review of the best grain-free puppy foods

10 Best Grain-Free Puppy Foods in 2024

Grain-free puppy foods provide your pooch with higher levels of protein compared to grain-based dog food. If you have an active dog or a food-sensitive dog, a grain-free diet could be one of your best options.

One key factor of a grain-free food is that it lacks common allergens, like corn, wheat, or soy, which increases the risk of food allergy.

These are only a few of the advantages of grain-free dog food, we have more to uncover within this article.

Keep reading to find out about the best grain-free puppy foods and what to look out for when buying grain-free dog food.

Our team has spent hours researching products to find the best grain-free puppy food for your dog, read our in-depth reviews below.

Learn more about our 10 point inspection checklist.

Best Grain-Free Puppy Foods

1. Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food

Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Puppy

Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free is one of the best grain-free recipes that provide your puppy all the nutrition they need for growth. The abundance of protein included in this formula is from premium chicken, turkey, and salmon.

That is a lot of protein!

Chicken is highly digestible, and salmon is where our pups get DHA, otherwise known as an essential fatty acid that aids neural development and retinal function.

With all-natural ingredients, Wellness Core really gives your pup the best with absolutely no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The wellness of your puppy is in their capable hands with every bowl you feed.

Why We Like It – With 80% more meat than the average dog food with grains, every bite of this food is full of carefully balanced nutrition and ingredients your puppy will absolutely love!

Nutrition Information:

Caloric Content3,867 kcal/kg or 491 kcal/cup
Crude Protein36.0% min
Crude Fat18.0% min
Crude Fiber5.0% max
Moisture10.0% max
Calcium1.5% max
Vitamin E400 IU/kg
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.6% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids3.50% min

Pros:

+ High-quality animal proteins with nutrient-rich superfoods
+ Promotes a complete and balanced diet for healthy growth and development
+ Healthy blend of antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, glucosamine, taurine, and Omega fatty acids
+ All natural, no meat by-products, no fillers, and no preservatives
+ With prebiotics and probiotics that support healthy digestion
+ Just the right bite-size suited for puppies

Cons:

– May not be for picky eaters
– Can be a little more expensive than other options

2. Nulo Puppy Food Grain-Free Dry Food with BC30 Probiotic and DHA

Nulo Puppy Food Grain Free Dry Food with BC30 Probiotic and DHA

Nulo adds patented BC30 probiotics to the mix that support healthy gut bacteria to help with digestion. Along with that, the DHA fatty acids help with cognitive development.

Puppies regularly fed with DHA supplemented food are less likely to have destructive tendencies, like destroying your furniture! 

This food also has high meat and low carb combination with 80% animal-based protein. As puppies grow, they need lots of bone and muscle support. The calcium and phosphorus content in this Nulo dog food work together to do just that and help with bone formation.

Why We Like It  This recipe is the best dog food for puppies of all breeds, suitable for fussy eaters and pups with sensitive stomachs. It’s also highly recommended by other pet owners.

The real meat flavor is enticing, and you can be sure your puppy will come running when he hears the kibble hitting his bowl!

Nutrition Information:

Caloric Content3,742 kcal/kg, 441 kcal/cup
Crude Protein33.0% min
Crude Fat18.0% min
Crude Fiber4.0% max
Moisture10.0% max
Calcium1.0% min
Vitamin E300 IU/kg min
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.5% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.75% min

Pros:

+ With 85% animal protein
+ Contains Omega 3 and 6 for healthy skin and coat
+ High meat/low carb content with natural sources of DHA to support cognitive function
+ Supports strong bones with added calcium and phosphorous
+ Patented BC30 probiotic that improves metabolism and aids digestion
+ Wholesome fruits and vegetables to promote immune health

Cons:

– No ziplock feature
– Can be a little more expensive than other options

3. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Puppy Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Puppy Wet Dog Food

We’ve also included some wet dog food options for your puppy who likes the extra flavor! This puppy food from Blue Buffalo is a grain-inclusive dog food if you’re looking for an alternative.

But we’ve decided to include this one because, for those of you who want grain in your pup’s food, whole grains are the way to go. Healthy garden vegetables and nutritious fruit are in this recipe to supplement the real deboned chicken as the first ingredient.

Aside from that, this wet puppy food is also supplemented with extra vitamins and minerals to give your dog the most complete meal.

A big difference between this wet dog food and other brands is it doesn’t contain wheat. Which many wet dog food brands out there use wheat as a thickener.

