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12 Best Budget-Friendly Dog Foods in [2021]

Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot own a pet when you are low on funds. Everyone has the capability to own and take care of a pet, all it takes is careful planning and budgeting. It is possible to find the best dog food brands on a budget without sacrificing the quality of ingredients.

The more expensive dog food brands you see at your local pet store are sometimes not even of the highest quality you can purchase, rather, you are buying the brand name instead. Stray away from those brands and look at the lower-priced foods with confidence, you will most likely find better quality foods that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Best Budget Dog Foods

$18.69
8 new from $18.69
Amazon.com
$13.99
9 new from $13.99
Amazon.com
$15.99
$22.99
3 new from $15.99
Amazon.com
$26.00
4 new from $26.00
Amazon.com
$10.99
2 new from $10.99
Amazon.com
$48.73
2 new from $29.99
Amazon.com
$123.96
Amazon.com
$29.28
9 new from $28.99
Amazon.com
$31.99
2 new from $31.95
Amazon.com
$45.56
4 new from $45.56
Amazon.com
$14.94
7 new from $14.94
Amazon.com
Last updated on 22 July 2021 6:56

1. Nutri Source

Nutri Source

$18.69
8 new from $18.69
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • Grain Free Recipe Reduces The Risk Of Food Allergies
  • Salmon Is The Number One Ingredient!
  • Formulated With All Natural Ingredients
  • Contains All The Essential Nutrients For The Optimum Health Of Your Pet
  • Contains No Animal By-Products Or Whole Corn

If you are looking for the best dog food for the money, then Nutri Source is the brand for you.

Key Features

  • Animal protein is the first ingredients
  • Good for all life stages
  • Grain-Free recipe

An animal protein is always the first ingredient in any of the Nutri source flavors. This provides your dog with a direct protein source for optimal energy intake.

Only the best, high-quality natural ingredients are used in this brand to provide the best mineral, vitamin, and nutritional intake.

If your dog loves this brand you won’t have to worry about switching brands down the line as this food is fit for all life stages, which makes budgeting for your dog’s food easier. And since it is grain-free you can give this food to dogs who have allergies or tend to have sensitive stomachs.

Pros

  • Only uses ingredients sourced in the USA
  • The larger bag can last longer as you don’t need to feed as much of this food to your dog

Cons

  • While still an affordable dog food, it can range in higher prices depending on where it is being sold

Your dog will be able to have the essential nutrients that they need with Nutri Source without costing you an arm and a leg to get.

2. Zignature

Zignature

$13.99
9 new from $13.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • Meat First
  • Grain-Free
  • Limited Ingredient Formula
  • Made in USA
  • Single Protein Source

Zignature is one of the best affordable grain-free dog food brands you can buy that won’t make you groan each time you buy it.

Key Features

  • Comes in a variety of flavors
  • Bag sizes range from 4lbs, 13.5lbs, and 27lbs
  • Grain-Free Recipe
  • Good for all life stages

You will only find high-grade protein and quality fruits and vegetables in this food, no corn, wheat, soy, dairy, or by-products.

Zignature takes care to make sure that their recipes are high in protein, low in saturated fat and is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants.

If your dog happens to have allergies then this is the prime brand for you. They take care to make allergy-safe recipes by eliminating grains and don’t use chicken as a protein, since chicken is the most common protein dogs can become allergic to. Once your dog loves this brand, stick with it as it is good for all life stages.

Pros

  • High source of protein
  • Only uses quality ingredients, no by-products or meals

Cons

  • Some flavors have a strong odor dog may not enjoy

Whatever flavor Zignature you decide to go with you can be sure your dog will never grow bored of it and be excited to eat.

3. Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild

$22.99
$15.99
3 new from $15.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream with SMOKED SALMON dry dog food; REAL FISH is the #1 ingredient; high protein (32%) to help support bones, joints and LEAN, STRONG MUSCLES
  • Nutrient-rich and provides the energy to thrive; vitamins and minerals from FRUITS and SUPERFOODS; omega fatty acids for healthy SKIN and COAT
  • Each serving includes species-specific K9 Strain PROPRIETARY PROBIOTICS — plus antioxidants and prebiotics — to help support healthy digestion, IMMUNE system and overall health and wellness
  • FAMILY-OWNED and MADE in the USA using quality ingredients from trusted and SUSTAINABLE local and global sources.
  • Formulated without grain, corn, wheat, artificial flavors or artificial colors

Taste of the Wild gives your dog a food that mimics what their wilder relatives eat without costing you too much for the quality.

