Best Budget-friendly Dog Foods 2024

Written by Emily Bayne

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 10/25/2023, edited: 03/15/2024

Best Budget-friendly Dog Foods 2024 image

The Wag! team conducts independent research and consults pet experts to curate our recommendations. This content is supported by our affiliate pet partners and we may receive a commission on the links provided.


We all want to give our pets the best of the best, and while we'd love to give them expensive gourmet dog food all the time, it's just not always in the cards. But you can still feed your dog quality kibble on a budget!

There are tons of high-quality, affordable pet foods on the market. We've done some digging to find the best of the best — both for your pet's tummy and your wallet.

Now, you may look at this list and say, $50 for a 25 lb bag — that's not a budget dog food!

While there are certainly cheaper brands than the ones featured on this list, these brands also tend to be very low-quality, with loads of fillers. 

When crafting this list, we tried to balance affordability with health to find the most affordable quality pet foods out there. We would never recommend a food we wouldn't feel comfortable feeding to our own pups! (In fact, the food I feed my own dog Shadow is on this list!)

Enough with the introductions — let's talk budget chow.



Overview

The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters Whole Grain Chicken & Oat Recipe Dog Food

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Best vet recommended human-grade food

If you're looking for health-conscious, human-grade food that won't break the bank, look no further than The Honest Kitchen.

Each batch is crafted in human-grade kitchens to ensure the safest processing practices possible. 

You won't find heavily processed kibble in any of their lines either, since high temps can destroy essential nutrients. Instead, you will find minimally processed, cold-pressed food clusters that aim to maintain the nutritional integrity of their recipes. 

What's more, The Honest Kitchen has strong core values prioritizing sustainable and ethical ingredient sourcing and has even received a sustainability certification through the B corporation.

This puptastic food even gets the approval from Dr. Georgia Jeremiah, pet nutrition expert and one of Wag!’s veterinary consultants. "The Honest Kitchen offers convenient dry, dehydrated, and wet food options that use high protein meat sources and are fortified with fish oils and essential nutrients such as taurine.”

Quality recipes with a purpose? It's a yes from us! 

Other varieties of The Honest Kitchen Clusters:

  • The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Chicken Clusters (available in small dog & puppy formulas)
  • The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters for puppies and small dogs
  • The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Beef Clusters (also available in a small dog formula)
  • The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Turkey Clusters
  • The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Clusters

The Honest Kitchen Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen Dog Food

Why Wag! Loves It

  • The brand is conscious about their social and environmental impact and practices ethical and sustainable sourcing
  • This food has undergone AAFCO feeding trials (this is a big deal because most brands choose not to!)
  • Minimal processing means more nutrients and flavor for your pooch!
  • One of few affordable human-grade dog foods on the market

Considerations & Concerns

  • Some pet parents complain about the texture of this food, saying it crumbles too easily.

What pet parents say about The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters

"My dog Dash is one of the pickiest eaters I've ever seen. We've changed foods for this pup almost every year of his 5 years of life. How long will he be on this one? Who knows, but he refused three other foods and is finally eaten after 3 weeks of being picky and barely eating. And he's eating both meals consistently, which is new. Yes, this kibble is very crumbly (think shortbread cookie/biscuit), but my pupper loves that. He has some sensitive teeth, so he likes that it's crunchy but still easy to chew. 

We also tried the dehydrated version, he likes it but prefers a kibble over wet food. He also has zero problem licking up the crumbs. This probably isn't the healthiest food? I wish there was more protein, less fat, and a touch more fiber. But at least he's eating consistently and getting some kind of nutrients."

Read more reviews on Chewy.

Product image sourced from the Chewy website. Copyright The Honest Kitchen.




Taste of the Wild Ancient Grains Dry Dog Food

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Best vet recommended high-protein food


With between 29% and whopping 42% protein in each recipe, Taste of the Wild  is the clear winner in the high protein category for budget dog foods.

It features quality meats like duck, bison, venison, beef, and quail for a well-rounded and tasty meal for even the pickiest eaters.

Dr. Georgia Jeremiah notes, "Taste of the Wild offers both wet and dry dog and cat foods for all life stages incorporating species-specific probiotics, antioxidants from ancient grains, fruits and seeds, and omega fatty acids.”

We also love that it features dog-specific probiotics to help with digestion. All in all, this recipe gets two paws up from us!

