8 Best Cheap & Affordable Dog Foods (March 2019) | Buyer’s Guide & Reviews — The Goody Pet
Best Affordable & Cheap Dog Foods – Our 2019 Reviews & Top Picks

Best Affordable & Cheap Dog Foods – Our 2019 Reviews & Top Picks

PETE DECKER / MARCH 15, 2019 / DOGS

Looking after a dog is a somewhat expensive endeavor. You have the bills, the supplies, the dog foods… and the older they get the more the costs add up!

This can then make it difficult for owners to look after their dogs as well as possible – to afford the nutritious diets that they need, without cutting inevitable corners to save money.

This can be very bad for dogs of course who need nutritious and energy-filled foods. Fortunately, there are a lot of very nutritious (and cheap) canine foods out there that provide tons of energy and nutrients without breaking the bank.

Let’s take a look at some of the most affordable and cheapest dog food brands which we have identified.

TheGoodyPet Top Pick - Nutro Max Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food - Editors' Pick

Top Pick - Nutro Max Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food


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Our top pick is always the option that we think provides the very best features and benefits when compared with all the other items on our list. In this case, the top pick goes to Nutro Max Grain Free – which is a natural and grain-free dog food that doesn’t have any chicken by-product, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavorings.

That’s all the stuff that you would normally expect to look for in the very most expensive dog foods – and yet here it is with a fantastically affordable price tag! The Nutro Max Adult Grain Free dog food uses farm-raised chicken as the primary ingredient – real, lean protein. It also has added vitamins and nutrients and real potato for energy.

It’s not 100% perfect as the chicken is meal – but it’s sourced in the best way possible.

Key Features

  • Farm raised chicken as a primary protein source
  • No grain, soy, wheat
  • Tasty for dogs

What do we like about it?

This is a great, all round canine dog food with a lot to recommend, especially at this price. It’s an affordable and cheap option for those with a tight budget.

TheGoodyPet Budget Conscious Choice - Pedigree Adult Dry Dog Food - Budget Conscious Pick

Budget Conscious Choice - Pedigree Adult Dry Dog Food


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On a list of affordable and cheap dog foods, our budget-conscious choice is of course always going to be the dog food that provides the very best value for money. In this case, that’s this offering from Pedigree – which is one of the best known and trusted dog foods around, so that’s a good start!

This dog food is packed with healthy protein, no added sugar or artificial flavors, and lots of additional nutrients. It also claims to be a 100% balanced diet in and of itself.

Keep in mind though that whole corn is the primary ingredient here, which will be off-putting for some. It’s also made from meat and bone meal – though the bone meal does offer a great source of calcium, glucosamine, and other good stuff.

Key Features

  • High in calcium
  • Balanced diet
  • Vitamins and minerals

What do we like about it?

While you should be a little suspect of ‘complete balanced’ diets from a single food, this one does have a fair claim to that title. It’s also a food that dogs love and that offers very good value for money. It would be better without corn as an ingredient though.

3

Hill's Science Diet Large Breed Dry Dog Food


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Put ‘science’ in the title and the assumption is that a product will be better designed and higher quality than the competition. Is that true here?

Well, we have an affordable product that is made primarily from chicken meal – which isn’t ideal but keep in mind that chicken meal is preferable to other types of meal. Better is that this food is formulated for specific sizes, allowing you to pick the right amount of calories and nutrition for your dog.

It’s also a great source of glucosamine and calcium – both important for bone health and connective tissue. It’s high in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E, and lots of other added vitamins and minerals too.

Key Features

  • Easily digestible
  • Optimal levels of calcium, glucosamine
  • High in antioxidants, vitamins

What do we like about it?

This affordable dog food may rely on chicken meal – and include a large amount of wheat and gluten – but it does have a lot of other positives going for it. If you’re not against the inclusion of wheat and meal, then it might be a good value option. It’s definitely one of the cheaper dog food brands in the market.

