10 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks


Most dog owners want to provide high-quality food for their pets. Providing your dog with optimum levels of nutrition on a daily basis helps keep them happy and healthy, something that everyone wants for their pet. For some dogs, this means feeding them grain-free food.

Not all dogs need grain-free food. Allergies can be an issue in dogs, but only about 10% of all canine allergies are attributed to their diet. Of that 10%, most food allergies are related to beef, chicken, lamb, eggs, or dairy rather than grains. Feeding your dog a grain-free food can reduce how many carbohydrates that they consume, but it’s important to know that many grain-free formulations simply substitute other carbs, like peas or rice, into the food. One argument for grain-free dog food formulas, however, is the quality of the food. Many are produced by highly regarded dog food producers that use only the best ingredients.

Without further ado, let’s dive into these reviews of the best grain-free dog foods.

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A Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022

The 10 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods

1. American Journey Grain-Free Formula — Best Overall

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

Breed Size Small, medium, and large breeds
Food Form Dry food
Special Diet Grain-free, no corn, no wheat, no soy, high protein

This salmon and sweet potato formula from American Journey has deboned salmon, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and a mix of fruits and vegetables. Salmon oil and flaxseed are contained within this recipe to provide omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.

This food is high in fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to support your dog’s overall health and immune system. Along with being grain-free, it’s corn- and soy-free, which makes it a great choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs or food sensitivities.

While this food is labeled as “all life stages,” it’s not suitable for puppies. However, American Journey does make a grain-free puppy food specially formulated for dogs under 1 year of age.

American Journey dog food is not guaranteed to be GMO-free, but its products are considered high-quality.

Pros

  • Appropriate for all sizes of dogs
  • High-quality food
  • No fillers or by-products
  • Great for dogs with food sensitivities

Cons

  • Not suitable for puppies
  • Not GMO-free

2. Rachel Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food — Best Value

Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe

Breed Size Small, medium, and large breeds (under 70 pounds)
Food Form Dry food
Special Diet Gluten-free, grain-free, no corn, no soy, no wheat

Rachel Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Dog Food isn’t not only grain-free but also gluten-free. While this seems like an unimportant distinction, it’s an important one if your dog has a gluten sensitivity or allergy. Foods can’t be labeled as gluten-free unless they’re manufactured in a facility that’s gluten-free. Nutrish is our pick as the best grain-free dog food for the money.

This food has plenty of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and prebiotics to promote healthy digestion. There are no fillers or by-products in this dog food. The ingredients list contains chicken as the first ingredient, followed by peas, whole potatoes, beet pulp, and chicken fat. Omega fatty acids are also added to support your dog’s skin and coat health.

There are not too many negative things to say about this dog food, other than the fact that it’s over-packaged. If you’re concerned about your environmental impact, this might affect your choice.

Pros

  • No fillers or by-products
  • High protein
  • Added vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids

3. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dog Food — Premium Choice

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Breed Size Small, medium, and large breeds
Food Form Dry food
Special Diet Grain-free, high protein, gluten-free, all-natural, raw, no corn, no wheat, no soy

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free is our premium choice of grain-free dog food. ORIJEN prides itself on how it sources its ingredients. While this makes for exceptionally high-quality food, this is reflected in the price.

This particular kibble recipe contains fresh free-run chicken and turkey and wild-caught or sustainably farmed fish. It’s made with only WholePrey animal ingredients, so it includes organs and bones and boasts a whopping 85% animal ingredients. While it’s technically raw food, it’s freeze-dried coated for preservation and ease of storage.

Since ORIJEN food is raw, dogs that have never eaten freeze-dried raw food may have trouble adjusting to the new diet. This food is also quite expensive, so it’s a gamble if you’re not sure that your dog will like it.

Pros

  • High-quality ingredients
  • Freeze-dried raw
  • Made in the U.S.A.

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can cause an upset stomach for dogs not used to a raw diet

4. ACANA Puppy Recipe Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food — Best for Puppies

ACANA Puppy Recipe Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food

Breed Size Small, medium, and large breeds
Food Form Dry food
Special Diet Grain-free, high protein, natural, no corn, no wheat, no soy, raw

ACANA Puppy Recipe contains added protein and fat to help support puppy growth and development. This food is 60% animal ingredients, including cage-free chicken and eggs. The other 40% is fruits, vegetables, and botanicals like pumpkin. There are no artificial flavors or colors in this food.

This dog food is a freeze-dried raw formula with raw ingredients frozen at peak freshness. The coating is freeze-dried chicken and turkey, making the food extra appealing to your young pup. If you haven’t been feeding raw food to your puppy, make the switch slowly, so they don’t get an upset stomach.

As a puppy food, this recipe is more expensive than many other options. ACANA does make adult dog food too, though, so it is easy to make the switch once your pup is old enough. This price also goes down.

Pros

  • Supports puppy growth and development
  • Freeze-dried raw
  • All-natural ingredients

5. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Chicken Recipe

Breed Size All breeds
Food Form Dry food
Special Diet No corn, no wheat, no soy, grain-free, gluten-free

Blue Buffalo Freedom lists real meat as the first ingredient. It is 100% grain and gluten-free with no by-product meals or artificial colors or flavors. It contains Blue Buffalo’s signature LifeSource Bits, which are a combination of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals hand-picked by veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support overall wellness. It is also a limited-ingredient food, so there is less chance of triggering a food sensitivity.

Some owners reported that their dogs developed diarrhea with this food; however, this can happen anytime you transition a dog to a new food too fast. Also, the kibble is small, so it’s not ideal for large breed dogs that might choke on it.

Pros

  • Limited-ingredient food
  • LifeSource Bits

Cons

  • Can cause stomach upset when transitioning
  • Small pieces of kibble

6. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Breed Size Small, medium, and large breeds
Food Form Dry or wet food
Special Diet Grain-free, gluten-free, high protein

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food is made with novel proteins, including bison and venison meat. It also contains peas and sweet potatoes for easy digestion, fruits and vegetables, and dried chicory root for natural prebiotics.

Novel proteins are great for dogs with food sensitivities, as those sensitivities are often related to the protein sources in dog food. This doesn’t mean all dogs will love the taste, though. This food is also slightly low in fiber content compared to other dry dog foods, which could cause issues for some dogs.

Pros

  • Novel proteins
  • Natural ingredients

7. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free beef dinner

Breed Size Extra small and toy breeds, small breeds
Food Form Wet food, pâté
Special Diet Gluten-free, grain-free, no corn, no wheat, no soy

If you have a toy or small breed dog, this grain-free food from Whole Earth is a good choice. Developed in consultation with animal nutrition experts, this recipe is free of by-products and artificial flavors and colors. It can be fed as a standalone meal or as a topper to your dog’s kibble. It’s also a great choice for senior dogs with sensitive teeth, as it’s a nutritionally balanced meal all on its own.

Pros

  • Nutritionally complete wet food
  • No by-products or artificial ingredients

Cons

  • Designed for toy and small breeds

8. Diamond Naturals Grain-Free Whitefish & Sweet Potato Formula

Diamond Naturals Grain-Free Whitefish & Sweet Potato Formula

Breed Size All breeds
Food Form Dry food
Special Diet Grain-free, no corn, no wheat, no soy

Diamond Naturals Grain-Free Formula contains superfoods and probiotics to support your dog’s immune system. Whitefish is the main protein source in this recipe, along with kale, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and raspberries. Omega fatty acids promote skin and coat health, and this food has enough protein to support the needs of large breed dogs.

This dog food contains quite a bit of fiber, so it can cause some dogs to go to the bathroom more frequently. While it claims that there are no artificial ingredients, “natural flavors” are listed on the ingredient list. It’s not clear what this ingredient is, but usually, it’s added flavoring.

