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

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Dog Food By Ben Team 13 min read October 21, 2020 3 Comments

dog food with duck

Best Duck-Based Dog Foods: Quick Picks

  • Merrick Grain-Free Duck & Sweet Potato [Most Meat-Packed Duck Recipe]! This duck-based kibble is made with 70% protein featuring deboned duck, chicken meal, and turkey meal as the first ingredients.
  • American Journey LID Grain-Free Duck & Sweet Potato [Most Affordable Duck Recipe]. Grain-free duck-based kibble with duck and duck meal as the first two ingredients (and sole animal protein source) – an affordable option for dogs allergic to other animal proteins.
  • Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Duck [Best Duck-Only Protein Recipe]. This duck-based dog food made without any gluten, corn, wheat or artificial additives features duck as the first ingredient and only animal protein source.

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.

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.

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 Duck & Sweet Potato

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Merrick Grain Free Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick Grain Free Duck & Sweet Potato

Features duck and other poultry

This nutritious Merrick recipe is made with 70% protein featuring deboned duck, turkey meal, and chicken meal as the first three ingredients.

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.

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.

Ingredients List

Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes...,

Potatoes, Chicken Fat, Salmon Meal, Pea Protein, Potato Protein, Deboned Chicken, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Apples, Blueberries, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for Freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Citric Acid for Freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Evolutionary Diet

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Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Duck 24-lb

Blue Buffalo Wilderness

Duck-based grain-free formula

Features real deboned duck on top of the list, plus antioxidant-rich superfoods and no corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.

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.

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.

Ingredients List

Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine), Peas, Pea Protein, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids)...,

Tapioca Starch, Dried Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Starch, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, DL-Methionine, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Salt, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, 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-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), 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

3. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Duck

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Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet

A duck-based limited ingredient diet for dogs with allergies

This duck-based dog food is made without any gluten, corn, wheat, or artificial additives, making it ideal for dogs with allergies or digestive issues.

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.

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.

Ingredients 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. American Journey Limited Ingredient Duck & Sweet Potato

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limited-ingredient-american-journey

American Journey LID Duck & Sweet Potato

LID recipe with duck as the only animal protein

This grain-free kibble includes duck and duck meal as the first ingredients, with easily digestible carbohydrates.

AboutAmerican Journey LID Duck & Sweet Potato is a grain-free dog food that lists real, deboned duck and duck meal as the first two ingredients for a duck-packed recipe.

This recipe also contains flaxseed, providing omega-3 fatty acids, along with sunflower oil for omega-6 fatty acids. 

Features:

  • Comprised of easy-to-digest carbohydrates like peas and sweet potatoes
  • Made with no corn, wheat, soy, poultry by-product meals or artificial colors, preservatives or flavors
  • Meat-based recipe provides plenty of protein (25% of the calories come from protein) to keep your dog healthy

PROS

Owners were happy that this recipe contains only duck as the animal protein, which is important for those who have a dog with allergies to other animal proteins.

CONS

The reliance on peas, sweet potatoes, pea starch, and pea protein will no doubt upset those who would prefer a grain-inclusive formula, but these alternative carbohydrates should be easier on sensitive stomachs.

Ingredients List

Deboned Duck, Duck Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Pea Starch...,

Pea Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sunflower Oil, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, L-Threonine, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

5. Solid Gold Barking at the Moon

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Solid Gold - Barking at the Moon with Duck, Egg & Pea Recipe - Grain Free High Protein Dry Dog Food of All Life Stages - 22lb Bag

Solid Gold Barking at the Moon

Protein-packed with duck and made in the USA

This formula features duck, turkey meal, and eggs at the top of the ingredient list for a mix of protein. Grain-free, it uses peas and potatoes for carbohydrates.

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.

Features:

  • Made with anti-oxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as cranberries, pumpkin, blueberries and carrots
  • 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 with no corn, wheat or soy – as well as no artificial colorings or preservatives

PROS

This food features a high-protein low-carb recipe that is especially ideal for active dogs.

CONS

Not all owners are thrilled about the pea protein and peas featured so prominently in the ingredient list, preferring healthy grains instead.

Ingredients List

Duck, Turkey Meal, Pea Protein, Dried Eggs, Potatoes...,

Peas, Ocean Fish Meal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Ground Flaxseed, Dried Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Carrots, Salt, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Cranberries, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid), Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Dried Chicory Root, Choline Chloride, Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.

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.

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Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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3 Comments

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Mae

Studies conducted by the FDA are pointing towards the use of pea (legume) protein – which can block taurine uptake – as a major contributor to heart disease in dogs and cats.

https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/questions-answers-fda-center-veterinary-medicines-investigation-possible-connection-between-diet-and

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/fda-grain-free-diet-alert-dcm

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Ben Team

Hey, Mae.
A correlation between grain-free diets and DCM has been established, but causality has not yet been determined. We discuss the grain-free issue in greater detail here.
It may very well end up being that peas/legumes are the culprit, but we simply don’t know that yet for certain.

Accordingly, we’ve been recommending that owners avoid grain-free foods unless their dog has a specific grain intolerance (which is pretty rare), and that owners consult with their vet anytime they’re considering switching foods. We’re also changing our recommendations to reflect this, but we’re a small team and that just takes time. Rest assured, this article is on our list to be updated.

We appreciate your comments though.

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Linda Stutts McElroy

Trying to find something my dog likes I know he loves duck jerky. Need small packs of food to try, buying five lbs. Bags get expensive .still can’t find anything he likes

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