4

Diamond Naturals Dry Food For Adult Dog, Beef and Rice Formula


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This is a high protein mix that provides your dog with the amino acids they need to build big strong muscle without gaining unwanted fat. The great news here is that this is also made from actual real beef – pasture-raised beef and not ‘meal’.

It also contains an additional nutritionally beneficial ingredient often missing from these products: probiotics. Probiotics contain healthy live cultures of bacteria that help to break down food to aid digestion, while also improving the immune system, energy, mood, and much more! Then there are all the fortified nutrients like glucosamine and omega 3.

There’s no corn, no wheat, no filler, and artificial flavors.

Key Features

  • No corn, wheat, or filler
  • No artificial flavors or additives
  • Real meat
  • Probiotics

What do we like about it?

The product is one that dogs really love the flavor of and that you can be sure will go down a treat. At the same time, it has some of the most high-quality ingredients of any dog food, let alone one this affordable. Very high marks from us.

The only thing missing is specific blends for different ages and sizes.

5

Purina One Smartblend Natural Formula Adult Dry Dog Food


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This affordable dog food is made with high-quality protein, natural lamb (no meal or by-product), rice, and more.

While it does have a lot of very healthy and natural ingredients though, it does also include a couple of things that might raise one or two eyebrows. In particular, it contains chicken by-product and corn/corn gluten meal. Corn is an issue for those that are trying to avoid corns and wheat in their dog food due to the potential digestion issues. The meal meanwhile shouldn’t provide an issue as you are getting real, fresh meat as well. Note too that chicken meal is largely considered to be preferable than other types of meal.

Otherwise, we really like the inclusion of extra vitamin D, as well as the omega 6 (not as good as omega 3 but still not bad), and glucosamine from natural sources.

Key Features

  • Real lamb
  • Added glucosamine
  • Antioxidant blend

What do we like about it?

This is a good all-round affordable dog food. While it does include one or two less optimal ingredients, it is primarily made from extremely good stuff.

6

IAMS Proactive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food


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This dog food from IAMS comes from another big and highly recognizable brand. It also contains probiotics and prebiotics to help improve digestive health, absorption of key nutrients, immunity, and much more.

The number one ingredient here is real farm-raised chicken. And real chicken is the ingredient, not the ‘source of protein’ as with so many lesser products. We also love the inclusion of the fiber and the extra antioxidants. It’s also reassuring to know that this product comes vet-approved and often recommended.

Key Features

  • Real chicken
  • Probiotics/prebiotics
  • Amino acid blend

What do we like about it?

There are grains in this product, but it’s otherwise a fantastically healthy choice for any dog owner. Just good stuff and simply affordable!

7

Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food


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As the name suggests, this product provides real chicken and real vegetables, meaning that your dog gets real nutrients in a way that is easy for them to absorb, and which will improve their digestion, their chewing strength, and more.

As well as containing all the good stuff, we’re also happy to report that this formula avoids all the bad stuff! That means no by-product meal, no filler wheat, and no wheat gluten ingredients. There is some Turkey meal in here though, and there is also a little corn and corn gluten meal – worth noting seeing as the wording is a little deceptive on that front.

But don’t let this put you off. This is still an excellent affordable dog food that dogs enjoy and that will provide a ton of nutritional benefits as well.

Key Features

  • Real chicken
  • Real vegetables
  • No additives or preservatives

What do we like about it?

While there are some corn and some meal in here, the rest is all top-shelf stuff that will do wonders for your dog. It is also cheaper as compared to the other dog food brands.

8

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe Dry Dog Food


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Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe Dry Dog Food is our last pick which wins major points for being grain-free (completely), highly digestible, and high in protein. It supports a shiny coat, it is high in a range of vitamins and minerals, and it is generally a tasty and healthy treat.

