabolism/digestion.
+ Balanced meat/vitamin mix.
+ Crunchy kibble helps with teeth/gums.
+ A high-quality budget dog food on the market.
– This dog food could be too light for some dogs.
8. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food
Hill’s mission on the dog food market is to help enrich and lengthen the lives of our faithful pups. Their philosophy is to help take care of our pets, even if it’s indirectly. This means helping them to achieve a long, energetic, fulfilling life that can be the catalyst to many adventures.
Hill’s was inspired by Buddy, the guide dog in the late 1930s, who suffered from kidney failure while helping his owner tour the country. Buddy’s owner, Morris Frank, discovered his dog’s illness was due to poor nutrition. Developing a new recipe in his kitchen, he vowed to prevent a similar fate from befalling anyone else!
Hill’s brand food comes in many sizes, some of which are: 15.5lb, 17.5lb, 30lb, 33lb, and 35lb bags.
These items come in both puppy and adult varieties.
The Hill’s Science Diet pack comes in lamb and chicken flavors, both of which are protein-rich to build lean muscle.
Hill’s Science pet food helps to encourage a healthy weight and metabolism. Each kibble is composed only of natural sources. This gives pet owners the knowledge that their cheap dog food is still grain-free and good for their canine teeth.
Glucosamine and chondroitin compounds in the food also promote healthy joints and a strong immune system.
Hill’s dry dog food is full of omega-6 fatty acids, a blend of vitamins (predominantly C and E), and antioxidants. All of these help your dog to have a healthy lifestyle, organs, and a glowing coat.
Hill’s Science diet is tailored to your dog’s breed (see Yorkshire Terrier dog food here), life stage, and size. No matter the shape or size of your canine friend, Hill’s is developed with safety in mind.
+ High-quality protein.
+ Includes vitamin blend.
+ Shiny coat within 30 days.
+ Encourages a healthy immune system.
– This dog food contains too much calcium for larger dog pet owners.
Related: Best Gifts for Dog Owners in 2021
9. Purina ONE SmartBlend
Purina works with pets at the heart of what they do, to the point of sharing an office space with their animals. Purina wants to help educate owners on the importance of diet through their Purina ONE SmartBlend packages.
Purina knows that we are what we eat, and our furry friends are no different. That’s why their nutritious blends are tailored for disease prevention and optimum energy levels. This dog food is not grain-free, so if you need grain-free dog food, you might want to look at other cheap dog food brands.
Purina’s dry dog food comes in the following sizes: 4lbs, 8lbs, 16.5lbs, 31.1lbs, and 40lbs.
Purina ONE Smartblend brand only comes in lamb and rice flavor, but what they lack in variety they make up for in a single perfected recipe.
Purina ONE Smartblend for adult dogs contains omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to encourage your dog’s metabolism, immune system and maintain healthy energy levels.
Purina contains a dual-defense antioxidant blend to fight cases of flu, colds, and other common illnesses. Their naturally sourced glucosamine helps to maintain healthy joints, which is vital for older dogs.
Purina has been creating pet food since 1894! With over a century of troubleshooting, tried and tested safety is an understatement. Their food is not grain-free, however, so if you need a cheap dog food brand for your diabetic dog, you might want to look elsewhere.
+ Supports healthy coat & skin.
+ Dual-defense antioxidant blend.
+ Reliable reputation since 1894.
+ Natural source of glucosamine.
– This dog food is not grain-free (may not be suitable for diabetic dogs).
10. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Foods
Nutro has spent the past 90 years developing a complete and balanced recipe, as they know our dogs aren’t fussy about what they put in their mouths.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials contain all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed to ensure your canine friend survives and thrives for as long as possible. With a trusted base of satisfied dogs and customers, Nutro has cultivated a deserved healthy food reputation.
Packs are available in 5lb, 15lb, and 30lb varieties.
Nutro’s chicken flavoring is 100% natural, using only the best parts and organ meats with no by-product meals to give this food the best of both flavor and quality,
As well as all-natural chicken, Nutro packs their pet food with vitamins and minerals to ensure all pet owners buying Nutro Wholesome Essentials get the best for their animals.
Everything that goes into this food is picked for the purpose. Nutro’s addition of sweet potato adds a delicious richness, alongside brown rice, for the balance of health and flavor that both dogs and owners love.
Nutro ensures there are no GMO or by-product meals in their dog food, as well as avoiding any corn or artificial preservatives. All ingredients are sourced from farmers right here in the USA, so dog owners can be confident that they are providing their pets with high-
+ Recipe includes real poultry.
