The 13 Best Grain-Free Puppy Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

This (updated) guide reviews all of the best grain-free puppy foods this year.

A grain-free diet is a great option for pets with sensitive stomachs because it doesn’t include common allergens like corn, rice, and wheat. Don’t assume that grain-free lacks carbs, quality grain-free puppy foods have high-quality carb sources such as peas, and apples. and potatoes. Puppies on a grain-free diet get more protein and better carbs so they stay more active and energetic, with lower risks of allergies.

After several weeks of research, ingredient analysis, customer reviews, and using my 40-point inspection checklist, I’ve come up with this list of high-quality, grain-free foods for your puppy.

Let’s dive right in…

The Best Grain Free Puppy Foods

Top PicksFirst 5 Ingredients
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Food
(Best Dry Meal)
Buffalo, Lamb meal, Bison, Pea protein, Egg product
2. Purina Pro Plan Turkey Grain-Free Puppy Food
(Best Wet Meal)
Turkey, Liver, Meat By-Products, Beef, Chicken
3. My Ollie Fresh Food
(Best Fresh Meal)
Turkey, kale, lentils, carrots, coconut oil
4. American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Puppy Food
(Best Budget Pick)
Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas
5. Go! Solutions Carnivore Grain-Free Chicken Puppy Food
(Best For Weight Gain)
Chicken Meal, De-Boned Trout, Potatoes, Chicken Fat, Pumpkin

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Food

Best Overall

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2.Lamb meal, 3. Bison, 4. Pea protein, 5. Egg product

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,656 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Give your puppy a protein-packed treat made with buffalo as the first ingredient. It contains quality carbs to fuel your puppy’s high energy level, and also contains a proprietary probiotic to support your pups digestive health. Add a superior blend of antioxidants for immune system support and you have a healthy, tasty option that belongs at the top of the list of best grain-free puppy foods.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 28%, Fat (min.) 17%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture(max.) 10%


Purina Pro Plan Turkey Entree Grain-Free Puppy Food

Best Wet Meal

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. Liver, 3. Meat By-Products, 4. Beef, 5. Chicken

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,250 kcal
  • Form: Wet

If your puppy isn’t fond of dry food, then Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Classic Turkey Entree is one of the best grain-free wet recipes you can find. The high moisture content of this wet food makes it a good choice for puppies who don’t drink as much as they should. 

But this isn’t just a can of water; you get quality proteins needed for healthy muscles and a good amount of Omega-6 fatty acids to promote a healthy coat and better cognitive development. It is, indeed, a great option for a smart, strong puppy.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 10%, Fat (min.) 7%, Fiber (max.) 1.5%, Moisture (max.) 76%


My Ollie Fresh Food

Best Fresh Option

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. kale, 3. lentils, 4. carrots, 5. coconut oil

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,390 kcal
  • Form: Fresh

Puppy allergies can sometimes get complicated — that’s where a personalized fresh food diet from My Ollie can be an excellent option. You can choose from four protein choices; beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb. A team of expert dog nutritionists will then personalize it by removing ingredients that your puppy is allergic to and fine-tune it according to their age, weight, breed, and activity level.

Each one of those meals will be delivered fresh to your doorstep so your pupper can receive maximum nutrients. Not only do the fresh food meals taste incredible, but they can also be frozen to serve later. Even though My Ollie is a bit expensive than regular dry food, it’s a great choice for puppies that are allergic or sensitive to very specific grains or foods.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 11%, Fat (min.) 7%, Fiber (max.) 2%, Moisture (max.) 72%


Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Food

Best Raw Option

Rating:

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

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,635 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Did you know that the ancestral diet of your canine buddy was actually grain-free? It was also full of quality proteins and numerous nutrients from fruits and vegetable sources.  Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Puppy Recipe Grain-Free takes clues from nature and gives your puppy all the required essentials in every meal.

You get quality proteins from multiple meat sources including freeze-dried poultry and deboned chicken. Your pup will also get a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, each meal contains an essential level of carbs to keep your puppy active all day. Since it contains fatty acids from salmon, there is a visible difference in the shine and quality of coat.

Analysis: Protein min. 30% | Fat min. 14%, | Fiber max. 3.5% | Moisture max. 11%


Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy Dog Food

Best For Large Breeds

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Peas, 3. Fish Meal, 4. Natural Flavor, 5. Chicken Fat

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,555 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Large breeds have large nutritional needs. They need a higher dose of quality proteins, and that is exactly what they get with Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy Chicken Recipe. A grain-free meal full of proteins and loaded with nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus.

