12 Worst Dog Food Brands to Avoid this Year – 2023

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There’s no shortage of dog foods available on the market these days. Take a stroll through your local pet store and you’re bound to find aisles and aisles of products with dramatically different price points.

While it’s not always the case, the price typically dictates the quality of the food.

It can be tempting to go with those cheaper brands. However, doing so could put your dog’s health at risk!

What your dog consumes daily has a large effect on their overall health.

Unfortunately, not all brands are focused on providing high-quality meals.

Cheap fillers, subpar protein sources, and a host of other bad ingredients are often used to keep the manufacturing costs low. Sadly those inferior ingredients can have a lasting effect on your dog.

Not only will they prevent your pup from reaching their full potential, but they can cause all kinds of health issues.

There are a ton of big no-nos in the pet food industry. While those premium brands work hard to provide a balanced diet for your furry friend, others use questionable ingredients you want to avoid.

To help you shop smarter, here are some dog food brands you want to avoid in 2022.

12 Bad Dog Foods to Avoid

#1.  IAMS Dry Dog Food Chunks

At first glance, IAMS products don’t seem so bad. The first ingredient is usually chicken, which is a great protein source.

However, when you start to look at some of the other ingredients used, it starts to become evident that this dog food isn’t a good option for your dog.

First, it has corn meal. This is nothing more than a filler. Secondly, it uses chicken byproduct meal. There’s that controversial “byproduct” again.

While this byproduct is identified, IAMS doesn’t provide any information about what the byproduct is. Is it beneficial organs or is it slaughterhouse waste?

Finally, there’s sorghum and beet pulp. Sorghum is similar in nutrient content to corn meal. Meanwhile, beet pulp is a high-fiber byproduct that can lead to weight gain.

Caloric Content

3,646 kcal/kg, 380 kcal/cup

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein25.0% min
Crude Fat14.0% min
Crude Fiber4.0% max
Moisture10.0% max
Calcium1.05% min
Selenium0.35 mg/kg min
Vitamin E60 IU/kg min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.05% min

#2.  Kal Klan Complete Adult

The biggest issue with Kal Klan is that there are no wholesome meat-based protein sources. The very first ingredient on the list is usually corn.

Meat should always be the first on the list regardless of the brand or price. Having corn as the top-listed ingredient is always a red flag.

As if that weren’t enough, Kal Klan uses soybean meal and bone meal. Soybean meal is a byproduct of making soy oil. Meanwhile, bone meal is nothing more than ground-up bone and cartilage.

Of course, there’s no way to tell what animal is being used. So it’s best to avoid it.

#3.  Twin Pet Dog Food

Twin Pet primarily uses plants for their dog foods. While some plants are beneficial to your pup’s health, a fully plant-based diet isn’t good. Dogs need meat.

Once again, the first ingredient on the list is corn. However, that’s not even the most troubling thing in the formula. You’ll also find meat byproducts and wheat middlings.

Byproducts aren’t great because they come from questionable sources. Wheat middlings is bad because it’s basically the leftover dust that comes from milling wheat.

#4.  Purina Dog Chow

Purina is a very popular dog food manufacturer that’s been around for over a hundred years. Dog Chow is one of the most popular brands owned by Purina. You can find it in virtually every grocery store.

Unfortunately, it’s filled with some unsavory ingredients. It utilizes all of those unhealthy fillers like corn, wheat, and soy.

But that’s not all. You can also find a bevy of artificial ingredients. 

Dog Chow contains artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. All of that should be avoided.

#5.  Purina Beneful

Beneful is another brand that’s owned by Purina. Like other Purina products, Beneful foods can be found at very affordable prices.

The tricky thing about Beneful dog food is that the company advertises “real meats.”

Real meats are indeed used. However, so are byproducts and fillers. Chances are, the fillers greatly outweigh the real stuff.

All of the Beneful formulas contain corn, wheat, and soy. They also have artificial ingredients.

#6.  Gravy Train Dog Food

Gravy Train is a pretty popular canned food brand. There are some good things in the Gravy Train formula. You can find things like chicken and lamb.

Unfortunately, some questionable ingredients are used as well.

Meat byproducts are the biggest red flag on the ingredients list. As we mentioned earlier, these products can come from unknown sources.

The fact that they aren’t identified should be a cause for concern.

#7.  Cesar Filets

Typically marketed as an indulgent food for small dog breeds, Cesar Filets have a pretty big hold on the dog food market.

These products are available in big-name grocery stores across the world, making them highly accessible.

The biggest issue we see with Cesar Filets is the salt content. The wet food is very high in sodium, which could pose a significant health risk for your dog as they get older.

On top of that, the recipe calls for potentially unhealthy meat byproducts.

#8.  Alpo by Purina

Another Purina-owned brand is Alpo. Alpo has one of the most contentious reputations in the dog food industry. Many reports have come out about dogs getting sick and dying after eating Alpo food.

While one could argue about the connection, these complaints got so bad that the FDA got involved.

After investigating the production line, the FDA put out warnings for consumers. There were even some recalls. For those reasons, we recommend avoiding Alpo altogether.

#9.  Diamond Dog Food

Diamond pet foods are marketed as premium products without the premium price. There are some good things about Diamond dry foods, such as the use of chelated minerals.

However, the protein ingredients are where things get a bit hairy.

The brand relies heavily on plant-based proteins instead of wholesome meats. They utilize corn, wheat, and soy. Not only that, but unnamed byproducts are pretty common as well.

#10.  Kibbles N’ Bits

There’s no doubt that you’ve seen some funny Kibbles N’ Bits advertisements at some points. Thanks to their great marketing campaigns, this brand is fairly popular and has done a great job of convincing owners that it’s a tasty choice for dogs.

That said, the ingredient’s list shows that the formulas rely more on corn fillers rather than wholesome proteins.

Corn is the first ingredient on the list, which indicates that it’s the most prevalent in the recipe.

#11.  Pedigree

The Pedigree brand has a large line of products marketed towards puppies, adults, and senior dogs. The dry dog food products are relatively affordable and readily available.

While not as bad as some others on this list, Pedigree is definitely not a good long-term option for dogs.

Whole grain corn is the first ingredient on the list. It’s a common allergen and isn’t the easiest thing to digest. Artificial flavors are used as well, which have no place in dog food.

#12.  Wegman’s Bruiser Kibble

Wegman’s is a very affordable dog food brand. However, when you take a look at the ingredient’s list, you’ll find a lot of things you should avoid.

The formula contains ingredients that many experts agree are dangerous for dogs. This includes xantham gum, cord gluten, artificial food coloring, and more.

While it has an attractive price tag, those harmful ingredients could do long-term damage to your dog’s health.

What Makes a Dog Food Bad?

Dry dog food products are more complex than most people give them credit for. In each individual morsel, there are tons of components packed in.

Manufacturers can utilize a wide variety of ingredients to create their product and there can be tons of things wrong with the formula.

However, there are a few important categories that have the biggest impact on your dog’s health.

Here are some key considerations that could turn an otherwise decent food into something that you should avoid at all costs.

Questionable Meat Ingredients

Protein is, by far, the most important macronutrient that your dog needs to survive. Animal meats are chock-full of beneficial amino acids that will support your dog’s muscles and keep them healthy.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a young puppy or an aging senior, they will need high levels of protein.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials requires that adult dog foods have at least 18 percent protein. That’s the bare minimum.

Most experts will tell you that you need far more than that to help a pup reach their full potential.

The issue with proteins in cheaper foods is that it’s not from the best source. Your dog doesn’t just need a lot of protein. They need good and healthy proteins.

Good examples would include wholesome meats or even meat meals. 

Meat meals are nothing more than ground-up meat. High-quality foods utilize things like beef, chicken, turkey, fish, and more.

Substandard Foods

Substandard foods will utilize mystery byproducts.

Byproducts are usually things that aren’t fit for human consumption. They could refer to the “4-D” meats. “4-D” meats include protein from dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals!

It’s not uncommon for some unscrupulous manufacturers to source their meats from slaughterhouse leftovers, roadkill, or even euthanized animals.

questionable meats in substandard dog food

There are tons of problems with these questionable meats. The biggest is that they could be infected with harmful bacteria and diseases.

Do you really want to run the risk of feeding your dog diseased meats?

It’s best to just avoid byproducts altogether to avoid the risks.

Manufacturers often get these cheaper meats from a wide variety of sources. As a result, they don’t provide specific information.

Instead, they put “meat byproducts” on the ingredients list and call it a day. If you’re unable to identify the specific animal that meat came from, move on to another option.

Unnecessary Fillers

Another huge issue with cheaper dog foods is the use of fillers. Filler products like corn, wheat, and soy, are notorious for causing health issues.

These ingredients are used to beef up the food a bit and increase the calorie count.

While they’ll help your dog feel fuller, they don’t provide any nutritional content. They’re essentially empty calories.

Fillers are primarily used to keep the costs low.

Instead of utilizing healthy complex carbs or plant-based ingredients as a source of vitamins, some manufacturers will simply use those fillers to make the product as affordable as possible.

Corn, wheat, and soy are all very cheap to source. They grow fast and can be harvested in bulk. Some brands will even use these ingredients in lieu of meat-based proteins!

Unfortunately, dogs aren’t designed to handle those ingredients.

They could experience digestive issues. Not only that, but they lack the good amino acids your dog needs to stay in shape.

A lifetime of filler-based foods can cause obesity, heart problems, and more.

Synthetic Ingredients

Finally, there are the synthetic additives you need to worry about. Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives have no place in dog food.

There’s no practical need for colors and flavors.

Dogs don’t care about that stuff at all! You could make the argument that artificial flavors do more to entice dogs. However, there are much better alternatives out there.

There’s no better way to add flavor to dog foods than animal fat and protein. If the food is utilizing good-quality meat sources, there shouldn’t be a need for artificial flavors in the first place.


The same goes for preservatives. Preservatives are meant to prolong the shelf life of products. Dry dog foods do need preservatives to prevent spoilage.

But why use artificial ingredients when there are natural alternatives out there.

Mixed tocopherols are typically used by high-quality brands. It’s safe for dogs and does just as good of a job as the chemical-based stuff.

The issue with synthetic additives is that they can cause a wide range of health issues. Dogs that have allergies are particularly sensitive to them.

Imagine eating nothing but chemical-based foods your entire life. You’d eventually run into some health problems, right? The same concept can be applied to your dog’s food.

Here is a video from Dr. John Tegzes,VMD, Diplomat American Board of Veterinary Toxicology from Western University of Health Sciences explaining the use of preservatives in dog food


Dog food requires special consideration. It’s the one thing that you should never skimp on. Your pup is an important member of your family. So, you should be providing them with high-quality foods that will keep them healthy.

There are tons of options on the market. Avoid these listed worst dog food brands and find one that offers everything your dog needs.

Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Whipped Cream? Is It Safe?

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