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3 July 2020

Best and worst dog food brands

From Burns to Bakers – we reveal which dog food brands offer the best value for money and the favourites that get tails wagging.
By Rachel Christie

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, in pet shops and online, from hypoallergenic to raw dog food, it can be difficult to know what to buy.

We've made that decision a little bit easier by ranking the most popular dog foods according to our members. 

For the first time we've quizzed 2,594 Which? members about their dog food to discover the best and worst brands for customer satisfaction.

Find the results in our dog food brands rated by customers table below.

Which dog food brand is best?

The British Veterinary Association's advice is that any commercially manufactured pet food in the UK that meets PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturing Association) guidelines would have complete nutritional requirements for pets.

So as long as you're buying a complete commercial pet food, your dog is getting what they need and you don't need to supplement with anything else.

Our survey results below highlight Which? members' favourite pet food brands (ranked by customer score). We also asked them to score for value for money and whether they slightly agreed or strongly agreed with these statements:

  1. they noticed a difference in their dog's coat
  2. their pet eats the food all in one go 
  3. their hound shows excitement as the food is being prepared
  4. the bowl is always licked empty.

Dog food brands rated by customers

As well as ratings for individual aspects, we've given each brand an overall customer score, based on customers' overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending it.  

If you'd like to see how your dog food scored or interested in which brand does best, look through the table below.

If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Dog food brands customer satisfaction survey ratings
Brand Customer score Value for money Noticed difference in coat Eats it all in one go Shows excitement before I give it to them Bowl is always empty
Aldi own brand
Arden Grange
Bakers
Burns
Butchers
Canagan
Cesar
Chappie
Eukanuba
Forthglade
Harringtons
Hill's (Science Plan)
Iams
James Wellbeloved
Lily's Kitchen
Natures Menu
Pedigree
Pets at Home/Wainwrights
Royal Canin
Skinners
Tails/Tails.com
Tesco own brand
Wagg
Winalot



Which popular dog food is the cheapest?

Varying package sizes and different portion size recommendations make it tricky working out how much your dog food is actually costing you each month.

We've compared the monthly cost of the three most popular brands of dog food, as well as the best and worst scoring brands from our survey. 

Costs are based on an average medium dog (10kg), like a French Bulldog, and an average large dog (20kg), like a Border Collie, on a simple dry food diet. 

Here's an overall look comparing monthly costs between Burns, Royal Canin, Harringtons, Bakers, and Hill's dog food.

Medium and large dogs: monthly food costs

If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

How do I know if my dog food is healthy?

According to Andrew Miller, a pet nutritionist at Premier Nutrition, 'as long as a commercial food (whether it is dry, wet, frozen, raw, boutique, grain-free, etc.) is nutritionally complete then it is designed to provide everything a pet needs to remain healthy. Some pets have specific nutritional needs based on clinically identified issues and they should be fed diets appropriate to their needs under veterinary supervision.'

Nicola Paley from the PFMA adds; 'all ‘complete’ pet foods must by law contain all the nutrients in the right proportions that a pet needs for healthy bodily function.' 

Whether you choose grain-free dog food, raw dog food, hypoallergenic dog food or just a simple kibble, commercial grade dog food that meets PFMA guidelines is nutritionally sound. You can check on the PFMA website to find out whether your pet food brand's manufacturer is a member.

Beyond that, it's about what your individual pet likes the taste of and how much you're willing to spend. 

What's key is the amount you feed your canine companion, as pet obesity is rapidly on the rise.

Is my dog overweight?

Pet obesity is the top welfare concern for vets. According to The Kennel Club, between 30% and 60% of dogs are now overweight.

Daniella Dos Santos from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) told us that 'obesity is a serious health and welfare issue for pets and we know that more and more veterinary practices are seeing overweight animals coming through their doors with weight-related problems like musculoskeletal conditions, breathing issues and diabetes.'

She adds that 'it’s vital that owners understand how to recognise a healthy body shape, which can be a more useful way of telling if your pet is overweight rather than relying on weight alone. We’d advise owners to seek advice from their vet on proper nutrition, exercise and how to recognise healthy body condition.'

Checking your dog's weight

Very thin - more than 20% below ideal body weight

  • Ribs, spine and hip bones easily seen (in short haired pets)
  • Obvious loss of muscle bulk
  • No fat can be felt under the skin

Underweight  - 10-20% below ideal body weight

  • Ribs, spine and hip bones easily seen
  • Obvious waist and abdominal tuck
  • Very little fat can be felt under the skin

Ideal

  • Ribs, spine and hip bones easily felt
  • Visible waist and abdominal tuck 
  • A small amount of fat can be felt

Overweight  - 10-15% above ideal body weight

  • Ribs, spine and hip bones are hard to feel
  • Waist barely visible with broad back
  • Layer of fat on belly and at base of tail

Obese - more than 15% above ideal body weight

  • Ribs, spine and hip bones extremely difficult to feel under a thick layer of fat
  • No waist can be seen and belly may droop significantly
  • Heavy fat pads on lower back and at base of the tail

Is my dog obese? Spot the signs

The Kennel Club suggests looking out for:

  • A bigger and rounder face
  • A reluctance to go for walks
  • Difficulty walking
  • Easily getting out of breath
  • A thick, fatty neck
  • Ribs cannot be easily felt if you run your hands along their side
  • Lack of obvious waist

If you think your four-legged friend might be overweight, book in a visit with your local vet for advice and an action plan.

How much should I feed my dog?

Ensure you're feeding your pooch the correct amount by measuring out each meal on a set of weighing scales. A few extra bits of kibble might not seem like a lot, but it can massively contribute to weight gain. 

'Our survey showed that 59% of dog owners always measure their dog food'

Most commercial dog food comes with feeding guidelines on the packaging based on your dog's weight and activity levels. If you're ever unsure, ask your vet.

Your vet will be able to advise you on how often you should be feeding your dog, depending on its individual needs.

How to choose the right dog food

Here's what animal charity PDSA suggest you look for and what to avoid when choosing the right dog food.

Look for:

  • Something age-appropriate for your dog (eg puppy, adult, senior)
  • A commercial dog food that is labelled as 'complete'
  • A manufacturer who is part of the Pet Food Manufacturer's Association (PFMA)

Avoid:

  • Table scraps and human food as it can unbalance your dog's diet
  • Giving your dog bones as they can cause blockages and harm your dog

10 toxic foods for dogs

  1. Artificial sweetener
  2. Alcohol
  3. Avocados
  4. Caffeine
  5. Chocolate
  6. Fried and fatty foods
  7. Garlic and onions
  8. Grapes and raisins
  9. Nuts
  10. Milk, cream and cheese

Five key things to remember when feeding your dog

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. Don't overfeed your pet; measure the food to ensure you're giving the correct amount and limit treats.

Find out how much to feed your dog and other popular vet-answered questions by heading to our how to choose the best dog and cat food guide.

Which? dog food survey

Which? customer scores are based on how satisfied customers are with the brand overall, and whether or not they’d recommend it. 

To find out which are the best and worst dog food brands, in August 2019 we surveyed 4,684 Which? members who'd bought pet food recently and asked about their experiences with their chosen brand. More than two and a half thousand of these were dog owners. 

If you're considering buying new dog food, head to our guide on choosing a pet food for the latest advice. For more details on the most bought-from brands from above, visit our reviews of Royal Canin, Harringtons, Hill's, Burns and Bakers.