A gluten-free diet has proven to offer many health benefits for humans but could a gluten-free dog diet also benefit your canine companion? While most dogs will happily consume anything they can find, edible or not, the canine digestive system was not designed to break down and metabolize most fibers and grains.
In the 1940s, when dog food manufacturers moved towards mass production, inexpensive additives like corn, wheat, and barley were added to the food to keep costs down. Unfortunately, these additives can lead to bowel inflammation, food sensitivities, allergies, and obesity. Our canine companions would benefit from moving back to a diet that more closely resembles their ancestor’s natural, protein-rich diet.
Gluten-free dog food could benefit your canine companion by keeping your dog fuller for longer (which reduces the amount of food you have to feed them), reducing canine allergies, healthier skin, shinier coat, less shedding, and better breath.
It is important to remember if you choose to switch your dog’s diet to a gluten-free food, it is best to do so gradually and with the consultation of your veterinarian. Most veterinarians recommend that you mix the new dog food with the previous food and gradually, over the course of 7-10 days, phase out the old dog food. This allows your dog’s digestive system to adjust to the new food.
When analyzing gluten-free dog food brands, there are several important factors to consider.
First, decide whether you wish to feed your dog wet, dry, dehydrated, or freeze-dried food. Wet canned food and dry bagged dog food are the most common types but when you start investigating more unique dog foods you will find alternatives like dehydrated or freeze-dried food. Often with dehydrated or freeze-dried food, you may have to add water and rehydrate the food before feeding your dog.
Second, analyze the percentage of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in the dog food. Third, estimate the product’s meat content. Some products may have a high percentage of protein but it may be more plant-based protein.
Top 10 Gluten-Free Dog Food Brands
Consider these 10 gluten-free dog food brands.
- Hi-Tek Naturals Grain-Free (Dry)
- Taste of the Wild (Dry)
- Wellness CORE (Dry)
- Blue Buffalo Basics (Dry)
- Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free (Dry)
- Honest Kitchen Grain-Free (Dehydrated)
- Grandma Lucy’s Artisan (Freeze-Dried)
- I and You and Love Nude Food (Dehydrated)
- Brother’s Complete Advanced Allergy Care (Dry)
- Fromm Four Star Nutritionals Grain-Free (Dry)
1. Hi-Tek Naturals Grain Free (Dry)
Hi-Tek Naturals has three different product lines for dry dog food including Alaskan Fish, Lamb Meal and Sweet Potato, and Chicken Meal and Sweet Potato. Each of these Hi-Tek dog food lines are grain free and contain a high percentage of protein, 36%.
The first ingredient in their Lamb Meal and Sweet Potato is lamb meal. Most people might prefer to see a simple meat listed as the first ingredient but in actuality a meat “meal” like lamb meal has higher protein content.
One critique regarding their dog food is that it contains high amounts of plant-based protein rather than animal-based protein. A couple of ingredients such as flaxseed and peas contain high percentages of protein. While flaxseed is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and excellent for your dog’s skin and hair, it may be contributing significantly to the protein percentage indicating there is less animal-based protein than the overall protein percentage might suggest.
- Formulated To Provide All The Energy And Stamina Dogs Need Without Grains Or Grain Products
- A Grain Free Combination Of Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Pork, Chicken And Duck Meal
- Rich In Antioxidants, Minerals, Vitamins And The Important Pre- And Probiotics Essential For Good Digestive Health
- Meets All Aafco Standards And Is Produced On Our Own American Institute Of Baking Audited Plant
- A Super Premium Grain Free Diet At A Grocery Store Price, This Diet Offers Unbeatable Value Without Sacrificing Nutritional Quality
2. Taste of the Wild (Dry)
Taste of the Wild has nine different product lines for dry dog food including Southwest Canyon, Pine Forest, Sierra Mountain, Wetlands, High Prairie, Appalachian Valley, Pacific Stream, High Prairie Puppy, and Pacific Stream Puppy. Looking specifically at the Southwest Canyon Formula, this dog food contains a high percentage of protein, 37%. The first ingredient in the food is beef. There are a few ingredients in this food that raise questions. Brewers’ yeast has been added as the ninth ingredient. Brewers’ yeast is rich in minerals but can also be linked to allergies.
