Best Grain Free Dog Food: The Best Way To Keep Allergies Away

by | Feb 24, 2019 | 0 comments

In the past years, dog food has come to be known as a standard mix of grains, some protein sources, vegetables, minerals, and vitamins that are packaged as either dry pellets or canned food. We were not as conscious about dog food before, and as long as our fur babies look healthy and active, then we think they are good to go. However, as the demand for dog food and the devotion of concerned pet parents have significantly increased, the progressive research has opened our eyes to the hazards of giving grain-based dog food to our dogs.

Best Grain-Free Food Options

Taste of the Wild Grain Free
  • Unique combination of protein sources coming from quite rare meats, such as wildfowl, boar, venison, and bison
  • Perfectly emulates the original diet of our fur babies’ ancestors
  • Reduced risk of any allergic reaction
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Merrick Grain-free
  • Contains essential and healthy fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega 6
  • Enhances the immune system, and has anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Can help build and develop muscles or heal from an injury
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Blue Wilderness Adult Grain-Free Salmon
  • One of the most recommended hypoallergenic dry dog foods in the market today
  • Salmon and duck varieties have especially hypoallergenic profiles
  • Premium fish-based sources guarantee the highest quality
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Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free
  • Grain free dog food with venison as protein source
  • Rich concoction of antioxidants from tomatoes, raspberries, and blueberries
  • Utilizes the K9 probiotic strain, which provides digestive support
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Horizon Amicus Small and Mini Breed Adult Grain-Free
  • Best nutritional support for small and mini dog breeds
  • Red lentils as an exotic source of fiber and carbohydrates
  • Ensures proper digestion for a very long time, which helps with nutrient absorption
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Are grains really that bad?

We are not trying to place grains in bad light as it fed millions of fur babies over the past decades, but there has been an increasing incidence of allergies among dogs that have been triggered by grain-based dog food consumption. This places our fur babies in a very dangerous health crisis, especially when we are completely unaware of whether it is the food they are eating that causes this condition.

What are the usual signs of allergies in dogs?

When there is an allergic reaction, chances are that you will encounter these signs and symptoms being exhibited by your fur baby:

  • Non-seasonal itch. While itching in dogs can come naturally depending on the season, non-seasonal itching can be a systemic allergic reaction if your dog ingested something that it is allergic to, which consequently triggered a reaction.
  • Inflamed skin. Inflamed skin is a little bit tricky, especially if you will not inspect the skin underneath the coat. Similar to non-seasonal itching, inflamed skin is a reaction that is usually almost immediate (or emerges in less than 12 hours) after the consumption of products that your dog can be allergic to. The skin becomes red and can have localized or systemic rashes and patches that can make the dog really agitated.

Hair loss. When a dog is allergic to a particular ingredient, it can experience hair loss as either localized bald patches or as systemic and significant loss of coat or hair. However, hair loss can be the result of chronic exposure to allergens because this sign can only be observed after a period. Hair loss can also be aggravated by scratching, which is often triggered by the first sign of allergic reaction – non-seasonal itching.

Why you should consider grain free dog food

It is very important to understand that dogs, through evolutionary progression, became omnivores. However, their ancestors were carnivorous in nature, which means grain consumption was never part of their diet. The best grain free dog food respects the roots of your fur baby and remains faithful to what your pet’s diet should be. We’re not saying that grains are bad; it just so happened that there are other healthier ways to maintain the overall health of our dogs.

There has been a growing market for grain free dog food, and it is not surprising that the best grain free dog food options in in the market are the ones with a highly established and long history of dog and pet food research.

Through thorough research and evaluation, it has been identified that grains are the leading cause of food-related allergies in dogs. Previously, allergies were always associated with fowl or fish ingredients, but it turns out that grains, the basis of most dog food as a rich source of carbohydrates, is the main culprit.

Considering the wide variety of best grain free dog food in the market provides your fur baby with a nutritional setup that has the lowest possible allergenic potential.

Grain-free vs. regular dog food: which is which?

What is so special about grain-free dog food options and how these options stand against the regular dog food selection will be discussed in this part of this article. Whenever we mention “regular” dog food variants, we refer to the dog food variants that utilize the entire spectrum of digestible ingredients to sustain daily nutritional requirements.

