Once you bring a new puppy home for the first time, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement. From stocking up toys to making the house puppy proof to buying all types of foods and treats for him, hardly anything catches you off-guard. However, one thing you might not realize at first is that not all dog food is the same.
The quality of your dog’s food directly impacts their development and growth. It is vital to provide your dog with optimal nutrition throughout their life, and this could mean indulging him in high-quality grain-free dog food. So, what are the best grain-free dog food brands available in the market?
When I adopted my Goldendoodle, a crossbreed between a poodle and a Golden Retriever, I was so excited to create a long-lasting bond with him. Immediately, I fell in love with his golden locks and playful character.
He did not bark much and did not require a lot of grooming maintenance either, making him the perfect choice for my household. Over time, I found out he is relatively healthy and adapts quite easily to new environments.
The Hunger Strike
One of the major issues I experienced with my Goldendoodle is that he did not eat much. Before he came home, I spent the previous weeks stocking up on various foods and treats the internet claimed most dog breeds enjoyed.
As such, I was alarmed when I noticed he was not eating, so I began questioning what the problem could be. After trying to feed him all kinds of foods and treats I had stocked up in my pantry, I decided to take him to the vet.
The vet checked him out and found that he was not getting the necessary nutrients his body required to grow healthy and strong. She recommended a change in the foods I was feeding him might be helpful.
The search for the best dog food
After the visit to the vet, I got a few recommendations that I should try to feed my dog. I found the recommendations were costly, so I took to the internet to search for some nutritional insights on what dogs require in their diet as well as some cheaper alternatives.
I also visited some online forums, Facebook, as well as some review sites to find out what other pet owners are feeding their Goldendoodles. As expected, I found out a lot of exciting discoveries.
Generally, all dogs need a balanced combination of fats, proteins, fiber intake, moisture, vitamins, and minerals in their diet. However, different dogs have different sensitivities and preferences when it comes to their foods.
It is essential to choose high-quality dog foods since they incorporate wholesome ingredients and supplements, necessary for healthy growth and development in dogs.
Such foods may cost a little more, but feeding your dog top-quality, grain-free foods means your dog lives his best and most productive life. Furthermore, a proper diet for your dog means less money and time spent at the vet. Some essential ingredients to look out for include:
- High-quality protein sources, such as beef, fish, chicken, eggs, and ducks.
- Healthy whole grains or grain-free dog foods
- Natural and wholesome vegetables and fruits like peas, carrots, and sweet potatoes
- Healthy supplements such as glucosamine, Omega 3-fatty acids, and chondroitin
- Avoid foods with artificial chemical additives, unspecified ‘meat,’ corn, fillers, and unhealthy grains.
What is grain-free dog food?
Over the years, grain-free dog food has become increasingly popular due to its numerous benefits. Dogs on a grain-free diet are known to have fewer allergies, better and healthier skin, fresh breath, more energy, reduced flatulence, and less hair shedding. So, what does grain-free dog food mean?
A dog on a grain-free diet means that he does not eat any grains at all, meaning there is no corn, soy, barley, rice, or rye in his diet. Many dog owners prefer grain-free dog food to regular ones because grains, like wheat and corn, are often used as fillers.
These grains are usually cheaper than and as bulky as high-quality and real proteins, making it a better alternative in poorer-quality dog foods. Grain-free dog food consists of essential and easily digestible fats and proteins, helping dogs maintain their overall health.
More so, there is a growing increase of allergies to grains in dogs; thus, the need to keep them on a strictly grain-free diet. Dogs with various intolerances (which differ from allergies) should also stick to a grain-free diet.
Characteristics of the best grain-free dog food
Grain-free dog food provides a healthy and balanced diet for your dog with adequate high-quality proteins and essential fats for proper growth and development.
Before switching to grain-free dog food, it is vital to consult your vet on whether it is a healthy diet choice for your dog. If you decide to put your dog on a grain-free diet, some things to look out for include:
- High-quality animal proteins – Proteins are essential for the healthy growth of bones and strong muscles in dogs. Make sure the grain-free diet consists of a quality source of protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, beef, and eggs, among many others.
- Healthy and natural ingredients – the more natural and healthy your dog’s food is, the easier it is for him to digest it and absorb the necessary nutrients. Avoid foods with artificial additives, preservatives, and fillers.
- Healthy fats – Fats are a vital source of energy, which is integral to your dog’s growth and development. It also aids in the growth of healthy skin and coat. Keep an eye out for animal-based fats that offer Omega 3- and Omega 6-fatty acids.
- Vitamins and minerals – Similar to an adult’s balanced diet, dogs also need an adequate amount of essential minerals and vitamins in their foods to make it complete.
- Supplements – Other than having a specific amount of minerals and vitamins, grain-free dog food also needs to have a supple amount of beneficial supplements. Probiotics and prebiotic fiber aid in smooth digestion while chondroitin and glucosamine help with joint health.
The best grain-free dog food
Generally, most dogs have similar nutritional requirements. However, choose dog food that is specifically for your dog breed for the best results. Similarly, make sure it is AAFCO-Approved to meet all the nutritional requirements as specified above.
With proper knowledge of what to look for in grain-free dog food, let us delve into the best grain-free dog food brands available in the market. This guide is an excellent start for those who are new to grain-free dog food.
1. NomNomNow Dog Food
NomNomNow Dog Food, a product from Fresh Food, makes a custom diet for your dog, regardless of its age. This product exceeds the nutritional value of most commercial dog foods available in the market.
