Today, we’re going to talk about dog food alternatives for those times when your usual brand is gone.
Knowing how to choose a good alternative can save your wallet, sanity, and even your dog.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
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Help! I can’t get my dog his usual food! What do I do?
As a dog owner, I’m definitely in the same “what the heck do I feed her now that everyone bought everything in sight” boat.
We’ve been managing, mostly due to the fact that I’ve always done a rotation diet with my dogs.
The tips below for finding good dog food alternatives will help whether you normally rotate foods or stick with one brand.
After we go over the basics, I’ll share some of my favorite alternatives to different brands.
Tips for choosing a good dog food alternative
Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen panicked messages from many dog owners asking, “what do I do now that I can’t get my usual food?”
One owner is having a hard time finding Purina Sport. Another, a good alternative to Blue.
My friend is even having a hard time swapping out her bulldog’s raw diet. She usually buys Stella & Chewy, but it’s been selling out fast.
So, let’s start with some general tips. Then, like I said, we’ll talk about a few specific swaps that work.
Ask your vet for a recommendation
Before you start shopping for dog food alternatives, call your vet’s office.
They may save you loads of time by offering the perfect recommendation.
Sadly, many vets are currently overwhelmed and may not be able to get to the phone.
So, let’s assume tip #1 didn’t work and move on.
Make a list of must and mustn’ts
Sit down and look at your usual brand of dog food.
Think about why you chose it. What ingredients do you NEED to have? What MUST you avoid?
My dog is allergic to beef, so right off the bat anything with that ingredient is off the list.
She also has a sensitive tummy and doesn’t do well with anything too fatty.
Plus, she’s a bit chunky and needs something somewhat low-cal.
I recommend drawing a line down a sheet of paper and dividing into three columns.
First column- MUST HAVE. Second- MUST NOT HAVE. Third- WOULD BE NICE.
I think that last one is pretty self-explanatory.
Make another list of places to shop
Once you know what you need in your dog food alternatives, it’s time to start checking stock.
Even in currently closed-down states, pet stores are considered “essential businesses”
That said, most of us want to avoid going to extra stores right now. The less contact we have with others, the better.
Again, divide your list into three categories:
- online suppliers that deliver to your door
- brick and mortar stores that do curbside pickup
- stores that you have to actually go into
Use our list of places to buy dog food during a shortage for some ideas.
You’ll want to work down your list in that order as you shop for dog food.
Same manufacturer, different name
While you shop, remember that a small handful of manufacturers and companies own quite a few brands.
For example, Purina owns Blue. PetSmart owns Chewy.
So, it’s possible to find literally the same exact food under a different name.
To illustrate, let me tell you a little story (not about dog food, but it proves my point).
Years ago, my son was in Cub Scouts and had a “popcorn selling” day outside Walmart.
When we ran out, his leader asked me to run in and grab some popcorn from the store, and we would just sell it for less.
So, I bought a brand that Walmart sells fairly cheap.
I opened up a box and realized something- it was literally the SAME exact popcorn that we were selling. Same wording, same packaging, everything.
So, yep, you can get literally the same thing under a different name. Just compare ingredients and you’ll see.
Now that we have a general idea of how to shop, let’s look at some dog food alternatives by type and need.
FYI, the next section includes affiliate links. If you buy through them, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
List of dog food alternatives by type
Before I give you a list of dog food alternatives, please understand that every dog is different.
While many dogs are just fine with switching foods entirely without tapering, others can’t even handle a minor switch with just one changed ingredient.
So, know your dog and what he can handle. Follow HIS gut, not mine. 😀
Below are some of the best (in my opinion and research) brands from each category.
If you need very specific swaps, I highly recommend checking out PawDiet.
Their entire site is dedicated to brand comparisons and alternatives.
By the way, I’m using Amazon tables for these lists because you can quickly see if a food fits your budget and ships with Prime.
Chewy is another great source, but you’ll have to do a bit more work to find out if something is in stock.
Grain-free dog foods
This is a good list to start with if you know you want grain-free dog food and your pup can handle switching without problems.
The below are all for a large bag (between 20-30 lbs).
Grain-inclusive dog food alternatives
Grains aren’t always a bad thing, as long as you choose the right type of grain-inclusive food.
These brands come highly recommended by vets and Dog Food Advisor.
Limited ingredient & hypoallergenic dog foods
Raw, freeze dried, and human-grade food
Consider this the “other” category: Raw diet dog foods, freeze-dried options, and “human-grade” dehydrated foods.
Low-cal weight management dog foods
If you have a bit of a chunky monkey, these foods will help get her back on track.
Now, keep in mind that the above lists are not swap-for-swap lists, but rather a starting point for your ingredient comparisons.
I hope this helps!
Remember, even if everyone panic-bought all the food in your grocery store, there isn’t actually a dog food shortage right now.
So, try online stores first. You may find just what you’re looking for!
Have you needed to find dog food alternatives yet? Share your experiences below.
Last update on 2023-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API