Keep in mind that while it lists ‘high-quality protein’ as the primary ingredient, this is still pork meal as opposed to fresh meat. That’s a small price to pay though for a dog food this affordable that really does manage to completely steer clear of corns, wheat, or other unwanted ingredients that can hamper digestion and overall health.

Key Features

  • Tasty and satisfying for dogs
  • Protein as the main ingredient
  • No corn

What do we like about it?

This is a great, all-round affordable dog food product that is completely free from corns and grains.

Affordable & Cheap Dog Food Buyers’ Guide

In this buyers’ guide, we’re now going to break down all of the good and bad things to look out for when choosing a cheaper dog food option, and we’re going to explain what everything means.

This way, you should be better able to choose a cheap dog food brand that will satisfy your own personal priorities, and that will support your pooch’s health to the max while respecting your budget.

Does It Have Protein?

The first and arguably most important thing to look for when choosing an affordable canine food, is the protein. Dogs are carnivores – they are descended from wolves and they simply would not have eaten large amounts of vegetation. Therefore, dogs are evolved to thrive on meat.

When your dog eats protein, it will break that protein down into the constituent amino acids and then recombine them in order to form muscle tissue, enzymes, and connective tissues. Through this process, your pooch will effectively be ‘recycling’ the meat in their diet in order to rebuild their own meat.

So, protein is important.

But just because an affordable canine food says ‘high in protein’, you shouldn’t necessarily take this at face value. First: ask yourself whether that protein is really the primary ingredient. To find out, check the ingredients list and see which protein is listed first in the list. The one at the top is the one that is there in the highest quantities. So, if a dog food has corn or rice as the first listed ingredient, is it really ‘high in protein’?

The other thing to ask, is just whether that protein is actually good quality or not. The best sources of protein are fresh, real sources of meat. That means whole chicken, pork, beef, salmon, or the like. Meat is preferable to vegetables because it is more ‘bioavailable’ – that is to say that it more closely resembles the protein that is used in your dog’s body, and therefore it is more readily converted into muscle, sinew, skin, and flesh.

Avoid By-Product Meal At All Cost

Even meat though can vary in quality. The worst type of meat is ‘by-product meal’. This is meat made from all the leftover bits that humans don’t want, thrown into a giant blender, and then cooked on extremely high heat. All the most nutritious parts are likely to be missing, as are the healthiest parts.

Meanwhile, what is left will have had a lot of the nutrients cooked out of it, and will have all kinds of added fat, salt, sugar, and preservatives. This amounts to empty calories and is certainly not the best type of meat for your pup.

‘Meal’ that isn’t by-product is the flesh and the bone (sometimes) blended together. But real ‘chunks of meat’ are what you should really be looking for. Farm-raised, corn-fed meat is even better.

So, if a cheap dog food option has “by-product” as an ingredient, stay clear of it immediately.

Look At Its Nutrients Content

So now we’ve seen the importance of good quality meat, how about those nutrients?

Look at the back of any cheap dog food product, and you’ll likely find all kinds of different nutrients and extras. The question though, is whether those nutrients are actually going to do any good – and what they are in the first place!

Common culprits include: l-carnitine, glucosamine, lutein, omega 3 fatty acid, omega 6 fatty acid, probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Let’s break them all down one at a time.

L-Carnitine, Glucosamine & Lutein

So, l-carnitine is a nutrient that helps the body to produce energy. More of this leads to a healthier, happier, and slimmer dog. Glucosamine prevents the breakdown of connective tissue and cartilage, thereby preventing bone issues. Lutein is beneficial for eye health and can prevent macular degeneration as well as cataracts – both issues afflicting many older dogs.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid

Omega 3 fatty acid prevents inflammation, helps with the permeability of cell walls, and improves brain function and mood. Omega 6 works in tandem with omega 3 – though it is more readily available in modern diets (including modern dog diets) so whether it is necessary is sometimes called into question.

