Grain-free dog food has been all the rage in recent years due in large part to humans’ increasing interest in grain-free diets for themselves (as demonstrated by the uptick in paleo and keto diets).
But are grain-free dog foods really a good idea? Certainly not for all dogs. In many cases, choosing dog food with grains may be the best thing for your pooch.
We’ll discuss why dog food with grains should be considered by pet parents and suggest some of the best dog food with grains below.
Grain-Free Diets and DCM in Dogs
Recently there has been an upsurge in reports of DCM in dogs, and while the verdict is still out on what exactly is causing the increase in DCM incidents, most researchers agree that it has something to do with BEG diets (Boutique brands, Exotic protein, Grain-free).
Unfortunately, outside of this scope, veterinarians still can’t say for sure what aspect of the BEG diet is causing issues. Many are asking:
- Is it that these smaller manufacturers are doing something wrong in their production process?
- Is it because of unusual proteins like kangaroo?
- Is it the reliance on legumes, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas over more traditional carbohydrates used in pet foods?
Since we can’t say for sure, the safest route to take is to stick with non-BEG diets, which means:
- Well-known, reputable manufacturers with experience in the dog food industry
- Foods with more traditional meat proteins (such as chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, and fish).
- Foods with grains rather than grain substitutes (rice, oatmeal, oats, etc).
Research is still ongoing into the potential link, but the safest course of action, for now, is likely to stick to grain-inclusive dog foods without legumes or peas. Always double-check those pet food labels!
Best Dog Food With Grains
Now that we dug into why grains are great for dogs, we can weed through all of today’s products to learn more about the best of the best. Check out our picks for the best dog food with grains.
About: Ollie is fresh dog food made with a premium protein paired with a grain and fresh sources of fiber and antioxidants, like spinach and carrots.
Customized to your dog’s age, weight, activity level, and more, the food’s premeasured to prevent unnecessary weight gain and addresses any areas of concern you may have, such as dry skin, with added omega-3s.
- Real meat is always the primary ingredient
- Available in 4 grain-inclusive recipes, including Chicken, Pork, Lamb, and Turkey
- Meets AAFCO nutrient profile for all life stages, including the growth of large breed dogs
- Doesn’t contain any artificial colors or flavors
- Made in the USA using human-grade ingredients
Chicken, Rice, Carrots, Chicken Livers, Peas...,
Potatoes, Spinach, Cranberries, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salmon Oil, Salt, Taurine, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulphate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Potassium Iodide
- Hard to beat the quality of customized dog food made with human-grade ingredients
- Many dogs enjoy the taste and texture, including picky eaters and those missing teeth
- Contains a great mix of produce in each recipe
- Pricing is steep for such a high-quality food
- Requires refrigeration
2. Nom Nom Turkey Fare
About: Nom Nom Turkey Fare is another stellar fresh food containing grains featuring brown rice, turkey, eggs, and veggies preportioned to meet your dog’s dietary needs.
Delivered fresh to your door, each Nom Nom recipe contains a mix of vitamins and minerals to ensure a balanced diet, plus omega fatty acids for healthy skin.
- Each recipe is formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist
- Meets AAFCO nutrient profile for all life stages
- Each ingredient is cooked separately to ensure food safety
- Made in the USA in Nom Nom kitchens
Ground Turkey, Brown Rice, Eggs, Carrots, Spinach...,
Dicalcium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Vinegar, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Water Sufficient For Processing, Fish Oil, Choline Bitartrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Taurine, Natural Flavor, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Gluconate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Cholecalciferol (Source Of Vitamin D3), Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement
- Most dogs seem to enjoy the taste
- A board-certified veterinary nutritionist formulates each recipe
- Delivered right to your door for maximum convenience
- Not every dog is a fan of turkey, and unfortunately, it’s Nom Nom’s only grain-inclusive recipe
- Pricing is up there
3. Honest Kitchen Limited Ingredient Chicken
About: Honest Kitchen Limited Ingredient Chicken is a very high-quality, human-grade formula that relies on free-range chicken and gluten-free, organic quinoa for the main ingredients.
This limited-ingredient chicken-based dog food formula boasts a very short ingredient list with entirely recognizable ingredients, making it a great choice for dogs with digestion or allergy issues.
- Chicken is the sole meat protein source
- Organic quinoa (gluten-free grain) and sweet potatoes are used for carbohydrates
- Only 6 ingredients – great for dogs with allergies or sensitivities
- Minimally processed, dehydrated formula
- No corn, wheat, soy, by-products, preservatives, or GMO ingredients
- Whole-food ingredients made in the USA, no ingredients from China
- 26% Protein / 16% Fat / 43% Carbohydrates (Approx)
Chicken, Organic Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Parsley...,
Organic Kelp, Minerals [Tricalcium Phosphate, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite], Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement] EPA, DHA
- Food is on the pricier side
- Requires rehydration, which takes a little time and can be messy
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection
About: Blue Buffalo Life Protection is a mid-priced grain-inclusive dog food with decent levels of protein.
This formula relies on whitefish and fish meal for sources of protein. Fish is the only animal protein in this recipe, so it’s a good choice for owners looking to avoid mixed meat compositions (however, chicken fat is included in the ingredient list, so be aware of that).
High-quality grains of oatmeal, barley, and brown rice make up the majority of the carbohydrate composition, although more common grain-substitute starches like pea starch and potato starch also make an appearance in the ingredient list, adding fiber for digestive health.
- First ingredients are whitefish and menhaden fish meal.
- No corn, wheat, soy, or chicken/poultry by-product meals
- Includes glucosamine and chondroitin for improved joint health – especially beneficial for larger dogs
- 22% Protein / 13% Fat / 49% Carbohydrates (Approx)
Whitefish, Menhaden Fish Meal (Source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal...,
Pea Starch, Peas, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed (Source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Chicken Meal, Dried Tomato Pomace, Pea Protein, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Choline Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Garlic, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice For Color, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
- A solid choice for fish-loving dogs and picky pups who need more enticing
- Rich in healthy fats for skin and coat health
- Excellent variety of other proteins if your pup prefers another meat source like chicken or beef
- Protein composition is a little lower than we’d like to see
- Some dogs refuse to eat the LifeSource Bits
5. Victor Classic High-Pro Plus
About: Victor Classic High-Pro Plus is a high-protein diet that includes a mix of beef, chicken, pork, and fish meal and relies primarily on grain sorghum and whole grain millet for grains. It’s suited for all life stages, from puppies to adults, so it can grow with your furry friend!
- 88% meat protein with chicken, beef, pork, and fish meal
- Uses gluten-free grains
- Designed specifically for sporting and athletic dogs
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- 30% Protein / 20% Fat / 33% Carbohydrates (Approx)
Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Pork Meal, Chicken Meal...,
Menhaden Fish Meal (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Blood Meal, Whole Grain Millet, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Yeast Culture, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Carrot Powder, Tomato Pomace (source of Lycopene), Taurine, Salt, Choline Chloride, Dried Seaweed Meal, Zinc Methionine Complex, Vitamin E Supplement, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Calcium Carbonate, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Ferrous Sulfate, L-Carnitine, Selenium Yeast, Copper Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Powdered Cellulose, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Silicon Dioxide, Tetra Sodium Pyrophosphate, Vegetable Oil, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract, Lecithin, Fructooligosaccharide, Folic Acid, Yucca Schidigera Extract.
- This Victor dog food recipe features a whipping 88% meat protein, plus gluten-free grains
- Most dogs love the meat-rich recipe
- All life stages nature great for growing with your dog or feeding multi-pup packs
- Mix of animal proteins can cause issues for dogs with food allergies
- High-protein dog food isn’t a good match for every dog’s needs
6. Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Turkey & Oatmeal
About: Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Turkey & Oatmeal is an extremely high-quality recipe designed with small dogs in mind.
It includes turkey, chicken meal, and salmon as the first three ingredients for a huge protein pack, followed in the ingredient list by oatmeal, ground brown rice, and ground barely for grains – all high-quality grain sources!
- Turkey, chicken meal, and salmon meal as the first three ingredient
- Oatmeal is the main grain in this dog food, along with brown rice and barley
- Smaller kibble size designed for petite canines
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- 28% Protein / 15% Fat / 38% Carbohydrates (Approx)
Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Salmon Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Brown Rice...,
Ground Barley, Rye Flour, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Menhaden Fish Meal, Tomato Pomace, Natural Chicken Flavor, Pea Fiber, Tomatoes, Salmon Oil, Ground Flaxseed, Carrots, Spinach, Potassium Chloride, Apples, Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, Vitamin E Supplement, Mixed Tocopherols Added to Preserve Freshness, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Beta-Carotene, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Chicory Root Extract, 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.
- Offers a high protein composition with a fairly low carbohydrate count
- Great mix of fruits and vegetables for natural sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals
- Kibble size suits smaller mouths, making mealtime easier for petite pups
- A little pricier than your average kibble
- Mixed proteins won’t agree with every dog’s tummy
7. Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice
About: Diamond Naturals is a beef-based grain-inclusive dog food recipe featuring beef meal as the primary ingredient, along with peas, white rice, and egg.
It takes our pick when it comes to the most affordable non-grain-free dog foods, making it an excellent choice for any budget. This recipe provides plenty of protein and quality for your dollar.
- Ground white rice and rice bran as the main grain sources. Also contains peas as another carbohydrate source.
- Also includes fruits and veggies for antioxidants
- Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- No corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
- 25% Protein / 15% Fat / 42% Carbohydrates (Approx)
Beef Meal, Peas, Ground White Rice, Egg Product, Dried Yeast...,
Rice Bran, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Flour, Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Kale, Chia Seed, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Oranges, Quinoa, Dried Kelp, Coconut, Spinach, Carrots, Papaya, 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, Beta Carotene, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.
- Features quality ingredients plus extras like probiotics without breaking the bank
- Several protein options to choose from, like chicken and lamb, if your pup doesn’t like beef
- Loaded with dietary fiber and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables
- Some sniffers may need enticing to give this food a try (A splash of water can help!)
- The inclusion of white rice and egg may be problematic for some dogs
8. Canidae All Life Stages
About: Canidae All Life Stages is a vet-formulated canned dog food made with real meat as the primary ingredient, followed by hydration-boosting broth and nutrient-rich organ meat, plus carbohydrates like rice and barley that are rarely found in wet foods.
Salmon oil offers coat-supporting healthy fats, while a blend of vitamins and minerals supports your sniffer’s immune health.
- Meets AAFCO nutrition profile for all life stages
- Available in Chicken & Rice and Chicken, Turkey, Lamb & Rice wet foods
- Doesn’t contain corn, soy, or wheat
- Made in the USA in an easy-to-eat pate texture
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Brown Rice...,
Pearled Barley, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Sunflower Oil, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Agar-agar, Choline Chloride, Canola Oil, Dried Kelp, Dried Cranberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Iron Proteinate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Manganese Proteinate, Potassium Iodide, Riboflavin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Rosemary Extract
- Pate texture is great for feeding dogs with missing teeth or mixing into kibble
- All life stages recipe ideal for feeding your dog throughout life or serving multi-pup families
- Pricing isn’t too bad considering the food’s quality and versatility
- More protein options would be nice for dogs who don’t tolerate chicken
- More fruits and vegetables would be nice to see
9. Nutro Natural Choice Senior
About: Up your mature mutt’s grain game with Nutro Natural Choice Senior, a kibble containing lean proteins and a mix of grains like brown rice and barley for keeping your canine satisfied between meals.
Healthy fats from fish oil nourish your senior’s skin and coat, plus dried pumpkin offers fiber for digestive support.
