12 Best Grain Free Puppy Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2022 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

This (updated) guide reviews all of the best grain free puppy foods available.

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 carb, quality grain-free puppy foods have high-quality carb sources such as peas, 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 PicksRatingTop Ingredients
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Puppy Food
(Editor’s Pick)
4.9Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes
2. American Journey Grain-Free Puppy Food4.9Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Puppy Food4.8Beef, Beef Broth, Turkey
4. CANIDAE Grain-Free Puppy Food4.7Chicken, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lentils
5. Purina Pro Plan Grain-Free Puppy Food4.7Turkey, Liver, Meat By-Products

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

Top Grain Free Puppy Food Reviews

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

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Egg Product, 5. Pea Protein

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.

2. American Journey — Lamb & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Puppy Food

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

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.

3. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Grain-Free Puppy Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef, 2. Beef Broth, 3. Turkey, 4. Beef Liver, 5. Potatoes

For those of you who want to feed and ancestral diet to your prodigal pup, this Red Meat Dinner from Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a perfect option. Based on a wolve’s diet, this meaty meal contains Vitamin B12 for digestive health, minerals for a strong immune system, and complex carbs for fuel. Real meat, real fruits, real vegetables, real good! Free of by-products and fillers, this Rocky Mountain Recipe should be high on your list of grain-free foods to feed your pup.

4. CANIDAE —  PURE Puppy Real Chicken, Lentil & Whole Egg Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Food

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

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.

5. Purina Pro Plan — Focus Puppy Classic Turkey Entree Grain-Free Puppy Food

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

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.

6. Merrick — Grain-Free Puppy Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Puppy Food

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

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.

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

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

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.

8. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness  Chicken Recipe Grain-Free for Large Breed Puppy

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Tapioca Starch

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.

9. VICTOR — Grain-Free Active Dog & Puppy Formula  Puppy Food

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.

10. Go! Solutions Carnivore Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey + Duck Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food

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

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. 

11. Blue Buffalo — Freedom  Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Small Breed Puppy Food

Blue Buffalo Freedom is a delicious and nutritional meal option for small and toy breeds. It is exclusively created for sensitive tummies, with no gluten or grains.  The protein in this kibble is sourced from quality chicken and turkey meat so it is less likely to cause any trouble for little tummies. What I love about Freedom is that it is full of DHA and ARA, which means it supports better cognitive and visual development in smaller and toy breeds.

12. Merrick — Backcountry Raw Infused  Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Food

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.

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 necessary 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, a 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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