The 15 Best Cheap Dog Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2020 Update

This (updated) guide covers all of the best cheap dog foods available this year.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first:

Cheap doesn’t mean low quality.

However, when I say you should always opt for a premium dog food – which I know I say way too often, let me assure you that it’s not always products that cost a fortune.

I wouldn’t say price doesn’t have to do anything with quality, but there are plenty of good options that won’t put a dent in your wallet.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t have been able to keep so many pets around if that wasn’t the case. I am always looking for the best high quality cheap dog food because I have one too many muzzles to feed.

Luckily for you, I have managed to find many such options.

Before I share my list, let’s talk about what I mean by cheap dog food:

Most of the time, I try to find products that are around 1 dollar per pound so I can get a 32-pound bag for less than 40 dollars. For my sensitive or highly active ones, however, dog foods that cost around 2 dollars per pound aren’t that expensive either.

As for quality, you guys know about my 40 point inspection list.

So, let’s cut to the chase and start with best cheap dog foods that cost less than 60 dollars for a 30 to 35 pound bag.

Best High Quality Affordable Food Under 60$

1. Purina—Pro Plan Savor Shredded Blend Turkey & Chicken Grain-Free

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,854 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 32%, Fat (min.) 16%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Lentil Flour, 4. Canola Meal, 5. Beef Tallow
  • High-Protein
  • Grain-free
  • Probiotics

One of the common complaints about cheaper dog food is the lack of taste. That is a real problem when you have a picky pooch in the house. The reason Purina Savor is high on this list is because it is both healthy and tasty. Meaty, crunchy kibble is mixed with delicious turkey nuggets to make every meal tempting for your pal. As for nutrition, this grain-free dog food contains 32 percent protein from animal sources and the right balance of fat and carbs. Natural probiotics are added to aid digestion.

Buy on Chewy

2. Blue Buffalo—Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,590 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 6%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, Pea Protein, 4. Menhaden Fish Meal, 5. Tapioca Starch
  • Grain-free
  • Antioxidants

Blue Wilderness Salmon Recipe is yet another great tasting dog food that will entice any picky pooch. It is a good option for pets that prefer fish based diet. While it isn’t exactly a raw recipe, it is still quite close to what we call the wolf’s diet. It involves minimal processing so most ingredients retain their nutritional value. Other than animal meat, key ingredients include fruits and vegetables. Plus, Blue Buffalo’s patented Lifesource Bits add antioxidants that are good for your baby’s immune system.

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3. Natural Balance—L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Grain-Free

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,310 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 21%, Fat (min.) 10%, Fiber (max.) 4.5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Dried Sweet Potatoes, 2. Salmon, 3. Fish Meal, 4. Potato Protein, 5. Canola Oil
  • Limited Ingredient Diet
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

This is another fish based recipe but it is a limited ingredient one meant for sensitive tummies. It has no grains, no fillers, and very limited amount of carbs. What it does have is quality protein from a single animal source i.e. salmon, vegetable proteins from potatoes, and healthy dietary fibers from sweet potatoes. It also has a good dose of Omega fatty acids from ingredients such as flaxseed and canola oil. Overall, a good choice for sensitive ones who are prone to allergies and indigestion.

Buy on Chewy

4. VICTOR—Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Senior
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,385 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 27%, Fat (min.) 11%, Fiber (max.) 4.5%, Moisture (max.) 9%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef Meal, 2. Whole Grain Brown Rice, 3. Whole Grain Millet, 4. Grain Sorghum, 5. Chicken Fat
  • Sensitive Digestion,  Gluten Free
  • L-carnitine
  • Glucosamine

Your buddy’s nutritional requirement changes with age. Aside from a good balance of protein, fat, and micronutrients, it needs glucosamine, L-carnitine, chondroitin, and other essential compounds that can keep them healthy even in their golden years. These compounds put up a good defense against age related diseases. Moreover, this recipe is formulated to keep a check on the weight as the activity level drops. This fortified formula also contains antioxidants to improve immunities.