- Real meat is always the primary ingredient
- Available in Chicken & Brown Rice and Lamb & Brown Rice recipes
- Glucosamine and chondroitin offer much-needed joint aid for seniors
- Made in the USA using non-GMO ingredients
Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Rice Bran, Split Peas, Brewers Rice,...,
Whole Grain Barley, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Citric Acid (preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (preservative), Chia Seed, Dried Coconut, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Egg Product, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Kale, Dried Spinach, DL-Methionine, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract
- Formulated specifically for seniors with joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin and lean proteins for maintaining muscle
- Contains a decent mix of grains and dried vegetables for satiety and healthy digestion
- Most pet parents are pleased with the food’s quality
- Mixed-protein recipes don’t suit every dog’s dietary needs
- A bit pricier than other kibbles
10. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult
About: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult meets the special dietary needs of dogs weighing more than 70 pounds in adulthood with wholesome grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and barley, plus lean proteins to support a healthier frame.
The food also features a wealth of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with glucosamine for nourishing your big barker’s joints.
- Probiotics provide gut support
- Offered in Lamb & Brown Rice, Chicken & Brown Rice, and Fish & Oatmeal
- Blue’s special LifeSource Bits are jam-packed with antioxidants
- Made in the USA using globally sourced ingredients
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley,...,
Pea Starch, Peas, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Fish Oil (source of EPA-Eicosapentaenoic Acid), Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Dried Chicory Root, Potatoes, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Choline Chloride, Taurine, DL-Methionine, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Garlic, L-Carnitine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Chondroitin Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
- Specially formulated by experts to meet the nutrient needs of large-breed dogs
- Includes bonus ingredients like omega fatty acids and probiotics
- Pricing is more than reasonable for such a high-quality ingredient list
- Some dogs need enticing to eat the food
- LifeSource Bits aren’t a hit with every pupper’s tastebuds
11. Nutro Natural Choice Adult Lamb & Brown Rice
About: Nutro Natural Choice Adult Lamb & Brown Rice combines the novel protein of lamb with an assortment of stomach-friendly, non-GMO grains, including brown rice and brewers rice.
Healthy fats and biotin nourish your canine’s coat, and a lack of corn, soy, and wheat suit four-footers with food restrictions.
- Real lamb is the main ingredient
- Antioxidants from added produce give your sniffer’s immune system a boost
- Contains several fiber-rich ingredients like dried pumpkin and flaxseed
- Made in the USA
Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Rice Bran,...,
Split Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Whole Flaxseed, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Citric Acid (preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (preservative), Chia Seed, Dried Coconut, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Egg Product, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Kale, Dried Spinach, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
- Non-GMO ingredients a win for pet parents concerned about keeping things as natural as possible
- Healthy fats support skin and coat health (common areas of concern with allergy-prone pups)
- Contains a decent serving of fiber from grains and pumpkin to aid in digestion
- Flavor isn’t a win with every woof
- Mixed proteins may not suit every dog’s allergy or intolerance needs
12. Instinct Raw Boost Whole Grain
About: Give your barker’s bowl a burst of freeze-dried goodness with Instinct Raw Boost Whole Grain, a kibble containing nuggets of freeze-dried raw meat that’s been pasteurized at low temperatures to remove pathogens.
Oatmeal, barley, and millet fuel your floof’s next adventure, and a mix of fruits and vegetables like carrots, blueberries, and apples offer fiber and antioxidants.
- Real meat is the main ingredient
- Available in Chicken, Salmon, and Lamb recipes.
- Meets AAFCO standards for all life stages
- Made in the USA
Lamb, Menhaden Fish Meal, Oatmeal, Barley, Millet,...,
Turkey Meal, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols And Citric Acid), Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Ground Flaxseed, Freeze Dried Beef, Montmorillonite Clay, Natural Flavor, Salt, Freeze Dried Beef Liver, Pumpkin Seeds, Freeze Dried Beef Heart, Carrots, Freeze Dried Beef Kidney, Freeze Dried Beef Spleen, Potassium Chloride, Blueberries, Apples, Cranberries, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Dl-Methionine, Freeze Dried Lamb, Yeast Culture, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Extract, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Freeze Dried Lamb Liver, Freeze Dried Lamb Spleen, Freeze Dried Lamb Heart, Freeze Dried Lamb Kidney, Rosemary Extract, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product
- Freeze-dried raw bits entice canines to clear their bowls and offer all the bonuses of raw food with less risk
- Probiotic blend fosters healthier digestion
- Common and novel protein options
- Mixed proteins don’t suit dogs with sensitive systems
- Some pet parents aren’t keen on ever serving raw — even freeze-dried bits
13. Freshpet Nature’s Fresh
About: Serve a slice of grain-inclusive goodness with Freshpet Nature’s Fresh, a rolled dog food featuring a mix of meats, grain, and vegetables that have been gently steamed to food-safe temperatures.
While many dog food roll products are grain-free option features brown rice and rice bran paired with other carbohydrate sources like peas and carrots to keep your canine satisfied between meals and bulk up stools.
- Primary ingredient is always meat
- Grain-inclusive recipes include Beef and Chicken
- Organ meat offers a bounty of vitamins and minerals like iron
- Made in the USA with sustainably sourced ingredients
Beef, Chicken, Beef Liver, Beef Broth, Carrots,...,
Peas, Eggs, Brown Rice, Rice Bran, Carrageenan, Natural Flavors, Celery Powder, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Vitamins, Spinach, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Riboflavin, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate
- One of the few rolled dog foods featuring grains
- Versatile food that can be used as a main food source, topper, or high-value training treat
- Excellent option for picky pups and seniors with missing teeth
- Requires refrigeration
- Mixed proteins can be an issue for some dogs
- More expensive than feeding kibble
Are Grains Bad For Dogs?
There’s a lot of debate about whether or not grains should be in your dog’s diet. Dogs have no dietary requirement for grains — they don’t need them in their diet. However, grains certainly won’t hurt your dog.
Dogs are not strict carnivores — their digestive tracts have evolved to process many of the foods we eat, like fruits, veggies, and grains!
This actually has something to do with us. Wolves can’t digest grains well, but domesticated dogs evolved adaptations that allowed them to digest starches. This allowed them to take advantage of our leftovers.
The problem, of course, is the amount of grain in your dog’s diet. While dogs are not obligate carnivores like cats, most experts agree that a dog’s diet should still primarily consist of meat protein.
The issue is not so much the grains themselves but that grain-inclusive foods tend to have a higher carbohydrate composition with less protein and fat. Ideally, your dog’s diet will be high in protein, contain a moderate amount of fat, and be low in carbs.
Even grain-free diets are guilty of relying on a higher carbohydrate count than is ideal. Many companies just substitute use potatoes, peas, legumes, or tapioca in place of grains. Dogs don’t nutritionally require starch in their diet either, so switching out grains for starch won’t necessarily result in a better diet for your dog.
Ultimately, you should be less concerned with the grains vs starches decision and instead aim for a diet that is high in protein and relatively low in carbohydrates.
Why Non-Grains Can Be Problematic (Or Even Dangerous)
Many folks look to grain-free diets because they’ve been hearing all the benefits of grain-free diets for themselves, and it’s a trendy topic these days.
However, remember that when it comes to unknown elements, we’ve been feeding our dogs grains for much longer than we’ve been feeding them other carbohydrates like potatoes, legumes, and chickpeas.
What’s suddenly in fashion is also new and unknown. The effects of feeding grain-free alternatives to dogs are not fully understood. Why risk that with your do when you don’t have to?
The truth is that the dog food industry relies heavily on marketing to doting pet parents and dog food manufacturers know that as grain-free diets become more popular with humans, owners will likely project that inclination into their dogs.
However, grain-free dog food is not necessarily healthy dog food. We all know that humans and animals have different nutritional needs. And yet, marketers see a financial opportunity to take advantage of what is trendy in providing grain-free diets, pushing these diets due to dollar signs rather than any real nutritional advantages.
In short, grain-free is only better for dogs that have issues with grains — and most do not!
Benefits of Grains in Dog Food
While grains aren’t nutritionally required for your dog, they do provide some benefits, including:
- Healthy Stools: Since some grains are a rich source of fiber, they can help keep your dog’s stools regular and healthy.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Whole grains contain plenty of vitamins and minerals that can benefit your pup, even if grains themselves may be nutritionally unnecessary.
