Do you have a dog that constantly gets allergies such as dry skin, itchiness and is always licking his paws and bum?
Are you bewildered by all the different brands of grain free dog food out there and not a clue where to start?
You’ve come to the right place! Here are some of our recommendations and a complete best grain free dog food buyer’s guide to finally get your dog the food they deserve!
Grain free dog food tends to be more protein-rich than those which use grain which can make them closer to a dog’s natural diet. Some dogs may be allergic to grains, also, and if that is the case then your dog will definitely benefit from a grain-free recipe in their bowl.
Here, we review some of the best dog food without grain on the market to help you make an informed decision on which is the best for you and your dog and we’ve included an industry-leading buyer’s guide to keep you informed on everything to do with grain free dog foods.
Best Grain Free Food for Dogs
- Best Grain Free Food for Dogs
- 1. Lily's Kitchen Adult Chicken and Duck Complete Dog Food
- 2. Autarky Grain Free Hypoallergenic Dog Foods
- 3. Harringtons Grain Free Hypoallergenic Chicken and Sweet Potato
- 4. Skinners Field & Trial Complete Grain Free Dog Food
- 5. Crave High Protein and Grain Free Dog Foods
- 6. Amazon Brand - Lifelong Grainfree Dog Food
- 7. Sneyd’s Wonderdog Grain-Free
- 8. Wellness CORE Ocean Dog Food Grain-Free
- 9. Pooch & Mutt - Best Grain Free Dog Foods - Calm & Relaxed Meal
- 10. Skylos Grain-Free Complete Dog Food
- Grain Free Dog Food Buyer’s Guide
- What is grain-free dog foods?
- Why would brands offer dog food without grains?
- Is grain free dog food better?
- Why do people think grain is bad for dogs?
- What is considered grain in dog food?
- What to look for in great grain-free dog food?
- The Bottom Line
1. Lily's Kitchen Adult Chicken and Duck Complete Dog Food
Lily’s Kitchen is a brand that we have lauded over on a few of our other dog food review articles such as dry food, wet food and high fibre dog food and their standard recipe is already grain-free and one of the best. It’s nutritionally complete, easy to chew even for most elderly dogs and uses only natural ingredients which is great.
They’ve not used any derivatives, preservatives or fillers (often grains) to make class-leading dog food that has now over 1,000 verified reviews from UK dog owners. Mix well with any wet food. Available in the following flavours: Chicken meal and Duck, lamb, chicken and vegetable, salmon and trout, venison and duck and a puppy dry food version chicken and salmon.
We feel the price point is slightly on the expensive side but we do feel like it’s value for money and our Jug Jeff has not had a single issue with this food for well over a year. Highly recommended.
2. Autarky Grain Free Hypoallergenic Dog Foods
Autarky offers a price-sensitive option for those wanting a hypoallergenic and grain-free recipe as part of their dog’s diet. Consisting of natural ingredients only and two flavours turkey and potato and fish and potato.
Contains a joint care package, this is an ideal food option for dogs approaching elder life but equally ideal for very active dogs who are running around for long periods of time. It’s easy to chew even for smaller dogs and tasty all on its own thanks to the addition of flavour boosting herbs.
This has reached many top 10 lists including ours because it serves a few purposes and not just on the fact that it’s grain-free – this contains everything that your dog may ever need whether they are active or not and is mild enough to be eaten by dogs with allergies and can be consumed as is or mixed in with your choice of wet dog food (like us).
- Tantalising turkey and potato is a grain free and hypoallergenic complete dog food which features a joint care package made up of olive extract, green lipped mussel, marine algae and glucosamine to give active dogs the support they need
3. Harringtons Grain Free Hypoallergenic Chicken and Sweet Potato
Like most grain-free recipes, Harrington’s also acts as an antioxidant and hypoallergenic dog food which is ideal for owners with dogs with sensitive tummies or susceptible to dry itchy skin commonly associated with grains.
Harrington’s is a household name and most people who have set foot in any major UK supermarket will have seen on of their products. Therefore, if you opt to give this brand a go from here today and they like it then you know how easy it’s going to bed to get it again.
Harrington’s grain-free recipe is made with chicken meal as the main ingredient with potato as opposed to grains as the carbohydrates. They’ve also thrown in citrus extract, Yukka and kelp to help reduce flatulence and help their digestion hum along. There’s no dairy, wheat or soy which is what makes it hypoallergenic.
A very solid but mainstream choice.
- With omega 6 & 3 fatty acids, citrus antioxidants, nutrient rich kelp and yucca extract to help reduce flatulent odours and improve digestion.
4. Skinners Field & Trial Complete Grain Free Dog Food
Skinner’s is a brand focused on working dogs and this kibble is designed just for them, especially the ones who need their energy from complex carbs like sweet potato and oats instead of wheat or barley.
The kibble is small enough for most breeds to chew without effort whether or not it’s moistened by wet dog food. The flavour is boosted with a culinary herb mix.
