10 Best Grain Free Dog Foods in 2019
Always eager to please, Haiku jumped on the taste test train to discover what is the best grain free dog food, both wet and dry.
Here’s what he barked out loud, along with my critical evaluation, and what other pet parents had to say about these top-rated grain free dog food brands.
Canine Caviar Grain Free Dry Dog FoodCheck price »
Halo Natural Wet Dog FoodCheck price »
Victor Nutra Pro Dry Dog FoodCheck price »
With many humans turning to gluten-free diets, some assume dietary changes for their furry family members may be beneficial as well. It is important to note that although we share our lives with dogs, we are different species, and our physiological needs and processes are not the same.
For some dogs, there could be benefits to eliminating grains from their diet, yet grains are part of nature’s regimen. Wild animals may not chew on stalks of wheat, but they do ingest grains from the bellies and intestines of their prey.
Certain grains, however, do appear to cause allergic reactions (i.e., itchy skin) in many of our companion pets. Other grains seem to upset sensitive canine tummies making grain free sound like a good option. Only your veterinarian, however, knows for sure.
Every animal is unique, and dogs from the same litter may thrive on different diets just as human siblings may have different nutritional needs and suffer from allergies. Recent studies have shown links between grain free diets and heart disease in some dogs. Discuss the diet for your dog with your veterinarian, and never skip a check-up, so that you can stay on top of your pet’s health.
Do note in the reviews of the ten best grain free dog foods below, I chose not to judge good grain free dog food based on where the various brands were made (the U.S. vs. Thailand). Instead, I elaborate on this topic in several places, and provide links for your information.
- Canine Caviar Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- Halo Natural Wet Dog Food
- Victor Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food
- Instinct Original Grain Free Dog Food
- Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food
- Merrick Grain Free Dog Food
- Canidae Grain Free PURE Dog Food
- Weruva Funky Chunky Chicken Soup
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Wet Dog Food
10. Rachael Ray Nutrish, Natural Wet Dog Food, Grain Free
- No fillers or meat by-products
- Nicely packaged in Tupperware-like containers
- Some dogs reported vomiting
Rachael Ray’s Nutrish Wet Grain Free Dog Food comes in a variety pack with three different flavors. Protein-rich to satisfy a dog’s instinctual cravings, it contains grain free chicken, lamb, duck, and beef, with added vitamins and minerals.
Here’s a note from Rachael Ray:
Our wet dog food is made in Thailand because we wanted the best manufacturing facility for our recipes. Our facility in Thailand is a state-of-the-art pet food manufacturing facility. We use high-quality ingredients in a clean environment that meets all FDA regulations for pet food safety.
9. Weruva Funky Chunky Chicken Soup with Pumpkin
- Hormone, antibiotic, GMO, and cage-free chicken
- DLD certified
- The difference in quality depends on the distributor; some are runny
- Some dogs experience diarrhea
Weruva Funky Chunky Chicken Soup with Pumpkin is a hearty soup made with skinless, boneless white meat chicken breast, green peas, and carrots. The chicken is hormone-free, antibiotic-free, cage-free, and GMO-free. The dog cans are produced in a BRC-Certified human food facility using many of the same ingredients and processes used in products for humans.
This dog food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels set by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for adult maintenance. The plant where Weruva is made is USFDA certified, and while 100 brands of U.S. pet food were recalled in 2010, none from Thailand were.
Pet foods produced in Thailand are under greater scrutiny than those produced in the United States and operate under the Department of Livestock Development (DLD), similar to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
8. Canidae Grain Free PURE with Bison
- Improved GI issues
- Dogs like it
- Quite a few “fake” products or bad batches
With 7-10 key ingredients or less, Canidae Grain Free Pure gives your dog a complete, well-rounded meal. Never any fillers, corn, wheat or soy. Every recipe includes high-protein ingredients for lean, strong muscles, and added probiotics for easy digestion.
The vitamins/minerals and antioxidants improve overall health, and the fatty acid blends promote healthy skin and coat, landing this product on the list of 10 best grain free dog foods in 2019.
7. Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato
- Finicky dogs like it
- Improved stool
- Omegas for skin and coat
- Reasonably priced
- Quality seems to have gone down since the company was purchased
- Some dogs suffering vomiting and/or diarrhea
Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat.
The glucosamine and chondroitin in its composition maintain hip and joint function. Garth Merrick headquartered his kitchen in Hereford, Texas, where all Merrick dog food recipes are handcrafted.
6. Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Recipe
Price Range: LowCheck price »
- Looks & smells like human food
- Nicely packaged in convenient foil-sealed cups that don’t require refrigeration
- Gives some dogs diarrhea
- Small portions; this line’s canned stews would be more economical and a best grain free large breed dog food
Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Wet Dog Food is made of shredded chicken and venison in broth. They follow an easy to digest recipe that most dogs seem to enjoy.
Packaged in individual serving cups, the high-quality protein helps maintain lean muscle mass, while the sweet potato is a grain free carbohydrate source of energy.
5. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- No meat by-products or fillers
- No corn, soy, wheat gluten or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors
- Reasonably priced
- Some stomach issues
- Possible bad batch
Wellness CORE is a 100% natural grain free dog food. It is made with turkey, chicken, salmon oil, fruits, and vegetables, and fortified with antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals, including fish and flax omega blend for healthy skin and coat.
