Buying food for your dog can be a difficult and overwhelming decision. Pet parents need to consider many things to make the best decision for their dog’s health. Your dog might evenhave allergies and specific nutritional needs.
When reading the ingredients on the packet, it is common to see ingredients such as meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits, but if you see corn, wheat, or soy in the list of ingredients, you should steer clear of making a purchase. While corn, wheat, and soy have been used as inexpensive filler ingredients in dog food for a while, many pet parents have noticed allergic reactions and digestive problems due to them.
After reviewing the available options, I have compiled a list of the best dog foods free of corn, wheat, and soy.
The 7 Best Dog Foods without Wheat, Corn and Soy
|Top Picks||Ratings||Top Ingredients|
|1. ORIJEN: Six Fish Grain-Free||4.8||Whole Atlantic Mackerel, Whole Atlantic Herring, Monkfish…|
|2. Nutro: Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Adult Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe||4.8||Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas…|
|3. Weruva: Wok the Dog with Chicken, Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy Grain-Free||4.8||Chicken (Boneless, Skinless, White Breast), Beef, Water Sufficient for Processing…|
|4. Annamaet Grain-Free Salcha Poulet Formula||4.8||Chicken Meal, Lentils, Duck Meal…|
|5. Instinct: Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Lamb||4.7||Lamb Meal, Lamb, Tapioca…|
|6. Solid Gold: Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Grain-Free||4.7||Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Chickpeas…|
|7. Wellness: Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes Grain-Free||4.8||Beef, Beef Broth, Water Sufficient For Processing…|
Top Dog Foods without Wheat, Corn and Soy
1. ORIJEN: Six Fish Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Whole Atlantic Mackerel, Whole Atlantic Herring, Monkfish, Acadian Redfish, Flounder
Orijen is a luxury dog food brand made with 85% real meat protein and uses a “Whole–prey approach” to include the most delicious and nutritious parts of the animal in its recipe. All of the top five ingredients are whole fish.
This grain-free kibble contains nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from locally sourced premium ingredients. This kibble coated with freeze-dried chicken liver will quickly become your dog’s favorite. It is free of wheat, corn, and soy and suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
2. Nutro: Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Adult Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe
Top Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Dried Potatoes
This grain-free formula from Nutro is a limited ingredient formula for large-breed adult dogs. This recipe keeps it simple with a total of ten natural ingredients without the presence of wheat, corn, and soy.
This diet is beneficial for dogs with sensitive stomachs, digestive issues, and allergies. Real lamb is the first ingredient in this recipe, along with non-GMO vegetables and fruits. Naturally occurring chondroitin and glucosamine keep bones and muscles strong. The B vitamins, Omega fatty acids, and Zinc in this formula ensure coat health.
3. Weruva: Wok the Dog with Chicken, Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Chicken (Boneless, Skinless, White Breast), Beef, Sufficient Water Sufficient for Processing, Pumpkin, Carrot
The Weruva Wok the Dog grain-free formula uses real cage-free chicken as its first ingredient. This recipe includes chicken, shredded beef, and pumpkin in a delicious gravy fortified with added vitamins and minerals. This wet food formula is suitable for adult dogs of all breeds that experience digestive sensitivity. This formula has high levels of protein and moisture andlow levels of carbohydrates.
Weruva is a premium family-owned pet food brand that manufactures its products in human-grade facilities, following the strict guidelines of the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
4. Annamaet Grain-Free Salcha Poulet Formula
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Lentils, Duck Meal, Field Peas, Chickpeas
You can feed Annamaet’s grain-free formula to all adult dogs regardless of breed. The Salcha Poulet Formula uses real chicken and duck for a protein-rich diet. This recipe includes taurine and L-carnitine for a healthy circulatory system and lean muscle tone.
Your dog will visibly look healthier and happier with a shiny coat, improved focus, and higher energy levels due to DHA and Omega fatty acids. This formula is free of wheat, corn, and soy.
5. Instinct: Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Lamb
Top Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Lamb, Tapioca, Peas, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid)
Instinct’s grain-free recipe with limited ingredients is wonderful for adult dogs with digestive sensitivities. This recipe combines one protein and carbohydrate source to make a simple and balanced meal.