Probiotics

Probiotics are made from healthy cultures of bacteria. Contrary to popular belief, not all bacteria are bad, and not all bacteria are ‘germs’. We also have healthy bacteria which live in our guts, and which help your pooch dog by breaking down food, killing off germs, and even producing key neurotransmitters and hormones (regulating our mood, improving weight loss and doing more good stuff besides).

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are similarly important for dogs. These are nutrients that combat the effects of free radicals. Free radicals meanwhile are reactive molecules that can damage cells when they come into contact with them – leading to the visible signs of aging over time and potentially even breaking through to cause genetic mutations leading to cancer.

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals finally include the likes of vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and then minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. All these vitamins and minerals are micronutrients and play various important roles throughout the body. Calcium strengthens bones along with vitamin D, vitamin C and D improve the immune system and fight illness, potassium prevents cramping, vitamin E improves the skin – the list goes on and on.

While any affordable dog food that lists a number of these ingredients is going to be very beneficial, it’s important to remember that where the nutrients come from is also important.

In particular, the best source of these nutrients is any natural and healthy option. Added vitamins that have been put in afterward may not exist in the right quantities, or with the right additional ingredients – which can make them less easy to absorb and use. In other words, they become less bioavailable.

Look for cheap dog foods that come with lots of vegetables and fruits inside to get the most of these benefits.

Wheat, Gluten, Additives

As well as looking for all the things that affordable dog foods claim to add in, you should also be mindful of the things you do not want. Good examples include wheat, corn, and gluten. While these ‘filler’ ingredients are generally considered harmless and may even add some nutritional benefit, the thing to keep in mind is that dogs and wolves would not naturally eat corns and grains in the wild.

Not only that, but it’s also useful to keep in mind that corns and grains might actually be harmful to a dog’s digestion. Just like humans, dogs can sometimes have difficulty absorbing gluten and this can cause the ‘villi’ lining the stomach to fail to absorb other nutrients too. If your pooch has a bad stomach, then switching to a genuinely corn free diet might be a good strategy.

It’s also important to think carefully about the inclusion of additives, preservatives, sugar, and salt. These ingredients serve to help the manufacturers by making the dog food tastier and easier to store for long periods – but they don’t help your canine companion. These ingredients might be additive, some can be detrimental to their hormone balance and general health, and often they will lead to other issues such as bad teeth.

Avoid High Sugar Content

Lots of added sugar in particular, is something that you should try to avoid. As in humans, sugar can be destructive for a dog’s diet by spiking insulin levels and leading to diabetes (a common issue for dogs), and by causing damage to the teeth and more.

Other Considerations

The best (and cheapest) dog food then, is one that is made from natural ingredients: real meat, real fruits and vegetables, and as little filler as possible. This should mimic a dog’s natural diet in the wild.

But at the same time, you should also make sure that your canine food meets other criteria. For one, you need to be able to afford it! Obviously, the higher quality the ingredients, the more you can usually expect to pay. This is why as with any product, the key is to look for great value in the price-to-ingredients ratio.

Another consideration is the amount you are getting, and whether the affordable dog food has been specifically formulated for the age and size of your dog. While this isn’t a requirement, it is often better to find canine foods that are formulated for a certain size of breed of dog as these will offer the optimal balance of nutrient and energy for their size.

One last tip is that where possible, you should try to provide your pooch with a mixed and varied diet. While some cheaper dog foods will claim to offer an entire balanced diet, it is a mistake to rely purely on a single dog food source as this will mean the specific nutrients are limited.

A mixture of healthy, natural dog foods – and different flavors – will keep your furry friend happier and healthier in the long term.

Conclusion

Any of the above dog food brands will serve your pooch extremely well and support good health. They are cheaper than most other canine food brands and provides a great value for money purchase.

We really like the Nutro Max Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food for its price tag and its nutritional value.

By now, you would know what to look for when choosing from other brands. The secret is very simple: go for the most natural, varied, and authentic looking ingredients list possible.


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Best Cheap Affordable Dog Foods

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