The 15 Best Grain Free Dog Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2021 Update

This updated guide lists all of the best grain free dog foods this year.

I have reviewed the 15 bestselling and highest quality grain free dog foods after spending weeks on research, ingredient analysis, Consumer reviews and more…

(here’s my 40 point inspection list)

These are my top picks.

See the remaining top grain free dog food options later in the post.

Let’s dive in…

The Best Grain Free Dog Foods

Best Grain Free Dog FoodsRating Top Ingredients
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
(Editor’s Choice)
4.9Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal…
2. Nutro Ultra Chicken, Split Pea & Carrot Recipe Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.8Chicken, Chicken Meal, Split Peas…
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.8Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Peas…
4. Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food4.7Herring Meal, Peas, Salmon meal…
5. Health Extension Grain-Free Buffalo & Whitefish Recipe Dry Dog Food4.7Buffalo, Deboned Whitefish, Buffalo Meal…

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

Grain Free Dog Food Reviews

1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

If you’re looking for a high protein grain-free diet for your pooch, this is a great option. Taste of the Wild has established itself as a top-of-the-line brand and manufactures their foods in the USA under expert supervision. As for this particular option, the formula offers the highest protein ratios with an ideal balance of other nutrients to ensure your super active tail-wagger gets the best available nutrition.

This recipe is formulated with an additional dose of antioxidants and vitamins to offer maximum benefits and helps to optimize the absorption of nutrients. The novel protein sources are great for helping your dog maintain strong, lean muscles, and overall good health. This complete and highly nutritious food is made with sustainable ingredients from trusted sources. Exactly what your little guy deserves!

2. Nutro Ultra Chicken, Split Pea & Carrot Recipe Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Split Peas, 4. Lamb Meal, 5. Dried Potatoes

This meal by Nutro Ultra contains farm-raised chicken as the primary ingredient and is designed with your dog’s nutritional requirements in mind. The blend includes a variety of wholesome ingredients such as farm-grown carrots, split peas, and parsley to make sure it is nutritious and flavorful for adult dogs of all breeds and sizes.

The formula also includes a list of high-quality fruits and vegetables that provides balanced nutrition that enables your dog to thrive. With 30% protein content, the grain-free diet is manufactured in the USA. Offer the perfect balance of unique flavors and ingredients to your pooch and make mealtime extraordinary.

3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Menhaden Fish Meal

This blend by Blue Buffalo Wilderness variety is a top pick of pet parents everywhere. The specials salmon recipe is free from grains that could upset a dog’s digestive system. Also, if your little guy is fond of fish, the flavors of this recipe are surely going to be a pleasant surprise.

The flavors and nutrients extracted from peas, salmon, and potatoes are formed into kibble in this special LifeSource formula. It is a grain-free recipe that is also free of corn, soy, wheat, artificial color, preservatives, and artificial flavors. This diet featuring a healthy balance of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants, and is perfectly formulated for the adult life-stage and supply the energy your dog needs.

4. Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Herring Meal, 2. Peas, 3. Salmon meal, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Tapioca

This recipe contains high levels of protein extracted from some of the best sources, including salmon, herring meal, and whitefish meal. The Coastal Catch formula is an excellent choice for adult dogs as the high levels of protein and other nutrients ensure lean muscle mass and sustained energy in your dogs. This recipe is grain-free and gluten-free and includes a healthy mix of other natural ingredients to give you a perfectly balanced and nutritious meal to feed your pooch.

The variety of fruits and vegetables such as spinach, carrots, blueberries, apples, and cranberries are not only a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, but also offer a great ratio of essential omegas to support your dog in maintaining great skin and fur!

5. Health Extension Grain-Free Buffalo & Whitefish Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2. Deboned Whitefish, 3. Buffalo Meal, 4. Whitefish Meal, 5. Chickpeas

Health Extension’s grain-free recipe supplies high-quality protein that’s derived from outstanding animal-sources, including buffalo meal, buffalo, and whitefish. The recipe is highly recommended for dogs with sensitive digestion as it is also free from gluten and GMO. The formula isn’t only suitable for dogs of all breeds, but also all life stages.

Rich in flavor, the blend is loaded with omega fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, calcium, and dietary fiber. The meal can be fed to puppies, adults, and seniors. The excellent combination of ingredients such as whole vegetables, fruits, and herbs, work together in this recipe to offer optimal nutrition to your pooch.

