10 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods for Skin Allergies – 2023 Reviews & Top Picks
Skin allergies can make life miserable for your dog. After your veterinarian has checked for other health issues, they may recommend a grain-free diet. Surprisingly, most commercial dog foods contain grains. Corn and wheat provide fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. But, these ingredients may aggravate your dog’s skin condition. If your pup needs a grain-free food option, you may not know where to start. These 10 reviews offer choices for pups of all ages and taste preferences.
A Quick Glance at Our Favorites of 2023
|Best Overall||The Farmer’s Dog||
||Click to Save 50% + Get Free Shipping|
|Best Value||Health Extension Grain-Free Dry Food||
|Taste of the Wild High Prairie||
|Best for Puppies||ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Food||
|Vet’s Choice||Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Dry Food||
The 10 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods for Skin Allergies
1. The Farmer’s Dog – Best Overall
|Main ingredients:||Beef, chicken, turkey, pork, chickpeas, carrots, broccoli, spinach|
|Protein content:||Varies. Customized to your dog’s unique dietary needs.|
|Fat content:||Varies. Customized to your dog’s unique dietary needs.|
|Calories:||Varies. Customized to your dog’s unique dietary needs.|
The Farmer’s Dog delivers fresh, human-grade dog food to your doorstep. This company prepares its doggy entrees in USDA kitchens, so feel weird if you get hungry when you feed your pup. The Farmer’s Dog contains pieces of fresh meat (not kibble) and vegetable chunks. We chose The Farmer’s Dog as our 1st best overall pick because of its tailored nutrition. You don’t have to read through endless food labels to find the right product for your dog’s age, breed, and lifestyle. Just answer a few questions, and The Farmer’s Dog will recommend a fresh food option for your pup. This brand is a wise choice for someone who wants to feed their dog a homemade diet but is worried about nutritional deficiencies.
- Shipped to your door
- Human grade food
- Customized nutrition
- Not available in stores
- Must be refrigerated or frozen
2. Health Extension Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Buffalo, deboned whitefish, buffalo meal, whitefish meal, chickpeas|
|Protein content:||25% minimum|
|Fat content:||15% minimum|
Dogs with grain allergies may also have difficulty digesting common proteins like beef or poultry. Health Extension Grain-Free Buffalo & Whitefish has the added benefit of containing novel proteins. Its budget-friendly 4-pound bags are the right size for sampling or transitioning, andonce you know your pup likes this food, you can save money by buying larger bags. We think Health Extension makes the best grain-free dog food for skin allergies for the money. The company offers a money-back guarantee if you or your dog are not satisfied with their food. The fifth ingredient in this product is chickpeas. There is a possible link between legumes and canine heart disease1. Talk with your veterinarian before you switch to this or any other food with peas or other legumes.
- Contains salmon oil without a fishy smell
- Money-back guarantee
- Grain-free, gluten-free
- Bovine Colostrum is a lesser ingredient; may not be appropriate for beef allergies
- Legumes may not be right for your dog
3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Water buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas|
|Protein content:||32.0% minimum|
|Fat content:||18.0% minimum|
Taste of the Wild High Prairie lives up to its name, with water buffalo as the first ingredient. This family-owned company produces its food at several U.S. manufacturing facilities. Taste of the Wild claims that your dog craves the protein sources that its ancestors ate. Your pup is sure to love the addition of sweet potatoes, which are a vital source of fiber. The fifth ingredient in this food is peas, which may be linked to canine heart disease1. Check with your veterinarian before you switch to a food that contains peas or other legumes as a major ingredient.
- Contains prebiotics
- Real meat is the first ingredient
- Made in the USA
- Contains salt
- Unclear what the “Natural Flavor” is
4. ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food – Best for Puppies
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, turkey, turkey giblets (liver, heart, gizzard), flounder, whole mackerel|
|Protein content:||38% min|
|Fat content:||20% min|
While there are many grain-free options for adult dogs, there are fewer choices for puppies. If your young pup has a skin allergy, we recommend Orijen Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. All of Orijen’s pet foods have animal proteins listed as the first five ingredients2. Puppy Grain-Free has a higher caloric content than other puppy foods, so measure carefully.
Your puppy may love all of the tasty meat sources like poultry and fish,but a protein content of 30%3 is sufficient for all life stages, including puppies. You should consult with your veterinarian about the higher protein content in this product. We like that this food comes in a 4.5-pound bag, which makes it easy to sample without breaking the bank.
- Nutritionally balanced just for puppies
- Freeze-dried and coated
- 85% premium animal ingredients
- High caloric content
- May not be any benefit to higher protein content
5. Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Dry Dog Food – Vet’s Choice
|Main ingredients:||Organic chicken, organic chicken meal, organic sweet potatoes, organic potatoes, organic peas|
|Protein content:||26.0% minimum|
|Fat content:||15.0% minimum|
Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Dry Dog Food is our vet’s choice and an organic option for grain-free dog food. We chose this specific flavor because it’s suitable for smaller breeds with skin allergies. Castor & Pollux also makes grain-free foods for larger breeds, senior dogs, and puppies. This brand appeals to consumers by only using free-range chicken, and its higher price tag is to be expected. Transitioning to a grain-free food can be difficult, but Castor & Pollux will tempt dogs that already love the taste of chicken and sweet potatoes. The fifth ingredient in this food is peas, an ingredient that may be linked to canine heart disease1. Consult with your veterinarian before you switch to a product that has peas or legumes.
- Contains probiotics
- With real chicken and sweet potato
- Contains peas
6. Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, dried peas, whole dried potatoes|
|Protein content:||26.0% minimum|
|Fat content:||14.0% minimum|
Rachael Ray has long delighted humans with her tasty recipes. She also creates commercial cat and dog food, including Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Chicken & Sweet Potato. If chicken doesn’t tempt your pup, Nutrish Zero Grain also comes in beef, salmon, and turkey flavors. We like that Nutrish Zero Grain comes in smaller, budget-friendly 5.5-pound bags. This is a brand you can feel good about buying, as a portion of all proceeds is donated to animal charities. The Rachael Ray Foundation4 has donated to animal welfare organizations like the ASPCA and Best Friends. Nutrish is a solid choice for anyone who wants a grain-free brand. The fourth ingredient is peas, which have been linked to canine heart disease1. Talk with your veterinarian before switching to a grain-free food that contains legumes.
- Affordable compared to other grain-free brands
- Contains salt
- Unclear what “natural flavor” is
- Some owners claim the food has a strong odor
7. Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous Weight Control Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas|
|Protein content:||26.0% min|
|Fat content:||6.5% minimum, 9.5% maximum|
Many grain-free dog foods have a high-calorie content, which creates a dilemma for overweight pups. Canines need food that will make them feel full and meet their unique dietary needs. Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous Weight Control Grain-Free fits the bill with delicious chicken and sweet potatoes. At just 320 calories per cup, your dog will enjoy a tasty meal and still feel satisfied. The company has been in business since the 1970s and bills itself as “America’s first holistic pet food5.” This food contains peas as the fifth ingredient, a food that has been linked to canine heart disease1. Ask your vet if your pup is at risk for heart disease and if this (or any) grain-free food is right for them.
- Contains probiotics
- Small kibble size may not be suitable for larger dogs
- You may also be interested in: Solid Gold Puppy Food Review: Recalls, Pros & Cons
8. True Acre Foods Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Beef, peas, pea starch, poultry by-product meal, canola meal|
|Protein content:||24% minimum|
|Fat content:||13% minimum; 16% maximum|
Dogs love True Acre Foods Grain-Free Dry Food for its delicious beef flavor. Owners love that it eases skin allergy symptoms and reduces gas, but a few pet parents owners reported that True Acre increased flatulence. However, digestion issues can occur when you switch to new dog food. Transition slowly, starting with only a small percentage of the new food mixed into the existing brand.
True Acre Foods is one of the more affordable grain-free options out there. Peas are the second ingredient, a food that has been linked to canine heart disease1. Talk with your veterinarian about your dog’s risk of developing heart problems.
- Contains fish oil
- S. raised beef
- Contains salt
9. Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned salmon, salmon meal, whitefish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes|
|Protein content:||32.0% minimum|
|Fat content:||14.0% minimum|
Some pups are allergic to more than one food source. It can be difficult to find dog food that is grain-free and chicken-free, but Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon + Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food delivers. Garth Merrick started making homemade dog food back in the 1980s when he became disenchanted with commercial pet food options. The company produces all of its pet food at its Hereford, Texas, facility.
The added glucosamine and chondroitin in Merrick’s recipe support your pup’s healthy joints. Sweet potatoes and flaxseed are tasty sources of fiber that can help promote healthy digestion. This is a specialty food that appeals to a small subset of dogs with allergies and is priced accordingly.
- One of the few grain-free, chicken-free options
10. Solid Gold Barking at the Moon Grain-Free Canned Food
|Main ingredients:||Beef, beef broth, whitefish, beef liver, dried ground peas|
|Protein content:||9.5% min|
|Fat content:||6.0% min|
Some dogs benefit from the high moisture content of wet food, but it’s difficult to find grain-free options. Even dogs who normally eat kibble appreciate a spoonful of wet food now and then. Solid Good Barking at the Moon is one of the few canned grain-free dog foods on the market today. Beef and whitefish top the ingredient list and make for a tasty meal.
Solid Good is a mainstay in the holistic pet food market. The company launched its Barking at the Moon higher-protein, grain-free dog food back in 2006. Peas are the fifth ingredient in this product, an ingredient that has been linked to canine heart disease1.
- Pate mixture for dogs who have difficulty chewing
- Some dog owners don’t like the strong fish odor
- Not suitable for pups who can’t tolerate whitefish
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Grain-Free Dog Food for Skin Allergies
Grain-free dog foods may be trendy right now, but they are a necessity for pups with certain skin allergies. We’ve rounded up 10 of the best grain-free dog foods available in a variety of price ranges and flavors. Several of the brands on the list contain peas or other legumes. Manufacturers may add these ingredients to provide fiber and carbohydrates,but it’s worth noting that legumes may be linked to canine heart disease. However, your dog’s need for a grain-free diet may outweigh their risk of developing heart problems. Talk with your veterinarian or a certified veterinary nutritionist about your pup’s dietary needs.
How Do I Know if my Dog Has a Skin Allergy?
Canine allergies often manifest as skin conditions, and some dogs will break out in hives. You may not see the rash if your pup has thick fur, but they will lick or bite at affected areas. Skin allergies can irritate a dog’s ears, paws, stomach, and rear end area.
Your veterinarian will perform tests to rule out parasites or a chronic illness.
Should All Dogs Eat a Grain-Free Diet?
Every dog has unique dietary needs based on their age, lifestyle, and overall health. Several commercial dog food contains grains, which provide carbohydrates, fiber, and other nutrients. Most dogs tolerate grains and need this food group as a part of a balanced diet.
Grain-free foods are necessary for dogs with certain allergies, but they won’t be right for every pup. These brands are more expensive than food that contains corn, rice, and other grains. Some grain-free dog food has a high protein content which may not benefit your dog. Consult with your veterinarian or a registered veterinary nutritionist before switching your dog to a grain-free diet.
How Do I Choose The Right Grain-Free Food for my Dog?
There are numerous grain-free dog food brands on the market in the U.S. We know it can be overwhelming to make the right choice ,and we hope this list is a good starting point. Your budget may dictate how much you spend on pet food, and you’ll need to consider if your dog has other allergies or taste preferences. Some pet owners like to order food online, while others prefer to buy it at retail stores.
Your pup will have the final say, though. Your dog may not care for the taste of the food, no matter how much you like a company’s values or the convenient purchasing method. Buy a small quantity at first, and ask the company if it has a money-back guarantee or refund policy.
How Do I Switch my Dog to Grain-Free Food?
You should slowly transition any time you switch dog food. A ratio to start with is 25% new food and 75% old food. Then gradually increase the percentage of new food over a week’s time.
Our reviews give you a good starting point for grain-free dog brands. Our top overall pick was The Farmer’s Dog and its human-grade, fresh food. We think that Health Extension Grain-Free Buffalo & Whitefish is a front runner for pups who need a grain-free option with novel proteins. Taste of the Wild High Prairie has Water Buffalo as the first ingredient and is our premium choice. Puppies who need a grain-free food suited for their age may enjoy ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food. Our vet’s choice was also the only organic option on the list: Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Small Breed Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food.
Featured Image Credit: Switlana Sonyashna, Shutterstock