There are many solid arguments for and against including carbohydrates in your dog’s diet, including potatoes. Many feel that carbohydrates should be left to a minimum, as dogs can get all the energy that they need from meat-based protein.
Potatoes are a commonly used ingredient in commercial dog foods, and they can provide valuable nutrients for your pooch. That being said, they are not essential, and your dog will do fine without them. Some dogs simply do not like the flavor, and some do not do well on high amounts of starchy carbohydrates.
If you are looking for the top dog foods that do not contain spuds, we’ve got you covered. We put 10 different dog foods without potatoes to the test, to help you choose the best option for your beloved pooch.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (Updated 2022)
The 10 Best Dog Foods Without Potatoes
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food — Best Overall
Life Protection Formula from Blue Buffalo is made with real chicken, to give your dog the meat-based protein that they need to thrive. The food also contains brown rice, oatmeal, and barley for an extra energy boost, as well as fishmeal and flaxseed for the essential omega-3 and -6 fatty acids that will give your pooch a healthy and shiny coat. The addition of blueberries and cranberries will add immune-boosting antioxidants, along with the vitamins and chelated minerals for optimal absorption. Made with “LifeSource Bits” — a precise blend of nutrients that have been enhanced with antioxidant-rich ingredients — you can be sure that your pooch is getting all the nutrients they need to thrive. On top of all this, the food is free of corn, wheat, and soy products.
The only downside that we could find in this food is the smell. It has a pungent aroma that some picky eaters may turn up their noses at.
2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Dry Dog Food — Best Value
The best dog food without potatoes for the money is the Nurish Just 6 from Rachael Ray. This limited-ingredient food is made just like the name says — with just six ingredients. Lamb meal is first, to give your dog the high-quality protein they need to build and maintain lean muscle. This is followed by healthy, energy-boosting carbohydrates, like brown rice, and added chelated minerals and beneficial vitamins E and C. Of course, the six ingredients do not include any corn, wheat, soy, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
The food has a dark color and chemical smell that fussy dogs will not eat and seems to be comparatively oily. Several customers reported receiving moldy food, so you’ll need to make sure that you store it in a dry, airtight container. These small caveats keep Just 6 from the top spot.
3. CANIDAE Multi-Protein Formula Dry Dog Food — Best for Puppies
If you are looking for puppy food with a high-quality protein source, the CANIDAE Multi-Protein dry food is a premium choice. Puppies need higher than average protein in their diet to aid in the growth and development of their muscles, and this food contains high-quality protein from multiple sources. These include chicken meal, turkey meal, and lamb meal, plus salmon oil and ocean fish meal for added omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids. The food has the unique HealthPLUS solution — a trio of beneficial probiotics, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. Not only is the food ideal for puppies, but you’ll be able to feed your entire canine family with this food, as it is veterinary formulated to be suitable for all ages, breeds, and sizes. Plus, the food is free from corn, wheat, and soy.
Several customers report that this food causes bloat and gas in their pooches, with occasional diarrhea too. Some also report that the recent recipe change made their dog’s coat oily and smelly.
4. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb dog food has lamb as the first listed ingredient, to give your dog the high-quality protein that they need to build and maintain muscle mass. This is followed by lamb organ meats like heart, tripe, liver, kidney, lungs, and bone, with green mussels for a natural source of joint-supporting chondroitin and glucosamine. These ingredients are gently air-dried to preserve the nutritional benefits of the food and eliminate any harmful bacteria. This negates the need for harmful preservatives, flavors, and sugars, mimicking a raw diet but in a convenient air-dried form. The food contains no wheat, corn, soy, legumes, rice, or fillers and is 96% fresh, free-range, healthy meat.
This food is high in protein, which can cause vomiting in sensitive dogs. Some dogs may have loose stools from this food, likely for the same reason.
5. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Adult Dry Dog Food
The Classic Healthy Grains Adult dog food from Merrick contains lamb and salmon meal as the first two ingredients, so you can be sure of great animal-sourced protein and essential omega fatty acids. This is combined with essential vitamins and minerals to aid a healthy immune system and brown rice and ancient grains to promote healthy digestion. The included glucosamine and chondroitin will support hip and joint function, and the food contains carrots and apples for a healthy dose of added energy. It is also free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, as well as harmful filler ingredients like wheat, corn, and soy.
