As an excellent source of essential amino acids, chicken is a staple source of protein in the dog food industry — it’s even common in products that aren’t actually chicken flavored.
But this ingredient can be a problem for dogs allergic to chicken or suffering from chicken sensitivities, and many owners struggle to find a food that doesn’t contain any traces of chicken.
Don’t worry! We’ve dug around and found several of the best chicken-free dog foods for your pooch. We’ll share them and discuss a few reasons many owners like to avoid chicken-based dog foods below.
Customized fresh dog food catered to your dog's sensitivities.
A budget-friendly kibble available in several chicken-free recipes.
A tasty and affordable chicken-free alternative to fresh dog food.
Why Do Some Dogs Need Chicken-Free Dog Food?
While chicken is one of the most popular kibble ingredients and an excellent source of protein, it’s also one of the more common allergies seen in dogs. This means that chicken can trigger an immune response in afflicted dogs, with their bodies reacting to the ingredient as though it were a dangerous invader.
As with humans, food allergies can trigger mild or severe immune responses, known as allergic reactions. However, the symptoms of food allergies in dogs differ pretty significantly from those people experience.
Common symptoms of food allergies in doggos include:
- Skin rash (especially around the thighs, feet, or ears)
- Inner ear redness or infection
- Itchy skin
- Eye discharge
- Diarrhea (sometimes severe)
- Difficulty breathing
Mild food allergies are best treated by simply avoiding the offending ingredient to prevent an adverse reaction.
Severe food allergies can trigger potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.
However, it isn’t always easy to determine what the trigger (the ingredient that gives your dog symptoms) is. In some cases, identifying the trigger may require carrying out an elimination diet in which you drastically restrict the foods your dog has access to before eventually replacing suspected triggers one at a time.
At other times, blood or skin testing is used to confirm or identify the ingredient your dog needs to avoid.
Other dogs suffer from a simple intolerance to chicken rather than a true allergy.
Unlike an allergy, food intolerance doesn’t cause an immune response, but it does upset your dog’s digestive system.
To put it in human terms, someone who is lactose intolerant won’t break out into allergic hives if they have milk, but they may have a rough time with their tummy later. Dogs typically suffer similar symptoms when faced with an intolerance.
Common symptoms of a chicken intolerance in your dog are:
- Noxious gas
If you notice a food sensitivity in your dog, it’s always a good idea to let your vet know, especially if you suspect it’s an allergic reaction. Your vet can help guide you through an elimination diet or other plan to rule out (or confirm) chicken sensitivity, plus recommend other healthy sources of protein to try.
And when diarrhea or vomiting is severe, a vet visit is a must.
The 13 Best Dog Foods Without Chicken
Finding non-chicken dog food can be tricky, but we sniffed around and located the best of the best for you, including adult dog foods, all-life-stages formulas, and puppy food. Here are our top picks for non-chicken dog kibble and canned food using other excellent sources of protein.
1. Nom Nom
About: Avoiding hidden chicken is easy with Nom Nom — a nutritionist-designed fresh food option that’s delivered right to your home for convenient high-quality nutrition. Gently cooked in small batches inside the brand’s US-based kitchens (and using only US-sourced, human-grade ingredients), Nom Nom clearly keeps safety and quality control front and center. But these recipes aren’t just about feeding your dog safe and nutritious food — they’re also designed to have a flavor and texture that’ll drive your dog wild.
Also, as a K9 of Mine reader, you can get 50% off your first order. Pretty sweet!
Want more info? Make sure to check out our full Nom Nom hands-on review!
- Recipes meet AAFCO standards for all life stages
- Pre-packaged and pre-portioned specifically for your dog
- Each recipe is formulated by veterinary nutritionists to ensure balanced nutrition
- Made in the USA using only US-sourced ingredients
Options: Nom Nom comes in four source of animal protein offerings: pork, beef, chicken, and turkey.
Protein Content (Pork): 7% min
Ground pork, Russet potatoes, Green beans, Squash, Kale, Brown mushrooms...,
Dicalcium phosphate, Potassium chloride, Salt, Natural flavor, Citric acid, Fish oil, Vinegar, Taurine, Choline bitartrate, Iron amino acid chelate, Zinc gluconate, Vitamin E supplement, Copper gluconate, Niacin, Manganese gluconate, Vitamin A supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Selenium yeast, Riboflavin, Cholecalciferol, Potassium iodide, Folic acid, Vitamin B12 supplement
- Can be customized for dogs with chicken and egg allergies
- Some of the best-tasting recipes available
- Ingredient lists are impressive, with fresh, healthy proteins and produce
- No-subscription-required, trial option available
- Since this is a fresh food, it’s more expensive than kibble
- Must be frozen or refrigerated during storage
- This particular recipe is grain-free, which may give owners concerned about DCM pause (though grain-inclusive options are available)
2. Yumwoof Perfect Kibble
About: Got a picky eater in needing an alternative to chicken? You just found it with Yumwoof Perfect Kibble, an air-dried, shelf-stable dog food (meaning that no refrigeration is required) that’s made with real beef for a taste your dog will love. And just to make things even more puptastic, Yumwoof incorporates beef liver in the recipe, too, as another high-quality source of protein. The end result is an utterly irresistible food that won’t trigger chicken allergies in dogs.
