What are the Best Budget-Friendly Dog Foods for 2022?

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Our list of budget-friendly dog foods for 2022 includes dog food recipes that are affordable yet still contain enough nutritional value for your dog’s growth and overall health.

These selected inexpensive but nutritious dog foods have met your dog’s daily intake of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fat, and other essential vitamins and minerals while spending less than premium dog foods.

A smiling Jack Russell Terrier with dog food
An excited Jack Russell Terrier with dog food

Choosing a high-quality dog food product with a reasonable price requires checking the dog food cost and the quantity statement (bag size).

It also needs to understand the dog food nutrition label, including the first five ingredients, guaranteed analysis, calorie content, feeding guide, and nutritional adequacy statement.

Every dog has different nutritional requirements that will depend on the breed size and age, activity level, and pre-existing health conditions.

Thus, K9Web provides a comprehensive buying guide for selecting the most budget-friendly dog food recipes from every dimension while considering the dog’s health and well-being first.

Quick Top Picks: Best Budget Dog Food Review

Here’s a quick overview of K9Web’s best budget dog food recipes with their corresponding Overall Rating, and Price for feeding a 15-pound dog per day.

  Dog Food Recipes Our Rating The Price for Feeding a 15-lb adult dog per day
Best Overall: Best Budget + Premium Quality Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food 5.0 $1.04
Runner-up Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food 4.5 $1.16
Cheapest Dog Food Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Roasted Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Flavor Dry Dog Food 4.0 $0.44

10 Most Affordable Dog Foods for Pet Owners with Limited Budget

A Jack Russell Terrier sitting with its food bowl
A smiling Jack Russell Terrier ready to nom on his food

Below are the ten most budget-friendly dog foods that are affordably priced but still contain the essential nutrients that your dog needs for its overall health.

Pet owners should be careful of buying cheap dog foods that are full of filler ingredients that can cause allergies and sensitivities to your dog and have low quality or lower nutritional value.

Try to select a dog food that best suits your pet’s specific needs when making your final decision.

1. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish meal, Sweet Potatoes
Type: Grain-Free
Producer: Taste of The Wild
Daily Feeding Cost: $1.16 per day
Caloric content: 3,600 kcal/kg, 360 kcal/cup
Best for Small Adult Dogs

The Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream is one of the best budget-friendly dog food recipes because it uses quality, real salmon, a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that support your dog’s immune system and keep its coat shiny and healthy.

This dry dog food also contains a moderate level of protein (25%) that can increase your dog’s muscle mass and strength.

For just $1.16 per day, your dog can get quality food packed full of protein, antioxidants, probiotics, prebiotics, and vitamins and minerals for its healthy digestion and overall health and wellness.

Advantages of Taste of the Wild dry dog food are listed below

  • The bulk of the protein is derived from fresh salmon as the main ingredient
  • It’s grain-free and chicken-free which are great options for dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • Sweet potatoes offer your pet plenty of highly digestible energy sources

Disadvantages of Taste of the Wild dry dog food are listed below

  • Some pups and owners didn’t like the fishy flavor and smell of this dog food
  • It contains peas which are bad for dogs with kidney disease

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive Taste of the Wild Dog Food Review.

2. Iams Minichunks Adult Lamb & Rice Recipe

Iams Minichunks Adult Lamb and Rice Recipe

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Lamb, Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal
Type: Dry formula with Mini Chunks
Producer: Iams
Daily Feeding Cost: $0.66 per day
Caloric content: 3,672 kcal/kg, 382 kcal/cup
Best for Small Adult Dogs

The Iams Minichunks Adult dog food is a small fiber-dense kibble designed to be easily digestible and easy for your dog to chew.

Lamb is featured as the first ingredient and provides a premium source of protein for your dog.

At just $0.66 per day, this is one of the cheapest dog foods on our list which still features protein as the primary ingredient.

Advantages of Iams Minichunks dog food are listed below

  • This dog food has 100% complete and balanced nutrition without zero fillers
  • This food is packed full of fatty acids to improve the condition of your dog’s skin and coat
  • It has no artificial preservatives or flavors

Disadvantages of Iams Minichunks dog food are listed below

  • Some dogs just didn’t like the texture and taste of this kibble
  • The recipe contains chicken, rice, and corn which can cause allergies in some pets

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive Iams Dog Food Review.

