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Dog foods compared

By Siobhan Chan

How much do you need to spend on a dog food to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients it needs? We've compared the big brands to find out.

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All caring owners want to ensure that their dog gets everything they need from their diet. 

But with hundreds of pet food options on supermarket shelves, ranging from less than £150 a year to more than £850, it can be confusing to know what to buy. 

Below we reveal what to look out for when buying dog food, and how much you need to spend to make sure your dog gets what he needs. Plus, you can find out how premium dog foods stack up against standard versions.

Choosing the best dog food

Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are some of the main food groups that your dog needs from its diet. A dog food marked 'complete' or 'complete and balanced' will also contain added vitamins and minerals, while one labelled 'complementary' will mean you have to supplement your dog's diet with extra nutrients.

We assessed the cost of feeding a 25kg dog - about the size of a small Labrador - and worked out how much protein they'd get per day on each type of dog food. Watch out for a false economy with some dog foods, where you may have to feed your dog more of a cheap product because each gram of it contains fewer nutrients.

And for more tips on how to save money when you have a dog, take a look at our dog insurance reviews.

Standard vs premium: dog foods compared

We investigated brands with a standard and a premium dog food, to find out whether your dog's diet is any better when you pay more. Because each dog food will have different feeding instructions on the pack, we've worked out how much it really costs to feed your dog every year using widely available brands of dog food. 

We also looked at the claims made on the packaging and gave our expert verdict on whether premium food is worth the extra expense. 

Which? members can log in or take a £1 trial to Which? to get instant access to the results of our dog food investigation.

Dry dog food - Wagg
Products compared Wagg Complete Kennel

Pet food dog food wagg complete kennel
Wagg Premium

Pet food dog food wagg premium
Price £5 for 6kg £3 for 2kg
Protein per day Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Cost per year Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Claims Contains prebiotic MOS for digestion, omega-3 oils, and zinc to promote a healthy, supple skin and glossy coat. The packaging says it contains an antioxidant blend incorporating vitamins C, E and plant-derived antioxidants to support your dog’s natural defences. The health claims on the packaging are much the same as those on Wagg Complete Kennel.
Expert verdict Get our expert view - log in or take a £1 trial to Which?
Dry dog food - Bakers
Products compared Bakers Complete

pet food dog food bakers complete
Bakers Complete Meaty Meals

pet food dog food bakers meaty meals
Price £3.14 for 1.35kg £3.50 for 1kg
Protein per day Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Cost per year Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Claims 'Help support healthy digestion, with natural chicory. With quality protein to help maintain body condition. Vitamin D and minerals for healthy teeth and strong bones. Packed with wholegrains providing carbohydrates for energy. Iron for healthy blood.' 'With quality protein to help maintain body condition.'
Expert verdict Get our expert view - log in or take a £1 trial to Which?
Wet dog food - Butcher's
Products compared Butcher's Natural Nutrition

pet food dog food butcher's natural nutrition
Butcher's Superior

pet food dog food butcher's natural nutrition
Price £3 for six 400g tins £4 for six 400g tins
Protein per day Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Cost per year Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Claims 'All-round health, gluten-free, high in protein. No artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. High-protein recipes have no wheat or soya added to bulk them out - suitable for sensitive stomachs.' 'Made with natural ingredients. High in tasty meaty proteins. No cereals or soya fillers. All the vitamins and minerals your dog needs.'
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Wet dog food - Pedigree
Products compared Pedigree Chunks in Gravy

pet food dog food pedigree chunks in gravy
Pedigree Meaty Meals

pet food dog food pedigree meaty meals
Price £5 for twelve 400g tins £3.35 for for six 385g tins
Protein per day Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Cost per year Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Claims Contains 'calcium to support healthy bones. Natural fibres to help keep his insides healthy so he always feels at his best. Zinc and sunflower oil containing omega-6, known to support healthy skin and a shiny coat. Vitamin E to help support his immune system, so he's ready for anything.' The health claims on the packaging are almost exactly the same as the ones on Pedigree Chunks.
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Key things to remember when buying dog food

Protein is one the most important food groups, coming from meat or cereals in pet food. Protein levels for wet dog foods look lower compared with dry dog food because of the high water content. 

However, if you feed your dog the recommended quantities of a complete wet food, then they should get a similar daily intake of protein as they would from dry food.

The ingredients on the packaging are listed in order of quantity, so if meat is at the top of the list, it means the product contains more meat than any other ingredient. 

If the front of the packaging names one type of meat or any other food, such as rice or vegetables, the ingredients list has to state how much of it is actually in the food. So a dog food 'with beef and vegetables' must tell you the percentage of beef and vegetables it's made up of.

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