And for additional value, Yumwoof packs this recipe with natural ingredients like antioxidant-rich carrots, blueberries, and cranberries for immune health while still keeping things pea- and legume-free for pup parents concerned about heart health. This recipe also features pumpkin, which is fantastic for keeping your dog’s digestive tract working as it should as a natural source of fiber.
- Air-dried to provide a texture dogs love in a meat kibble size most dogs can enjoy
- Human-grade yet shelf-stable
- Shipped directly to your front door for convenient high-quality nutrition
- Made with non-GMO ingredients
- Made in the USA
Options: Also available in Coconut Chicken flavor, but that’s obviously not chicken-free.
Protein Content: 28% min
Fresh Beef, Whole Eggs, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Flaxseed, Carrots...,
Gluten-Free Oats, Blueberries, Cranberries, Chia Seeds, Seaweed, Beef Liver, Pumpkin, Vitamins & Minerals, Apple Cider Vinegar
- Most dogs — even picky eaters — love the taste
- We love that it’s human-grade yet shelf-stable
- Included pumpkin may help keep your dog’s digestive system functioning smoothly
- Affordably priced for a human-grade option
- Grain-inclusive recipe will make many owners feel safer
- We wish it were fortified with probiotics
- Contains eggs, which may be an issue for some dogs with egg allergies
- Another protein alternative to beef would be nice for chicken-free pups who aren’t fans
Get 30% off your Yumwoof order by entering code K9OFMINE30 at checkout!
3. Spot & Tango Unkibble
About: Spot & Tango’s Unkibble is a really innovative product that’s turning heads and raising eyebrows. Kind of like kibble but with many of the features fresh-frozen foods offer, Unkibble is a shelf-stable product that provides the balanced diet owners want and a taste dogs crave at a relatively wallet-friendly price.
Unkibble is a veterinarian-developed dog food that’s made with premium, human-grade ingredients and then gently dried at low temperatures to preserve the food’s nutritional value. Pet parents can choose from several recipe options, including a recipe without any chicken.
And best of all, it’s a customizable food — you can input your dog’s breed, age, weight, activity level, and more to get the carefully measured quantity of food that’ll work best for her.
- Healthy fats promote healthy skin and a shiny coat
- Shipped straight to your home for maximum convenience
- Made with real fruits and vegetables for natural high-quality nutrition
- Packaged with eco-friendly, compostable, and recyclable materials only
- Made in the USA with human-grade ingredients
Options: Available in Beef & Barley, Cod & Salmon, and Chicken & Brown Rice (obviously, the Chicken & Brown Rice recipe is not chicken-free, but we list it to be comprehensive).
Protein Content (Beef & Barley): 26.58% min
Beef, Barley, Flax, Carrots, Green beans...,
Beef liver, Beef heart, Beets, Cranberries, Rosemary, Kelp, Salt, Mixed tocopherols, Cellulose powder, Fish oil, L-tryptophan, Choline chloride, Organic zinc proteinate, Potassium chloride, Rosemary extract, Iron amino acid chelate, Vitamin E supplement, Organic selenium yeast, Calcium carbonate, Beet, Tomato, Broccoli, Carrot, Spinach, Orange, Cherry, Cranberry, Strawberry, Apple, Blueberry, Pumpkin, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Folic acid
- Customized nature is ideal for dogs with chicken sensitivity, egg allergies, or other ingredient intolerances
- Taste and texture blow most traditional kibbles out of the water
- Very affordable compared to most fresh-frozen options (starts at around $1.00 per day)
- Backed by Spot & Tango’s money-back guarantee
- Kibble size and shape aren’t always compatible with puzzle feeders
- More expensive than traditional kibbles
- Must sign up for a subscription to try Unkibble, though you can cancel at any time
4. Taste of the Wild
About: Taste of the Wild is a high-quality, grain-free kibble that’s designed to provide the same kind of nutrition your dog’s wild-living ancestors enjoyed. Made with quality proteins like lamb and salmon, this kibble provides the protein and omega fatty acids your dog needs, along with plenty of fiber for digestive health from fresh food ingredients like blueberries to support immune functions and potatoes and peas for sustained energy levels.
- Real meat — salmon in this case — is always the primary ingredient
- Contains no corn, soy, wheat, or artificial flavors and colors
- Added prebiotics and probiotics to a support gut health
- Made in the USA
Options: Offered in Pacific Stream (fish-based, no chicken products,) Sierra Mountain (lamb-based, contains egg,) High Prairie (mixed protein, contains chicken meal,) Wetlands (duck, contains chicken meal) in 5-, 14-, and 28-pound bags. Grain-inclusive and limited-ingredient products are also available.
Want more info? Make sure to check out our full Taste of the Wild brand review!
