How we pick our products
Welcome to our big dry dog food test 2023. Here we present all the dry dog foods that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.
We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best dry dog food for you.
You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of when buying dry dog food.
- Dry dog food allows you to provide your dog with all the nutrients it needs. Due to the many different varieties available, you can purchase dog food that is individually adapted to your four-legged friend.
- Basically, dry dog food is differentiated by the ingredients used. Dog food can contain a lot of meat, be vegetarian or vegan, be free of cereals, additives and sugar, or be characterized by organic processing and composition.
- When choosing dry dog food, you should take into account your dog’s age, size, breed, activity level, and intolerances. The quality of dry dog food is also a crucial and important factor.
The Best Dry Dog Food in the United Kingdom: Our Choices
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying dry dog food
What are the advantages of dry food over wet food?
The smaller portion of food also means less strain on your dog’s digestive tract. Dry food is also healthier, as it causes much less plaque on the teeth. It also has advantages for you as a dog owner. Dry dog food is cheaper than wet food, is easier to store and can even be kept longer.
There are some dog food brands that specialise in dry food, e.g. Josera.
How much does dry dog food cost?
A balanced diet is not necessarily more expensive. This is what a dry dog food test report has shown. The complete results of the test series were published in the June 2016 issue of the magazine “test”. You can also view the results online for a fee.
Furthermore, you don’t necessarily have to buy brand-name products for your four-legged friend. Many of the discounter products performed just as well in the test and thus provide sufficient nutrition for your dog. According to the test, a high-quality daily ration is available for as little as 18 cents.
Dry food absorbs a lot of water in the stomach after ingestion. Your dog’s water balance can be significantly upset by the proportion of only 10 percent in dry food.
Your dog has to drink much more than with wet food, which is not easy with a full stomach. It’s better to go for a healthy mixed diet and feed both wet and dry food.”
How can I recognize good dog food?
In general, however, we recommend a dry food that is free of chemical additives, contains no sugar and contains little or no grain. Animal by-products should be listed by name on the packaging.
If your dog’s complete food is to contain meat, make sure that the proportion of fruit, vegetables and meat is balanced. Dog food with too much meat can quickly become unhealthy for your dog.
When should you change your dog’s food and why should you slowly get your dog used to the new food?
Keep in mind, however, that in the worst case it could be a serious illness. Therefore, the first step should be to go to the vet, who will be able to give you a more precise diagnosis. If the diagnosis really points to a wrong diet, you should change the dog food step by step.
As your pet’s digestive system becomes accustomed to everyday food, changing too quickly could cause vomiting, diarrhea, or even digestive problems. Especially if your dog is already weakened due to illness or has a sensitive stomach, you should make the change as gently as possible.
Which dog food manufacturers do not test on animals?
Why should you feed your dog sugar-free?
However, sugary dog food comes with some serious disadvantages. The sugar can lead to obesity and can be addictive. Sugar is even more dangerous if the dog does not get enough exercise. Furthermore, sugar consumption can quickly cause tooth decay.
Sugar can cause many diseases in dogs and is therefore very unhealthy for your four-legged friend. That’s why you should only feed your dog sugar-free dry dog food, so that your pet stays fit and healthy for longer.
Decision: What types of dry dog food are there and which is right for you?
Since there are different ways to feed your dog, dog food manufacturers produce many different types. So that you don’t lose the overview, we explain the most important types of dry dog food below.
Basically, dog food can be differentiated according to the ingredients and the ingredients used:
- Dry dog food with a high meat content
- Dry dog food without cereals
- Dry dog food without additives
- Dry dog food without animal by-products
- Organic dry dog food
- Vegetarian and vegan dry dog food
Each of these types has its advantages and disadvantages and is, therefore, best suited for different types of dogs. Accordingly, one type of dry food is best suited for your four-legged friend.
We will introduce you to all of the above types of dry food, explain when it makes sense to use each one and provide a clear overview of their advantages and disadvantages.
For which dogs is dry food with a high meat content suitable and what are the advantages and disadvantages here?
Feed your four-legged friend as balanced a diet as possible. Many studies suggest that a meat content of 60-70% is best for your dog. Food with a lot of meat is particularly suitable for allergy sufferers, as long as the rest of the food is also compatible with your dog.
Since the modern domestic dog originally descended from the wolf, the natural diet consists mainly of meat. Therefore, dog food with a high meat content is closer to the optimal nutrition for your dog.
Dog food that consists of a larger proportion of meat also has many animal proteins, such as B6, B12, C and E, magnesium, calcium and L-carnitine. These ingredients strengthen nerves, muscles, bones and teeth, helping your dog to stay healthy and fit.
