Do you have a dog that constantly gets allergies such as dry skin, and 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 do not have a clue where to start?
Grain-free dog food tends to be more protein-rich than 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 benefit from a grain-free recipe in their bowl.
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!
Adult Chicken and Duck Complete Dog Food by Lily’s Kitchen is the best grain-free dog food in the UK as of 2023 due to its focus on natural ingredients, lack of derivatives, preservatives, and fillers, and its high nutritional value.
Best Grain-Free Food for Dogs
1. Lily’s Kitchen Adult Chicken and Duck Complete Dog Food
Although the price may be on the higher side, many consider it to be a good value for money. Lily’s Kitchen’s grain-free dog food comes in various flavours and is well-loved by dogs of all ages, even elderly dogs.
Their ingredients list is comprehensive and contains fresh, nutritious ingredients such as chicken meals, duck meals, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, eggs, and more. Additionally, their dog food contains added vitamins, minerals, and botanicals to ensure optimal health for your pet.
Example Ingredients of Chicken & Duck.
42% Freshly Prepared: Chicken meal 31%, Duck meal 8%, Chicken Liver 3%, Sweet Potatoes 30%, Peas 6.5%, Lentils, Pea Protein, Flaxseeds, Eggs, Chicken Gravy, Calcium Carbonate, Salmon Oil, Fructooligosaccharides 2.5g/kg, Mannan Oligosaccharides 2.5g/kg, Apples, Vitamins & Chelated Minerals, Carrots, Spinach, Cranberries, Glucosamine 175mg/kg, Methylsulphonylmethane 175mg/kg, Chondroitin Sulphate 125mg/kg, Botanicals & Herbs: Alfalfa, Rosehips, Chickweed, Cleavers, Golden Rod, Nettles, Kelp, Celery Seeds, Milk Thistle, Dandelion Root, Burdock Root, Marigold Petals, Chicory Root
- Keep your pooch happy and healthy with this complete and balanced, grain-free recipe dry food for dogs 4 months+
Read More: Best Wet Dog Food to Buy in UK 2023
2. 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.
Composition: Chicken Meal (27%), Potato Starch, Peas (11%), Sweet Potato (10%), Potato Flakes, Poultry Fat, Beet Pulp, Linseed, Poultry Gravy, Minerals, Citrus Extract (0.15%), MOS (0.1%), FOS (0.1%), Green Lipped Mussel (0.015%), Pomegranate Extract (0.015%), Cranberry Extract (0.015%), Spirulina (0.015%), Sage (0.015%), Oregano (0.015%), Parsley (0.015%). Nutritional Additives: Vitamin A 16,000iu, Vitamin D3 1600iu, Vitamin E 500mg, Vitamin C 50mg, Zinc (Zinc Chelate of Amino Acids Hydrate) 30mg, Manganese (Manganous Oxide) 96mg, Iron (Iron Sulphate Monohydrate) 40mg, Zinc (Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate) 35mg, Copper (Copper Sulphate Pentahydrate) 5mg, Iodine (Calcium Iodate Anhydrous) 2.1mg, Selenium (Sodium Selenite) 0.13mg. Antioxidants (tocopherol rich extracts – natural antioxidants). Analytical Constituents: Protein 23%, Crude Fibres 2.8%, Crude Oils and Fats 12%, Crude Ash 8.5%, Moisture 0%.
- Grain Free Formulation for Sensitive Digestions
3. 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.
Sweet Potato, chicken meat meal, naked oats, peas, whole linseed, beet pulp, sunflower oil, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, culinary herb mix.
- DIETARY NEEDS - Field & Trial Grain Free Chicken & Sweet Potato is a nutritionally complete dog food, specially formulated to support the requirements of a range of active dogs, while removing grain-based sources of carbohydrates. This may be of benefit to those dogs with sensitivities or intolerances to grains.
4. 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.
With turkey and chicken: Min. 60 Percent animal sources: chicken meal 34 Percent (including dried chicken protein, fresh chicken (13 Percent)), turkey 16 Percent (dried turkey protein, turkey digest ), poultry (12 Percent), poultry fat, dried poultry protein, pea starch, potato flakes, lentils, pea protein, dried beet pulp, tapioca starch, minerals, sunflower oil, dried apple pulp, rosemary extract.
- 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 / Premium quality, meaty kibble for adult dogs
Read More: 12 Best Dry Dog Food to Buy in UK in 2023
5. Amazon Brand – Lifelong Grain-free 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.
Composition: Fresh Lamb (40%)*, Pea Starch*, Dehydrated Lamb Protein, Pea Protein*, Poultry Fat, Hydrolysed Animal Protein (Lamb), Beet Pulp, Pea Bran*, Fructooligosacharides (FOS), Fish Oil, Minerals, Seaweed Meal (Source of DHA), Dried Marigold Flower (0.1%), Yeast Cell Walls (Source of Mannan-Oligosaccharides (MOS)), Dried Herbs* (0.05%) (Thyme*, Basil*, Ginger*, Agrimony* and Rosemary*), Yucca Schidigera, Dried Apple* (0.03%), Dried Tomato* (0.03%), Dried Carrot* (0.03%), Citrus Extract (0.03%) (Grapefruit, Orange, Tangerine, Bergamot), Glucosamine (from animal tissues) (0.03%), Chondroitin Sulphate (0.02%), *Natural Ingredients Additives per kg: Nutritional Additives: Vitamin A 24500IU, Taurine 1448mg, Vitamin D3 1280IU, Vitamin E 390mg, Vitamin C 167mg, Fe (Iron (II) sulphate monohydrate) 100mg, Zn (Zinc chelate of amino acids hydrate) 100mg, Mn (Manganous sulphate monohydrate) 40mg, Biotin 11mg, Cu (Copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate) 11mg, I (Calcium iodate anhydrous) 2.2mg, Se (Sodium selenite) 0.1mg
6. 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.
Meat Meal (30% including minimum 14% Beef), Potato (23%), Sweet Potato (22%), Dried Sugar Beet Pulp, Poultry Fat, Peas, Brewers Yeast, Fish Meal, Whole Linseed, Vitamins & Minerals, (0.05% Glucosamine & 0.025% Chondroitin).
7. 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.
Salmon 30% (Fresh Salmon 16%, Salmon Meal 14%), Peas, Tuna Meal 14%, Dried Potatoes, Potato Protein, Beet Pulp 5%, Rapeseed Oil, Full-Fat Linseed 4%, Dried Fish Protein 2%, Salmon Oil 2%, Dried Chicory Root 0.5%, Carrots, Apples, Broccoli, Spinach, Blueberries, Cranberries, Tomatoes, Yucca Schidigera, Yeast Extract (source of mannan-oligosaccharides), Glucosamine Hydrochloride 100 mg/kg, Chondroitin Sulfate 100 mg/kg. Vitamin A 14,000 IU, Vitamin D3 850 IU, Vitamin E 120 mg, Zinc sulphate, monohydrate 125 mg, Ferrous sulphate, monohydrate 100 mg, Cupric sulphate, pentahydrate 10 mg, Manganous oxide 3 mg, Calcium iodate, anhydrous 1 mg, Sodium Selenite 0.2 mg.
Guaranteed Analysis: Protein 34%, Fat Content 16%, Crude Fibres 5%, Crude Ash 9.5%, Omega-6 Fatty Acids 3.2%, Omega-3 Fatty Acids 1.2%, Glucosamine 200 mg/kg, Chondroitin Sulfate 175 mg/kg.
- HEALTHY SKIN AND SHINY COAT: Our CORE Adult Ocean perfectly supports a healthy skin and shiny coat for your dog thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids from salmon.
8. 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 it’s 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.
Sweet Potato & Asparagus Composition: Trout & Salmon 50%, 24% Sweet Potato, Peas, Linseed, Potato Protein, Minerals, Vitamins, Vegetable Stock, Asparagus (equivalent to 7.5g per kg of product), Glucosamine (170 mg/kg), Methylsulfonylmethane (170 mg/kg), Chondroitin Sulphate (125 mg/kg), FOS (92 mg/kg), MOS (23 mg/kgAnalytical Constituents: Crude Protein 26%, Crude Oils & Fats 8%, Crude Fibres 4%, Crude Ash 7.9%.
Grain-Free Dog Food Buyer’s Guide
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 share any critical findings.
Just because it doesn’t have any grains added in doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy, far from it. 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.
Dogs will go through the same if you feed them sub-par dog food. So here’s what to look for.
1. 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 the quantity of kibble in the bag.
Small chewers need smaller kibble, and larger breeds need bigger bags and chunks to avoid choking and promote good oral hygiene.
2. Supports activity levels
A champion bodybuilder needs a lot of calories and protein. A footballer needs carbs before a match, and a coeliac needs food without gluten.
The dog also has its 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 dog needs a balance of everything.
3. 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 is not replaced by just simple carbs such as potato.
4. 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 meals 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, protein levels of over 50% should be cautiously approached.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What are grain-free dog foods?
Grain-free dog food is pretty simple to explain – it is either wet or dry dog food 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:
2. 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 grain-free has been popularised, and 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, while the other 99% enjoy 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 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 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, it would be almost impossible to find and consume grains, and they would instead eat raw meat, fish and perhaps some vegetables.
3. Is grain-free dog food better?
If your dog has an intolerance or food allergies to grains, then grain-free dog food would greatly wonders their health at meal times. However, if your dog does not have any problems digesting grain, we would agree with Dr Donna Solomon that “some dogs do benefit from grain-free diets but not to the magnitude the pet food industry would lead you to believe.”
4. Why do people think grain is bad for dogs?
Most dog food experts would claim 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.
5. What is considered grain in dog food?
The following are grains commonly found in dog food
Last update on 2023-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API