The 8 Best Affordable Dog Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2022 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

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

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Cheap doesn’t mean low quality.

You should always opt for a premium dog food, but that doesn’t mean it has to 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.

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 so you can get a 32-pound bag for less than $40. For sensitive or highly active dogs, appropriate foods may cost $2 per pound. As for quality, you guys know about my 40 point inspection list.

So, let’s get started.

The 8 Best Affordable Dog Foods

Best Cheap Dog FoodsRatingUnder
1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.9$60
2. CANIDAE All Life Stages Chicken, Turkey, Lamb Dog Food4.5$60
3. Taste of the Wild High-Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
(Editor’s Pick)
4. Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Formula Adult Dry Dog Food4.8$50
5. Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Turkey & Potato Dog Food4.6$50
6. Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food4.8$40
7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Recipe Dog Food4.6$50
8. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dog Food4.6$50

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

Best High Quality Affordable Food Under $60

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

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Lentil Flour, 4. Canola Meal, 5. Beef Tallow

One of the common complaints about cheaper dog food is the lack of taste. That is a real problem if your dog is a picky eater. Purina Savor is a top pick 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.

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

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 exactly 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 ingredients include fruits and vegetables.

Plus, Blue Buffalo’s patented Lifesource Bits add antioxidants that are good for your dog’s immune system.

3. CANIDAE All Life Stages Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, and Fish Meal Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Potatoes, 5. Oatmeal

Not only does Canidae Pure provide superb value for money, but it’s also perfect for just about every dog regardless of their breed, size, or age. This amazing all life stages formula is designed with premium ingredients like chicken, turkey, and lamb, as well as wholesome grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and barley. Combined, these ingredients will offer your dog tons of muscle-building protein and carbs that can keep them running all day long.

In addition to this, the food contains plenty of antioxidants, probiotics for better digestion, and omega fatty acids that boost fur quality and skin health. If you have a sensitive pup, the recipe is totally free from corn, wheat, and soy, which are often a cause of digestive upsets in dogs. 

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

This recipe from Natural Balance is another fish-based recipe that is a limited ingredient diet meant for sensitive tummies. It has no grains, no fillers, and a minimal 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.

5. VICTOR—Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

Your dog’s nutritional requirements change with age. Aside from a good balance of protein, fat, and micronutrients, your senior needs glucosamine, L-carnitine, chondroitin, and other essential compounds that can keep them healthy throughout their golden years. These compounds put up a good defense against age-related diseases. Moreover, this recipe is formulated to maintain a healthy weight as their activity level drops. This fortified formula also contains antioxidants to improve immunity.

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

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 are quite tempting for 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

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

I love Taste of the Wild, especially this High Prairie recipe. That’s because Taste of the Wild brings quality ingredients and good formula at affordable rates. This formula has novel protein sources such as buffalo, bison, and venison. Add that to 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.

8. Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Formula Adult Dry Dog Food

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

A premium-quality dog food from a reputable manufacturer, Diamond Natural’s Dog Food is a complete steal if you consider the quantity and quality they’re providing for its price. The recipe is primarily made from beef and fish that offer your dog loads of muscle-building proteins. It also features white rice and barley as carb sources, both of which are full of fiber and digest easily.

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.

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

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is slightly cheaper than the Blue Buffalo Wilderness formula, but there is no compromise on quality. The only difference I feel is that the Wilderness recipe is closer to a raw diet.

Life Protection, on the other hand, brings the best of their patented LifeSource Bits, a powerful blend of nutrients and super antioxidants. This one isn’t grain-free, but healthy grains like brown rice and oatmeal are used to prevent tummy troubles.

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

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free is easy on your pocket and easy 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 pumpkin to help create a good balance of vitamins and minerals essential for good health. This is a good affordable dog food that most dogs can enjoy without a problem.

11. Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Turkey & Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

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

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, along with chicken fat to fulfill your dog’s fat requirements.

Besides that, the recipe is filled with numerous micronutrients, including prebiotics that improve gut health. The food is also enriched with omega fatty acids that will enhance coat health and prevent your dog’s skin from becoming irritated. Some sensitive pups can be allergic to artificial additives, which is why the food is completely free from artificial flavors, preservatives, and colors.

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

For dogs over the age of 7, you should transition to a formula that suits their changing needs. Weaker bones, lower activity, and slower brain function can lead to any number of issues. That is why a dog needs more than just fat, proteins, and vitamins at 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 rice recipe contain an ideal amount of glucosamine and chondroitin along with A.L.A. and D.H.A. An affordable option for all senior dogs.

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

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 tail health of your pup. It is a nutrient-dense recipe that offers a moderate amount of calories to support healthy growth. It is rich in D.H.A., 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.

Best High Quality Cheap Dog Foods Under $40

14. Iams—ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food

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.

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

American Journey is a brand that manages to offer quality dog food at reasonable prices. That doesn’t mean it lacks nutritional value. It has antioxidants and all the essential micronutrients to 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.

16. Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Grilled Steak & Vegetable Flavor Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Ground Whole Grain Corn, 2. Meat And Bone Meal, 3. Animal Fat, 4. Natural Flavor, 5. Dried Plain Beet Pulp

Packing tons of flavor and nutrients, Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Dog Food is an easy choice if you want to feed your dog a decent diet on a budget. It’s made from a ton of wholesome ingredients, including multiple grains and a range of vegetables. The food is rich in fiber and micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

One thing to note is that the diet may not be optimal for sensitive pups or dogs with allergies since it contains both wheat and soy. But apart from that, the diet is nutritionally complete and is also enriched with omega fatty acids that improve your dog’s coat and skin health. Furthermore, the crunchy texture of its kibbles will work wonders on your dog’s dental health by taking care of excess plaque.

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

Yet another Blue Buffalo offering 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 as 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 tail wellbeing.

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

For your senior pal, you can get a pocket-friendly bag of Purina O.N.E. SmartBlend to ensure the healthy transition into the golden years. This is a favorite formula 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.

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

American Journey is on this list again 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 bone. Since it has plenty of Omega acids, it’s great for thicker coated breeds. Not to mention, it is quite gentle for sensitive tummies.

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.


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