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Top 10 Worst UK Dog Food Brands
There’s a variety of dog food brands to choose from in the UK. This is both a blessing and a curse because the more choices you have, the more difficult it is to tell which ones are good and which are bad.
With that in mind, we did extensive research to help you avoid dog foods that are of poor quality or outright harmful to your pooch.
How We Evaluated the Worst UK Dog Food Brands
Assembling a list of UK dog food to avoid was no easy task, but we did extensive research and came up with a strategy on how to evaluate it. We visited a vet clinic and asked the veterinarians about proper and balanced canine nutrition. They provided us with valuable insights into what our pooches should and shouldn’t eat and what most pet parents are doing wrong.
We then interviewed UK pet store clerks about what to look out for on the label. We also picked their brains about the most popular food brands and the reasons behind their popularity. They told us that more expensive is not necessarily better and gave us examples of what they feed their pooches at home.
We also asked about the foods they’d recommend to their friends and those they wouldn’t wish on their worst enemies (we were particularly interested in the latter).
The last thing we did was consult our UK friends about what they feed their pooches and what they avoid. They told us which brands have a bad reputation and why. All the info we accumulated through the interviews with experts and dog parents was enough to start looking for UK dog food options of the poorest quality.
How We Picked the Worst UK Food Brands
Our interviews with vets, parents, and clerks gave us a pretty clear picture of what we should look for. We started by compiling a list of over 40 foods, both dry and wet, based on what we were told. Everyone was assigned several brands and had to dive deeper into online reviews for their products, as well as scan every letter of the label to check for the ingredient ratio and quality.
Here are some of the most important things to look for in dog food:
- The main ingredient should be a named meat source (not a generic “meat,” “poultry,” or other dubious sources)
- The food should be marked as “complete” and not “complementary” (the latter means it can be used in addition to the pooch’s meal, but it can’t replace it)
- Any vegetables, fruits, and grains in the food should be whole
- The food should contain little to no by-products (derivatives)
- The food doesn’t contain artificial flavors, color, or other ingredients
We had these things in mind while researching the UK dog food, and they are some of the key criteria we used for choosing our “favorites.” Without any further ado, we bring you the worst dog food the UK has to offer.
|The Worst UK Dog Food Brands|
|Alpha Paw Picks||Brands||Rating|
|Worst overall||Chewdles Adult Semi Moist Complete Chicken And Vegetables Dog Food||1.2|
|Runner-up||Purina Bakers Adult Dry Dog Food||1.2|
|Second runner-up||Frolic Complete With Beef||1.3|
|Worst for senior dogs||Wag Complete Senior||1.2|
|Worst for puppies||Tesco Complete Puppy Dry Food Beef & Vegetable||1.3|
Worst overall: Chewdles Adult Semi-Moist Complete Chicken And Vegetables Dog Food
Chewdles Adult Semi-Moist Complete Chicken And Vegetables Dog Food is the king of terrible dog foods you can find in the UK. The food is cereal-based—55% of it is cereals, 25% of which is maize meal, and this is just coarsely ground corn flour. The food contains little meat of dubious origin—a meat meal, which is listed as one of the main ingredients, could be any roadkill goo from the rendering plant.
Oils and fats are of unknown origin, and there are no whole vegetables in Chewdles. The ingredient list also contains “various sugars.” As you can see, if you give your pooch Chewdles, you won’t even be sure what you’re feeding them. They might even find it tasty, but it is not good for their health. We suggest you avoid this brand completely.
Cereals (30% brown rice and 25% maize meal in yellow kibble), Meat and Animal Derivatives (20% chicken meal in the chunks, 26% meat meal in red / brown kibble), Oils and Fats, Vegetable Protein Extract, Various Sugars, Minerals (including 0.5% calcium), Yeasts, Vegetables (4% pea flour in green kibble), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin, Milk and Milk Derivatives, Sensory Additives: Colourants; Technological Additives: Preservatives; Nutritional Additives (kg): Vitamin A 11300IU, Vitamin D3 770IU, Vitamin E 57mg, Iron (Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate) 74mg, Zinc (Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate) 38mg, Manganese (Manganous Sulphate Monohydrate) 22.5mg, Copper (Cupric Sulphate Pentahydrate) 12.2mg, Iodine (Calcium Iodate Anhydrous) 1.3361mg, Manganese (Manganous Oxide) 0.3mg, Selenium (Sodium Selenite) 0.14mg.
Runner-up: Purina Bakers Adult Dry Dog Food
Purina is generally seen as a low-quality dog food brand. Purina Bakers is no exception to this. This food is another cereal-stuffed nightmare, with plenty of meat and vegetable by-products. These could be beaks and muzzles for all we know. “Real” vegetables are found in traces (does anyone else find “0.3% dried carrot” laughable?). Another controversial ingredient (aren’t they all?) is propylene glycol, which is often linked to asthma and allergies.
Cereals (wholegrains 55%), Meat and animal derivatives (15%), Derivatives of vegetable origin, Oils and fats, Vegetable protein extracts, Glycerol, Vegetables (0,3% dried pea and 0,3% dried carrot), Minerals, Propylene glycol.
Second Runner-up: Frolic Complete With Beef
Frolic Complete is a disaster of food almost entirely made of by-products. The first ingredient is grain (mostly wheat, which is not the best carb source for dogs), and the rest are derivatives. The only “real” ingredient you can find in Frolic are carrots, which is probably why they’re proudly displayed on the pack. Another worrying thing about Frolic is that it contains little protein and a lot of fat—almost as much as protein.
Grains (incl. 4% wheat), vegetable by-products, meat and meat by-products (incl. 4% fresh meat, incl. 4% beef), oils and fats (incl. 1% sunflower oil, 0.25% fish oil), vegetables (4% carrots), minerals, vegetable protein extracts, fish and fish by-products, Vitamin A (6,500 IE/kg), Vitamin D3 (1,625 IE/kg), Vitamin E (118 mg/kg), Calcium iodate anhydrate (2.5 mg/kg), copper sulphate pentahydrate (21 mg/kg), manganese-(II)-sulphate-monohydrate (175 mg/kg), sodium selenite (0.85 mg/kg), zinc sulphate monohydrate (295 mg/kg).
Worst UK Dog Food for Senior Dogs: Wagg Complete Senior
Wagg Complete Senior is far from complete. Your aging furry companion needs extra care when it comes to the food you give them. This recipe is based on white rice and animal and vegetable by-products. Even though white rice is not bad for your dog per se, they don’t need large quantities of it. Your senior dog would be better off with some quality protein source topping the ingredient list.
Cereals (4% Rice), Meat and Animal Derivatives (17.5% including 4% Chicken), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin, Oils and Fats, Minerals, Yeasts (MOS 0.1%), Glucosamine (0.1%), Chondroitin (0.05%), Yucca Extract (0.015%), Citrus Extract (0.05%), Marigold Extract (0.005%), Vitamin D3 1,200 iu, Vitamin A 12,000 iu, Vitamin C 50 mg, Vitamin E 255 mg, L-carnitine 100 mg, Zinc (Zinc Oxide) 75 mg, Zinc (Zinc Chelate of Amino Acids Hydrate) 25 mg, Manganese (Manganous Oxide) 50 mg, Selenium (Sodium Selenite) 0.1 mg, Copper (Copper Sulphate Pentahydrate) 10 mg, Iodine (Calcium Iodate Anhydrous) 2 mg, Preservative, Antioxidant.
Worst UK Dog Food for Puppies: Tesco Complete Puppy Dry Food Beef & Vegetable
Young pups need a lot of quality food because their tiny bodies and brains are developing fast. That’s why you need to make sure to avoid any foods that may cause them harm. Tesco Complete Puppy Dry Food is produced and sold by Tesco. It is probably the worst puppy food in the whole of the UK. It’s mostly based on unknown cereals and various derivatives. Tesco’s Puppy Food is also full of sugar, which is not great for your pupper.
Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives (22% including 4% beef in the red kibble*), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin, Vegetable Protein Extracts, Oils and Fats, Fish and Fish Derivatives, Vegetables (4% peas in the brown kibble*), Minerals, Various Sugars, Yeasts, Vitamin A 20, 400 IU, Vitamin D3 1, 800 IU, Vitamin E 84mg, Iodine (Calcium Iodate Anhydrous) 3mg, Selenium (Sodium Selenite) 0.1mg, Copper (Copper (II) Sulphate Pentahydrate) 10mg, Iron (Iron (II) Sulphate Monohydrate) 72mg, Manganese (Manganese (II) Oxide) 60mg, Zinc (Zinc Oxide) 120mg, Colourants, Preservatives, Antioxidants.
More Terrible UK Dog Food Brands
The brands we have covered so far are the absolute worst, but we’ll mention several more you should stay away from. Here are our honorary mentions:
- Wonderdog No1 Resting Mix
- Pedigree Complete Dry With Beef & Vegetables
- ASDA Hero Mixer Chicken Gravy Dry Adult Dog Food
- Orlando Complete Dog Food
- Arkwrights Extra Dog Food
Wonderdog No1 Resting Mix
Wonderdog No1 Resting Mix is advertised as food for less active or senior dogs with “high-quality nutritional ingredients.” Since none of the ingredients are named, we bet they are not the best there are. The first item on the constituents list is “cereals,” and they don’t even specify which cereals. The rest are just derivatives and sugar. This is not what you want from the best senior dry dog food.
Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives, Derivatives of Vegetable Origin, Oils and Fats, Minerals, Various Sugars, Colourants, Antioxidants, Preservatives. Nutritional Additives / Kg Vitamins: VitaminA 17,000 i.u., Vitamin D 1,500 i.u., Vitamin E 70mg. Trace Elements: Calcium Iodate Anhydrous 4mg, Sodium Selenite 0.2mg, Cupric Sulphate Pentahydrate 32mg, Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate 200mg, Manganous Oxide 81mg, Zinc Oxide 139mg.
Pedigree is a sister brand to Frolic, so you shouldn’t be surprised that Pedigree Complete Dry With Beef & Vegetables is on our list of terrible dog food. This is yet another food on the list that contains unnamed cereals as the number one ingredient and animal by-products as the rest. Its meat source is beef derivatives. Beef is a common allergen, so if your dog is susceptible to allergies, avoid Pedigree.
Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives (18%, including 4% Beef in the Brown Kibbles) Oils and Fats (including 0.4% Sunflower Oil) Vegetable Protein Extracts Derivatives of Vegetable Origin (including 1% Dried Beet Pulp) Minerals Vegetables (4% Carrots in the Orange Kibbles, 4% Peas in the Green Kibbles)
ASDA Hero Mixer Chicken Gravy Dry Adult Dog Food
ASDA Hero Mixer Chicken Gravy Dry Adult Dog Food is a grocery store brand, so you know not to expect much of it. Even though the food is affordable, it’s not even marked as “complete”—it’s a complementary food that should be used as an accompaniment to the pooch’s regular meals. It is mostly made of wheatmeal, which is coarsely ground wheat flour.
Cereals (75% Wheatmeal), Meat and Animal Derivatives (3% Chicken Gravy), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin, Oils and Fats, Minerals, Yeasts
Orlando Complete Dog Food
Orlando Complete Dog Food is a brand by a low-cost supermarket company called Lidl, which has headquarters in Germany. It is another food stuffed with various cereals, animal goo, and unknown fats. Pet parents have reported their dogs having an upset stomach, as well as problems with obesity and joint issues. You should avoid this food at all costs.
Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives (4% Beef), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin, Vegetables (4% Peas), Minerals, Oils and Fats, Yeasts, Antioxidants BHA/BHT (E320/E321), Colourants (E172).
Arkwrights Extra Dog Food
Arkwrights Extra Dog Food is advertised as high-protein food for working dogs. The nutrient breakdown shows that it does have a fairly high amount of protein, but it comes from dubious sources. As is the trend among the worst dog food brands, this one is also stuffed with cereals and animal derivatives. If you have a highly active dog, they need a much better diet than Arkwrights can offer.
Cereals, meat and animal derivatives (minimum 4% beef), vegetable protein extracts, oils and fats, minerals.
What’s in the Best Dog Food? Example: Naturea Regional Chicken Dry Dog Food
As you can see, recognizing the worst dog food is not that difficult—it’s usually stuffed with fillers of low nutritional value, such as cereals and meat and vegetable by-products. Another important thing you can notice on the label immediately is the fact that these ingredients are unspecified. Instead of chicken or pork, you get “meat meal,” “animal derivatives,” etc.
Let’s take a look at the example of some of the best dry dog food—Naturea Regional Chicken Dry Dog Food.
Naturea’s first (and most prominent) ingredient is chicken—real deboned chicken, and not some derivative. You will rest easy knowing that your dog is eating the real thing and not some slaughterhouse rejects. Its main carb source is a high-quality ingredient—sweet potato—and not wheat or various “meals,” which is a code word for the fine dust left after the product was processed to be used for something else.
Aside from these protein and carb sources, there’s plenty of other named ingredients, which are great for your dog, such as:
- Fennel seeds
Check out more of the best UK dog food brands.
Chicken (Fresh Deboned Chicken and Chicken Meal), Sweet Potato, Chicken Fat, Brewer’s Yeast, Hydrolysed Chicken Liver, Egg Powder, Lucerne, Linseed Oil, Salmon Oil, Mannan Oligosaccharides (MOS), Glucosamine (min. 200 mg/kg), Inulin (source of FOS), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) (min. 200 mg/kg), Chondroitin Sulphate (min. 200 mg/kg), Pumpkin, Carrot, Parsley, Red Beets, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Thyme, Sage, Ginger, Sunflower Seeds, Fenugreek, Fennel Seeds, Caraway, Blueberries, Blackberries, Seaweed, Pear, Birch Leaves, Papaya, Basil, Figs, Dill, Anise, Marigold, Spinach, Curcuma.
What Are the Ideal Macros for Your Dog?
Although proteins are super important, your dog needs a balanced diet that contains all of the following:
- Protein (at least 18%)
- Carbs (30–70%)
- Fat (10–15%)
Your pooch needs to get balanced meals every day if you want them to thrive. If you constantly feed your furry friend low-quality food, they will suffer some serious consequences in the long run, such as:
- Kidney issues
- Joints pain
- Premature death
There’s no ideal macronutrient—all of them play an important role in your pup’s health:
- Carbs are the main energy source, and fiber is vital if you want your pup to have a normal stool
- Proteins are what your pooch’s muscles and other tissues are made of
- Fats are another essential energy source, and without them, your pup would have a difficult time absorbing various vitamins
- Vitamins and minerals support your dog’s immune system and help them function properly
Be a Responsible Human Companion to Your Pooch—Feed Them Only the Best
If you live in the UK, or you just happen to be there with your pup for some time, stay away from the foods we listed in this article. These are not the only dog food brands to avoid, but they are the best representatives of the worst foods. Now that you have seen what they are made of, you should be able to “read” any food by looking at the label and only buy what’s best for your pooch.
- Brunetto, Marcio A., et al. “Phosphorus and Sodium Contents in Commercial Wet Foods for Dogs and Cats.” Veterinary Medicine and Science, vol. 5, no. 4, May 2019, pp. 494–499., doi:10.1002/vms3.183.
- Morgan, Judy, and Hue Grant. Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs: Maximizing Health with Whole Foods, Not Drugs. Thirty Six Paws Press, 2017.