11 Worst Dog Food Brands to Avoid

Worst dog food cover

In modern times, supermarkets are filled or should I say overpacked with pet food. It doesn’t matter if you have a pet cat, dog, parrot, or even an iguana for that matter, the supermarket got you covered. Now here lies the confusion, which one to pick? While there are plenty of websites and forums that’ll happily guide you to the one holy brand for your dog, but it is also essential that you must know which brands to avoid at all costs. All of these brands invest heavily in marketing, one would think that their product is great as well, sadly, that is not the case, and for the non-dog people, No, not all dog food is the same.

What makes Dog Foods Bad?

I’m certain at least once, you must have cooked food for your little buddy and thought to yourself, ”It sure takes time, but it is easy to combine their dietary needs, dog food is just this but convenient”. Yes, it is true, it is convenient, but some big companies don’t think about your pooch’s health, they just want to generate as much money as possible. Bummer, but it is what it is. So, what makes certain dog foods ‘bad’?

  • Unnamed Ingredients: The brands that will have certain meat or fish content in their product will proudly state the name of the meat, say chicken, on the front of the packaging with a percentage stating, how much meat product is in the entire bag. Whereas bad brands simply, alter this source of protein, which can have a dire effect on your dog’s health. These will have wordings such as Meat Meal, Bone Meal, or Made by Meat Product written on them.
  • Plant By-Products: Now you might be wondering, aren’t vegetables and bread, made from grain given to dogs all the time? Well, yes, however, those are fed to them as a snack or along with other proteins. The entire purpose of packaged dog food is to avoid having to think about what to give to your dog, and how much. Dogs cannot utilize plant protein, as it is dense in nature, and their body takes an extremely long time to break it down compared to meat protein. To reach the standard protein limit, some brands add extensive amounts of pea or potato protein, which are by-products of processing, and these are more or less useless for dogs. Furthermore, it hikes the carbohydrate level that is also bad for dogs.
  • Unsafe Ingredients: While the previous points do make dog food bad in taste as well as in nutritional value, but unsafe ingredients are the ones that can severely impact the health of your dog, and can even result in death. It could occur if the company is using spoiled meat or vegetables. Dog food can also become hazardous if one of the ingredients becomes contaminated, and end up contaminating the entire batch. If such a thing happens, usually the brand sends out emails to the customers for the recalls, and one must be aware of how many times a company had recalled their product.

Though there are regulations, and standards set by various associations, some brands just find ways to cut costs that result in the poor health of your beloved pooch.

Worst Dog Food Brands to Avoid

Now you know there are bad quality products. You are in the market for your pups’ food and now are completely unaware which ones to avoid. Well, these are the brands you should simply never feed to your fur child.

1. Pedigree: Easily one of the most recognized dog food brands in the entire world, it doesn’t matter what part of the world you are in, you will find Pedigree. As soon as you get into the pet food aisle, you are greeted with bags after bags of Pedigree. Though it might be convenient, it is considered among the worse dog food by active dog owners. One reason behind it is that Pedigree utilizes all of the bad products that are just fillers, from Bone Meal to using soy and wheat, which hikes the overall amount of carbohydrates. While some people debate that corn and wheat are actually good for dogs, the widespread disapproval of Bone Meal cannot be ignored. Plus, these ingredients are not openly stated on the label and makes customer question the ethics of the brand. If these were not enough, Pedigree also has a consistent history of recalls, which just goes to show why this is among the worse brands of dog food.

Pedigree bad food

2. Kibbles ‘N Bits: A brand that has been around the 1980s, and of course recognized as one of the worst dog food brands in the market. One unique thing about this brand is that they mix soft-chew bits with the regular dog food that makes it heterogenous for dogs, but unfortunately, they use low-quality products. To reach the set limit of protein, Kibbles ‘N Bits use soy, and bone meal in excessive amounts, and as you know these are not good for your pooch. Another red flag that gives the poor quality of this brand away is that they list meat ingredients 5th on the ingredient list, which is without a question, one of the most important parts of a dog’s diet. In 2018, Pentobarbital was found in Kibbles ‘N Bits, which is a chemical used for euthanizing dogs, this led to many concerns from dog owners. Therefore, just avoid using this product.

