A renowned source of protein, dietary fiber, and healthy fats, quinoa has become a trendy food for humans. So, it should come as no surprise that it now appears in an impressive array of dog foods, from kibbles to canned options, too.
This has led to many owners scratching their heads, wondering if quinoa is all it’s cracked up to be.
Below, we’ll chat about quinoa, explain its potential benefits, and share the best dog foods with quinoa for your pet.
What Is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a plant in the Amaranth family whose edible pods have been a staple in people’s diets since long before it became trendy to sprinkle them onto salads.
Now considered a “superfood” by many, this gluten-free find originated in the northern Andes in South America, where it’s been a critical part of Incan cuisine and culture for millennia.
Quinoa is commonly used in place of carbohydrates for people suffering from gluten intolerance. It provides a similar mouth-feel to grains like wheat and barley and can work well in pastas and other comfort foods. It’s a favorite amongst plant-based vegetarians, too, since the plant is a good source of protein.
There are many different kinds of quinoa, though the most commonly used ones are red, black, and white.
The 9 Best Dog Foods with Quinoa
Quinoa isn’t the most common ingredient, but it’s popping up more frequently in ingredient lists. We’ve retrieved our favorite dog foods containing quinoa below. Hopefully, one of these suits you and your dog’s needs.
1. Open Farm Pasture-Raised Lamb & Ancient Grains
About: Open Farm‘s line of kibbles with ancient grains contain quinoa and other high-quality ingredients like fresh produce, healthy fats, and whole protein. The food’s grains, vegetables, and fruit are also non-GMO.
- Humanely raised, grass-fed lamb is the first ingredient
- Meets the AAFCO standards for all life stages except the growth of large-sized dogs
- Doesn’t contain any corn, soy, wheat, peas, legumes, or potatoes
- Made in the USA with 100% traceable ingredients from the US and around the world
Options: Available in Lamb, Chicken, Pork, and Beef-based recipes.
Ingredients (Pasture-Raised Lamb & Ancient Grains):
Lamb, Oats, Whitefish Meal, Millet, Brown Rice...,
Coconut Oil, Herring Meal, Natural Flavor, Quinoa, Pumpkin, Salmon Oil, Apples, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Chicory Root, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Zinc Proteinate, Calcium Carbonate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Selenium Yeast, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols, Cinnamon, Turmeric
Protein Content: 26% min
- Ingredient traceability is nearly unmatched in the dog food world
- Dogs seem to love the taste
- Humanely-raised proteins are a win for animal lovers
- On the pricier side
- Kibblet size can be a little large for small doggos
2. Spot & Tango
About: Spot & Tango delivers fresh, ready-to-serve canine meals to your door, including a tasty turkey and red quinoa recipe. Developed by animal nutritionists and vets, all Spot & Tango recipes exceed AAFCO guidelines for all life stages.
- Choose from several subscription options (including a 2-week trial)
- Made with human-grade ingredients sourced from the U.S. only
- All recipes contain zero corn, soy, wheat, or GMOs
- Made in the USA
- Get 50% off your first order when you use code K9OFMINE50
Options: They only offer one quinoa-based recipe (Turkey & Red Quinoa), but you can also get Spot & Tango fresh meals in Beef & Millet and Lamb & Brown Rice flavors.
Ingredients (Turkey & Red Quinoa):
Turkey, Red quinoa, Spinach, Carrots, Peas...,
Apple, Eggs, Parsely, Apple cider vinegar, Safflower oil, Vegetable stock, Calcium phosphate, Salt, Calcium carbonate, Magnesium, Kelp, Potassium, Vitamin E, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Vitamin D3, Copper, Selenium, Folic acid, Iodine, Vitamin B12
Protein Content: 13.69% min
- Highly palatable food that even the pickiest pups enjoy
- Limited ingredient list makes avoiding allergens easy
- The pre-portioned packaging is very convenient to serve
- Most owners love giving their pet a human-grade food
- Fresh foods are expensive
- Refrigeration is required, which takes up fridge space
3. Pet Plate
About: Pet Plate is a fresh dog food made with human-grade ingredients and a single protein source, making it easy to avoid triggering your pup’s food allergies. Additionally, lamb is typically regarded as a “novel” protein, which won’t upset food allergies as often as things like chicken or beef.
