Best Grain-Free Dog Food: Top 7 Brands Most Recommended By Experts

Grain-free dog food has gained popularity among pet owners due to its perceived benefits for canine health. Some believe that grain-free diets can help alleviate allergies, digestive issues, and sensitivities, while others view them as a more natural and wholesome option for their furry companions. However, studies on the long-term effects of grain-free diets are still ongoing, and veterinarians recommend consulting with a professional before making a switch in your dog’s diet. With that in mind, we listed the top seven best grain-free dog food brands.

Why is it that some dog owners have gotten on board the grain-free hype train? There are some pretty convincing reasons. Here are the most often cited reasons as to why some owners are opting for a grain-free dog diet:

Digestive Advantages:

  • Improved Digestion: Grains, especially wheat, corn, and soy, can be difficult for some dogs to digest. This can lead to digestive issues like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Grain-free food eliminates this potential source of discomfort, promoting smoother digestion and optimal gut health.
  • Reduced Allergic Reactions: Food allergies are common in dogs, with grains being a frequent culprit. Grain-free food minimizes the risk of allergic reactions, leading to less itching, scratching, and skin irritation.

Enhanced Energy Levels:

  • More Bioavailable Protein: Grain-free food often boasts a higher protein content compared to traditional kibble. This readily available protein translates into sustained energy levels, supporting your dog’s active lifestyle.
  • Improved Nutrient Absorption: The absence of grains allows for better absorption of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This boosts your dog’s immune system and overall health.

Weight Management:

  • Lower Carbohydrate Content: Grains are a significant source of carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain, especially in less active dogs. Grain-free food typically has lower carb content, promoting healthier weight management.
  • Increased Nutrient Density: Grain-free food often packs more protein and healthy fats per serving, keeping your dog feeling fuller for longer and reducing the urge to overeat.

Overall Health and Well-being:

  • Shinier Coat and Healthier Skin: Grain-free food can contribute to a shinier, healthier coat and reduced skin irritation due to improved digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Increased Vitality: The combination of improved digestion, enhanced energy levels, and better nutrient absorption leads to a more vibrant and energetic dog.

Grain-free dog food has been heavily marketed in recent years, and some dog owners are simply drawn to the idea of feeding their dogs a grain-free diet. They may believe that grain-free dog food is healthier or more premium for their pooch. Our sources helped us learn about the best grain-free dog food brands to switch to for a heathy puppy. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Dog food in a pet bowl, best dog food
Bowl of dog food (Photo by Matthew Coulton on Unsplash)

The List: Best Grain-Free Dog Foods, Per Pet Experts

 

1. Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Wellness has created a wide line of both wet and dry dog foods. They have blends that purport to cater to the specific needs of many different types of dogs. K9 of Mine raves, “Skip corn, soy, and wheat in your canine’s kibble with Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free, a crunchy food made with joint-supporting glucosamine and antioxidant-rich produce for immune health. Quality proteins sit atop the ingredient list, while flax seed packs omega fatty acids for your pup’s skin and coat.”

Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, Natural Ingredients, Made in USA with Real Meat, For All Lifestages (Chicken, 24-Pound Bag)
Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Dog Food Advisor praises, “This Wellness formula derives most of its meat protein from fish and fish meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 38% protein, 17% fat and 38% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.”

The Dog People exclaims, “Featuring deboned chicken as a lean source of protein, this grain-free recipe is formulated for large-breed puppies to control growth and promote musculoskeletal health… As always, it’s a good idea to consult your vet before making changes to your dog’s diet and be sure to check for the AAFCO(the Association of American Feed Control Officials) -verified nutritional value on the label.”

2. Open Farm

Open Farm is another well-reviewed brand with our sources. Like their competitors, Open Farm offers several different kinds of dog food for specific dietary needs. Wag! says, “Open Farm offers 9 high-quality grain-free dry dog food options covering all life stages. All variations are free from preservatives and artificial flavors. Open Farm sources all its meat from Certified Humane farms, and its seafood meets Ocean Wise and Seafood Watch sustainability standards. Each ingredient listed in Open Farm’s grain-free dog food lists its origin for complete transparency.”