Skinners Field and Trial is designed to keep coats and skin free of itchiness and looking their best. Problems to skin and hair can be caused by grains and other common allergens such as wheat, dairy and soya – most grain-free recipes are also hypoallergenic and this one is too.
With plenty of healthy carbs, 25% protein this is a fantastic grain-free recipe for working dogs and dogs who are very active during the day.
5. Crave High Protein and Grain Free Dog Foods
Packaged in the same you would a gym supplement, Crave’s is a grain-free recipe for the modern dog. Packed full of animal products (60% at least) and without wheat, soy, dairy and maize this is the ultimate dog food for those looking to feed their dog the closest thing to a natural diet without actually giving them their natural diet.
Despite being a healthy hypoallergenic kibble, Crave is pretty much designed to be full of flavour which is shown in their ingredients. Therefore, Crave is perhaps the best choice if your dog really needs a grain-free meal but they’re very picky when it comes to taste.
It’s a little on the expensive side so bear that in mind.
- Natural ingredients and a flavour your dog won't be able to say no to, Satisfy their nature with Crave lamb and beef dry dog food/high quality, meaty kibble for adult dogs
6. Amazon Brand - Lifelong Grainfree Dog Food
Yes, this is an Amazon brand but it’s not Amazon that makes it. But, the reason it’s on here is because of Amazon! Because of lower costs, this dog food is one of the most affordable grain free dog foods on the market and it’s a quality product to boot.
Coming in with a whopping 59% lamb, no grains and plenty of fruit and veg it’s one of the closest choices you’re going to get to a dog’s natural diet. Nothing processed or unnatural added in and herbs to help with digestion and reduce bloat and gas.
The kibble chunks are perfect and not too hard so a decent choice for dogs entering their twilight years. It’s very palatable and can be consumed without complaint on its own or mixed in with wet food (preferred).
You’ll be hard-pressed finding a product which has as much bang for your buck than this but the downside is that it’s an Amazon exclusive so take from that what you will.
7. Sneyd’s Wonderdog Grain-Free
Sneyd’s are not a household name but they should be. Their Wonderdog grain-free recipe is one of the best you can get online thanks to their efforts in making it into a ‘superfood’ blend which does more than just avoid using grains in the ingredients.
The natural ingredients used make it be choc-full of protein which is highly digestible, anti-inflammatory, helps prevent hair loss, gives a boost to immune systems and loads of calcium for bones and joints – a wonder food for most dogs but a lifesaver for older dogs or breeds recovering from an injury.
There are a couple of flavours in beef, white fish and salmon and trout and of course a puppy version. Lastly, this is VAT free so it can be substantially cheaper than some brands.
8. Wellness CORE Ocean Dog Food Grain-Free
Wellness CORE is one of our favourite brands, especially the fish-based flavours – this one has tuna and salmon which is not that common in dog food but one our Jeff loves (he has the occasional treat meal of tinned tuna).
Fish is protein-rich and very healthy, especially to dogs with joint problems as it contains a great amount of natural omega fatty acids which other meat meal based products need to add it as a supplement. Therefore, the protein proportion is a whopping 32-37% in this, the flavour also translates into the kibble so this is fantastic for dogs who love fishy flavours.
A great brand with a fab reputation online from hundreds of happy dog owners young and old.
9. Pooch & Mutt - Best Grain Free Dog Foods - Calm & Relaxed Meal
Pooch & Mutt’s entire range is pretty much grain-free so what it comes down to is flavours and what kind of problems your dog is having. To enable this list to the as varied as possible we’ve highlighted their calm and relaxed range here which helps to calm down dogs who may have anxiety or sleeping problems.
It’s pretty much the only one of its kind and with over 400 reviews its clear to see that there’s a high demand for this. The way it does it is with the inclusion of chamomile, brewer’s yeast, probiotics and prebiotics. Along the way, it has a zero junk food policy which reduces bloat, indigestion and flatulence which is a leading cause of canine stress.
Turkey is the main ingredient with 45% of the bite-size kibble being packed full of protein and absolutely no fillers from grain. Pooch and Mutt are also vet recommended which is not something you see every day in dog food.
If you’ve got an anxious or stressed dog, try these dog foods!
10. Skylos Grain-Free Complete Dog Food
Skylos is a no-frills brand of grain-free dog food with a few flavours for the picky pup, we’ve focused on their delicious lamb flavour today as its not the most common flavour that dog owners may be interested to see how their dog likes it.
Packed full of only natural ingredients with no derivatives, fillers or preservatives Skylos offers a truly natural meal far from the factor feel you get with most off the shelf dog food. Skylos food is particularly high in meat and one of the highest you can get of any brand. The high protein makes it perfect for working and sporting dogs. Hypoallergenic and biologically appropriate for any dog.
Made in the UK and veterinarian approved which means that it hasn’t lost any flavour while travelling plus you’re helping local businesses to boot backed by the veterinarian profession.