+ 100% fresh ingredients.
+ No GMO ingredients.
+ No by-product meals.
+ Brown rice and sweet potato provide essential nutrients.
+ Cheap dog foods that are still high-quality.
– This dog food is not suitable for a grain-free diet (may not be ideal for diabetic dogs).
A dog happily waving its tail is one of the highlights of any dog owner’s day. To keep them happy and healthy, a proper diet is key. They will have a stronger immune system, a shinier coat, more energy, healthy digestion, and they will live longer.
Considering the importance of choosing the right dog food for your pet, you may feel a little overwhelmed. That is why we have included this buyers guide to help you make the right choice.
Different Life Stages
The first consideration will be the life stage of your dog as different stages determine proper nutrition, balancing fats, fiber, and protein. However, this is also affected by the activity level of your dog.
Puppy food (below one-year-old) – So that your puppy can continue growing steadily, they need a proper ratio of protein and fat. This process should be gradual so that the joints and bones can form properly. If you have a puppy then lookout for puppy-specific food.
Adult (1-6 years old) – Adult food will have a proper protein to fat ratio to support normal activity levels while avoiding weight gain.
Performance/Active dogs – Active or sport dogs need extra protein, fat, and antioxidants. This will help to maintain the dog’s weight, health, and body condition.
Senior (6+years) – Senior dogs should have less protein and fat and more fiber to ensure proper weight. Foods containing glucosamine are also recommended for joint health.
Weight management: If your dog is over the vet’s recommended weight, you should look for food with a lower fat and protein content and high fiber to cut on weight but ensure the dog is satiated.
There should be at least two courses of meat, such as salmon, chicken, beef, lamb, or turkey. The meat should be the top 5 ingredients.
The next thing to look at is grains. Grains are a great source of carbs and are easily digested by dogs. Many vets promote them because they are full of fiber, protein, and minerals. However, some argue that they can lead to inflammation in dogs, which could be a route cause of cancer or heart disease.
In truth, some dogs are probably fine with grains, and others may not be. Just like humans, some dogs have sensitivities or allergies. You may want to try both options and find out when your dog seems at its best. If you do decide on grain-free options, then ensure it contains plenty of meat and sweet potato. Grain-free food can be found in both wet and dry forms. Unfortunately, grain-free food does tend to be more expensive.
Commonly Used Terms in Dog Food
Open formula – No specific ingredients, i.e., the food may list meat but fail to specify what type of meat. We suggest avoiding open formulas as you should know what you are feeding your dog and the value of the ingredient list.
Complete dog food – Contains all the ingredients and nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy, including fat, crabs, protein, minerals, and vitamins.
Mixers – Filler dog food that could be missing some key nutrients. They are usually comprised of cereals. One way to save money is to give your dog high-quality dog food and combine it with mixers to bring down the cost and keep your dog full.
Chicken meal – Chicken meal, lamb meal, etc., is rendered meat that has been dried and ground up and includes clean skin, flesh, and bone. It does not contain feathers, feet, heads, or intestinal content and is safe and nutritious for your dog!
Canned Wet Dog Food vs. Dry Dog Food
You may decide on wet or dry dog food or a combination of both. Both have their benefits, so a mixed diet may be suitable for most dogs and gives them some variety of taste and texture.
Wet Food – Wet food is suitable for dogs that need more fat or moisture in their diets. They are high in protein, and most dogs prefer this type of food because it has a more appealing taste and smell. However, it contains 80% moisture, which translates to just 20% nutrition, and it can be messy. Because of the high fat and protein content, if your dog is trying to lose weight, then you may need to limit wet food.
Dry dog food – Dry dog food is considered to be the most nutritious for dogs. It is low on fat and promotes dental hygiene due to the chewing action. It is also usually lower in cost and is good for your dog’s digestive system. However, some dogs may be fussy and may prefer wet food.
High-Quality Vs. Budget Dog Food
If you can, you are always better to buy high-quality dog food. Some are cheaper than others, however, and any
food from the above list is high-quality. With higher-end dog foods, your dog will stay healthier for longer and may save you money later on.
High-quality dog foods will contain 40%-60% protein, but with budget brands, they may only conati9n 10%-20%. They use cheap ingredients to fill the product, and it will not be as beneficial to your dog.
Whatever food you choose, be sure to stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines. That will ensure that you give your dog the recommended amount. Different brands may require you to put down more or less food, so you may want to measure. Failure to follow guidelines could lead to harmful weight gain.