You have the world’s best dog, so it’s only right you give them the best food. But finding the right food for your pup can be quite challenging. There are so many options to choose from that it can get confusing. That’s why we’re recommending our top grain free dog food! Many grain free dog foods use high quality ingredients, such as real chicken, beef, whitefish, turkey, or salmon. These whole protein sources are much better for your pup than by-products found in other foods.

With that being said, if you are considering switching to grain-free dog food, here are some facts and information to help you weigh your options.

Benefits of Grain Free Dog Food

Most veterinarians recommend a small portion of grains and carbohydrates in a dog’s diet. Grain free dog food contains more protein and less carbohydrates for better digestion. Some other benefits of grain free dog food include:

  • More energy throughout the day
  • Healthier skin
  • Shinier coat
  • Better for food allergies
  • Helps dogs feel full for a longer time
  • Reduced flatulence
  • Gentle on a sensitive stomach

Can Grains Be Bad for Dogs?

There is some controversy as to whether grains are good or bad for dogs. However, dog’s guts have certainly adapted to some grains so, they are not necessarily the enemy but simply not good choices. Instead, think about the portions of the grains you are giving your pup. High quality and healthy dog food should have protein listed as the first ingredient and should not be packed with unnecessary fillers such as meat by-products or too much potato. With this being said, look mainly for foods that are portioned correctly all of which are healthy.

It’s in dog’s nature to be meat eaters and although now domesticated, their digestive system is not and digesting plant material as a source of protein is not sufficient. With this in mind, make sure their food has high quality meat that will leave them satisfied and their bodies healthy.

Signs of Grain Allergies in Dogs

Grain allergies develop when they body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to the grain eaten. Your dog can have these allergies immediately after eating grains or after years of constant exposure. Common symptoms of grain allergies include the following.

  • Itchy skin
  • Hair loss
  • Rash or bumps
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Ear infections
  • Inflamed paw pads
  • Obsessive licking and chewing
  • Severe upset stomach

Common Grains Used in Dog Food

Wheat

A lot of dogs have food allergies, or food sensitivities and wheat could negatively affect their stomachs and bodies. Most commercial dog food brands use wheat as fillers, which provide little nutritional value to your pet. For dogs with gluten allergies, this grain can be very dangerous. In some cases, it could result in health and digestive problems. This ingredient can also appear as wheat shorts, wheat middling’s, and wheat flour.

Rice

Another common filler used in dog food is rice. Although it is more of a complex carbohydrate, it has little to no nutritional value. Most rice put into dog food like brewer’s rice, is missing many nutrients that are found in whole ground rice and brown rice. It is not common for rice to harm your pet. However, they may experience some symptoms like gas, bloating, or diarrhea. In this case, you should consider eliminating this filler from their diet.

Soy

Many pets experience food allergies such as itching, swelling, sneezing, and hot spots. The most common grain to cause these reactions is soy. This ingredient is often used in dog food as a plant-based protein source. Commercial brands are more likely to use soy because it is cheaper than meat proteins and easier to process. Out of all the food fillers, soy is the one you should try to avoid. Additional names for soy include soy bean hulls, soy flour, soy meal, or possibly included in vegetable broth.

Animal By-Products

A very misleading ingredient in dog food include chicken by-products or beef by-products. These act as fillers and have no nutritional benefits for your pet. What people are unaware of is that animal by-products often include more than just meat. Things like lungs, blood, spleen, and intestines from slaughtered animals all go into animal by-products. Other nasty parts like feet, bone, feathers, and even undeveloped eggs could also be included. Commercial brands use animal by-product to increase the protein content in the food but it is a low-quality ingredient that may harm your pet.

Grain Substitutes

Fruits

Foods like blueberries, cranberries, apples, bananas, and mangos have a lot of beneficial nutrients for you pup. They are packed with essential vitamins for healthy bones and easier digestion. The antioxidant properties strengthen dog’s immune system and maintain healthy tissue. Be aware that some fruits are high in sugar so make sure to limit their daily intake.

Vegetables

Vegetables like carrots, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, pumpkins, peas, and sweet potatoes are all great alternatives to grains. They are low in calories and high in fiber. Vegetabls are also packed with nutrients and antioxidants that help to boost energy levels.

Real Meat

This is the most natural source of protein for dogs. Their digestive systems were designed to eat meat. However, like listed above, most dog foods use unnatural meat that could harm their stomachs. You will see tons of ingredients listed on a label that can be difficult to determine exactly what it is. But there’s no mistaking a real, named meat on the label. Some of the most common meats that should be included in a dog’s diet include beef, chicken, turkey, liver, duck, and venison.  

Recommended Options for the Best Grain Free Dog Food

1. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food

This dog food does not contain any allergenic grains and promotes a healthy digestive system, boosts immune system, and contains a variety of antioxidants. Wellness CORE is formulated with glucosamine and chondroitin, which are well-known substances to help with joint health such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. If you have a dog who suffers from mobility issues or joint problems, this is a great choice for you. It also includes natural proteins such as chicken and turkey combined with real vegetables for added nutrition.

Key Facts:

  • High quality protein
  • Packed with essential vegetables and fruits
  • Free from allergenic grains
  • Contains probiotics to support immune and digestive system
2. BLUE Wilderness Adult Grain Free Salmon Dry Dog Food

BLUE Wilderness is packed with essential nutrients in each kibble. It contains vitamins and minerals to ensure your pup has a healthy balanced diet. There is no corn, soy, or wheat in this formula and contains healthy amounts of protein such as chicken. BLUE Wilderness also contains calcium and phosphorus that helps to strengthen dogs bone structures. For added benefits, it also features omega fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat and the immune system.

Key Facts:

  • Enriched with nutrients to support joint health
  • No corn, wheat, or soy
  • High protein content
3. Taste of the Wild Grain Free Dog Food

The Taste of the Wild is truly unique because their formula contains high protein that is sourced from highly novel sources. This means that their protein does not come from the usual meat proteins found in other products. Taste of the Wild uses proteins like bison, venison, lamb, and salmon, not the common proteins such as chicken and beef. That’s what makes this a great hypoallergenic diet for dogs. Each kibble is formulated to be moderate in fats, modest in carbs, and high in protein. It also contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids along with anti-inflammatory substances.

Key Facts:

  • Free from allergenic foods like corn, soy, and wheat
  • Good quality proteins sourced from the wild
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Highly nutritious

4. Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Dogs will love this high protein and tasty meal. Merrick’s Grain Free Dry Dog Food has no corn, wheat, or soy and has unique protein sources such as buffalo, venison, rabbit, lamb, and salmon. In addition to the high protein content, it also includes omega 3s and omega 6s to boost the immune system. They also include joint-friendly ingredients to support bones and joint health.

Key Facts:

  • Formulated with gut friendly bacteria
  • High quality protein
  • No allergenic grains
  • Provides chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health
  • No artificial ingredients
5. NUTRO MAX Grain Free Adult Dry Dog Food

NUTRO MAX is grain free and packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It contains real, natural lamb protein that will satisfy your dog’s cravings. There are no added artificial flavors or preservatives. The dry dog food has wholesome nutrition that supports dog’s healthy skin, coat, and fur. Additionally, NUTRO MAX delivers ingredients for a strong immune system and support for healthy digestion. This food contains no corn, wheat, or soy and is made with no chicken or meat by-product. With lamb protein and natural ingredients, your pup will love the taste and have a healthy, nutritional diet.

Key Facts:

  • Made with high quality non-GMO ingredients
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals
  • Good quality protein
  • No chicken
  • Real and recognizable ingredients