It provides a natural and evolutionary diet, which is easily digestible and has plenty of essential nutrients. NomNomNow is an online food delivery service that allows you to customize your dog’s meal to meet his unique nutritional needs.
From a combination of wholesome protein sources, fresh fruits, and vegetables, this service allows you to pick from a variety of three grain-free recipes, inclusive of beef, pork, and chicken. Once you select your custom-made recipe, it is hand-delivered to your doorstep at your convenience.
2. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dog Food
Many dog owners consider Taste of the Wild as the best grain-free dog food brand as it fully understands the meaning of hypoallergenic doggie food. This product consists of whole proteins from novel sources, meaning it gains its proteins from unusual meats, such as bison, lamb, salmon, venison, wildfowl, and boar.
The brand does not use common protein sources such as chicken and beef as it views them to have the same allergenic potential as corn, wheat, and soy. With this brand, there is a grain-free formula for every dog. From Pacific Stream (Salmon) to Wetlands (Duck) to High Prairie (Buffalo) to Southwest Canyon (Beef), each kibble offers the best all-round wellness that money can buy.
Similarly, it is also exceptionally high in proteins, moderate in carbs and fats, rich in fiber, as well as plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. This impressive formula also features an excellent ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids as well as several probiotics that are vital for your mutt’s digestive system.
3. Wellness CORE Natural Grain-free Dry Dog Food
This natural grain-free doggy chow is best for dogs that suffer from joint problems and mobility issues as it is rich in probiotics like glucosamine and chondroitin. Wellness CORE follows closely in the footsteps of Taste in the Wild, except that one of its product lines contains chicken in its formula.
However, its Ocean Whitefish, Herring, and Salmon as well as the Wild Game Duck, Turkey, Boar and Rabbit variants reduce the risk of your pup’s allergenic reactions significantly. Furthermore, Wellness CORE comes with a variety of omega fatty acids and antioxidants that have gut-friendly bacteria.
These bacteria promote digestive system health while boosting your mutt’s immune system. This unique recipe does not have any allergenic grains but still comes with enough carbohydrates to fuel your canine throughout the day.
4. Canidae PURE Grain-free Dog Food
Canidae PURE Grain-Free Dry Dog Food features real pea and lamb meat in its recipe, which is great for dogs in need of a high-protein diet. This delicious formula consists of ten crucial ingredients, including sun-cured alfalfa, lamb, menhaden fish, potatoes, turkey, chicken, peas, and garbanzo beans.
As a result, dogs eating this nutritious recipe will have lean and strong muscles, a healthy immune system, and overall health. This brand also has grain-free chewy treats, perfect for rewarding your furry friend.
With 15% protein and 3.5% fat, these treats provide 26 calories apiece, ensuring your dog maintains his grain-free diet.
5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free Dog Food
If you are looking for the grain-free dog food for your plus-sized canine, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dog Food is an ideal choice. With a specially formulated formula for large breeds, this nutritious kibble does not have corn, soy, or wheat and also does not feature any poultry by-products in its ingredient list.
It also does not feature any artificial additives or preservatives. Blue Buffalo Wilderness has chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health as well as high-quality proteins known to reduce stomach upsets in dogs.
Some pet owners also recommend this brand as it reduces specific food allergies that cause itchiness and dry skin. This recipe also consists of various antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to keep your dog’s skin healthy and its coat shiny.
Should you feed your dog a grain-free diet?
Following recent investigations by the FDA on grain-free dog foods, several dog owners are unsure about whether a grain-free diet is the best solution for their canine companion. According to the organization, there are potential links between grain-free dog diets and canine heart disease.
According to the FDA, grain-free dog foods that contain legumes, such as lentils and peas, as primary ingredients are a root cause of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. As a result of many dogs found dead from DCM after strictly feeding on grain-free diets for a period of several months to a year.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a canine heart disease that decreases the ability of the heart muscle to pump blood, often leading to congestive heart failure. Some dog breeds, mostly large and giant ones like Saint Bernards, Great Danes, and Doberman Pinschers, are highly likely to contract DCM. Small and medium breeds, like the American and English Cocker Spaniels, are also highly susceptible to this condition.
Currently, the FDA is undertaking rigorous research, in association with qualified veterinary nutritionists and cardiologists, to understand better whether there is a connection between DCM and grain-free foods. Dog owners must be aware of this alert and take the necessary precautions.
Together with the FDA July 2019 update, there is a list of grain-free dog foods that were named at least ten times in the reports submitted. The best way for dog owners to combat these new developments is to keep in constant consultation with their vet when it comes to your dog’s dietary health. The both of you can come up with a healthy and more natural solution, and if necessary, closely monitor your dog for signs and symptoms of DCM.
The final word
As a dog owner, you want to find foods that add nutritional value to your dog’s diet. The best grain-free dog food brands contain more high-quality protein sources than ordinary dog foods. Dog owners must ensure that these grain-free diets do not contain harmful ingredients, such as fillers or artificial additives.
As grain-free dog foods become increasingly popular, consumers have to be aware of brands that do not necessarily promote the health and wellness of your canine companion. After I adopted my Goldendoodle, I soon realized that not food brands are good for him his health. After his hunger strike and plenty of visits to the vet, I concluded that the choice of food directly affects the quality of life of my dog.
With the help of my vet, I came up with the best grain-free dog food brands that provide my pup with all the essential nutrients that he needs to grow and develop fully. If you are in a similar predicament as I was or you want to learn more about grain-free diets, this list of the best grain-free dog foods is an excellent place to start.