Shedding can be a real nuisance, but it’s also a natural process virtually all dogs go through. They are simply shedding their old fur to make way for a new batch.
And no dog food on the planet can change this.
However, what you feed your dog can make a big difference to his overall health and well-being, as well as to the condition of his skin and coat. Which, in turn, can greatly impact how much hair you find floating around your home.
This is why we decided to look into the most popular kibble in the market, to find out what’s best for reducing shedding, and share our top picks with you.
The Top 10 Dog Foods for Shedding (2023 Updated)
Our top 10 list is made up of the dog foods we believe are best for shedding based on things such as the ingredients used, the mix of protein, fat, and fiber it contains, along with other factors such as the inclusion of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
I feel it’s important to note, however, that we are not veterinarians. So, even though we’ve put a ton of effort into selecting the best kibble for managing shedding, you should consult a qualified veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
With that being said, here are our top 10 picks for 2023:
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach
- Orijen Six Fish Grain Free Dog Food
- The Honest Kitchen Grain Free
- Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet (Venison Meal and Sweet Potato)
- CRAVE Grain Free High Protein (Salmon Formula)
- Hill’s Science Sensitive Stomach and Skin
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula (Whitefish and Veggies)
- Wag Beef and Lentils Recipe (Amazon Brand)
- Wellness Complete Health Whitefish Formula
- Merrick Grain Free (Real Duck + Sweet Potato)
Let’s take a closer look at each of our top 10 picks so that you can learn more and decide which one on our list, if any, is going to be best for your dog.
1. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach
Our top overall pick is Purina’s Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach because it ticks all the boxes with respect to nutrition while also helping to promote a healthy coat and reduce shedding.
On the nutrition front, it contains a healthy balance of protein, fat, and fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. It also contains natural prebiotics and oatmeal to help improve your dog’s digestion, which makes it especially suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
When it comes to shedding, Pro Plan contains nutrients like Omega 3 and 6 to help nourish your dog’s skin and coat, which in turn can limit excessive hair loss. The primary source of Omega-3 fatty acids is Salmon, whereas the Omega-6 fatty acids are mostly derived from sunflower oil.
The other great thing about Pro Plan is that it does not contain wheat, soy, or corn. And even though there’s nothing wrong with these ingredients, they’re really just fillers. Not to mention, it doesn’t contain any artificial colors or flavors, which is important.
The main drawback, however, is that it’s not grain-free.
And while this isn’t really a factor in reducing shedding among healthy dogs, some dogs can benefit from a grain-free diet, especially if they have allergies to things like rice.
Either way, Purina’s Pro Plan (Salmon and Rice formula) is a great choice overall for optimal nutrition, digestion, and for healthy skin and hair – which is key for managing shedding.
|Available Sizes:||5lb, 16lb, 30lb, 41lb|
2. Orijen Six Fish Grain Free Dog Food
When it comes to shedding, Orijen’s Six Fish formula is arguably the best of the best. This is mostly because it is made from six different varieties of real fish, which means it contains a generous serving of fish oils, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids with each serving.
The first ingredient is Atlantic mackerel, but it also includes Herring, Monkfish, Acadian Redfish, Flounder, and Silver Hake. Orijen says 85% of the food contains raw or fresh fish meat, organs, cartilage, and bone. While the remaining 15% of ingredients include vegetables and botanicals.
Another great thing about Orijen’s Six Fish kibble is that the fish are wild-caught in the cold waters of New England and prepared at low temperatures before being dried and packaged. Not only does this make for a higher quality overall dog food because it’s derived from real fish, but this preparation process helps preserve the nutrients in the fish.
|Available Sizes:||4lb, 12lb, 13lb, 25lb|
So, aside from being a great dog food for managing shedding, given how rich in fish oil it is, it’s also a high-quality, protein-rich, nutritious kibble that most dogs love. Not to mention, it’s grain-free. So when it comes purely to reducing shedding, this is my top pick.
3. The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Dog Food
The standout benefit of The Honest Kitchen’s kibble is that, according to the company, it’s “human grade.” As in, it’s made in a human food facility that meets the same quality standards as the food we eat. And to me, this is quite a unique selling point.
I worked in a pet food factory for work experience as a teenager, and I can safely say that the way some dog foods are made, sometimes even the good stuff, is off-putting, to say the least. It really made me stop and think about what I fed my dogs in later years.