Key Features

  • Grain-Free formula
  • Comes in three sizes: 5lbs, 15lbs, and 30lbs
  • Variety of proteins available

Taste of the Wild only uses the highest quality ingredients gathered all around the USA. With budget foods, you might worry about there being artificial ingredients or filler ingredients, but Taste of the Wild is grain-free, corn-free, wheat-free, and has no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

Since it is grain-free, this brand is ideal for dogs that have allergies. There are a variety of protein flavors available and whichever protein you chose to go with it will always be the first ingredient.

This food also contains an ideal level of nutrients and probiotics to support a healthy mind and body.

Pros

  • Ingredients are resourced from trusted sources in the USA
  • A low-cost superfood for your dog

Cons

  • Some customers gave feedback that their dogs developed stomach issues

Your dog will love the flavors of Taste of the Wild dog food and you will love knowing they are getting all the essentials that they need.

4. Merrick

Merrick

$26.00
4 new from $26.00
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • #1 INGREDIENT: DEBONED MEAT, FISH OR POULTRY: Merrick Grain Free dog food recipes contain leading levels of high quality proteins for healthy energy levels, building muscle mass and a great taste your dog will love.
  • HEALTHY SKIN AND COAT, HIPS AND JOINTS: These grain free dog food recipes contain leading levels of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat plus leading levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to maintain your dog's hip and joint function.
  • REAL WHOLE FOODS FOR OPTIMAL NATURAL NUTRITION: Merrick Grain Free dog food recipes include real, whole foods like sweet potatoes, peas, apples, blueberries and contain zero preservatives, fillers, corn, wheat, soy or gluten
  • A VARIETY FOR EVERY BREED AND NEED: Merrick Grain Free dog food offers a range of specially crafted recipes to nourish all types of dogs, offering: puppy food, senior dog food, large breed dog food, and an option for those dogs needing a little help to maintain a healthy weight.
  • At Merrick, we promise your pet will not only love the taste of our natural dog food, they’ll be happier and healthier, too. That’s why if you (or your pet) are not 100%, absolutely, totally, completely satisfied with Merrick Grain Free dog food, return it for your money back. We don’t just make the best food ever. We stand behind it.

Merrick is one of the best affordable dog food brands you can buy that also gives your dog the essential nutrients they need, not filler ingredients that just fill the stomach.

Key Features

  • Grain-Free
  • Protein the first ingredient
  • Comes in a variety of flavors
  • Comes in three sizes: 4lbs, 12lbs, and 25lbs

Merrick’s dog food recipes are grain-free, gluten-free, and uses sweet potatoes instead of the allergy-triggering white potatoes.

The ratio for this brand of food is 70% protein and 30% produce, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This ratio gives you dog the ideal balance of Omegas and fatty acids to promote a healthy body, immune system, joints, skin, and fur.

Merrick has your dog covered all around without making you work hard to afford their formulas. They have both a puppy centered formula and adult dog formulas so, if your dog loves the food and you love the price, you can stay in the Merrick family throughout your dog’s lifespan.

Pros

  • All ingredients harvested in the USA
  • Ideal for dogs with allergies

Cons

  • Protein content may be high for some breeds of dogs

Your dog will be licking their lips before and after each meal of Merrick and you will know that they are satisfied each time.

5. Whole Earth Farms

Whole Earth Farms

$10.99
2 new from $10.99
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • One (1) 4 lb Bag - Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Pork, Beef and Lamb Recipe Dry Dog Food
  • Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Pork, Beef and Lamb Recipe Dry Dog Food is perfectly balanced nutrition from the farm
  • The number 1 ingredient is high-quality protein, made with a blend of pork, beef and lamb
  • The Wholesome Harvest Blend provides omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat and antioxidants for a healthy immune system
  • Field grown vegetables add fiber for healthy digestion as well as vitamins and minerals for a balanced diet

Whole Earth Farms is amongst one of the cheapest, budget-friendly dog food brands you can buy that doesn’t skip out of quality.

Key Features

  • Grain-Free
  • High protein source
  • Ingredients sourced from the USA
  • Comes in three sizes: 4lbs, 12lbs, and 25lbs

While Whole Earth Farms is one of the cheapest dog food brands on this list, don’t let the low price deter you away.

All of the ingredients used in this dog food are sourced from all over the USA from high quality, reputable sources.

The first ingredient is always some form of animal protein, no by-products or low-quality meals, in order to provide the best protein source for your dog.

The grain-free recipe is easy on your dog’s stomach while also being less of a trigger for allergies. The added vitamins and minerals help support a better body, shinier coat, and healthier skin.