This recipe is free of possible irritants such as corn, wheat, soy, grains, and artificial additives. The kibble, made of lamb and tapioca, is covered with freeze-dried raw lamb, improving the flavor. This nutrition-packed dry food is a great choice for dogs of all breeds.
6. Solid Gold: Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Grain-Free Cold Water Salmon & Vegetable
Top Ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas
Solid Gold’s grain-free dry formula is free of wheat, corn, and soy and crafted using real salmon. This recipe is great for sensitive stomachs with only twenty simple and nutritious superfoods. This formula also contains five different vitamin supplements and minerals such as Zinc
Solid Gold’s main focus has always been gut health and its impact on the immune system. Solid Gold provides your pet with the best nutrition with a rich formula that delivers 90 million probiotics per pound.
7. Wellness: Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Beef, Beef Broth, Water Sufficient For Processing, Beef Liver, Carrots
Wellness’ grain-free beef stew combines beef and beef broth with carrots and potatoes for optimal nutrition. Veterinarians, animal nutritionists, and dog lovers alike crafted this recipe for adult dogs of all ages. There are no artificial additives, corn, wheat, or soy.
Tender cuts of beef slow-cooked with vegetables such as carrots and potatoes make for a rich and hearty stew. You can serve this delicious stew as a complete meal, a snack, or mixed with dry food.
8. Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes
This grain-free formula from Merrick is a wonderful choice for adult dogs of all breeds. This recipe contains 65% pure protein and healthy fats from deboned beef and 35% fiber, vitamins, and mineral for a healthy and balanced meal.
The formula provides Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin for coat and joint health. The high protein content helps create a feeling of fullness and maintaining the ideal body weight.
9. Gentle Giants: 90% Chicken Grain-Free Wet Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chickpeas, Natural Flavor, Sweet Potatoes
Gentle Giants’ grain-free formula is veterinarian-approved and suitable for all adult dogs. It contains 90% real chicken without any wheat, corn, soy, or other grains and includes non-GMO fruits and vegetables.
The variety of nutrients includes antioxidants, glucosamine, and chondroitin served in pate form. The addition of dandelion greens contributes to the health of the liver and digestive system. It is great for your pet and will ensure their internal and external health.
10. The Honest Kitchen: Whole Grain Turkey Recipe
Top Ingredients: Dehydrated Turkey, Organic Oats, Dehydrated Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, Dehydrated Carrots
The Honest Kitchen uses premium ingredients to craft this grain-free dehydrated formula. This recipe follows AAFCO guidelines and is a complete and balanced meal using turkey as its first ingredient.
Other ingredients include organic oats and non-GMO vegetables and fruits. You can easily serve this dehydrated food with warm water to ensure your pet gets its daily fluids. This filler-free formula is great for adult and senior dogs.
11. Farmina: N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate Adult Dry Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Dehydrated Chicken, Whole Spelt, Whole Oats, Chicken Fat
Farminas’s chicken and pomegranate formula is made with premium ingredients to ensure the necessary ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. This grain-free formula consists of 70% protein from quality animal sources and 30% nutrients from vegetables and fruits.
The dry food is coated with a layer of food vitamins to keep the nutritional value intact. The pomegranate and berries strengthen the immune system with antioxidants. It is also free of artificial flavors, wheat, corn, soy, and other legumes.
12. Wellness: CORE Grain-Free Wild Game Duck
Top Ingredients: Duck, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Chicken Meal, Peas
This Wellness CORE grain-free formula is certainly a feast for your pet. The flavors of duck, lamb, turkey, wild boar, and rabbit shine in this protein-rich formula. This dry food provides advanced nutrition and is free of corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and artificial additives.
Your dog can certainly benefit from the rich blend of nutrients that ensure overall health. Antioxidants, probiotics, and omega fatty acids all contribute to making your pet stronger and healthier.
13. Blue Buffalo: Wilderness Salmon & Chicken Grill Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Fish Broth, Chicken Liver, Salmon, Potatoes
Blue Buffalo’s grain-free formula combines protein from real chicken and fish broth in this protein-rich recipe. This formula is all-natural and includes no by-products, wheat, corn, soy, and artificial additives.
This formula promotes healthy muscle growth and is suitable for adult dogs of all breeds. The B vitamins and chelated minerals work together to fortify the immune system and ensure coat health. You can serve it as a full meal, a healthy treat, or as a topper for kibble.
14. Purina Beyond: Grain-Free Chicken, Lamb & Spinach Recipe Ground Entree Canned Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Liver, Lamb, Spinach
Purina Beyond’s grain-free formula consists only of premium natural ingredients that are great for your dog. This recipe uses real hormone-free chicken and pasture-raised lamb to make a pate rich in essential amino acids. It is suitable for adult dogs of all breeds.
There are no by-products or artificial additives in this wet food. The prebiotic fiber and vitamins in this formula contribute to digestion and immunity. Rich meat proteins and accents of spinach combine to form a balanced meal appropriate for digestive sensitivities.
15. American Journey: Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Lamb Liver, Sweet Potatoes, Sunflower Oil
American Journey’s grain-free limited ingredient wet food features protein from real lamb as the main source of protein. This formula is suitable for adult dogs of any breed who have sensitive stomachs.
Your pet is safe from fillers, artificial additives, and preservatives. Different nutrients such as Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, DHA, and amino acids work together for overall health. Your pet’s coat is healthy while they stay focused and energetic throughout the day.
In current times, there is growing awareness about the nutritional needs of animals. While various options in the market can make it difficult, even overwhelming, to understand what’s best for your dog, information is also readily available to pet parents for guidance.
When you think of the ingredients you should watch out for in dog food, things like artificial additives and by-products often come to mind. These things can certainly affect your dog’s overall health, but you should also consider corn, wheat, and soy as part of the list. Many companies are making it a priority to craft formulas that are free of these harmful ingredients.
The Negative Impacts of Corn, Wheat, and Soy in Dog Food
You are probably wondering – what exactly could go wrong if my dog consumes corn, wheat, or soy? The reason why these ingredients can be harmful to your dog is listed below.
Impact on The Digestive System
- While corn, wheat, and soy are relatively safe for humans to consume, they are plant-based ingredients. Dogs are carnivores whose intestines are used to digesting high amounts of protein and are not equipped to handle and absorb the nutrients available in plant-based forms. Not only can this result in indigestion, but a diet with corn, wheat, and soy fails to provide your dog with the nutrients it needs.
- Wheat, corn, and soy are some of the most heavily genetically modified food sources and often contain pesticides. These negatively impact the digestive system and can cause severe inflammation in the digestive tract with repeated use.
Weight Gain and Obesity
- When digested, the body turns corn into sugar which can raise your dog’s sugar levels, impacting its health. Corn may be added in the form of corn syrup, making the food addictive and overly sweet, leading to overeating, which is especially harmful to your dog if it has diabetes.
- The inclusion of wheat and corn can also lead to weight gain in certain dogs. Improperly refined grains can yield more carbohydrate content than necessary for a balanced diet, leading to obesity.
- Wheat also contains gluten which is known for triggering allergies and sensitivities in many dogs.
- These ingredients can also trigger allergies in dogs leading to upset stomachs, recurrent skin problems, and ear infections. There have also been incidences of some dogs experiencing severe itching around the face and paws. As a result, dogs might scratch the irritated areas, leading to open wounds that could become infected.
- Soy contains chemicals called phytoestrogens which are similar to the reproductive hormone estrogen, which can cause issues with the reproductive system, such as hormonal imbalance.
- The inclusion of corn, wheat, and soy can also lead to lower food quality. The core ingredients such as meat and vegetables are bulked up with these items, resulting in foods low in protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
The Benefits of Switching to Diets Free of Corn, Wheat, and Soy
Switching to a diet free of corn, wheat, and soy can benefit your dog’s overall health in many ways.