Wellness CORE formulas are based on the philosophy that dogs thrive on a meat diet, placing it on this list of the ten best grain free dog foods in 2019.
4. Instinct Original Grain Free Beef and Venison
- Made with real meat and whole-food ingredients
- Some pet parents claim gas and anal gland issues improved
- Reasonably priced
- Some found it runny but felt it improved once refrigerated
Made with 95% beef, venison & beef liver, 5% vegetables, fruits & other wholesome ingredients, Instinct Original Grain Free Beef and Venison is a high-protein dog food produced from responsibly sourced grass-fed venison. It contains no ingredients known to trigger food sensitivities.
It is free of by-product meals, artificial colors, and preservatives, possibly making it one of the best grain free dog food for skin allergies. Made from real meat & whole food ingredients, Instinct is packed with animal protein for strong, lean muscles.
3. Victor Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food
Price Range: LowCheck price »
- Dogs love the taste
- Less poop and less stinky
- Skin and coat improved
- Reasonably priced
- Received the least negative reviews of any product
- None come to mind
If you’re seeking the best grain free dog food for the money, Victor Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice. This brand is a nutrient-dense, high-protein grain free dog food that is formulated for companion dogs with high physical needs. It also meets the levels established by the AFFCO.
Many pet parents claim their dogs eliminate less, which tends to mean they are “using” rather than “wasting” the nutrients ingested. Food is made in Victor’s Texas-based factory and has never been subject to a recall.
2. Halo Natural Wet Dog Food, Turkey & Salmon Recipe
- Whole meat products, no meal!
- Some pet parents claim their dogs have more energy and that their coats improved
- Dogs love the taste
- Complaints of dented cans
Halo’s Natural Wet Dog Food uses WHOLE meat protein, instead of ‘meal,’ for its digestibility, since dogs who eat it make better use of the nutrients. Halo maintains a holistic approach from the way their farm animals are raised to the care they put into their recipes.
Haiku sure loved the taste and thanked me for the chance to participate in this review of the ten best grain free dog foods in 2019.
1. Canine Caviar Open Sky Grain Free Dog Food
- One quality protein
- Unique alkaline diet
- Pet parents claim it improved reflux, colitis, and cleared up tear stains
- Expensive, but some things are worth paying for ☺
The Canine Caviar Grain Free Dry Dog Food boasts a unique alkaline diet that makes it the top grain free dog food. This means it puts more oxygen in your dog’s blood, reduces aging, settles digestive upsets, reduces the risks of degenerative diseases, scratching, and much more.
Made without corn, soy, wheat, dairy, potato, or GMOs, Canine Caviar is nutrient-dense and easily digestible, ideal for dogs with sensitive tummies. Containing only one protein, wild-caught herring, and one complex carbohydrate, split peas, it limits the potential of allergy issues.
Before Haiku began his taste test for the best-rated grain free dog food, I started my own research as I certainly was not going to have my best buddy try any products that I was not confident were of good quality. When I settled on 10 of the best grain free dog foods in 2019 that I felt comfortable with my buddy trying, I purchased small bags and slowly transitioned him.
Please, never, ever just give your dog a new food. Continue to provide him with his current food and decrease it by about 25%, adding in 25% of the new brand. Then, slowly increase the ratio to 50/50, then 25% old and 75% new until about 10 -14 days out. After that, you can give your dog the new brand in its entirety if he seems to adjust well, meaning the stool is firm, there’s no vomiting, skin issues or other reactions.
As I read reviews by other pet parents of the various brands to determine what is the best grain free dog food, almost without exception, every brand resulted in some dog experiencing vomiting or diarrhea. So, first off, please be reminded that every dog is unique, and what works for one, is not always best for another.
Dogs out of the same litter may not thrive on the same food, and just because you want your dog to like a food, doesn’t mean it may be the best choice for his system. Secondly, heed my paragraph above, and do not rush the transition process.
One other point to note is that a lot of pet parents have been complaining either of “fake” products or different quality, bad batches depending on where they buy. All I can say is be diligent. Pay attention to expiration dates, labeling, and buy from reputable distributors. Sometimes, a bargain is too good to be true when it comes to your dog’s health and safety. Inspect before feeding and store carefully.
Long before we spooned our dog’s food out of a can or scooped it out of a bag, wild dogs hunted their meals, so many feel grain free closely mimics the ancestral diet. Do recall my words earlier in this article that when carnivores hunt, most ingest grains from the bellies of the prey they consume, so some grains are part of a wild diet after all.
Grains are carbohydrates which your dog converts into fuel to run, jump, play, and make his body perform all the things it needs to do, like breathe and pump blood. Carbohydrates also help him feel full.
What does your dog thrive on? Are there grains you make a part of his diet? Oatmeal, brown rice, barley, and quinoa, for instance? Which of the ten best grain free dog foods in 2019 is your dog’s fave food?
DENISE FLECK is an award-winning author, animal care instructor and radio show host. She was named one of Pet Age Magazine’s “Women of Influence” for 2018, a “Most Inspiring Story” in 2017 by Voyage Atlanta Magazine and has been nominated for 6 Dog Writers Awards to be announced in early 2019.Read more »