The kibble is fairly hard, so it may not be suitable for smaller breeds with small teeth. That being said, the kibble is small and can be easily be eaten in excess by larger breeds. Several customers report the food giving their dog loose stools when switching to this brand.
6. Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Adult Dry Dog Food
N & D Ancestral Grain dry dog food from Farmina has real, free-range chicken as the first ingredient to aid your pooch in muscle growth and development with quality animal-sourced protein. The food consists of 60% animal ingredients, 20% organic spelt and organic oats, and 20% vegetables and fruits. The natural omega essential fatty acids will promote healthy coat and skin, and the included pomegranates and blueberries contain powerful antioxidants to fight free radicals and aid in immune functioning. The food also contains no peas, legumes, meals, by-products, corn, or artificial preservatives.
Several customers report that this food caused vomiting and diarrhea in their dogs, and some dogs simply would not eat it. The food may cause gas in some dogs, and the kibble is thick, causing a choking hazard in smaller breeds.
7. Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
This large breed dry dog food from Nutro contains the perfect mix of three different lean proteins sourced from farm-raised chicken, pasture-raised lamb, and salmon to provide the amino acids essential for muscle growth and maintenance. The natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin will aid in hip and joint health and are the building blocks of healthy cartilage. This food is also packed with antioxidants for optimum immune function and linoleic acid-rich sunflower oil for healthy skin and coat. It is also fortified with essential vitamins and minerals and contains taurine to aid in healthy eyesight and hearing. Also, the food is made with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Although the food is made for large adult dogs, the kibble is small and may cause choking in fast eaters. Several users reported that the food was moldy when they received it, so be sure to store it in an airtight container.
8. Dr. Tim’s All Life Stages Kinesis Formula Dry Dog Food
Dr. Tim’s All Life Stages dry dog food is made with 79% animal proteins for sustained energy and muscle maintenance, with fish oil to deliver the essential fatty acids omega-3 and -6 to promote a healthy and shiny coat. The included EPA and DHA work to support cognitive function, and the patented BC30 probiotic will boost your dog’s digestive and immune health. The food includes natural antioxidants for added immune support and is slow-cooked to perfection to keep essential vitamins and minerals intact. Plus, this food is free from fillers like corn, wheat, and soy.
This food causes bloating and gas in some pooches and loose stools and diarrhea in others. The food has a pungent chemical smell that may discourage picky eaters.
9. Iams ProActive Health Adult Dry Dog Food
Iams ProActive Health dry dog food contains real, farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient for a natural source of lean, muscle-building protein. The food is also enriched with antioxidants for added immune support and omega-6 fatty acids for a luxurious coat and healthy skin. Iams is suitable for dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes, and this food contains zero artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and no harmful filler ingredients.
Several customers report this food giving their dog gas and painful bloating. Some picky eaters do not enjoy the flavor, and it caused loose stools in some pooches too. This food contains ground corn, which may cause digestive issues in some dogs.
10. American Natural Premium Original Recipe Dry Dog Food
American Natural Premium dry dog food has three sources of meat-based proteins — chicken, pork, and fish — and whole eggs for an added protein boost. The egg protein is easy to digest and packed with essential amino acids to build and maintain a healthy muscle mass. The added carbohydrates will supply your pooch with a boost of sustained, slow-releasing energy in the form of brown rice, oat flour, and barley. The food is cooked in small batches at a low temperature to ensure the retention of natural vitamins and minerals and has added probiotics for optimum gut health and immune function. Also, it is free from corn, wheat, and soy.
This food is not a specialized dietary food but is around the same price, making it comparatively expensive for what you are getting. The food has a pungent odor that causes some dogs to turn up their noses at it, and some customers report that this food will cause dogs with skin allergies to have worse symptoms, likely due to the chicken and high protein content.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Grain-Free Dog Foods Without Potatoes
Both rice and potatoes are common carbohydrate sources in commercial dog foods, as they are inexpensive and digestible and offer beneficial nutritional value. Potatoes contain potassium, which plays a pivotal role in your dog’s cardiovascular health and is a rich source of complex carbohydrates that provide a great energy source. They are also a source of vitamin C, iron, and protein, are low in sugar, and contain a decent amount of dietary fiber. Dogs are indifferent carnivores and not carnivores like their wolf ancestors and have evolved to eat carbohydrates and grains with relatively few issues.
However, some dogs do far better on a diet low in carbohydrates and starch, and just because most dogs can eat potatoes, that doesn’t mean they all should. All the potential benefits of potatoes, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein, can be easily obtained through other sources. Lean animal meats and organ meats are but one source of almost all the potential benefits that potatoes have to offer. There are a few health concerns to be aware of with potatoes too.
Reasons to give your dog potato-free food
Cooked potatoes are not especially bad for your dog, and given in moderation, they are fine and certainly not deadly. The primary reason to avoid giving your dog potatoes is the presence of solanine. Solanine is a poison found in species of plants in the nightshade family, including potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes, and is a natural pesticide that the plant uses to defend itself. The good news is that cooking potatoes will dramatically reduce the amount of solanine; the bad news is that cooking also reduces the number of vitamins and minerals present, albeit not by much. Of course, you should never feed your dog a raw potato.
Potatoes are usually cooked at high temperatures, causing the formation of acrylamide, which is thought to increase the risk of cancer. There is also a link between grain-free foods with potatoes and dilated cardiomyopathy, although this is still largely unsubstantiated and more research needs to be done.
The other reason to avoid potatoes in your dog’s food is excess carbohydrates. While the inclusion of small amounts of healthy carbohydrates is generally fine, dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbs. This leads many owners to switch to grain-free foods, thinking they’ll avoid the carbohydrates, but grain-free foods often contain high amounts of carbs, mostly in the form of potatoes! Grain-free foods are great for some dogs, but some do not do well on the excess carbohydrates and starches often contained in these foods.
This is because potatoes are complex carbohydrates and are digested slower than simple carbohydrates like fruits. The starch in potatoes requires additional breakdown before the nutrient can be absorbed by your dog’s body. Whole grains are a far better source of carbohydrates and are easier to digest.
So, if carbohydrates are not nutritionally essential to dogs, why are they so commonly found in pet food? Many people assume that the inclusion of grains and other carbohydrates like potatoes are used as filler ingredients to bulk up your dog’s food, and in some cases, this is true. But dogs are extremely versatile animals, and most can readily digest carbohydrates and gain benefit from them. After all, humans have been feeding a wide variety of foods to their dogs since domestication, as meats were rare and reserved for humans. Most dogs will thrive on a diet high in animal-based proteins, but of course, this is expensive and often impractical.
In essence, grain-free foods are great for dogs that have intolerances to some grains, but it is the inclusion of quality ingredients rather than the exclusion of grains that benefits these diets.
Potatoes are listed in various ways
Most dog owners will scan the ingredient list of their dog foods to ensure that potatoes are not present, but they are often there under different names. They are commonly listed as potato starch or potato protein, leading consumers to believe that isolated nutrients are fine. However, the amino acids in potato-based proteins have a different profile than meat, which is far superior. This protein is not as easy to digest and absorb and does not contain the complete amino acid profile that your pooch needs to thrive. Potato starch is typically used as a binding or thickening agent in dry dog foods and contains little or no nutritional value.
The best dog food without potatoes according to our tests is the Life Protection Formula dog food from Blue Buffalo. It is made with real chicken for the quality, meat-based protein that your dog needs to thrive and build and maintain lean muscle mass. The food also contains brown rice, oatmeal, and barley, as well as fishmeal and flaxseed for the essential omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and immune-boosting antioxidants. It is also free from corn, wheat, and soy “filler” products.
The best dog food without potatoes for the money is the Nurish Just 6 from Rachael Ray. The limited ingredient food is made with just six ingredients, including lamb meal for high-quality protein, carbohydrates like brown rice for sustained energy, and chelated minerals and beneficial vitamins E and C. Also, it is free from corn, wheat, soy, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
There are many potato free dog foods on the market, so finding the right one can be overwhelming. We hope that our in-depth reviews have helped clear up some of the confusion, so you can find the best potato-free food for your beloved pooch.
Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock