These Are the 6 Best Grain-Free Dog Food Brands

Learn what grain-free is all about, how to choose, and the top product recommendations

A quick scroll down will show you the best grain-free dog food options.

But take a second to review the things to consider and what to look for when buying first. Then you’ll be ready for the dog food reviews ahead.

Things to consider when buying

Many dog parents underestimate the importance of good nutrition for their dogs. There are numerous brands to choose from, and while I know which ones are great for my dogs, you should assess your dog’s lifestyle when selecting the best grain free, high-quality dog food.

Finding the best grain free dog food for your dog can be complicated. Dogs, like people, have individual needs, and every dog’s nutritional requirements are unique depending on:

  • breed
  • age
  • weight
  • medical condition
  • and activity level.

A dog food that works for one dog may not work for another.

It’s always recommended to discuss dietary changes with your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet! That said, it’s worth mentioning that the FDA is currently investigating a potential connection between grain free diets and heart disease in dogs.

Choosing the best grain-free food

Food has the power to heal, but that healing is totally dependent on the quality of the ingredients within each dog food recipe. Dog food recipes are constantly changing according to new scientific research and costs.

With so many dog food brands trending and a wealth of information out there, veterinarians advise on focusing on formulas with ingredients that qualify as “complete and balanced” according to the AAFCO regulations’ nutrient profiles.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Individual State Department of Agriculture regulates all dog foods. That said, it’s The Association of American Feed Controls (AAFCO) that provides guidelines for the manufacturing, selling, and labeling of pet foods to ensure pet safety. AAFCO also dictates the levels of nutrients that should be used for each life stage.

So: It’s recommended to take a close look at the AAFCO’s regulations when search for the best grain free dog food for your pup. Every dog is different, and some brands will be better suited for certain dogs.

In the market for a new food bowl? Check out the top dog food bowls.

Top grain-free dry dog foods

When it comes to dog foods, understanding your dog’s current health and nutritional needs is paramount! There is no “best diet.” Dogs are individuals. A diet that works for one dog may not be the best for another. As mentioned, age, energy level and individual health concerns play an important role for each and every dog!

With the above knowledge in hand, you’re now ready for the top recommendations.

Taste of the Wild Grain-Free High Protein

Taste-of-the-Wild-Grain-Free-High-Protein-Natural-Dry-Dog-Food

Adult & Puppy Formulas: For dog lovers wishing to ensure digestive health in their dogs and puppies, Taste of the Wild contains probiotics.

Highlights

  • #1 ingredient is smoked salmon.
  • Protein rich for active dogs.
  • A high-quality protein recipe containing a much smaller kibble size.
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Has natural DHA for canine brain and vision health.
  • All-natural high-quality dog food with added vitamins and minerals.
  • Very nutrient rich, and easily digestible.
  • Contains probiotics for optimal gut health.
  • All ingredients sourced from sustainable sources.
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
  • It is made in the U.S.A under strict safety guidelines.

Why we like it

This is a good product for dogs suffering from digestive health issues. With sweet potatoes – a good source of dietary fiber-as its third ingredient, this dog food is packed with antioxidants, and offers a high source of vitamin E. Sweet potatoes contain many important nutrients, and include vitamins A, B6 and C, calcium, folate, copper, thiamine, iron and potassium.

The first five ingredients listed are salmon, ocean fishmeal, sweet potatoes, canola oil and salmon meal, so your furry best friend will be consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids, excellent ingredients for anxious or stressed out dogs. However, it does contain canola oil, which some may consider an unhealthy fat. No eggs included!

Pros

  • Grain free
  • Natural Antioxidants
  • Easy-To-Digest
  • Novel meat sources
  • Egg Free
  • Made in the U.S.A
  • Real salmon as the main ingredient
  • Guaranteed probiotics

Cons

  • Some dogs may not enjoy the taste

Customers feedback

This has earned a solid 4.3 out of 5 stars rating. It is one of the most popular and sough after products in the industry. Pet parents as a whole continue to be generally pleased with this dog food.

See it on Amazon

Wellness Core Protein Rich Grain-Free Nutrition

Wellness-Core-Natural-Grain-Free-Dry-Dog-Food

Puppy Formula: This Wellness formula contains probiotics, salmon oil, and also contains calcium and phosphorus levels to help support healthy development of your pup’s teeth and bones. It is also made with gluten-free ingredients, and has no beet pulp, which can be a stool-hardener.

The first five ingredients include deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, potatoes and peas. This is a holistic brand that is free of hormones and steroids, and is free of any meat by-products. Wellness formulas include fresh fruits and vegetables, too.

Adult Formula: This is a grain-free, complete and balanced high-quality dog for Fido! With chicken and turkey as the first ingredients, this grain-free, high-quality dog food is brimming with healthy premium turkey and chicken. This is combined with real vegetables, and essential vitamins and minerals.

Wellness-Core-Natural-Grain-Free-Dog-Food-Transitions

Wellness manufactures only the best high-quality dog food. These all have natural ingredients. There is no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, or artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Wellness is made in the U.S.A.

Pros

  • All natural ingredients
  • Naturally grain free
  • First ingredient chicken and turkey
  • Made in the U.S.A
  • Free of hormones
  • Holistic
  • Gluten-free ingredients
  • No beet pulp
  • Real vegetables
  • No wheat, corn or soy
  • No by-products
  • No preservatives

Cons

  • Some dogs may not enjoy the taste
  • Can cause upset stomach

Customers feedback

This has earned a robust 4.3 out of 5 stars rating. Most customers were pleased with this dog food and noted that their dogs looked great, and had less skin issues and softer coats. Also less digestive issues were noted.

See it on Amazon

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free

Blue-Wilderness-High-Protein-Grain-Free-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food

The Blue Buffalo Wilderness formula contains as its first ingredient a high-quality protein from deboned chicken. This formula includes essential proteins and carbohydrates, glucosamine to support joint health. It also has Omega 3 and 6 Fatty acids for a healthy coat.

It is grain-free, and has a balanced combination of calcium, phosphorous and essential vitamins. It includes peas, potatoes and sweet potatoes for a healthy blend of carbohydrates.

Pros

  • Contains glucosamine for joint function
  • Chicken as its first ingredient
  • No chicken/poultry by-product meals
  • No corn, wheat or soy
  • No artificial preservatives
  • Also available in puppy formula

Cons

  • May cause stomach problems
  • May not be tasty enough for dogs to enjoy

Customers feedback

This has earned an impressive 4.4 out of 5 stars rating.  A combination of both raving positive reviews and a few dissapointed customers. Some pet parents complained about their dogs not feeling well, and having skin problems, as well as digestive issues like vomiting.

See it on Amazon

Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Merrick-Whole-Earth-Farms-Grain-Free-Recipe-Dry-Dog-Food

The Merrick Grain Free Dog Food Formula has beef as its first ingredient. This formula includes 70% protein and healthy fat ingredients, and 30% fiber, minerals, and other healthy ingredients. It is grain-free, and has the correct balance of calcium, phosphorous and essential vitamins.

It also includes peas, potatoes and sweet potatoes for a healthy mix of carbohydrates. Merrick has made this grain-free formula especially to suit the needs of dogs with allergies. With real deboned Texas beef as its first ingredient, this grain-free Merrick formula has chondroitin and glucosamine to maintain joint health in your furry best friends.

Pros

  • No by-products
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Deboned beef as its first ingredient
  • Glucosamine and chrondoitin for joint maintenance
  • 70% High-quality protein
  • Healthy and balanced combination of carbohydrates
  • Natural and holistic
  • Made in the U.S.A
  • No fillers
  • Available in a few formulas

Cons

  • Some dogs may not like it

Customers feedback

This has earned a healthy 4.4 out of 5 stars rating.  A combination of both negative and positive reviews. Some pet parents complained about their dogs not feeling well, and having skin problems, as well as digestive issues like vomiting.

See it on Amazon

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Resolve

CANIDAE-Grain-Free-PURE-Dry-Dog-Food-LID

Candidae formulated the grain-free limited ingredients diet for dogs that have sensitive stomachs or problems with digestion. This formula is best for dogs who are very sensitive to certain dog food formulas. It is a simple yet healthy formula, made especially for dogs with sensitivities or allergies.

Ingredients used: The first ingredient of this formula is fresh lamb, followed by turkey meal and chicken meal. These are all good meat proteins that make up the 28% of crude protein required for healthy muscle tissue in dogs.

CANIDAE-Grain-Free-PURE-Dry-Dog-Food-Key-Ingredients

Sweet potatoes, chickpeas, peas, and potatoes are all easily digestible carbohydrates. With a maximum of 5% crude fibers, this is a grain-free dog food formula that is wonderful for dogs with allergies. Chicken fat is included for energy, and is the main source of fat in this formula. With a minimum of 10% crude fat, this helps to keep Fido’s coat glossy and healthy!

This well-balanced grain-free dog food formula contains all the necessary vitamins like A, B12, and D3, to maintain a strong and healthy immune system. All the required minerals are also included to brain health in Fido. There is also added whole foods to help with digestion in dogs with stomach issues and other sensitivities.

Pros

  • Fresh lamb as first ingredient
  • Sweet peas, chick peas, potatoes used in whole form
  • Short and simple ingredient list for dogs with sensitivities
  • Probiotics added for healthy digestion
  • Antioxidants added to support a healthy immune system
  • Made in the U.S.A
  • Beneficial to dogs with gastrointestinal, and other sensitivities or allergies

Cons

  • May cause bad breath
  • Dogs may not like taste

Customers feedback

This has earned an impressive 4.3 out of 5 stars rating. Most customers had positive comments on this dog food, and mentioned how it helped with sensitive stomachs and allergies.

See it on Amazon

Need grain-free wet dog food?

Dry dog foods are available in different kibbles sizes. Natural, organic, and holistic dry dog-food brands offer many varieties, including grain-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and traditional. Dry dog food is available through most pet-food brands. That said, if your dog prefers wet dog food there are many advantages to feeding Fido wet dog food.

Things to know

  • Easily combined with dry kibble
  • Must inspect first five ingredients
  • Need to watch out for thickener’s like “gum” used
  • Necessary to stay away from wheat gluten
    • (used in wet foods to bind the protein content of the food).

Benefits of grain-free wet food

  • Easy to feed with clear instructions
  • Easy to carry
  • Numerous “complete and balanced” brands of high quality
  • Numerous varieties such as turkey, chicken, beef, liver and duck
  • Supplemental varieties available for a varied diet
  • Convenient when your dog needs a change of diet

Drawbacks of wet grain-free food

  • May contain unclean or unrefrigerated meat byproducts
  • May contain unnamed animal and protein sources
  • Some brands may contain wheat gluten
  • Water may be first ingredient,
  • (With the second being wheat gluten, especially with cheaper brands)
  • Vegetables may come in as the eighth or ninth ingredient
  • (Which means that there are hardly any vegetables in the formula)
  • May contain sweeteners or sugars
  • May contain preservatives, flavors, artificial colors, & additional hormones
  • Fat content may be high
  • A need to check ingredient labels repeatedly
  • (Most often when switching brands).

Best canned grain-free option

Does your furry companion prefer wet dog food instead? It’s understandable, they’re much easier to chew down, and often are super tasty compared to their dry counterparts. Here’s a quality recommendation if you’re looking to feed grain-free canned dog food to your pup.

Not sure how much to feed? See our handy dog food calculator for some help.

AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Wet Dog Food

AvoDerm Natural Grain Free Dog Food for Healthy Digestion

Avoderm formulated the grain-free limited ingredient diet for hypoallergenic dogs or those that have sensitive stomachs or problems with digestion. This formula is best for dogs who are very sensitive to certain dog food formulas. It is a simple yet healthy formula, made especially for dogs with sensitivities or allergies. It helps dogs with digestive issues.

The first ingredient of this formula is chicken broth, followed by chicken and chicken liver. These are all good meat proteins that make up the 28% of crude protein required for healthy muscle tissue in dogs. Avoderm contains avocadoes, potatoes, carrots, cod, peas and dried egg product.

Pros

  • Great for all life stages
  • Rich in omega 3 and 6’s for a healthy coat and skin
  • Protein-chicken as 2nd ingredient, chicken broth as first
  • Certified low glycemic
  • Has 20 vitamins and minerals
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Good for sensitive stomachs
  • Has Californian avocadoes as a superfood

Cons

  • Some dogs may prefer dry dog food formulas

Customers feedback

This has earned a solid 4.4 out of 5 stars rating. Customers had fantastic reviews about this wet grain-free dog food, and were overall very pleased with what it brings to the table (or bowl).

See it on Amazon

Final Thoughts

If you need some info on feeding your dog breed, check out our super useful feeding guides for pet owners when it comes to: feeding small breeds, feeding medium breeds, feeding large breeds, and feeding giant breeds.

When choosing a dog food, always ask yourself these questions:

  • is my dog suffering from any health problems?
  • what life stage is he or she at?

Veterinarians recommend that pet parents have a better understanding of their dog’s health issues and life stage before choosing a dog food. As usual, per the verbiage below, always consult with your veterinarian when changing dog food formulas.

dognutrition.com-websites-medical-disclaimer

What to read next: Best Dog DNA Tests – Discover Your Dogs History

Resources

  • http://www.wsava.org/educational/global-nutrition-committee
  • http://www.animalwellnessmagazine.com/articles/brain-food/
  • http://www.usdaa.com/article.cfm?newsid=2251
  • http://www.ahvmf.org/index.php/allabout/51-about-foundation/149-nancy-scanlan-dvm-ms
  • http://vet.tufts.edu/nutrition/
  • https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner
  • http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/default.htm
  • http://www.aafco.org
  • https://www.avma.org/News/Issues/recalls-alerts/Pages/pet-food-safety-recalls-alerts.aspx
  • http://www.acvn.org

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Claudia

Written by Claudia

Claudia Bensimoun is a hard working, animal loving, dog journalist from sunny West Palm Beach, and specializes in veterinary content. A long-time contributing features writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. She's also the author and ghostwriter of more than 50 dog eBooks. She's passionate about canine nutrition, canine health and wellness, and animal rescue/adoption. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/ humanitarian relief, and veterinary research.

tramadol for dogs how and why to use it

Tramadol for Dogs: Usage, Dosage & Side Effects

best-coconut-oil-for-dogs-guide-for-pet-owner

Coconut Oil for Dogs – What You Should Know