10 Best Gluten Free Dog Foods Brands & Recipes in 2019

I love my dog, and I probably would love yours too.  They greet us at the door, are always excited to see us, and they fill our lives with a little extra joy.  So, we try to take care of them, and while some us may have a teeny bit of trouble choosing the right food to put in our bodies, we have complete control of what our pups put in theirs.  With that in mind, I ask the following question: Why am I feeding my dog gluten?

Gluten free dog food does exist, and if you are itching to give your canine some high-quality dog food, gluten may be an “ingredient” to focus on. There has been a small revolution in the dog food industry as educated customers are paying more attention to ingredient lists and want their domesticated wolves to get the protein they need, but once we establish meat as that first ingredient, let’s have our next inquiry be whether the dog food is free of gluten.

What’s the Difference Between Grain Free and Gluten Free Dog Food?

Gluten is a unique protein found in grains and starch. It’s the reason dough can be elastic, and that same malleability also allows the dough to rise. That said, while it is found in many grains, like wheat, it’s not found in all grains. Corn and rice, for instance, don’t contain gluten and because of this, people with Celiac Disease can still regularly consume a buttery helping of authentic cornbread. So, when it comes to gluten-free dog food, we look for ingredients that are free of wheat, rye, and even barley.

What Common Dog Food Ingredients contain Gluten?

In standard dog food, gluten will rear its ugly head by appearing in the form of wheat and barley. These additives, are often used to round out the food with carbohydrates and are the least expensive way to give dog food a crunch.

Can dogs have Celiac Disease?

Yes, dogs can have Celiac Disease and an intolerance to gluten and grains.
While there may be genetic components to being burdened with the conditions, veterinarians generally believe the condition is idiopathic, which means the disease can occur spontaneously and be triggered or caused by external conditions.

How do I know if my dog is allergic to gluten?

Currently, there are two tests for diagnosing a gluten allergy in dogs.  The most effective is a bit scary and is called an “intestinal biopsy.” Basically, the vet will use a specialized tool to grab a small piece of the dogs intestine and, after reviewing that sample under a microscope, they identify the nature of any irritation.  The next test is slightly less effective but less invasive. Your vet may also perform a blood test on your dog, and while the blood test is less invasive, it is also less reliable than the biopsy. Of course, the other alternative is to just not bother with gluten at all, and just give your pup gluten-free dog food and see if their condition improves.

Is Gluten Harmful to Dogs?

So that, of course, begs the question: what conditions should you be looking for?  So, the symptoms in dogs will vary, but the most common issue is that in order to protect the body from gluten, the intestines just throw out whatever food they detect has the allergen.  This process leads to malnutrition in the dog, which will be visible as general weakness, weight loss, a stagnation of weight (inability to gain weight even if they are eating extra), and in the worst cases it can cause vomiting or diarrhea if their bodies are completely rejecting the allergen.

Is there Gluten in Dog Food?

Yes, many dog foods do have gluten.  Generally, you will find gluten in dog food in the form of wheat or barley as these grains are inexpensive.  Most of the carbohydrates in dog food will come from these grains.

Now that you have a baseline on the subject, we suggest you inspect your favorite brands to see if they are a gluten-free product.  We did the same, and our team went a step farther and sifted through the latest and greatest brands in the industry. After that research, we enshrined the top 10 best gluten-free dog foods.

Best Gluten Free Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry 

Overall Best Gluten Free Dog Food – Let’s start with our number one pick.  This food checks all the right boxes and comes with the flavors dogs crave.  First and foremost, the first ingredient is beef, and not just beef but a lean bison beef, then they follow that up with meat from lamb, and then meat from chicken.  You’d think the next ingredient would be a grain, but instead, they roll in superfoods with sweet potatoes and blueberries. In fact, this gluten-free dog food is also a grain-free option, which means along with avoiding the gluten allergen, you also aren’t giving your pup any empty carbohydrates that they’d never consume in the wild.