While this has been the process and principle over the past decades, recent studies revealed that this practice is like a double-edged sword. Yes, it covers the spectrum and all the nutritional benefits from all the ingredients, which is good for the dog. However, this approach also exposes our pets to a broad spectrum of allergens. So, this is both a good and a bad situation for regular dog food consumption.

Regular dog food is good. It is accessible, has an amazing diversity, and is also economical. However, if your dog has a history of allergy (or is suspected to have a particular allergy), you may want to narrow down the ingredients included in the food your dog eats on a daily basis. Regular dog food definitely has some grain in it, and if you will look at the ingredient information, you are highly likely to find some (if not all) of these:

  • Corn.
  • Barley.
  • Wheat.
  • Rye.
  • Oats.
  • Soy.
  • Rice.

This is how grain-free dog food came to be. Grains are rich carbohydrate and protein sources, but they also contain some allergens, which often lead to either chronic or acute and life-threatening allergic reactions. Some allergic reactions emerge rapidly, and it will only take few servings to notice that something is going on. Chronic allergic reactions are more systemic, and they will take a lot more time to show up. The problem with chronic allergic reactions is that, when the symptoms have reached their peak, treatment definitely becomes more aggressive and expensive.

Does my dog need to have a grain-free diet?

With the help of your veterinarian, it is a very good move to keep in mind all health considerations and health records of your dog and discuss the details with your veterinarian. Now, if the vet identifies a direct association between your dog’s current health risks and allergies and the grain-filled diet your pet is currently in, then make no further mistake, and begin with the shift to a grain-free diet.

Another definitive method to make sure you’ve got all sides covered is to discuss allergen testing with your veterinarian. This approach has a broader coverage in checking whether or not your puppy has a particular ingredient (grains or other ingredients) that it is allergic to.

Best grain free dog food: advantages

There are a lot of advantages when you go with the best grain free food options in the market, should you make up your mind and do the major switch in dog food preference for your dog.

  • The sources are guaranteed to have reduced allergic potential. It has already been identified that a lot of allergens come from grains, and by removing the actual source from the equation, you significantly reduce the level of allergic potential for your dog. This is essential when your puppy has no known diagnosed allergies, and you want to take responsibility for narrowing that risk further by finding the best grain free food ideal for your puppy’s nutritional needs.
  • Your dog is guaranteed to have more regulated and balanced nutritional support in every serving. Grain-based dog food provides free access to easy carbohydrate sources, and when served generously, this practice can lead to obesity in dogs. As you may know, obesity can further branch out into cardiovascular problems, metabolic problems, and musculoskeletal problems. Grain-free dog food can provide a sustainable carbohydrate supply in a more regulated manner as the sources usually offer complex carbohydrates that require more calories to burn and have fewer chances to be stored in the body as fat.
  • Grain-free dog food ensures premium protein and overall nutritional support. With a wide a variety of nutritional sources, from beef to the more exotic venison and whitefish, the best grain free food in general has a great spectrum of sources that can help promote overall well-being and balanced nutrition.  
  • You are guaranteed of uncompromised quality. Grain-free dog food, even the more affordable varieties, is still considered to be more premium than the regular dog food because the makers of this dog food cannot take the risk and lower the standard and quality of the ingredients they use because, if they do, it will spoil the nutritional quality of the entire package. Given that grain-free products use higher quality ingredients, your dog will receive better nutritional support in each serving.
  • They require fewer servings. The dense nutrients and vitamins found in each kibble of grain-free dog food is pretty remarkable. This means the serving suggestion (or sometimes feeding frequency) is lower than that for regular dog food because the calorie requirement and nutrients that the dog needs on a daily basis can be achieved with a smaller serving. This is a very good indicator that your fur baby is receiving balanced and dense nutrition. Regular dog food is sometimes filled with fillers and extenders that are not doing anything other than to encourage the consumption of empty calories, and despite the generous serving suggestions, the nutritional requirement is still not met at times.

Best grain free dog food 2019: the only prominent disadvantage

At this point, in identifying the best grain free food in the market and the best grain free dog food 2019, we can only think of one very pronounced disadvantage: dog food cost. However, this is completely understandable. You see, because the primary ingredient that is commonly found in less expensive dog food brands has been completely omitted, the best grain free food companies rely on other healthier sources to ensure sustainable and well-balanced nutrition. They have to source their premium ingredients using only the best options, and grains will never be part of that consideration.

Speak with your veterinarian about your concerns when shifting your puppy to grain-free dog food. Most of the best grain free dog food belong to the mid- to top-tier price points, but a functional approach, such as a gradual shifting or variation, can be done to lower the allergen exposure without compromising on nutrition.

There is also a little concern about grain-free dog food. Given the very dense nutrient content in each kibble, the energy it can provide is significantly higher than that provided by regular dog food. This sounds like an advantage, until you realize that if your fur baby is a couch potato, this will end up being a problem because your pup has to burn that energy, or else, it will either be stored as fat or cause episodes of misbehavior because of that burst of energy from the grain-free dog food. This is not a problem for medium to large breeds of dogs, but for small breed and non-sporting dogs, this should be carefully discussed with a veterinarian to prevent yourself from doing more harm than good.

Are all grain-free dog foods the same?

The massive pool of grain-free dog food options can confuse a lot of pet parents. However, please understand that grain-free dog foods usually contain more protein than grain-based dog food. This is standard across all grain-free dog foods. Now, where grain-free dog food brands differ lies in where the protein sources have been obtained.

Some grain-free dog food brands use potatoes and legumes, such as lentils and peas. These seem to be a viable solution, except for the fact that plant-based proteins don’t have as much amino acid content as meat-based sources.

The intricate balance of utilizing protein sources other than meat plays a very important role in effectively providing nourishment with every dog food serving. It is safe to say that the current grain-free dog food options in the market may have similar ingredients, but they are not totally the same. The portions of the sources, the quality, and the nutritional content are just some basic factors that can explain why some grain-free dog foods, especially the best grain free food 2019 options, are not all the same.  

In comparison with regular dog food, you will have a lot of options, and the selection is a very tedious process because the ingredients vary widely. These grain-free options follow similar nutritional trends, but the diversity in terms of sources, quality, and cost makes the selection process even more complicated.

What are the best grain free dog food 2019 choices?

The search for the best grain free food 2019 options can either be a walk in the park or a crazy adventure depending on your personal preference, the veterinarian’s recommendation, and of course, budget. Interestingly enough, grain-free dog food options are found in mid-tier and premium-tier price points so we can all definitely find a particular brand that can fit our requirements and make our fur babies have a happy tummy. Bear in mind that these recommendations are based on general consumer reviews, company profile, and our personal experiences in the use of these products for daily nutritional support for our pet friends.

Taste of the Wild Grain Free-Dog Food

Starting off our recommendations of the best grain free food is perhaps the most raved about grain-free dog food brand in the market. Taste of the Wild is an amazing dog food brand that understands the fundamentals and importance of feeding your pet with the best grain free food. It has a unique combination of protein sources coming from quite rare meats, such as wildfowl, boar, venison, and bison. These sources, as you may know, can only be hunted from the wild which perfectly emulates the original diet of our fur babies’ ancestors.

Taste of the Wild is also known for not sourcing their proteins from common sources, such as chicken and beef, which further reduces the risk of any allergic reaction commonly observed among dogs eating dog food with mixed basic and common sources of proteins. This company completely understands the importance of giving only the best possible product for nutritional support, and it’s been doing this for a very long time.

With thousands of extremely satisfied pet parents vouching for the nutritional support excellence being provided by Taste of the Wild, it is clear that their dedication and passion to come up with the best product lineup definitely paid off.

Taste of the Wild Grain Free

Source of protein coming from quite rare meats, such as wildfowl, boar, venison, and bison, emulating the original diet of dogs' ancestors.

Merrick grain-free dry dog food

Merrick is known to produce some of the best grain free food options in the market today. Utilizing a diverse set of premium protein sources, such as venison, duck, salmon, rabbit, and buffalo, the Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is a phenomenal choice should you start shifting your dog to a grain-free diet. While there are some variants that contain standard protein sources like chicken and beef, there are other alternative variants that ensure a hypoallergenic approach to nutrition.

What is also nice about Merrick is that it contains essential and healthy fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega 6. This is a very important feature because these fatty acids help enhance the immune system, and the anti-inflammatory benefits can help build and repair muscles that are developing or recovering from injury.

Merrick Grain-free

A great choice to start shifting your dog to a grain-free diet. Alternative variants that ensure a hypoallergenic approach to nutrition.

Blue Wilderness Adult Grain-Free Salmon Dry Dog Food

Presenting its distinct blend of a proprietary formulation which includes dense nutrients and energy sources in every single kibble, the Blue Wilderness Adult Grain-Free Salmon Dry Dog Food is one of the most recommended hypoallergenic dry dog food preparations in the market today.

