The 15 Best Affordable Dog Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2022 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

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

Before we get started: Cheap doesn’t mean low quality.

Premium dog food is always your best option, but that doesn’t mean it has to cost a fortune. I won’t say price doesn’t have anything to do with quality, but there are plenty of good dog food options that won’t put a dent in your wallet.

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

For average adult dogs, consider spending about $1 per pound to get a 32-pound bag for less than $40. Appropriate foods may cost $2 per pound for sensitive or highly active dogs.

So, let’s get started.

The 8 Best Affordable Dog Foods

Top PicksCategory
1. Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Dog FoodBest For Adults
2. American Journey Puppy Lamb & Sweet Potato Dog FoodBest For Puppies
3. Purina ONE SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dog FoodBest For Seniors
4. Pedigree Chopped Ground Dinner Variety Pack Dog FoodBest Wet Food
5. Freshpet Select Dog FoodBest Fresh Food
6. Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Turkey & Potato Dog FoodBest Grain-Free Food
7. Nature’s Recipe Salmon & Sweet Potato Dog FoodBest For Sensitive Dogs
8. VICTOR Purpose Hero Grain-Free Dog FoodBest For Active Dogs

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


Best High Quality Affordable Foods

1. Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Dog Food — Best Affordable Dog Food For Adults

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef Meal, 2. Ground White Rice, 3. Egg Product, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Dried Beet Pulp

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,518 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 25% | Fat (min.) 15% | Fiber (max.) 3.5% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Diamond Natural is premium-quality dog food from a reputable manufacturer and is a complete steal if you consider the quantity and quality they provide for the price. The recipe primarily uses beef and fish to offer your dog muscle-building proteins. It also features white rice and barley, which provide fiber-rich, easily digestible energy.

You can also find a range of wholesome fruits and vegetables in the recipe, including blueberries, carrots, pumpkin, and more. These greens are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and health-boosting natural nutrients. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are also present in the formula, so your dog’s skin and coat can grow softer and become shinier.


2. American Journey Puppy Lamb & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dog Food — Best Affordable Dog Food For Puppies

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Lamb, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Chickpeas, 5. Sweet Potatoes

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,630 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 30% | Fat min. 12% | Fiber max. 4% | Moisture max. 10%
  • Form: Dry

American Journey has a great range of affordable dog foods. 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, healthy adult. 

It has the right balance of proteins and fat to support muscle and omega fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin—great for thicker coated breeds. Not to mention, it is gentle for sensitive tummies.


3. Purina ONE SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity 7+ Adult Dog Food — Best Affordable Dog Food For Seniors

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Rice Flour, 3. Corn Gluten Meal, 4. Soybean Meal, 5. Whole Grain Corn

  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,786 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 28% | Fat (min.) 13% | Fiber (max.) 4.5% | Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry

For your senior pal, you can get a pocket-friendly bag of Purina O.N.E. SmartBlend to ensure a healthy transition into the golden years. This is a favorite formula for medium-sized breeds with moderate to high activity levels. 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 that they have added meaty morsels to the crunchy kibbles. That makes it more tempting for picky eaters.


4. Pedigree Chopped Ground Dinner Variety Pack Canned Dog Food — Best Affordable Wet Dog Food

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Meat By-Products, 3. Animal Liver, 4. Brewers Rice, 5. Beef

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,119 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 8%, | Fat min. 6%, | Fiber max. 1%, | Moisture max. 78%
  • Form: Wet

Fulfill your dog’s appetite with high-quality, delicious wet food from Pedigree. The variety pack offers two flavors; filet mignon and beef. Both pack a decent amount of protein and micronutrients for repairing muscle tissue and keeping your dog bright and active.  Moreover, the food provides fatty acids to nourish your dog’s skin and make their coat shinier and softer. It will also tempt your dog’s taste buds with chopped meat and liver chunks. And since Pedigree Ground Dinner has all the required nutrients, it can be served separately or added to your dog’s regular kibbles to make them more appealing.


5. Freshpet Select Dog Food — Best Affordable Fresh Dog Food

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Cranberries, 3. Carrots, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Ground Oats

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,485 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 17% | Fat (min.) 6.5% | Fiber (max.) 1% | Moisture (max.) 66%
  • Form: Fresh

Fresh dog foods are a premium option that can cost nearly twice as much as dry food. Luckily, Freshpet provides an affordable alternative with the same great health benefits made from the finest ingredients like real deboned meat, carrots, cranberries, and spinach. All Fresh Pet recipes are balanced to promote muscle growth, high energy levels, a sharp mind, and optimal weight.

Unlike dry kibbles, the food is steam-cooked to preserve nutrients and bursts with flavor and aroma when served. Freshpet Select Dog Food is conveniently available at major supermarkets and ordered online. 


6. Iams Adult Large Breed Real Chicken High Protein Dog Food — Best Affordable Dog Food For Large Breeds

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Ground Whole Grain Barley, 3. Dried Plain Beet Pulp, 4. Carrot, 5. Flaxseed

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,529 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 22.5%, | Fat min. 12%, | Fiber max. 5%, | Moisture max. 10%
  • Form: Dry

Iams Large Breed Dog Food offers everything large canines need in their diet at an unbeatable price. Its main ingredients are deboned chicken, whole barley, sorghum, and corn that build muscle blocks and fuel your dog throughout the day. The whole grains also deliver a bunch of digestive fibers that improve stool quality and intestinal health.

Since large breeds are prone to hip and joint problems, Iams includes glucosamine and chondroitin in their recipe to rebuild cartilage. Prebiotic fibers are also present in the food to promote gut bacteria and improve nutrient absorption. All of this comes at a fraction of the price of other large-breed-specific dog foods on the market.


7. Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dog Food — Best Affordable Dog Food For Small & Toy Breeds

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Ground Whole Grain Corn, 3. Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, 4. Chicken By-Product Meal, 5. Dried Beet Pulp

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,646 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 25% | Fat (min.) 14% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

First on my list of even cheaper dog foods is Iams Proactive Health MiniChunks. This delicious crunchy kibble is made from real chicken and makes for a good option for breeds that do not have excessive protein needs, which includes breeds that aren’t too active or muscular.

Plus, lower levels of proteins make it easier to digest. This formula also contains fiber to improve digestion. Overall, a healthy and nutritious option for dogs with sensitive tummies.


8. Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Turkey & Potato Dog Food — Best Affordable Grain-Free Dog Food

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Whole Dried Potato, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Whole Flaxseed

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,370 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 26% | Fat (min.) 14% | Fiber (max.) 5% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

If you want to feed your allergic pup a grain-free diet on a budget, Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Dog Food is a top choice. Turkey is the main ingredient in the recipe that provides your dog with amino acids required for lean muscle growth. Instead of grains, the food uses potatoes and peas for carbs and chicken fat to fulfill your dog’s fat requirements.

Besides that, the recipe offers numerous micronutrients, including prebiotics that improve gut health. Omega fatty acids enhance coat health and prevent your dog’s skin from becoming irritated. Some sensitive pups can be allergic to artificial additives, so the food is free from artificial flavors, preservatives, and colors.


9. Instinct Frozen Raw Bites Grain-Free Chicken Recipe Dog Food — Best Affordable Raw Dog Food

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Liver, 3. Carrots, 4. Apples, 5. Sweet Potatoes

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,596 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 12% | Fat (min.) 9% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 70%
  • Form: Frozen

Raw diets have gained lots of hype due to their health benefits, but they’re also costly. Instinct Frozen Raw Bites provide those same features at a much more affordable price. Almost 85% of the recipe consists of premium-grade boneless chicken, while the remaining 15% includes healthy greens like carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, butternut squash, and more.

These combined ingredients help with a bunch of bodily functions; muscle growth, energy retention, vision and heart support, and more. Moreover, the food is minimally processed and free from grains, fillers, corn, wheat, and soy — making the raw bites easier to digest and absorb. 


10. Inukshuk Professional Dog Food 30/25 — Best Affordable Dog Food For Weight Gain

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Chicken Fat, 3. Ground Whole Grain Wheat, 4. Whole Brown Rice, 5. Dried Beet Pulp

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,125 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30% | Fat (min.) 25% | Fiber (max.) 3.5% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Dogs need to eat more food to gain weight—which inevitably comes at a higher cost. Inukshuk proves this theory wrong with their high-calorie yet affordable Professional 30/25 Dry Dog Food. It’s designed for dogs with extreme physical demands and packs over 578 calories per cup, with a protein-to-fat ratio of 30% to 25%. When fed to an underweight dog, the food can kickstart weight gain and promote muscle growth.

Besides being high in calories, the food features omega fatty acids to improve your dog’s skin and coat condition and DHA to support brain health. For digestive health, Inukshuk also adds prebiotics that boosts gut bacteria. Since the recipe is free from peas and GMO ingredients, it doesn’t cause diarrhea or frequent stomach issues.


11. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Dog Food — Best Affordable Dog Food For Weight Loss

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Lamb, 2. Potatoes, 3. Pea Starch, 4. Lamb Meal, 5. Canola Oil

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, giant breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,562 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 20% | Fat (min.) 13% | Fiber (max.) 6% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

This Blue Buffalo healthy weight formula falls in the under $40 category, but the quality is top shelf. 

This balanced formula is 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 nutrients and antioxidants to ensure nose-to-tail wellbeing.


12. Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Dog Food — Best Affordable Dog Food For Sensitive Stomach

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Sweet Potatoes, 3. Garbanzo Beans, 4. Peas, 5. Pumpkin

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,400 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 25% | Fat (min.) 12% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free is easy on your pocket and 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 pumpkin to help create a balance of vitamins and minerals essential for good health. This is a quality and affordable dog food that most dogs can enjoy.


13. American Journey LID Duck & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dog Food — Best Affordable Dog Food For Allergies

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Duck, 2. Peas, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Chickpeas, 5. Dried Plain Beet Pulp

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,300 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 25% | Fat (min.) 12% | Fiber (max.) 6% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Cut down on ingredients and allergy risks with the limited ingredient American Journey Duck & Sweet Potato Recipe. The formula contains a single protein and carb source from duck meat and sweet potatoes that promotes muscle growth/repair and provides enough energy to support the most active breeds.