6. Go! — Sensitivity + Shine Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. De-Boned Salmon, 2. Salmon Meal, 3. Tapioca, 4. Peas, 5. Lentils

If you are looking for a complete meal that offers premium quality nutrients, this recipe by Go! is all you need. Formulated with special ingredients to ensure your sensitive dog stays healthy and active, the grain-free formula supports digestion with a limited ingredient diet. The recipe eliminates many of the common allergens for the sensitive dog, including beef and chicken. Therefore, protein derived from salmon is the primary ingredient. Give your dog excellent preventative care with a diet that’s rich in all essential nutrients.

7. Wellness CORE — Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Peas, 5. Potatoes

Keep your dog healthy and fit and for life. This grain-free, high-protein formula is nutrient-dense and serves as a perfectly balanced meal for adult dogs. By opting for a Wellness CORE grain-free option, you can ensure serving your dog nothing less than wholesome nutrition and protein level as high as 34%, which gives your furry friend everything he needs to maintain optimal health.

8. CANIDAE — Grain-Free PURE Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Salmon Meal, 3. Menhaden Fish Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

Rich in salmon protein, this special recipe by CANIDAE supports those dogs with sensitive digestion by eliminating all fillers and unnecessary ingredients. Also, the limited ingredient recipe only uses eight key ingredients to keep the food suitable for easy digestion without compromising on essential nutrients your dog needs. The high level of protein and other nutrition guarantees an excellent nutrient profile on which your dog can thrive.

9. Holistic Select — Adult & Puppy Health Salmon, Anchovy & Sardine Meal Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Anchovy and Sardine Meal, 3. Potatoes, 4. Peas, 5. Menhaden Fish Meal

Free of undesirable ingredients such as corn, soy, wheat, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives, this is indeed a holistic diet option that offers your dog everything he deserves. This special recipe by Holistic Select is formulated with a unique Digestive Health Support System and is great for a dog with a sensitive gut. It not only includes great sources of excellent nutrition but is also rich in digestive enzymes, healthy fiber, and active probiotics to keep your dog healthy and active.

10. Blue Buffalo — Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Turkey & Potato Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

Feed your dog all the amazing flavors without compromising the nutritional value of their daily diet. This special formula isn’t only easy on your pocket but also your dog’s sensitive stomach. The recipe includes everything that your dog needs for optimal growth and health maintenance. The turkey and potato recipe is a limited ingredient diet and includes only the finest ingredients for optimal level of protein, complex carbs, calcium, minerals, vitamins, and essential omegas.

11. Merrick — Grain-Free Duck + Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Maintain your furry buddy’s shiny coat and healthy skin by offering him a diet that caters not only to his nutritional needs but also ensures a perfect exterior. Rich in high-quality ingredients, the grain-free formula includes deboned duck and sweet potatoes as primary sources of nutrition. The complete and balanced formula also includes glucosamine and chondroitin for improved mobility and health maintenance.

12. Nulo — Freestyle Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food

This grain-free recipe prepared from 85% animal-based sources is a healthy choice for your dog’s sensitive stomach. The perfect mix of high-protein ingredients present in this recipe includes turkey, salmon, chicken, and eggs. Other nutrients include wholesome vegetables and fruit,s to support strong bones and optimal immune health. The excellent nutrient profile and a great selection of ingredients make this quite a popular choice for dog owners.

13. Purina Beneful — Grain Free with Real Farm-Raised Chicken Dry Dog Food

Your little darling deserves goodness in a bowl. And if you want to offer a diet that’s nutritionally sound without breaking the bank, then this grain-free \option by Purina fits the bill. With farm-raised chicken as a primary ingredient, the kibble is crafted from an array of other wholesome ingredients such as spinach, pumpkin, and blueberries to craft an excellent nutrient profile that’s suitable for your tail-wagger.

14. Instinct by Nature’s Variety — Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food

Satisfy your canine’s nutritional requirements by offering him a flavorful wet food option prepared with grain-free real chicken. The primary protein sources include chicken, turkey, and chicken liver. There are other wholesome ingredients in the recipe as well to serve as natural sources of essential nutrients such as protein, fats, carbs, and essential omega fatty acids.

15. Natural Balance — L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Satisfy your canine companion’s cravings and nutritional requirements by offering him a balanced, holistic meal. The grain-free, limited ingredient diet is made from selective ingredients to ensure your dog gets all the essential nutrients without experiencing any discomfort with digestion. Made with fish and sweet potato as primary ingredients, the recipe is suitable for dogs with sensitive tummies and aids in overall great health and wellbeing.


Grain-Free Dog Food FAQs

Is grain-free food a better option for my dog?

