- The Best Grain Free Dog Food
- 1. Taste of the Wild Premium Grain Free Dog Food
- 2. Merrick Grain Free Dog Food Recipe
- 3. Wellness Natural Pet Food Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- 4. Nutro Natural Healthy Grain Free Dog Food
- 5. I and love and you Naked Essentials Dry Dog Food
- 6. Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Canned Wet Dog Food
- 7. Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Wet Dog Food
- 8. Nature’s Recipe Prime Blends Dry Dog Food
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you’ll be well aware of the gluten and grain-free trend that’s swept the diet scene. More and more of us are choosing to cut back on our carb consumption in a bid to feel happier and healthier, but what if our dogs could do the same?
That’s where grain free dog food comes in. Like us humans, dogs can be sensitive or even allergic to certain grains, and feel a lot better with a no grain dog food diet. There may also be some general health benefits that come with feeding your dog a grain-free fair that better aligns with their ancestors’ regular diet.
If you think that zero-grain food could be the best option for your pooch then read on, as we run through 10 of the best grain free dog foods you can buy online right now. To help you find the perfect fit for your canine companion, we’ve also taken the time to put together a grain-free guide, where we discuss everything from ‘why feed grain free dog food?’ to how to find a great quality food.
The Best Grain Free Dog Food
Grain free dry dog food
Real bison meat is the number one ingredient
Optimum protein and amino acid profile for dogs
Enriched with vitamins and minerals derived from fruit and veg
Antioxidants support the immune system
Fatty acids support hair and skin
Probiotics support digestive tract
Easy to digest
Kicking off today’s list is this grain free dry dog food by Taste of the Wild. As its name suggests, this food provides your pooch with a dining experience unlike anything they’d get with standard supermarket fare. The number one ingredient is real roasted bison meat, which Taste of the Wild believe to have the optimal protein and amino acid profile for hard-working dogs.
With this high protein diet, active mutts can stay happy and healthy, while developing lean, strong muscles. To ensure your pet gets the complete diet they deserve, the food has also been enriched with a blend of vitamins and minerals sourced from natural fruits and veggies. Antioxidants in the bled keep your dog’s immune system functioning at its best, while a fatty acid blend promotes a healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat. Finally, the food is easy to digest, so it won’t slow down your furry friend. Thanks to probiotics, it’ll help keep their digestive system in perfect working order.
Each batch of Taste of the Wild dog food is made in the USA, using sustainably sourced ingredients. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food is one of 7 dry recipes included in our overview of Taste Of The Wild Dog Food.
Dry grain free dog food
Quality beef is the number one ingredient
Packed with protein for high energy levels and healthy muscle growth
Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids promote healthy skin and hair
Glucosamine and chondroitin support the joints
Supplemented with fruit and veg for complete nutrition
Free from soy, preservatives, and fillers
This grain and wheat free dog food by Merrick has also earned itself a coveted spot on our list. Every bag is packed with real beef protein as its first ingredient, ensuring your dog gets every amino acid they need for a well-balanced lifestyle and healthy muscle growth.
Because the recipe contains Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, it’s perfectly blended to support your dog’s hair and skin, while glucosamine and chondroitin help their joints stay supple and healthy – this is especially important for larger dogs, who are prone to arthritis later in life. This blend of nutrients is sourced from natural ingredients, including peas, apples, blueberries, and sweet potato. As well as grains, the food is free from anything else that might upset your dog’s tummy: fillers, soy, and preservatives.
Available with or without sweet potatoes, this tasty blend is sure to appeal to even the fussiest canines around. Overall, it’s a great natural alternative to dog foods with grains. If you want to find out more about their company, product lines, and recall history, read our review of Merrick Dog Food.
Grain free dry dog food
Real turkey meat is the number one ingredient
Rich in protein dogs need for energy and health
Easy to digest
Blend features vitamin E to support hair and skin
Vitamin B12 helps your dog’s metabolism
Free from artificial flavors, preservatives, soy, and meat by-products
Made with high quality ingredients in the USA
If your dog prefers something of the poultry persuasion in their food, this blend by Wellness Core could be a perfect choice. Turkey is the number one ingredient, giving your pooch the easy-to-digest protein they need for energy, muscle tone, and more. It also contains chicken meal, real vegetables along and vital vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin E promotes healthy skin and hair, calcium supports strong teeth and bones, and vitamin B12 helps your pooch to maintain their energy levels. A handful of other important vitamins and minerals complete the blend, ensuring your dog has everything they need to stay happy and healthy. This blend is a good option for sensitive stomachs, too. Free from soy, meat by-products, and artificial flavors or preservatives, there’s nothing to upset the delicate balance of your dog’s stomach.
Owners say that dogs love the taste, and confirm that their coats never looked better. Each batch is made with high quality ingredients in the USA. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey is one of 7 dog food recipes included in our Wellness Core Dog Food Review.
Grain-free formula, specifically tailored to small dogs
Available in chicken or lamb flavor
Real meat is the number one ingredient
Made without artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
Free from soy
Brown rice in the recipe ensures slow release energy, and provides your pooch with fiber
Vitamin B12 supports your small dog’s metabolism
Easy on sensitive stomachs
Tasty recipe dogs will love
Coming in at number four is this tasty chicken-centric blend by Nutro, which has been specially tailored for the small dog in your life. Every Nutro recipe is blended with high-quality meat as the number one ingredient, whether it’s chicken, beef, salmon, lamb, or venison. This rich base ensures your dog has everything they need for an active lifestyle, promoting healthy, lean muscle growth and maintenance.
This recipe contains easy-to-digest chicken meal and lamb meal for protein, which is supplemented by a selection of other all-natural ingredients, including brown rice for slow release energy and fiber, and sweet potatoes for antioxidants. Finally, the recipe is supplemented with vitamins and minerals from calcium to B12, to ensure complete nutrition for your beloved pet. For small dogs with sensitive stomachs – or any small dog – it’s a tasty and natural alternative to dog foods that contain grains. Head over to our review of Nutro Dog Food for more options.
Grain-free dry dog food range
Available in 3 tasty flavors
High quality meat is the first ingredient
30% protein blend
Pre and probiotics promote a healthy digestive system
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids encourage healthy skin and hair
Contains calcium for healthy teeth and bones
Vitamin B12 supports the immune system
Free from artificial additives
Naked Essentials have also earned a spot on our list with their own range of grain-free foods. Available in chicken and duck, lamb and bison, or salmon and trout flavors, the range is sure to be a treat for your canine companion no matter their personal tastes. Whichever choice you opt for, you can rest assured it’s totally grain-free, so no need to worry about sensitive stomachs or grain allergies.
Each flavor also contains high quality meat as its first ingredient, ensuring your pooch gets the protein they need every day. In fact, the food’s nutritional profile is 30% protein – much higher than other options out there – so it’s suitable for very active dogs. As well as tasty fish or meat protein (in this case, lamb, chicken meal and turkey meal), the recipe also contains a range of other nutrients to ensure your dog’s nutritional needs are totally covered. With pre and probiotics in every bite, the food promotes healthy digestion, by keeping the balance of good bacteria in your dog’s stomach in check.
The recipe is also rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for great skin and hair, as well as vitamin B12 for a strong metabolism, calcium for healthy teeth and bones, and range of other vital vitamins and minerals. These vitamins are naturally sources, from real chickpeas, lentils, and flaxseed.
Wet grain-free dog food
Available in four different flavors
Real meat is the number one ingredient
Rich in protein, supporting the muscles of active dogs
Free from meat by-products and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Highly digestible for good GI tract health
Contains 4 antioxidant sources to support your dog’s immune system
High quality at an affordable price point
Purina are something of a powerhouse in the pet food world, and they’ve turned their attention to grain-free blends with great success. The brand’s True Instinct grain free canned dog food is a great option if you want to go grain-free, without switching to a dry food diet. Because wet foods are less calorie dense and higher in moisture, they’re a great option for dogs who struggle to maintain a healthy weight, too.
