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Best and worst dog food brands

From Burns to Harringtons and Royal Canin – we reveal which dog food brands offer the best value for money and the favourites that get tails wagging, plus tips on choosing the best food for your pooch.
Paula Flores
Pet Food 5 Oct 19

From dry and wet dog food to raw, there are hundreds of options available, and it can be a daunting task trying to work out what’s actually best for your pet. 

Our unique survey insights reveal which dog food brands are loved by Which? members (and their dogs), offering the best value for money, quality and an enthusiastic response from your canine companions.

We've also asked vets for their expert advice on how to choose the right dog food, and how much to feed.

See how brands such as Burns, Harringtons and Royal Canin are rated by customers, as well as supermarket dog foods from the likes of Aldi and Lidl.

Which dog food brand is best for my dog?

Any commercially manufactured dog food in the UK that meets PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturing Association) guidelines will contain complete nutritional requirements for pets, says the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

The PFMA says: 'All "complete" pet foods must by law contain all the nutrients in the right proportions that a pet needs for healthy bodily function.' 

So, as long as you're buying a complete commercial pet food, your dog should be getting all the nutrients they need and you don't need to supplement this with anything else.  

However, the BVA adds that 'each pet has its own needs, so diet should be adapted to your pet's lifestyle, age, breed and any health conditions. We advise people to speak with their vet when they get a new pet.'

Our survey results below highlight Which? members' favourite dog food brands from best to worst (ranked by overall customer score). We also asked them to rate value for money, quality of ingredients and their dog’s reaction to the food. 

pug dog laying down

Dog food brands rated by customers

We surveyed 3,122 Which? members to discover the most delicious dog foods you can buy. 

One of the brands achieved an impressive 85% customer satisfaction score, whereas two lagged behind with less than 60%. 

Find out which four dog food brands got top marks, the best-value options and which brands scored lowest overall. 

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

Dog food brands customer satisfaction survey ratings

BrandCustomer scoreValue for moneyQuality of ingredientsPet's reaction to foodVariety of flavours available
Aldi own brand
Arden Grange
Asda own brand
Bakers
Barking Heads
Burns
Butcher's

Survey of 3,122 Which? Connect members who owned a dog in November 2021. Brands listed in alphabetical order. Viewing results requires Which? membership

Best cheap dog food

Varying pack sizes and different recommended portion sizes make it tricky to work out how much your dog's 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), such as a French Bulldog, on a simple dry-food diet. 

Medium dog: monthly food costs

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



How to choose the best dog food

Choosing the right food can make all the difference to the health and happiness of your dog, but it can be a daunting task trying to work out what’s actually best for your pet. 

Signs that your pet is eating a nutritious diet include clear and bright eyes, a shiny and dandruff-free coat, plenty of enthusiasm for life and a lack of excess body fat – you should be able to feel their ribs and see their waist. 

Got a dog who eats too quickly and then gets sick? See which our canine testers rated the best slow feeder dog bowls.

Which is healthier - dry or wet dog food ?

There's some debate regarding whether one is better than the other. The BVA says: 'There is not enough evidence to recommend one over the other; there are advantages to both. A vet will be able to recommend the most suitable diet.'

You can feed your animals wet food or dry food, or a mixture of both. 

Dry foods are usually the most economical, and easiest for you to feed and store. Owners who feed their pets wet food should monitor their pet's teeth, as wet foods can predispose them to dental disease. 

Whether the dog food you choose is grain-free, raw, hypoallergenic or just a simple kibble, commercial-grade dog food that meets PFMA guidelines is nutritionally sound. 

Some pets have specific nutritional needs based on clinically identified issues, and they should eat diets appropriate to their needs under veterinary supervision.

The most suitable diet should be easily digested and produce dark brown, firm, formed stools. 

Here's what animal charity PDSA suggests you look for - and what to avoid - when choosing dog food.

What to look for:

  • Something age-appropriate for your dog (eg puppy, adult, senior)
  • A commercial dog food that's labelled as 'complete'
  • A manufacturer that's 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

Should I feed my dog raw dog food? 

Raw-food diets for dogs have become increasingly popular. One in six members (16%) told us they feed their dog a raw food diet. Out of those, nearly four in 10 said they would never go back to dry or wet food.

The BVA told us: 'We don't recommend a raw food diet, at least without a vet's guidance. This is for two main reasons: the nutritional deficiencies that often come with feeding raw food (eg low taurine in cats or high vitamin A) and the risks associated with handling raw food - both for the pets and the household.'

Commercial options are a safer bet for nutrition. The PFMA says that commercially prepared raw dog food marked as ‘complete’ meets the guidelines to provide the nutritional balance a dog needs in their daily diet.