Kibbles 'n bits

3. Ol’ Roy: The dog food brand of the supermarket goliath, Walmart. Unlike other products, it is only sold by Walmart, however, you’d be surprised to know that it is actually manufactured by Mars Petcare, which owns Pedigree, and other brands. Ol’ Roy uses a high amount of plant ingredients such as soy, wheat, corn, and corn gluten meal to bump up the protein quantity. Sadly, this is a plant protein, which as mentioned earlier is dense and not processed properly by dogs. Not only that, but Ol’ Roy is also extremely high in carbohydrates due to the extensive use of grains. This brand has been subject to various recalls, and serious health and safety concerns.

Ol’ Roy

4. Alpo: Similar to Mars Petcare, which owns multiple dog food brands, Alpo is also owned by a similar giant called Purina, and the overlord of these is Nestle, which owns Purina. Alpo’s dry dog food barely contains 21% of the protein that is less than average in the market, plus, it is not sourced from meat, but from plants such as soy and corn. However, one thing going for Alpo is their relatively clean record for recalls. As it had only been recalled once in the last two decades due to melamine contamination.


5. Gravy Train: With a name like Gravy Train, you’d expect this brand to have amazing ingredients, with a rich gravy, but this isn’t the case. They use water in the recipe to create their lackluster gravy. As for the ingredients, they aren’t any better as they heavily use soy and wheat middlings. Wheat middling is a byproduct of wheat processing, and as you can imagine it has no nutritional value in it, however, the company claims it is great for hounds. Similar to Kibbles ‘N Bits, the Gravy train was recalled in 2018 for the presence of Pentobarbital.

Gravy Train

6. Dog Chow: Owned by Purina, this is a budget-friendly option and has been around since 1965. While it is nice to see some brands aiming for a low-cost dog market, however, their ingredients just make them a bad option. They have huge amounts of plant-based ingredients in their recipe; soybean, corn, and corn gluten meal. This makes this dog food almost entirely made up of dense proteins along with dense carbohydrates. This has been recalled on many occasions as well. One in 2013 for salmonella contamination, and another time in 2012 for low thiamine levels.

Dog Chow

7. Beneful: Another dog food brand owned by Purina, but it is relatively new, as it was launched in 2001. By now you’d have noticed a trend that Purina brands just do not use high-quality ingredients, and it is the same for Beneful as well. While it does clearly state meat ingredients, they are present in low amounts, and almost 50% of its caloric value is comprised of carbohydrates. This brand also uses soy, corn, and wheat middlings heavily. Additionally, Beneful has few recalls, however, those were for not meeting the set limit of vitamins and minerals.


8. Grreat Choice: Just like Ol’ Roy, which is exclusive to Walmart, Grreat choice is the exclusive dog food brand of PetSmart. Coming from the store that specifically caters to pets, one would think that it should be the best dog food, however, it is far from the truth. Grreat choice utilizes cornmeal, wheat middlings, and poultry fat, and as you may have guessed by now, it creates dense carbohydrates, which are just not useful for pooches. Additionally, it had a major recall in 2017 due to metal contamination.

Grreat Choice

9. Kal Kan: One of the oldest dog food brands that have been around since 1936, it was later acquired by Mars Petcare. Similar to other Mars PetCare brands, Kal Kan also uses low-quality ingredients such as corn, meat and bone meal, soybean meal, and wheat middling. Additionally, they use below-average quality meat ingredients. Combining this with dense grains results in poor nutritional value, and is not considered an ideal diet for dogs. However, this is one brand that has a clean record as it has never been recalled.

Kal Kan

10. Sportmix: Even older than the Kal Kan, Sportmix was launched in the year 1920, but now they are owned by Midwestern Pet Foods. As the name suggests, this recipe was focused on active and athletic dogs, and the brand promised that their product had an adequate amount of nutrition, but it just isn’t the case. While athletic dogs require high amounts of fat and protein, this recipe only had 8% of fat and 21% of protein. In 2020, over 100 dogs have died because of this dog food, and nearly 200 dogs fell ill after eating it.


11. Luvsome: It is owned by the behemoth retail company, Kroger. One huge plus point of this brand is that they use real meat like chicken and beef in their dog food, however, it is ultimately let down by the inclusion of high amounts of plant ingredients. Though the protein is adequate, and it is derived from meat, which is great for dogs, the excessive amounts of dense carbohydrates cannot be ignored. It should also be noted that Luvsome has never been recalled either, so at least, it got that going for it. [1]Pet Food Reviewer


These are among the worst dog food brands in the market, it is best if you invest in other brands, or better yet, start cooking meals for your pooch yourself. It is safer and gives you a better idea of how much nutrition you are providing to your fur child.


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