Most grain-free food options contain high-level protein content, moderate-levels of animal fat, and fewer carbohydrates as compared to a grain-inclusive diet, which makes grain-free food easier for dogs to digest. While both grain-free and grain-inclusive diets have their own sets of pros and cons, a grain-free diet is useful for dogs with a sensitive digestive system and grain allergies.

How do I find out if I need to feed a grain-free diet to my dog?

You need to watch out for symptoms in your dog to see if your pooch is allergic to certain ingredients. If your dog’s grain-inclusive diet doesn’t settle well with them, and they are showing signs like diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach-ache, they may be sensitive or even allergic to certain grains. Switch to a grain-free formula to see if the health improves.

What should I look for in a good grain-free diet for my dog?

Even if a diet claims to be grain-free, it is very important to check the ingredients yourself. Read the nutrition profile to see if the formulation balances the essential nutrients as per your dog’s requirement.

Should puppies be fed grain-free food?

While grain-free foods can be heavier on your pocket as compared to traditional foods, it has great health benefits and can be particularly beneficial for puppies with food allergies and intolerance to grains.

Can my dog digest grains if he has a sensitive digestive system?

Grains are difficult for dogs to digest. It is mainly because of the presence of gluten that’s commonly present in barley, wheat, and rye and can be hard on a sensitive digestive system. Grains also contain lectins, which can also be problematic for dogs to break down if they have grain-intolerance.

What are the common ingredients to replace grains in a dog’s diet?

Often, peas, beans, and sweet potatoes replace grains such as barley, rye, wheat, and oats. You’ll see them listed often in high-quality grain-free diets.

Does grain-free food help dogs with better stool?

Most dogs tend to produce less waste if they only consume grain-free food. Grain-free options have less indigestible material and include potatoes or sweet potatoes to transit the food through intestines smoothly.

How do I find out if my dog is sensitive to grains?

If your dog is presenting any of these symptoms, it could be an indication to switch to a grain-free diet. In case the problem persists, speak to your vet for proper guidance. The symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Skin irritations and rash
  • Diarrhea or loose stool
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Chronic licking, biting or chewing to relieve itch
  • Coughing, wheezing and sneezing
  • Hair loss
  • Poor growth in young pups

Is a grain-free diet better for lactating and pregnant dogs?

Lactating and pregnant dogs have specific demands when it comes to nutrition. In addition to obtaining enough food for sustaining themselves, they also need more energy to support their growing puppies as well. Calcium and phosphorus are essential nutrients for pregnant dogs. In such a case, vets often recommend giving protein-rich diets to lactating and pregnant dogs. Since grain-free food options have higher protein content, they can be helpful in this case. However, make sure you check out the nutrient profile and list of ingredients to ensure you are only giving the best to your dog.

What breeds are at a higher risk of developing grain-related allergies?

According to some studies, the following dog breeds can be at a higher risk of developing food allergies:

  • Boxer
  • Retriever
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Collie
  • Dalmatian
  • Miniature schnauzer
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Dachshund
  • Wheaton Terrier
  • White Terrier
  • Springer Spaniel

Buyer’s Guide to The Best Grain-Free Dog Food

A simple ‘grain-free’ label on the package isn’t enough. When you’re looking for the best grain-free dog food, you cannot only rely on what the food does not include. You will need to be more careful about what’s in the food that you will be feeding your adorable little tail-wagger.

While high-protein content is pretty much a prerequisite of preparing a grain-free option, you cannot ignore the rest of the nutrients. Some ingredients can affect the nutrient balance of the finished recipe – and that’s something you cannot ignore.

Instead of getting into the debate of whether a grain-free diet can be harmful to your dog or not, we will only be highlighting the important aspects of feeding a grain-free diet to your pooch and its health benefits. Moreover, we will also be discussing the features of a great grain-free diet for dogs to help you pick the right option.

Before jumping onto that detail, let’s first talk about the most common ingredients that are added to the blend to replace major grains in recipes, including corn, wheat, barley, rye, rice, and other cereal grains. These are:

  • Potatoes – both sweet and white
  • Legumes – chickpea, peas, soybeans, lentils, etc.

These are the acceptable form of grain substitutes that are present in high-quality diet options. Legumes are also rich in protein. But this doesn’t mean that you can rely on legumes or plant-based proteins. In any case, I will always recommend a food option based on animal protein since it is also rich in other nutrients and essential amino acids.

Keeping the nutrient profile of a finished recipe in mind, I have reviewed the 25 best grain-free dog foods in this article to help you narrow down your options and make this overwhelming task of picking the best food for your pooch simpler.

Keep reading!

Why Do Dogs Need a Grain-Free Diet?