- More Affordable: Despite being just as nutritionally unnecessary as other starches, grains tend to be less expensive than their trendy counterparts, so grain-inclusive dog foods tend to be more affordable. This difference in cost may also give owners the opportunity to purchase a higher-end dog food that does include grains rather than a lower-tier grain-free dog food.
Good vs Bad Grains For Dogs
Now of course, just because we’re saying grains aren’t bad for dogs doesn’t mean all grains are a good idea. There is a lot of variation when it comes to the quality of grains present in your dog’s diet.
For one, you want to avoid low-value grains and agricultural byproducts, such as:
- Peanut hulls
- Corn cobs
- Oat hulls
- Rice hulls
- Soybean hulls
- Cottonseed hulls
- Brewer’s rice
- Almond shells
- Grain fragments
- Powdered cellulose
- Soy mill run
- Wheat mill run
- Wheat middlings
- Fermentation waste
These ingredients should be avoided because they are really just leftover debris that result from processing cereal and other foods. They are not allowed in human food and considered unfit for human consumption, but they are allowed for dog food.
Grains themselves aren’t bad, but these ingredients contain little to no nutritional value.
Instead, opt for better grains for dogs, such as:
- Rice (ideally, brown rice)
- Whole wheat
When Grain-Free is Still a Good Idea
While non-grain-free diets will be the best option for most dog owners, some pooches may still need to pass up grains for certain reasons, including:
- Allergies: Most dogs digest and tolerate grains without issue, but a small percentage of dogs are actually allergic to the proteins in grains. Just keep in mind that grain-related allergies like celiac disease are much more common in humans than dogs. Meat protein allergies are much more common for canines.
- Gas and Digestion: Despite grain allergies being uncommon, some dogs still simply can’t digest grains well, leading to tummy troubles and excessive gas (typically known as a food intolerance rather than a food allergy). If your dog seems gassier than normal, it may be worth trying a switch to a grain-free diet to see if that helps (after consulting with your vet, of course).
Want the Best For Your Dog? Watch Him!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about what kind of food to choose for your dog, you can keep it relatively simple — just try one and see how your dog reacts!
- Does your dog seem to enjoy the food?
- Do you seen an improvement in your dog’s skin and coat?
- What do your dogs stools look like after eating the food for a couple weeks? Do the stools seem firm and healthy?
- What is your dog’s energy level and behavior like?
- Is your dog itching more or less than usual?
These are the easiest clues to use when trying to decide if a diet is working for your dog! The combination of working with your vet and doing a little trial and error will usually work best when it comes to finding your dog’s perfect recipe.
FAQ About the Best Dog Food With Grains
Still have questions about the best dog food with grains? Check out some of the most common queries owners have below!
What is the best dry dog food with grain?
There is a wide array of high-quality dry dog foods with grains, but our top pick would be Ollie, as it not only includes high-quality proteins and grains, but it is made with human-grade ingredients.
What’s wrong with grain-free dog food?
Recent findings from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) suggest that there is a correlation between grain-free dog food and DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). While the exact nature of this correlation is still unknown, many vets are going with a “better safe than sorry approach” and generally are recommending grain-inclusive dog food over grain-free varieties.
What is better for dogs — grain or grain-free dog food?
Due to the recent FDA research findings, most vets suggest feeding your dog a grain-inclusive food rather than a grain-free food. However, if your dog has a grain allergy or intolerance, grain-free might still be a better option.
Should dogs avoid grain free food?
While the exact nature of the correlation between grain-free food and DCM is still unknown, most vets now suggest avoiding grain-free food when possible.
Do dogs need grain in their diet?
No, dogs do not need grains in their diet. However, most dogs can digest grains just fine, so they aren’t bad for a dog, despite being non-essential to their diet. They also are a good source of fiber and vitamins.
Do you feed your dog a grain-inclusive diet? Why or why not? Does your dog have a favorite kibble among the best dog food with grains we listed here, or is there another that rocks his world? Share your thoughts in the comments below!