- Since filler ingredients such as wheat, corn, and soy are absent, biologically appropriate nutrients are present in higher quantities, such as proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which results in a highly nutritious and well-balanced meal that keeps your dog strong and healthy.
- With a meal free of these additives, your pet will feel fuller for longer and be more active.
- If your dog is prone to digestive problems, a grain-free diet can also encourage healthy digestion and reduce the probability of flatulence issues and pooping more often. Nutrients are readily absorbed due to their species-specific nature.
Dog foods that do not contain wheat, corn, and soy are better options for dogs with diabetes and cancer. Complex and natural carbohydrates can aid in managing blood sugar levels.
Myths and Facts
In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated claims of a potential link between certain grain-free diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). Although no cause and effect were established, the issue became a topic of debate. There are still many academic researchers who strongly believe that grain-free diets may contribute to DCM.
However, a recent study published in June 2020 refutes these claims and found no clear link between grain-free diets and DCM. The peer-reviewed article has been published in the Journal of Animal Science and contained a comprehensive examination of almost 150 previous studies. The study established no definitive link between grain-free diets and DCM and called for further research and analysis.
These findings are good news for pet parents with dogs and puppies with grain-free diets. However, it is still important that you make an informed decision when buying foods free of wheat, corn, and soy. The mere absence of these ingredients does not make food the best for your dog.
How to Find The Best Dog Food Free of Corn, Wheat and Soy
While formulas free of wheat, corn, and soy are better than their alternatives, all dog foods are not created equal. High-quality food formulas usually share the following characteristics.
Rich in Meat Proteins
Real meat is the first ingredient in high-quality dog food instead of any fillers. Dogs are carnivores, so meat has to be the main ingredient in their diets for them to thrive. When real meat is the first ingredient in any dog food formula, you can rest assured that your dog will get the necessary amount of protein.
High Moisture Content
The average carnivorous diet is at least 70% water to meet daily fluid intake levels. Premium-quality dog food is also rich in moisture. Wet dog foods aid in preventing urinary infections, digestive issues, and other ailments your dog may experience. Additionally, it provides your dog with an adequate amount of fluids.
Minimally Processed Natural Ingredients
High-quality dog foods contain wholesome and natural ingredients that are minimally processed, which helps keep the original flavors and textures intact and does not diminish the nutritional value of the ingredients. When ingredients are cooked at high temperatures or heavily processed in other ways, they lose their initial flavor and nutritional content.
The Ingredients You Should Avoid in Dog Food
When purchasing grain-free dog food, check the label of ingredients to ensure the following don’t appear in the first few ingredients.
Meat meal is made from animal parts that are unfit for consumption and usually consist of animal meats and organs cooked at high temperatures. It is not high quality like real meat and can also be difficult to digest.
Bone meal is a powder made from ground bones and other leftover portions like cattle hooves. High quantities of bone meal in dog food can cause digestive issues and affect the kidneys.
High Levels of Carbohydrates
The starches from potatoes, green peas, and sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates and biologically inappropriate. They can lead to weight gain and cause a variety of other health issues. The recommended amount of carbohydrate content in dog food is 20%.
Artificial preservatives in dog food include ethoxyquin, BHT, and BHA, all of which are linked with health issues such as liver problems and cancer. Natural preservatives are made using vitamins C & E and are considered safe. These are present in the ingredient list as a type of “tocopherol” or “ascorbate.”
Carrageenan is a thickening agent used for improving food texture. It has no nutritional value for dogs and can also cause inflammation in the digestive system.
Why is wheat bad for my dog?
Wheat contains gluten which has been responsible for triggering allergies and digestive problems for dogs. Some dogs can also develop allergies with the continued consumption of foods that contain wheat or gluten. Wheat also has no nutritional value for dogs.
How can I tell if my dog has a gluten allergy?
If your dog is experiencing digestive issues or an allergic reaction after consuming products with gluten and wheat, it likely has a gluten allergy. Allergic responses include an itching around the face and paws, chronic GI disturbance, flatulence, and even vomiting in some cases.
Are dog foods with corn, wheat, and soy harmful for my dog?