Pros:

  • First 3 ingredients are meat
  • Completely grain free
  • Uses lean beef
  • Superfood fruits and veggies (Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries)
  • Canine probiotics for even better doggie gut health

Cons:

  • A little pricy if you aren’t planning to buy in bulk

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry

Most Affordable – This gluten-free dog food isn’t so heavy on the wallet, but it still comes with lots of bells and whistles.  For starters, it is completely grain free, and the first 3 ingredients are still meats; however, it does choose fish instead of beef, as its primary protein.  Fish still has its share of positives as they contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a chemical found in humans and animals, that for non-marine life is found predominantly in the brain.  This chemical is associated with brain and eye health, as well as the longevity of brain health in older dogs and humans. So, this food gets a thumbs-up for older dog health. Nonetheless, I do need to hold the dog food back because, with my finicky pup, in particular, she craves beef and bison over the healthy, but far less red, fish protein (yes I know Salmon is reddish pink).

Pros:

  • First 3 Ingredients are Meat
  • Completely Grain Free
  • Great Source of Omega 3s
  • Affordable Price

Cons:

  1. Small Kibble, which is great for small dogs, but bigger dogs may miss the crunch.
  2. Not all Dogs love the flavor of fish, and here Salmon is ingredient number one.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Mini Medley Grain-Free Variety Pack Adult Dog Food Trays

Best Canned Gluten Free Dog Food – Canned dog food definitely has its perks and dogs crave it.  For my pup, whenever she’s not eating so great, our vet pops open a can of the good stuff, and our girl scarfs it down, which of course also makes my complaints look ridiculous.  Nonetheless, we were happy to find that gluten-free dog food can also be found in the canned dog food arena. This dog food still ticks the important boxes with meat as the number one ingredient and being a completely grain free option.  Plus, because it is sealed tight before your dog digs in, it also has no need for preservatives, artificial flavors, or colors. It’s just the good stuff and in a fresh canned option.

Pros:

  • Meat is the number one ingredient
  • Completely Grain Free
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Cons:

  • Short Shelf-Life after opening (Like all canned food)
  • Meat is the first and fourth ingredient, which is certainly acceptable, but we’d like to see that second meat moved up in the list.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Most Varied Kibble Gluten Free Dog Food – Blue Buffalo is a great brand because they make what dogs love a protein-centered food with nice sized kibble, plus some varied extra bits to get the dog excited about each bite.  When I feed my pup blue buffalo she starts by picking out the tiny little morsel balls, which is are just fruits and vitamins (and likely sweet), and then she digs into the main kibble and enjoys the protein.  This option, in particular, is not only loved by dogs, but is a gluten-free dog food that is completely grain free, and gets its ingredient list started with meat as number one.

Pros:

  • Meat is the number one ingredient
  • Completely Grain Free
  • Nice Varied Kibble for your dog to enjoy
  • Chicken base is loved by almost all dogs, so very little risk that your pup won’t like the flavor

Con:

  • As a high-quality brand, they also have a high price

True Acre Foods Chicken & Vegetable Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best Omnivore Balanced (Meat/Veggie) – While many argue that our dogs come from ferocious wolves, another wild animal that our pups may descend from is the loveable but clever forest critter known as the fox.  These natural omnivores roam the forest for plump rodents as well as the occasional berry and fruit (people with pet foxes are even told to mix-in frozen vegetables with fresh meats); however, vets also tell them not to feed foxes grains, as a wild fox would never include grain in its diet. So, if your looking for a gluten-free dog food that also has an omnivore balance fit for a fox, this mix is a great fit.  This dog food packs in the fruits and veggies with peas, carrots, cranberries, soybeans, and beets.

Pros:

  • Meat is the first ingredient
  • Completely grain free
  • Great balance of meat, vegetables, and fruit

Con:

More Veggies mean less room for Meat

Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken Dry Dog Food

Most Mild Option – While mild can sound like a negative, sometimes you want your dog’s gut to be a nice mild equilibrium.  Especially with an older canine, giving them a gentle food for their digestive system, and one free from the allergens associated with gluten, can be a great choice and keep your dog satisfied and healthy.  This dog food keeps it mild with chicken meal as its first ingredient and then soothes the belly with brown rice, and other mild ingredients like flax seed and spinach. Chicken meal is a meat that is made by removing the presentable cuts of the chicken like the breast, leg, and thigh, and then grinding the remaining portions into an ingredient where dogs get the protein and natural meat flavor they crave, but as dogs that also don’t care what it looks like.