Anyway, thankfully, this is not the case with The Honest Kitchen.
According to the company, their safety standards are seven times higher than that of regular feed grade standards. Also, their food is made in the USA with quality ingredients that do not contain any by-products, grain, GMO ingredients, or preservatives.
Another interesting point I want to mention is that these are not just regular dog biscuits. This is whole food that has been dehydrated. So the idea is to add water to the food before serving, which makes it into a nutritious meal your dog will enjoy and also makes it go much further.
A 10lb bag turns into 40lb just by adding water and mixing it as per the instructions on the bag. So even though it’s not the cheapest option compared to some kibble, it’s actually cost-effective on a meal-by-meal basis when you take that into consideration.
|Brand:||The Honest Kitchen|
|Available Sizes:||1.75lb, 2lb, 4lb, 10lb|
4. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet (Venison Meal & Sweet Potato)
The main selling point of Nutro kibble is that it’s limited to 10 key ingredients or less. There are added vitamins, minerals, and natural flavors, but the main ingredients are limited and natural.
The first ingredient in this kibble is venison meal, and it also contains sweet potato, lentils, chickpeas, and other healthy ingredients.
Also worth mentioning is what’s not in it.
Nutro avoids using ingredients that can cause food sensitivities in some dogs, such as chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, and dairy protein. And it’s made with non-GMO ingredients, it’s grain-free, and doesn’t contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
All in all, this is a healthy, nutritious dog food that’s designed to improve a dog’s skin and coat.
And if you’re looking for a higher protein percentage, the salmon formula may be a better choice. There are also two other flavors in this range if your dog prefers a different flavor.
|First Ingredient:||Venison meal|
|Available Sizes:||4lb, 22lb|
5. CRAVE Grain Free High Protein (Salmon Formula)
CRAVE says its dog food is “inspired by the diets of their wolf ancestors,” which are mostly meat eaters.
So the main thing that sets CRAVE’s kibble apart, at least to me, is that it aims to give dogs what they really want – meat. And as such, it’s very rich in animal protein. In fact, at 34% protein, this is one of the highest-protein dog foods out there.
This is good because not only is protein important for your dog’s overall health and well-being, but the protein in this kibble is mostly derived from real white fish and salmon, making it rich in healthy fish oil. And if fish isn’t to your dog’s preference, CRAVE has a range of alternative flavors, including chicken, lamb, and beef, which are all very high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
The other thing I like about CRAVE is that it’s completely grain-free and doesn’t contain wheat, soy, or corn. So it contains less filler and more of the good stuff.
|Available Sizes:||4lb, 12lb, 22lb|
6. Hill’s Science Sensitive Stomach and Skin
Hill’s Science Diet is one of the most trusted brands in the United States, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s veterinarian recommended, made in the USA with quality ingredients, and comes in a variety of formulas to suit just about every type of dog.
This particular formula is designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs and skin. On the first point, they’ve made it highly digestible and added prebiotic fiber to help your dog maintain a healthy digestive system. And on the second point, to help your dog maintain healthy skin and optimal coat, they’ve added vitamin E and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Overall, this is an excellent all-around kibble that is not only good for your dog’s overall nutrition but can help you win the battle against excessive shedding. And if she’s not keen on chicken and rice, this formula also comes in chicken and potato.
|Brand:||Hill’s Science Diet|
|Grain-free:||No, but this formula also comes in a grain-free version|
|Available Sizes:||4lb, 15.5lb, 30lb|
7. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula (Whitefish & Veggies)
Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula features real deboned whitefish as the first ingredient and contains wholesome whole grains, garden vegetables, fruit, and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids to help promote a shiny coat and healthy skin.
Another great thing about this kibble is that it doesn’t include chicken by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
Not to mention, it’s reasonably priced.
All in all, there’s a lot to like about this kibble.
And if your dog isn’t keen on fish, there are several different flavors to choose from. The company also has grain-free alternatives to choose from if that is your preference.
|Available Sizes:||5lb, 6lb, 15lb, 30lb, 34lb|
8. Wag Beef and Lentils Recipe (Amazon Brand)
Wag is Amazon’s brand of dog food, and it’s a worthy contender among some of the more well-known brands.
Here’s why I say this:
- First, it contains one of the highest protein percentages of any dog food I’ve come across. Hands down. And protein is a really important part of a dog’s diet.