Protein Content (Pacific Stream): 25% min
Salmon, Ocean fish meal, Sweet potatoes, Potatoes, Peas...,
Canola oil, Lentils, Salmon meal, Smoked salmon, Potato fiber, Natural flavor, Salt, Choline chloride, Taurine, Dried chicory root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca schidigera extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, Vitamin E supplement, Iron proteinate, Zinc proteinate, Copper proteinate, Ferrous sulfate, Zinc sulfate, Copper sulfate, Potassium iodide, Thiamine mononitrate, Manganese proteinate, Manganous oxide, Ascorbic acid, Vitamin A supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium pantothenate, Manganese sulfate, Sodium selenite, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D supplement, Folic acid
- Reasonably priced when compared to other kibbles of similar quality
- Made with smoked salmon (a relatively “fancy” ingredient) to help improve the taste
- Several fresh food ingredients included are rich in antioxidants to support immune functions.
- Most of the foods in the Taste of the Wild product line are grain-free
- These are multi-protein foods, making them inappropriate for dogs with some food allergies
- Kibble size can be a tad large for small pups
5. Natural Balance L.I.D.
A short ingredient list makes avoiding your dog's sensitivity triggers easy with this kibble.
About: Natural Balance L.I.D. takes the guesswork out of ingredient list searching by sticking to the basics with a limited ingredient formula. In fact (and like most other limited-ingredient dog food diets), this kibble is specifically designed to avoid triggering your dog’s food allergies by only using simple ingredients. To that end, many of Natural Balance LID’s recipes are entirely chicken-free diets.
Natural Balance L.I.D. really only contains about seven simple ingredients, aside from vitamins, minerals, and natural flavors. So, you won’t see a lot of extras or bells and whistles in this recipe, but that’s often the best thing for dogs with allergies, and it still contains high-quality nutrition for nose-to-tail health.
- This recipe contains only lamb-based proteins and limited carbohydrates
- Both grain-free and grain-inclusive options available
- Contains an optimal blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Made in the USA
Options: Offered in 4-, 12-, and 26-pound bags and 22(!) recipes, including Duck & Potato, Lamb & Brown Rice, Sweet Potato & Venison, and Sweet Potato & Beef with several for large breed sizes.
Protein Content (Lamb & Brown Rice): 22% min
Lamb, Brown Rice, Lamb Meal, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran...,
Brewers Dried Yeast, Sunflower Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.
- Brand offers quite a few other chicken-free dog food recipes if your dog doesn’t like lamb
- A true limited ingredient formula that’s great for doggos with food allergies
- Priced affordably compared to most other limited ingredient formula foods
- Lacks some of the taste-boosting ingredients some traditional kibbles contain
- Kibble size can be a bit large for small breeds
6. Diamond Naturals
About: Cost-conscious owners needn’t worry about finding a good yet affordable food without chicken — Diamond Naturals provides a premium salmon-and-fish-meal-based recipe that’ll be as gentle on your dog’s system as it is on your bank account.
Made with a wide variety of produce (but no corn, wheat, or artificial flavors), this kibble provides plenty of antioxidants to support your dog’s immune health, fiber to promote proper digestion, and carbohydrates for providing energy. And just as importantly, it has a taste that most dogs love thanks to salmon, a protein rich in healthy fats that taste great.
- High-quality, whole proteins are always the first ingredient
- Fortified with probiotics for digestive health
- Meet AAFCO standards for adult dog food or all life stages depending on recipe
- Omega fatty acids limit inflammation, soothe itchy skin, and promote a shiny coat
- Made in the USA
Options: Available in 13 total formulas and recipes, including Lamb, Beef, Salmon, and more. Bag sizes include 15- and 30-pound options.
Protein Content (Salmon and Potato): 25% min
Salmon, Fish Meal, Potatoes, Lentils, Peas...,
Pea Flour, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Yeast, Flaxseed, Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, L-Carnitine, Kale, Chia Seed, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Oranges, Dried Kelp, Coconut, Spinach, Carrots, Papaya, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.
- One of the most affordable kibbles on the market that still provides high-quality nutrition
- A variety of nutritious fruits and veggies — including unusual ingredients like coconut and papaya — are included to support immune function
- Offers several other chicken-free diets for dogs with chicken sensitivities
- Kibble size ideal for all breed sizes
- Some of the options are grain-free recipes, which may concern some owners
- Taste really can’t compare with more expensive options
7. The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Recipe
A dehydrated dog food made with ranch-raised beef, organic whole oats, and simple garden produce -- just add water and serve!
Use code K930 to get 30% off your order!
About: The Honest Kitchen’s Beef Recipe is a different kind of dog food that may also work for your chicken-sensitive doggo. Grain-inclusive, it fuels your pup’s energy levels with high-quality nutrition.
Made with only a handful of primary simple ingredients alongside typical vitamin and mineral supplements, this minimally processed dog food comes in a dehydrated state. When it’s time for Spot’s supper, you just add a bit of warm water, mix it up, wait three minutes, and then serve!
With a focus on clean, organic ingredients, Honest Kitchen offers several options when looking for a dog food without chicken.
- Made with humanely reared, ranch-raised beef as a source of protein
- Contains no preservatives, by-products, or GMO ingredients
- Designed for adult dogs and seniors
- Features multiple organic whole grains
Options: Available in excellent alternatives to chicken like Beef and Turkey, as well as Chicken (obviously not chicken-free). Also offered in grain-free options.
Protein Content (Beef Recipe): 22.5% min
Dehydrated Beef, Organic Oats, Organic Barley, Organic Flaxseed, Dehydrated Potatoes...,
Dehydrated Carrots, Dehydrated Eggs, Dried Apples, Dried Parsley, Dried Cranberries, Dehydrated Spinach, Minerals [Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite], Taurine, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), D- Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement].
- Made with a very simple slate of nutritious, eco-friendly ingredients
- Most dogs love the warm, freshly prepared appeal of dehydrated foods
- Dehydrated meals are great for owners with limited storage space
- Meaty mash texture means you don’t need to worry about too large of kibble size
- A bit more expensive than traditional kibbles
- Some owners complained about poor customer service
- Several owners mentioned that the food’s consistency was poor.
About: Finding a chicken-free wet food is challenging, but Zignature makes it easy with their collection of wet food options.
All of their recipes are designed for dogs suffering from food allergies, so they’re made with a limited number of ingredients without corn, soy, wheat, chicken, or dairy. However, Zignature doesn’t compromise on quality, nutrition, or taste by doing so, as this wet food recipe is made with a number of pup-pleasing proteins and legumes for fiber and carbohydrates to promote healthy energy levels.
Want more info? Make sure to check out our full Zignature dog food brand review!
- A quality source of animal protein is always the primary ingredient
- Meets AAFCO standards for all life stages, including the growth of large-breed puppies
- Legumes add fiber for healthy digestion and energy
- Made in the USA
Options: 13 protein options are available, including “standard” lean sources like lamb and turkey, as well as more exotic animal proteins, such as kangaroo, catfish, and goat.
Protein Content (Trout & salmon): 9% min
Trout, Fish broth, Salmon, Peas, Chickpeas...,
Agar-agar, Calcium carbonate, Salmon meal, Sun-cured alfalfa meal, Potassium chloride, Salt, Choline chloride, Zinc proteinate, Iron proteinate, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Sodium selenite, Calcium iodate, Vitamin E supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Niacin supplement, Calcium pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin A supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B12 supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid, Taurine, L-carnitine
- Pup parents report that the flavor and texture of these foods are more appealing than most canned options
- All Zingature’s recipes are chicken-free,
- Many recipes are good sources of healthy fats to promote healthy skin and coat
- There are no grain-inclusive options in Zignature’s lineup
- Expensive compared to many canned options
9. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Puppy
About: Skip the chicken with Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy, a chicken-free dry dog food made with a straightforward list of quality ingredients like whole proteins and energy-packed grains for a balanced diet.
An excellent source of omega fatty acids, this limited ingredient formula is a solid choice for skin and coat health as well as brain and eye development in puppies. Those healthy fats also taste great, encouraging your puppy to give it a try.
- Real meat or fish is the primary ingredient
- Kibble size perfect for puppies
- Meets AAFCO standards for all life stages, including the growth of large-breed puppies
- Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients
Options: Available in Salmon & Brown Rice Puppy and Lamb & Brown Rice Puppy.
Protein Content (Salmon & Brown Rice Puppy): 24% min
Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran...,
Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Oat Groats, Flaxseed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Natural Flavor, Salt, Salmon Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dl-Methionine, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate), Choline Chloride, L-Threonine, Citric Acid (Preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract
- Limited-ingredient nature great for dogs with food sensitivities
- Most puppies love the flavor
- Pricing isn’t too bad, considering the quality
- More protein options would be ideal
- We wish these were single source protein recipes, as mixed proteins can cause adverse reactions in some dogs
10. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Meal Mixers
About: Bring a protein-rich blend of real meat and nutrient-dense organs to your dog’s bowl with Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Meal Mixers, a tasty source of animal protein with several chicken-free diet options. Also containing fresh produce like blueberries to support immune functions, it’s a well-rounded choice for supplying high-quality nutrition to your pooch.
Just scoop a serving, add water, and let your dog go to town on his favorite chicken-free recipe.
- Real meat is the top ingredient
- Made with freeze-dried raw ingredients that dogs adore
- Meets the AAFCO standard for all life stages, including the growth of large-breed puppies
- Added probiotics provide digestive support
- Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients
Options: Available in Stella’s Super Beef, Chewy Chicken (obviously not chicken-free), Savory Salmon & Cod, Tantalizing Turkey, Dandy Lamb, Purely Pork, and Duck Duck Goose.
Protein Content (Stella’s Super Beef): 44% min
Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Heart, Beef Tripe,...,
Beef Bone, Pumpkin Seed, Organic Cranberries, Organic Spinach, Organic Broccoli, Organic Beets, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Blueberries, Fenugreek Seed, Potassium Chloride, Dried Kelp, Sodium Phosphate, Tocopherols (Preservative), Choline Chloride, Dried Pediococcus Acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid
- Excellent mix of protein options for dogs needing a chicken-free diet
- Feeders of raw love the convenience of freeze-dried raw ingredients
- Rich in nutrient-dense organ meat
- Most dogs love the taste (ideal choice for picky pups!)
- Grain-free food isn’t a good fit for every dog
- Freeze-dried raw ingredients can be too rich for sensitive systems
- Requires special handling to ensure there’s no bacterial contamination
11. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains
About: Top your chicken-free fur friend’s bowl off with the protein-rich kibble Merrick Classic Healthy Grains, a delicious blend of meats sure to whet your woof’s appetite while remaining free of peas, potatoes, and lentils. Made with wholesome ancient grains like brown rice, barley, and quinoa, this dry food offers sustained energy plus fatty acids for skin and coat health from flaxseed.
