Dog food manufacturers have used potatoes in their recipes for decades. And with the rising popularity of grain-free diets, their demand has only increased.
But despite how good they might seem on the outside, there’s no denying that potatoes can be a troublesome ingredient for many dogs.
What’s even more worrying is that recent research has linked them to potentially fatal canine conditions.
So, what’s the real story behind potatoes? Is their bad reputation backed by research? And should you feed your dog a diet with potatoes?
Let’s answer all of these questions below:
The 8 Best Potato-Free Dog Foods
|Top Products||Rating||Top Ingredients|
|1. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food||4.6||Deboned Chicken, Atlantic Flounder, Turkey Heart|
|2. Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food||4.5||Alaska Pollock Meal, Pumpkin, Tapioca|
|3. Nature’s Logic Canine Feast Dog Food||4.3||Rabbit Meal, Millet, Chicken Fat|
|4. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Dog Food||4.6||Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat|
|5. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Dog Food||4.6||Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans|
|6. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE LID Dog Food||4.7||Chicken, Lentils, Peas|
|7. Zignature Zssential Multi-Protein Dog Food||4.7||Turkey, Salmon, Lamb Meal|
|8. Diamond Naturals Adult Dog Food||4.5||Lamb Meal, White Rice, Cracked Barley|
1. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Atlantic Flounder, 3. Turkey Heart, 4. Whole Red Lentils, 5. Chicken Fat
Orijen’s Original Grain-Free Dog Food is one of our top picks in the premium diet segment that’s also potato-free. It has a minimum protein content of 38%, which is one of the highest in the market. This makes it an excellent choice for athletic and muscular breeds that require lots of amino acids.
Instead of potatoes, the brand has chosen some of the best alternative carb sources for dogs. This includes simple carbs like lentils, beans, peas, and chickpeas, all of which are filled with fiber and various vitamins. The food also contains spinach, kale, carrots, and apples, which gives it another nutrient boost.
2. Earthborn Holistic Venture Alaska Pollock Meal & Pumpkin Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Alaska Pollock Meal, 2. Pumpkin, 3. Tapioca, 4. Sunflower Oil, 5. Flaxseed
What makes Earthborn Holistic Venture LID Dog Food stand out is that it primarily uses pumpkins for carbohydrates. Not only is pumpkin packed with fiber and various micronutrients, but it also has a soothing effect on the stomach of dogs. This, along with Alaskan pollock as the main protein source, makes this formula a great choice for dogs with stomach issues.
Besides that, the formula is perfect for dogs of all breeds and sizes, and is completely free from grains and gluten. It’s also enriched with omega fatty acids that improve coat and skin health. The brand also uses zero fillers or artificial additives to encourage maximum digestion.
3. Nature’s Logic Canine Rabbit Meal Feast All Life Stages Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Rabbit Meal, 2. Millet, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Pumpkin Seed, 5. Almonds
Nature’s Logic Canine Rabbit Dog Food is designed with holistic nutrition and an allergy-free diet in mind. It features rabbit meat as a protein source due to its easy digestibility and high nutritional value. However, for carbohydrates, the brand uses millet as its rich in prebiotic fibers that assist digestion.
Other than that, the recipe includes blueberries, pumpkin, carrots, apples, and spinach, amongst other fruits and vegetables. These greens are packed with antioxidants and further increase the formula’s carb content. Apart from potatoes, the food is also free from peas, legumes, lentils, wheat, corn, and artificial micronutrients.
4. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef Meal, 2. Grain Sorghum, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Menhaden Fish Meal, 5. Whole Grain Millet
For super-athletic pups that are allergic to potatoes or legumes, Victor’s Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula is a perfect choice. The food is packed with protein from various sources, 88% of which consists of meat so that sporting dogs can maintain a lean physique. To fuel their activities, it uses sorghum and millet as they’re packed with fiber and calories.
Moreover, the formula encourages overall well-being through various vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. It also improves digestive health and immunity through a special VPRO blend that’s unique to the brand. The food is ideal for dogs of all life stages, though we’d only recommend it for adult dogs.
5. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Venison, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Garbanzo Beans, 4. Canola Oil, 5. Raspberries
Taste of the Wild is best known for its exotic and wholesome recipes, and their Appalachian Dog Food is no different. What’s special about this formula is that it’s completely free from all types of potatoes. Instead, it features garbanzo beans, peas, and legumes as the primary carb sources, along with venison and lamb for protein.
Like every other formula from the brand, this one is also loaded with a range of micronutrients. This includes the basic vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as special ones like omega fatty acids to make your dog’s coat healthier. It’s also fortified with the brand’s proprietary K9 probiotics that promote gut health and nutrient absorption. Each ingredient used in the food is of the highest quality and is derived from trusted sources.
6. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Chicken, Lentil & Pea Recipe Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Lentils, 3. Peas, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Flaxseed
Canidae’s Pure LID Dog Food is specifically made for sensitive dogs, but the potato-free recipe also makes it an optimal choice for pups with potato allergies. It mainly consists of 8 ingredients, including chicken for protein, and lentils, peas, and garbanzo beans for carbohydrates.
The formula is further boosted by antioxidants, probiotics, and omega fatty acids to improve digestive and coat health. It contains zero fillers, grains, wheat, and other ingredients that might cause stomach issues. It’s specifically manufactured in the brand’s USA facility to provide your pup with the best quality diet.
7. Zignature Zssential Multi-Protein Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. Salmon, 3. Lamb Meal, 4. Chickpeas, 5. Sunflower Oil
For owners looking to feed their dogs a diverse and flavorful diet, Zignature Zssentials Multi-Protein Formula is definitely worth considering. As the name suggests, it features multiple proteins like turkey, salmon, lamb, and duck. Most of these are perfect for sensitive pups and contain tons of protein for lean muscle development.
For carbohydrates, the food contains simple carbs like chickpeas and peas. Both of these have a low glycemic index and are ideal for diabetic dogs. It’s also enriched with various vitamins, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids for improved coat and vision health. To make the food non-allergenic and easy on the stomach, it’s made without fillers, corn, wheat, soy, chicken, and — you guessed it, potatoes.
8. Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Adult Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Lamb Meal, 2. Ground White Rice, 3. Cracked Pearled Barley, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Dried Beet Pulp
Featuring real lamb meat and controlled proteins, Diamond Naturals Dog Food is perfect for dogs that are sensitive to starchy vegetables like potatoes. It has a protein content of 23% that is enough to support most dogs without aggravating their kidney issues. Instead of potatoes, the brand sticks to using white rice, barley, and millet for carbs as they contain loads of fiber.
In addition, the formula also features apples, carrots, papaya, pumpkins, and other produce as a source of antioxidants and vitamins. Probiotics are also added to the recipe to enhance digestion and gut health. The food contains zero grains, fillers, and artificial additives as they can trigger allergies and irritation in dogs.
9. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken + Brown Rice Recipe with Ancient Grains Adult Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Barley, 4. Oatmeal, 5. Chicken Fat
Merrick’s Classic Healthy Grains Dog Food is a fiber-packed formula made from various wholesome grains. Unless your dog is allergic to grainy ingredients, this formula is ideal for powering them throughout their day. It features brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and quinoa as the primary carb source as they’re packed with calories and digestive fibers.
We recommend the food to senior dogs as it’s also fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin. Both of these supplements help repair cartilages and can improve joint health. The recipe is also enriched with essential micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids for overall wellness and better coat appearance.
10. Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Whole Brown Rice, 3. Lamb Meal, 4. Dried Plain Beet Pulp, 5. Chicken Fat
This Nutro Ultra Dog Food is not only an outstanding formulation for senior dogs, but also for pups that have trouble digesting potatoes. The brand has specifically chosen whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal as a carb source as they offer tons of digestible calories and fibers. They’ve also used salmon and chicken as protein sources because they contain all essential amino acids and omega fatty acids.
As senior dogs often experience joint problems, the formula is fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin. It’s also kept free from fillers and artificial additives to cater to the weak digestive system of older dogs. All the ingredients are of premium quality and the food is manufactured to strict quality standards for optimal nourishment.
11. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Lamb Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Lamb Meal, 2. Tapioca, 3. Peas, 4. Canola Oil, 5. Freeze Dried Lamb
Instinct’s Real Lamb Dog Food gives true meaning to a limited ingredient diet. The recipe mostly consists of just one protein and one vegetable; lamb meat and tapioca. While still considered a starchy veggie, tapioca has more nutrients than potatoes. On the other hand, lamb meat is rich in protein and is very beneficial for muscle maintenance.
Besides that, the formula consists of natural oils and freeze-dried organs. These organs are crushed and used to coat the kibbles to boost their protein content. Antioxidants and omega fatty acids are also present in the food to detoxify your dog’s body and make their fur healthier. The recipe is also free from grains, dairy, eggs, potatoes, chickpeas, and artificial preservatives.