Why We Like It – Each formula from this brand only contains healthy and natural ingredients. This Blue Buffalo Wet Puppy Food is a great food topper or as a whole meal!

Nutrition Information:

Caloric Content1,190 kcal/kg, 422 kcal/cup
Crude Protein10.0% min
Crude Fat7.5% min
Crude Fiber1.3.0% max
Moisture78.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.75% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids0.11% min

Pros:

+ #1 ingredient is real chicken to support healthy muscle growth
+ No chicken by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy, and no artificial flavors, or preservatives
+ Made with DHA that promotes brain, eye, and cognitive development
+ With natural ingredients and enhanced vitamins and minerals
+ Wholesome nutrition from chicken, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes
+ Ingredients sourced from the USA

Cons:

– May be too rich for some puppies

4. Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Puppy Chicken & Salmon

Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Puppy Chicken & Salmon

This puppy-approved dog food is recommended by many dog owners. With deboned chicken as the first ingredient Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free gives your pup the optimal support they need with guaranteed levels of DHA great for their brain development.

Give your dog the best there is with premium all-natural ingredients and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

You can count on Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain-Free to cut out all the harmful ingredients such as wheat, corn, soy, and by-products. Made in the USA, this puppy food is backed by the Wellness Guarantee and is proudly made only in the USA. The recipes from this brand support the 5 signs of wellness in your puppy.

Why We Liked It – The five signs of wellness that this brand guarantee includes the skin & coat, digestive health, eyes, teeth and gums, energy and immunity.

Give your puppy all-around protection with Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food that satisfies all your puppy’s nutritional needs.

Nutrition Information:

Caloric Content3,770 kcal/kg or 490 kcal/cup
Crude Protein32.0% min
Crude Fat18.0% min
Crude Fiber5.5% max
Moisture10.0% max
Calcium1.20% (max)
Vitamin E200 IU/kg (min
Omega-3 Fatty Acids1.00% (min)
Omega-6 Fatty Acids4.00% (min)

Pros:

+ #1 ingredient is chicken with a balanced blend of high nutrients
+ With high-quality animal proteins that provide optimal energy
+ Supported with DHA for brain development
+ Protein, healthy fats, and natural fiber that offers a complete and balanced diet
+ Supported by Omega 3&6, antioxidants, essential vitamins, and probiotics
+ No meat by-products, fillers, artificial preservatives, or flavors

Cons:

– Can be a little more expensive than other options

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5. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Salmon Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick Whole Earth Farms All Breeds Puppy

If you have an average puppy with no special dietary needs, this Merrick Dog Food is an excellent option for you. The first ingredient in all dog food must be protein and high-quality protein at that. A grain-free recipe allows for easier digestion and won’t upset your pup’s tummy.

Do you have a gassy pup?

Well, fret no more because this Whole Earth Farms Dog Food is crafted without corn, soy, wheat. It also has no poultry by-products, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

Cooked in the USA, this puppy food by Whole Earth Farms is formulated to fit the needs of all puppies for both large and small breeds.

Why We Like It – One of dog food’s most important key factors is to offer a balanced and complete diet. Merrick provides a complete and balanced diet that will support digestibility, a healthy coat, increased energy and it’s also one of the best dog foods that can lessen shedding.

Nutrition Information:

Caloric Content3672 kcal/kg, 389 kcal/cup
Crude Protein27.0% min
Crude Fat15.0% min
Crude Fiber3.5% max
Moisture11.0% max

Pros:

+ With a blend of high-quality chicken and salmon that delivers a flavorful taste
+ Guaranteed levels of DHA for cognitive development
+ Promotes healthy digestion through added vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
+ Suitable for puppies with grain allergies
+ Include levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that help reduce shedding, promote a healthy coat and skin
+ No by-products, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cons:

– Kibble size may not be ideal for puppies

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6. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food

As one of the best grain-free diets, Blue Buffalo Freedom is also gluten-free, which a lot of pet parents want to avoid because some dogs are intolerant to it.

It’s imperative for our pups do not to have a drastic change in diet when they are weaned off their mother’s milk, and a puppy milk replacement may be a good transition.

The DHA and ARA fatty acids are ones we find in a dog mom’s milk. Along with Choline, which supports cognitive development and retinal function. Fortified with a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals selected by holistic vets, you can feel safe giving your puppy Blue Buffalo puppy food.

Why We Like It – Support your pup’s immune system at every life stage, starting at the puppy stage with Blue Buffalo, which puts their wellbeing as the #1 priority.

Nutrition Information:

Caloric Content3,669 kcal/kg, 403 kcal/cup
Crude Protein27.0% min
Crude Fat16.0% min
Crude Fiber5.0% max
Moisture10.0% max
Calcium1.3% min
Omega-3 Fatty Acids1.0% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.5% min

Pros:

+ With a real chicken recipe to support your puppy’s healthy muscle development
+ Promotes brain and eye development with added DHA and ARA
+ Includes wholesome ingredients like protein-rich deboned chicken, whole peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, blueberries, and cranberries
+ No chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives
+ Healthy blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
+ Carefully selected ingredients by veterinarians and nutritionists

Cons:

– High fiber may cause frequent visits to the toilet

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7. Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

A guaranteed holistic and balanced nutrition, Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage is potato-free, gluten-free, and grain-free option for your fur baby.

Puppies need the most support during their formative first year, and the rich source of DHA will support their brain development in the best way possible.

The balanced level of Omega-6 and Omega-3 also work together to help support a healthy coat and skin. Earthborn Holistic cares for your pup, but they also care for the earth! Their packaging is BPA-free and recyclable through their special program.

Why We Like It – This brand of pet food is made in family-owned kitchens across the USA. The packaging is BPA-free and is recyclable through their TerraCycle and Earthborn ReBorn program to help plant trees.

Nutrition Information:

Caloric Content3,760 kcal/kg, 400 kcal/cup
Crude Protein28.0% min
Crude Fat18.0% min
Crude Fiber4.5% max
Moisture10.0% max
Calcium1.20% min
Vitamin E250 IU/kg min
Omega-3 Fatty Acids1.00% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids3.25% min

Pros:

+ #1 ingredient is a chicken meal rich in essential amino acids
+ Fortified with DHA to support brain and behavioral development
+ Includes a superfood blend that supports healthy digestion and nutrient absorption
+ Gluten, potato, and grain-free recipe designed to support your puppy’s nutritional needs
+ Balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6
+ Enriched with added Taurine and Methionine to promote heart health

Cons:

– Contains peas, pea starch, and pea fiber that may not be liked by picky eaters

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8. Fromm Heartland Gold Grain-Free Puppy

Fromm Heartland Gold Grain-Free Puppy

Introducing one nutritious and high-grade puppy food that’s also suitable for pregnant or nursing mothers! Fromm Heartland Gold Grain-Free Puppy is a red meat recipe with premium quality beef. Its first ingredient is formulated with probiotics to help with digestion.

Fromm Family Pet Food is one of the trusted brands that meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO (The Association of America Feed Control Officials).

Tell your puppy to get ready for balanced nutrition with no fillers or artificial preservatives, color, or flavors! Fromm ensures that every ingredient is tested and sampled for the highest quality as a family-owned and operated company.

Why We Like It – Fromm has many types of dog food for large breed puppies to nursing dogs. They provide a holistic recipe with high-quality ingredients suited for puppies of all breeds.

Nutrition Information:

Caloric Content3,993 kcal/kg, 419 kcal/cup
Crude Protein27% min
Crude Fat18% min
Crude Fiber6.0% max
Moisture10.0% max

Pros:

+ Perfectly-sized bites for small mouths
+ Made in the USA
+ Added probiotics that support healthy digestion
+ Great for dogs with sensitive stomachs
+ Comes with an easy-to-seal bag
+ Meets AAFCO standards

Cons:

– Can be a little more expensive than other options

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9. Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Chicken, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe

Nature's Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Chicken, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe

Nature's Recipe Grain-Free uses real chicken as the number 1 ingredient. The grain-free and easy-to-digest recipe provide balanced nutrition for your growing puppy.

They use natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals to make this premium choice of puppy food. The easy-to-digest ingredients do not include corn, wheat, or soy.

Specially formulated for dogs of all breeds and life stages, you can introduce your puppy to Nature’s Recipe at any time. No artificial colors or flavors are added to this mix. Designed to promote a healthy lifestyle, especially for an active dog, this nutrient-dense meal is one of the best grain-free puppy foods you can buy.

Why We Like It – The goal of providing your puppy with healthy and nutritious food is for them to live a long life next to you. Nature’s Recipe is committed to providing nutritious recipes for all dogs.

Nutrition Information:

Caloric Content3,620 kcal/kg, 350 kcal/cup
Crude Protein28% min
Crude Fat14% min
Crude Fiber4% max
Moisture10% max
Calcium1.10% min
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.25% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.5% min

Pros:

+ #1 ingredient is real chicken, a high-quality meat protein that helps maintain optimal muscle strength
+ Fiber that helps the digestive and immune system
+ With DHA for your pup’s brain and eye development
+ No corn, wheat, poultry by-product meal, artificial flavors, or colors
+ Includes essential nutrients and antioxidants to support your dog’s overall health
+ Promotes strong bones and teeth with calcium and phosphorous

Cons:

– Not all dogs are suitable for a grain-free diet; consult your vet first to make sure switching to this type of diet is good for your pooch

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10. Merrick Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned Wet Dog Food

Merrick Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Looking for more wet food options to blend in with your dry puppy food? Here’s another one! Each recipe from Merrick includes in their AAFCO compliant nutrient profile on their webpage.

Merrick concocts another grain-free recipe for puppies with sensitive stomachs that can be served as a full meal itself or mixed in with dry kibble.

is cooked in the USA with chicken as the first ingredient, which also comes in a highly digestible formula. The all-natural ingredients support a complete and balanced diet for your beloved canine baby.

Why We Like It – Unlike other dog foods, this wet puppy food provides your dog with balanced nutrition to support its growth and development. Merrick Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned Wet Dog Food can also be used as a flavor enhancer for your puppy’s regular dry food.

Nutrition Information:

Crude Protein9.0% min
Crude Fat6.5% min
Crude Fiber1.40% max
Moisture78% max

+ Complete and well-balanced meal
+ Highly-digestible
+ With added vitamins and minerals
+ Great food for sensitive stomachs
+ No corn, wheat, soy, by-products, artificial colors, or preservatives
+ Cooked in the USA

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Related Post: What Is So Good About Grain-Free Dog Food?

How We Chose Our Top Grain-free Dog Foods

Looking for the best grain-free dog food is not a walk in the park. That’s why we, as your loyal and trusted source of information, made sure that you get a nice list of the best 10 grain-free puppy foods.

So here are the factors that we considered in choosing the top grain-free food options you can find in the market right now.

If you look at every ingredient list in our top 10 products, you’ll notice that all of them have a meat-based product that is always a great source of high-quality protein. Animal-based protein is most beneficial to an active dog and a developing puppy. It helps build their muscle tissues.

Some good sources of premium animal protein are deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey, red meats like beef or buffalo. Also included are fish meat such as salmon meal or menhaden fish meal commonly used in this type of dog food.

Related Post: Best Puppy Foods

Balanced and Complete Diet

To ensure that your fur baby gets the optimal support they need, we included the best grain-free puppy foods that offer a balanced and complete diet. For example, the top on our list is the Wellness Core Natural Dry Dog Food that provides all the nutrients a growing puppy needs.

Essential Nutrients and Vitamins

Your puppy’s food should include all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals with a complete and balanced diet. A healthy grain-free diet should have Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.

Meanwhile, minerals like calcium and phosphorous are also essential to your puppy’s diet to support their joints and bones. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of some of these vitamins and minerals.

DHA

DHA is a type of Omega-3 fatty that supports your puppy’s brain and eye development. It’s essential to your dog’s learning abilities as it helps enhance their behavior, making it a great supplement for training.

Aside from imp For this fatty acid, look for any fish ingredients in your puppy’s grain-free food. And based on American Kennel Club, fish oil supplements with balanced levels of Omega-3 fatty acids help in your pooch’s joint health. More than that, it also improves their immune system and maintains their healthy skin and coat.

Grain-Free Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are not a big dietary requirement for dogs; however, they’re vital in replenishing your pup’s energy. Examples of good grain-free carbohydrates often included in a dog’s food are potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, or beans.

Notes from our DVM, Sara Ochoa: “Grain-free foods are currently under investigation by the FDA. There are studies showing that grain-free dog food may lead to heart disease. Not all dogs need grain-free food. Consult with your veterinarian on whether grain-free food is really a requirement for your dog.”

A Buyer’s Guide on Grain-Free Dog Foods for Puppies

a buyer’s guide on grain-free dog foods for puppies
Image by Teerasuwat Jiratarawat from Pixabay

Grain-free dog food is the go-to food for sensitive pooches or ones with digestive issues. As they are grain-free, they should also not contain corn, wheat, or soy. Grain-free dog and puppy food are also high in protein and fiber to provide more nutrition for your furry best friend.

The other purpose of feeding your pup grain-free dog food is to give them a diet that closely resembles what they would have eaten in a natural setting. This makes the food more authentic to your puppy’s dietary needs without the processed junk some of their food might contain nowadays.

Since grain is removed, your dog takes in more protein and fats. Grain is a controversial ingredient, and the benefits and drawbacks are debated to this day. Whether or not you feed your pup, a grain-free diet depends on you unless they have special needs and sensitivities.

What to Look for When Buying Grain-Free Dog Food for Puppies?

grain-free dog food for puppies buying guide
Photo by Ronit HaNegby on Pexels

Whenever you’re buying food for your dog, whether it be a puppy or a full-grown hound, there are certain things you must look for. We’re going to remind you of the basics, then take you through some things to definitely look for in grain-free puppy food.

Complete nutrition – This means your pup will get what it adequately needs every day in terms of nutritional value and energy.

Protein as the first ingredient – Make sure the first ingredient is named meat. This guarantees your puppy gets quality protein.

Fruits and Veggies – These are always good in anyone’s or any animal’s diet. Fruits and vegetables give your dog the micronutrients it needs.

Healthy additives – Some beneficial add-ons like probiotics, prebiotics, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids are great to help strengthen your dog’s system.

No by-products and unwanted ingredients – As we’ve said many times before, these are all no-nos. Also, make sure nothing artificial and pointless is added. For example, artificial preservatives, color, and flavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the recommended caloric content for puppies?

The smaller the breed, the higher the number of calories it needs. Smaller breeds have a shorter development period. They need to invest lots of nutrients and calories to grow well. 

While for large dogs, look for breed-specific food options for larger breeds. They should contain fewer calories so your pup won’t grow too fast and develop hip or elbow dysplasia or other joint problems.

How many meals a day should puppies have?

Here’s a general guideline of how much you should feed your puppy, depending on their age.

AGEMEALS PER DAY
2-3 months old4
3-6 months old3
6-12 months old2
6-12 months old (for large breed puppies)2

Why is grain-free dog food good for my puppy?

Grain-free dog food is actually good for puppies that are still undergoing growth and development. Especially for puppies with food sensitivities because grain-free recipes feature a tummy-friendly diet that aids their digestive health. To give you a general overview, all the benefits of grain-free foods include:

  1. Grain-free dog food has fewer carbs but offers greater levels of Omega fatty acids, promoting healthy skin and a shiny coat.
  2. Soy, corn, or wheat are common sources of food allergies. A grain-free diet would eliminate the chance of dogs developing food allergies or prevent them from getting a food allergy reaction.
  3. Probiotics in puppy food are good for supporting your puppy’s digestive health. More than that, it can also cause less gas and less foul-smelling flatulence.
  4. In pet foods that are grain-free, carbohydrates come from premium quality ingredients like sweet potatoes or peas, essentially eliminating filler ingredients such as corn or wheat.
  5. Most grain-free diets consist of higher protein levels because their primary ingredient comes from meat or animal-based products. Meat or animal protein is a premium source of protein compared to plant-based proteins used in some grain-inclusive dog food.

Changing into a completely different diet, such as a grain-free one, requires a careful transition. It’s also important to note that a grain-free formula is not recommended for all dogs and may not be suitable for your fur baby.

And your dog’s reaction to grain-free puppy food may vary depending on their nutritional needs and their health status. With that in mind, consulting your veterinarian is one of the first steps you should consider before transitioning your puppy to grain-free dog food.

Related: Best Diet Dog Foods

Conclusion

Giving our dog the best is our job. Better brands also use better ingredients such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, and other carbs to substitute grains. Meaning they don’t use cheap fillers that are grain-based such as wheat, soy, or corn, giving grain-free dog food higher quality.

Always consult with your vet before making any major changes to your puppy’s diet. Make a short and handy list with all of our suggestions on it the next time you go looking for pet food.

Expert Tip

Slowly introduce any sort of new food into your dog’s diet by mixing in a little at a time. If your dog has any major reaction to the new food, stop immediately and contact your vet.

Did You Know?

Diets that are high in protein can be damaging to your puppy’s kidneys. Because of the higher protein content in grain-free dog foods, make sure the label says it’s suitable for puppies. Some grain-free dog foods are only recommended for adults.

If you insist on putting your puppy on a grain-free diet, we’d suggest you contact a vet to figure out what would be the most appropriate for your puppy.

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