12 Worst Dog Food Brands To Avoid This Year

When it comes to the types of dog food that is available to purchase, there are so many different choices available.

There is such a huge variety that it can be often difficult to differentiate between what brands are good, and which ones leave a lot to be desired. 

While some people do not give much thought to the food they feed their dog, this is something that is so important to do. After all, your dog deserves to be fed good quality food that is going to nourish, rather than impact its health. 

When thinking about the food you give your dog, it is useful to compare it to how you would feed a child.

12 Worst Dog Food Brands To Avoid This Year

Although it is okay to feed your child fast food as an occasional treat, you wouldn’t want to do this every day. If you did this, you would increase your child’s chances of developing type two diabetes and obesity as they grow older. 

This same thought process should be applied to your dog. While some people opt for the less expensive dog food options at the pet store, these are typically full of rubbish that provides no nutritional value to them. 

When owning a dog, it is important to place them on a good quality diet that is going to not only be filling and satisfying, but one which is going to benefit them too.

What many people don’t realize is that the more expensive food costs more to purchase outright, but when you break down how much it costs per meal, it is less expensive than cheap food. 

In this article, we are going to take a dive into the dog food industry, and uncover 12 of the worst dog food brands you will want to avoid this year. We will be talking you through why they ought to be avoided, and how you can spot the difference between good vs bad dog food. 

Why Is Some Dog Food Bad?

There are a lot of reasons why some dog food is bad, and there is a lot to think about when you are choosing a suitable dog food for your dog. Ultimately, it comes down to the ingredients of the dog food. 

While one brand may have some reasonably good dog food available, one specific type of dog food they sell may be unsuitable. This is why it is so important to ensure that you are closely checking the labels of each separate type of dog food. 

Here are some essential things you will need to keep an eye out for:


As discussed, the most important thing to check when you are looking for a good dog food brand is the ingredients featured. There are a lot of aspects to consider when it comes to the ingredients.

When you have a good understanding of what some of the more confusing phrases mean, you will quickly be able to differentiate between the good and the bad. 

Some dog food will be labelled as natural or balanced, however, this is not always the case.

While some ingredients may be natural, this does not mean all the food is. When looking at the ingredients list, the ordering of the ingredients list itself is important. 

A lot of dog owners are unaware of what the ordering of the ingredients list means. Essentially, the ingredient that is listed first makes up the majority of the dog food. This continues to the last ingredient, which makes up the smallest percentage of the food. 

Even from looking at the listing of the ingredients, you will be able to have a better idea of which food is good, and which ones should be avoided. Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients:


Cheap and low quality dog food is full of filler. This is something that you will want to avoid as much as possible.

As its name suggests, filler is added to food simply as a way of bulking up the meat and other ingredients so that it is more filling for the dog. 

While you may assume that filler is not a bad thing, it is. Essentially, it is just empty calories for the dog, and doesn’t leave them satisfied. As low quality dog food contains so much filler, you will end up feeding more food to your dog because it is not satisfying them in the same way as a better quality dog food would. 

Filler is of a low quality, and allows the manufacturers to save money. Some common fillers that are included in dog food include:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Maize
  • Other types of grains

When thinking about these ingredients, you may not assume that they have a negative impact on your dog.

However, it is not something a dog would naturally eat. As a result of this, it can be more difficult for them to digest.

In some cases, this can lead to digestive problems. It is particularly important to avoid dog food that features one of these fillers as its main ingredient because it is going to have little to no nutritional value. 

Meat Content

Following on from fillers, meat is something that is so important to feature in dog food. In any good dog food, the meat will be the first ingredient featured. If it is not, you will want to avoid the food. 

Even if the meat content is featured first, this does not necessarily mean that the meat is taken from a reliable source. This is why it is important to also note the type of meat it is. Good protein is whole protein, and when the protein is whole, this will be stated on the ingredients. 

The meat you will want to take a closer look at and avoid is the meat “by-products”. This is not true meat and is not a good protein source. While some manufacturers will state that it is, it is not. It is of a low quality, and as its name suggests, it’s taken from the by-products of meat. 

These by-products can come from a wide range of different sources and are typically the leftover pieces of meat from slaughterhouses. The meat that is not good enough to feature in good quality foods. Animal “by-products” can also be called Meat and animal derivatives.

4-D Meat

When thinking about animal by-products, this can also include 4-D meat, which can be potentially very dangerous for your dog. 4-D means dead, dying, diseased, and disabled. This is not the kind of meat that your dog should be eating, especially if the animal is diseased.

This can be potentially dangerous for the dog, as to be expected. It is not the type of quality that should be featured in dog food at all, even if it is less expensive to purchase. 

This type of meat can include animals that have been euthanized, and often it doesn’t state what type of meat is included. This is worrying as you should always know the meat you are giving to your dog, especially if they have sensitive stomachs or allergies. 

Manufacturers don’t tend to state that the meat is 4-D, instead it is just labelled as “by-products” or as derived from meat. This is because there are no current legalities surrounding this. 


Moving on from meat and fillers, a lot of inexpensive, low quality dog food will feature preservatives. While these are intended to help prolong the date of the food, they can have an adverse effect on a dog.

In addition to these preservatives, some dog foods are unnecessarily dyed in order to make them look more appealing. This is not great as these dyes are not a natural part of a dog’s diet. 

If there are artificial flavorings in the food, sure, this will make it more appealing to the dog, but they shouldn’t be included. If the food is of a good quality, and has a high meat content, there is no need for any flavor enhancements. 

Their artificial flavorings are added because the low meat quality is not enough to make the food enticing or appetizing to the dog. Without them, it is very unlikely that a dog would want to eat the food.

As a result, if you notice a high amount of synthetic ingredients in the food, it is best to avoid it. If a dog food is of a high and good quality, you should be able to easily identify the vast majority of the ingredients included.

They will be clearly stated, and the ingredients you are unsure of will typically be added to help aid the dog in a positive way. For example, to help with digestion or joint movement. 

Quality VS Quantity

The big issue surrounding dog food is the quality vs the quantity. When you are feeding good dog food, it will be more expensive to purchase. For people that are used to feeding their dog a lower quality diet, they will be put off by the price increase.

When you take into consideration everything we have stated above, this is understandable.

This is because lower quality dog food does not have a high nutritional value. As a result, the portion sizes are typically larger. When you are feeding larger portions, you will need to purchase the food more often.

While the food may be less expensive to purchase outright, because you are feeding more of it, over time, it is going to be more expensive to purchase. For those who do not have a lot of knowledge about dog food may not realize this. 

Understandably, dog food that is of a good quality is more expensive to purchase.

However, this is understandable given that it is more expensive to make. However, because it contains whole ingredients, it satisfies a dog and will keep them fuller for longer.

This means that the food will last longer because you are not feeding the same amount of food in comparison to the less expensive food. 

Not only is the food better for the dog, but it is going to work out to be less expensive, or at the most a similar price to the cheaper dog food. While in some cases the higher quality food may be more expensive per meal, it is not a vastly different amount.

A good quality food will also feature high amounts of meat and protein that are whole. Anything with a low percentage of meat does not tend to be the best option for a dog. 

Taking all of this into consideration, it is clear to see why feeding your dog good quality food is important.

Just as it is important for us to check the ingredients of the meals we eat, the same should apply when checking our dog’s food too. After all, it is important for them to have a good quality diet that is not going to negatively impact their health.

12 Worst Dog Food Brands To Avoid This Year

Here are the 12 word dog food brands that we would not recommend feeding to your dog due to the low quality of their ingredients. 

1. Purina Dog Chow — Complete Adult With Real Chicken

When it comes to dog food, Purina is a popular choice and many people assume that all of the food they manufacture is of a good quality. However, Purina Dog Chow leaves a lot to be desired. 

We have included this in our article because it is one that is often stocked in stores. It features corn meal, food coloring, and a number of different flavorings and preservatives.

Meat is listed second to the filler, and it consists of meat and bone meal. The ingredients do not state what meat this is. 

2. Twin Pet Dog Food

The only protein that is featured in Twin Pet Dog food is animal by-products, which do not clearly state the protein. This could feature all kinds of meat and bones that can potentially disagree with your dog. 

In addition to this, the main ingredient is filler and carbohydrates, which is not a suitable diet for your dog to have. It is very processed food. 

3. IAMS Dry Dog Food Chunks

This is another IAMS food that is best avoided. Again, while it is not the best food to give to your dog, it is slightly better in comparison to some of the other options featured. This is due to its protein source, which in this instance, is chicken. 

However, it still features high amounts of filler, and the protein is a by-product which could be a number of different things. The beet pulp included can be linked to weight gain in dogs over longer periods of time too. 

4. Gravy Train Dog Food

Gravy train is another dog food option that is best avoided. It contains meat by-products rather than a whole protein source. In addition to this, the preservatives can be potentially dangerous for dogs.

One preservative in particular is Butylated hydroxyanisole, this has been linked to kidney problems in dogs. It is a canned food that does not feature the protein first. 

5. IAMS Proactive Heath – Minichunks

IAMS is another popular grocery store dog food. It is an option that is well advertised, and while it is not the worst dog food featured in this article, it is still not great. While chicken is the main ingredient, the percentage of the chicken is not stated.

In addition to this, the food still contains chick by-products and filler. There are some preservatives present too. While it is a slight improvement in comparison to some other low quality foods, there are far better foods that can be purchased instead. 

6. Kal Kan Complete Adult

When it comes to filler ingredients, Kal Kan Complete Adult is one of the worst options to consider. Three out of the four first ingredients are fillers, and the protein included is meat and bone meal. 

The amount of meat included is not stated, and there are many preservatives within the food. As there are five different fillers included, it is a food that should be avoided. This can quickly lead to digestive problems.

7. Kibbles ‘n Bit — Original

This food states that it provides balanced nutrition. However, this is not the case, and this food can have a negative effect on a dog’s digestive system due to the amount of filler present. The protein is the third ingredient stated, and it is not a whole protein. 

Kibbles ‘n Bit is another brand that uses Butylated hydroxyanisole as a preservative, which can have a negative effect on a dog’s kidneys. There are far too many carbs featured in this food for it to be classed as healthy, balanced, or nutritious. 

8. Cesar Filets

This is a wet dog food that does not contain a high amount of meat content. When it comes to wet food, the meat content should typically be quite high. While Cesar is a fairly popular option, we would not recommend it. 

The Cesar filets in particular have a very high salt content, which is not healthy for a dog to consume, especially in large amounts. While the food does contain some whole proteins, this is off-balanced by the animal by-products. 

9. Diamond Dog Food — Original

There are three types of Diamond dog food available, and none of the options are the best food to feed your dog. As to be expected, the amount of filler featured is high and will leave your dog unsatisfied. 

There is wheat, soy, and corn featured. When it comes to the protein, this comes from a mixture of different sources, including meat and fish. This is mainly stated as animal by-products, which cannot be traced back to the source.

10. Pedigree

While the other foods we have included are specific, this is more generalized. We have categorized all the Pedigree branded dog food as an option to avoid. This is because the ingredients are not great.

Pedigree is a popular choice because it is well marketed, however, the ingredients are not great.

Typically, they contain a lot of fillers, preservatives and artificial flavors. The meat is not complete, and is typically created from meat and bone meal. There are a lot of unnecessary ingredients included in their food. 

11. Alpo – Purina

Alpo by Pruina is a food that is best avoided. In recent years, people have reported that their dogs have become unwell after eating this food.

Given this, it is not a wise decision to feed this to your dog, especially given that the processing areas are being investigated as a result. 

While it is not stated why the dogs became ill, it emphasises that the ingredients were not of a good enough quality, and can be potentially dangerous if your dog becomes ill. 

12. Wegmans Bruiser Kibble

Unfortunately, Wegmans Bruiser Kibble features a lot of preservatives that are not healthy for a dog to consume in high amounts, such as Butylated hydroxyanisole. It also contains ingredients such as xanthan gum and colorings. 

There are high amounts of filler and while this is an inexpensive option, it is not healthy to feed to a dog. You will need to feed a lot of this food to your dog, for very little nutritional value. 

3 Great Dog Food Alternatives

While there are many types of dog food that you will want to avoid, there are many fantastic options that can be fed to your dog instead. These foods feature good protein sources that can be traced, and the ingredients provide balanced nutrition for your dog.

If you are looking for some great options, here are three brands we would recommend, and you should consider purchasing:

1. Taste of the Wild

The taste of the Wild dog foods have high amounts of protein that are beneficial to a dog.

These are whole proteins rather than by-products, and everything is clearly stated. There are no fillers included, rather there are healthy fruits and vegetables. It is a well-balanced option that is not overly expensive to purchase. 

2. Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo is another fantastic choice to consider. The ingredients are whole, and they use high amounts of protein that are of a good quality.

The food has good health benefits for the dog, and is far less likely to cause stomach issues because it is a more natural food in comparison to the worst foods featured. 

3. Wellness

Wellness prides itself on the quality of its ingredients, and it’s high amounts of protein. Their food is of a great quality, and there are no unnecessary ingredients included.

Both their dry and wet dog foods are great options to consider, and they are natural, rather than artificial.


We hope that you have found this article useful and informative. As you can see, it is so important to ensure that your dog is fed on a good quality diet. The price of the food should not be compromised over the quality of it.

Always remember that low quality foods are full of filler, which causes you to have to feed higher amounts of it to your dog. The same cannot be said for high quality food. 

Before purchasing dog food, you will always want to check the ingredients lists for the ingredients mentioned above. While some may contain small amounts of filler, if it is a high percentage and featured first, the food is not a good option. 

While these 10 foods in particular are not a great option for your dog, this does not mean that the entirety of a brand’s food is not a good option. It is up to you, the dog owner, to check the ingredient lists of dog food and make an education decision based on this.