Some critics also fear that dogs who consume yeast might be more at risk for a serious condition known as bloat. Another thing to keep in mind with brewers’ yeast is that it is 48% protein which might call into question how much of the food’s overall protein percentage is from meat content. This may likely be one of the higher quality grain-free foods for those on a budget.
The first ingredient in the food is beef. There are a few ingredients in this food that raise questions. Brewers’ yeast has been added as the ninth ingredient. Brewers’ yeast is rich in minerals but can also be linked to allergies. Some critics also fear that dogs who consume yeast might be more at risk for a serious condition known as bloat. Another thing to keep in mind with brewers’ yeast is that it is 48% protein which might call into question how much of the food’s overall protein percentage is from meat content. This may likely be one of the higher quality grain-free foods for those on a budget.
3. Wellness CORE (Dry)
Wellness CORE has seven different product lines for dry dog food including Puppy, Ocean, Original, Wild Game, Large Breed, Small Breed, and Reduced Fat.
The first ingredient in the Large Breed Formula is chicken. While it may sound ideal to have chicken as the first ingredient, for protein content it is better to have something like chicken meal as the first ingredient. Chicken meal contains less water and more protein.
Two of the more controversial ingredients in this food are tomato pomace and pea fiber. Pea Fiber and tomato pomace, the by-products from ketchup, tomato juice, and other processed tomato products, are very high in fiber. Some people believe the fiber is beneficial for the dogs while others feel like it is being used as an alternative filler. An important thing to note is where the pea fiber and tomato pomace are listed in the ingredients list, the further down the list the less that is included in the food. In this particular food, the tomato pomace and pea fiber are 6th and 10th respectively.
- ADVANCED NATURAL NUTRITION TO FUEL YOUR DOG'S BEST LIFE: Premium protein expertly balanced with nutrient rich superfoods for a complete and balanced dog food, with guaranteed levels of all the nutrients your dog needs to thrive and no fillers
- SAVORY FOOD DOGS LOVE: Wellness CORE is available in grain and grain free recipes, as well as limited ingredient diets for dogs with food sensitivities
- LEANER BODY MASS AND MUSCLE TONE: Wellness CORE dog food is made with a high concentration of protein from fresh meat ingredients
- SUPPORTS HEALTHY SKIN AND COAT with guaranteed levels of omega fatty acids from ingredients such as flaxseed and salmon oil
- WHOLE BODY HEALTH: Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics and taurine for a healthy heart
4. Blue Buffalo Basics (Dry)
Blue Buffalo is one of the more popular and well-known gluten-free dog food brands. They have many dry and wet dog food product lines. We are looking specifically at the ingredients in the Blue Buffalo Basics. The first thing to note is this food does contain oatmeal. While oatmeal can be considered gluten-free it does depend on the purity of the oats. The first four ingredients in this dog food are turkey, oatmeal, brown rice, and peas. This indicates there is likely to be more plant-based protein and carbohydrates in this dog food than some of the other gluten-free dog food options.
Unlike some of its counterparts, the protein percentage is relatively low at 20%. One of the controversial ingredients in this food is caramel coloring. The FDA does consider caramel to be a safe food coloring but there have been a few tests where the food coloring lead to laboratory rats developing cancer.
Since most dogs don’t seem to care what their food looks like, discerning owners often steer away from dog foods with added coloring. The food also contains garlic which can offer health benefits but there are some concerns about the amount of garlic given to dogs. There have been some studies linking garlic to Heinz body anemia. With the little amount of garlic in the dog food it is unlikely to be harmful to your dog but some owners prefer to select a dog food without garlic.
The first four ingredients in this dog food are turkey, oatmeal, brown rice, and peas. This indicates there is likely to be more plant-based protein and carbohydrates in this dog food than some of the other gluten-free dog food brands. Unlike some of its counterparts, the protein percentage is relatively low at 20%.
One of the controversial ingredients in this food is caramel coloring. The FDA does consider caramel to be a safe food coloring but there have been a few tests where the food coloring lead to laboratory rats developing cancer. Since most dogs don’t seem to care what their food looks like, discerning owners often steer away from dog foods with added coloring.
The food also contains garlic which can offer health benefits but there are some concerns about the amount of garlic given to dogs. There have been some studies linking garlic to Heinz body anemia. With the little amount of garlic in the dog food it is unlikely to be harmful to your dog but some owners prefer to select a dog food without garlic.
- STARTS WITH REAL TURKEY: This grain free adult dry dog food features a single animal protein source along with potatoes, peas and pumpkin to support gentle digestion, making it a good option for dogs with a sensitive stomach
- LIMITED INGREDIENT DOG FOOD: BLUE Basics is a limited ingredient grain free dog food that doesn’t contain any chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, dairy or eggs making it a good option for dogs with food sensitivities
- ANTIOXIDANT-RICH LIFESOURCE BITS: A precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support immune system health, life stage needs and a healthy oxidative balance
- A NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE dry dog food is made with the finest natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals; BLUE contains NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives
- Contains one (1) 24lb bag of BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Turkey & Potato
5. Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free (Dry)
Earthborn Holistic has six different dry foods including Large Breed, Coastal Catch, Meadow Feast, Weight Control, Primitive Natural, and Great Plains Feast.
One of the first ingredients in their food is bison meal which is very high in protein and contributes to the food’s overall protein percentage at 31%. The food does contain pea fiber which can be considered an alternative filler to the commonly used grains. Some fiber is helpful for the dog’s digestive system so when analyzing the addition of grain-free fillers like pea fiber or tomato pomace it is more important to note how high they are listed in the ingredients. In this particular food, pea fiber is listed as the ninth ingredient. As their name suggests, not only does this dog food company strive to make healthy, nutritious dog food they also aim to be environmentally conscious and give back to the earth.
- Formulated without grain, gluten or potatoes, this special formula is ideal as a high-protein, grain-free alternative diet.
- Herring meal, salmon meal and Pacific Whiting meal provide high-quality protein sources to help develop and sustain energy and muscle function.
- Antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, such as peas, blueberries, cranberries, apples, carrots and spinach are important for everyday optimal health. Vitamins, minerals and beta-carotene help maintain your dog's immune system.
- Balanced Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in establishing the lipid barrier of the skin, supporting healthy maintenance of your dog’s skin and coat.
- Packaging is BPA-free, resealable, and 100% recyclable through the Earthborn ReBorn Program.
6. Honest Kitchen Grain-Free (Dehydrated)
Honest Kitchen dog food is one of the more unique foods on this list for a couple of reasons.
First, a number of their ingredients are organic which is fairly unusual for a dog food. Second, not only have they met all of the nutrition requirements of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) but they have also received FDA approval to label their dog food as “human grade.” This means their dog food contains only human-edible components and is produced in a manufacturing facility certified to process human food. This dog food also contains fewer ingredients than a lot of their dog food counterparts. Some would view this as a positive because it suggests it is simpler and easier for the dog to digest. It is quite clear this dog food is made up of quality ingredients but you will certainly pay for the quality as this is one of the more expensive gluten-free dog food brands.
- GRAIN FREE: This healthy dog food is made with cage-free turkey and dehydrated for easier digestibility and to lock in nutrients.
- HIGHER PROTEIN: More calories and less carbs in every batch make it the perfect meal for active puppies and adults of all breeds and sizes.
- HUMAN GRADE: The Honest Kitchen meets the rigorous FDA safety standards to use the label 'human grade', ensuring the highest quality dog food.
- ALL NATURAL: This dog food is made with no by-products, preservatives or GMO ingredients - just add water for a warm and delicious meal.
- MADE IN THE USA: All ingredients are processed in the USA in a human grade food processing facility with nothing from China.
7. Grandma Lucy’s Artisan (Freeze-Dried)
Grandma Lucy’s Artisan dog foods are a family run company that has been in existence for 17 years. They were inspired to create the dog food when their own dog, Lucy, had food allergies that made it difficult for them to find food. Their food comes in several different recipes including Venison, Lamb, Pork, Bison, and Chicken. As the recipe names suggest, each food’s first ingredient is a raw meat. It contains an average protein percentage at 30%.
