Cleaner Paws is a mother-daughter run blog. Together we have over 40+ years of professional pet grooming experience and we hope to pass some of that on to our readers throughout our in-depth and non-bias reviews and buyers guides.
We do not accept sponsored posts however we do include affiliate links throughout our posts and we receive a share of the revenue generated from your purchase which contributes to the running of CleanerPaws.com.
This review guide was updated in February 2019.
Ensuring your pet receives a well-balanced, healthy diet is of course one of your main priorities as a dog owner. Like many of the considerations you need to take in to account for all of your pets, including regular walks and frequent grooming, it is also important that you know exactly what you’re feeding your dog. Making sure your pet’s nutritional needs are met will only lead to a happier and healthier life for your dog and one of the biggest changes you can make is switching your dog’s diet to grain free dog food.
Knowing exactly what to feed your dog can be a complicated issue, spend just 30 minutes researching online and you will find countless articles offering contrasting opinions and all disagreeing with it each other. This is probably the reason why so many pet owners make the mistake of buying the dog food they have always purchased, purely because that’s just the habit they’ve fallen in to or because that’s the product and brand they have seen marketed the most.
The good news is that it seems now, more than ever, dog owners are becoming more aware of the type of food they’re feeding their pets, the ingredients that go into this food and the effect it is having on their dog’s overall health. This growing popularity around healthy dog diets is only a positive and is something we hope to see continue to grow.
One of the biggest movements happening is the shift to grain free dog food and this guide will hopefully look to answer a number of questions dog owners may have regarding this type of diet. We will look to explore why grain free dog food is increasing in reputation and leave you a lot more knowledge on the topic of what you should be feeding your pet.
Why Make the Change to Grain Free Dog Food?
Before we begin to look at the benefits and potential drawbacks of grain free dog food it is a good idea to first explore exactly what is it and hot it is different from traditional dog food available.
Although the name may make the explanation sound obviously, put simply grain free dog food removes grain from a dogs diet, instead shifting it more in line with what dogs would have eaten in the wild, before mass produced dog food we see in the market now. By removing the grain, in comparison to traditional dog food a grain free diet attempts to in put more meat protein and digestible animal fats in to a dog’s diet which can have a number of health benefits which we will examine in more detail below.
Health Benefits of Grain Free Dog Food for Dogs & Potential Drawbacks
Now that you hopefully have more of an understanding of what grain free dog food actually is and how it differs from ‘normal’ types of dog food it is not time to look at the benefits of a grain free diet for your dog and also clear up some myths attached to this type of diet along the way as well.
The reason for the myths surrounding this type of pet diet is because there is still some divide as to how beneficial grain free dog food is for pets, but this guide will may out the many positives and should leave you feeling far more confident regarding what you’re feeding your pet.
Advantages of a Grain Free Diet
With grain free pet foods growing in popularity you might well be left scratching your head as to why exactly this is the case. Although we’ve covered what grain free dog food is you may well still be asking what is it that is making so many dog owners make the switch to a grain free diet. Quite simply, all pet owners want what is best for their furry best friends and in this section we outline a number of key benefits to making the switch a grain free diet, and how doing so can be advantageous for both you and your dog.
Main Benefits of Making the Switch:
- Remove the risk of allergic reactions to grains typically found in dog food
- Means You avoid low quality alternative types of dog food
- Switching can dramatically improve your pets digestion
- A Grain free diet is closer to a raw diet that dogs would have evolved with in the wild
These benefits all have one thing very much in common and that is improving the overall health of your pet by moving to a more natural based approach to their diet. As with humans, diets that avoid processed or foods that we would have had no exposure to at all in the wild can be a great starting place for a more health approach to eating and your dog’s diet can be viewed in the same way.
Just like the convenient access that we humans now have to junk food, the way has happened with pet food as well. What is manufactured the most is not necessarily the best choice for your dog and it is important that you look to take this into consideration when making the change. Although at first it may mean breaking a number of habits and may mean spending slightly more or increasing your budget it is a move that can have a real positive impact on your pet.
However, even with the popularity of grain free dog food it is important that you make the decision to switch based on the needs of your individual dog’s needs. Using the same example of human diets above, what is the right choice to dieting for one person is not necessarily true for somebody else so it important you take your dog’s behavior, health and tolerance to certain types of food in to account.
Are Grains A Health Risk for All Dogs?
Now, although the previous section may have laid out the many health benefits of grain free dog food, both making the decision to switch it is important to consider both sides of the story. To help you make a well-rounded choice, we will now consider any drawbacks related to grain free dog food and why it is important you make any decision to adopt this kind of decision based on the unique needs of your pet.
A good place to start in terms of drawbacks is that many of the cons dog owners have associated with making the change to a grain free diet are related to the misconceptions that people have in regards to whether or not dogs should be eating grain.
This unfortunately, isn’t an easy question to answer. As you will remember, one of the benefits attached to grain free dog food is that there is less chance of an allergic reaction taking place, particularly if your pet has a sensitive stomach. However while many dogs are affected by food allergies, grain and corn intolerance amounts to just 10% of all allergies diagnosed by vets. This means that adopting a grain free diet is the right choice if your dog is allergic to these ingredients, however if this is not the case and your pet is not affected then there is no reason for you to rush to avoid these food types.
If you’re worried about an allergy effecting your pet than this is an issue you should definitely look in to further, body itchiness and hair are both symptoms related to allergies but related to diets research has shown both beef and dairy cause far more reactions in dogs than grain.
Another benefit listed earlier, is that for some dogs, avoiding grain is a great way to ease digestion issues. However as already mentioned, if your dog doesn’t currently have any negative health issues related to digestion than their current grain based diet may not be an issue.
More studies have shown that domesticated dogs have also had to adapt to how their stomachs digest the starch and other food types found in common dog food. This means, that although as wolves this not something they would have eaten naturally, with the adaption of genes, as domesticated dogs they are now able to digest traditional dog food quite comfortably. This is proven by the low number of overall issues associated with typical diets that dogs have become used to. This is even with the fact that some experts have tried their best to spread the many negative effects of such a high carbohydrate and low protein intake for dogs.
Finding The Right Grain Free Food for Your Dog
After taking into account the related pros and cons and deciding that a grain free diet is the right approach for your dog it is now time to make the last set of considerations before finally committing to a purchase (bear with us, this is the last hurdle we promise!). The next set of problems is related to the array of choice that will confront you once you choose that grain free dog food is right for your pet. With such a variety of choice, ensuring you choose the right kind can be almost as confusing as when it comes to choosing between the different types of traditional dog food and it is important that you bear a number factors in mind rather than rushing in to and choosing just particular product or brand.
As with traditional types of dog food, when it comes to grain free varieties you’re given the choice of both wet and dry, but exactly how does each brand set themselves apart if all they’re offering is just grain free alternatives?
Although it may be hard to tell at first, there a number of high quality options among the brands that offer grain free dog good. The best way to identify the highest quality is to look for brands offering products that provide balance nutritional content.
This nutritional content is usually split between protein, far and carbs and with grain free dog food you should look for options with protein and far both outweighing the amount of carbohydrates included. In terms of percentage split between protein and far, this will depend on the brand and to see what your dog prefers and reacts best to may be a case of trialing a select few before deciding on your favorite.
Other factors to bear in mind include how the grain free dog food is formulated, with some brands choosing to use prebiotics, while others use a number of antioxidants without any additional artificial colors or flavors which can both have a positive impact on the health of your pet.
Best Grain Free Dog Food Reviews
1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe
Made in the USA, Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe contains a precise blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well, of course no grains and a nice additional of healthy garden veggies. All of these combine for a great product that is an excellent choice for dog owners looking to switch to a natural diet for their pet. At $50.99 for a 22 lb sized bag and just $17.99 for a 4 lb bag, if you’re looking for a smaller size to try before investing any more this product is well worth a go.
As already outlined in the above guide, this product fits many of the benefits of a grain free diet, being based on the diet of wolves it focuses on true omnivore ingredients and is formulated to help the needs of growing puppies. Excellent if you’re looking to introduce your pet to a grain free diet from an early age, we have a feeling if you try this product you won’t be switching back to traditional dog food any time soon.
2. Taste of the Wild
This grain free formula from taste of the wild has a unique blend of fruits, vegetables, meat protein in the form of roasted venison and bison as well as natural antioxidants. These ingredients all combine to support a healthy immune system and is well worth a trial run if your pet has been affected by stomach or digestion issues related to their diet in the past.
With a range of flavors available, from lamb and chicken to wildfowl, 30 pound bags are available for slightly less than the Blue Buffalo 22 lb bags at $48.99 while 5 pound bags can be purchased for $18.99 if you’re looking to introduce your pet slowly.
3. Nutro Max
Another grain free option that comes in a number of flavors, Nutro Max offer high quality dog food containing higher levels of protein to support lean body conditions in your pet. This is an excellent option if you’re your dog to lose weight and Nutro Max is an extremely affordable option within the grain free dog food market. 35 lbs bags can be purchased for just $36.71 while 4 pound bags can be trailed for as little as $8.99.
The all natural, grain free dog food also contains no artificial flavors or preservatives meaning you can be confident in the food that you’re feeding your dog and know that their diet is contributing to an overall healthier lifestyle.
4. Fromm Family Foods
The Fromm Family Food grain free dog food comes in one size – 26 lb pack and will set you back $99.95 making it the most expensive option in this round up. However don’t let the price put you off completely, Fromm Family Foods use only the highest quality ingredients for this product and this really is a premium choice if you have tried other products and haven’t had the results you were looking for.
When reviewed, we found the product to have a number of desirable results, including related to dogs that had had allergy issues in the past as well as an overall healthier look to the dogs who tried the product.
5. Orijen Tundra
The final product in our reviews of grain free dog food this product shouldn’t be discounted just because it ranked 5th in our list. This dog food contains 80% protein with 20% of the food made up of fruits and vegetables. It also contains a number of fresh, regional ingredients meaning you can be sure that this product will be the foundation of your dog’s new, all natural diet.
Costing $36 pet bag, this dog food contains 461 kcal per cup so you know your dog is going to be left full and won’t be begging for food later in the day.
More Dog Food Guides You May Find Useful: