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5 Best Duck-Based Dog Foods: Dinner that Quacks!

Whether you have a dog with food allergies or a pup with a picky palette, duck can be an effective protein to deal with a number of canine eating issues.

Duck is not a terribly common ingredient in most dog foods, which makes it a great choice for those seeking a protein their allergic dog has never eaten. Additionally, most dogs find duck to be as irresistibly delicious as many people do.

But just because a bag of food has a picture of a duck emblazoned across the logo does not mean it is a healthy, nutritious food for your pet. In fact, it doesn’t even necessarily mean that it contains any real duck!

So, to help you separate the best from the rest, we’re reviewing five excellent choices and explaining why duck is good for your dog. See our quick picks below, or read the full article below for details on duck and full food reviews.

Merrick Grain-Free Duck & Sweet Potato (contains duck, turkey, and salmon)
 Castor & Pollux Natural Ultramix (contains duck, turkey, lamb, and salmon)
 Wellness Simple Limited Ingredients (duck as only meat protein)

Things To Look For in a Good Duck Dog Food

There is no magical way to determine which food is the best for your pup; you must simply compare the characteristics and ingredients of the various foods available to try to make the best possible decision. Fortunately, there are several simple criteria you can judge to get an idea of a given food’s quality.

Some of the characteristics that usually signify quality dog foods include:

 The best dog foods are made in countries with high food safety standards. Try to purchase foods made in the USA, Canada, Western Europe, New Zealand or Australia. While this doesn’t guarantee the safety of your food, it is a very helpful sieve to help filter out potentially problematic products.

 High-quality dog foods list a whole protein as the first ingredient. In other words, the best duck-based dog foods should list duck as the first ingredient, rather than corn, wheat or duck meal. In fact, many foods listing duck meal first lack real, fresh, whole duck entirely.

 Good foods may contain meat-meals or meat byproducts, but these ingredients must identify the species used to create the item. For example, “duck meal,” is a perfectly acceptable ingredient, whereas “poultry meal” or “animal meal,” are both too vague. You need to know what is going in your dog’s body, and vague ingredient identifications should give you pause.

 Most good dog foods leave out artificial colors, flavors or additives. These types of items are not only unnecessary, they may trigger food allergies or lead to other problems. Real duck makes the food plenty tasty, and your dog cares about the smell, taste and texture of his food, not the color.

The best dog foods typically include ingredients rich in omega-fatty acids and antioxidants. These items will help promote a healthy coat and proper immune function, respectively. Additionally, some foods contain beneficial bacteria (probiotics) or the food for these bacteria (prebiotics), which will help keep your dog’s digestive system functioning as it should.

Duck-Only Dog Foods vs Foods That Contain Duck

Of all the acceptable duck-based foods on the market, many also contain significant amounts of other protein sources. Chicken and other poultry are the most commonly seen additions, but others possess everything from venison to salmon, as well.

This isn’t a problem for those feeding duck-based foods to appease picky pooches. In fact, there are some benefits to feeding your dog a diet based on several different protein sources. But multi-protein foods are sometimes a bad choice for dogs suffering from food allergies.

duck dog food

Elimination Diets for Allergic Dogs + Duck as a Novel Protein Source

Elimination diets, which consist of feeding your dog food with only a single protein source (and carbohydrates and vegetables that are rarely problematic, such as brown rice and carrots), are usually the first step in addressing a dog’s food allergy problem. Then, once the symptoms have abated for some time, ingredients are carefully re-introduced to the dog’s diet until the trigger is discovered.

Elimination diets are best conducted with the assistance of a veterinarian, who will likely encourage you to use a protein that your dog has probably not eaten before – a so-called “novel” protein. Some of the most common recommendations are lamb, kangaroo and, you guessed it, duck.

But, while duck is a good protein source for many elimination diets, choosing a food that also contains chicken meal, pork fat, or any other number of additional proteins, can be counterproductive to the exercise. If your dog’s allergens have not yet been identified, you should probably stick to a food that only contains duck (or any alternative novel protein).

However, if your dog is suffering from an allergy to grains or artificial colors, these multi-protein foods may still be acceptable if they’re made without the offending ingredient.

Switching Your Dog’s Food: A Slow & Steady Process

Some dogs have cast-iron stomachs, enabling them to switch from one food to another easily. However, other dogs may suffer from digestive upset if forced to make an abrupt change. Accordingly, it is wise to switch your dog’s food gradually, to help give his system the time to adjust to the new food.

The best way to do this is by mixing in a little – perhaps 10% to 20% of the total amount offered — of the new food together with his old food. Over time, you’ll gradually increase the percentage of the new food in the mix, while simultaneously decreasing the percentage of the old food.

20% New Dog Food

The entire process should take about 5 to 10 days, but you can adjust this to suit your pup’s needs. Some dogs may be ready for their new food in 3 or 4 days, while others may require 10 days or longer.

If you notice that your dog’s poops aren’t as firm as they should be or he suffers from some other digestion-related problem, slow down the pace of the switch and solicit your vet’s advice.

5 Top Recommended Duck-Based Dog Foods: Reviews & Ratings

Some of the very best duck foods available for your dog are detailed below. Just try to compare the various foods carefully and pick the one that best suits your dog’s specific needs.

1. Merrick Grain Free Recipe Dry Dog Food

About: Merrick Grain Free Dog Food is a high-quality, meat-based food that packs quite a nutritious punch. Formulated to contain all of the important vitamins and minerals your pup needs, Merrick Grain Free is a fantastic choice for your four-footer.

Price: $$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • 70% / 30% protein to vegetable ratio ensures every bowl provides the kind of nutrition your dog needs
  • Fortified with omega fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin and four different probiotics
  • Made in the USA, with no ingredients originating in China (the duck is sourced from France)

PROS: Made with some of the best possible ingredients, such as duck, salmon oil and blueberries, Merrick Grain Free is not only nutritious, but delicious too. Most owners report that their dog devoured the food, and those with dogs allergic to grains often reported a reduction in their dog’s symptoms.

CONS: Merrick Grain Free is not appropriate for dogs on elimination diets, as it contains a variety of different protein sources. Some owners complained that their dog produced more gas while on the diet, but that’s a relatively minor problem. Unless you live in a very small home.

See Ingredient List

Deboned Duck, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal (source of Omega 3 fatty acids), Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Deboned Chicken, Natural Flavor, Lamb Meal, Potato Protein, Duck Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Apples, Blueberries, Organic Alfalfa, Salmon Oil, Salt, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate), Choline Chloride, Yucca schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Evolutionary Diet

About: Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness, Grain-Free Duck Formula is a nutritious food, made with an impressive list of ingredients. Deboned duck tops the list, but several other (properly identified) poultry meals are included, as well as antioxidant-rich “superfoods” like blueberries, flaxseed and cranberries.

Price: $$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • Grain-free recipe contains no corn, soy, wheat, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Contains ingredients that supply omega-3 fatty acids for optimum coat and skin health
  • Made with probiotics to help promote proper digestion

PROS: Many owners report that their dog not only enjoys Blue Buffalo, but that their dog’s skin condition improved too. Many also noted better stools after switching to the food.

CONS: Because it includes several different proteins, Blue Buffalo may not be suitable for pets on elimination diets. While most owners who’ve tried Blue Buffalo express satisfaction with the food, it is not clear where this particular product is manufactured.

The FAQ page of Blue Buffalo’s website states:

We create and develop our own recipes with our staff veterinarians and PhD nutritionists. We work with only U.S. partners to manufacture our products according to our recipes and specifications. Product quality is our #1 priority. We have strict controls in place to make sure that our ingredients meet the highest quality standards.

See Ingredient List

Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal, Potato Starch, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Natural Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Potatoes, Tomato Pomace (natural source of Lycopene), Natural Chicken Flavor, Flaxseed (natural source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Alfalfa Meal, Whole Carrots, Whole Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Dried Parsley, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Yucca schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Turmeric, Oil of Rosemary, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Ascorbate (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Choline Chloride, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Salt, Caramel, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecium.

3. Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dog Food

About: Wellness Limited Ingredient Dog Food is a great duck-based dog food that contains no other animal proteins, making it a great choice for dogs who are allergic to chicken, beef or other common ingredients.

Price: $$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • Limited ingredient food, made without any gluten, corn, wheat or artificial additives
  • Made with ground flaxseed, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and four different probiotics
  • Made in the USA and backed by Wellness Natural Pet Food’s wellness guarantee

PROS: Because it only contains a single protein source, Wellness Limited Ingredient is an ideal option for owners of dogs with allergies. Most owners have been pleased with this food’s ability to resolve their pet’s allergies or digestive issues. However, the great taste and excellent nutritional profile also make it a great choice for owners who simply want a high-quality food for their pet.

CONS: There were very few problems expressed by owners, but a small number expressed that it did not clear up their dog’s symptoms. Additionally, a small number of owners found that their dog didn’t like the taste of the food.

See Ingredient List

Duck, Oatmeal, Peas, Ground Rice, Potato Protein, Tomato Pomace, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Ground Flaxseed, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Duck Flavor, Chicory Root Extract, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Beta-Carotene, 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.

4. Castor & Pollux Natural Ultramix Grain Free Dry Dog Food

AboutCastor & Pollux Natural Ultramix is a grain-free dog food that lists real, deboned duck as the first ingredient. Full of natural fiber sources, omega-3-rich salmon meal and an assortment of prebiotics and probiotics, Natural Ultramix has most of the things you’d look for in a high-quality dog food.

Price: $$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • Comprised of protein-rich kibble, mixed with real fruit and vegetable pieces for balanced nutrition
  • Contains no corn, soy, wheat, grains or artificial additives
  • Made in the USA without any Chinese ingredients
  • Meat-based recipe provides plenty of protein (38% of the calories come from protein) to keep your dog healthy

PROS: Most owners have been very pleased with Natural Ultramix and report that their dog found it quite palatable. Several credited the food’s high fiber content with helping to improve their dog’s stools and overall digestive function. Additionally, because it includes salmon oil, Natural Ultramix may help improve your dog’s coat condition.

CONS: Most owners had a positive experience with this duck dog food, but a small number of reviewers stated that their dog found the food unpalatable.

See Ingredient List

Deboned Duck, Turkey Meal, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal (Source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Sweet Potato, Peas, Potato, Duck Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potato Protein, Natural Flavor, Bananas, Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Blueberries, Organic Alfalfa, Salmon Oil, Minerals (Salt, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate), Dried Chicory Root, Yucca schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Products, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

5. Solid Gold High Protein Grain and Gluten Free Dry Dog Food

About: Solid Gold Dog Food is a protein-packed, duck-focused, fiber-rich dog food made without any grains or glutens to better match the natural diet of dogs. In addition to featuring a number of high-quality protein sources, Solid Gold contains a variety of great fruits and vegetables to ensure your dog gets top-notch nutrition.

Price: $$$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • Made with anti-oxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as cranberries, pumpkin, blueberries and broccoli
  • Contains flaxseed which provides omega-3 fatty acids to help improve coat health
  • Fortified with vitamins, minerals and probiotics to ensure balanced nutrition
  • Made in the USA

PROS: Many owners report excellent results after switching to Solid Gold. Some report that skin-conditions improved after making the switch, while others reported an improvement in digestive function. Additionally, Solid Gold is made without any potato products, which provides a great choice for dogs that are allergic to them.

CONS: Aside from isolated dogs who did not tolerate the food well or found it unpalatable, the most common complaint about the food was its high price. However, given the impressive ingredient list, this is understandable.

See Ingredient List

Duck, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Whitefish Meal, Egg Product, Pea Protein, Tomato Pomace, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, L-Carnitine, Carrots, Pumpkin, Apples, Cranberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Parsley, Spearmint, Almond Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Sesame Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Yucca schidigera Extract, Dried Kelp, Thyme, Lentils, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus reuteri Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, 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.

Have you ever offered duck-based foods to your dog? Did you do so because of a food allergy or because you were trying to tempt your picky pooch with delicious duck? We’d love to hear all about your experience in the comments below.

About the Author Ben Team

Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.

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