Blue Wilderness does not include grains across its entire lineup, therefore eliminating sources, such as wheat, soy, and corn, which pose moderate risk for allergy. Blue Wilderness offers various protein combinations in its lineup, but we highly recommend the salmon and duck varieties because of their hypoallergenic dog food profile. Salmon is one of the more premium fish-based sources, along with whitefish, which is why you are guaranteed to have the highest quality from Blue Wilderness.

Blue Wilderness Adult Grain-Free Salmon

Various protein combinations are available. We recommed salmon, as one of the more premium fish-based sources.

AvoDerm Natural Dog Food

One of the most specific grain-free dog food in our recommendations is from AvoDerm. When we say specific, the nutritional content, as well as fat and crude protein content, is regulated to ensure that our dogs will only receive the nutrition they need no more, no less. Remember, when the dog food provides autonomous access to carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, excessive consumption will give way to a lot of spare calories, which will be stored in the body as fat. As a consequence, fat and obesity will further branch out to musculoskeletal and metabolic problems, as well as cardiovascular and renal issues. AvoDerm maximizes not only its hypoallergenic potential but also its capability to reduce the risk of developing other illnesses aside from an allergic reaction.

Now, you might be curious about the unique name of this brand. Well, this is because the product lineup includes avocado. Now wait, you may have heard that avocados are bad for dogs. The good thing is that this myth was already debunked ages ago, and the only confirmed poisonous parts are the leaves and the bark.

Avocado is a wonder fruit. It contains amazing amounts of essential nutrients, vitamins, and good fat. It is also very dense in terms of calories. This is why AvoDerm does not require our pups to consume excessive amounts to feel full.

AvoDerm Natural

Delicios recipe that is great for dogs with sensitive tummies and picky eaters. Grain-free and has peas for additional vitamins and nutrients.

Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Original Turkey and Chicken

This natural offering from Wellness CORE promotes a balanced nutritional support for everyday serving. With a careful combination of turkey and chicken sources, this is one of the less premium options in the bunch. Nonetheless, it showcases a formulation without meat by-products, artificial flavors or preservatives, and fillers. You are guaranteed to have the rich sources without corn, soy, or wheat.

The simple approach of Wellness Core follows the important fundamentals of having a grain-free diet for our dogs. By using limited ingredients without compromising quality and nutritional content, Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Original Turkey and Chicken is a very good choice. You can also check other grain-free variants from Wellness CORE to add variety and palatability to appeal to your fur babies.

Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free

Many grain-free variants, based on limited ingredients, characterized by great quality and high nutritional content.

What about the best small breed dog food grain free options?

Now, if you have a small breed pooch. and you want the best grain free options, we’ve got you covered. The good thing about best small breed dog food grain free options is that they follow a similar principle as regular dog food, so adjustments and considerations should not be too drastic.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Its long name is such a mouthful, but the Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food from Taste of the Valley is one of our best recommendations. The star of the ingredient list for this grain free dog food is venison, as well as a rich concoction of antioxidants from tomatoes, raspberries, and blueberries to boost the immune system. In addition, this is one of the best small breed food grain free choices that utilizes the K9 probiotic strain, which provides digestive support.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley

Based mainly on venison as protein source, with lots of antioxidants from tomatoesand berries to boost the immune system.

Horizon Amicus Small and Mini Breed Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Strictly formulated to provide the best nutritional support for small and mini dog breeds, Horizon Amicus has turkey as its primary protein source. Now, this brand adds red lentils as an exotic source of fiber and carbohydrates. Lentils have been proven to have long-lasting caloric support, especially for very active small breeds. Aside from that, the probiotic content of Horizon Amicus ensures proper digestion for a very long time, which will help further when it comes to nutrient absorption.

Horizon Amicus Small and Mini Breed Adult Grain-Free

With turkey as primary protein source, Horizon Amicus adds red lentils as a more exotic source of fiber and long-lasting energy.

Nulo Freestyle Small Breed Salmon and Red Lentils

Another brand that utilizes the magical combination of salmon and red lentils is Nulo Freestyle. Specifically formulated for small breeds, it contains turkey, lamb, salmon, and menhaden, together with red lentils, which cover all the carbohydrate, protein, and fat requirements on a day-to-day basis. The chelated minerals also boost absorption rate for the body, which means a significantly higher percentage is absorbed and not wasted. What’s also good about this dog food is that it can be fed across all life stages, from puppies to senior dogs.