Pros:

  • Meat as a first ingredient [Chicken Meal]
  • Mild ingredients for a gentle experience for your old dog’s belly
  • Fun packaging and mission

Con:

  • Some owners may prefer the premier cuts of meat as the first ingredient
  • Not completely grain free, though the grains used may be good for soothing a digestive concern.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe

Best Grain Free Alternative Food – We chose this gluten-free dog food as the “Alternative” option because we found a nice variety of exotic ingredients.  This brand packed in some fun ideas with Green Tea, Broccoli, Chicory Root, and Rosemary just to name a few. This balance of medicinal herbs and roots can only add to the benefits of already being a gluten free and grain free option for your dog.

Pros:

  • Meat is the number one ingredient
  • Completely grain free
  • Varied herbs and roots

Cons:

  • Big cubed kibble
  • Some dogs may be excited about the fun herb flavors, while some may have less refined doggie pallets.

Victor Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food

Most Performance Focused Option – This gluten-free dog food is great for the dog with a lot of work to do.  Whether the pup is working on the farm or has a lot of toys to fetch, that pup is going to burn lots of calories.  To keep the dog well nourished and happy your best bet is a dog food that’s rebalanced with a little extra fat to keep your dog from slimming out from a regular days work.  This dog food brings the fat from beef and pork meals and rounds things out with veggies like carrot and kelp.

Pros:

  • Meat is the first ingredient [Beef Meal]
  • Nice fats for a hard working dog
  • Variety of Meats

Cons:

  • Some owners may not prefer a “meal” as the first ingredient
  • The fat is great for a hard working pup and can protect joints, but it may not be best for a couch potato.

Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight Recipe Dry Dog Food 

Best Healthy Weight Option – Part of going gluten free and grain free could also be that you want to protect your dog’s weight from empty carbohydrates.   So, we wanted to include a weight conscience option that is still gluten-free dog food. This food in particular also boasts the qualities of being low fat, and completely grain free.   Add to that some tasty beef as the first ingredient and healthy veggie like sweet potatoes, and the dog food come together with a healthy and nutritious option.

Pros:

  • Meat as the first ingredient
  • Completely grain free
  • Low fat

Con:

  •  Sometimes are pups may crave the fats that we humans also can have just as passionate a craving for.

Zignature Kangaroo Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry

Unknown Allergy Dog Food – Sometimes allergies can be difficult to diagnose, and along with pets having gluten allergies, they can also have an allergy to certain proteins.  For white dogs, redness on fur along the feet can be an indicator of a possible allergy to a certain type of meat or protein. So, for the allergy conscious pet owner, we wanted to include a pet food with an exotic type of meat.  The idea that vets suggest, is using a dog food that has a protein your pet has never had before, and see if the red itchy feet remain. This dog food has meat as its first ingredient, and it happens to be kangaroo meat.

Pros:

  • Meat as the number one ingredient
  • Exotic meat to help eliminate allergens
  • Completely Grain Free

Con:

  • The Kangaroo Meat does make the dog food pricey

Conclusion

To wrap things up, gluten-free dog food does exist, and gluten itself is just a unique protein found in grains and starch, but not in corn or rice. So, when it comes to gluten-free dog food, you should look for ingredients that are free of wheat, rye, and barley,  though, for dog food, barley is the biggest culprit. Also remember that a gluten allergy can our spontaneously, and is not necessarily genetic, so if your loyal pup is already consuming dog food with gluten, you should pay attention to weight loss and general weakness or lethargy.

Either way, we just want your pup to feel its best, and gluten-free dog food may be just what they need.  There are a lot of options out there, and these 10 were the best our team found. So, the next time you’re going shopping for your pup, just remember the goal is a protein-powered, veggie loving, gut healthy super dog.  To that end, the first step is always a healthy meal.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *