10 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods 2017

Looking for the best grain-free dog food for your pooch? Great! We can help you find one.

Before we highlight the top brands, however, we want to start by reminding you that not every dog requires a grain-free diet.

Our guide will help you understand when a grain-free diet is appropriate for dogs.

If you have determined that grain-free food is the way to go, then you can easily compare brands in our table and check out our detailed reviews of the top five foods.

Top 10 Grain-Free Dog Foods Comparison Table

PictureNameAppropriate ForPriceRating (1-5)
PictureNameAppropriate ForPriceRating (1-5)
1. Nature's Recipe Grain Free Dry Dog FoodAll Life Stages with Sensitive Stomach$$$4.6
2. Solid Gold Holistic Dog Food for Small & Toy Breeds, Dry and Wet with Superfoods All Life Stages Toy and Small Breed$$4.5
3. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dry Dog Food for PuppyMid-Size to Large Breed Puppies$$$$4.5
4. AvoDerm Natural Dog Food Seniors$$$$4.5
5. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Overweight Adults$4.5
6. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food - Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Allergy-Prone Adults$$4.4
7. Wellness Thick & Chunky Natural Wet Grain Free Canned Dog Food Adults$$$4.4
8. Orijen Original Dry Dog Food, 4.5 lb Adults$$4.4
9. Victor Dog Food Grain-Free Hero Canine Formula Dry Dog Food Highly Active/Working Adults$$$$4.3
10. Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Wet Dog Food, 3.5 oz, 12 count Small Breed Adults$$4.3

When to Go Grain-Free

Many dog owners seem to jump on the bandwagon whenever they hear constant talk about a new product. “Everyone says it’s healthier for dogs!”

The fact is that you need to understand a bit about dog food before you make the assumption that grain-free is the right choice for your pooch.

Grain-Free Diets Are Intended for Dogs That Have Grain Allergies

Grain allergies are common, but just because your dog itches more frequently than usual doesn’t mean he or she has an allergy.

You will notice other symptoms of a grain allergy, such as hair loss resulting in bald patches on their fur, scabs and sores, hot spots and constant itching.

Keep in mind that not all food allergies are related directly to grains. Some dogs have protein allergies that could stem from the fish, meat or poultry in the food while other dogs are allergic to dairy.

Grains to Avoid

So what are the grains that dog food manufacturers use?

  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Rice

You won’t always see them written on the labels like that, either.

Some manufacturers will use fractionated parts of the grains since it is cheaper for them to buy. If you see things like wheat gluten, corn, gluten, brewer’s rice or soy flour on the label, these are all forms of grains.

Choose Food That’s Right for Your Dog

Now that you understand what grain-free food is and when it is most appropriate, there are still a few more things to take into consideration before you choose.

  • Size and Age. Do you need food for a puppy, adult or senior dog? Be sure to keep the dog’s size in mind, as well (small breed, average or large breed).

A no-grain diet can cause smaller dogs to plump up fast, so make sure you weigh their daily food portions rather than measuring them by volume.

  • Activity Level. Grain-free food may not contain any grains, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any carbohydrates in it.

Make sure you understand the fat and protein content of the food so that you aren’t feeding something that it too rich to your dog. If you have a couch potato dog that doesn’t get much exercise during the day, be careful about the quantity that you give him or her.

Top 5 Best Grain-Free Dog Food Reviews

1. Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Chicken formulas are usually the best for dogs with sensitive stomachs, and the fact that this one is grain-free makes it a great choice for adult dogs that have a hard time digesting other brands of food.

We like the fact that it is suitable for all life stages, meaning that you can feed it to puppies, adults and senior dogs alike.

It is a great choice for dogs that don’t get a ton of exercise during the day. The Crude Fat minimum percentage is just 12.00% with a 27.00% Crude Protein minimum. These percentages are ideal for inactive dogs or those that are slightly overweight.

Does your dog have a sensitive stomach? If so, then this might just be the best grain-free dog food to give him.

2. Solid Gold Holistic Dog Food

We wanted to be sure and highlight options for dogs of all sizes and ages, which is why we found something appropriate for Toy Breeds in our top five.

Not only is this grain-free but it is also gluten-free, so if you have a dog that can’t tolerate either, it is a good match.

The protein levels were surprisingly high in this formula (Crude Protein minimum of 30%) with a 20% Crude Fat minimum, and since the feeding instructions are very vague, you’ll have to be careful about how much you give your dog.

It would probably be a good match for moderately active adults since it is a bit caloric, but like the previous food, you can also provide this to puppies, adults, and seniors that fit in the Toy category.

The kibbles are small enough for them to break down, which is important when you’re dealing with small dogs that have equally small mouths.

3. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild is one of the most popular formulas on the list for dog owners, and their puppy formula is great for medium to large breed puppies.

The fat and protein levels average for a puppy formula: 28% Crude Protein minimum and 17% Crude Fat minimum. The formula features protein from bison and venison, along with a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables that will help keep their immune systems healthy.

The kibble is rather small, so make sure that your puppy doesn’t eat too fast. If he does, that probably means he is not breaking down the kibble with his teeth and sending it down whole. The chances of him regurgitating later are higher, so you might use a slow feeder bowl or give him small portions at a time so he has to chew.

4. AvoDerm Natural Dog Food

One of the top grain-free senior formulas is from AvoDerm.

Senior formulas typically contain chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine to help with aging joints, which is exactly what you get in this formula.

Lamb meal is the main protein source, and we even saw a bit of avocado in the mix. It also has a lower fat percentage (10% Crude Fat minimum), which is ideal for older dogs since they don’t usually get as much exercise as younger dogs do.

The nice thing about this formula is that it works well for dogs of all sizes. Whether you have a senior Dachshund or a senior Boxer, it is a great food for any old timer who has grain allergies.

5. Wellness CORE Dry Dog Food

Wellness’ Core Grain-free Formulas are some of the most popular on the list.

Their reduced fat formula is ideal for portly dogs who need to trim down a bit thanks to the low-fat content and an extra dose of protein to keep energy levels high.

Many choose this brand since it is affordable, and the ingredients are surprisingly good for this price range.

They’ve added a bit of extra fiber to help dogs feel fuller for longer periods, and it also has chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, which we mentioned earlier was great for seniors.

Whether you have an overweight adult or overweight senior, consider trying this grain-free food to help them shed some of that excess weight.

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