- Contains real meat and vegetables you can see
- Veterinary nutritionist designed recipes that are tasty yet balanced
- Full meal and topper plan options available
- Made in the USA in USDA kitchens
Options: Beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb proteins are available, though only the lamb option contains quinoa.
Ingredients (Lip Lickin’ Lamb):
Ground lamb, Sweet potatoes, Apples, Lamb liver, Quinoa...,
Broccoli, Dicalcium phosphate, Potassium chloride, Salt, Natural flavor, Calcium carbonate, Salmon oil, Ferrous fumarate, Zinc oxide, Manganese gluconate, Magnesium oxide, Potassium iodide, Sodium selenite, Vitamin E supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D3 supplement, Mixed tocopherols, Taurine, Parsley
Protein Content: 6.4% min
- Even picky pups seem to love the taste and texture
- The containers are convenient, reusable, and resealable
- Packaged in eco-friendly, BPA-free recyclable containers
- As with all fresh foods, refrigeration is required
- There are no samples or trial subscriptions available
- Again, fresh foods are expensive
4. Honest Kitchen Chicken & Duck Recipe
About: Honest Kitchen Chicken & Duck Recipe contains an assortment of organic produce for digestive health, including quinoa, pumpkin, and carrots. Just measure out your pup’s portion and add water to feed your dog protein-packed, human-grade grub.
- Mixed protein recipes are rich in nutrients and flavor
- Contains no GMOs, corn, soy, or by-products
- Uses gentle dehydration techniques to preserve taste and nutrients
- Prepared using human-grade food standards in the USA
Options: Also available in beef, turkey, and chicken.
Dehydrated turkey, Organic barley, Organic oats, Organic flaxseed, Dehydrated eggs...,
Dehydrated carrots, Dehydrated white fish, Dried organic coconut, Dehydrated pumpkin, Organic quinoa, Dehydrated turkey bone broth, Dried parsley, Dehydrated broccoli, Dehydrated kale, Dried apples, Turmeric, Tricalcium phosphate, Sodium chloride, Potassium chloride, Choline chloride, Zinc amino acid chelate, Iron amino acid chelate, Potassium iodide, Copper amino acid chelate, Sodium selenite, Taurine, Vitamin E supplement, Vitamin B12 supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Calcium pantothenate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Fish oil
Protein Content (Turkey): 28%
- The taste and texture are picky pup pleasers
- The lightweight container is easy to store and handle
- This versatile food can be fed as a complete meal or used as a topper
- It’s more affordable than fresh human-grade options
- The mixed protein recipes may not work for dogs with allergies
- Preparing this dehydrated dog food can create quite a mess
5. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains
About: Merrick Classic Healthy Grains is a protein-rich kibble that pairs digestion-friendly grains like brown rice and quinoa with delicious meats like deboned beef and pork. Every recipe is crafted by animal nutritionists and veterinarians for tail-waggin’ wellness.
- Meat is always the first listed ingredient
- Contains omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin for nose-to-tail wellness
- Made without peas, potatoes, corn, soy, and wheat
- Made in the USA
Options: Offered in 9 varieties, including Beef & Brown Rice, Lamb & Brown Rice, and Puppy Recipe.