Grain Free Dog Food Buyer’s Guide
Welcome to the JugDog grain-free dog food buyer’s guide. Here, we’re going to share our research into the world of grains and canine nutrition to help you discover whether or not grain-free dog food is right for your furry friend and which is the best choice for you.
As usual, this buyer’s guide is just an opinion and does not qualify as professional advice nor has it been endorsed by veterinarians – however, we will cite qualified dog experts in the guide if we are sharing any critical findings.
What is grain-free dog foods?
Grain-free dog food is pretty simple to explain – it is either wet or dry dog food which has been made without grains or has had grains removed from an existing recipe. The following are the vast majority of grains used in dog food production:
Why would brands offer dog food without grains?
Some people see grain free dog food as a bit of a fad and JugDog would agree with this statement when fed to dogs who do not have food allergies or specific dietary requirements. It is akin to humans eating gluten-free food when they are not gluten intolerant.
However, the main reason why grain-free has been popularised and why it is a required diet for some canines is the risk of developing and aggravating food allergies. Purina claims that only 1% of dogs suffer from grain allergies with the other 99% enjoying the many benefits of grains in their diet. That being said, if your dog is allergic to grains then a great grain-free dog diet will obviously benefit them greatly. To spot whether your dog has a grain allergy, see if they have any of the following:
- Dry and itchy skin
- Red blotches on exposed skin
- Hair loss
- Ear infections and bad odour
- Flatulence and bad-smelling farts
- Rubbing face, ears and paws
Another reason why brands remove grains from recipes is to attract owners who want to restrict their dog’s carbohydrate intake as grains are mostly carbohydrates and fibre – however, it must be said that most brands will replace grains with other carbohydrates such as potatoes and peas so there’s no real net benefit.
Lastly, many advocates of a grain-free diet argue their case that grains were not in the diet of dogs’ ancestors (wolves) and therefore couldn’t possibly be in their natural diet now. Furthermore, if dogs were in the wild that it would be almost impossible for them to find and consume grains and would instead eat raw meat, fish and perhaps some vegetables.
Is grain free dog food better?
Yes and no. If your dog has an intolerance or food allergies to grains then grain free dog food would make great wonders to their health at meal times. However, if your dog does not have any problems digesting grain then we would agree with Dr. Donna Solomon that “some dogs do benefit from grain-free diets but definitely not to the magnitude the pet food industry would lead you to believe.”
Why do people think grain is bad for dogs?
Most dog food experts would lay claim to the bad rep grains have to the 2007 Melamine Pet Food Recall scandal. However, the findings of this scandal were that the food was contaminated with industrial chemicals and the brands were artificially inflating protein levels which led to kidney damage and death. On top of this, dust mites infestations which surface when dog food is left in storage for too long caused genuine allergies but the blame went on grains instead.
However, following this, the major dog food manufacturers took the opportunity to boost grain-free dog food as a great alternative at meal times which worked side by side with the gluten-free fad which began in the early 2010s.
What is considered grain in dog food?
The following are grains commonly found in dog food
What to look for in great grain-free dog food?
Just because it doesn’t have any grains added in doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy, far from it in fact. Good nutrition for your dog is not something that should be taken lightly – if you continuously ate junk food you would feel awful, low on energy and could potentially suffer from serious health issues down the line.
Dogs will go through the same if you feed them sub-par dog food. So here’s what to look for.
Breed and size appropriation
One size fits all dog food is bad dog food, grains or not. When shopping for your grain free dog food make sure you are purchasing the one that fits the size and breed of your dog – typically the biggest difference is the size of the kibble and quantity of kibble in the bag. Small chewers need smaller kibble and larger breeds need bigger bags and bigger chunks to avoid choking and promote good oral hygiene.
Supports activity levels
A champion bodybuilder needs a lot of calories and protein, a footballer needs carbs before a match and coeliac need food without gluten. The dog also has its own specific requirements and a lot of them come down to the aforementioned breed and size and also activity levels.
Working dogs, in particular, need a lot of protein and minerals to support healthy joints. Overweight dogs need fewer carbs and calories whilst every single dog needs a balance of everything.
Replaces what grain gave
The University of Maine’s research which could be argued is the finest in the field of grains in dog food states that grains provide a lot of beneficial minerals and nutrients to support active dogs, therefore attention should be paid to the ingredients of any potential meal for your dog to ensure it has the equivalent minerals and nutrients and not replaced by just simple carbs such as potato.
Not too heavy on protein
The best grain free dog food should not be overloaded with protein as that can harm the dog’s kidneys and poison them. A problem with grain free dog meal is that brands can overcompensate for the reduction in carbohydrates with too much protein, especially with ingredients such as salmon and meat in the meal. Unless you have a working dog, then protein levels of over 50% should be approached with caution.
The Bottom Line
Buying the best grain free dog food is tricky and with all the different fads out there it has caused a lot of unnecessary confusion. We hope that with our shortlist and buyer’s guide we’ve been able to help you decide whether you need the best grain free dog food at all and if you do that we have recommended the best one!
Last update on 2020-02-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API