What Dog Foods Are Grain Free?

Filed in Dog Health by on January 20, 2020

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Grain free dog foods are very popular right now. But you may be wondering what dog foods are grain free?

This article discusses 6 popular choices to consider, along with how to select a grain free dog food and ingredients to avoid.

Whether grain free is healthier or not is debatable, so consult with your veterinarian beforehand.

Some claimed benefits are better digestion, less allergies and more energy for your dog.

Note: The U.S. FDA is investigating more than 500 reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy that appear linked to dog foods marketed as grain free, so be cautious and speak to your veterinarian.

What Dog Foods Are Grain Free?

Let’s review some of the top picks. We’ll also outline a few key ingredients and benefits of each selection.

Just to be clear, dog foods made without corn, wheat, rice or other grains are considered to be grain free.

If you have any questions about our picks, make sure to leave a comment – we’ll be more than happy to respond.

Note: Selections are in no other order other than alphabetical.

1. Canidae Grainless Pure

Canidae makes quite a few grain-free dog meals, with our eyes falling on the Canidae Grain Free Pure Real Lamb and Pea Recipe.

The majority of this meal’s animal protein is from lamb and turkey meal, with the remaining first 5 ingredients including chicken meal, sweet potatoes, and garbanzo beans. This recipe contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% carbs.

2. Nulo Freestyle Grainless Canine Meal

Nulo Freestyle has over a half dozen product lines, and their Adult Salmon made it into one of our picks.

The meat protein source for Nulo Freestyle Adult Salmon and Peas comes from salmon, turkey meal, and menhaden fish meal, and contains 33% protein, 18% fat and 41% carbs.

The first 5 ingredients are deboned salmon, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, whole peas, and sweet potato.

3. Orijen Grainless Dry Canine Meal

Orijen has 8 grain free dry recipes, with our pick being Orijen Six Fish.

This Orijen dog food is comprised of whole Atlantic mackerel and herring, monkfish,  Acadian redfish, and flounder and contains 43% protein, 21% fat and 28% carbs.

Orijen Six Fish has a high protein to fat ratio and continually rates high.

4. Taste of the Wild Grainless Canine Meal

This line has nearly a dozen recipes, with our pick being Taste of the Wild High Prairie. By the way, I also compare Taste of the Wild with Blue Buffalo in another article.

The majority of meat protein is derived from buffalo, lamb meal, and chicken meal, and contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% carbs.

The first 5 ingredients are buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, and peas.

5. Wellness Core Grainless Kibble

We selected the Wellness Core Ocean Formula due to it being exceptionally protein-rich. But, it is only one of the numerous dry recipes in the Wellness Core product line.

Core Ocean Formula is full of fish and fish meal meat protein, and contains 38% protein, 17% fat and 38% carbs.

The first 5 ingredients are whitefish, herring meal, salmon meal, menhaden fish meal, and peas.

6. Weruva Wet Canine Meal

If your dog prefers wet food, you’re in luck! Weruva Wet Dog Food makes 14 canned recipes with our favorite grain-free one being the Weruva Bed and Breakfast meal.

The first 5 ingredients of this product includes chicken, egg, pumpkin, sweet potato, and water (it’s a moist food after all), and contains 57% protein, 10% fat and 25% carbs. 

a white chihuahua and black rottweiler holding empty dog bowls in their mouthsHow To Select a Grain Free Dog Food

First, high-quality, grain free dog food will most certainly have more protein than dog food filled with grains.

It is worth noting that while many dog foods now use grain substitutes like legumes and potatoes, there are a few ingredients in grain free dog food that can negatively impact their nutrition scale.

The concern isn’t necessarily the ingredients themselves but where they are listed in the ingredient list – ideally not in the first few items.

In most cases, legumes are rich in protein, but they can lack some of the essential amino acids dogs need in their diet. So, it’s important to find grain free dog food where meat remains the dominant source of protein.

Here are some tips to select high-quality grain free dog food:

  • Meat as the primary protein source
  • Free of corn and white rice
  • No byproducts or ‘meat’ meal

Tip About ‘Meals’ As An Ingredient: Read labels to find real meats, such as chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, or salmon, or meals of these proteins. These ingredients are less processed and contain more natural and usable protein.

When looking for what dog foods are grain free, labels are very important. Make sure to look for the best, healthiest meat proteins and to ensure no bad ingredients are included. 

Ingredients To Always Avoid

Whether you are trying to determine what dog foods are grain free, or just looking for a new dog food – some things are non-negotiable. When it comes to all dog food, there are definitely things you want to steer clear from – for the health of your dog. These include:

BHA/BHT Preservatives

These chemical preservatives are used to preserve fats in human and pet foods – with a potential link to cancer. Banned in some countries, these preservatives are approved for food use in small quantities in Canada, the US, and Europe.


A flavor enhancer known to cause issues for humans and pets. However, in pet food it is often labeled hydrolyzed protein, protein isolate, texturized protein, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, monopotassium glutamate, and disodium inosinate or guaylate.


Often found in prepared meats, nitrates are a preservative that extends the shelf life of meat products. Nitrates can be toxic in high doses, causing methaemoglobin (a blood disorder)

White Flour

Providing no nutritional value, white flour causes a spike followed by a drop in blood sugar. Consuming too much white flour is a leading cause of weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional veterinary help and advice.

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