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7 Best Chicken-Free Dog Food Options: Hard Pass on the Poultry!

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Dog Food By Kelsey Snyder 16 min read October 18, 2021

Best non-chicken dog food

As a great source of protein and fatty acids, chicken is a staple 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 completely 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.

Best Chicken-Free Dog food: Quick Picks

  • #1 Nom Nom [Best Overall Non-Chicken Dog Food]: Made with human-grade ingredients, this fresh food option has a few highly palatable chicken-free choices available that you can get shipped right to your door.
  • #2 Natural Balance L.I.D. [Best Grain-Inclusive Non-Chicken Kibble]: A limited-ingredient diet option that’s specifically designed to avoid triggering allergies, this is a great kibble for dogs who can’t enjoy chicken.
  • #3 Diamond Naturals [Most Affordable Non-Chicken Dog Food]: This is a high-quality, probiotic-fortified, chicken-free dog food that includes lots of tasty produce and won’t wallop your wallet.

Why Do Some Dogs Need Chicken-Free Dog Food?

dog allergies cause itching

While chicken is one of the most popular kibble ingredients, 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. However, the symptoms of food allergies in dogs differ pretty significantly from those people experience.

Common signs of food allergies in doggos include:

  • Skin rash (especially around the thighs, feet, or ears)
  • Inner ear redness or infection
  • Itching
  • Inflammation
  • Coughing
  • Eye discharge
  • Diarrhea (sometimes severe)
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing

Mild food allergies are best treated by simply avoiding the offending ingredient.

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-challenge 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, a 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. 

Symptoms of a chicken intolerance in your dog are:

  • Noxious gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

If you notice a food sensitivity in your dog, it’s always a good idea to let your vet know. And when diarrhea or vomiting is severe, a vet visit is a must.

The 7 Best Dog Foods Without Chicken

chicken-free dog foods

Finding non-chicken dog food can be tricky, but we sniffed around and located the best of the best for you. Here are our top picks for non-chicken dog kibble and canned food.

1. Nom Nom 

Best Overall Non-Chicken Dog Food

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Nom nom

Nom Nom 

A chicken-free fresh food that’s made in the USA with US-sourced, human-grade ingredients and shipped to your door.

About: Avoiding hidden chicken is easy with Nom Noma nutritionist-designed fresh food option that’s delivered right to your home.

Cooked up 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 a safe and nutritious food — they’re also designed to have a flavor and texture that’ll drive your dog wild.

Want more info? Make sure to check out our full Nom Nom hands-on review!

Features:

  • Cooked gently to preserve nutrition
  • Pre-packaged and pre-portioned specifically for your dog
  • Sustainably sourced with zero food waste principles
  • Made in the USA using only US-sourced ingredients

Options: Nom Nom comes in four protein offerings: pork, beef, chicken, and turkey.

Protein Content (Pork): 7%

Ingredients List

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

Pros

  • These are some of the best-tasting recipes available.
  • The ingredient lists are very impressive.
  • The nifty trial option makes sampling the food without a long-term commitment possible (a bit of a rare feature in the fresh dog food category).

Cons

  • Since this is a fresh food, you’ll have to pay quite a bit more for it than most other options.
  • These foods must be frozen or refrigerated during storage.
  • This is a grain-free recipe, which may give owners concerned about DCM pause.

2. Spot & Tango Unkibble 

Best Dry Non-Chicken Dog Food

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Spot & Tango Unkibble 

Spot & Tango Unkibble 

A gently-dried, chicken-free canine cuisine that’s a little more affordable than true fresh foods, while still being super tasty.

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 kind of nutrition 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. Owners 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, and more to get the carefully measured quantity of food that’ll work best for her.

Features:

  • Made with human-grade ingredients
  • Shipped straight to your home for maximum convenience
  • Packaged with eco-friendly, compostable, and recyclable materials only
  • Made in the USA

Options: Available in Beef & Barley, Duck & Salmon, and Chicken & Brown Rice.

Protein Content (Beef & Barley): 26.58%

Ingredients List

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

Pros

  • Unkibble’s taste and texture blows most traditional kibbles out of the water.
  • Very affordable compared to most fresh-frozen options (starts at around $1.00 per day).
  • A two-week trial option is available.
  • Backed by the Spot & Tango’s money-back guarantee. 

Cons

  • The pieces are often different shapes and sizes, which makes this food difficult to use with puzzle feeders.
  • You’ll have to pay for the difference in quality between Unkibble and traditional kibbles.
  • You will have to sign up for a subscription to try Unkibble, though you can cancel at any time.

3. Taste of the Wild 

Best Grain-Free Non-Chicken Kibble

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Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild 

A premium, US-made, grain-free kibble that’s packed with plenty of protein, antioxidant-rich produce, and fortified with probiotics.

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.

Taste of the Wild offers an entire line of different recipes, including a few chicken-free varieties like the Pacific Stream recipe discussed here. 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.

Features:

  • Real meat — salmon in this case — is always the first ingredient
  • Contains no corn, soy, wheat, or artificial colors
  • Added prebiotics and probiotics for 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%

Ingredients List

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

Pros

  • Reasonably priced when compared to other kibbles of similar quality.
  • This food is made with smoked salmon (a relatively “fancy” ingredient) to help improve the taste.
  • Several ingredients included in this food are rich in antioxidants.

Cons

  • Most of the foods in the Taste of the Wild product line are grain-free, which may worry some owners.
  • This is a multi-protein food, making it inappropriate for dogs with some food allergies.

4. Natural Balance L.I.D.  

Best Grain-Inclusive Non-Chicken Kibble

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Natural Balance L.I.D. 

Natural Balance L.I.D. 