3. Purina ONE SmartBlend Dry Dog Food

Purina ONE SmartBlend Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken (Source of Glucosamine), Rice Flour, Corn Gluten Meal
Type: Dry formula with chicken and rice
Producer: Purina
Daily Feeding Cost: $0.58 per day
Caloric content: 3,993 kcal/kg, 383 kcal/cup
Best for Small Adult Dogs

The Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken and Rice Formula dry dog food features real chicken as the main ingredient blended with other high-quality protein sources for supporting strong muscles and a healthy heart.

At only $0.58 per day, this premium pet food is ideal for adult dogs of all sizes, particularly small pups.

Advantages of Purina ONE SmartBlend dry dog food are listed below

  • This dog food features protein from a premium source to support lean muscle mass
  • This kibble is suitable for adult breeds of all sizes
  • It includes a blend of antioxidants, Vitamins E and A, zinc, and selenium to help boost your dog’s immune system and promote healthy skin and coat

Disadvantages of Purina ONE SmartBlend dry dog food are listed below

  • Some picky eaters refused to touch this food
  • Some pet owners complained the size of the kibble was too small for their dog
  • It contains corn, wheat, soy, peas, and gluten which are common allergens for dogs

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive Purina One Dog Food Review.

4. Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Dry Dog Food

Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Ground Whole Grain Corn, Meat and Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal
Type: Dry formula
Producer: Pedigree
Daily Feeding Cost: $0.44 per day
Caloric content: 3348 kcal/kg, 309 kcal/cup
Best for Small Adult Dogs

The Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition formula is the cheapest dog food recipe ($0.44 per day) on our list yet still packed with essential nutrients such as zinc, vitamin E, calcium, and phosphorous to support your pet’s full-body health.

With a tasty flavor based on chicken, rice, and vegetables, this food is designed for dogs that are picky eaters.

Advantages of Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition are listed below

  • The recipe is rich in essential omega fatty acids to improve the look and feel of your dog’s coat and skin
  • This dog food is rich in B Vitamins, zinc, antioxidants, and Vitamin E to help keep your dog’s immune system strong
  • It has a unique fiber blend that keeps your dog’s digestive system functioning optimally

Disadvantages of Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition are listed below

  • This food, unfortunately, features corn and not a premium protein as the first ingredient
  • This food contains some artificial colors and flavors

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive Pedigree Dog Food Review.

5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

Our rating: 5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice
Type: Dry Life Protection formula with LifeSource Bits
Producer: Blue Buffalo
Daily Feeding Cost: $1.04 per day
Caloric content: 3,627 kcal/kg, 378 kcal/cup
Best for Small Adult Dogs

The Blue Buffalo Chicken & Brown Rice dry dog food uses real meat, whole grains, veggies, and fruits blended with LifeSource Bits designed to support your dog’s overall health and immune system.

It also contains calcium and phosphorous for strong bones and teeth and glucosamine to support your dog’s joints and mobility.

At $1.04 per day, this premium dog food is on the more expensive side compared to other recipes listed here but is well worth it for the quality of ingredients.

Advantages of the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula are listed below

  • Real deboned chicken features as the primary ingredient, supplying your pet with plenty of quality protein
  • The recipe is packed full of whole grains and delicious vegetables and fruits including a Super 7 package of antioxidant-rich ingredients
  • It doesn’t contain corn, wheat, soy, or chicken by-product meals

Disadvantages of the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula are listed below

  • Some dogs simply refused to eat this food
  • Some dogs on this diet suffered from excessive gas and gastrointestinal issues
  • It contains peas which can cause allergic reactions in dogs

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive Blue Buffalo Dog Food Review.

6. Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes
Type: Dry grain-free formula
Producer: Nature’s Recipe
Daily Feeding Cost: $1.03 per day
Caloric content: 3470 kcal/kg, 355 kcal/cup
Best for Small Adult Dogs

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free dog food includes real chicken as the first ingredient and primary protein source.