Open Farm Grass-Fed Beef Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, 100% Humanely Raised Wagyu Recipe with Non-GMO Superfoods and No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives, 11 lbs
Open Farm Grass-Fed Beef Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Veterinarians.org describes, “Open Farm Grass-Fed Beef Dry Dog Food is formulated with premium cuts of real, humanely raised beef from family farms, hence firmly adhering to their ‘farm-to-bowl’ mission. You can feel good about this grain-free dog food in your pooch’s bowl because the beef was raised without the use of additives.”

K9 of Mine elaborates, “Open Farm offers unprecedented ingredient traceability, allowing you to research the origins of everything in your pup’s bag via lot code. Grain-free without corn, soy, or wheat, this dry food features locally sourced, non-GMO fruits and vegetables like pumpkin and carrot for added fiber and nutrients.”

3. Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild is a brand that is named by nearly all our sources. They mention a dedication to quality and fresh ingredients as a company focus. Hepper Blog comments, “Taste of the Wild High Prairie lives up to its name, with water buffalo as the first ingredient. This family-owned company produces its food at several U.S. manufacturing facilities. Taste of the Wild claims that your dog craves the protein sources that its ancestors ate.”

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Grain-Free Recipe with Roasted Bison and Venison Adult Dry Dog Food, Made with High Protein from Real Meat and...
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Grain-Free Recipe

Discover adds, “Taste Of The Wild High Prairie blend provides optimal nutrition while keeping your pet grain-free. Many people prefer a more ancestral diet for their pets, but if you’re not getting high-quality food, it won’t make a difference.”

Chewy details, “Switch your dog to grain-free dry dog food gradually, mixing in increasing amounts of the new food over time. Start by feeding 75% of the old food and 25% of the new food for the first few days, then increase to a 50-50 ratio for the next two or three days… [Taste of the Wild includes] Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, and Peas.”

4. Acana

It is important to note that grain-free does not mean carb free. Carbohydrates can be very important for a dog’s digestive health. Acana dog food Chewy writes, “Acana Red Meat Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Rated 4.492 out of 5 stars. Is this right for my pet? Acana contains: Beef, Pork, Beef Meal, Whole Red Lentils, and Whole Pinto Beans. It is appropriate for special diets: Gluten Free, Grain-Free, High-Protein, No Corn, No Wheat, and No Soy.”

ACANA Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Red Meat Recipe, 25lb
ACANA Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Red Meat Recipe, 25lb

Discover offers, “What makes good dog food stand out? Good ingredients, of course. With ranch-fed red meat in this potent grain-free blend, you won’t want to go back to your old dog food. Acana takes a simple approach to dog food but lacks nothing for quality and consistency.”

Petco states, “A high-protein dry dog food made with free-run chicken, turkey, eggs, whole oats, and wholesome grains. What customers like: tasty and loved by dogs, helps with allergies, high-quality and healthy ingredients, convenient packaging, and no strong smell.”

5. Merrick Grain-Free

Merrick Grain-Free is a label that offers popular protein-focused dog food. Merrick includes healthy carbs like sweet potato for canine health. DogTime claims, “This grain-free recipe consists of 65% protein and healthy fat ingredients while supplying 35% produce, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other natural ingredients to meet all your furry friend’s nutritional needs. Merrick prioritizes your pet’s health by excluding corn, wheat, soy, gluten or artificial colors or flavors from their recipes.”

Merrick Premium Grain Free Dry Adult Dog Food, Wholesome And Natural Kibble, Real Texas Beef And Sweet Potato - 22.0 lb. Bag
Merrick Premium Grain Free Dry Adult Dog Food, Wholesome And Natural Kibble, Real Texas Beef And Sweet Potato – 22.0 lb. Bag

Hepper Blog relates, “Some pups are allergic to more than one food source. It can be difficult to find dog food that is grain-free and chicken-free, but Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon + Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food delivers. Garth Merrick started making homemade dog food back in the 1980s when he became disenchanted with commercial pet food options. The company produces all of its pet food at its Hereford, Texas, facility.”

Discover reviews, “Merrick’s grain-free beef blend contains high-quality Texas beef and other meats. Free of grains, additives, and artificial ingredients, this is a great treat for pups of all sizes and breeds. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind when you buy Merrick products, thanks to the company’s quality commitment.”

6. Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo markets themselves as a brand that appeals to a dog’s wild side. They claim to use additional fortifications to improve the nutritive content of their food. According to DogTime, “In addition to its delicious taste and nutrient-dense ingredients, this dry dog food includes LifeSource Bits – an exclusive blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists. These LifeSource Bits aid in supporting immune system health.”

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken 24-lb
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken 24-lb

Veterinarians.org asserts, “This dog food has been specially formulated to cater to the nutritional requirements of adult dogs. It also helps your dog lead an active life by providing them with sustained energy. The product has been put together by veterinary nutritionists to support immune system health, life stage needs, and a healthy oxidative balance.”

K9 of Mine evaluates, “Meet your dog’s high-protein needs with Blue Wilderness, a meat-dense kibble containing Blue’s signature LifeSource Bits that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Sweet potatoes and peas round things out to provide fiber and energy, keeping your canine fueled for his next adventure.”

7. Canidae

Canidae is a well-reviewed brand that has also received thoughtful feedback from our sources. Their critiques include a higher price point, narrow variety, and that its formula lists canola oil as an ingredient. Canidae produces both dry and wet canned dog food that K9 of Mine describes as follows: “Avoid surprise ingredients with Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Diet, a simple canned food option that contains seven key ingredients or less, depending on the recipe. Made without common allergy triggers like corn, soy, or wheat, this balanced wet food option features lean proteins in a tasty broth for added palatability.”

CANIDAE® PURE Duck & Turkey Recipe Dog Wet (12) 13 oz.
CANIDAE® PURE Duck & Turkey Recipe Dog Wet (12) 13 oz.

Petco compliments, “A limited ingredient dry dog food made with real duck and sweet potato, perfect for dogs with sensitive stomachs. What customers like: dog enjoys the taste, helps with digestion and overall health, contains clean and healthy ingredients, improves skin condition and helps with allergies, and high-quality formula.”

Dog Food Advisor articulates, “Canidae Pure Real Lamb and Pea Recipe derives the majority of its animal protein from lamb and poultry meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.”

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Sources:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

Comments

  1. The headline of best grain free dog food should not be about just being grain free as that in itself does not relate to a biologically appropriate, highly nutritious food for dogs.
    This subject is about the kibble convenience and we won’t call that a food for dogs. As the Pet food industry in Australia goes highly unregulated, the ingredient profiles are very susceptible to additives, fillers, carbohydrates, rendered meats (roadkill or non human grade food groups), chemical antibiotics and the list goes on. The ingredient lists on the packaging do not list the full profiles of ingredients.
    Besides all of that, the process required to create kibble is extreme where very high temperatures are used around 280 to 350 degrees C to ensure no pathogens exist before it goes into an extrusion machine to make the kibble pellets. After that heat process, extrusion and cooling what health nutrients would be available in the kibble???
    Please do your research on that!
    If it was human grade foods, there would be no pathogens and therefore no extreme heat treating process required.

    As you can imagine, there’s a very strong movement growing in Australia and the US where people actually care about their pets and feed them biologically appropriately fresh food diets.

    Please don’t refer to Vets knowing anything about nutrition when one of the largest players in the kibble pet food market provide them with advice on products and training. (Hills)

    So, for me to see some nonsense, non scientific research on the values of kibble in a market loaded with this junk makes me wonder who you represent?

  2. You haven’t published my previous comments because it does not agree with your so called “expert” recommendations.
    Don’t ask for realistic comments if you don’t like the truth!

  3. Veterinarians have established that feeding your dog a grain free diet will result in heart damage leading to death. Dogs MUST have grain their diet. This is a widely known fact and your promoting a grain free diet with this article is not only scandalous but also irresponsible. Shame on you.

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