Grandma Lucy’s claims that by freeze-drying their dog food the proteins are not denatured, as they might be in other drying or cooking methods, and the food retains a more natural state. The food can be eaten dry and crunchy or rehydrated with water. They claim their ingredients are human-grade but since the food is not manufactured in a human-grade manufacturing facility it cannot be certified by the FDA as such.
- QUALITY YOU CAN TRUST - A nutritionally balanced blend of highest quality ingredients, freeze-dried chicken, fruits and vegetables
- LIMITED INGREDIENTS - This all natural, grain-free recipe contains no fillers, by products, GMO’s or preservatives to keep your dog happy and healthy
- ALL LIFE STAGES - Grandma Lucy’s Artisan dog food is formulated to provide all the beneficial nutrients your dog needs no matter their size or age
- GREAT TASTE - We don’t compromise on taste. Freeze-drying uses low levels of heat to retain taste, texture and aroma that your pup craves
- JUST ADD WATER - For each cup of dog food add 1-2 cups of warm water. Stir well and let stand for 3-5 minutes
8. I and You and Love Nude Food (Dehydrated)
With a very unique name that symbolizes the bond between pet and owner, I and You and Love Nude Food has three dry dog food recipes available: Simply Sea, Poultry Palooza, Red Meat Medley.
The first three ingredients in their Red Meat Medley food are pork, lamb meal, and herring meal. For those looking to move their dog to a more animal-based protein diet this dog food certainly packs a powerful protein punch. The protein percentage for this dog food comes in high at 39%. They also boast that their food includes digestive enzymes to help dogs with already sensitive gastrointestinal tracts. Since their food is dehydrated, you will need to add water to the dog food before feeding your pet. You can add less or more water to suit your pet’s preference.
- SUPERFOODS ADDED: Includes additional superfoods like flaxseeds, coconut oil and turmeric
- ALWAYS GRAIN FREE: No, no, no grains, you’re not invited to this dinner party; we’re serving garbanzo beans, lentils, and sweet potatoes instead!
- NO FILLERS, ALL LOVE: Non-GMO protein or produce, no by-product meals, wheat, corn, soy, rice, artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors (Nothing weird or scary!)
- REAL MEAT IS THE FIRST INGREDIENT: This high protein dog food has 34% protein with the first 3 ingredients meat, fish, or poultry sourced (Available in Turkey + Chicken, Pork + Wild Boar, and Whitefish + Salmon)
- TRANSITIONING TO “I and love and you: Please gradually transition your dog’s food over 10 days.Add a little more of “I and love and you” dog food and a little less of the old food every 3 days.We’re all for tummy rubs not tummy rumbles.
9. Brother’s Complete Advanced Allergy Care (Dry)
Brother’s Complete Advanced Allergy Care has several different product lines each containing a meat “meal” and eggs. With the first ingredient being meat “meal” and the second ingredient being dried whole eggs there is a significant amount of protein in this food. However, it should also be noted that the food contains vegetable pomace and cranberry pomace. Although they are gluten-free ingredients some would suggest that they are unnecessary fillers being used to bulk up the dog food. An important thing to note when considering these fillers is where they are listed on the ingredient list. The lower they are listed the less concerning it is to have added fillers. In this particular dog food, the vegetable pomace and cranberry pomace are listed at 27th and 28th respectively which is quite low compared to other brands.
- Advanced allergy care
- Digestive enzymes selective prebiotics protected probiotics
- Over 90% of the protein is animal sourced
10. Fromm Four Star Nutritionals Grain-Free (Dry)
A five-generation, family-operated and United States based dog food company in Wisconsin, Fromm makes a variety of different dog foods but they have six different recipes that are specifically designed to be grain-free: Game Bird, Pork and Peas, Lamb and Lentil, Salmon Tunalini, Beef Fritatta Veg, and Surf and Turf. Their food ranks high in protein percentage at 32%. The wide variety of base meats they offer is one reason some dog food customers choose Fromm.
Over time some dogs have developed food sensitivities toward some of the more common meats like beef or chicken. Another nutritious addition to their food is salmon oil. Salmon oil is rich in EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids which is excellent for the dog’s skin and nervous system.
- Dog Food, Dry Dog Food, Four Star, Fromm, Game Bird, Grain Free
Did we miss any important gluten-free dog food brands? If so, let us know below!