dog food brands to avoid

Dog Food Brands to Avoid

For most of us, our dogs are our family. We will do whatever we can to make sure that they are healthy and taken care of. This includes choosing really great food and avoiding those foods that are simply not good choices. Just because a dog food is available, doesn’t mean it’s good for your dog. In fact, many dog food brands fill their kibble with ingredients that have no nutritional benefit to your pup.

In this guide, we’ve put together the worst dog food brands so that you know which dog food brand to avoid. When you’re looking for a food that will support your dog’s health, we recommend avoiding the dog foods that you see below in this guide.

Ol’ Roy Dog Food

ol roy dog food
Image by danna § curious tangles via Flickr

Ol’ Roy has been around for a lot of years. These dog food manufacturers have successfully sold affordable food for many years. They are mostly known for dry dog food but they do have wet dog food too.

When you take a look at the ingredients, the worst dog foods often use meat by products but then will also use fillers like soybean meal, wheat, corn, and more. These are also big allergen triggers. What you will also find here is that they don’t even use meat from animal fat or in the top ingredients. The first ingredients in this food do vary but we see things like whole grain corn soybean meal and wheat flour first. These are primarily fillers.

The dry dog food does contain some meat and bone meal but it’s not high on the list and it’s mostly by products rather than any real meat or protein. Meat meals can be useful in dog food but you also want to know the source and it’s preferred that isn’t the primary source of protein.

Basically, this dog food brand makes food with mostly fillers and it has very little nutritional value to support your dog’s health.

Iams Dog Food

Iams Dog Foods
Image by freddie10 on Pixabay

Iams has a variety of options and not all dog foods in their lines are awful. However, they still fall into the food brands to avoid because you have to carefully watch which foods are suitable and which ones aren’t. While Iams does use real meat for protein, like chicken, they also use bone meal and chicken meal – which take a higher priority in the ingredients than chicken fat for protein.

We do appreciate that their primary ingredient is real meat but that is quickly deflected when you look at the meat by products and the large amount of fillers that are necessary or nutritional for your dog’s food.

We see artificial food coloring, some artificial flavors, corn meal, and a slew of dog food ingredients that are just used to fill up the bag and do not support your dog’s overall health. This makes it a low quality dog food in our books.

Kal Kan Dog Food

kal kan dog food

This example of bad dog food hits all of the checkmarks of using ingredients that offer no nutritional value. In fact, with this dog food, that’s actually the majority of their ingredients, which is why they fall into bad dog food brands.

Here are some examples of the ingredients that really turn us away.

  • Ground yellow corn as the first ingredient
  • Soybean meal
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Chicken by product meal
  • Mixed Tocopherols

The brand does mention natural flavor in their ingredients but we see dog food formulas made up mostly of corn wheat and soy, making this a worst dog food brand that does very little to offer a balanced diet.

Pet owners should be looking at details like these to find good dog food and unfortunately, this one is definitely not good. The meat meal listed is basically mystery meat but your main ingredients are again fillers that are not valuable.

Pedigree Dog Food

pedigree dog food

We do want to point out that Pedigree has many lines. Some of their high-end lines are better quality but again you have to pay close attention to which are good choices and which aren’t. This brand is incredibly popular but dog owners should be aware this is one of the brands to avoid.

Pedigree has BHA, no healthy meat fat, very little nutritional value, and some mystery ingredients. The meat by products are not great and they definitely don’t fall into the top ingredients either. The ingredient list does show some vitamins and minerals but those aren’t chelated so they don’t absorb well by your pet.

While many people think this is one of the best dog food brands, it’s very misleading. That’s why they fall into our worst dog food brands. They’re still operating with their 1957 ingredients without any regard to improvements that are better for a dog’s nutrition. The pet food industry really doesn’t regulate this so they continue to do what serves them.

Also if you look up brands with recalls, Pedigree has been on that list far too many times. Their food is not trustworthy is what this tells us.

Gravy Train

gravy train dog food

In terms of dog chow that really isn’t any good, Gravy Train is loaded with things like artificial preservatives, citric acid, corn syrup, and no essential nutrients. This food has all of the things to avoid and contains zero natural protein.

If your dog has any kind of allergies, this could definitely be a trigger and it will not benefit senior dogs who need focused attention. On the other hand, it has a long shelf life because it is made up of almost entirely artificial ingredients.

All of these elements are a strike out for this brand but you will also find that they have no real animal proteins in their food. They do have some bone meal but they are unidentified so you don’t even know the animal source.

This is another food you will find on the recall list and the reason is toxicity issues in the food.

Kibbles N Bits

kibbles n bits

Kibbles N Bits is yet another highly popular brand. The kibbles are made to be small and that’s beneficial to many pets. The problem is that is where the benefits really end. You see things like artificial flavors, artificial colors, ground wheat corn and soy. You also see very little animal fat and protein.

This one falls near the end of our list because it’s not all bad but it’s also not great. If you have a small dog that needs small bites and chelated vitamins, it can be beneficial. But you will also find that there is no real animal content at all, just some meals. The meals are identified at least.

The ingredients list is really not great and while it has a few positives, it has far more negatives. This is another food that has been on the recall list several times as well.

What Makes the Best Dog Foods?

what makes the best dog foods in the frame
Images from Pexels

Now that we’ve shared some of the dog food brands to avoid, let’s talk just a moment about what you want to look for. What is it that makes a dog food brand great?

Animal Proteins

Dogs can easily eat human food, if it’s made for them. What you should be looking for in dog food is high levels of protein and that protein should come from real meat. We actually prefer to see the meat as the first ingredient. If a meal is the first ingredient, this is acceptable but not preferred. You do want to know exactly what the meal is from. So it should say something like fish meal, lamb meal, chicken meal, or something along those lines. If it just says meat and bone meals, this tells you nothing about what is really in the food.


If the food has grains, that is ok. But you want to see good grains versus bad grains. Something like brown rice, whole grain sorghum, or whole grain wheat is ok. Food does have to contain fillers and these are more healthful ways to have those.

What you don’t want to see is high levels of corn, soy, or wheat that is not whole grain.

Natural and Nutritious Ingredients

This is important and one of the things that so many of these brands lack. Natural ingredients and ingredients that provide real nutrition are always important. If you’re seeing things like artificial ingredients or colors, you probably want to avoid that food. It’s unnecessary and provides no health benefits to your dog.

Some ingredients, like beet pulp, can sometimes be controversial. Don’t be afraid to research ingredients to learn what is good.

Final Thoughts

Understanding what dog foods to avoid is important but understanding what types of things to look for is also essential. We hope this guide is helpful for you to choose the best nutritional food for your dog’s needs. From puppies to adult dogs, their health and nutrition matter.

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