Meat provides your dog with almost all the nutrients it needs. It is also worth mentioning that meat poses a low allergy risk and can therefore be easily digested by many dogs with allergies.
However, you should not give your pet too much protein in the form of meat. Excess protein can put a strain on both the liver and the kidneys. Despite the high meat content, fruit, vegetables and herbs should not be missing from the diet.
If your four-legged friend only eats meat, he can quickly become ill. This is also called the “all-meat syndrome”, which is caused by an unbalanced diet.
When choosing dry food, be sure to check whether the meat in the product is declared as meat meal or fresh meat. Meat meal has a significantly higher meat content than fresh meat due to the low water content and the processing.
For which dogs is dry food without grain suitable and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Excessive grain in food can have health consequences. However, grain is healthy in moderation, as long as there is no intolerance. If your dog is intolerant, make sure that the dry food contains suitable substitutes. If your dog is underweight, you should avoid grain-free dog food.
In moderation, grain is healthy for your dog because it contains valuable proteins, minerals and vitamins. The carbohydrates contained in cereals can be easily broken down by the dog’s stomach into starch and finally converted into energy.
But too much grain in dry food is unhealthy and can cause problems for your dog, as grain-rich complete dog food contains hardly any enzymes. As a result, the pancreas is completely overwhelmed with the production of the enzymes that are urgently needed to digest the grain.
In addition, not enough gastric juices are produced and faulty fermentation occurs because bacteria in the stomach cannot be killed. Diarrhoea, stomach turns and parasite infestations can be caused by this.
In addition, more and more dogs are developing an intolerance to grains. This is often due to gluten, also called gluten protein, which is contained in the grain. Due to this intolerance, many dogs are dependent on a diet that does not contain any grain at all.
If you want to or have to feed your four-legged friend without grain, there are a few things you should bear in mind. It is very important that the grain is replaced by an ingredient that is both compatible and provides energy.
Good plant-based alternatives include potatoes, peas, Jerusalem artichokes and tapioca. If your dog can’t tolerate gluten either, so-called pseudo-cereals are also suitable. These include millet, amaranth, qinoa and gluten-free grains such as rice and buckwheat.
Maize and soy are also suitable substitutes. However, the likelihood of intolerance is very high with these grains. A grain-free diet is only unsuitable if your dog is suffering from being underweight and therefore needs energy quickly to regain a healthy weight.
Does dry food without additives make sense and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Some additives are healthy and important for your dog. These include minerals and trace elements in the form of calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc, manganese, iodine and iron. These are also listed as crude ash on the ingredients list.
Crude ash is ash that is produced when the dog food is burned in an oven. Water, fats, carbohydrates and proteins disappear and minerals and trace elements remain as ash. The percentage of crude ash in dry food should be between 5 and 7.5 percent. Higher values could lead to digestive problems and should therefore be avoided.
You should also not feed your dog dry food with artificial additives. Artificial additives can be recognized by their E-numbers, which are usually preservatives, artificial flavorings, and colorings. These substances can cause allergies as well as digestive problems.
Does dry food without animal by-products make sense and what are the advantages and disadvantages here?
Animal by-products in dog food promote natural and species-appropriate nutrition for your dog and can even contain important nutrients. However, there are also by-products that are not well tolerated. You can recognize the quality of animal by-products by looking at the list of ingredients.
Animal by-products consist of slaughter, kitchen, and food waste. Most of these ingredients are no longer suitable for human consumption. They include organs, skin, claws, eyes, tendons, and blood. However, animal by-products are not bad for your dog and provide a more balanced diet.
Animal by-products can even contain very important nutrients. This is especially true of the liver, lungs and rumen. Rumen, for example, contains important plant residues, enzymes, minerals, and trace elements. But hair and feathers can also help your dog eliminate tapeworms.
In the case of dry food without animal by-products, it often happens that the important nutrients that are not present are replaced by harmful artificial additives. However, there are also by-products that are no longer useful even for a dog’s diet or are even difficult to digest.
You can see whether dry food contains useful or harmful by-products by looking at the list of ingredients. If only the term “animal by-products” is mentioned under the ingredients without further elaboration, you can assume that it is of inferior quality.
You should also only buy dry food with animal by-products if the individual ingredients are listed in detail on the packaging. Only then can you be sure that you are giving your dog the right nutrition.
For which dogs is organic dry dog food suitable and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Organic dry dog food promotes species-appropriate husbandry of slaughtered animals and is often tolerated by allergy sufferers due to the chemical-free ingredients. Organic food comes from organic farming and is subject to the strict guidelines of the European Organic Regulation.
Therefore, food with the organic seal must be free of artificial additives and may only contain meat from animals raised in a species-appropriate manner. Animals bred for slaughter may not be rapidly raised on concentrated feed, nor may they be given preventive antibiotics or even growth hormones. Furthermore, organic dog food is produced without the use of genetic engineering.
Therefore, by buying organic food, you are not only supporting a better quality of life for the animals slaughtered, but you are also improving your dog’s quality of life. The chemical-free food promotes the health of four-legged friends.
Furthermore, this type of dry food is very suitable for allergy sufferers who have an intolerance to preservatives, artificial flavors, flavor enhancers, or colorings.
In addition, the meat content in organic food is often higher than in conventional dog food. This guarantees that your dog gets the protein it needs. In addition, all processed foods are organically grown. Therefore, even the processed vegetables are treated without pesticides.
The biggest disadvantage of organic food is the unit price. This type of food is one of the most expensive ways to feed your dog. So you should decide for yourself whether the extra cost is worth it for your dog.
For which dogs is vegetarian or vegan dog food suitable and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Dogs can digest vegetarian food, as their stomachs can also digest vegetable proteins and carbohydrates. A purely plant-based diet is not necessarily negative and is even advisable in certain cases. Especially for dogs with coat and skin complaints and for four-legged friends with a sensitive digestive tract, meat-free dry dog food is recommended.
However, your dog must be in good health and should not have a necessary need for animal nutrients. Consult a vet beforehand and have your dog checked more often for possible deficiencies as soon as you feed him meat-free.
To prevent deficiency symptoms as much as possible, you should keep an eye on your dog’s intake of certain replacement products. You will need to provide these separately if they are not already included in the vegetarian dry food. The best substitutes for meat are low-fat curd cheese or eggs, as these provide your dog with vital protein.
If your dog is on a strictly vegan diet, you can mix special nutritional supplements in powder form into the food. These contain important vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate dry dog food
In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate dry dog food. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular product is suitable for your dog or not.
Basically, most of the purchase criteria depend on the characteristics of your four-legged friend, as the food should be adapted to the characteristics of your dog.
In summary, these are:
- Allergies / Intolerances
In the following paragraphs, you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.
Many manufacturers differentiate between small and large breeds in their product selection, as the size of your dog plays a not insignificant role when it comes to the nutritional content of the food. However, the size of the pieces in the food also varies.
While the teeth of a very small dog would quickly be overtaxed with pieces of food that are much too large, there is a danger of swallowing with a large dog and very small morsels. To avoid such problems, you should get dry dog food that also fits the size of your dog’s breed.
Furthermore, the nutrient content of complete foods varies. Smaller dogs, such as Jack Russells, are often more active than their larger counterparts and have a higher metabolism. However, small dogs also suffer from a higher risk of tartar build-up and a sensitive digestive system.
In contrast, large dogs are often more frugal and sluggish, depending on the breed. However, they still have a very high energy requirement as they have much more muscle mass. Large dogs are also likely to develop bone and joint problems at a young age.
The weight of the four-legged friend is also an important factor when choosing food. Since a healthy weight is a prerequisite for a happy and long dog life, you should reduce the energy intake of a four-legged friend who is overweight.
Dogs that are not particularly active in everyday life need dry food with less energy. So-called “light products”, which are characterized by a lower crude fat content, are best suited for this.
Being Underweight can have various causes. Often it is due to the wrong portioning of the dry food. If you feed your dog too little, his energy needs will not be met and he will lose weight. In this case, it is important to have “restorative food” or “high-energy food” in the house.
If your dog needs to gain weight, you should never use ordinary dog food and only feed it in very large quantities. This can result in an insufficient supply of nutrients.
The age of a dog largely determines its energy requirements. Puppies and young animals, which are still growing, need much more energy than adult animals. Seniors, on the other hand, consume less energy due to their usually limited activity and therefore need food with less energy.
Especially for these two age groups, you should choose specially tailored dry food. Due to the strenuous growth phase for the body, puppies should eat dry dog food with higher protein content. We recommend a raw protein content of up to 30 percent.
It is also important that the food contains many vitamins and is rich in calcium. To ensure that these requirements are met, you should look for special food for puppies and kittens if your dog is still young.
Puppies are sometimes fed a raw diet. However, it is important to make sure that all the important nutrients are included.
On the other hand, senile dogs need low-energy dry dog food. Old-age weakness often sets in between the sixth and eighth years of life. This depends on your dog’s breed as well as his vitality. When this time comes, you should pay attention to the protein content of the complete food, which should never be too high.