- Real meat is always the first ingredient, offering a natural source of animal protein
- Meets AAFCO standards for maintenance in adult dogs
- Great source of joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin
- Kibble size works great for all breed sizes
- Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients
Options: Offered in Beef & Brown Rice, Lamb & Brown Rice, and Chicken & Brown Rice (clearly for the chicken-friendly canines.) Both adult dog food and puppy varieties are available.
Protein Content (Beef & Brown Rice): 26% min
Deboned Beef, Pork Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal...,
Pork Fat, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavor, Lamb Meal, Quinoa, Flaxseed, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Carrots, Apples, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Chia Seed, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Citric Acid for freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product
- Chockful of protein-rich, tasty meat that even picky pups adore
- Excellent source of fatty acids for a healthy coat and keeping dry skin at bay
- Probiotics give your pup’s digestion a boost
- Mixed proteins can be an issue for dogs with sensitivities
- Relatively few protein options, which is a bummer for those needing an alternative to chicken but seeking a variety
12. Acana Wholesome Grains
About: Nourish your chicken-free fur kiddo’s sensitive tummy with Acana Wholesome Grains, a kibble that combines novel proteins like lamb with prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion. Its limited ingredient list is a win for dogs with food intolerances, plus it’s free of potatoes and legumes, making it an ideal choice for pet parents concerned about heart health.
Fish oil nourishes your pup’s coat, while whole oats give her lasting energy to take on the day’s fun (and help keep her full!), making it a good pick for pups trying to maintain an ideal weight without feeling deprived.
- Made with single-source protein recipes
- Meets AAFCO standards for all life stages except for the growth of large-breed puppies
- Glucosamine supports your dog’s joints
- Made in the USA
Options: Offered in Lamb & Pumpkin and Duck & Pumpkin.
Protein Content (Lamb & Pumpkin): 27% min
Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Oat Groats, Whole Sorghum, Lamb Liver...,
Whole Pumpkin, Fish Oil, Natural Lamb Flavor, Whole Oats, Ground Miscanthus Grass, Lamb Fat, Lamb Cartilage, Lamb Tripe, Salt, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Dried Kelp, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Freeze-Dried Lamb Liver, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Chicory, Turmeric, Citric Acid (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product
- Prebiotics and probiotics support healthy canine digestion
- Novel protein options ideal choice for dogs with chicken sensitivity
- Most pups seems to like the taste
- Premium price point
- Additional protein options would be ideal
13. Wellness Simple Healthy Weight
About: Support your woofer’s weight goals with Wellness Simple Healthy Weight, a chicken-free kibble made without chicken or extra calories while still providing balanced nutrition. Real salmon fuels your pup with protein for lean muscle development, while omega-3 fatty acids promote skin and coat health plus combat inflammation.
Salmon has a fishy taste and smell that entices most pups to give it a try, making this recipe a solid choice for pickier canines.
- Meets AAFCO nutrient standards for maintenance in adult dogs
- Grain-free, limited-ingredient recipe ideal for dogs with food sensitivities
- Added prebiotics and probiotics promote healthy digestion
- Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients
Options: Available in a single Salmon & Peas formula.
Protein Content: 26% min
Salmon, Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes,...,
Tomato Pomace, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Ground Flaxseed, Natural Fish Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Chicory Root Extract, Vitamin E Supplement, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Beta-Carotene, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract
- Calorie-conscious recipe made for dogs needing to trim down
- Excellent source of natural fatty acids to support skin and coat health
- Added probiotics support healthy dog digestion
- More protein options would be nice
- Grain-free nature is not an ideal choice for every doggo
- Premium price compared to other kibbles
Other Chicken-Related Ingredients to Avoid
Chicken is commonly found in dog food, even when it’s not the star ingredient, so if you have a chicken-free canine, you must scan the full ingredient list to be safe. This is especially important if your dog suffers from a chicken allergy.
Watch out for these sneaky chicken ingredients:
- Chicken meal
- Chicken by-product meal
- Chicken by-products
- Poultry by-product meal (may contain chicken)
- Poultry by-products (may contain chicken)
- Chicken broth
Remember to check the ingredient list on your dog’s treats and supplements, too, as many use chicken as an added flavoring.
Can Dogs Who’re Allergic to Chicken Eat Chicken Fat?
Chicken fat is commonly used as a flavoring and consistency booster in dog food.
Luckily, unlike other chicken products, chicken fat doesn’t usually cause a reaction in dogs with chicken allergies. This is because chicken allergies are triggered by chicken protein which shouldn’t be found in chicken fat. Chicken fat is generally found far down on the ingredient list of foods and treats, too.
That said, every dog is different, and some dogs with chicken allergies may not be able to eat chicken fat. The ideal choice is to err on the side of caution and always ask your vet before serving.
What Are the Alternatives to Chicken?
Chicken might be a protein powerhouse on the dog food market, but there are still quite a few alternative sources of protein to choose from, including lots of lean sources. This ranges from the common to the exotic, so you have plenty of options to find the right alternative to chicken for your pooch, whether you need a lean meat to aid in weight loss or something with healthy fats for skin support.
Alternative proteins to chicken include:
Lamb is an excellent alternative protein for dogs with chicken sensitivities. It’s common in dry recipes intended for sensitive systems, as this lean meat is less likely to upset a dog’s digestive tract. It’s also one of the tastier meat sources in dog food and lower in calories, so it’s ideal for helping your pup maintain an ideal weight. Unfortunately, it’s a rarer protein in the U.S., so it’s pricier than chicken.
This fatty fish is a favorite in dry recipes and canned foods aimed toward treating dry skin, as it’s a protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a great option for chicken-sensitive dogs needing a little more enticement to eat, too, as this higher fat content comes with lots of flavor. Of course, salmon foods also have a fishy scent, which some humans find a little off-putting.
Beef is one of the most popular meats in dry recipes and canned foods for dogs alike, as it’s affordable and a good source of protein. It’s also a protein rich in flavor that most dogs go nuts for, making it a popular choice in treats too. The fat content varies by meat quality and cut, so always double-check a food’s label to ensure it’s not too rich for your pup’s needs.
Pork is another popular choice in today’s dry recipes for dogs since it’s relatively cheap and a protein rich in flavor. It has a similar protein amount to beef and is also quite flavorful, making it a good choice for chicken-sensitive dogs with pickier palates. That said, it does have a higher fat content that can upset sensitive systems who need a lean alternative.
Turkey is a lean source of protein that’s hit-or-miss with dogs with chicken sensitivities. Some pups tolerate it fine and others need to avoid it too. It’s a lean alternative to chicken that’s common in dry recipes for weight loss since it has a lower fat content than other meat sources. If your dog struggles to maintain an ideal weight, it may be a good option, but it’s more expensive than standard proteins.
Duck is a tasty alternative protein for dogs with chicken sensitivities, so it’s an excellent choice for pickier pups. Its tongue-tempting flavor comes from its high fat content, but all that extra fat can be a problem for dogs who struggle to maintain an ideal weight or need a lean meat due to health issues. Duck also has less protein than common meat sources in dog food and is more expensive.
Pheasant is another poultry that some dogs with chicken sensitivities may tolerate. It’s more flavorful than chicken, making it an ideal choice for picky pups, but it also has more protein, a higher fat content, and more calories, so it may not be best for chubby or inactive dogs. Pheasant is also one of the more expensive alternative sources of protein and typically only used in pricier dry recipes of dog food.
Bison is a favorite lean alternative to beef, making it a good choice for chicken-sensitive dogs who love the flavor of beef but can’t tolerate its higher fat content. Bison is lower in protein than beef or pork and comes at a higher pricetag since it’s a less common protein.
Rabbit is an excellent alternative protein for dogs with chicken sensitivities. It offers a similar amount of protein but packs a wallop of gamey flavor that most dogs enjoy. Rabbit is a lean source of protein, too, but still packs some healthy fats. Rabbit isn’t common in dry recipes and other dog foods in the U.S., but some brands carry it at a premium price.
Trout is a protein rich in omega-3s, plus it has niacin and Vitamin B12 for canine health health, so it’s a solid pick for chicken-sensitive dogs needing a boost of healthy fat content for skin and coat health. Trout is less common than salmon in dry recipes and wet foods for dogs, so it is more expensive. The fishy taste and smell are also hit-or-miss, with some pups finding it drool-worthy and others refusing it.
Whitefish is a generic term for white-fleshed fish like cod, whiting, halibut, and pollock. These fish are healthy sources of niacin, selenium, and Vitamin B12 but less fatty than salmon, so they have fewer omega-3s. As a lean source of protein, whitefish is a great pick for chicken-sensitive dogs with weight concerns. It’s popular in fish-focused dry recipes and relatively affordable, plus its mild taste makes it an excellent alternative to salmon in dogs who need extra omega-3s without the funky flavor.
Tilapia is a lean alternative protein for chicken-sensitive dogs. It’s low in calories and has a lower fat content than most fish and meat sources, but still has as much protein as beef, so it’s a great choice for dogs needing to shed some pounds. The fish is widely available and cheap, but it isn’t used in many dogs foods, so you may have trouble finding it.
Alligator isn’t common in many dry recipes and canned options, but it’s a great pick for dogs with chicken sensitivities who love the taste of real chicken meat since its flavor is comparable. It’s a lean alternative to most meat sources and rich in protein, though it has more calories than beef, chicken, or pork. Novel proteins like gator are good for dogs with multiple protein sensitivities, but this swamp-dweller’s meat is a tad pricey.
Crickets are picking up steam along with other alternative sources of protein because of their smaller carbon footprints than cattle and other livestock. They’re a novel protein, so they’re good for dogs with multiple protein allergies. Crickets contain more omega-3s and Vitamin B-12 than salmon, plus they pack a pop of protein. These little buggers are expensive, though, with dry recipes of cricket dog food costing more than other alternative sources of protein.
Kangaroo is often used as a lean meat alternative to beef and can be a great pick for chicken-sensitive dogs too. Its gamey taste is a hit with picky pups, and its novel nature is ideal for dogs with multiple protein allergies. This lean meat is a protein-rich pick with very low levels of fat, but it’s rare, so you’ll have to pay a pretty penny for it.
