In the last handful of years, gluten-free and grain-free products have sprung up in popularity amongst human diets, for both health and diet reasons. These conversations extend into the pet world, and pet food manufacturers began to follow suit, with a focus on grain free dog foods.
Grain Free Dog Foods
Standard commercial dog foods utilize grains, as they hold nutritional value and provide carbohydrates required for sustained energy. Grains may appear on the ingredients label as:
Wheat / Corn / Rye / Barley / Rice / Oats / Soy
When you see a dog food package labelled as grain free, it means that there are no grains of any type in it, naturally also making it gluten-free.
Grain free dog foods do contain specialized recipes in order to address that loss of particular nutrients and carbohydrates.
Most commonly this gap is filled with non-traditional carbohydrates such as peas, sweet potatoes, lentils, potatoes and/or quinoa.
VIDEO: Low Carb Grain Free Diet for Dogs
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Grain Free Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Hypoallergenic foods contain ingredients that are less likely to cause allergies and intolerances, as well as use a single protein.
You can then isolate which ingredient your dog is allergic to if they don’t agree with a particular recipe.
With the media hype about grain free diets, you’re probably wondering if this is the right fit for your dog.
The biggest reason people transition their dog to a grain free diet is due to allergies or intolerance.
Aside from being an alternative due to allergies, the FDA hasn’t made any recommendations for or against grain free diets for dogs.
The most important consideration in choosing a dog food is that it provides complete and balanced nutrition.
Whether you go dry or wet food, one of the easiest ways for you to determine good dog food is by reading the label and looking out for the AAFCO Statement.
Can puppies eat grain free dog food?
Puppies have lots of growing to do, therefore feeding them the right diet is vital for their development.
The most important thing is that your puppy gets all the nutrients they need to grow into a healthy dog.
Puppies can eat grain free dog food, so long as it contains the right balance of nutrients.
Importantly, puppies who show signs of intolerances from eating traditional dog food may benefit from a change to a grain-free diet.
Check out our blog on: The Best Grain Free Puppy Food.
Low Fat Grain free Dog Food
In a vast market of commercial dog foods, it can be challenging to compare brands, and feel confident in choosing one.
Within the grain free dog food market there are also additional subcategories to consider: Grain Free Puppy Foods, Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Grain Free Wet Dog Food, Grain Free Hypoallergenic Dog Food, and Low-Fat Grain Free Dog Food!
How do you know your dog is receiving all the nutrients they require to be healthy? What is the difference in recipe formulas? Which category should your dog be eating from?
Don’t worry the Dog Food Specialists are here to highlight the top contenders so you can make an informed decision about your dog’s grain free dog food!
But, just before we look at the top contenders, let’s just take a look at the potential benefits of grain free dog foods!
Benefits of a grain free diet for Dogs
Healthy Coat: When you notice that your dog’s coat has gotten rougher or duller, it could be because of their diet.
You can immediately see a difference by switching to grain free dog food.
Researchers say that this is partly due to the reduction (or rather, elimination) of grains, and partly due to the presence of other healthy ingredients in the food, such as omega-rich fats.
Shinier and healthier coats are signs of overall good health for your dog. A great Omega-3 supplement is Zesty Paws Wild Alaskan Salmon.
Better Skin: Dog food grains can cause itchy, irritated, dry, even inflamed skin in addition to dull coats.
They can lead to infections and hair loss if left untreated. However, switching to a grain-free diet can help keep your dog’s skin in excellent condition since grain-free food, like Wellness Core Grain-Free Kibble [Ocean Whitefish, Herring & Salmon Recipe] is full of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that can help promote healthy skin.
Smaller Stools: Even though it’s a necessary task, picking up after our dogs isn’t the most glamorous of jobs.
Gluten free dog food will produce more compact stool, and they’ll go to the toilet less frequently, reducing your workload.
How does this work? The reason is that grain free dog food contains fewer components that cannot be digested.
The corn and wheat in standard dog food contain a lot of fibre, which dogs cannot digest, so they have to excrete it through their stools.
There is less need to remove anything without that; most of the food is instead absorbed.
Less Gas: Apart from how unpleasant it is, grains cause bad smelling gas in your dog, which makes him extremely uncomfortable.
It may even signal more serious digestive issues. With grain free dog food, your dog passes less gas, so you can tell if there is a bigger issue lurking. Check out our blog on:The Best Digestive Care Dog Food.
Better Breath: We all know that dogs can have bad breath!
What you may not know is that their diet plays a big role in this. When your dog eats grains, the grains form a film over his teeth, which means he has a lot more bacteria in his mouth than normal.
