It’s the middle of the night, and as you sleepily make your way to the bathroom, you step, barefoot naturally, in a pool of dog vomit. Your four-legged friend is suffering from an upset stomach — again. Washing your foot, you vow that, come tomorrow, you are going to find the best grain free dog food for your furkid.
When morning rolls around, the sound of your dog about to vomit vaults you out of bed faster than any alarm clock ever did. Once Fido is safely ushered outside before decorating the floor again, you decide it’s finally time to make some dietary changes for him. And he agrees.
So how do you go about picking the best grain free dog food for your pooch?
Finding the right food for Fido isn’t always easy. To help you decide, check out some information on the 10 best grain free dog food brands currently available.
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What Is Grain Free Dog Food?
The best grain free dog food brands will not have any wheat, corn, barley, oats, rye, rice, or soy. During World War II, manufacturers commonly used these ingredients as inexpensive filler in pet food. Consequently, this was not optimal for Fido’s nutrition or weight.
Think about what your dog naturally craves. Has Fido ever attacked a wheat stalk? Probably not. But he may have stalked a rabbit or a squirrel. Similarly, he more likely begs for your bacon than your oatmeal.
The best grain free dog foods focus more on a dog’s ancestral diet. As a result, they will list protein sources as the first ingredient or ingredients. Manufacturers list components by weight, so the higher an ingredient is listed, the more of it the food contains.
You may be looking at your current brand and think, “Well, it lists chicken as the main ingredient.” Read the rest of the ingredients. Is the same food listed in multiple ways?
Some manufacturers may show a protein as the first source. However, they also list corn, corn bran, and corn gluten in the ingredients. However, all are still corn. As a result, when you add them, they may outweigh the protein source. Therefore, it is essential to read all the ingredients.
The best grain free dog food brands, however, are not necessarily low carb. Dogs need carbohydrates for energy and a balanced diet. For that reason, most of the best grain free dog food brands may use sweet potatoes, legumes, or peas to provide needed carbohydrates.
Benefits of Using the Best Grain Free Dog Food
As the low-carb trend with humans gained favor, so did the idea of feeding our pets the best grain free dog food we can. After all, we want them to be as healthy as possible.
While only one percent of dogs have a grain allergy, many can benefit from eating the best grain free dog food you can give them.
As discussed earlier, a grain free diet is more in line with what dogs naturally eat.
Also, the best grain free dog food brands are formulated using higher quality ingredients. They use whole protein sources such as beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, salmon, and eggs. Obviously, this is preferable to the byproducts used in some other brands of dog food.
The 10 Best Grain Free Dog Food Brands
This list is a result of examining the ingredients of each brand and considering reviews of pet owners who have tested these products. The vetted findings are in this “best of” list.
1. Zignature Grain-Free Dog Food
Zignature Grain-Free Dog Food contains ingredients from all over the world, such as kangaroo, Guinea fowl, and goat, along with the more traditional fish, poultry, and venison. Its protein first and limited ingredients recipe mimics the natural prey instincts of dogs.
Its hypoallergenic formula is free of chicken, eggs, chicken meal, or chicken by-product. This high fiber and single source protein food is designed to be a nutritionally correct diet for dogs. Zignature manufactures its product in the United States.
Zignature offers a wide range of flavors such as pork, lamb, kangaroo, goat, venison, pork, poultry, turkey, duck, Guinea fowl, catfish, trout, salmon, and whitefish.
2. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dog Food
Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dog Food is a "high meat" kibble, meaning that the first three to five ingredients are animal proteins. This low carb and low glycemic brand features Patented GanedenBC³⁰ probiotic for digestive and immune health.
It offers two lines: Medal Series and FreeStyle with main protein options of turkey, chicken, cod, lamb, salmon, or trout. Choices for primary carbohydrate sources include chickpeas, red lentils, peas, and sweet potatoes.
The FreeStyle line includes limited ingredient formulas as well as freeze dried raw recipes. Nulo also makes puppy, senior, small and large breed, and weight control formulas.
3. Earthborn Grain Free Holistic
Earthborn Grain free Holistic is designed to support overall well-being. This brand offers whole, natural nutrition. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Earthborn manufactures its product in the United States. Most noteworthy, neither the FDA nor Earthborn have ever issued a recall for this brand.
The Primitive Natural blend is turkey, chicken, and whitefish based. Coastal Catch combines herring and salmon. Meadow Feast features lamb. Great Plains focuses on bison protein. Western Feast uses beef and pork. The also carry formulas for large and small breeds, puppies, and weight control.
The limited ingredient Earthborn Holistic Venture formulas contain no grain, gluten, potato, eggs, by-products, or artificial preservatives. It offers a variety of different protein sources such as rabbit, squid, and Pollock.