Pros

  • Good for all breeds of dogs
  • One of the lowest cost brands of dog food

Cons

  • The new formula has been reported to upsetting some dog’s stomachs

For one of the best cheap dog food brands available your dog will only care about the taste, not the price which is great if you buy Whole Earth Farms. 

6. Purina Beneful

Purina Beneful

$48.73
2 new from $29.99
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • 15.5 Lb. Bag - Purina Beneful Originals With Real Beef Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Real Farm-Raised Beef Is The #1 Ingredient
  • Accents Of Real Spinach, Peas And Carrots Add Variety To His Diet
  • Antioxidant-Rich Nutrition To Help Support A Healthy Immune System
  • Proudly Produced In Purina-Owned U.S. Facilities To Ensure Safe, Quality Food

Purina Beneful Originals has been around for many years and remains a popular, budget brand that still provides the essential nutrients to your dog.

Key Features

  • Protein is the first ingredient
  • Comes in three flavors: beef, chicken, and salmon
  • Packed with essential nutrients

If you know that your dog is not allergic to grains and doesn’t have a sensitive stomach, then you can give them Purina Beneful without worry.

The whole grains and a blend of vegetables provide 23 essential vitamins and minerals to help support your dog’s overall health. An animal protein is the first ingredient to provide 22 grams of protein per cup for stronger muscles and a better energy source.

All of the ingredients are locally grown and harvested in the USA for an optimal quality level.

Pros

  • The fun shapes and textures provide an irresistible taste for dogs
  • Crunchy pieces are easier to eat and digest

Cons

  • Not ideal for dogs with allergies as grains are used in this brand
  • Some customers reported upset stomachs in their dogs after consumption

Don’t fret over the price of your dog’s food when you know you are still giving them a high-quality brand of food like Purina Beneful Originals.

7. Nutro

NUTRO

$123.96
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • Contains one (1) 15 lb. bag of Nutro wholesome essentials Small Breed Adult Natural Dry Dog Food Plus Vitamins, Minerals & Other Nutrients, Farm-Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Farm-raised chicken is the first ingredient in this great-tasting dry dog food that’s rich in nutrients and full of flavor
  • Crafted with natural fiber for healthy digestion
  • Formulated with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat
  • This tasty dry food recipe is made with non GMO ingredients and has NO chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy protein and No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Nutro lives up to its name; providing your dog with max quality ingredients without being a max strain on your wallet.

Key Features

  • Grain-Free
  • Comes in two sizes: 4lbs and 25lbs
  • Comes in four flavors: chicken, chicken-mini chunks, lamb, and salmon

Nutro only uses high-quality chicken in their recipe, no by-products, or questionable meals to better support a healthy weight and proper energy level.

Since it is a grain-free recipe you can easily give this brand to dogs with allergies. The ingredients are all non-GMO and are locally resourced in the USA in their own facilities.

There are no added artificial ingredients, colors, or preservatives. The only added ingredients are essential vitamins and minerals to promote a healthy body. You will be sure to find the ideal flavor and kibble size for your dog when using Nutro.

Pros

  • Ideal for all life stages
  • Has different kibble sizes for all dog sizes

Cons

  • Some customers reported that their dog had an upset stomach after consumption
  • Potatoes are the second ingredient which can cause a yeast infection in some dog breeds

Scoop with confidence and feed your dog knowing that they are having a nutrient-packed food for a well affordable price with Nutro.

8. IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH

IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH

$29.28
9 new from $28.99
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • Contains one (1) 15 lb. bag of IAMS Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food for Large Dogs with Real Chicken
  • 1st ingredient is real, farm-raised chicken, and features smaller kibble size
  • Maintains bone and joint health with a formula tailored to support large breed active dogs
  • Promotes healthy digestion and immunity with a tailored blend of wholesome fibers and prebiotics
  • IAMS Large Breed Dry Dog Food promotes strong muscles with quality protein sourced from real chicken

IAMS proves that price doesn’t mean everything when it comes to making high-quality dog foods.

Key Features

  • Comes in four flavors: chicken & barley, healthy weight, ocean fish & rice, and lamb & rice
  • Comes in five sizes: 5.5lbs, 10.3lbs, 13.8lbs, 19lbs, and 25.6lbs
  • Added nutrients, minerals, and vitamins

The first ingredient of IAMS Healthy Naturals is always the animal protein, no by-product, or low-quality meals.

The blend of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids gives your dog the ultimate nutrient source for a healthier body, mind, and immune system.

Even though this food uses grains it does not use corn, wheat, or soy to avoid making food that is just full of filler ingredients.

The grains used are all-natural and provide a delicious flavor and easy digestion. You will not find any artificial ingredients, preservatives, colors, or flavors in this food that could potentially harm your dog.

