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19 Dog Food Brands To Avoid & Why They Are Bad For Your Pup

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You should always check the back of the brand’s packaging to see the ingredients and whether their ratios are healthy for your dog. The first five ingredients are the most important. The first ingredient listed is the main ingredient in that food.

Dogs need high-quality food to thrive. As owners, it’s our responsibility to provide this food.

Dog food brands to avoid are ones that have animal by-products or grains as the main ingredient. You want that first ingredient to be a high-quality one, like chicken or fish. 

The supplementary ingredients should be whole grains and vegetables. 

Almost all dog food brands are labeled as healthy and nutritionally balanced for dogs. But not all are what they claim to be. 

Some brands can cause your dog serious health issues. These brands can lower your dog’s immune system, cause gastrointestinal illnesses and change their mood.

Wet Dog Food Brands To Avoid

Wet dog food brands to avoid uses artificial fillers. These are cheap ingredients used to replace foods with higher nutritional value. Examples of this include corn, grain, rice, and wheat which are used to replace a natural meat protein.

Before choosing a wet dog food, look at the “Stated Protein Content” on the packaging to ensure that the percentage and source of protein suit your dog’s breed.

Wet dog food brands that contain unexplained by-products of meat should be avoided. These by-products can be slaughterhouse rejects or meat meals mixed with poisonous cohesive.

Related: What Can Dogs Not Eat? 20 Toxic Foods

1. Cesar Filets Delight Porterhouse Steak Flavor With Peas And Carrots Dog Food Tray

The main ingredient of this wet food is water but this is compromised by the use of meat by-products. Not only is this meat discarded leftovers, but they don’t clarify what type. This is a big red flag for dogs with allergies or skin problems.

Crude Protein (min)9.0%
Crude fat (min)4.0%
Crude Fiber (max)1.0%
Moisture (max)82.0%
Cesar Filets Delight
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2. Purina Mighty Dog Chicken, Egg & Bacon Country Platter Wet Dog Food

This brand contains chicken as its main ingredient but then includes various unnamed meat by-products. These are unidentified meat types and parts that can be toxic to dogs with allergies. It also contains guar gum which can cause stomach aches and diarrhea.

Crude Protein (min)10%
Crude fat (min)7%
Crude Fiber (max)1.5%
Moisture (max)78%
Purina Mighty Wet Dog Food
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3. Pedigree Wet Dog Food Chopped Ground Dinner With Chicken

Pedigree has a bad reputation for being of bad quality. This particular food contains chicken by-products. It also contains brewers’ rice which is the by-product of the milling of white rice. It has lesser nutritional value than white rice, which already doesn’t provide much nutrition.

Crude Protein (min)8.0%
Crude fat (min)6.0%
Crude Fiber (max)1.0%
Moisture (max)78%
Pedigree Wet Dog Food
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4. Gravy Train Beef Chunks In Gravy Wet Dog Food

This food contains Butylated Hydroxyanisole which is used to preserve food. This ingredient can result in kidney failure in dogs. Gravy Train Beef Chunks is affordable but it is not recommendable for a stable diet.

Crude Protein (min)8.0%
Crude fat (min)3.0%
Crude Fiber (max)1.5%
Moisture (max)82%
Gravy Train
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5. Ol’ Roy Meaty Loaf Wet Food

This brand offers many flavors but they are filled with ingredients that are unhealthy for dogs, such as soy flour and guar gum. It also has a high salt concentration.

Crude Protein (min)9%
Crude fat (min)5.5%
Crude Fiber (max)1.5%
Moisture (max)78%

Dry Dog Food Brands To Avoid

Avoid dry food brands that use large amounts of by-products from meat, cereal, or wheat. You should also avoid dry foods with chemicals and dyes used to increase the shelf life of the food. These can cause pulmonary problems.

Avoid dog food brands that excessively use preservatives.

Preservatives can be carcinogenic and can cause organ failure, dehydration, stomach irritation, tooth decay, and other long-term health issues.

The meat proteins can have chemicals, growth hormones, insecticides, and steroids that are poisonous to your dog. Steer clear from foods that have butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).

1. Purina Dog Chow Complete Adult Dry Dog Food With Real Chicken

This dry food contains whole grain corn which is difficult for dogs to digest. It can cause constipation and other digestive problems. It is high in fat and lower in fiber which is not good for dogs[1]

Crude Protein (min)21.0%
Crude fat (min)10.0%
Crude Fiber (max)4.5%
Moisture (max)12.0%
Linoleic acid (min)1.5%
Calcium (min)1.0%
Phosphorous (min)0.8%
Vitamin A (min)10.000 IU/kg
Vitamin E(min)100 IU/kg
Purina Dog Chow Complete Adult Dry Dog Food
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2. Kibbles ‘n Bits Original Savoury Beef & Chicken Flavours Dry Dog Food

This brand uses the additive Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) to preserve the food. It can damage your dog’s kidneys if eaten in large amounts. This formula is also high in carbohydrates, low in moisture, and uses plant-based protein and artificial food dyes.[2]

Crude Protein (min)19%
Crude fat (max)12%
Crude Fiber (max)4%
Moisture (max)18%
Calcium (min)1.0%
Phosphorous (min)0.76%
Zinc (min)125 mg/kg
Vitamin A (min)5100 IU/kg
Vitamin E (min)500 IU/kg
Kibbles ‘n Bits Original Savoury Beef & Chicken Flavours Dry Dog Food
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3. Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food

This food contains various vitamins and minerals but it uses synthetic protein. The chicken used is a by-product which means it comes from the unwanted leftovers of chickens slaughtered for humans. This could provoke allergies in dogs already suffering from them. This brand is cheap which is why owners turn to it but you should invest in higher quality food if you can.

It also has beet pulp and corn which is hard on a dog’s digestive system.[3]

Crude protein25.0%
Crude fat (min)14.0%
Crude fiber4.0%
Sodium selenite0.35 mg/kg
Vitamin E60 IU/kg
Omega 6 fatty acids2.05%
lams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food
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4. Kal Kan Adult Dog Food

The first five ingredients of this brand are by-products. This makes it dangerous to give to dogs as these ingredients are unknown. The main ingredient is corn which is not good for dogs. It also has large amounts of artificial proteins.

Crude protein20.0%
Crude fat (min)8.0%
Crude Fiber (max)4.0%
Moisture (max)12.0%
Calcium (min)1.0%
Zinc175 mg/kg
Vitamin E (min)100 IU/kg

5. Purina Senior 7+ Healthy Morsels Soft & Crunchy Bites Dog Food

This brand should not be given to senior dogs because it has no nutritional value. It has a high amount of animal fats, soybeans, and ground wheat; all ingredients that your dog should not eat in large amounts. 

Senior dogs need to eat food that is low in calories because they move less and are more susceptible to obesity.

Crude protein28%
Crude fat (min)12.0%
Crude Fiber (max)4.5%
Moisture (max)12.0%
Linoleic acid1.3%
Calcium (min)1.0%
Zinc (min)150 ppm
Selenium (min)0.35 ppm
Vitamin A (min)14.000 IU/kg
Vitamin E (min0460 IU/kg
Vitamin C (min)70 mg/kg
Glucosamine (min)400 ppm
Omega 6 fatty acids (min)1.5%

Natural Dog Food Brands To Avoid

There are a number of natural dog food brands you should avoid:

  • Acana Pet Food: Dogs that regularly eat treats made with this brand can get arsenic, lead, or cadmium poisoning.
  • Zignature Dog Food: This brand has been said to induce heart disease in dogs.
  • Merrick Dog Food: The brand recalled some of their product in 2011 for possible salmonella contamination and was identified to contain heavy metals by the US Food And Drugs Association.
  • Sportmix Pet Food: This brand was reported to have alarming levels of aflatoxin. This is a toxin by the mold Aspergillus flavus which can grow on corn and other grains used in dog food. Aflatoxin can cause illness and death in pets.

Grain-Free Dog Food Brands To Avoid

In 2019, the US Food And Drugs Association released a list of 16 grain-free pet food that can potentially cause heart disease in dogs. 

The study blames the use of excess amounts of potatoes and peas as an alternative source of carbohydrates that increase the risk of it causing heart disease.[3]

The following dog food brands use good ingredients but have been flagged for one or two problematic ingredients:

  • Acana
  • Zignature
  • Taste of the Wild
  • 4Health
  • Earthborn Holistic
  • Blue Buffalo
  • Nature’s Domain
  • Fromm
  • Merrick
  • California Natural
  • Natural Balance
  • Orijen
  • Nature’s Variety
  • NutriSource
  • Nutro
  • Rachel Ray Nutrish

Country-specific Dog Food Brands To Avoid

Most of the foods we have covered in this article are manufactured in the United States of America and Canada. Below we share dog food brands that should be avoided in you are in the United Kingdom or Australia.

The dog food brands in this list mainly contain undisclosed wheat and meat by-products. The ambiguity of their ingredients makes them unsafe for dogs.

Dog Food Brands To Avoid in the UK

Chewdles Adult Semi-Moist Complete Chicken And Vegetables Dog Food

This food is 55% cereal and 25% of that is maize meal, which is bad for dogs. It also contains unknown meat which is listed as the main ingredient. The ingredient list also lists “various sugars”. These can be bad for dogs.

Frolic Complete With Beef

This brand’s main ingredient is wheat which is not the best carbohydrate for dogs. It has very little protein and a disproportionate amount of sugar.

Wagg Complete Senior

This senior dog food contains a large amount of rice mixed with undisclosed meat and vegetable by-products. White rice is not bad for dogs but this brand contains an unhealthy amount.

Tesco Complete Puppy Dry Food Beef & Vegetable

This food mostly contains undisclosed cereals and various derivatives. It does not contain enough nutrients for the developing body and brain of a puppy.

ASDA Hero Mixer Chicken Gravy Dry Adult Dog Food

This is a cheap grocery store brand and it is low-quality food. It works better as a complementary food added to something else on your dog’s diet. It does not offer enough nutrition to function as a stand-alone meal.

Dog Food Brands To Avoid in Australia

SuperVite Dog Food

Two of the main three ingredients of this brand are cereal and vegetable by-products. The third ingredient is unknown meat by-products. It is low in protein and fat, making it mainly a carbohydrate kibble. This is not recommendable as it leads to weight gain.

My Pet Loves Dog Food

The main ingredients in this food are wheat and sorghum. This is not indicated on the deceiving packaging of the food which only shows chicken, tomatoes, and beetroot. It also contains humectant, a soap by-product that is infused to keep the kibble moist. This can poison your dog.

Chum Crunchy Dog Food

This brand has salt as its third main ingredient. This means salt comes before vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. Dogs should not have more salt than vitamins.

SuperCoat Dog Food

This food is one part meat by-products and three parts wheat by-products. Wheat by-products have been shown to cause allergies, itchy skin, bloating, and other long-term illnesses in dogs.

Drover Dog Food

This food is predominantly salt, cereal, by-products from cereal, and undisclosed meat and  by-products hereof. It also has traces of kelp and garlic which are poisonous to dogs.


If you are unsure about a dog food brand, remember not to feed your dog ingredients you would not eat yourself. Avoid meat by-products as you can’t know what they are and they can be toxic to your dog. 

High-quality brands contain a natural protein source as the first ingredient and a balance of vegetables and carbohydrates.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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