How to choose a dry dog food

There are many different opinions, even among the experts, regarding what dog food is best. That's because there is no one correct answer, as it will depend on your dog's breed, health, weight, or even your budget.

 - 11 Min Read
Last updated and fact checked:
How to choose a dry dog food
  • Dry food is one of the most affordable types of dog food; it lasts longer and is easier to store than other options.
  • Dog owners in the UK can spend between £50 and £800 a year feeding their dogs.
  • Vets recommend a dog food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, with clearly marked ingredients.
  • The best dry dog food can depend on your dog's size, weight, activity level and age.

Dry dog food: FAQs

  • Is dry dog food the best for dogs?

    Dry dog food has some advantages over wet dog food. It is good for dental health, is budget-friendly, and can be used as treats or to keep your dog grazing throughout the day. If you are concerned about hydration, you can always add a small amount of water to your dog's dry food.

  • Which dry dog food is the best?

    The best dry food for your dog will depend on their nutritional needs, but a popular budget-friendly dry dog food option is Harrington’s Complete Dry Dog Food with Lamb & Rice. One of the most commonly recommended dry dog foods by vets is Purina’s pro plan dry dog food.

  • What is the best dry dog food for a puppy?

    A popular option for puppies is Lily's Kitchen Chicken & Salmon Dry Kibble. It has nutritious ingredients all tailored towards helping your puppy grow.

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Age Times. Commissions do not affect our writers’ or editors’ opinions or evaluations. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Dry dog food has always been popular among dog owners for several reasons. These include dry dog food often being more affordable and easier to store than tins and pouches. According to a 2022 Nimblefins report, dog owners in the UK can spend anywhere between £50 and £800 a year feeding their animals. 

All of the pet care costs associated with dogs can add up to around £1,800 a year for dog owners in the UK, so it's not a surprise that many try to find an easy and affordable option while still ensuring they provide their dog with all its nutritional needs. 

Large breeds will cost more to feed than small or medium breeds; this could be something to consider if you plan on getting a new dog. Puppy food can also be much more expensive than adult dog food, so you can expect to pay more upfront if you decide to get a new puppy.

Get 75% off your first box of tailored dog food at

How much does it cost to feed a dog?

Examples below are based on a tailor-made kibble blend only diet.

Whether you're looking for a tailored diet solution for your furry friend or are looking for better value from your pet food shopping, our providers have various options to help meet your needs. Click a brand below to discover more of what they offer!

Do vets recommend dry dog food?

Among the dry dog foods vets commonly recommend are Purina's Pro Plan dry dog food with chicken and their Pro Plan grain-free dry dog food with turkey for dogs with sensitive digestion.

Many vets recommend picking dog food high in protein and low in carbohydrates, with clearly marked good ingredients. Dogs will have different nutritional needs based on their life stage and health. You may even need to consider hypoallergenic dog food if your dog has any allergies, dog food for sensitive skin, or dog food with added supplements. 

With so many different things to consider when picking dog food, it is always worth seeking personalised advice from your vet; nobody knows your dog's health better than you and your vet!

What are the most popular dry dog foods?

With many dog food brands and everything from veg to venison-based meals available, finding the best dry dog food can be overwhelming. Here are some of the most popular dry dog foods in the UK:

1. Harrington’s Complete Dry Dog Food Lamb & Rice

Harrington's is one of the most highly recommended options for dog owners on a budget. The main source of protein is the 26% lamb meat meal, and the carbohydrates are from white rice. In addition, Harrington's Complete Dry Dog Food includes omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your pet healthy.

2. IAMS for Vitality Small/Medium Breed Adult Dry Dog Food with Fresh Chicken

IAMS claims to provide expert nutrition in their dog food to support your dog's seven signs of healthy vitality. This dry dog food contains 82% animal protein out of the total proteins and can help your dog's dental health thanks to tailored minerals in the kibble to reduce tartar buildup.

3. Lily’s Kitchen Chicken & Salmon Dry Kibble

Pet owners love Lily's Kitchen Chicken & Salmon Dry Kibble as an excellent choice for puppies. It's packed with nutritious ingredients to help your puppy grow and give them an immune boost. Lily's Kitchen often has promotional codes for free delivery and a percentage off your first order. So search for promo codes before you checkout!

4. Bakers Meaty Meals Small Dog Beef Dry Dog Food

Bakers is another excellent option for dog owners on a budget. Bakers can have high sugar levels, but it contains many nutritious ingredients. Bakers tends to be a popular option for owners whose dogs are picky eaters!

5. James Wellbeloved Adult Dry Senior Dog Food Turkey & Rice

James Wellbeloved claims to support your dog’s health and digestion with natural ingredients, using hypoallergenic dog food which excludes common allergens like beef, soya, dairy, and wheat. 

Other popular brands for dry dog food options are:

  • Arden Grange
  • Wagg
  • Chappie
  • Royal Canin
  • Barking Heads
  • Eukanuba
  • Orijen
  • Hill's Science Plan
  • Forthglade

Tailored dog food mixes

Tailored dry dog food is a relatively new option for dog owners. Various companies such as, Pure, and Barking Heads offer services for custom dog food mixes tailored specifically for your dog. 

Every dog is different, so why should you feed them the same? At your dog will get complete dog food that is 100% tailored to their nutritional needs. Alongside your tailor-made kibble recipe, add the wet food and treats your dog will love.

Get 75% off your first box of tailored dog food at

Benefits of tailored dog food

  • Convenience is a huge factor in buying tailored dog food. You don't need to go to a store or search different sites to buy food - you can use one service for your dog to meet all their nutritional needs.
  • Many premium-tailored food services focus on using high-quality, fresh ingredients, but be sure to check before you buy or subscribe! 
  • These companies will often consider your dog's weight, age, lifestyle, activity levels and health so they can completely customise your dog's food for their specific needs.

Drawbacks of tailored dog food

  • As the dog food mix will be specially formulated for your dog, and the food quality will often be very high, you can expect to pay a much higher price for this option. 
  • Some tailored food mixes aren't as "customised" as they claim to be and can be pretty generic. However, this can still be beneficial if the food is suited to your dog regardless.

What is kibble?

Kibble is a name for dry dog food and dry cat food. It is a mixture of ground-up ingredients such as meat, legumes, grain, vegetables, and other ingredients. Most kibble uses a grain like white or brown rice as a binding agent to keep the ingredients together. However, there are grain-free kibbles which use legumes as a binding agent. 

You can evaluate a few factors to determine if a particular kibble is a good option.

Read the first five listed ingredients

The first five ingredients will tell you the main source of protein and the main ingredients. A dry dog food with around 30% or more protein is usually a good option. Although ideally, the protein will be from animal-based ingredients like meat, fish, or poultry, it may also come from something like a "lamb meal". You should usually avoid options with generic meat meals or meat by-products as the main ingredients, as these products can be made of the less nutritious parts of the animals. 

Check there aren’t too many ingredients with no nutritional value

Many dry dog foods contain small amounts of ingredients like rice, corn, wheat, and soybean. But you should avoid these ingredients in high concentrations as they are "empty" ingredients which don't add much value to the meal. However, not all grains are bad, and dogs with high energy levels, such as working dogs, can easily thrive on a diet with more grain than the average dog. 

Healthy fats and added beneficial ingredients

Although the main ingredients are the most important to look out for, the lesser ingredients can also significantly impact your dog. A great ingredient to see in dry dog food is a small amount of fish oil, as this will provide omega-3 fatty acids. You should avoid dry dog food mostly made of cheaper fats such as soybean or vegetable oil, as these types of oil will lack omega-3 and mostly contain omega-6 fatty acids. 

A dry dog food with some vegetables or fruits included in the ingredients can also be beneficial as these can provide antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals, which all help your dog's health.

How much should I feed my dog?

One of the main things experts suggest regarding how to feed your dog is to have consistent mealtimes. This can prevent accidents, aid your dog's digestion, and help with weight control. A simple way to accomplish this can be to use an automatic dog feeder or to set a regular reminder of the times you want to feed your dog daily. Feeding your dog twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening, is an excellent way to keep their meal times consistent. 

Your vet can give you more tailored information on if your dog requires more or fewer feeds. For example, if your dog eats too quickly, it may need a food mat or feeder to slow its eating.

Many factors can impact how much you need to feed your dog and how often you need to feed them.

  • Activity Level: Your dog will need more food if they are more active and sometimes need different types of food. If you have a working dog, they will need more daily calories than an older house pet as they're using a lot more energy. 
  • Weight: You may need to adjust your dog's food intake based on whether they need to maintain, gain, or lose weight. This may mean cutting down on dog treats, but you may also need to change how much of their actual meals they are getting each day.
  • Lifestage: Puppies will need different food which helps their growth, and senior dogs may need differently formulated foods to help keep them active. 
  • Health: If your dog has any health problems, consider this when planning its feeding. 

The best way to find out what food your dog needs is to speak with your vet. 

Get 75% off your first box of tailored dog food at

Wet dog food versus dry dog food

Water content is the main difference between wet and dry dog food, affecting the product's shelf life, as dry food will last much longer. Dry dog food can also have a higher energy content in a smaller volume, so you may not need to feed your dog as much as you would with wet food. 

One of the most significant benefits of wet food is your dog's enjoyment. Wet food is considered much tastier and more fulfilling than most dry foods.

There is the option to use a combination of both wet and dry food. However, this can make balancing your dog's energy levels challenging and may upset their digestion.

Benefits of wet dog food

  • Easiness to eat - if your dog is quite picky with their food, wet dog food is often a lot more flavourful and interesting for them to eat than dry dog food. 
  • Less chewy - sometimes wet dog food is also easier to chew. Wet dog food may be more enticing if your dog has any dental problems or is sick.
  • High moisture content - when your dog doesn't drink as much as it should, wet dog food can be an excellent way to help get more hydration in its system.

Benefits of dry dog food

  • Budget-friendly - dry dog food tends to be cheaper and easier to store than wet dog food. It's a lot easier to buy in bulk and lasts longer.
  • Grazing - you can leave dry dog food out for your dog to graze on throughout the day.
  • Dental health - a lot of dry dog food helps break down tartar buildup and protects your dog's dental health.

Can dogs live on dry food only?

For a long time, dry dog food was the only option on the market, so it's clear that dogs can easily live on dry food alone. Many people still only give their dogs dry food, and they live a perfectly healthy life and still have all of their nutritional needs met. 

Over recent years, the legal requirements for dry dog food and the expectations for a dog's nutrition and health have significantly increased. This means that most commercially available dog foods will have to meet specific standards to be sold in the first place. So you can be a little more at ease when searching for the right dry food for your dog. 

There may be specific reasons your dog would benefit from a wet food diet, such as dental issues or struggling to eat enough food. But your dog may also benefit from a dry food diet, especially if they have certain medical conditions. 

Get 75% off your first box of tailored dog food at

Picking food based on your own dog's needs

The best dry dog food can depend on the size, weight, activity level, and age of your dog, but there are many great and affordable options out there to choose from. You can discuss your options with your vet or look at some of the choices we included in this article. There is no one top pick that works for every single dog, but it isn't too difficult to find something that works for your particular pet.

See More