Pros

  • Made from wholesome, high-quality ingredients
  • Use whole grains to provide a natural nutrient source

Cons

  • Some customers have reported their dog vomiting after consumption
  • The changing recipes could discourage dogs from eating

Each cup of IAMS is sure to give your dog the all-natural nutrient intake.

9. Nulo

Nulo

$31.99
2 new from $31.95
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • GRAIN-FREE recipe contains no corn; wheat; soy; white potatoes; tapioca; artificial colors, flavorings or preservatives.
  • HIGH MEAT/LOW CARB proprietary formula 74% animal-based protein, more amino acids and better flavor. Nulo uses fewer carbs & low glycemic ingredients
  • PATENTED BC30 PROBIOTIC supports healthy gut flora to aid digestion. Bacillus Coagulans bacteria aids digestion/metabolism promoting healthy weight.
  • L-CARNITINE transports fatty acids into cellular mitochondria where it is burned as energy. This boosts metabolism and helps burn weight
  • MAY REDUCE food sensitivities or allergies. Based in Austin, TX and proudly made in the USA

Nulo is best known for providing a grain-free recipe with no wheat, soy, white potatoes, tapioca, or artificial ingredients. Nulo is one of the better quality budget foods that is well worth the price.

Key Features

  • Grain-Free recipe
  • Packed with essential nutrients
  • Comes in various flavors
  • Comes in three sizes: 4.5lbs, 11lbs, and 24lbs

Its recipe is 74% animal-based protein for more amino acids, protein, and a better tasting flavor. To help with weight management their formula is low in carbohydrates contains an optimal source of L-carnitine for fatty acids, and has been infused with their patented BC30 probiotic that aids in digestion and their metabolism.

All the ingredients are sourced and cooked in their USA base in Texas so you know that their quality control goes beyond in how they make the food to how the ingredients raised for the food are taken care of.

Pros

  • May reduce food sensitivities and allergies
  • Helps promote a healthy weight even for less active dogs

Cons

  • While it is a low budget food the price can raise depending on where it is being sold

Your dogs are everything, so show them how much they mean to you with high-quality food such as Nulo that won’t cost you a pretty penny.

10. Weruva

Weruva

$45.56
4 new from $45.56
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • Paw Lickin’ Chicken (14oz can, Pack of 12) Our most popular recipe! Featuring boneless, skinless, white-meat chicken in a delicious gravy.
  • Weruva Classic Dog Food - Our premium lineup of artfully-crafted recipes with high-quality ingredients you can actually see and your dog will love.
  • Our most limited ingredient recipe. Just white meat chicken in gravy. Easy-to-digest and great for all breeds and sizes.
  • Grain-free, Gluten-free, & Carrageenan-free. No corn, wheat or soy. Free from any artificial colors & preservatives.
  • Produced in Human Food Facilities under the Strictest B.R.C. Global Standards for Foods with responsibly sourced ingredients.

Weruva is best known for their wet foods, but they have also expanded their lines of dog foods to include some dry food.

Key Features

  • Comes in three flavors: chicken dinner with pumpkin, chicken & turkey & salmon dinner with pumpkin, and venison & salmon meal dinner with pumpkin
  • Grain-Free recipe
  • Packed with essential nutrients

Each of formulas includes pumpkin in order to aid in digestive health. The first ingredient is an animal protein to provide a high protein source to develop stronger muscles.

All the ingredients are GMO-free and grain-free to avoid triggering allergies. Taurine is used in all of the recipes to support a healthy heart in your dog.

Weruva also uses salmon oil and linoleic acid to promote healthier skin and a shinier coat. You won’t have to worry about switching brands either as this brand is ideal for all life stages young and old.

Pros

  • Family-owned company to ensure optimal customer satisfaction
  • Made in a BRC/USDA approved facility in Canada that follows the strict food safety standards

Cons

  • Some dogs may prefer the wet food of this brand over the dry food, so might cause picky eaters

If your dog loves Weruva wet food, why not let them enjoy the dry food as well?

11. Nature’s Recipe

Nature's Recipe

Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • Contains 1 - 4.5 pound bag of dry dog food
  • Protein supplied by lamb meal helps maintain lean muscle mass
  • Delicious rice is a lean source of carbohydrates for energy
  • Barley supplies fiber that helps support digestive health and immune function
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids help maintain skin and coat health

Nature’s Recipe makes sure that every ingredient used in their recipe is top quality and gives something to your dog other than a full stomach.

Key Features

  • Comes in a variety of flavors
  • Comes in three sizes: 4.5lbs, 15lbs, and 30lbs
  • Protein the first ingredient
  • Packed with essential nutrients

All of the proteins used in this brand are not only the first ingredients but are also supplied by high-quality sources for optimal muscle strength and endurance.

The rice used provides a source of carbohydrate for a better energy source. Barley supplies a prime fiber source to support digestive and immune system health.

The included omegas and fatty acids maintain healthy skin, coat, and overall body system.

Pros

  • Recipe blend provides an optimal nutrient source
  • Only natural ingredients are used

Cons

  • Made with grains so not ideal for dogs with allergies

All the ingredients in Nature’s Recipe will not only supply essential nutrients but also an amazing flavor your dog will love.

12. Rachael Ray Nutrish

Rachael Ray Nutrish

$14.94
7 new from $14.94
Amazon.com
as of 22 July 2021 6:56

Features

  • Contains (1) 6 Pound Bag of Dry Dog Food. For a limited time, you may receive either bag while we update our packaging
  • Farm-raised chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • No poultry by-product meal, filler, wheat, or wheat gluten ingredients
  • Natural dog food with added vitamins & minerals
  • Safely cooked with the world's best ingredients

Professional cooks don’t just cook for people, but for dogs as well, which Rachel Ray Nutrish goes out to prove.

Key Features

  • All-natural ingredients
  • Comes in four sizes: 6lbs, 14lbs, 28lbs, and 40lbs
  • Comes in a variety of flavors

USA farm-raised proteins are the first ingredients of the many recipes available for an optimal protein source. Added vitamins and minerals provide an easy to digest nutritional intake that promotes a healthy body.

No artificial flavors or preservatives means you will not be giving your dog any harmful chemicals, only the best and most nutritional ingredients.

Pros

  • No filler ingredients used
  • No by-products used

Cons

  • Made with grains so not ideal for dogs with allergies

You can provide your dog with a gourmet-quality meal that won’t strain your wallet with Rachel Ray Nutrish.

Key Information

Cheap dog food does not have to give up being a healthy food source. When you look at the ingredients and see what the food has to offer, then you can pick out the best inexpensive dog food amongst the cheaper brands available.

Features to Look For

There are five key features that you need to look out for before buying cheaper dog food. If the dog food you are considering matches up with all of these features then you can give it the green light and go ahead and buy it for your dog.

Nutrition & Ingredients

Dogs have a specific nutrient need in order to stay healthy. They need a high protein source for a growing body and a carbohydrate source for energy. See if the first ingredient in the food you are considering is an animal protein source, not a by-product or meal. If a protein source is the first ingredient then you know the majority of the dog food is that protein.

Wheat isn’t always bad for dogs, if they are not prone to food allergies, as they provide the carbohydrates that your dog needs. But if your dog is allergic to wheat, corn, or rice, you can find the carbohydrate sources elsewhere, such as in beet pulp.

Taste

If the dog food you are considering is not appealing to your dog’s taste, then you will end up wasting money. The flavor comes mainly from the animal protein source, so if you know your dog loves chicken or if they don’t like fish you can seek out the cheap foods that use those proteins to either buy them or avoid them.

Fatty Acids

Fatty acids are essential for your dog to have a prime energy source and to promote healthy cell growth, hormone production, and in helping to absorb certain vitamins. You want to make sure that the food you are considering has an adequate source of fatty acids or your dog will not be able to develop a strong and healthy body.

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins are important to add to your dog’s diet as their bodies cannot naturally be synthesized in their body. But you don’t want to overwhelm their bodies with too many vitamins as it can cause negative effects on their bodies. If the vitamins are listed in the middle of the ingredient list then you have a good balance of the vitamins.

Like vitamins, minerals need to be added to the dog’s food. Minerals are essential for maintaining their metabolism and keeping their teeth and bones strong. This is another nutrient that should not be given excessively and should be listed in the middle of the ingredient list ideally for a good balance.

Packaging & Safety

You wouldn’t think that the food’s packaging would be important, but it gives you an idea of how safely the food is processed. The neater and cleaner the packaging is the more you can be confident that the company took care when making the food.

Bottom Line

The best budget food does not have to budget your dog’s health. Cheap options may be less of a strain on your wallet, but they can still keep up with the high-quality sources of the more expensive dog food brands.

The main things you have to look out for in whatever dog food you are considering is that there are no by-product meals and that the food is not just filler ingredients, like corn and white potatoes. If you go for the filler ingredient foods the most you are going to give your dog is a full stomach, no nutritional intake what-so-ever.

Razvan is a dog trainer and veterinary technician with over 10 years of experience working with dog daycares, animal shelters, vet clinics and private dog training. Razvan is one of the lead publishers on Dog Struggles covering the latest product reviews and dog health advice.

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