- Second, it’s made in the USA with real beef and ingredients such as peas, lentils, and flaxseed. It also contains vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids to provide your dog with optimal nutrition and help him develop a lush, strong coat.
- Third, it’s not completely grain-free, but it doesn’t contain any corn, wheat, artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.
So there’s a lot to like with Wag’s kibble, and it comes in a variety of formulas, including chicken, lamb, salmon, and turkey, so you have lots of options to suit your dog’s taste.
|Brand:||WAG (Amazon brand)|
|Available Sizes:||5lb, 30lb|
9. Wellness Complete Health Whitefish Formula
Wellness Complete Health contains an optimal mix of nutrients, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids to give your dog the nutrition she needs and to promote a healthier, stronger coat.
The main ingredient is whitefish, but this formula also contains sweet potato for digestion, peas for a more balanced protein source, and flaxseed for added omega-3.
The main drawback, however, is that it’s not very high in protein, and it’s not grain-free either. So even though it is a nutritious, balanced kibble that’s high in omega-3, there are better alternatives if you’re looking for a dog food that’s higher in protein.
|Available Sizes:||5lb, 15lb, 30lb|
10. Merrick Grain Free (Real Duck + Sweet Potato)
Merrick’s duck and sweet potato kibble is an excellent source of protein and a great alternative for dogs that aren’t keen on regular flavors like beef, chicken, or salmon.
It’s made up mostly of protein and fat, and contains 35% vitamins, minerals, produce, and other natural ingredients. Which makes it a balanced source of nutrition for virtually any dog. It also contains Omega fatty acids to help your dog maintain a healthy coat.
It’s not my top pick for shedding, or overall for that matter, but this is a nutritious, high protein kibble, and it’s grain-free too. So it has earned a spot on our list.
|First Ingredient:||Deboned Duck|
|Available Sizes:||4lb, 10lb, 22lb|
How to Choose the Best Kibble for Your Dog
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right kibble for your dog, but there are a few main factors that stand out. Such as the types of ingredients used and how suitable these are for reducing dog shedding, how balanced the nutrition is, and customer reviews.
Let’s explore each of these in more detail. That way, even if you don’t want to go with any of our picks, you’ll be better equipped to select the right kibble for your dog.
The Main Ingredients Used
The first main aspect we looked at is the ingredients used in each dog food.
We specifically look for kibble that is made with high-quality ingredients and, in particular, ingredients that are known to help with shedding.
For example, ingredients that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and flaxseed, can help improve your dog’s skin and coat. And since fish oil (which also contains omega-3) can be beneficial for dogs, especially when it comes to shedding, many of our picks contain fish as the main protein source.
Ultimately, the healthier your dog’s skin and coat, the less likely you are going to notice excessive shedding. One of the most common causes of excessive shedding is dry, irritated skin, so ingredients that support healthy skin and hair were one of our main considerations.
Here’s a helpful video I found that explains more about the benefits of omega-3:
Biotin is another key ingredient to look for when it comes to shedding.
It’s a vitamin that is known to help dogs maintain a healthy skin and coat, aid the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates, and can boost the absorption of healthy fatty acids. So even though it doesn’t get as much attention as omega fatty acids, it’s important.
Natural sources of biotin include meats like liver, kidney, and pork, as well as sardines and plant-based sources include foods like cauliflower and banana.
Aside from these, we also look for kibble that contains ingredients that aid digestion, such as sweet potato. And those that contain essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, along with other fatty acids like omega-6, to help your dog thrive.
What about “grain-free” dog foods, are they better?
Another consideration when selecting our top picks was whether the kibble was grain-free or not because some dog owners prefer to feed their dogs a zero-grain diet.
There’s nothing wrong with feeding your dogs grains like rice, for example, which many popular dog foods do contain. However, some dog foods use an excessive amount of grains or ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy as “filler,” which is less than ideal.
Either way, according to PetMD, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that grain-free is necessarily better than dog food with grains. The important thing is to ensure it contains the nutrition your dog needs and if you’re unsure what’s best for your dog, speak to your vet.
Balance of Nutrition
Aside from the actual ingredients, the other important aspect of selecting the right kibble is to ensure it has the right balance of protein, fat, fiber, and carbohydrates in the diet.
Research shows that an adult dog’s diet can contain up to 50% carbohydrates, at least 5.5% fat, and 10% protein. So this is a good general guide to consider.