Some of the reasons dog owners prefer feeding relate to it being 'natural', coupled with perceived improvements in their dog's health. 

  • 40% said they saw firmer stools
  • 28% better digestion
  • 26% glossier coat
  • 22% more enthusiasm at meal times

There are risks to handling fresh, frozen or freeze-dried raw food. The PFMA recommends the following:

  1. Buy products that are in good condition. You should see no visible signs of damage to the packaging such as dents, tears or discoloration.
  2. Wash your hands with hot water and soap after handling either your pet, their food or its packaging.
  3. Immediately after each use, wash and disinfect all surfaces, dishes and utensils that have been in contact with raw food.
  4. Remove and carefully dispose of any uneaten raw pet food as soon as your pet has finished eating.
  5. Clean and disinfect your pet’s feeding area as soon as your pet has finished eating.

Raw dog food might not be suitable for all dogs (or owners): 11% of those who tried their dog on raw food said they wouldn’t do it again. Some of the reasons mentioned included that it was too messy or smelly, or concerns about contamination.

Overall, 33% of members haven't tried raw dog food as they haven't done enough research, and another 28% don’t want to handle raw meat - with nearly a quarter of respondents saying that they fear bacteria spreading.

empty silver pet food bowl

Is preparing homemade dog or cat food a good idea?

Experts we spoke to don't advise DIY homemade dog food. This is because it can be extremely difficult to put together a balanced homemade diet for your pet, so it's generally not recommended, unless it's supervised by a vet. 

Can I give my dog a vegetarian diet?

In theory, it’s possible to find and feed your dog a vegetarian diet that will still meet its needs. 

However, the BVA warns that it can be difficult to do it well and, unless you work with a veterinary-trained nutritionist, there's a risk of harm to your pet’s health.

Do dogs need different food as they get older?

The BVA says: ‘Yes. It's essential that puppies and kittens are fed on puppy dog food and kitten cat food, as they have specific energy and nutrient requirements. As they get older, different breeds of dog will age at different rates. For example, a Great Dane is likely to be “senior” before a Yorkshire terrier.’ 

Your vet will be able to advise on the best diet for your pet’s life stage, breed and lifestyle, and tell you if your pet has any special dietary needs. 

My dog has allergies - should I buy hypoallergenic dog food?

Some pets appear to be sensitive or intolerant to certain ingredients and additives, and this can cause a variety of problems. 

Common symptoms include lethargy, aggressive or hyperactive behaviour, chronic skin and ear problems, slime and jelly being passed with stools, flatulence, bloating and weight gain/loss. 

The most common food intolerances appear to be colourings, sugars, wheat, milk and soya. Obviously not all pets are sensitive to these things, but if the effects keep reoccurring, it’s best to consult your vet.

How much should I feed my dog?

How much your dog should eat will depend on factors such as breed, type, age, health and lifestyle. For example, a working sheepdog needs more energy than a small dog with a less active lifestyle.

On a day-to-day basis, 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.

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.  

Is my dog overweight?

Pet obesity is the top welfare concern for vets, according to the annual PAW report. Another 2021 study from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) found that one in 14 dogs were recorded by their vets as overweight. The study also found that some breeds were more prone to gaining weight. 

The PAW report also estimated that around half of the overweight and obese dogs had health issues which could be related to their weight. 

Weight-related problems can range from musculoskeletal conditions to breathing issues and diabetes, among others.

In order to know whether your pet is overweight, it's key to recognise its ideal weight and shape. A good rule of thumb is being able to see your dog's ribs.


If you're planning to take your dog out for a walk, check our guide to the best dog harnesses


How much should my dog weigh? 

  • Small: less than 10kg 
  • Medium: 10-25kg 
  • Large: 26-40kg
  • Giant: more than 41kg

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, 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, 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.
spaniel dog with an empty plastic dog food bowl

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 that you can't easily feel if you run your hands along the dog's 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.

Is it OK to give your dog treats?

Treats are a good way to train your dog and reward it. A quarter of dog owners we surveyed said they feed their pets treats daily, and another three in 10 feed them twice a day. But giving your pooch too many treats can be a case of killing our pets with kindness.

Treats contribute to the daily food needs of your pet, so take this into account when measuring food. 

dog laying on floor looking up

Which? dog food survey

To find out which are the best and worst dog food brands, in November 2021 we surveyed 1,564 Which? members who'd bought dog food recently and asked about their experiences with their chosen brand.

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

For more details on the most popular brands from above, see our guides to Bakers, Burns, Harringtons, Hill's and Royal Canin dog food.


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This article uses insights from the Which? Connect panel, collected from research activities with our members. Find out how to get involved