5. Merrick—Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,675 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 16%, Fiber (max.) 4.5%, Moisture (max.) 11%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Potatoes
  • DHA
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Merrick grain-free is a pocket-friendly puppy food with a good overall balance of proteins and other nutrients. This chicken and sweet potato recipe, in particular, is also quite tempting for the picky pups. What I like about it is a good balance of micronutrients that are essential for the physical and mental development of any pup. Also, this grain free formula does not contain any allergens such as gluten or soy. Overall, a great formula for all breeds.


Best High Quality Affordable Dog Food Under  $50

6. Taste of the Wild—High-Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,719 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 32%, Fat (min.) 18%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas
  • Grain-free, Gluten Free
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

My regular readers know that I love Taste of the Wild, especially this High Prairie recipe. That’s because Taste of the Wild really brings quality ingredients and good formula at affordable rates. This particular formula has novel protein sources such as buffalo, bison, and venison. Add that to a non-grain quality ingredients and you have a highly digestible yet delicious meal for your friend. Not to mention, you get a blend of antioxidants and K9 strain prebiotics as well.

Buy on Chewy

7. Blue Buffalo—Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe 

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,627 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Barley, 5. Oatmeal
  • LifeSource Bits
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is slightly cheaper than the Blue Buffalo Wilderness formula, but there is no compromise on quality here. The only difference I feel is that the Wilderness recipe is closer to raw diet. Life Protection, on the other hand, brings the best of their patented LifeSource Bits i.e. a blend powerful nutrients and super antioxidants. This one isn’t grain-free but healthy grains like brown rice and oatmeal are used to prevent tummy troubles.

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8. Nature’s Recipe—Grain-Free Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,470 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 27%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.), 4%, Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Garbanzo Beans, 3. Peas, 4. Menhaden Fish Meal, 5. Pea Starch
  • Grain-free
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free is easy on your pocket and easier on your pal’s tummy. This grain-free recipe includes salmon as the main ingredient. Salmon is one of the easiest to digest sources of proteins you can find. Then there are some green ingredients such as garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, peas, and pumpkins that help create a good balance of vitamins and minerals essential for good health. Overall, this is a good affordable dog food that most dogs can enjoy without a problem.

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9. Nutro—Wholesome Essentials Senior Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Senior
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,526 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 23%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Whole Brown Rice, 4. Chicken Meal, 5. Split Peas
  • Glucosamine
  • Chondroitin Sulfate
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

For dogs over the age of 7, you should transition to a formula that can suit their changing needs. Weaker bones, lower activity, and slower brain function can lead to a number of issues. That is why a dog needs more than just fat, proteins, and vitamins in this age. They need ingredients that can take care of their organs, bones, and brains. Nutro Wholesome Essentials has it all. This chicken and brown recipe has an ideal amount of glucosamine and chondroitin along with ALA and DHA. An affordable option for all senior dogs.


1o. Wellness—CORE Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Turkey Recipe 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per cup): 417 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Potatoes, 5. Peas,
  • DHA
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Wellness Core also happens to be a regular on my lists, especially their puppy formula. This Chicken and Turkey recipe is created for the nose to toe health of your little one. It is a nutrient-dense recipe that offers a moderate amount of calories to support healthy growth. It is rich in DHA, which plays a vital role in brain development and also ensures a healthy vision. Each kibble is covered with probiotics to aid digestion. What I appreciate is that there are no fillers or additives to cause problems for my pup.


FAQs: Best High Quality Cheap Dog Food

Dollar 60 doesn’t sound affordable enough?

Well, there are even cheaper ones out there. Before I move on to the list of dog foods under $50 and $40, let’s stick to the tradition get all the frequently asked questions out of the way.

What is the cheapest dog food in the market?

There are a lot of dog foods that will barely cost you 10 dollars for a huge bag, but hardly any of those cheap dog foods are good for your dogs. Most of such dog foods are full of filler ingredients that can cause allergies or sensitivities. A dog food that is both cheap and good will cost your at least 30 dollar for over 30 pound bag.