Pros

  • High protein
  • Supports immune health

Cons

  • High fiber
  • Questionable ingredients

9. Merrick Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food

Merrick Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food

Breed Size Small, medium, and large breeds
Food Form Dry food
Special Diet No corn, no wheat, no soy, gluten-free, grain-free

Merrick’s grain-free dog food contains 65% protein and healthy fats, listing deboned beef as the primary ingredients to support energy levels and muscle growth. The remaining 35% of the food contains fresh produce, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In addition to omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, this food has glucosamine and chondroitin to support bone and joint health. For senior dogs, these ingredients help them stay active for longer.

The kibble in this recipe is quite hard, so it’s not a great option for dogs with teeth sensitivity. It’s also a rich food, so it can upset some dogs’ stomachs.

Pros

  • High protein
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin added

Cons

  • Hard-to-chew kibble
  • Potential for stomach upset

10. Purina Beneful Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Purina Beneful Grain Free with Real Farm-Raised Chicken

Breed Size All breeds
Food Form Dry food
Special Diet Grain-free, all-natural

Purina Beneful Grain-Free Dog Food contains chicken as the first ingredient, along with blueberries, pumpkin, and spinach. It is grain and gluten-free, with kibble bits that are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

While this food states that it’s safe for all breed sizes, the kibble is large and hard for small dogs to chew. With chicken as the primary protein source, this food isn’t ideal for dogs with food sensitivities. The ingredient list on this food is also a bit sketchy. There are several “meal” ingredients used as fillers, as well as “natural flavor” and preservatives.

Pros

  • Appealing kibble bits for dogs

Cons

  • Large kibble
  • Not for dogs with food sensitivities
  • Filler ingredients

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Buyer’s Guide

Why Dog Foods Use Grain

Most dog food manufacturers utilize grain in their recipes because it’s more cost-effective. Carbohydrates, in the form of grains, do provide energy for your dog. Some dogs need this extra energy, while others don’t; it depends on the dog. Dogs can also get energy from high-protein foods.

Why Some Dogs Need Grain-Free Food

While grain allergies in dogs are rare, they do happen, which is why there are grain-free dog foods. Some people choose to feed grain-free diets based on the idea that dogs are obligate carnivores, but this is untrue. Dogs are actually omnivores and left to their own devices, would eat a mixture of animal- and plant-based foods.

There are also cases where dogs develop food sensitivities that cause stomach upset. Most often, this is related to the protein source in your dog’s food, but it can happen from grain. Grain-free food can solve stomach issues in some cases.

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Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Grain-free Foods and “BEG” Diets

The American Veterinary Medical Association has found a possible link between dilated cardiomyopathy and boutique dog food ingredients. The issue is not only grain-free diets but also boutique, exotic, or grain-free diets that include grain-free recipes. The link is thought to be due to ingredients that are used in dog food to replace grains, like lentils or chickpeas, but it could also be due to exotic ingredients like certain meats, vegetables, and fruits.

It’s best to consult with your veterinarian before switching your dog’s diet, particularly if you are switching to grain-free food.

Choosing a Grain-Free Food

When shopping for grain-free dog food, the best way to ensure that you’re choosing high-quality food is to check the ingredients list. High-quality dog food should include:

  • Whole proteins like beef, chicken, turkey, duck, or eggs
  • A grain-free recipe or healthy whole grains
  • Supplements like omega-3 fatty acids added vitamins and minerals
  • Healthy vegetables, such as beets, carrots, peas, or sweet potatoes

As a general rule, avoid foods that contain artificial colors or flavors, sweeteners, fillers, and by-products.

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Conclusion

Our best overall grain-free dog food recommendation is the American Journey Grain-Free Formula. The best value for the money is Rachel Ray’s Nutrish Grain-Free Formula. Both these dog foods contain high-quality ingredients to promote optimal health for your dog.


Featured Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

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