Grain-Free Dog Food

The Best Grain-Free Dog Food: Our Top 8 Picks Reviewed

Anant Shastri
By Anant Shastri
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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What is the Best Grain-Free Dog Food?

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Clusters
  • PREMIUM NUTRITION: Clusters are thoughtfully prepared using human-grade muscle meat & liver, low glycemic carbs, beneficial fats & live probiotics; cold pressed into delicious, bite-size, ready-to-eat pieces.
  • MINIMALLY PROCESSED: Clusters are made by mixing small batches of fresh ingredients, cold pressing them into bite-sized clusters, and then gently slow roasting and dehydrating them to maintain the nutrients, aroma, and taste of whole foods.
  • WE SAY NO TO: This recipe contains no feed-grade ingredients, meat meals, fillers, GMO ingredients, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives.

What is Grain-Free Dog Food?

Grain-free dog food is pet food made without the use of any wheat, corn, rice, and other grains. However, the requirement for carbohydrates is met through alternate means, including potatoes and pea flour.

Is Grain-Free Food Better for Dogs?

It depends. Grain-free dog food is better for dogs that are sensitive to grains. Here are some of the benefits of grain-free diets:

  • Fewer Allergies. Grains can often lead to allergic reactions. Therefore, switching to a grain-free diet helps to reduce the breakout of allergies.
  • Healthy Skin & Coat. Grain-free diet can reduce inflammation in your dog’s skin. This also leads to healthier and shinier coats.
  • Smaller Stools. Switching to a grain-free diet will make your dog’s stools smaller and more manageable.
  • Less Gas. Since your dog will be able to digest their meals easily, there will be less bloating and production of smelly gas.
  • Better Breath. Grain-free dog food has been known to improve your dog’s oral health by reducing bad breath overall.

What is Wrong With Grain-Free Dog Food?

According to reports, the FDA has investigated a potential link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and grain-free dog food.

The issue arises with grain-free recipes containing alternative carbohydrate sources like legumes (lentils, peas, chickpeas). However, it is not established whether it is due to the lack of grains or the presence of legumes.

Can a Grain-Free Diet Cause Heart Problems in Dogs?

Yes, based on recent warnings by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), grain-free dog food can cause heart problems – dilated cardiomyopathy or simply enlarged heart.

The Best Grain-Free Dog Food Reviewed

There are many pet food brands offering grain-free recipes for dogs. With so many options, it can be hard to find the right formula for your dog’s needs. To help narrow the search, we have selected and reviewed the best grain-free dog foods on the market.

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Clusters

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Clusters

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Summary: The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Clusters is human-grade dog food made with carefully selected and nutrient-dense ingredients. The first item on the ingredient list is cage-free chicken, thus ensuring a healthy intake of lean protein. The food features fruits and vegetables to round up the nutritional profile, and it is complete & balanced for dogs of all life stages. It comes in the form of small, bite-sized clusters that promote chewing and healthy digestion. 

Type: Dry dog food 

Best for: Puppies and adult dogs 

Flavor Options: Beef; Chicken; Turkey; Beef & Turkey 

Price: $6.99/pound  

Pros

  • Grain-free and human-grade food of maximum quality 
  • Cage-free turkey is the first ingredient 
  • Enriched with health-boosting superfoods
  • Formulated by veterinary nutritionists 
  • No rendered meal, fillers, and feed-grade ingredients

Cons

  • No significant cons 

Ingredient Analysis

  • Turkey: This is a great source of lean protein. It has a versatile amino acid profile and helps with weight control. 
  • Lentils: Lentils are packed with plant-based protein. They also contain a healthy amount of prebiotics. 
  • Carrots: Carrots are loaded with antioxidants (beta-carotene) as well as health-boosting vitamins and minerals. 
  • Pumpkin: This is an excellent source of natural dietary fibers that support gut health and promote easy digestion. 

Review: Both dogs and pet owners love this recipe by The Honest Kitchen. They say it is packed with nutrients, delicious, and easy to use. Overall, Amazon customers rate the food 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Dry Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Dog Food 

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Summary: This dry dog food offers a grain-free formula and is made with real turkey as its primary ingredient. As a result, you can expect great flavors along with great nutrition. The product also contains added vitamins, minerals, and taurine. Additionally, the dog food is free of grain, gluten, filler ingredients, poultry by-product meal, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. If you are looking for a wholesome meal for your dog, this is the product you need.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Turkey & Potato; Chicken & Sweet Potato; Beef, Potato & Bison; Salmon & Sweet Potato

Price: $1.71/pound

Pros

  • Simple, delicious, and natural ingredients
  • With added vitamins, minerals, and taurine
  • Uses real turkey as the first ingredient
  • No added grains, gluten, and fillers
  • Available at a budget-friendly price

Cons

  • The scent can be off-putting for some dogs

Ingredient Analysis

  • Turkey: Turkey is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Whole Dried Potatoes: Potatoes provide easily digestible carbohydrates, vitamins B & C, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
  • Dried Peas: Peas contain protein, vitamins, fiber, and potassium that pets need. It also supports a pet’s GI health.

Review: This dog food uses a unique blend of ingredients with a high nutritional profile. It is excellent for both small and large breeds. Pet owners give this recipe 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon reviews.

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Nature's Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food

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Summary: This dry dog food contains real salmon as its first ingredient. It has been formulated with all-natural ingredients, including sweet potatoes and pumpkin. It also contains added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to help your dog thrive. This product is free from harmful additives like artificial colors and preservatives. Additionally, it does not contain any corn, wheat, or soy. The brand has been in the market for over 30 years and provides pets with the required nutrition.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin; Lamb, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin; Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin

Price: $1.92/pound

Pros

  • Real salmon is the first ingredient
  • Formulated for all breeds and life stages
  • No corn, wheat, artificial colors, or flavors
  • Made using all-natural ingredients
  • Contains added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients

Cons

  • May cause allergic reactions in some dogs

Ingredient Analysis

  • Salmon: Salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It also reduces inflammation in your dog’s body.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, B vitamins, beta carotene, phytochemicals, and carotenoids.
  • Tapioca Starch: Tapioca starch is a cholesterol-free, low-sodium ingredient in diets that don’t contain common allergens. It is also gluten-free.

Review: This pet food is made using high-quality natural ingredients. It is also formulated with nutrients such as amino acids, carbs, and other supplements. On Amazon, pet owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Purina Beyond Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food

Purina Beyond Grain-Free Formula

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Summary: Purina Beyond Simply Grain Free White Meat Chicken & Egg Formula adult dry dog food is the perfect tool to improve your dog’s digestive health as it contains natural probiotics. The product is crafted by the brand’s nutritionist and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The ingredients all serve a purpose and have been sourced from trusted sources. This limited ingredient, gluten-free, and grain-free dog food, has a high protein content. This kibble can be easily paired with wet foods and toppers.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken & Egg; Chicken; Beef Jerky

Price: $1.96/pound

Pros

  • Contains real white meat chicken
  • Formulated with natural probiotics for digestive support
  • No corn, wheat, soy, and poultry by-product meal
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Available at an affordable price

Cons

  • Often out of stock on online retailers

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Pea Starch: This ingredient contains protein, vitamins, fiber, and potassium. It also improves your dog’s digestive ability.
  • Cassava Root Flour: This is an excellent source of carbohydrates, and it does not contain any nutrients that could lead to food allergies.

Review: This limited ingredient diet is perfect for dogs with food allergies. Dog owners can opt for this product if their dog’s diet is causing problems. Based on Amazon reviews, it scores 4.4 out of 5 stars.

CRAVE Grain-Free Adult High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food

CRAVE Grain-Free Adult High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This dog food has been formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of both large and small dog breeds. Whether a Pug or a Golden Retriever, this grain-free product can offer numerous health benefits. It promotes strong and lean bodies thanks to 34% high protein content. To balance the meal, it contains grain-free carbohydrate sources (like peas). This kibble has further been formulated without including any chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy. It is also free of harmful preservatives.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Beef; Chicken

Price: $3/pound

Pros 

  • Made with real high-quality ingredients
  • Perfect for both large and small breeds
  • Can be easily paired with wet dog food
  • Provides energy through grain-free carbohydrate sources
  • Contains high-quality animal protein as its main ingredient

Cons 

  • High-protein levels can cause stomach issues in some dogs

Ingredient Analysis

  • Beef: Beef is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Lentils: Lentils provide pets with polyphenols, protein, iron, fiber, folic acid, and magnesium.
  • Pork Meal: This is a good source of protein and amino acids essential for muscle growth and energy.

Review: This dog food focuses on protein-rich diets for a lean and healthy body. It also provides your dog with the energy to play all day. Pet owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Raw Blend Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Raw Blend Kibble Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Wild Red Raw Blend kibble has been formulated with animal-based protein that has been responsibly sourced from various meat sources. This product contains freeze-dried components that offer a great texture to the meal. As a result, your dog can enjoy a protein-rich taste that they love along with the nutrition that they require. The product has low carbs, no fillers, no legumes, and no preservatives. It also does not contain any artificial flavors or colors.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Red Meat

Price: $7.4/pound

Pros

  • Contains a freeze-dried raw coating
  • Protein from beef, pork, lamb, bison, venison, and goat
  • 90% of the protein comes from muscle meat, organ meat, and cartilage
  • Easy for dogs of all life stages to digest
  • Does not contain any unnecessary fillers

Cons

  • This product might be difficult to digest for some dogs

Ingredient Analysis

  • Beef: This is a great source of protein that helps to build muscle and provides your dog with sustained energy.
  • Pork: This is an excellent source of B vitamins to support a healthy nervous system.
  • Pork Meal: This is a good source of protein and amino acids essential for muscle growth and energy.
  • Sweet Potato: This is an excellent source of healthy carbs, prebiotics, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Review: While this product is a tad bit expensive, it compensates by providing premium dog food, much to the relief of pet owners. On Amazon, they give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Recipe for Dogs

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Summary: This dog food brand contains real chicken as its first ingredient. The additional ingredients are of high quality, and it does not contain any grains or gluten. This makes it safe for dogs with heart conditions or heart disease. 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.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult Dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $2.7/pound

Pros

  • Contains healthy fruits and vegetables
  • Does not contain any grains
  • Provides energy for an active lifestyle
  • With Blue’s signature LifeSource Bits
  • Can be used as dog-training treats

Cons

  • Only one flavor available on Amazon

Ingredient Analysis

  • Deboned Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Sweet Potatoes: These are great sources of antioxidants that help support the immune system.
  • Blueberries: Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamins A & C, potassium, and fiber, and support antioxidant enrichment.

Review: This dog food is made with the finest natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals. On Amazon reviews, this food scores 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Grain-Free Recipe

Taste of the Wild Dog Food

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Summary: This dog food offers a grain-free recipe blended together with vegetables such as sweet potatoes and peas. It is able to provide energy requirements for active dogs. The product is made with real roasted meat and offers a unique texture that most dogs love. The dog food is further supplemented with fruits which makes this hearty recipe loaded with antioxidants that give your dog a more healthy lifestyle.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult Dogs

Flavor Options: Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison

Price: $1.6/pound

Pros

  • Made using quality ingredients from trusted sources
  • Easily digestible and gut health-boosting
  • Helps strengthen bones and joints
  • With omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Contains beneficial antioxidants and prebiotics

Cons

  • The scent might be off-putting for some dogs

Ingredient Analysis

  • Water Buffalo: This is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy. It also improves mobility and reduces the chance of an allergic reaction.
  • Lamb Meal: Perfect for pets with limited diets, lamb is a highly digestible protein source.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, B vitamins, beta carotene, and other phytochemicals. Plus, they are rich in carbs and fiber.

Review: This product is made in the USA using quality ingredients from trusted and sustainable local and global sources. Dog owners give this food a grade of 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

What Should I Look for in Grain-Free Dog Food?

Before your enter the market for grain-free dog food, there are some pointers you need to keep in mind:

  • Ingredients. Always check the ingredients before your buy your dog food. Chances are that your dog might be allergic to one or two of them. It is also best to consult a vet before shifting to a grain-free recipe.
  • Cost. Since your dog will require food for their entire life, it can be an expensive affair for some pet parents. Look for brands that are popular and contain premium ingredients without burning a hole in your pocket.
  • Shelf Life. If the shelf life of your dog food is not great, you will find yourself buying the dog food again and again. Look for products that have a great shelf life.
  • Packaging. Good packaging not only sells the brand but also keeps the dog food intact. It ensures that the food is kept in a hygienic environment.
  • Type. While most grain-free dog foods are dry, you might also find some niche brands making wet dog foods. Depending on your pet’s preference, you can opt for a brand of your choice.

Do Vets Recommend Grain-Free Dog Food?

This depends on a case-per-case basis. Namely, veterinarians recommend grain-free dog food only for dogs that actually need it.

This would include dogs with food allergies and food sensitivities to grains. However, a healthy dog with no such intolerances does not need a grain-free diet.