10 Worst Dog Food Brands to Avoid

What makes the brands on this list worth avoiding is simply that they fail to provide many -if

any- of those nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy, instead using a variety of low-quality

ingredients and various types of filler.

At best, all these ingredients do is fill up your pup with empty calories devoid of any nutritional

value. At worst, they could actually make them sick.

Here are the main ingredients used in cheap, low-quality dog food that make them a poor choice

for your pooch.

  • Meat By-products and 4-D Meats (The term “4D meats” refers to meat that was sourced fromcattle who were dead, dying, diseased, or down. 4D animals are not slaughtered; they are animals found dead, dying, diseased, or down in the field, feedlot, or poultry lot. If not already deceased, they are euthanized).
  • Corn and Other Fillers
  • Synthetic Ingredients and Vitamins


Corn isn’t exactly well known for its high nutritional content. There’s also the risk that any

chemicals used to treat the corn before harvesting can make their way into the food.

Bone meal is another major ingredient in Kal Kan dog food. This is basically ground-up animal

bones and cartilage and although it may provide some protein content, it’s still no match for dog

foods that have actual real meats as their primary ingredient.

Soybean meal and wheat are also included as fillers, and present all the same problems as corn,

and there’s a good dose of chicken by-product to boost.

PURINA DOG CHOW (I would not feed any of the Purina Pet Food lines).

Purina Dog Chow may be one of the cheapest brands around, but there’s a good reason why it

didn’t make our list of the best affordable dog food brands:

At best, it has low nutritional value. At worst, it could actually be harmful to your dog.

Like Kal Kan, its main ingredient is corn, with a noticeable amount of soybean meal and whole

grain thrown in.

Speaking of which, while there is some amount of actual chicken in here, most of the meat-based

ingredients come in the form of meat and bone meal, as well as poultry by-product.

The long list of nutritional no-nos continues with a raft of artificial colors, flavors, and

preservatives, none of which do much good for your dog and all of which are completely



At first glance, IAMS dog food doesn’t seem so bad. It proudly boasts that its primary ingredient

is chicken, which we all know is a good source of protein. 

However, it also contains a large amount of cornmeal and sorghum used as fillers and provides

limited nutritional value. 

IAMS also throws in some chicken by-product along with the actual chicken, though they don’t

actually say what that by-product is. 

Finally, IAMS Dog Food also contains beet pulp, which is high in sugar content and can lead to

weight gain.

TWIN PET DOG FOOD (Ok, I’ve never heard of this one).

With corn as its number-one ingredient, Twin Pet Dog Food typically appeals to advocates of a

plant-based diet, though it contains meat by-products that are even worse for dogs than actual


It’s also made up of a large amount of wheat middlings, which are essentially a low-cost, low-

quality by-product of processing cereal grains.


As we mentioned in our guide to raw vs kibble dog food, kibble food is rarely ideal if you want the

best possible nutrition for your dog, and Kibble ‘n Bits is a great example of why.

The number one ingredient is corn, which is bad news itself, but then the rest of this dry dog

food mix is made up of soybean meal, wheat flour, and a sizable amount of meat by-product like

bone meal.

In other words, there’s no natural meat to be found anywhere. Add in a concoction of synthetic

food colorings and preservatives, and what you’ve got here is definitely one dog food brand

worth avoiding.

OL’ ROY (I was wondering when this one would show up).

Walmart’s own-brand Ol’ Roy dog god promises complete nutrition yet ultimately fails to


The primary ingredient is corn, followed by substantial amounts of soybean meal, meat by-

product, and ground wheat. There’s also a noticeable level of citric acid used as a food

preservative. This has been known to cause both dental and digestive issues, making this a pretty

poor pet owner choice.

BENEFUL (Our recent foster was on this and at 1 years old was already having ear problems. I

took him off, treated his ears, changed his food and no ear or skin problems).

Beneful is another dog food brand owned by Purina. To give credit where credit’s due, Purina

does promote this one as being all about the “real meats,” and they live up to their word to that


Depending on the flavor, Beneful will contain beef, chicken, or salmon as its number one

ingredient, but it will also contain lots of different fillers and meat by-products which, when

combined, far outweigh any actual real meat content.

What’s more, this particular brand of dog food is well known for its colorful appearance. These

colors are created by adding artificial food dyes, including Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Blue

2, all of which have been linked to a host of health problems in dogs. 


Like some of the other brands on this list, Gravy Train do add some real meat to their dog food,

but the amount is very small compared to the level of meat or poultry by-products found in the


There’s also a noticeable amount of soy, cornstarch and artificial colorings and preservatives. 

If you’re looking for real-meat dog food, you can certainly do much better than this one.

CESAR FILETS (Another food, I would not feed from their whole line).

Unlike other products on this list, Cesar Fillets’ biggest problem is the exceptionally high salt

content. This alone can cause all kinds of problems for your pet, especially those of advanced


There’s also a not-insubstantial level of meat by-product that outweighs the natural meat content.


Pedigree may be one of the best-selling dog food brands in the world, but many of their products

are hardly ideal for your dog’s health.

Most contain whole grain corn as the primary ingredient. This is a common cause of allergies in

dogs and can also prove difficult to digest. Meat by-products and artificial flavors are also

commonplace in Pedigree products, making them a brand to be wary of. 

So, in truth, there is no such thing as a good dry food for your pet. But if you have to feed a dry

dog food, there are some that are better than others.

We carry several foods that I would recommend:

Farmina N&D. They either do not use synthetic vitamins or they minimize them. They don’t

use meal in their food so it is not cooked at such a high temperature – reducing or eliminating the

two carcinogens that come from making meal.

Nature’s Logic is all food based. No synthetic vitamins in their food. I also like the way the

balance their canned food which is 95 percent meat.

If you can feed a raw diet or partially raw food diet, I would recommend:

ANSWERS PET FOOD (this was rated highest by Dog Food Naturally). This food is fermented

providing prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes. The animals are humanly raised and grass fed

providing higher Omega 3’s in the diet.

SMALL BATCH (again rated high by Dog Food Naturally). This food is not fermented but the

animals are humanly raised and grass fed providing higher Omega 3’s in the diet. They also

provide a freeze-dried diet as well.

If you would like a free consult, please come in and see us.