It is a perfect meal for muscular, athletic breeds. While it enhances physical growth, it also improves brain and vision development in growing pups. Peas and sweet potatoes add the much-needed carbs to keep the energy levels high even for the most active babies.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 35%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 6%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best For Small Breeds

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. De-Boned Turkey, 2. Potatoes, 3. Coconut Oil, 4. Flaxseed, 5. Pumpkin

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Extra Small B,reeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,773 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Every puppy should eat the freshest and most wholesome food for proper growth. Keeping up with that belief, Now Fresh has created an amazing grain-free diet for small breed puppies. It’s made exclusively from fresh turkey, salmon, and duck meat to promote muscle growth while giving the kibbles a naturally meaty flavor.

Instead of grains, the recipe features simple carbs like peas and potatoes to keep your pup energized. It’s also supported by a range of fresh fruits and veggies like cranberries, pumpkin, spinach, and lentils, which supply various micronutrients. Besides that, the food also promotes brain and vision development through omega fatty acids. And to improve digestive health, it’s fortified with prebiotics and probiotics.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 28%, Fat (min.) 18%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%


ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food

Best Premium Option

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Deboned Turkey, 3. flounder, 4. Eggs, 5. Turkey Liver

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,960 kcal
  • Form: Dry

If you’re willing to stretch your budget for your puppy’s health, we highly recommend buying Orijen Puppy Grain-Free Dog Food. Almost 85% of the food is made from animal ingredients — making it far more digestible than other options. Chicken meat, turkey giblets, and flounder are some of the protein sources that promote muscle, ligament, and bone production in young puppies.

Instead of grains, Orijen uses a combination of lentils, beans, and chickpeas to deliver carbohydrates and keep your puppy charged for the day. The food also packs a ton of taste and micronutrients, thanks to fresh fruits like pumpkin, apples, and cranberries. Your puppy will also receive omega fatty acids, minerals, and amino acids to grow into a strong and active adult.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 38%, Fat (min.) 20%, Fiber (max.) 6%, Moisture (max.) 12%


American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Puppy Food

Best Low-Budget Option

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

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,630 kcal
  • Form: Dry

With deboned lamb as the first ingredient, American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe is a great option for the lean muscle development of your four-legged friend. Aside from a healthy amount of quality proteins, this formula has a good percentage of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Your puppy will also get their essential Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids with every meal. In short, your pup will look good, feel good, and act healthy. American Journey is one of the most reputable brands and this dog food is among the best grain free puppy food options available.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Go! Solutions Carnivore Grain-Free Chicken + Duck Puppy Food

Best For Weight Gain

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. De-Boned Trout, 3. Potatoes, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Pumpkin

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,100 kcal
  • Form: Dry

To help your puppy grow up into a muscular and strong adult, feed them a protein-packed dog food like Go! Solutions Carnivore Grain-Free Formula. It has one of the highest minimum crude protein content amongst all puppy foods made up of chicken, turkey, salmon, duck, and trout meat. Apart from that, the recipe is also loaded with wholesome fruits and vegetables that act as a source of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

All of these ingredients keep your puppy active and help in strengthening their immune system. DHA and EPA are also added to the food to promote brain development and vision health. The kibbles also come in a smaller size that’s easier for puppies to pick and chew. Lastly, to prevent digestive upsets, the recipe is also kept free from wheat, corn, soy, and artificial preservatives. 

Analysis: Protein (min.) 36%, Fat (min.) 18%, Fiber (max.) 3%, Moisture (max.) 10%


CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Puppy LID Chicken & Lentils Dog Food

Best For Sensitive Stomach

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Menhaden Fish Meal, 3. Lentils, 4. Peas, 5. Chicken Fat

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,472 kcal
  • Form: Dry

If you are looking for a grain-free diet for your sensitive puppy, you need a limited-ingredient recipe that doesn’t compromise on nutrients. With a can of CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Puppy Real Chicken, Lentil & Whole Egg Recipe, you get a healthy amount of lean protein from chicken and other essential nutrients from just eight more ingredients.

While it is a gluten-free formula, you still get a blend of whole foods like peas and lentils to fulfill your little pup’s daily nutritional requirements. This recipe also includes probiotics for the digestive support of your sensitive baby.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Natural Balance LID Reserve Grain-Free Duck & Potato Puppy Food

Best For Allergies

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Duck, 2. Potatoes, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Tapioca Starch, 5. Flaxseed

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,649 kcal
  • Form: Dry

If your puppy is allergic to more than just grains, Natural Balance LID Duck & Sweet Potato formula is the dog food for you. It’s based on a limited ingredient diet and uses a single protein; duck meat, which is highly-digestible and perfect for building muscle. Carbs also mainly consist of potatoes as they’re rich in fiber and easy on the stomach.

Your puppy will also receive DHA support to develop a sharp brain and vision, as well as omega fatty acids to grow a shiny, healthy coat. Other than that, you will find zero grains, gluten, corn, wheat, soy, peas, or artificial additives in the recipe — all of which are culprits in allergy outbreaks.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 25%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Merrick Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy Food

Best For Picky Eaters

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Potatoes, 5. Salmon Meal

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,680 kcal
  • Form: Dry

There are very few recipes that can deliver on their promise of complete physical and mental development for your pup.  Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Formula is one of those recipes that can; it is highly recommended for breeds with higher nutritional needs. You get lean protein from deboned chicken and essential vitamins from fruits and vegetables.