Which dog food brands are cheap but good?

Now, this is a smart question. There are a number of brands that offer affordable dog food but at lower rates. Some examples include Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo, Purina and Victor. Almost all of these brands have different products with different rates but overall they are affordable.

Are all cheap dog food bad for dogs?

There is a lot of research being conducted on commercial dog foods out there. It is a sad truth that many of these dog foods turn out to be of low quality or lower nutritional value. However, this is something even products branded as premium can deceive their customers with. The good thing there are many brands that offer cheap yet quality dog food.

Which cheap dog foods are the healthiest?

Cheap dog food from trusted brands such as Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo and American Journey is good for your dog but what’s healthy for your dogs depends largely on the individual needs of that breed. Understand your dog’s breed better to find the right dog food for your baby.

Is dry dog food cheaper than wet dog food?

Yes, dry dog food is much cheaper than wet dog food. It can last much longer than canned dog food because of a longer shelf life. Also, Since wet food is usually tastier, dogs tend to eat more of it in one meal.

Why is dry dog food cheaper than wet dog food?

Canned food is generally better for dogs because it has more moisture and more proteins. Plus, it has a lower amount of preservatives in it. It won’t be wrong to say that quality is one of the reasons behind the price difference.

Which cheap dog food should I avoid?

The number one reason to avoid any dog food is the absence of real meat in the first five ingredients. Do not buy any dog food that has too many filler ingredients such as corn bran, rice hull, wheat mill run, etc. Preservatives and additives are another reason to put the product back on the shelf.

Why are some dog foods cheaper than others?

Quality of ingredients is generally the main reason behind the difference in price. Premium products usually include natural ingredients that can be traced back to the source. However, there are many brands that are managing to cut down the cost without compromising quality.

Is homemade dog food cheaper than commercial dog foods?

You just have to try it for a week to see that it isn’t. High quality ingredients can never be cheap when bought from groceries. The reason dog food manufacturers are able to offer the same ingredients at lower price is that they tend to source ingredients in bulk quantity. Many manufacturers even have their own farms where they raise animals.

The Buyer’s Guide: Best High Quality Cheap Dog Food

While this entire post is more or less a buying guide, there are a few useful tips I would like to share with you. So, let’s start with the question that must be bothering you the most.

How Cheap is Too Cheap

This is a million dollar question but the answer is…less than 20 dollars.

Yes, any dog food that is less than 20 dollars for a 30 pound bag is something I wouldn’t recommend.

As a matter of fact, it is best to stick to dog food that is within 30 to 60 dollar for a large bag i.e. around 1 to 2 dollars per pound.

What to Look for in Cheap Quality Dog Food

To be honest, look for exactly what you would look for in any dog food. Lower price should not be a reason to compromise on the quality. So, no matter how cheap the product, you should always look for the following.

Animal-based Proteins – The main source of protein should always be real animal meat. I’d recommend avoiding any product that has a meal or by-product as the main source of protein.

Fatty Acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are important for a lot of things including coat, skin, and joints. While they are abundant in fish based recipes, look for other sources such as flaxseed and canola oil.

Mineral and Vitamins – These micronutrients do a lot for your dog. From keeping their vision sharp to make them super smart, micronutrients are what your baby needs.

Antioxidants – I recommend food with antioxidants because it is part of the preventative care for your pet. Antioxidants play a vital role in strengthening your pal’s immune system.

Homemade Dog Food vs. Commercial Products

A common misconception among new pet parents is that homemade dog food will cost less than commercial food. It can’t be further than the truth.

As someone who has tried preparing dog food at home and failed, I can tell you that it costs more time and money. High quality and safe to consume ingredients don’t come cheap. The reason manufacturers are able to source the same ingredient at a fraction of cost is because they either have their own farms or get better rates due to bulk purchases.