A limited-ingredient diet that’s completely free of chicken and most other common allergens to keep your dog feeling her best.

About: Natural Balance L.I.D. takes the guesswork out of ingredient list searching by sticking to the basics. In fact (and like most other limited-ingredient dog food diets), this kibble is specifically designed to avoid triggering your dog’s food allergies. To that end, many of Natural Balance LID’s recipes rely on dog food without chicken – not even a trace!

Natural Balance L.I.D. really only contains about seven 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 serious food allergies.

Features:

  • 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.

Protein Content (Lamb & Brown Rice): 22%

Ingredients List

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.

Pros

  • This brand offers quite a few other chicken-free dog food recipes if your dog doesn’t like lamb.
  • A true L.I.D. food that’s great for doggos with food allergies.
  • This food is priced quite affordably compared to most other L.I.D. formulas.

Cons

  • It lacks some of the taste-boosting ingredients some traditional kibbles contain.
  • We’d have preferred them to use brown rice instead of brewers rice.

5. Diamond Naturals 

Most Affordable Non-Chicken Kibble

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Diamond Naturals 

Diamond Naturals 

A cost-effective, chicken-free kibble that still delivers the kind of nutrition and taste you want, as well as supplemental probiotics.

About: Cost-conscious owners needn’t worry about finding a good yet affordable chicken-free kibble — Diamond Naturals provides a premium salmon-and-fish-meal-based recipe that’ll be as gentle on your dog’s system as it is 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 system, fiber to promote proper digestion, and carbohydrates for providing energy. And just as importantly, it has a taste that most dogs love.

Features:

  • High-quality, whole proteins are always the first ingredient
  • Fortified with probiotics for digestive health
  • Omega 3 fatty acids are included to limit inflammation and promote coat health
  • 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% minimum

Ingredients List

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.

Pros

  • One of the most affordable kibbles on the market that still provides top-notch nutrition.
  • A variety of nutritious fruits and veggies — including unusual ingredients, like coconut and papaya — are included.
  • Diamond offers several other chicken-free recipes.

Cons

  • This is a grain-free recipe, which may cause some owners to look for a different option.
  • The taste really can’t compare with more expensive options.

6. The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey Recipe

Best Non-Chicken Dehydrated Dog Food

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The Honest Kitchen Chicken-Free

The Honest Kitchen Turkey Recipe

A dehydrated dog food made with ranch-raised beef, organic whole oats and simple garden produce — just add water and serve!

About: The Honest Kitchen’s Turkey Recipe is a different kind of dog food that may also work for your chicken-sensitive doggo.

Made with only a handful of primary 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.

Features:

  • Made with humanely reared, ranch-raised beef
  • Contains no preservatives, by-products, or GMO ingredients
  • Designed for adult and senior dogs
  • Features multiple organic whole grains

Protein Content (Beef Recipe): 22.5% minimum

Ingredients List

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].

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • The Honest Kitchen recipes are a bit more expensive than traditional kibbles.
  • Some owners complained about poor customer service from The Honest Kitchen.
  • Several owners mentioned that the food’s consistency was poor.

7. Zignature 

Best Non-Chicken Canned Dog Food

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Zignature

Zignature

A tasty, salmon-and-trout-based wet dog food that is made in the USA without chicken or other common triggers.

About: Finding a chicken-free canned dog 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. However, Zignature doesn’t compromise on quality, nutrition, or taste by doing so, as this recipe is made with a number of pup-pleasing proteins and legumes for fiber and carbohydrates.

Want more info? Make sure to check out our full Zignature dog food brand review!

Features:

  • Quality protein is always the first ingredient
  • Contains no corn, soy, wheat, chicken, or dairy
  • Legumes add fiber for healthy digestion and energy
  • Made in the USA  

Options: 13 protein options are available, including “standard” proteins like lamb and turkey as well as more exotic meats, such as kangaroo, catfish, and goat.

Protein Content (Trout & salmon): 9%

Ingredients List

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

Pros

  • 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.
  • The pricing of this food is comparable to other high-quality canned options.

Cons

  • There are no grain-inclusive options among Zignature’s lineup.

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-product meal (may contain chicken)
  • Chicken broth
  • Eggs

Remember to check the ingredient list on your dog’s treats and supplements, too, as many use chicken as an added flavoring.

We’ve Done the Work for You!

Don’t worry! All seven of the foods we recommend above are completely free of chicken, so you can just pick the one that sounds best for your four-footer!

Can Dogs Who’re Allergic to Chicken Eat Chicken Fat?

chicken fat in dog food

Chicken fat is commonly used as a flavoring and consistency booster in dog food. 

Luckily, unlike other chicken products, it 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. Always ask your vet first to be sure.

What Are the Alternatives to Chicken?

Chicken might be a protein powerhouse on the dog food market, but there are still quite a few alternatives to choose from. This ranges from the common to the exotic, so you have plenty of options.

Alternative proteins to chicken include:

If your dog has been allergy tested, refer to her results to pick the best protein. 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?

duck turkey and chicken for dogs

Dogs with chicken allergies can sometimes eat other poultry like duck- or turkey-flavored dog foods without issue, but this isn’t always the case. For some dogs, an entirely different protein category is needed. 

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.

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. 
  • 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. 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. 

***

Does your dog 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!

choosing a dog food
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Written by

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey is a K9 of Mine contributor who has worked with dogs as a shift runner and office manager of a boarding kennel. When she’s not writing, she can be found throwing a ball or losing at tug of war. An animal lover to the max, she lives in South Jersey with her husband, her five dogs Boomer, Taj, Batman, Maya, and Moxie, some kitties, and two grumpy turtles.

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