Ingredients (Beef & brown rice):
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, 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, 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, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product
Protein Content (Beef & brown rice): 26%
- You can opt for any of several quinoa-based flavors
- Most dogs seem to love the multi-protein recipe
- Included probiotics help support your pup’s belly health
- This is one of the most expensive kibbles around
- Mixed protein foods can be a problem for dogs with food allergies
6. Wellness Core Wholesome Grains
About: Wellness Core Wholesome Grains features the quinoa you’re looking for, along with healthy fats for skin and coat health and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support at a decent price. The food is also packed with nutrient-dense produce, including spinach, blueberries, and carrots.
- High protein kibble made with real meat as the first ingredient
- Contains no by-products, legumes, potatoes, or artificial flavors
- Packed with probiotics for gut health
- Made in the USA
Options: Offered in four variations, including Turkey, Ocean (fish), Puppy, and Small Breed.
Deboned turkey, Chicken meal, Turkey meal, Oatmeal, Barley...,
Chicken fat, Tomato pomace, Ground flaxseed, Quinoa, Natural turkey flavor, Chicory root extract, Salmon oil, Potassium chloride, Choline chloride, Taurine, Vitamin E supplement, Spinach, Broccoli, Carrots, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Kale, Zinc proteinate, Mixed tocopherols, Zinc sulfate, Calcium carbonate, Niacin, Iron proteinate, Ferrous sulfate, Yucca schidigera extract, Vitamin A supplement, Copper sulfate, Thiamine mononitrate, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Manganese sulfate, d-Calcium pantothenate, Sodium selenite, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Biotin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Calcium iodate, Vitamin B12 supplement, Folic acid, Ascorbic acid, 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
Protein Content (Turkey): 34%
- Pricing isn’t too bad compared to other quinoa kibbles
- Pups seem to love the flavor
- Added probiotics are helpful for your pupper’s digestive health
- The lack of legumes and potatoes is a good choice for owners wary of DCM
- High protein nature isn’t a good fit for every dog
- Many of the foods in this line feature multiple proteins — a problem for dogs with food allergies
7. Taste of the Wild With Ancient Grains
About: Taste of the Wild With Ancient Grains packs the protein your dog needs for bone and muscle health, along with a generous helping of probiotics for improved digestion. Also included are some of the best whole grains for dogs, including quinoa, millet, and barley.
- Real meat is always the first ingredient
- Formulated for all life stages nutrition
- Contains no corn, soy, wheat, or artificial coloring
- Made in the USA
Options: Available in Ancient Prairie (buffalo/pork), Ancient Stream (salmon/ocean fish), Ancient Mountain (lamb), and Ancient Wetlands (duck/chicken).
Ingredients (Ancient Prairie):
Beef, Beef Liver, Tomatoes, Carrots, Green Peas...,
Chicken fat, Cracked pearled barley, Dried yeast, Roasted bison, Roasted venison, Natural favor, Flaxseed, Beef, Quinoa, Chia seed, Tomato pomace, Salmon oil, Dicalcium phosphate, Calcium carbonate, Salt, Potassium chloride, Dl-methionine, Choline chloride, Taurine, Dried chicory root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca schidigera extract, L-carnitine, 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
Protein Content (Ancient Prairie): 32%
- Most dogs — even picky ones — seem to love the taste
- The price is reasonable for such a high-protein kibble
- It’s fortified with several probiotics for gut health
- Most of the foods in this line contain multiple proteins, which is a problem for dogs with food allergies
- Some owners reported an uptick in doggy gas after switching to TOTW
8. Lucy Pet Products Formulas For Life
About: Lucy Pet Products Formulas For Life aims to soothe your dog’s stomach woes with prebiotics and fiber from pumpkin and quinoa. Formulated for all life stages, it works well from puppyhood beyond.
- Real meat is always the first ingredient
- Veterinarian and animal nutritionist-crafted formulas
- Contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Made in the USA using globally sourced ingredients
Options: Available with your choice of two proteins: salmon and duck.
Duck, Duck meal, Dried chickpeas, Dried peas, Pea starch...,
Pea flour, Duck fat, Dried pumpkin, Quinoa, Dried carrots, Ground miscanthus grass, Natural flavor, Flaxseeds, Fish oil, Dried chicory root, DL-methionine, Salt, Potassium chloride, Dried kelp, Choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, Niacin, D-calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 supplement, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, Taurine, Ferrous sulfate, Zinc proteinate, Zinc sulfate, Iron proteinate, Copper sulfate, Sodium selenite, Copper proteinate, Manganese sulfate, Manganese proteinate, Calcium iodate, Mixed tocopherols, Citric acid, L-Carnitine, Turmeric, Yucca schidigera extract, Rosemary extract
Protein Content (Duck): 23%
- Most dogs seem to love the taste of this food
- This food did seem to help address most digestion issues
- Kibble shape and texture work great for dogs of all sizes, even smaller breeds
- The company donates to the Lucy Pet Foundation, providing free spays and neuters to pets in need
- This food is more expensive than many other kibbles
- Despite being formulated to be easily digested, this recipe doesn’t contain probiotics
9. Castor & Pollux Tiny Feasts
About: It can be tricky to find canned dog foods featuring quinoa, but Castor & Pollux Tiny Feasts delivers! In addition to quinoa, this food also has plenty of tasty poultry and produce. It’s also one of the few USDA-certified organic dog foods available.
- Organic, free-range chicken is the first ingredient
- Contains a tasty gravy for added enticement
- Specifically made for small breeds with tiny meat morsels and veggies
- Made in an organically certified kitchen in the USA
Options: Available in chicken and turkey flavors.
Organic chicken, Organic chicken broth, Water sufficient for processing...,
Organic chicken liver, Organic spinach, Organic pea protein, Organic quinoa, Organic carrots, Organic dried peas, Organic dried egg product, Organic flaxseed, Organic cranberries, Organic guar gum, Salt, Potassium chloride, Zinc amino acid chelate, Iron amino acid chelate, Copper amino acid chelate, Manganese amino acid chelate, Sodium selenite, Potassium iodide, Calcium carbonate, Thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin E supplement, Niacin supplement, D-Calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid, Choline chloride, Xanthan gum
Protein Content (Chicken): 8% min
- Most dogs seem to love the taste and texture
- This food features plenty of meat (including nutrient-dense organ meat!)
- The sizing works great for small dogs
- This is a small-breed food, limiting its applicability
- Canned foods are generally more expensive than kibbles
Is Quinoa Safe for Dogs?
With quinoa being such a well-loved dietary choice for humans, it’s no surprise that dog food companies started sniffing around it, especially as an alternative to today’s common carbohydrates that can cause sensitivities.
The good news is quinoa is generally safe for dogs to consume too.
It’s just as canine-friendly as other carbohydrates like barley and rice without the questionable ties to DCM, like potatoes and legumes.
It’s important to note that while many dogs eat quinoa without issue, some pups don’t digest it well. This is likely due to the ingredient’s high fiber content (around 5 grams per cup).
So, just be sure to monitor your dog when you switch to a quinoa-based dog food.
If you notice any changes like vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation, you should discontinue feeding and contact your vet.
Before making any food changes, we always recommend talking to your vet to ensure it’s the best choice for your fur kid and her unique needs.
What Are Some of the Health Benefits of Quinoa for Dogs?
Quinoa’s “superfood” status is well-earned, as it’s a versatile plant that wears many hats in canine nutrition, whether you’re looking for allergy alternatives or digestive support for your dog.
Quinoa has notable health benefits for dogs, including:
- It’s a good source of plant-based protein. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein. Obviously, this is less than meat, but it’s an easy way to add more to your doggo’s diet.
- It provides your dog with dietary fiber. Fiber-packed dog foods help keep your four-footer’s digestive system regular, leading to firmer poops and better nutrient absorption.
- It’s an excellent source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy and fiber in dog food. Quinoa is a good source of carbs which hasn’t been specifically linked to DCM.
- It’s gluten-free. Dogs who are gluten intolerant or allergic can safely eat quinoa.
- It contains essential vitamins and minerals. Magnesium, phosphorus, and folic acid are just some of those in quinoa.
Is Quinoa a Grain?
A hot issue surrounding quinoa is its status as a grain or a seed. Normally, we wouldn’t bother with a tomato-tomahto-type debate, but it’s important in this case because owners want to know whether their chosen dog food is grain-free or if the dog food is made with grains.
Technically, quinoa is a seed. But most food scientists classify it as a grain because we often use it in place of grains. This is kind of like the fact that tomatoes are actually fruit, but they’re generally considered vegetables, based on the way we use them when cooking.
With that in mind, the classification of quinoa-containing dog foods as being grain-free or grain-inclusive is kind of up in the air. Most dog food companies call their quinoa-containing foods grain-inclusive and feature grains like barley alongside quinoa, but that isn’t always the case.
If you’re concerned about the DCM issues (dilated cardiomyopathy) or the FDA’s warning about grain-free dog foods, we’d recommend picking a food that contains quinoa with another grain like rice or barley or finding a quinoa-containing dog food that doesn’t have a lot of legumes or potatoes. This is because legumes (lentils, soybeans, peas, chickpeas, and similar ingredients) and potatoes are also implicated in the FDA’s investigation into diets causing canine DCM.
Best Dog Food With Quinoa: FAQ
Quinoa may be an ancient grain, but it’s relatively new to the dog food world, so you may have some lingering questions. Let’s check out the most commonly asked questions concerning quinoa dog food together.
What dog food has quinoa in it?
Is quinoa good in dog food?
Quinoa is a quality addition to dog food, as it’s a good source of core nutrients like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. It’s also gluten-free, benefiting dogs with gluten intolerances.
Is quinoa better for dogs than rice?
It depends on your dog. Quinoa has more protein and essential amino acids per cup than rice, plus it has more nutrients like iron, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. It also has a slightly lower carbohydrate content per cup than rice.
On the flip side, it also has slightly less fiber per cup than brown rice and has a tad more calories.
The right carbohydrate source will depend on your dog’s unique needs, such as activity level, health concerns, and weight. Consult with your vet if you’re unsure which is best for your barker.
Does quinoa count as a grain in dog food?
Technically quinoa is a seed, but it’s generally classified as a grain by food scientists, so most pet food brands consider it a grain as well. Always double-check the ingredients list of potential dog food if your dog has grain sensitivities, even if it’s labeled “grain-free.”
Can dogs be sensitive to quinoa?
Dogs can be sensitive to any ingredient. Quinoa isn’t a common trigger of food allergies in dogs, but it’s possible. Some pups have a hard time digesting it, though not necessarily because they’re allergic to it.
Can dogs with pancreatitis have quinoa?
Quinoa is generally OK for pups with pancreatitis, as it’s a bland starch that’s low in fat. It can also help your dog feel fuller longer, keeping him satiated. But it’s always critical to check with your vet first — especially when caring for a dog with health problems.
Can dogs with kidney failure have quinoa?
Quinoa is higher in phosphorus and protein than other whole grains, so it’s not the best choice for dogs with kidney failure or disease. Always speak to your vet before making any dietary changes if your dog has kidney disease or other medical conditions.
How do I add quinoa to my dog’s food?
As with any new food, you want to start slow. Don’t just dump a cup of quinoa in your pup’s bowl and call it a day. You’ll risk some serious tummy trouble.
For medium-sized dogs and larger, start with a tablespoon of cooked quinoa in your floof’s food and see how he tolerates it. If he’s a small fry, try a teaspoon or less. Over time, you can work up to a little more, but quinoa and other bonus ingredients should never make up the majority of your dog’s diet.
Does your furry friend eat any of the quinoa-containing dog foods on our list? Is there another that makes her tail wag? Share with us in the comments.