The liver, kidneys, and metabolism do not work as well in old age as they do in younger years. The phosphorus content should also not be unnecessarily high so that elevated kidney values can be avoided. Furthermore, it is important to use a food that is easy to digest so that the stomach and intestines are not exposed to too much stress.
The activity of your four-legged friend is a decisive factor in the choice of food. Just like humans, dogs have a higher energy requirement when they are active or a correspondingly lower requirement when they are not active.
Especially if you train your dog a lot and he is therefore exposed to increased physical stress, you should choose energy-rich and complete food with high protein content. Rescue dogs, hunting dogs, sled dogs, breeding dogs, and other four-legged friends who have to work hard also need “high-energy food”.
In contrast, a dog with comparatively little activity needs low-energy dry food with a low crude fat and protein content. Light products” are suitable for this purpose and can be used in these cases to prevent overweight.
Allergies / Intolerances
Many dogs suffer from food allergies or intolerances. The most common cause of an allergic reaction is an animal protein or carbohydrate compounds made from protein and sugar. Allergies can also develop over time.
Therefore, you should avoid the following products as the most common allergy triggers or feed them only in moderation:
- Cow’s milk
- Hen’s egg
- Soya products
- Cereals and gluten
Intolerance is often caused by artificial additives, colorings or preservatives. But poor quality food ingredients can also be the trigger. Therefore, you should make sure that the dog food is of high quality and does not contain any chemical additives.
For allergy sufferers, there is a special hypoallergenic complete food that is designed to be highly tolerated. With this food, all existing proteins are broken down into amino acids. As a result, your dog’s immune system no longer perceives these components as foreign bodies and therefore no allergic reaction can be caused.
The quality of the food is one of the most important purchase criteria. After all, high-quality food prevents illnesses and intolerances. High-quality dry dog food will help your dog live a long and happy life.
High-quality food should not contain fillers, such as large amounts of grain, because, as already mentioned, it is only healthy in moderation. Furthermore, the food should not contain any chemical additives or sugar. However, it is very difficult to find sugar-free food, as only a few products do not contain any sugar at all.
Furthermore, animal by-products should be present and listed by name in the list of ingredients. The absence of individual animal by-products in the list of ingredients indicates that the dog food is of inferior quality.
In addition, the food should cover your four-legged friend’s nutritional requirements. A high meat content and a balanced diet consisting of meat and vegetables are very healthy.
Trivia: Interesting facts about dry dog food
How long is the digestion time for dry food?
Usually, the digestion time is between five and eight hours. Of course, your dog’s metabolism also plays a decisive role. A young dog with a very good metabolism digests its food faster than a dog with a weakened metabolism due to age.
The basic rule is:
- Larger portions stay in the stomach longer than smaller portions
- Insoluble fibers pass through the stomach faster than soluble fibers
- The more liquid the food, the shorter the time it stays in the stomach
- Fatty food is digested longer than low-fat food
Where should I store the dry food?
A glass jar or a plastic container without plasticizers is best for storage. This keeps the pellets fresher and they hardly lose their flavor. Packaging that is coated with a thin layer of metal on the inside is also good for storing food. The most important thing is the airtight seal so that the dog food stays fresh for longer.
The storage location also plays an important role. Dry dog food should never be stored in a humid or too hot place. If the humidity is too high, the food will become soft, lose its flavor and important nutrients, and, in the worst case, may even start to mould.
How long can dried food be kept?
That depends on whether the package has already been opened or is still sealed. Basically, we advise you not to use a pack for longer than four to six weeks after opening. By constantly opening and closing the pack, air keeps getting into the dried food, which can also reduce its shelf life.
If you always buy very large dog food packs for your dog, it is a good idea to divide the contents into individual, smaller containers. If the pack is still unopened, you can easily check the expiry date on the back of the pack.
How is dry dog food made?
Dry dog food is made by the extrusion process or the pelleting process (cold pressing). During extrusion and baking, the mass is pressed into a certain shape under strong pressure and steam. By heating it to over 100°C, the carbohydrates it contains are broken down, making it easier for your dog to digest.
After the pressing process, the so-called coating follows, in which vitamins and solutions of protein hydrolytes or fats are sprayed on. The dry food is then dried and cooled.
In the pelleting process, the dog food is produced by heating it to a temperature of the only 75°C. The various raw materials are then mixed in a pellet. In this process, the various raw materials are mixed into a mass in ground form. The ingredients are then sprayed with cold water, which causes the mass to stick together. Last but not least, the raw mass is only pressed through a die into a pellet shape.
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