12. Nutro Puppy Tender Beef, Pea & Carrot Recipe Bites In Gravy Grain-Free Dog Food Trays
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef, 2. Chicken Broth, 3. Peas, 4. Chicken Liver, 5. Pork Plasma
Feeding puppies wet food can get messy, which is why Nutro has made these amazing Tender Beef Gravy Dog Food Trays. The recipe is designed to promote growth and increase energy levels without potatoes. That’s why it’s created with beef meat, peas, and carrots as the primary ingredients.
Additionally, the recipe is enriched with numerous vitamins and minerals that support immune health, hormone production, and strong bones. Allergens like corn, soy, wheat, and artificial additives are also eliminated from the food to avoid digestive problems. All of this is packed with tasty chicken broth in small trays that can be conveniently opened and served at any time or place.
13. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken & Freeze-Dried Raw Pieces Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Peas, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Tapioca, 5. Freeze Dried Chicken
Instinct’s Raw Boost Grain-Free Dog Food is best known for its high protein content and freeze-dried raw nutrition. However, it’s also a potato-free recipe that’s perfect for dogs with allergies. It uses peas and tapioca as a substitute instead, mainly because they’re easier to digest and healthier overall.
This Raw Boost formula has a minimum crude protein content of 37%, which is one of the highest in the market. It’s also delivers various micronutrients, including probiotics, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids. Besides potatoes, the recipe is also free from wheat, corn, soy, and artificial additives.
14. Ziwi Peak Beef Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef, 2. Beef Heart, 3. Beef Lung, 4. New Zealand Green Mussel, 5. Dried Kelp
For raw diet enthusiasts, Ziwi Peak Beef Dog Food is a fantastic choice as it’s packed with protein and contains no potatoes. It’s made in New Zealand from a premium selection of foods, including free-range beef meat and green mussels. Almost 96% of the food’s protein content comes from meat and organs, which is ideal for muscular and sensitive dog breeds.
Because of that, the food only contains minimal carbohydrates and fiber. That’s why it’s also free from grains, legumes, rice, lentils, and peas. But that doesn’t mean the food is any less digestible than others. In fact, it’s actually 96% digestible, according to Ziwi Peak, as it mostly consists of meat protein. The formula also contains glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamins, minerals, and other essential micronutrients.
15. Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate Medium & Maxi Adult Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Whole Spelt, 3. Whole Oats, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Fresh Herring
If you have an overweight or sensitive pup, Farmina’s N&D Ancestral Grain Dog Food is an outstanding choice. The food is not only free from potatoes, but also legumes and peas. It sources most of its carbs from whole oats and whole spelt as they’re more nutritious and digest easily.
Fruits and vegetables also form a major part of the recipe. They offer tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as extra carbs to fuel your dog. The formula is also fortified with omega fatty acids, which help improve the coat and skin health of dogs with sensitive skin.
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Potatoes have become a staple in almost every dog food these days. From outside, they seem like an ideal ingredient; rich in fiber, lots of carbs, and easy to digest for dogs.
However, there are also reasons why avoiding this ingredient might be in your dog’s best interest.
Let’s take a deeper look at how potatoes developed their poor image, whether your dog needs them in their diet, and how you can pick the best potato-free dog food for your pooch:
Are potatoes really that bad?
Potatoes don’t suit every dog, but that doesn’t mean they’re unhealthy. They’re packed with carbohydrates and fiber, as well as micronutrients like vitamin C, iron, potassium, and magnesium. For dogs with grain allergies, potatoes make a decent source of calories and are capable of fueling their daily activities.
However, there are also a few problems with feeding this vegetable to dogs. They are as follows:
1. There are better alternatives to potatoes
A potato might have fiber, carbs, and some minerals, but it doesn’t contribute anything more significant than that. This is especially true for white potatoes, which include even fewer nutrients than sweet potatoes. Instead, you should look for alternative ingredients like grains that contain equal or more carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals per serving.
2. Some dogs are allergic or sensitive to potatoes
Patatin is a protein found in potatoes that can trigger allergic reactions in dogs. It can cause symptoms like excessive itchiness, sneezing, and skin inflammation. Some pups also have trouble digesting potatoes because of stomach sensitivities, which can result in diarrhea and vomiting.
3. Potatoes have been linked to DCM
Over the past few years, the FDA has received reports of dogs developing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) from eating grain-free diets. Most of these formulas contained potatoes, legumes, and lentils as the primary carb source, which were blamed for the problem.