Varieties of Taste of the Wild Ancient Grains:

  • Taste of the Wild Ancient Stream with Smoke-Flavored Salmon
  • Taste of the Wild Ancient Wetlands with Roasted Fowl
  • Taste of the Wild Ancient Mountain with Roasted Lamb
  • Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie with Roasted Bison, Roasted Venison and Ancient Grains


Taste of the Wild Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Dog Food

Why Wag! Loves It

  • Includes healthier whole grain options like sorghum, quinoa, flax, and millet
  • Contains quality meat sources like buffalo, pork venison, bison, beef, and chicken — very rarely do you see this variety in a budget food!
  • Features fish oil, which is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to keep your pet looking and feeling great
  • Super high protein with 6 different named protein sources to fuel active lifestyles and keep pets full
  • Contains prebiotics and probiotics that are native to the canine gut biome

Considerations & Concerns

  • This food does contain chicken, although it is not listed in the recipe name.
  • Some people complain that the kibble is on the smaller side

What pet parents say about Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie

"I have been feeding my mini Aussie Taste of the Wild for about 3 years now. She loves it, and we like to try different flavors. Recently I inherited my dad's dog, an older lab mix. My dad fed "Gage" regular dog food, basically whatever was on sale at the supermarket. After 2 months of eating Taste of the Wild, I can't get over the physical changes in Gage. His coat is much thicker, he is more active, and he absolutely loves his kibbles. I highly recommend this food."

"Getting my baby from the Humane Society he was nothing but skin and bones because he was abandoned. i bought him this because I've seen so many commercials and reviews about it. He loves it. He was able to gain 11 pounds within the first 2.5 weeks because he was finally eating and he is eating healthy now he's down to two meals a day and he's absolutely loves it!"

Head over to Chewy for more reviews!

Product image sourced from Chewy. Copyright SCHELL & KAMPETER, INC.




Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Adult Dry Dog Food

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Best for shiny coats

Diamond Naturals is a phenomenal low filler dog food for parents on a budget.

With a wide array of fresh fruits and veggies, pasture-raised meats, and probiotic goodness, you can rest easy knowing your pet's nutrition is the top priority for this brand.

Buying Diamond Dog Food means supporting a family-owned business rather than a massive corporate conglomerate.

Even though they aren't under a major umbrella corporation, you can still find this brand in big box stores like Tractor's Supply, Petsmart, and Petco.

Other varieties of Diamond Naturals Dry Food:

  • Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula  (also available in all stages, small breed, small and medium breed, extreme athlete adult versions)
  •  Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Formula
  • Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula (also available in large breed, light adult, large breed puppy, and small dog formulas)
  • Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula
  • Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat All Life Stages Salmon & Potato Formula
  • Diamond Naturals Senior Dog Chicken, Egg, & Oatmeal Formula

Diamond Naturals Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Dog Food

Why Wag! Loves It

  • This recipe features nutritious fruits and veggies like blueberries, pumpkin, coconut, carrots, and spinach for antioxidants
  • This food has not 1, but 5 different strains of probiotics to keep bellies happy and healthy
  • Pasture-raised lamb is the first ingredient, which we LOVE to see
  • White rice (the second ingredient) is super gentle on tummies
  • Unlike some budget dog foods, you don't see evidence of ingredient splitting on the label 

Considerations & Concerns

  • Some pet parents complain that this food has a lot of excess dust/powder on it, which can get messy

What pet parents say about Diamond Naturals

"My dogs are lucky, so it's really hard to find food they will eat; they will eat this, but only with an amendment , like carrots, or sweet potatoes. That's pretty normal for them. No elevated gas (both are [brachycephalic,] so a real concern) and firm stools. No upset tummies. Will buy again, but might try a different flavor."

"I think this is one of the best dry dog foods available, especially at this price point. All 3 of our dogs, even the finicky Standard Poodle, like this and gobble it down. I add some canned American Journey to it, and they almost dive in up to their ears!"

Read more reviews on Chewy.

Product image sourced from the Chewy website. Copyright SCHELL & KAMPETER, INC.




Iams Proactive Health Adult Chicken & Whole Grain Dry Dog Food

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Best for tight budgets

Let me preface this by saying I feed my lab-pit mix Shadow this food, and we LOVE it.

I chose this food for him for a couple of reasons. I like that chicken is the first ingredient, it doesn't have artificial preservatives like BHT, and it's budget-friendly. I wanted a food I could afford to stick with that would be good for him. His vet also said it's one of the foods she personally recommends to her other clients.

He does a happy dance every time I get his scoop. (I mean, he will literally bowl over the ottoman to get to his bowl when dinner time rolls around!) 