Nulo Freestyle Small Breed

Specifial small breed formulatedwith protein from turkey, lamb and salmon, together with red lentils for carbohydrates. Great for a balanced daily diet.

Canidae Pure Grain-Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food

When the ingredients are limited and are obtained from the purest natural sources, you are rewarded with peace of mind that your fur baby is getting only the best. This is the Canidae Pure Grain-Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food principle. With only nine key ingredients, it significantly narrowed down all angles from which an allergic reaction can occur. Many dog food options in the market contain a long list of complex sources, which may often lead to an allergic reaction that is challenging to determine. Utilizing a high concentration of meat-based protein, as well as prebiotic fiber to support digestion even for the most sensitive stomach, Canidae Pure Grain-Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food offers a no non-sense approach to dog nutrition.

Canidae Pure Grain-Free Small Breed

Includes only nine key ingredients to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction. Great for the most sensitive dogs.

Halo Holistic Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey and Duck

Carefully formulated to meet the daily nutritional needs of adult small breed dogs, this is one of the most viable options if you are considering getting the best small breed dog food grain free in the market in canned form. Featuring such ingredients as whole meat, as well as non-GMO vegetables, Halo Holistic Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey and Duck also contains flaxseed oil, which is known to be abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids that promote health coat and skin. Just like most premium canned dog foods, this product is also preservative-free.

Halo Holistic Grain-Free Small Breed

This premium canned dog food is preservative-free and abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy coat and skin.

Dog food compatibility

We carefully remind our readers to always conduct a firsthand trial whenever they decide to try new dog food brands, grain-free or not. It is very important to understand that, as a pet parent, we should not just join the bandwagon for such reasons as, “oh, this is healthy,” or “oh, this is popular now.”

Remember that there is no universally compatible dog food, and this applies even to the most established brands like Taste of the Wild. Some dogs may like it, some may hate it, or in other cases, our dog may not like a particular variant but may like the other. It is also important to learn more about the nutritional requirements of dogs in a breed-specific approach to ensure that we are selecting the best dog food profile to support our dog’s daily nutritional needs. Remember, some breeds require more protein and calorie content, even for small dog breeds, yet there are also breeds that require less. Knowledge is power, and by holistically understanding what your dog needs to eat, you are establishing a very effective approach to pet parenting. When you focus on best small breed dog food grain free options if you have a tiny pooch, it is really important to consider only the best options.

If any of these products interest you, do not buy in bulk. Talk about your concerns with the veterinarian, and do some trial feeding because this will determine whether your fur baby will agree with your decision to shift, or you should find other alternatives, especially when the pup consumes less than usual.

Nevertheless, as we are looking for the best grain free dog food options, you may find different, seemingly compatible dog foods in the market. It might take a while, especially if you have a picky eater for a fur baby, but it will definitely be worth the effort because you will be providing your pet with the nourishment he needs to live a very long and worthwhile doggy life.


Grain-free dog food has a lot of proven benefits and advantages in providing the best nutritional support for dogs by reducing allergen exposure than can be dangerous to our dog’s health. The good thing about today’s dog food landscape is that we are presented with a ton of options to cater all nutritional needs of our fur babies, as well as budget considerations for the fur parent.

Thanks to continuous research and development, we gained access to a lot of options to ensure that our dogs live long and healthy lives. We all want our pets to live their best lives, and we can achieve this by giving our pets the best grain-free options in the market. We hope you enjoyed our recommendations for best grain free dog food 2019 edition, as well as the best small breed dog food grain free options in the market!

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Greg Holmes
Greg Holmes resides in Portland, OR with his wife and two daughters, as well as three Havanese dogs. Being an AKC-certified CGC Evaluator and a certified dog trainer, taking care of dogs has been a big part of his life ever since he was young. His love for dogs started when his father took him to the state dog shelter to find his first puppy, which he named Einstein because the dog presented with a very unruly coat when he saw it for the first time. From this experience, he has become a very strong advocate of "adopt don't shop" for aspiring pet parents.

Greg joined the team because he believes that every dog, regardless of breed or age, deserves critical attention and the best dog-related products in the market because man's best friend only deserves, well, the best. Being an active member of the American Kennel Club, he aims to provide up-to-date information to his readers and present factual data about the products available in the market.