It was assumed that these carbohydrates were preventing dogs from receiving enough taurine in two ways; either by reducing their meat intake or by preventing them from absorbing it. Meat is a natural source of taurine for dogs, and it was observed that foods with potatoes had less than optimal quantities of meat protein.
Also, it’s possible that legumes and potatoes are inhibiting the ability of dogs to absorb taurine or produce it on their own. This could have also resulted in a deficiency and increased the risk of DCM.
While there’s no proof of either of these theories at the moment, dogs with existing heart conditions should avoid eating diets with potatoes. Instead, their owners should opt for dog foods that contain grains or other potato substitutes as a carb source.
Best potato substitutes for dogs
Like we mentioned before, there are many healthier and more beneficial potato alternatives available for your dog. Here’s a list of our favorite ones below:
Besides potatoes and grains, legumes are the best source of carbohydrates and dietary fiber for dogs. They’re frequently used in limited ingredient and grain-free foods, and are famous amongst owners whose pets suffer from allergies or sensitivities.
While there are many types of legumes, the most common ones used for dog food are lentils, chickpeas, peas. Not only are they packed with carbohydrates and fiber, but they’re also rich in protein, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium.
Another benefit of legumes is that they’re simple carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. As a result, they digest slowly and release glucose more gradually into the bloodstream. This is important for diabetic dogs as it prevents their blood sugar level from spiking and helps them feel full for longer.
2. Fruits and squash
Fruits are an excellent source of calories for dogs as they’re loaded with carbohydrates, antioxidants, and vitamins. They have much less starch than potatoes but also contain tons of sugar. That’s why they are less suitable as the main carb source and more appropriate as a source of micronutrients.
However, squashes are an exception. Pumpkin, in particular, is full of digestive fibers and perfect for fueling your dog with carbohydrates. Compared to other substitutes, it contains more potassium, vitamin C, and iron.
A notable benefit of pumpkins is that they have a soothing effect on the stomach of dogs. This can help alleviate digestive upsets and irritation, which is a common issue for sensitive pups.
Grains aren’t as bad as they might seem. They contain more carbohydrates, fiber, and protein per gram than any other potato substitute. It’s actually processed grains and by-products that cause the majority of digestive problems and offer limited nutrients.
Whole grains are packed with nutrition and are highly beneficial for your dog’s health. Oatmeal, brown rice, and barley are great examples that digest easily and improve stomach health in multiple ways.
Tapiocas are close substitutes for potatoes that contain tons of starch and carbohydrates. They have twice as many calories, as well as high quantities of sugar and fat. They’re typically used in grain-free recipes as a carb source.
Choosing the best potato free dog food
Picking the best food for your dog involves lots of factors other than just being potato-free. You must look for whole proteins, different micronutrients, and tasty kibbles that your dog would actually love to eat. Here are some of the factors you must consider to choose an excellent dog food:
1. High quantities of meat protein
Good-quality proteins are the most vital part of a dog’s diet. They’re responsible for providing 12 essential amino acids that promote muscle growth and cellular repair, as well as a bunch of other body functions.
Whole meat is the best type of protein for dogs as it contains all of the required amino acids, plus various minerals like zinc, selenium, and iron. It’s also easiest to digest and absorbs fully into your dog’s body.
Dog food manufacturers normally use poultry, fish, or red meat in their food. You’ll see it listed as chicken, beef, salmon, or the name of whichever animal was used for the meat. Some brands also add meat meals or vegetable proteins to their recipes, which is fine as long as whole meat is in the majority.
2. Tons of healthy fats
Healthy fats are packed with calories and are an excellent source of energy for dogs. They also contain omega fatty acids, which play a crucial role in nourishing your dog’s skin and making their coat healthier.
Fats derived from animals, vegetables, or seeds are equally healthy and packed with nutrients. However, animal-based fats like chicken fat or salmon oil are easier on the stomach and less likely to trigger allergies.
3. Variety of essential micronutrients
Every dog needs three essential micronutrients in their diet to stay fit; vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids. These micros are crucial in supporting the body’s defense systems, ensuring proper bone growth, and producing hormones.
Since it’s difficult to supply all micronutrients with just proteins, fats, and carbs, most manufacturers either use supplements or fruits and vegetables in their recipes. Individual supplements are a decent source of micros and rarely cause any problem.
However, fruits and vegetables are a much better alternative as they’re also rich in antioxidants and taste great. That’s why many brands use apples, carrots, spinach, pumpkins, blueberries, and other produce in their recipes.
4. No artificial additives
Owners usually hold potatoes responsible for their dog’s poor health. But in most cases, it’s the artificial additives that are causing the majority of problems.
It’s common practice amongst low-quality manufacturers to use artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives to boost their food’s appeal. These unnatural additives often become a cause of allergies and digestive problems.
5. Avoid unhealthy ingredients
Cheaper dog foods frequently use fillers and by-products to boost their food’s calorie content. These ingredients are made from the waste material of processed grains and slaughterhouses and offer little to no nutritional value.
What’s even worse is that they can cause your dog to become deficient in certain nutrients and ruin their appearance, energy levels, and general health. And that’s the last thing you want, especially if your dog already suffers from allergies or sensitivities.
Other ingredients to avoid in dog food
Here’s an ugly truth:
If you found out the source behind some ingredients in your dog food, you’ll stop worrying about potatoes. Most of them are quite harmful and can cost your dog their health in the long run. Here’s a list of a few of those ingredients:
1. BHA and BHT
Lipstick manufacturers and dog food brands commonly use BHA and BHT to preserve the fat content in their products. Unfortunately, both of these chemicals have been identified as possible carcinogens, according to research by the IRCA. They’ve also been linked to kidney issues and are known to trigger allergies in dogs.
2. Propylene Glycol
PG or propylene glycol is used to maintain the moisture and softness of dog food. It’s obtained from ethylene glycol, also known as anti-freeze, which is highly toxic to canines. While PG isn’t as dangerous, it still offers zero nutritional benefits to your dog and is an unnecessary ingredient.
3. Food dyes
Artificial dyes are of no use to dogs as they can’t see colors like humans. Instead, some of them pose a health hazard for canines, particularly Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 2. All of these dyes have been classified as possible carcinogens and have been linked to allergies.
Just like humans, excessive sugar intake isn’t good for dogs either. Despite that, some brands use corn syrup and sweeteners to improve the taste of their food. This constant supply of glucose can cause your dog’s blood sugar to spike and lead them towards obesity and diabetes.
Do dogs need carbohydrates in their diet?
No, a dog does not need carbohydrates as they can derive almost all nutrients just from protein and fats. But since carbs are cheaper and dogs have evolved quite a bit, it’s acceptable to feed them some quantities of easily digestible carbs as a secondary source of fuel.
Are potatoes easy to digest for dogs?
Yes, potatoes are one of the easiest foods for dogs to digest. They have lots of fiber in them and rarely cause digestive upsets or diarrhea. However, you should avoid feeding raw potatoes as they contain a toxin called solanine which can cause breathing and heart problems in dogs.
Can dogs eat legumes daily?
Your dog can eat dog food with legumes regularly without any problem. They’re best for dogs with allergies and are an excellent substitute for grains. Legumes contain not only carbohydrates but also loads of protein and essential micronutrients.
Are peas better than potatoes for dogs?
No, peas can cause digestive upsets or kidney stones if they’re fed in excessive quantities. They’re also difficult to digest and can cause bloating. Potatoes are much better carbs in comparison as they can be consumed in large amounts without any side effects.
Is potato protein also unhealthy for dogs?
Potato protein isn’t unhealthy for dogs, but it isn’t an ideal protein source either. It doesn’t have all the essential amino acids that dogs require and is more difficult to digest compared to meat and other animal-based proteins.
Are legumes and lentils also linked to DCM in dogs?
Yes, FDA’s report states that dog foods using potatoes, legumes, and lentils have all been linked to dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. Even though there’s no solid evidence on this finding, we recommend avoiding such diets for dogs with existing heart disorders.
Is sweet potato better than white potato?
Yes, sweet potatoes are healthier for dogs as they contain more vitamins and minerals than white potatoes. They also offer soluble fibers, which promote the growth of gut bacteria and improve digestive efficiency.
Which dog breeds are prone to DCM?
Breeds that are at a higher risk of developing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) include:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Great Danes
- English Bulldogs
- Saint Bernard
Other breeds that are also prone to heart diseases include Poodles, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Is brown rice a good carb source for dogs?
Yes, brown rice is a whole grain and an excellent source of carbohydrates and digestive fibers. It’s comparatively a better grain choice for dogs with allergies and can be fed on a daily basis. Brown rice also has benefits on the heart and protects against heart diseases.