I like the fact that it has additional DHA to maintain good cognitive development in puppies. Puppies simply love the way it smells and come running when they hear it hit the bowl. This makes it an excellent choice for picky pups.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 28% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 4.5% | Moisture (max.) 11%


VICTOR Grain-Free Active Dog & Puppy Food

Best For Active Puppies

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef Meal, 2. Peas, 3. Sweet Potato, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Menhaden Fish Meal

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,614 kcal
  • Form: Dry

If your puppy has a sensitive tummy bring home a bag of VICTOR Purpose Grain Free Active Dog & Puppy Dry Dog Food. It is a wholesome meal with carefully selected protein sources like premium quality beef and pork.

The formula is further fortified with higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. It isn’t just a puppy meal; it is a complete meal for dogs with high nutritional needs such as athletic breeds and lactating females. Overall, a power-packed meal for puppies with tummy troubles.

Analysis: Protein min. 33% | Fat min. 16%, | Fiber max. 3.8% | Moisture max. 9%


Grain-Free Puppy Foods FAQs

What Does Grain-Free Diet Mean?

Grain-free means that the formula does not contain ANY grain. This includes wheat, rice, barley, soy, corn, and most sources of gluten. On the contrary, a gluten-free diet is not necessarily grain-free. Puppies with gluten intolerance can eat grains such as oat as they do not contain gluten.

Why Should I Choose Grain-Free Diet for My Puppy?

A grain-free diet is usually suggested for puppies with grain allergies. However, it can be good for puppies with sensitive tummies as well. Ancestral canine diets don’t include grains and that is one reason grain-free is often suggested for puppies. Moreover, grains such as corn and wheat are often used as fillers and have little nutritional value.

What to Look for in a Grain-Free Puppy Food? 

Always choose a grain-free puppy food that has natural ingredients that can offer balanced nutrition. Since there is no grain, look for other, healthier sources of carbohydrates such as peas, potatoes, and lentils. There should be a high percentage of quality proteins, preferably from lean sources.


Buyer’s Guide

Every owner wants to feed their puppy the most nutritious diet possible. However, there’s a lot of debate in the dog community when it comes to grain-free food. Lucky for you, we’ll be solving all of your queries and will help you select the best puppy food for your pup just below:

What should puppies eat?

Feeding your puppy a nutritious and age-appropriate diet is crucial to their growth. Their food has to be caloric-dense, rich in nutrients, and fully balanced at the basics. Here are some of the most critical aspects of the perfect puppy diet:

1. Rich in protein

Just like their ancestors, puppies must also be fed a diet that mainly consists of premium-quality proteins. Whole meat is the best source of protein since it contains all the essential amino acids required for lean muscle growth and hormone production. 

Typically, the meat is derived from chicken, turkey, beef, or fish. Some premium options also use rabbit or lamb meat, but those are better for pups with sensitive stomachs and allergies. As per AAFCO, puppy food must contain at least 22.5% protein content to be considered appropriate.

2. Plenty of healthy fats

While nearly 50% of a dog’s natural diet consists of protein, almost 40% is made up of fats. The basic role of fats is to provide your dog with energy, while fatty acids carry anti-inflammatory properties and improve coat health. 

Animal fat and vegetable/seed oil are the two main sources of healthy fats for dogs. Both are rich in calories, contain fatty acids, and are easy to digest. However, you should ensure that your chosen puppy food meets AAFCO’s minimum 8% crude fat content requirement. 

3. Tons of micronutrients

Compared to adult dogs, puppies require more variety and quantity of micronutrients to grow steadily. The five essential micros include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and probiotics/prebiotics. 

Most manufacturers use a combination of natural ingredients and artificial supplements in their formulas. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of micronutrients due to their easy digestibility and nutrient density. However, artificial micros are also acceptable as long as they’re in adequate quantities.

Grain or non-grain diet?

If you’ve been researching how to pick the best puppy food, chances are you’ve met the debate of grain vs. non-grain diet. There never seems to be a clear answer to this question, leaving most owners worried and unsure of their decision.

Grains are not as bad for dogs as they are for cats. Canines have evolved to process both grains and carbs, especially oatmeal, brown rice, and barley. These whole grains digest much easily, contain lots of fiber, and are an excellent source of fuel for growing puppies.

Unfortunately, some pups are allergic to grains or have sensitive stomachs. Their body can react and develop symptoms like diarrhea, itching, rashes, and vomiting. If that’s the case, it’s best to get your puppy tested by a vet for potential allergies and switch to a grain-free or limited ingredient diet.

What’s next?

Check out these related guides:

Further reading:

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