Do you need to switch to a grain-free option for your dog?

Wheat grains can cause food allergies in canines. This could be the ultimate deciding factor. Studies show how wheat grains can be a common reason why canines experience food allergies and sensitivities. While some non-grain options can be the culprit too, if your dog is extremely intolerant, picking up a grain-free option that also features a limited-ingredient diet can be the solution.

Pay attention to the overall list of labels, and especially the top five ingredients, before you make up your mind.

Is It Common for Canines to Have Grain Allergies?

Is It Common for Canines to Have Grain Allergies?

Food allergies in dogs can be a little complicated. In most cases, protein is the culprit in most common allergen in canines. However, not all food proteins have the potential of triggering sensitivities and allergies.

According to studies, the most common food allergens are:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Grains are major allergens that could trouble your pooch if fed regularly. However, dogs can also be allergic to animal-based protein. So it’s not right to limit your concerns related to allergies to grains only. The key is to try different combinations of ingredients to see which one works best. If your dog is allergic to grains, switching to a grain-free option will make all the difference in their health and activity.

It is also a good point to understand that not all grains are equal. The wholesome grains may not have allergenic potentials. Some healthy ones include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Brown and white rice
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Millet

That is why you must read the label. After you check the ‘grain-free’ tag on the package, turn it around and thoroughly check the specifically stated grains and the nutrient balance and formulation of the kibble.

How to Figure Out Grain-Related Allergies in Dogs

Even though these wild animals have evolved to becoming internet celebrities, the digestive system of dogs is still quite primitive. They have only limited support for metabolizing and breaking down cereal grains and complex carbs. Therefore, if they show signs of intolerance and digestive sensitivity, it is best to avoid grains and fibers that are hard on their tummies.

With time, they can show symptoms in the form of disorders and allergies. Here are the most common signs you need to watch out for to determine if you need to switch your pooch’s diet to a grain-free option.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or loose stool
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Chronic licking
  • Biting or chewing to relieve itch
  • Skin irritations and rash
  • Frequent ear infections

While these signs could occur due to other health issues, they are more commonly associated with a sensitive digestive system and food-related allergies. It is best to check with your vet if switching to a grain-free option does not show results.

Specific Benefits of Grain-Free Food Options

First and foremost, the best grain-free formulation usually contains a higher level of protein content as compared to traditional food. However, there can be more diet-specific benefits you can offer your dog by feeding them grain-free food. Here’s the list of most common benefits:

  • Helps reduce canine food allergies
  • Helps with improved satiation
  • Great energy
  • Shinier coat
  • Healthier skin
  • Smaller and fewer stools
  • Less shedding
  • Reduced flatulence
  • Better breath

In short, the food will not trigger sensitivity in your pooch or mess up their digestive system.

What to Look For In a Good Grain-Free Dog Food

One thing is clear now that the best grain-free dog food is much more than just the absence of grains. It is more about the wholesomeness of ingredients, the balance of nutrients, and the formulation of the recipe that is equally important.

Here are some things you need to make sure the product that you are choosing includes.

  • Opt for Real Animal-Based Protein

The primary ingredient of the blend should contain real animal-based protein. These easy-to-digest ingredients are absorbed in our dog’s body and are utilized by different organs and tissues without extensive processing.

If your dog is also allergic to protein ingredients such as beef and chicken, you still have tons of options from which to choose. Salmon, menhaden fish, lamb, duck, and turkey are some common alternatives for natural protein sources. Pick wisely.

  • Stick to wholesome carbs only

If you want to go grain-free, look for products that include wholesome fruits and vegetables in the recipe. These are not only packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants but hold great health benefits for your pooch.

  • Don’t Entertain Harmful or Artificial Ingredients

Fillers and flavor enhancers are commonly used by manufacturers to increase the palatability of the food. Even if the blend includes flavor enhancers, make sure they are made from natural ingredients only. Anything that’s labeled ‘artificial’ is harmful to your dog. So skip an option that contains these synthesized ingredients.

Final Words

If your dog’s health and wellbeing are important to you, then you need to pay specific attention to their diet. And if your dog has allergies or a sensitive stomach, it may mean feeding them grain-free food. You should choose a wholesome diet that’s not only grain-free but also features high-quality animal protein, healthy carbs, and is free from unnecessary and harmful ingredients.

We created this list so you won’t have to scratch your head over the tons of options available. Carefully read through the information we’ve provided for you here and choose the food that best fits your dog’s needs and is flavorful to them.

If you have any further concerns, check out with your vet and pick the best grain-free dog food for your pooch.


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