That said, another reason I do not recommend homemade food is that it is almost impossible to get proper balanced nutrition every single time.

What to Avoid in Cheap Dog Food

I’d say it again, cheap doesn’t mean you should compromise on quality. Cheaper dog food doesn’t mean you should buy a bag full of fillers. Fillers, however, aren’t the only thing you should avoid. Here are a few more:

By-products – Any dog food with a by-product is never a good idea. It is because you never know where that by-product comes from. It can never be sourced back to the actual animal. It is usually low in nutritional value.

Preservatives –  Choose a dog food that is free of additives and preservatives. These ingredients do not sit well with sensitive dogs. In fact, dogs can often develop allergies due to these ingredients.

Grains – Grains aren’t exactly bad for dogs but those with sensitive stomachs should avoid them. Besides, grains aren’t even a part of your dog’s ancestral diet.

Best High Quality Cheap Dog Food Under $40

11. Iams—ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small Breeds, Extra Small & Toy Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,657 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 25%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Ground Whole Grain Corn, 3. Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, 4. Chicken By-Product Meal, 5. Dried Beet Pulp
  • Prebiotics
  • Antioxidants

First, on the list of dog foods that are almost unbelievably cheap, I have Iams Proactive Health MiniChunks. These delicious crunchy kibbles are made from real chicken and make for a good option for breeds that do not have excessive protein needs. That includes breeds that aren’t too active or muscular. Plus, lower levels of proteins makes it easier to digest. This formula also contains gentle fibers to improve digestion. So, overall a healthy and nutritious option for dogs with sensitive tummies.

Buy on Chewy

12. American Journey—Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,640 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 32%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Peas, 5. Sweet Potatoes
  • Grain-free
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

American Journey is a brand that manages to offer quality dog food at reasonable prices. I like the fact that it is a delicious recipe that none of the dogs have any problems with. That doesn’t mean it lacks nutritional value. It has antioxidants and all the essential micronutrients that ensure healthy bones, muscles, vision, and brain. This recipe also has plenty of Omega fatty acids from sources such as salmon oil and flaxseed. Plus, the recipe is grain-free so that you can feed it to your sensitive one as well.

Buy on Chewy

13. Blue Buffalo—Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

  • Lifestage:Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,640 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Peas, 5. Chickpeas
  • Grain-free
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Yes, there is another Blue Buffalo on my list. While there is a little difference in the price of the previous one and this healthy weight formula, this one falls under $40 category. However, the quality is equally good. This balanced formula is created for dogs that are prone to weight gain. The formula has a good amount of  L-carnitine and a lot of animal proteins for lean muscle development. It is also rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants to ensure nose to toe wellbeing.

Buy on Chewy

14. Purina ONE—SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity 7+ Adult Formula Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,251 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 20%, Fat (min.) 9%, Fiber (max.) 10%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Barley, 5. Pea Fiber
  • Weight Control, No Corn No Wheat No Soy
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

For your senior pal, you can get a pocket-friendly bag of Purina ONE SmartBlend to ensure the healthy transition into golden years. This is one of my top favorite formulas for medium-sized breeds with moderate to high activity level. It has plenty of glucosamine to prevent mobility and joint issues. Digestible fibers and natural ingredients combine to make it lighter on the stomach. I like the fact that they have added meaty morsels to the crunchy kibbles. That makes it more tempting for picky eaters.


15. American Journey—Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,710 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Peas, 5. Sweet Potatoes
  • Grain-free, No Corn No Wheat No Soy, Gluten Free
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Now we have another American Journey on this list because this brand has a great range of affordable dog foods. Just like the one for adults, this puppy food recipe is delicious enough to make your picky one wag its tail. It has all the nutrients your pup needs to grow into a sharp, smart, and healthy adult. It has the right balance of proteins and fat to support muscle as well as bones. Since it has plenty of Omega acids, I like it for my fluffy ones with a thicker coat. Not to mention, it is quite gentle for sensitive tummies.

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