This recipe features omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed to make your dog’s skin and coat healthier. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids from sunflower oil to reduce inflammation. Besides that, the recipe is completely free from common allergens like grains, wheat, corn, and soy, as well as some hard-to-digest ingredients like artificial preservatives and by-product meals. 


14. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Grain-Free Dog Food — Best Tasting Affordable Dog Food For Picky Eaters

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Menhaden Fish Meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,592 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34% | Fat (min.) 15% | Fiber (max.) 6% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Blue Wilderness Salmon Recipe is another great-tasting dog food that will entice any picky pooch. It is a good option for pets that prefer fish proteins. While it isn’t precisely a raw recipe, it is still quite close to a dog’s ancestral diet. 

It involves minimal processing, so most ingredients retain their nutritional value. Other than animal meat, key components include fruits and vegetables.  Blue Buffalo’s patented Lifesource Bits add antioxidants that are good for your dog’s immune system.


15. VICTOR Purpose Hero Grain-Free Dog Food — Best Affordable Dog Food For Active Dogs

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef Meal, 2. Peas, 3. Sweet Potato, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Garbanzo Beans

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,614 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 33% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 3.8% | Moisture (max.) 9%
  • Form: Dry

When it comes to the active dog food category, few can compete with the value for money that Victor Purpose Hero Dog Food provides. It has a 33% protein content sourced from beef, pork, and fish meals to enhance muscle growth and repair tissue. The food also packs 384 calories per cup to fuel dogs for an entire day of extreme physical exercise.  Active dogs are also at a higher risk of joint diseases. Victor prevents this by using glucosamine and chondroitin to build new cartilage and reduce joint wear. Another major benefit of choosing Victor Purpose Hero is that it’s completely free from grains, corn, wheat, and soy, making it an ideal choice for dogs with sensitivities and allergies. 


Tips for picking the best cheap dog food

Being familiar with what ingredients are good and bad is only half of the story. You should also consider factors like age and size, which will help you choose the right food for your specific dog. Here’s a list of some of those factors:

1. Breed Size and Age: The caloric requirements of a small breed dog are very different from those of a giant breed. The same is the case for pups of different ages that have varying needs for certain nutrients. That’s why, you should always confirm from your vet whether the dog food you’ve chosen is appropriate for your dog’s breed size, age, and activity level.

2. Health Complications: Cheaper dog foods are rarely designed for canines with special needs. If your dog suffers from sensitivity, allergies, or any other health complication, discuss your shortlisted options with your vet and make sure that the food will not aggravate the issue. 

3. Price: Although your goal is to choose the cheapest dog food available, make sure you don’t compromise on quality or your dog’s needs. Picking a lower-priced option just for the sake of saving money can affect your pup’s health and will level your savings in veterinary bills.

FAQs: Best High Quality Cheap Dog Food

What if $60 doesn’t seem affordable to me?

Well, there are cheaper ones out there. But 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 out there that will barely cost you $10 for a huge bag, but hardly any of those cheap dog foods are right for your dog. Most of those foods are full of filler ingredients that can cause allergies or sensitivities and have very little nutritional value. Dog food that is both cheap and nutritionally sound will cost you at least $30 for a 30lb bag.

Which dog food brands are cheap but good?

Good question. Many brands offer affordable dog foods at a lower cost. Some examples include Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo, Purina, and Victor. Almost all of these brands have different products with different price points, but overall, they are affordable.

Is all cheap dog food bad for dogs?

There is a lot of research being conducted on commercial dog foods, and many of them turn out to be of low quality or lower nutritional value. Some products branded as premium are premium in name only. But many brands offer quality dog food at low prices.

Which cheap dog foods are the healthiest?

Cheap dog foods from trusted brands such as Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo, and American Journey are suitable for your dog, but what’s healthy for your dog depends largely on the individual dog’s breed, state of life, and lifestyle. Understanding these is the key to finding 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 longer shelf life. Also, because 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 wouldn’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?

The 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, many brands are managing to cut down the cost without compromising quality.

Is homemade dog food cheaper than commercial dog foods?

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

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

Aside from this list and the F.A.Q.s, there are a few useful tips I would like to share with you.

How Cheap is Too Cheap

This is a million-dollar question, but the answer is less than $20 for a 30lb bag.

Any dog food that is less than $20 for a 30lb bag is something I probably wouldn’t recommend.

Stick to dog food that is within $30 to $60 for a large bag, or around one or two 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. The 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 primary source of protein should always be real animal meat. I’d recommend avoiding any product that has a meal or by-product as the primary source of protein.

Fatty Acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are essential 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 helping their cognition, 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.

High quality and safe to consume ingredients don’t come cheap. The reason manufacturers can source the same ingredient at a fraction of cost is because they either have 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 Things Should I Avoid in Cheap Dog Foods?

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 originated. 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. 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. Additionally, grains aren’t a part of your dog’s ancestral diet.


Related:

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