Like kangaroo, venison is used as a lean alternative to beef but can be good for chicken-sensitive dogs as well. It’s a novel protein, sitting well with many dogs with multiple protein allergies, plus it has a gamey taste that dogs adore. Venison is a protein rich in well, protein but lower in calories and fat than beef. Unfortunately, this lean meat is more expensive than other chicken-free alternative sources of protein.
Goat is an excellent alternative protein option for dogs with chicken allergies. It’s also great for owners who want something more eco-friendly than cattle. It’s a protein rich in flavor, enticing even the pickiest of pups, plus it’s a novel protein, so it’s a good match for dogs with multiple meat allergies. Goat has fewer calories and a lower fat content than chicken or beef and only has slightly less protein than chicken. Goat-based dry recipes can be pricey, however.
For dogs with chicken sensitivities plus problems with other alternative sources of protein, the answer may be a hydrolyzed protein dog food diet.
Hydrolyzed protein is typically only used in hypoallergenic dog food, as it involves breaking the protein and carbohydrates down significantly to prevent an immune response. This is a last resort for dogs with serious food allergies and is quite expensive.
If your dog has been allergy tested, refer to her results to pick the best protein. More exotic proteins often come at a premium price, but some are more affordable than others. Beef, lamb, pork, and salmon tend to be cheaper than alligator and pheasant, for instance.
Pay attention to fat contents, as lean meats are easier to digest than fattier ones. Fattier meats can actually be detrimental to dogs with certain health conditions.
If you’re ever unsure about a protein or stuck between two choices, just ask your vet.
Can Dogs Who’re Allergic to Chicken Eat Turkey or Duck?
Dogs with chicken allergies (or chicken intolerances) can sometimes eat other poultry like duck- or turkey-flavored dog foods without issue, but this isn’t always the case. For some chicken-sensitive dogs, an entirely different protein category is needed to avoid triggering negative immune functions.
This is part of the reason it’s wise to speak to your vet about your dog’s allergic reactions. Allergy testing can identify the scope of your dog’s sensitivities, rule out other poultry allergies, and help you find a safe protein option for your pup without risking an adverse reaction.
Things to Look for in Any Dog Food
Most of today’s mainstream dog food — chicken-inclusive or not — can be fed to the majority of dogs without issue, but it’s a good idea to scrutinize any food before purchase.
The best food for your dog fits three core rules:
- Meets AAFCO guidelines for your dog’s life stage and size: Dogs of different ages and sizes have specific nutritional needs. Large breed puppy, senior, and other formulas contain carefully calculated proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals to ensure your dog gets complete, balanced nutrition. Always tick to adult dog food for adults, puppy food for puppies, and so forth.
- Addresses any medical conditions your dog has: Certain health issues have strict dietary rules, like low salt and protein content for renal problems or low-fat diets for pancreatic issues. Your vet will prescribe or recommend the correct food if needed.
- Receives your vet’s nod of approval: Nutrition is one of the primary pieces of your dog’s overall wellness, so always run a food by your vet to make sure it fits your dog’s needs. This is especially important for dogs with medical problems or special dietary concerns.
Of course, there are a few other things you’ll want to consider too.
For example, US-made dog foods are generally preferable to those made in other countries for our furry friends. You’ll also need to decide whether you want grain-free dog food or if you’d prefer a grain-inclusive dog food (we recommend the latter unless your pooch has a specific intolerance to grains).
For that matter, you’ll need to decide whether wet food or dry food is best for your pet or whether you want to skip all these headaches entirely and simply hook your hound up with a custom-crafted dog food that’s made specifically for her needs.
Best Chicken-Free Dog Foods: FAQ
Navigating chicken allergies in dogs isn’t easy, so you may still have some questions and concerns. Let’s dive into the most commonly asked questions about chicken-free food, common symptoms of food allergies and intolerance in dogs, and more.
What is the best dog food for dogs with allergies to chicken?
The best food for any dog is one that meets the AAFCO standard for your dog’s life stage, addresses any health issues or needs she has, and has a seal of approval from your vet. For example, a large-breed puppy has vastly different nutritional needs from a senior Chihuahua.
For dogs with chicken sensitivities or allergies, protein alternatives to chicken, like a fish or beef recipe, might be all they need, but for pups with multiple food intolerances, a limited-ingredient recipe like Natural Balance L.I.D. may be necessary. These recipes contain fewer ingredients than standard kibbles overall and are typically easier for dogs to digest.
Our top picks for chicken-sensitive dogs are Nom Nom, Spot & Tango’s Unkibble, and Merrick Classic Healthy Grains, but always double-check the label to ensure the recipe is entirely free of chicken. Remember to check for egg products, too, if your dog has egg allergies.
What dog food does not have chicken or chicken by-products?
Since chicken allergies in dogs are relatively common, there are a number of foods offering alternatives to chicken. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains has several grain-inclusive chicken-free alternatives, while Taste of the Wild has a few chicken-free picks without grains if your dog also needs a grain-free diet.
Another option is a limited-ingredient recipe like Natural Balance L.I.D. These are a solid choice for dogs with food intolerance to multiple ingredients, as they stick to the basics to provide a quality diet for dogs that won’t trigger tummy upset.
What are the symptoms of chicken allergy in dogs?
Chicken allergies in dogs typically present like other food allergies with a skin rash, ear redness, itchy skin, and inflammation, but they may also involve coughing, eye discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea. In extreme cases, your dog may have difficulty breathing.
Sometimes, owners mistake common symptoms of food intolerance for food allergy symptoms, but they differ.
Food intolerance in dogs is similar to lactose intolerance in people, where a person gets ill with gas, diarrhea, or vomiting after ingesting milk. A dog who’s intolerant to chicken would react the same, but she wouldn’t break out into a rash or have other eye, ear, or breathing issues, while a dog allergic to chicken would.
The gastric symptoms overlap, so it can be hard to distinguish the two, but food allergies are far more dangerous and involve an immune response. If you suspect a food allergy to chicken or another ingredient, consult your vet to rule out other potential causes.
What is a bland diet for dogs who are allergic to chicken?
Bland diets for dogs are typically reserved for pups with ongoing digestive upset or suspected food allergies.
They may include a limited-ingredient recipe like Natural Balance L.I.D. or a brief homemade rice and beef diet under a vet’s guidance. These are focused on simple ingredients that won’t agitate your dog’s digestive tract but don’t always taste the best.
There are plenty of great protein alternatives to chicken that aren’t necessarily bland to your dog’s tastebuds, with fish-based foods particularly popular with picky pups like Diamond Naturals and Zignature. Lamb is another common novel protein option, which is the star in Acana Wholesome Grains.
Sticking with a single protein source is recommended if your chicken-free pup has a sensitive tummy, so always read the ingredient list carefully for hidden protein or meat sources. This includes eggs, as some chicken-sensitive dogs also have egg allergies.
Can dogs with chicken allergies eat chicken by-product?
No. Dogs with chicken allergies are allergic to the protein in chicken, which is also found in chicken ingredients like chicken by-products, chicken meal, poultry by-product meal, poultry by-products, chicken broth, and eggs.
Chicken fat is sometimes an exception for some dogs since chicken protein isn’t found in it, but this isn’t always the case, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and skip it.
Chicken products are used to pack a punch of flavor, but there are heaps of tasty chicken-free alternatives your dog can still enjoy. Salmon is a favorite, as is beef, pork, lamb, and venison.
What protein is best for dogs with allergies?
That depends entirely on the allergy. The most common food allergies in dogs are to proteins like chicken, chicken eggs, dairy, and beef. Luckily, there are several other quality protein sources available as alternatives to chicken and other common triggers. Fish and lamb are popular meat sources, for instance.
Another option is to try exotic proteins like kangaroo, alligator, venison, bison, or rabbit. These healthy alternatives are great natural sources of protein, vital nutrients, and necessary fats but come at a premium price at the register.
It’s always best to ask your vet before trying a new protein with your pup and to stick to single protein sources before venturing into multi-meat recipes. Those meat-forward blends are tasty but can cause stomach upset, particularly in dogs with known dietary restrictions.
What is the most common food allergy in dogs?
The most common food allergy triggers in dogs are proteins like chicken, chicken eggs, beef, and dairy. While they’re quality protein sources, in some dogs, they trigger an immune response leading to food allergy symptoms like itchy skin, red ears, eye discharge, coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Unfortunately, protein allergies are often mistaken for grain allergies, leading owners to switch to an unnecessary grain-free diet. This is why consulting your vet about a suspected food allergy is essential.
It’s also important to distinguish a food intolerance from a food allergy, as a food intolerance is uncomfortable with gas, diarrhea, and vomiting but not as dangerous as a food allergy. An allergy involves an immune response that can affect your dog’s breathing and cause painful skin problems.
How can I tell if my dog is allergic to his food?
Common food allergy symptoms involve more skin and body-wide reactions like itchiness, red ears, eye discharge, coughing, and even difficulty breathing, along with stomach upset like vomiting and diarrhea. In contrast, food intolerance involves GI symptoms only, such as noxious gas, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If you notice food allergy symptoms or even unexplained things like sensitive skin in your dog, contact your vet to get to the bottom of it and rule out other causes. Usually, the first course of action is an elimination diet for dogs, where you narrow down ingredients until you find the culprit.
How do I know if my dog has food allergies or environmental allergies?
Distinguishing between environmental allergies and food allergies in dogs can be hard, as many of the symptoms overlap. Both involve an immune response to an allergen, with typical food triggers being proteins and environmental causes being dust, mold, fleas, or grass.
Common symptoms of environmental allergies in dogs include excessive paw licking, itching, skin lesions, coughing, increased shedding, scooting, and repeat ear infections. These primarily involve super sensitive skin that’s persistently itchy.
In contrast, common symptoms of food allergies are more layered, including itchiness, red ears, coughing, eye discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The marked difference is that food allergies often have skin and digestive tract symptoms.
If you suspect either food or environmental allergies in your pup, consult with your vet to help your floof feel better.
Is your dog on a chicken-free diet? Does she have to eat a limited-ingredient formula? Does she love any of the foods on our list? Is there another dog food with no chicken that she enjoys? Let us know in the comments!