That said, each dog food is unique, as are the needs of each individual dog. So there is no set rule as to the exact amount of each macro-nutrient your dog’s food should contain.
However, most good dog foods come with at least 20% protein (some on our list have 34-38% protein), contain around 12-18% fat, and aren’t loaded with too many carbs, which some dog foods use as “filler” to essentially add cheap weight to the bag.
Whatever the percentages, the important thing is that, along with quality ingredients, the kibble contains a healthy balance of nutrition for your dog. So that’s what we look for.
Last but not least, we also look at customers to help guide our top picks.
Because, even though we have tried many different dog foods over the years, there are so many variables to consider. For instance, the dog’s breed, age, health, and things like allergies can all play a part in what’s best for a dog.
So it would simply not be possible for us to know how good each dog food will be for each individual dog based on our own experience. And that’s why we take to sites like Amazon, Chewy, and others to get a feel for what others are experiencing.
That way, we can provide you with a more unbiased and objective opinion about the products we’ve included in our top picks based on a broader set of reviews and experiences.
Why Dogs Shed and What’s Considered Normal
Dog shedding is a normal process that virtually all dogs go through. Whether you’ve got a large, long-haired breed like a German Shepherd or a small, short-haired breed like a Pug. The only difference is how much they shed, how often, and how noticeable it is.
The reason for this is that, like us humans, your dog’s hair goes through a process of hair growing, reaching its full length, and falling out to make way for the new hairs. This is known as the hair growth cycle, and I explain how it works in more detail in this shedding FAQ.
What’s normal shedding?
How “normal” the shedding is depends on a range of factors such as the breed of the dog, his age, how healthy he is, the time of year, their diet, and other factors.
In some cases, excessive shedding can be caused by underlying health issues, stress, pregnancy, or allergies, for example. So if you do have concerns, it may be worth speaking to a qualified veterinarian. Especially if you are noticing bald spots on your dog.
However, in most cases, the shedding is perfectly normal.
Even high levels of molting can be considered normal depending on the dog and time of year. For example, some dogs, like Samoyeds, shed heavily during spring and fall as part of the change in season. While others, like Labrador Retrievers, shed more consistently year-round.
Either way, there are some great ways to reduce the amount of shedding your dog does and how much of their fur ends up throughout your home, which we’ll discuss now.
Ways to Reduce Excessive Shedding
There are a few main ways to reduce excessive shedding, and together these can help keep your home, vehicle, and furniture as free from dog hair as possible.
The first way is to ensure your dog is enjoying a healthy, balanced diet. Not only can this help eliminate any unnecessary shedding caused by poor diet, but it can help your dog maintain healthy skin and hair, which is key. As we’ve discussed in this article, look for good quality, balanced dog foods that contain things like omega-3 and fish oil.
The second way to reduce shedding is to brush your dog regularly. As simple as it may sound, brushing is one of your best defenses against molting. And the reason is that it massages your dog’s skin and helps spread his natural coat oils, which helps improve his coat. It also removes the old, dead hairs from his coat before they fall out.
It’s important to choose the right brush for the job, though. And we’ve put together a list of our top 10 recommended de-shedding brushes, which you may find helpful.
Third, bathing your dog with a good quality dog shampoo can help loosen up the old fur. It’s important to avoid using human shampoo, though, or dog shampoos that contain harsh chemicals. Also, avoid bathing too often, as this can cause dry, irritated skin, which in turn can actually increase shedding.
There are other ways to manage shedding which we explain in this shedding guide. Such as making sure your dog is drinking enough water, doesn’t have fleas, and is getting enough exercise. However, these are the main methods, and thankfully, they are not difficult to apply.
Once you’ve got the shedding under control at the source (ie. your dog), you can also make use of a vacuum designed to remove dog hair to help clean up the hair that (inevitably) does end up on your floors and furniture. Which can not only help minimize the effort needed to clean the loose hair but can also be helpful if you’re sensitive to dog allergens like dander.
At the end of the day, shedding is something most dog owners have to learn to live with. But by choosing the right dog food, along with some of the tips we’ve mentioned in this article, you’re likely going to notice a lot less hair floating around your home over time.
Whichever dog food you choose, hopefully, you found this article helpful. And if you have any questions or would like to share your favorite kibble, feel free to post a comment below.