I started my Shadow on the minichunks, which he loved, but I ended up switching him to the larger kibble because he would just scarf them in seconds — the flavor is the same — he just actually chews the larger kibble instead of inhaling it!

Since switching him to this food, I've noticed his coat is more glossy, and his shedding is a million times better. (He has a gene mutation that causes severe shedding, and while he still sheds, it is much more manageable.)

When I bring him to the shelter to visit, the staff always says he looks years younger than he did when he was there! 

His skin allergies have also improved, his poops are normal, and his bathroom habits are like clockwork. I can't speak highly enough about this food!

I love that iams is budget-friendly, my dog likes it, and it's great quality for the price. For these reasons, we decided to give this recipe a solid 4 stars, with 2 added half-paws for its affordability and vet-recommended formula.

Other varieties of Iams Proactive Health:

  • Iams™ Puppy (Also available in Small Breed and Large Breed options)
  • Iams™ Healthy Weight (Also available in a large breed option)
  • Iams™ Healthy Aging Large Breed
  • Iams™ Minichunks (Chicken & Whole Grains & Lamb & Rice Formulas)
  • Iams™ Advanced Health™ (Available in Healthy Digestion, Skin & Coat, Immune Health, Mobility Support Formulas)
  • Iams™ Dry Dog Active Chicken And Turkey
  • Iams™ Large Breed (Comes in 2 flavors: Chicken & Whole Grain And Lamb & Rice)
Iams Dog Food

Iams Dog Food

Why Wag! Loves It

  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • At ruffly $45 for a 30lb bag (which lasts forever if you don't overfeed), this food is great for budget-conscious shoppers
  • It has antioxidants to strengthen the immune system and keep your pet feeling great for years to come
  • Rich in fiber and probiotics to keep things moving as they should
  • Comes in both mini and large kibble, and a lamb and rice version

Considerations & Concerns

  • The lamb and rice version is NOT chicken-free — keep this in mind if your pet has poultry allergies!

What pet parents say about Iams Proactive Health

"My dog Einstein loved this food for the majority of his 19 years (he ate a different puppy food) He was healthy up until the very end of his life and never had medical issues or dental issues. I have a new puppy and plan on feeding her this too as soon as she is an adult."

"Vet suggested changing to a grain dog food because studies show that heart problem developed from grain free dog foods. All I can say is that "Ziggy" loves it. Might add that for a large dog (90lbs) these small pellets make a big mess always falling out his mouth while eating. [I guess] I just have a messy eater who in a hurry to get it down."

For more reviews, check out Chewy!

Product image sourced from the Chewy website. Copyright Mars, Inc.




Nature's Recipe Grain-Free Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food

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Best grain-free option

Nature's Recipe Grain-Free dog food doesn't skimp on quality for cost's sake. 

If your dog is sensitive to grains, you're probably well aware that grain-free recipes tend to be much more pricy than grain-inclusive recipes. But Nature's Recipe has been able to strike the delicate balance between affordability and quality, all while creating a recipe that dogs enjoy. 

The only potential downside to this recipe is that it does contain high amounts of legumes — a common addition in grain-free foods.

Other varieties of Nature's Recipe Grain Free:

  • Nature's Recipe Grain Free Lamb Sweet Potato and Pumpkin
  • Nature's Recipe Grain Free Chicken Sweet Potato and Pumpkin (also available in large breed, small breed, and puppy versions)

Nature's Recipe Dog Food

Nature's Recipe Dog Food

 Why Wag! Loves It

  • The first ingredient is salmon, a high-quality protein source packed with antioxidants and essential fatty acids
  • Has natural preservatives like citric acid and rosemary instead of the yucky artificial stuff
  • Features pumpkin, which is great for digestion 
  • Fiber-packed to promote healthy and regular poos

Considerations & Concerns

  • Contains peas and garbanzo beans, which may be concerning for some parents due to the recent study on the relationship between diets high in legumes and dilated cardiomyopathy. 
  • No longer safe for dogs with poultry allergies since they have added chicken following a formula change

What pet parents say about Nature's Recipe

"My 24-pound mutt have been enjoying this brand for years. It doesn't smell as bad as other salmon-based dry kibbles, and I like that it is grain-free. Her fur is soft and she has no allergies or skin problems."

"Purchased this to add to our 6 year old labs high protien food for the omegas and other supplements. He loves it and after the first few weeks we could see the benefits. Ordered another bag!"

Read more reviews on Chewy.

Product image sourced from the Chewy website. Copyright Big Heart Pet, Inc.

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