It also contains nutrient-dense carbohydrates, including sweet potatoes and pumpkins that are not only high in carbs but supply other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

At $1.03 per day, you are getting food made from premium real-meat proteins and sweet potatoes (organic GMO) without corn, wheat, and soy which are common allergens and are not easily digestible.

Advantages of the Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free dog food are listed below

  • This food features an easily digestible formula packed with probiotics to be easy on the gut
  • This food is suitable for dogs of all life stages, from puppies right through to senior pets, so you don’t have to change your dog’s diet as he ages
  • This food is free from any fillers, or bulking agents, such as corn, wheat, or poultry by-products

Disadvantages of the Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free dog food are listed below

  • This recipe gave some dogs an upset stomach
  • This food made some dogs very itchy
  • It contains peas as the 7th ingredient

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive Nature’s Recipe Dog Food Review.

7. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice
Type: Dry grain-free formula
Producer: Merrick
Daily Feeding Cost: $1.42 per day
Caloric content: 3711 kcal/kg, 393 kcal/cup
Best for Small Adult Dogs

Designed for dogs with food sensitivities, Merrick Classic Healthy Grains dog food features 70% meat protein and 30% fresh produce from local farms.

Suitable for dogs in all life stages, this grain-free dog food is made to build strong, lean muscles.

While Merrick is slightly more expensive at $1.42 per day, the formula features real, wholesome ingredients from premium sources.

Advantages of the Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry dog food are listed below

  • This food contains a high amount of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat
  • It is formulated with glucosamine and chondroitin to protect your dog’s joints
  • Superfoods like sweet potato, potatoes, blueberries, and apples provide your dog with essential vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants

Disadvantages of the Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry dog food are listed below

  • This food is only available in a maximum 33lb bag and is one of the more expensive options on our list
  • Some dogs did not like the taste of this food

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive Merrick Dog Food Review.

8. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Wheat
Type: Vet formulated dry dog food
Producer: Hill’s
Daily Feeding Cost: $0.79 per day
Caloric Content: 363 kcal/8-oz cup
Best for Small Adult Dogs

The Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Barley Recipe includes fresh chicken as the main ingredient to help maintain strong, lean muscles and ideal body condition.

It also contains omega fatty acids and Vitamin E for healthier skin and coat, and antioxidants with Vitamin C for a healthy immune system.

For just $0.79 per day, this is a good dog food option with high-quality, easy-to-digest ingredients and no added artificial colors and flavors.

Advantages of the Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Barley Recipe are listed below

  • This food is formulated with omega-6 fatty acids and is guaranteed to improve your dog’s skin and coat within 30 days
  • It is packed with natural fibers that will help your pup with proper digestion and weight management
  • This food is made in the USA with natural ingredients sourced from North America, New Zealand, and Europe

Disadvantages of the Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Barley Recipe are listed below

  • This food is only recommended for dogs between 1 and 6 years old. Senior dogs would need to be moved onto a different diet
  • It contains corn, wheat, and soy

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive HIll’s Science Diet Dog Food Review.

9. Victor Purpose Performance Dog Food

Victor Purpose Performance Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Millet
Type: Dry formula supporting joint health
Producer: Victor Purpose
Daily Feeding Cost: $0.77 per day
Caloric content: 3756 kcal/kg, 399 kcal/cup
Best for Small Adult Dogs

Intended for adult and senior pets of all breeds, Victor Purpose Performance dog food is a high-protein formula made with premium-quality beef, chicken, and pork meals ideal for sporting dogs with high physical demands. 

This nutrient-dense recipe also includes glucosamine and chondroitin to help support joint mobility and is blended with essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to improve a dog’s immune system.

It costs just $0.77 per day, which is a bargain for high-energy dog food.

Advantages of the Victor Purpose Performance Dog Food are listed below

  • Includes high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to support your pet’s joint and bone health 
  • Although the formula includes grains, it is gluten-free for dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • This food provides plenty of energy for active and working dogs

Disadvantages of the Victor Purpose Performance Dog Food are listed below

  • Some pet owners complained that this kibble had an odd smell 
  • This kibble was too small for very large dog breeds such as Great Danes

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive Victor Dog Food Review.