Purina’s blend is available in a few different flavors, catering to virtually every canine taste. You can choose from turkey and venison, beef and wild-caught salmon, chicken and duck, or game bird, depending on your pet’s preferences. Whichever flavor you opt for, you can rest assured that real meat is the number one ingredient. This makes the food a great source of protein, ideal for the active dog. Never made with meat by-products or artificial additives, the food is a great choice for pets with sensitive stomachs. It also contains four antioxidant sources to support the immune system, and is designed to be highly digestive for good GI tract health. Owners across the board were impressed with the quality and price point, too. For more information on the brand, check out our Purina One Dog Food Reviews.
Wet grain-free dog food
Suitable as a complete diet, or a topper for dry food
Real chicken is the number one ingredient
Rich in protein
Tasty broth in each cup makes for easy digestibility
Made with natural fruit and veg
Rich in vitamin E for healthy skin and hair
Contains vitamin B12 to support the metabolism
Calcium promotes strong teeth and bones
Another wet dog food option that’s impressed us is this tasty blend by Nature’s Recipe. Made with real chicken and venison, the blend is a protein powerhouse that supports healthy muscle maintenance and keeps dogs energized day after day. Real chicken meat is the number one ingredient, followed by a hearty broth, natural fruit and veg, and venison.
Nature’s Recipe have developed this blend carefully to maximise digestibility, without compromising on flavor. The veggie broth in each cup of food adds a tasty splash of moisture, while promoting healthy digestion. The recipe is also rich in a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals, selected to support your dog from top to tail. Vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin and hair, B12 supports the metabolism, and calcium promotes strong teeth and bones. Owners say it’s a great food topper for larger dogs, and makes an equally healthy and effective complete diet.
Dry grain-free dog food
Beef, lamb, and potato flavor
Real meat is the number one ingredient
Free from artificial additives and meat or poultry by-products
Natural vegetables provide slow-release carbohydrates
Also contains a blend of vitamins and minerals for overall health
Last, but not least, comes this tasty dry food by Nature’s Recipe, earning the brand their second spot on our list. In this tasty beef, lamb, and potato blend, real meat is always the single largest ingredient, providing pooches with the protein power they need to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Along with lots of quality animal protein, the blend is also infused with a savory broth for extra deliciousness.
As well as being totally grain-free, the food doesn’t contain any artificial additives, or any meat and poultry by-products. Instead, a blend of natural vegetable extracts provides your dog with vitamins and minerals they need to maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle. Each ingredient in Nature’s Recipe blends is carefully sourced for quality and sustainability. With 35 years’ experience under their belt, the manufacturer knows how to make a tasty, healthy food that helps your pooch live their best life.
Best Grain Free Dog Food Buying Guide & FAQ
These 10 grain-free foods are the best on the market right now, and we feel certain that there’s something here for every dog to enjoy, no matter their tastes or dietary requirements. To help you work out whether a grain-free diet is right for your pet, and how to administer one safely, we’ve put together this useful FAQ section.
Read on for more on what it means for a food to be grain-free, why it could be better for your pooch, and how to change a dog’s diet in a healthy way.
What is Grain-Free Dog Food
As the name suggests, grain-free dog food is a canine diet that doesn’t contain any grains. This includes both refined and whole grains such as white and brown rice, wheat, corn, oats and more, as well as the so-called ancient grains like spelt, barley, quinoa and so on.
While not all dogs need to be on a grain-free diet, some may greatly benefit from it, especially pups with digestive issues, flaky skin, and dull coat, as well as dogs already sensitive or allergic to grains. Thankfully, now that grain-free pet food is becoming more popular, it’s easy to find an option that works for pretty much any pooch. These formulas come in all sorts of flavors and forms, including dry and wet recipes, so even the pickiest of canines can be satisfied.
As a bonus, most grain-free foods are designed with natural ingredients at the forefront of their recipes. This means that grain-free foods are often free from other potentially harmful ingredients too, including meat by-products, soy, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach, allergies, or food intolerances, grain-free kibbles or wet foods can be good options.
You may also like our article on Organic Dog Food.
What Makes a Good Grain Free Dog Food
If you decide to switch your dog to grain-free kibble or wet food, it’s important to choose a food that’s made to a high standard of quality, and meets all their nutritional needs.
To ensure your canine companion is getting the healthy food they deserve, look out for the following when choosing a grain-free option:
- Protein content
First and foremost, it’s important to look out for a grain-free recipe that has a high protein content. For healthy adult dogs, check that the food has a protein content of around 30%. However, looking at the protein content is not enough - also check the quality. Animal protein, such as meat, fish or poultry, should always be the first ingredient in a recipe. Aside from whole meat, meat meals like chicken meal, lamb meal and so on, are also good sources as they're easily digestible. Check out our guide on the best high protein dog food for more info.
- Fat content
With grain-free dog foods, you should look out for a fat content of around 18%. Any higher and you run the risk of feeding your dog too richly, which can trigger digestive issues and weight gain. Depending on the type of meat used, some recipes can be a little heavy on the fat, so it’s a good idea to check the food’s nutrition facts before making a purchase.
- Natural ingredients
For the most part, grain-free diets are designed to mimic the kind of food your dog’s ancestors would consume in the wild. Good quality grain-free foods prioritize natural ingredients, replacing grains with other carbohydrate sources like pulses and sweet potatoes. These carbohydrates better emulate what a dog would eat in the wild, and typically offer slower energy release.
- Vitamins and minerals
As with any food, it’s important to check for the right blend of vitamins and minerals when selecting this type of diet for your dog. For more options, check out our detailed review of dog vitamins.
Below are a few of the most important vitamins and minerals to look out for:
- Calcium: it’s common knowledge that eating enough calcium ensures we have healthy teeth and bones, and it’s no different for our canine companions. For more options head over to our guide on calcium supplements for dogs.
- Iron: this mineral helps your dog maintain their energy levels, and is crucial for red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.
- Vitamin B12: B vitamins help to keep your dog’s metabolism in check.
- Antioxidants: research suggests that antioxidants, such as those found in citrus fruits, support a healthy immune system, for fewer bouts of sickness and better general health.
- Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids: these healthy fats help your dog to maintain a sleek, shiny coat and healthy skin. If your pooch is an allergy sufferer, choosing a food rich in these acids can really help with their itching.
- Pro or prebiotics: prebiotics support the good bacteria in your dog’s stomach, while probiotics directly contribute to their numbers. Both additives support your pet’s digestive health.
- Flavor and texture
As well as keeping them fit and healthy, your dog’s food should be enjoyable! It can be hard to know what your dog will like without trying the food, but the reviews of other owners can give you a good idea about how pooches generally react. This can be especially useful if you have a fussy eater on your hands.
Finally, it’s important to choose a diet that’s good value for money. Dogs do better when kept on a consistent diet, so it’s a good idea to choose a food that your budget can accommodate for month after month. Buying food in bulk is generally the best way to get a good deal if you have the storage space, but be careful to let your dog try the food before you go ahead and purchase a mega-batch.
Why Is Grain Free Dog Food Better for Your Dog?
There are various reasons why more and more pet owners are opting for grain-free nutrition, regardless of whether their furry friend is actually allergic to grains, including:
Generally speaking, grain-free dog foods have a higher protein content than their grain-containing counterparts. Typically, zero-grain recipes contain plenty of meat protein (and you always want animal protein first!), including whole meat, poultry and fish, which is great news for both growing and adult dogs. For active and working dogs, a diet rich in protein is the pathway to lean muscles and good energy levels.
- Natural ingredients
As we’ve mentioned, the idea behind many grain-free dog foods is to recreate a ‘natural’ diet that dogs’ ancestors might have foraged and hunted in the wild. In theory, this could be better for our dogs than feeding them human-cultivated grains. However, it should be noted that dogs diverged from wolves a long time ago, and have adapted well to life among humans, developing the ability to digest starch.
Most grain-free foods turn away from artificial additives, in favor of natural flavors. This means avoiding the potentially harmful fillers that some lower quality dog foods use.
- Sensitive stomach
Some owners choose to buy grain-free dog foods because their pets have sensitive stomachs. Without harmful fillers and additives, these foods are generally much easier to digest - especially since many contain prebiotics and probiotics to promote GI health. If this sounds like your dog, opt for a food containing poultry or fish as its main animal protein source rather than heavier lamb, beef, or bison. Chicken meal and salmon meal are particularly good choices as they're easy to digest. Find out more about dog foods for sensitive stomachs here.
- Fussy eaters
Finally, some pet parents opt for grain-free dog foods because they're tastier. If your dog shies away from their usual grain-containing food, a grain-free option could be a solution. Because they typically contain meat as the first and primary ingredient, grain-free kibbles and wet formulas tend to be more palatable than their grain-packed counterparts. However, this is not the case with all grain-free recipes - some fussy eaters may actually prefer grain-inclusive foods.
Switching Your Dog To A Grain-Free Diet
If you do decide to switch your pet to grain-free dog food, it’s important to do so slowly and carefully:
- Transition to the new food over 7 days
- On days 1-2, feed your dog a blend that’s 25% new food, 75% old
- On days 3-4, move up to a 50/50 split
- On days 5-6, mix 75% new food with 25% old
- Finally, feed your dog 100% new food on day 7 onwards
This gentle transition will help your dog’s digestive system to adjust, and avoid any stomach upsets that could put them off their new food.
Our Top Pick
For us, the best grain free dog food on the market right now has to be this unique and complete blend by Taste of the Wild. With bison meat as its number one ingredient, the food harks back to the diet of your dog’s ancestors, and provides them with the optimal protein profile for canine health.
Enriched with vitamins and minerals derived from fruit and veg, the blend is completed by a healthy boost that supports your dog from head to tail. Antioxidants ensure their immune system is ready for anything, while fatty acids promote healthy skin and coat. Your canine companion will find this formula super-easy to digest, and it’s also packed with probiotic goodness to keep their digestive system running smoothly. Overall, it’s a balanced - and delicious - grain free food that pretty much any dog will enjoy.
Q: Are dogs allergic to grains?
No. Unlike chocolate, and other human foods, grains are not harmful for the vast majority of dogs. However, dogs can suffer from food allergies, and grains (especially wheat), are a common culprit.
Bear in mind that dogs are also commonly allergic to beef, dairy, chicken, and eggs. If you think your dog is suffering from a food allergy, taking them to the vet should be your first course of action. They will be able to help you work out which ingredient is triggering the allergic reaction.
Q: Can the grain-free diet be bad for dogs?
In some cases, yes. Dietary requirements vary between dogs, and in some cases feeding solely grain-free foods can cause problems.
You should avoid feeding your dog a grain-free diet if:
Your dog is not very active - Grain-free doesn’t mean carbohydrate-free. In fact, common ingredients in grain-free foods like potatoes and peas are higher in carbohydrates than grains. This can (but doesn't have to) make the recipe high in calories which is unsuitable for sedentary dogs.
You have a puppy - Puppies should never be fed a grain-free, protein-rich diet, because too much protein can be damaging to their kidneys. Instead, opt for a vet-approved puppy food formula. When they’re older, you can try switching them to a grain-free diet if you want to.
Your dog has kidney or liver issues - Because protein is metabolized by the kidneys and liver, high protein diets like grain-free foods present a problem for pooches who have issues with their kidneys or liver. Too much protein will put a strain on these organs. Chances are, your vet will recommend a low protein diet if your dog has kidney or liver problems.
Q: Is grain-free dog food necessary?
For a healthy adult dog, grain-free dog food isn’t a necessity. As we discussed above though, there can be plenty of reasons why you may want to try feeding your dog a grain-free kibble or wet formula (sensitive stomach, food allergies, etc.). If you’re considering switching to a grain-free diet, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet first, and when you do transition, keep an eye on your pet to see how they're reacting to the new diet.