Over time, these bacteria will be washed away through saliva and water, but in the interim they can cause a terrible odor.
You will see a noticeable improvement in your dog’s breath when you feed him grain free food since there is no film left on his teeth after eating.
However, it’s still a good idea to brush your dog’s teeth every week or so, just to make sure there are no hidden problems. Check out the best dental treats for dogs.
Fewer Allergies: There is a possibility that your dog is allergic to some of the ingredients in standard dog food, including the grain.
Food allergies are characterized by itchy skin (the immune system is working too hard). If your dog is allergic to corn and grains, cutting them out and switching to a wheat-free diet can help.
More Energy: Cheaper dog foods contain a lot of processed grains.
Processed grains have had a lot of the fibre within them stripped away, and that leads to your dog using up the energy that is in the food much more quickly than they usually would.
Just like in humans when we are suddenly energetic, that spike leads to a crash and your dog’s blood sugar levels will fall.
They will feel lethargic and unenergetic. Grain free food doesn’t have this issue associated with it, and instead will allow your dog to burn energy over a longer period of time, so there is no spike and no crash.
Great For Pregnant Dogs: During pregnancy, your dog’s body is under a lot of stress, and they need to be as healthy as possible to support their own health as well as the health of several puppies.
More food won’t work as effectively as giving your dog good quality food such as grain free dog food. It will also keep them as healthy as possible both during and after their pregnancy by giving them the energy and nutrients they need.
What are The Best Grain Free Dog Foods?
Best Grain Free Dog Food for Healthy Skin & Coat
Wellness Core Grain-Free Kibble [Ocean Whitefish, Herring & Salmon Recipe]
This Wellness formula derives its 38% protein from whitefish, salmon, and herring meat.
Not only grain free but also free of by-products, fillers and artificial additives to ensure the best health for your dog. Micronutrients are provided through various fruits and vegetables in the recipe.
Prepared with nutrient-dense kibble and 100% raw, freeze-dried fish. It is crafted using advanced natural nutrition to support lean body mass, muscle tones and a healthy coat and skin.
It is fortified with omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics and taurine.
- Crafted with premium-quality seafood-sourced protein
- Contains Omega fatty acids to encourage healthy skin and coat
- Probiotics boost digestive health
- Joint strength is reassured through the inclusion of glucosamine
Best Probiotic Grain Free Dog Food
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food
- Six different protein sources to choose from
- Additional antioxidants and vitamins optimize the absorption of nutrients
- High-quality proteins maintain strong, lean muscles and overall good health
Formulated with novel proteins including buffalo and bison, this grain-free recipe includes peas and sweet potatoes that deliver the highly-digestible energy your active pup needs, along with natural antioxidant support from real fruits and vegetables and dried chicory root for prebiotic support and healthy digestion.
Essential minerals are chelated with amino acids to optimize their absorption and ensure maximum benefit, for complete and balanced nutrition.
With a high fat-to-protein ratio [56%], this is a top choice grain free dog food. Dogs require sufficient nutrition and energy for hearty growth and activity, and that’s just what Taste of the Wild provides.
Top Omega 3 Grain Free Dog Food
American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
The Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food formula features real, deboned salmon with the protein and amino acids your dog needs for leaner muscles.
Delicious sweet potatoes and chickpeas are included to give your pup energy that lasts.
With wholesome fruits and veggies like carrots, dried kelp and blueberries, your dog is getting beneficial fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Omega fatty acids are plentiful, including DHA, an omega-3 that supports healthy development of the brain and eyes.
This recipe is grain-free and has no corn, wheat or soy, which makes it a great choice for dogs that are prone to food sensitivities.
- Salmon oil and flaxseed provide omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
- Pre and probiotics support optimal digestion
Grain-Free Hypoallergenic Dog Food
While grain can result in allergic reactions in some dogs, there are other ingredients that can also trigger these responses. A hypoallergenic dog food provides you with the best piece of mind when addressing food allergies in your dog.
Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon & Potato Formula Dry Dog Food
This limited-ingredient, grain-free dry food for dogs is formulated using only five, carefully chosen main ingredients. It includes a single-source of protein that is expertly balanced with easily-digestible carbohydrates for your canine companion.
This natural dry dog food is crafted to encourage whole body health by supporting digestive function and promoting a healthy coat and skin.
It features natural probiotics, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, glucosamine and taurine.
- The 40-lb. bag is sold exclusively on Chewy.com!
- Features natural probiotics, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, glucosamine and taurine.
- Includes a single-source of protein that is expertly balanced with easily-digestible carbohydrates.
- Crafted to encourage whole body health by supporting digestive function and promoting a healthy coat and skin.
Hypoallergenic Grain Free Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Basics Grain-Free Hypoallergenic Salmon Recipe
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is designed to satisfy the spirit of your dog’s inner wolf.
With real deboned salmon as the very first ingredient, this high-protein, grain-free recipe helps build and maintain lean muscle mass.
- A high-protein recipe crafted with real deboned salmon first to help build and maintain lean muscle mass.
- Features healthy carbs like sweet potatoes and peas to help fuel your adult furry friend’s active lifestyle.
- Contains omega-3 and -6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and a lustrous coat.
- LifeSource Bits provide a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support immune system health, life stage requirements and healthy oxidative balance.
- Made with natural ingredients and 100% free from corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors and preservatives.
Limited Ingredient Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Canidae Grain-Free Pure Limited Ingredient Salmon and Sweet Potato Dog Food
This hypoallergenic dog food contains just eight ingredients, including salmon, vitamins, minerals, and a mix of probiotics.
Having limited ingredients allows the formula to contain all real-food ingredients, and peace-of-mind knowing exactly what you’re feeding your dog.
Wholesome veggies provide him with a powerhouse of nutrition, while a blend of probiotics, antioxidants, fatty acids and vitamins and minerals support his vital systems and promote ongoing good health.
- Made with 8 real food ingredients for complete and balanced nutrition.
- Grain-free and free of soy, wheat, corn and other fillers for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
- Contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
- Fortified after cooking with Canidae’s HealthPLUS blend of probiotics, antioxidants and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.
Low Fat Grain Free Dog Food
Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous Weight Control Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato & Green Bean Dry Dog Food
This low-fat formula is designed for weight control with easy-to-digest all-natural, cage-free chicken, sweet potatoes and green beans.
It features a holistic blend of functional superfoods, living probiotics, omega fatty acids and probiotics for gut health and overall immune support.
- Specially crafted for weight control.
- Features probiotic support for your furry friend’s gut health.
- 100% free from grains and gluten.
- Features a natural taste your paw-tner will crave.
- Free of corn, wheat and soy for those companions with sensitivities.
Grain Free High Protein Dog Food
Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
This wholesome dry food for dogs is made with 60% protein and healthy fat with deboned salmon as the number one ingredient.
The remaining 40% includes produce, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other natural ingredients to create a complete and balanced diet.
This grain- and gluten-free dry dog food is developed with high levels of omega fatty acids to help promote healthy skin and a shiny coat while glucosamine and chondroitin support hip and joint function.
It features high-quality whole foods sourced from trusted farmers and is completely free from poultry ingredients, corn, wheat, soy, gluten or artificial preservatives.
- Wholesome grain-free dry dog food with 74% of protein from animal sources.
- Real, deboned salmon is the #1 ingredient in this poultry-free recipe.
- Made with 60% protein and healthy fat ingredients and 40% produce, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other natural ingredients.
- Provides the ideal combination of protein and healthy fats to help your pup maintain optimal weight and increased energy.
- Features high levels of omega fatty acids to support skin and coat health and contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy hips and joints.
Grain Free Low Fat Dog Food
Annamaet Grain-Free Lean Low Fat Formula Dry Dog Food
This weight control formula contains half the fat of Annamaet’s other grain-free diets, along with high-quality ingredients without all of the fiber. L-carnitine is added to help promote lean muscle mass and increase fat metabolism.
Not only is this kibble great for dogs with weight concerns, but it may also be helpful for dogs who are suffering form pancreatitis and blood lipid issues.
And with DHA to support your pal’s cognitive function, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and chelated minerals to support a healthy immune system,
- Made in the USA.
- High in protein, low in fat and crafted with super premium chicken, duck and herring.
- DHA helps support brain health to keep your furry friend sharp, while L-carnitine helps maintain lean muscle mass.
- Prebiotics and probiotics are added to help support your BFF’s gut health.
- Contains heart-healthy nutrients, including supplemental taurine.
To sum up
Did you know that a recent study suggests approximately 40% of commercial dry dog foods are Grain Free choices?
That’s a lot of options to consider! That’s why the Dog Food Specialists will continue to inform about and highlight your options so you’re confident that you’re feeding your furry best friend the best grain free dog food option for them.
Also, did you know that a dog’s gut health has a significant influence on its overall health?
A recent scientific study reports that 70% to 80% of all illness begins in the gastrointestinal tract! discover why this supplement is essential for your dog’s immune system and overall health-check out our guide on: The best probiotic for dogs.