10. Eukanuba Dry Dog Food

Eukanuba Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal
Type: Dry formula for adult dogs
Producer: Eukanuba
Daily Feeding Cost: $0.62 per day
Caloric content: 3756 kcal/kg, 399 kcal/cup

The Eukanuba Dry Dog Food features 23% protein, 13% fat, and 3.9% fiber and is suited for large breeds over the age of 15 months and weighing 55 pounds (25 kg) or more.

This dry dog food has been specifically formulated to suit the growing needs of large dogs. 

At just $0.62 per day, your large dog can get enough animal proteins, an optimal level of fats and carbohydrates, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, DHA, and vitamin E for a complete and balanced diet.

Advantages of Eukanuba Dry Dog Food are listed below

  • This formula contains chondroitin and glucosamine to support the bone and joint health of bigger breeds
  • Eukanuba’s 3D DentaDefense helps to reduce tartar buildup, keeping teeth clean and gums healthy
  • The recipe is packed full of natural fiber and prebiotics to aid digestion

Disadvantages of Eukanuba Dry Dog Food are listed below

  • Some dogs got sick on this food
  • Some pets didn’t seem to like the flavor of this food

CHECK PRICE ON CHEWY

To learn more about the best dog food recipes from this brand, read our comprehensive Eukanuba Dog Food Review.

What are the Most Common Ingredients Found in Cheap Dog Foods?

A long-haired Dachshund with food
Hoya, a long-haired Dachshund, waits patiently to be fed – Image source

Cheap and expensive dog foods usually contain the same ingredients like having protein and carbs in the first five ingredients.

However, they use different ingredient quality and proportions.

Most expensive dog foods also feature a special diet, such as no corn, wheat, and soy, grain-free, gluten-free, chicken-free, high protein, and sensitive digestion.

For expensive dog foods like Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Recipe, it features real beef as the first ingredient alongside several other premium animal proteins, such as lamb meal and salmon meal.

While budget-friendly dog foods like Merrick Classic Healthy Grains use real deboned chicken as the first ingredient added with chicken meal and brown rice.

Budget-Friendly Vs. Expensive Dog Food Recipe

  Merrick Classic Health Grains Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Recipe
Protein Source Deboned Chicken Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, and Salmon Meal
Protein % 26% 38%
Carbs Source Brown Rice Sweat Potatoes, Potatoes
Additional Nutrients Omega Fatty Acids, Glucosamine, and Chondroitin Omega Fatty Acids, Glucosamine, and Chondroitin
Special Diet No Corn No Wheat No Soy, Pea-Free, High-Protein No Corn No Wheat No Soy, High-Protein, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Raw, Chicken-Free, Weight Control, Sensitive Digestion

Your dog’s food should also include a moderate amount of healthy fats and carbohydrates. Look for balanced diets that include plenty of healthy fruits and veggies.

The fat content of your pet’s food should not exceed 15% as increased fat can lead to obesity and several health issues.

Ingredients like soy, corn, and wheat, are commonly found in cheap dog foods. However, these cheap carbohydrates can lead to digestive issues in dogs.

Instead, look for food made from easily digestible carbs and whole grains such as sweet potato, barley, and brown rice.

You’ll also want your dog’s food to supply them with plenty of vitamins and minerals, probiotics for digestion, and omega fatty acids for boosting the immune system and building healthy skin and coat.

Some more superior foods also include supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, which help support joint and bone health

Are Cheap Dog Foods Bad for Dogs?

Two dogs being offered with dog food bowls
Two dogs ready to enjoy their budget-friendly meal

No, not all cheap dog foods are bad for dogs. There are still plenty of good dog food options that are affordable but still meet your dog’s nutritional needs.

To avoid choosing low-quality dog foods, you need to carefully check the guaranteed analysis label.

For adult dogs, good dry dog foods should have 18% to 32% of protein, 10% to 15% of fat, and at least 2% to 5% of fiber.

While looking for budget-friendly dog food, be sure to avoid formulas that contain bulking agents, fillers, and artificial additives.

These ingredients provide no nutritional value to your pet and can lead to health problems and allergies.

Try also to stick to well-known brands made in the USA, Western Europe, New Zealand, or Australia, as these dog foods usually conform to the minimum requirements set out by the AAFCO to ensure your pet is getting sufficient nutrition.

You’ll also be more likely to find cheap dry kibble than wet food brands.

Inexpensive wet dog food has a very high water content and isn’t as likely to provide your pet with complete and balanced nutrition. 

How Much Should You Feed Your Dog?

A Shiba Inu with food
Nago, a Shiba Inu, cannot wait to munch on his meal – Image source

The recommended amount of food you need to give your dog will vary based on his age, breed, size, weight, activity level, and health conditions.

Be sure to pick a food that has been formulated according to your dog’s needs and follow the daily feeding guidelines printed on the bag.

For large adult dog breeds, such as Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever, the dog food should have a high-protein diet to maintain lean mass and healthy body weight, low in fats and calories to prevent obesity, and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.

Is It Cheaper to Make Homemade Dog Food?

An Akita Inu with food
Gigi, an Akita Inu, loves noodles and broccoli – Image source

No, homemade dog food isn’t normally cheaper than store-bought, commercial food.

Due to the price advantage of commercial dog food brands, even budget-friendly dog foods can be cheaper than homemade dog foods. 

For example, preparing homemade dog food like “Salmon with Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes”, the cost for salmon is about $2 per 10g, $1 for sweet potatoes per pound, and $1 for potatoes per pound with a total of $4 per serving.

On the other hand, the same ingredients from the Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream dog food recipe will only cost $1.85 per pound.

It also takes a lot of time and effort to ensure that the dog food you’re making at home is providing your dog with well-balanced and complete nutrition.

You may need to consult a vet or canine nutritionist to make sure your homemade dog food is catering to all your pet’s needs. 

Is It Cheaper to Buy Dog Food Online?

A Pomeranian eating a dog treat
Latte, a Pom, finds his treat yummy – Image source

Pet food prices have increased in recent years but so have the number of options available to consumers.

While occasionally, you may be able to find pet foods at a cheaper price in-store, there is a lot more variety available online.

On Amazon and Chewy, or other online stores, dog food can be cheaper by 5% to 10% and with free shipping for a minimum spend of $49.

When you shop online, you also have the luxury of time, so you can carefully look at and compare each dog food’s ingredients, price, and daily feeding cost.

This will enable you to be able to choose the best affordable food that still offers your dog quality nutrition.

What Are the Most Expensive Dog Foods?

A Golden Retriever Poodle mix with dog food
Cain, a Goldendoodle, gets a special dinner – Image source

Expensive dog foods don’t necessarily mean better for your dog’s health and well-being.

Sometimes you’re just paying for good marketing and a well-known, trendy brand name while buying a dog food product. 

If you’re looking for some expensive dog foods for your pet, you need to make sure that they use premium whole protein, such as beef, pork, turkey, and salmon, and high-quality grains like whole brown rice and oatmeal.

Here are three expensive dog foods with quality nutritional value that are worth the price tag.

  1. ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  2. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Ancestral Fish Formula
  3. Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free Great Plains Red Recipe

Read the complete list of the Most Expensive Dog Foods that are Worth the Money.

So What is the Best Budget-Friendly Dog Food for Fido?

A Jack Russell Terrier lying down beside a dog food bowl
A hungry Jack Russell Terrier

When picking a budget-friendly dog food for your pet, you don’t just want to grab the cheapest thing on the shelf.

Be sure you’re looking for quality food that still features premium ingredients. Your pet’s food should be made up of real proteins and plenty of wholesome fruits and vegetables.

While many affordable dog foods contain grains, try and look for options made from real, whole grains and easily digestible carbohydrates which will supply your pet with enough nutrition.

Avoid foods packed with unhealthy fillers, artificial additives, and chemicals. You’ll also want to stick to foods made in the USA that meet the AAFCO requirements for a complete and balanced diet.

Have you found the perfect budget-friendly pet food for your furry friend? We’d love to hear all about your selection in the comments below.

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