While dog foods with corn, wheat, and soy might not be harmful to your dog unless they have allergies, they are not biologically appropriate. Your dog will have trouble digesting these ingredients and receive no nutrients from them.
What are the symptoms of a corn allergy in dogs?
Corn allergies in dogs can manifest in recurrent ear infections, itching, poor coat health, and obsessive licking. Other symptoms are digestive upset, hives, nausea, and vomiting as well. You should consult your vet in these situations.
Why is corn, wheat, and soy used in dog food?
These inexpensive grains bulk up dog food and lower food quality by a drastic amount. They are also used to reduce costs by using commercial ingredients that are more affordable than premium ones.
Is grain-free food healthier for my pet?
You have to take certain factors into account to make that judgment. It depends on your dog’s dietary needs and preferences if a certain option is healthier for them. It is better to consult your vet if you’re planning to make the switch.
What is the main drawback of a grain-free diet?
If you are not careful when making a purchase, you might end up feeding your dog more carbs than necessary. Some formulas use starches as a substitute for grains rather than meat. The recommended daily intake of carbohydrates for dogs is 20%.
Does switching to a grain-free diet have clear benefits for my dog?
If your dog suffers from allergies, digestive issues, or has a sensitive stomach, grain-free diets certainly are better for your dog. While the same cannot be said for a normal, healthy dog without health conditions because opinions vary.
How can I identify soy on the label?
Soy is usually present as
- Soy milk
- TSF (Textured Soy Flour)
- TSP (Textured Soy Protein)
- Edamame (soybean pods)
If these ingredients are on the label, the food contains soy or soy protein or was processed using soy.
Should I still avoid wheat, corn, and soy if my dog has no allergies?
Wheat, corn, and soy are the highest genetically modified crops in the US. Whether your pet has allergies or not, these ingredients can still harm them in other ways. There are much better sources of nutrition for your dog.
Can my dog have dog foods containing soybean meal?
Soybean meal is a heavily processed by-product made from extraction residue. Soy is also a genetically modified product, making it unsafe for consumption by dogs. Your dog could have issues such as flatulence after its consumption.
What does ‘grain-free’ on the label mean?
Grain-free dog food does not use wheat, rice, barley, oats, sorghum, or millet and is a great option for dogs with a grain allergy or sensitive stomachs. A great grain-free formula is also rich in protein.
Is it safe to feed my dog corn?
According to their evolutionary history, dogs started eating corn in the past two hundred years. It is safe to feed your dog corn in small amounts but can cause digestive issues in large quantities. Dogs are also incapable of deriving nutrients from plant-based sources.
Why is dog food without corn, wheat, and soy so popular?
With the growth in awareness, many animal lovers and nutritionists advocate for foods free of filler ingredients. Filler ingredients have little to no nutritional value and only serve to bulk up the food. Corn, wheat, and soy also serve as filler ingredients in dog food.
Can dogs with special conditions consume food with wheat, corn, and soy?
You should consult your veterinarian regarding this. However, diets rich in grains and corn are not advisable for dogs with allergies, digestive issues, and conditions such as diabetes.
What is a limited ingredient diet?
A limited ingredient diet formula usually consists of ten to twenty wholesome and natural ingredients to create a simple but complete meal. Balanced nutrition comes from limited sources of proteins and carbohydrates. Limited ingredient diets are good for dogs with food allergies.
Are dog foods with no corn, wheat, and soy the same as grain-free?
No, grain-free foods contain no grains, including rice, oats, barley, and others. Foods free of corn, wheat, and soy use healthier grains that can provide your dog with the necessary amount of fiber.
Can corn, wheat, and soy cause allergies for my dog?
While it varies from dog to dog, these ingredients have caused an allergic reaction in many dogs.
How can I switch my dog to a diet free of wheat, corn, and soy?
Like any other dietary change, you should switch your pet’s food gradually and carefully over a couple of weeks. Start by mixing the two foods to make a complete switch.
What is the recommended ratio of nutrients for dog food?
Dog food should contain 70% cooked protein, 20% carbohydrates, and 10% grains or other sources of vitamins and minerals.