4. Taste of the Wild
Taste of the Wild offers a formula based on a dog's ancestral diet. It features highly digestible animal proteins, including real venison, salmon, lamb, wild boar, roasted fowl, or bison that support muscles, organ function, the immune system, healthy skin, and a shiny coat.
Each pound of dry food provides 80 million live, active probiotic cultures that support your dog's healthy digestion. Taste of the Wild manufactures in the United States.
Recipes include High Prairie, Pacific Stream, Pine Forest, Sierra Mountain, Southwest Canyon, and Wetlands. Select flavors are also available in a puppy and small breed formulas. Taste of the Wild Prey products feature limited ingredients with no GMOs.
5. Wellness Core Dog Food
Wellness Core Dog Food is grain free food rooted in the belief dogs thrive on hearty animal proteins. It blends super nutrients and probiotics with natural ingredients. Moreover, it has a flax omega blend to promote healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Flavors include Original, Ocean, Wild Game, and Lamb. It also comes in puppy, senior, reduced fat, and large and small breed formulas.
Additional lines include Core Six and Core Revraw. Core Six contains just six main ingredients, whereas Core Rawrev is a high-protein, grain free kibble combined with 100 percent raw meat pieces.
6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Dry DogFood is made with natural ingredients and includes cold-formed LifeSource Bits. These are a blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support immune system health and a healthy oxidative balance. Their formulas also include glucosamine to support joint function and mobility. It is free of chicken by-product and artificial flavors and preservatives.
Flavors include red meat, chicken, duck, salmon, bison, and rabbit as well as combinations such as Bayou Blend (alligator and catfish), Snake River Grill (trout, venison, and rabbit), Flatland Feast (duck, quail, and turkey), and Denali Dinner (salmon, halibut, and venison).
It is available in regular, large and toy breed puppy and adult formulas as well as senior and adult weight control blends.
7. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet offers complete nutrition for dogs by using a limited number of quality ingredients. Formulated to meet the balanced dietary needs of all breeds of adult dogs, it has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
It is available in chicken, duck, bison, venison, and fish recipes. Additionally, it comes in puppy and small breed formulas.
8. I and Love and You Nude Super Food
I and Love and You Nude Super Food is a high-protein formula made with digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics. These ingredients help with bad breath, rumbling tummies, loose stools, or gas.
Recipes also feature easier-to-digest carbs like lentils, garbanzo beans, and sweet potatoes. I and Love and You manufactures its product in the United States. Varieties include Poultry Palooza, Red Meat Medley, and Simply Sea.
9. Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
All of Merrick's grain-free formulas start with deboned meat or poultry and are formulated to provide the best nutrition for your pet. Their recipes include whole foods such as sweet potatoes, peas, apples, and blueberries. They are preservative, filler, corn, wheat, soy, and gluten-free. Merrick manufactures its product in the United States.
Flavors include turkey and sweet potato, rabbit and chickpea, chicken and sweet potato, venison and chickpea, buffalo and sweet potato, lamb and sweet potato, and salmon and sweet potato.
Also, they have formulas for large breeds, puppies, weight management, and senior dogs. Additional grain free lines include Merrick Limited Ingredient diet and Merrick Backyard Country.
10. Farmina Natural and Delicious Grain-Free Dog Food
Farmina Natural and Delicious Grain-Free Dog Food is the result of a research collaboration with the Chair of Animal Nutrition at the University of Naples Federico II.
The recipe features 70 percent animal ingredients and 30 percent vegetables, fruits, vitamins, and minerals. As a result, Farmina has a low glycemic index and no artificial preservatives.
It is available in chicken and pomegranate, boar and apple, and lamb and blueberry.
Where to Buy
While some upper-end grocery stores may carry a small selection, the best grain free dog food brands are usually available in pet stores, from certain manufacturers directly, or from online retailers such as Amazon.
Introducing It To Your Dog
The first thing to remember is that any time you change your dog’s diet, you should do so gradually. Unless your dog has an iron stomach, he might have some adverse reactions to a sudden kibble change.
PetMD encourages owners to introduce new food to your dog gradually over the course of five days.
On Day 1, mix 20 percent of the best grain free dog food you choose with your dog’s current food. Each day after, increase the amount of the new food by 20 percent, while decreasing the old food by the same amount. Finally, by day 5, your dog should get a bowl of just the new kibble.
Basically, the daily breakdown looks like this:
Percent of New Food
Percent of Current Food
Chart by author
Fido Deserves the Best Grain Free Dog Food
Your four-legged friend deserves high-quality food that meets his nutritional needs. The best grain free dog foods listed here offer top-caliber ingredients formulated to keep your dog healthy and happy.
No matter which of these brands of the best grain free dog food you buy, you can rest well knowing you are providing your pup with excellent ingredients, including protein he craves. Furthermore, he and his tummy will thank you for it.
Do you feed your best friend a trusted grain free dog food that isn't on our list? Share it with us in the comments!