Navigating the vast landscape of dog foods can be overwhelming, especially when your furry friend has specific dietary needs or sensitivities. For many pet owners in the UK, grain-free options have emerged as a promising solution in 2023.
We’re here to delve deep into the best grain-free dog food available, addressing common concerns and guiding you to make an informed decision that prioritises your dog's health and well-being.
Grain-free dog food lacks wheat, corn, and rice but uses alternative carb sources like potato and pea flour.
Dogs benefit from grain-free diets due to limited amylase, enhancing digestion and reducing allergies.
When choosing grain-free food, consider ingredient quality, avoid excessive fillers, and always consult a vet.
Some grain-free brands can include artificial additives and misleading marketing; always read labels and reviews.
If you plan to transition your dog to a grain-free diet, it should be done gradually over 7-10 days, monitoring for any allergic reactions.
How to Choose the Best Grain-Free Dog Food for Your Pet
Selecting the right grain-free dog food is crucial for your pet's overall well-being and digestive health. Here’s a few guidelines that ensure you choose a food that is suitable for your dog’s specific needs:
Analyse the Ingredients
Opt for foods with whole, recognisable ingredients. The first few ingredients listed should ideally be protein sources like chicken, beef, or fish, such as cod.
Some grain-free foods substitute grains with less nutritious fillers that are biologically inappropriate for your pet. Steer clear of foods that heavily rely on ingredients like tapioca or potato starch.
Consider Your Dog's Life Stage
Puppies, adults, and senior dogs have different nutritional needs. Ensure the food caters to your dog's specific age and activity level.
Seek Vet Advice
Always consult with your veterinarian before transitioning diets. They can offer personalised recommendations based on your dog's health and needs.
Check for Allergies
Just because it's grain-free doesn't mean it's allergen-free. Monitor your dog for any signs of allergies or sensitivities when introducing new food.
Research and read reviews from other pet owners as their experiences can provide insight into the food's quality and palatability.
Best Grain-Free Dog Food in the UK 2023
Multiple superfoods in each meal, such as spirulina and kale, to support overall health
Cooked at a low temperature to protect the protein and nutrient content
Single meat recipes wherever possible
Suitable for puppies
Premium price point
In the grand lineup of grain-free dog foods, we've cheekily crowned our own brand as the top dog. But before you roll your eyes and think, "Well, of course they did!" - allow us a moment to explain.
Packed with natural goodness suitable for both the sprightly pups and the distinguished elders, our food is more than just a biased choice. So, stay with us as we dive into the nitty-gritty and show you exactly why our grain-free delicacy truly stands out from the pack.
Passionate about high-quality dog food, we ensure that all our freshly prepared meats, fish, and vegetables are responsibly sourced, and, although we are focused on protecting our planet, we also ensure that we make delicious, but nutritionally balanced food for your dogs.
We use highly digestible proteins such as wild boar, chicken, turkey, and MSC-certified cod and haddock, and wherever possible, we use single-meat recipes, which are better for sensitive tummies. We then combine it with vegetables, as well as superfoods such as broccoli and pumpkin. They boost immunity and are rich in antioxidants that protect from free radicals and keep your dog in the very best of health.
Not to mention, many of our recipes, for example, the Wild Caught Cod & Haddock Dog Food, are high in Omega 3 which keep the skin barrier healthy, as well as keep your pet’s fluffy coat shiny with reduced shedding!
Our fresh meat products are cooked at a low temperature to ensure the protein sources within them are as digestible as possible. So much so, it is almost the same as the meat us humans would eat (human grade). Transported in a fridge, it’s cooked at 90˚C to keep the protein protected, maintain the nutrient content, and ensure it’s easy to digest.
Keen to do our bit in every way possible, we ensure that all the ingredients in our pet foods are traceable to maintain a transparent food chain. All our ingredients are of the best quality and come from farms with ethical practices, including free-range chickens and MSC-certified fish. Not to mention, our packaging is also made from recycled materials!
Of course, our recipes are always completely grain-free, and there are no added preservatives or meat derivatives because we want what is best both for your dog and the world we live in.
Price: From £2.30
Next up, we have Canagan's grain-free food, which seeks to mimic a dog's ancestral diet, with a rich meat content that is harmonised with ingredients such as sweet potato, herbs, and other botanicals. The overall result is a nutritionally complete and balanced meal.
Canagan’s keeps your pet in mind with every variety of food they produce, from the British ingredients they source to the different sizes of kibble to suit all types of dogs.
As well as using plenty of superfood ingredients within their food, such as seaweed and cranberry, they also use insects as a source of protein which are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Insect protein is also a good choice for dogs with allergies, and it is rich in fatty acids, making it great for shiny coats too!
With a high meat content, the Canagan range is well suited for dogs of all age ranges, from puppies to mature dogs. Each bag of food comes with a feeding guide so you can be sure you are providing your pup with the right amount of food per serving.
Price: From £5.99
British sourced ingredients
Uses insect protein which is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Various kibble sizes for all dog types
Not available to buy as single portions
Premium price point
In third place, we have Forthglade, which is steeped in heritage, having been established in the heart of Devon, in 1971. With expertise spanning over 50 years, they have totally refined their production of both wet and dry grain-free dog food with a wide range in each of their categories for puppies, adults, and senior dogs.
Dogs will love to tuck into their tasty wet food that contains only the finest natural ingredients, with 75% protein in each one. Not only is the quality top-notch, but the flavour variety is also both exciting and unusual.
Their 2023 grain-free lineup includes everything from duck to wild board, with everything being gently cooked to ensure that the flavour and natural goodness is maintained.
The wet food offers total flexibility for you and your dog as it can be used as a standalone product, in combination with dry food, or even as a topper.
The dry food is just as nutritious, again using a 75% protein source combined with sweet potato and other healthy vegetables. It is, as you would expect, completely grain-free with no use of fillers, and its high nutrient content makes it easy to digest, even for those with sensitive tummies!
Price: From £1.99
75% protein in each one
Unusual protein types offering variety at meal times
High nutrient content makes it easy to digest
- Not all packaging is recyclable at present
4. The Pack
Coming up in fourth is The Pack which is perfect for pet owners and families who follow a vegan diet, as this brand focuses on plant-powered food for healthy dogs.
Producing high-quality plant-based dry and wet dog food, they infuse their products with premium, functional ingredients, and superfoods that are totally vegan. Ingredients range from blueberries to butternut squash, but one thing is for sure they are all nutritionally complete to ensure your pup stays in tip-top condition!
What many don’t realise is that dogs are actually omnivores, meaning that your pup can break down proteins in the same way that we do, whether they come from meat, vegetables, or another plant-based source. With veganism being a popular way of life in 2023, this grain-free, vegan dog food allows your dog to remain healthy whilst adapting to your way of life with no-animal-derived products.
The Pack offers both wet and dry food ranges that are vet-approved and nutritionally complete. With a 90%+ digestibility, the foods are designed to build immunity, strengthen bones, reduce inflammation, and encourage nutrient absorption. With fun names such as No Moo Ragu for the wet food offering that has a stew-like texture, and oven-baked dry food your dog will feel satisfied and healthy.
Whilst the emphasis is on your pet, another benefit of this brand is its dedication to reducing emissions. With the pet food industry producing almost 3% of carbon emission within the farming industry, The Pack has created food that prioritises your dog’s health whilst looking after the planet too.
- Emphasis on environmentally friendly food sources
- Functional ingredients that are plant-based but high in nutrients to support your dog’s health
- 90%+ digestibility which is good for dogs and helps to maintain optimum health levels
Vets don’t often recommend a vegan diet as it is more challenging to balance nutrient levels
Premium price point
5. Bella & Duke
Bella & Duke grabs fifth place, with the brand centralising on improving pet health from within. Their fresh, raw pet food is constructed with human-grade ingredients, ensuring that your pet receives optimum nutrition tailored to their unique needs.
This completely raw dog food is free from grains, fillers, and preservatives, using tasty meat, bone, seasonal veggies, berries, and healthy fats to fill your pup’s tummy. Each meal is packed full of protein, with at least 80% meat, bone, or offal content, with all the meat being sourced from British and Irish farmers to ensure premium quality and animal welfare.
These high-quality protein sources are then mixed with premium superfoods such as spirulina and kelp, which are locally sourced, and fresh vegetables, which are used to further support your dog’s health. Finally, the foods are finished with fatty oils to maintain coat health, support joint health and mobility, and help to keep healthy teeth!
The brand also offers a convenient subscription meaning you’ll never go short on supplies! To sign up for the service, you first need to fill in their handy quiz, which will then recommend the best food for your dog. The food is then delivered frozen to your door!
Price: From £2.87
Human-grade ingredients ensure high nutrition levels
Minimum of 80% meat, bone, or offal content
British and Irish food sources
All foods finished with fatty oils to maintain coat health and support mobility
Freezer space is necessary as this has to be kept frozen until use
Premium price point
6. Billy & Margot
And finally, but by no means least is Billy + Margot. Created by esteemed canine nutritionist Marie Jones, their grain-free products are rich in quality protein, superfoods, and holistic ingredients, catering to the multifaceted dietary needs of dogs.
All products have a minimum of 60% protein, using traditional meat sources such as chicken and beef, to slightly more quirky options like kangaroo and goose. These are then combined with rich superfoods, such as chia seeds and pea proteins, that are nutritionally dense and can further support your dog’s wider health.
With a wide range of wet and dry dog foods, as well as treats, there is something to suit every need, and all are perfectly crafted to offer a healthy balance and enhance your dog’s overall nutrition.
Price: From £2.80
Natural ingredients with a minimum 60% protein
Nutritionally dense superfoods such as chia seeds and pea proteins are used
Unusual meat options such as kangaroo and wild boar
The consistency of the product can be inconsistent, which might be off-putting to fussier dogs
Premium price point
Why is Grain-Free Food Beneficial to Your Dog?
Dogs inherently have a limited amount of the enzyme called amylase, which is responsible for breaking down starchy carbohydrates. As a result, many dogs find it challenging to digest carbohydrates thoroughly.
Adopting a grain-free diet, digestion can be more efficient, eliminating potential digestive discomforts. If your canine companion shows signs of digestive distress, a grain-free diet could be a valuable consideration.
Some of the key benefits of a grain-free diet include:
Reduced allergy risks
Higher protein content
Fewer filler ingredients
Enhanced energy levels
Natural ingredient focus
Understanding Protein Source vs. Crude Protein in Dog Food
When selecting the ideal grain-free dog food, it's imperative for dog owners to appreciate the difference between protein source and crude protein, recognising that each plays a pivotal role in a dog’s nutrition and well-being.
The Value of Crude Protein
Crude protein, a metric determined through laboratory testing, indicates the total protein content of dog food. This measure is invaluable as it provides a quick reference to the protein richness of the food, a key factor in ensuring that the dietary needs of active and growing dogs are met. High crude protein percentages, anything above 18% for dry food, often signal a food rich in the essential building blocks necessary for muscle development, energy, and overall health.
Significance of Protein Source
The protein source, however, should not be overlooked. It refers to the actual ingredients like chicken, beef, fish, legumes, or insect protein that contribute to the total protein content. The source is crucial because different proteins have varied amino acid profiles and digestibility rates, which are essential for addressing specific health needs and preferences of dogs. For instance, some dogs might thrive on a diet based on fish protein, which is often rich in omega fatty acids, while others might require the lean protein from chicken for optimal health.
Understanding both crude protein and the protein source offers a comprehensive view of a dog food's nutritional profile. While crude protein gives a broad understanding of the protein content, the protein source offers insights into the quality and type of protein.
|Brand||Grain-Free||Low-Temp Cooked||Single Meat Recipe||Human-Grade Meat||Recycled Packaging||High in Omega 3||
(High in antioxidants)
|Average Crude Protein %||Price Range||British Ingredients||Variety of Kibble Sizes||Vegan Option||Subscription Service|
|Beco||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||8.5% Wet Food/ 22% Dry Food||From £2.89||✘||✘||✘||✘|
|Canagan||✔||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✔||10% Wet Food/ 30% Dry Food||From £5.99||✔||✔||✘||✘|
|Forthglade||✔||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||11% Wet Food/ 30% Dry Food||From £1.99||✘||✘||✘||✘|
|The Pack||✔||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✔||10% Wet Food/ 25% Dry Food||£8.99||✘||✘||✔||✘|
|Bella & Duke||✔||✘||✘||✔||✘||✘||✔||15% Wet Food (No Dry Food Range)||From £2.87||✔||✘||✘||✔|
|Billy & Margot||✔||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✔||10% Wet Food /34% Dry Food||From £2.80||✘||✘||✘||✘|
What to Avoid with Grain-Free Food
Dog food can be a hard market to navigate through, with so many options on the market. With grain-free dog foods, there's a discernible difference between premium brands and their less costly counterparts as premium brands often prioritise genuine, high-quality ingredients, whereas some budget-friendly options can compromise on this quality.
A case in point is a big brand in the industry, which was once a well-respected name, became acquired by Mars, and began including meat meal in its formulations. Meat meal is offcuts that aren’t fit for human consumption and are often of a lesser quality than other cuts of meat. Cooked at an extremely high temperature, it tends to hold far less nutritional value than freshly prepared meat.
Checking the ingredients list on your dog’s food is highly important, regardless of the brand’s reputation, as you want to be sure that you are feeding your dog food that best meets its needs.
Here are a few other factors to consider when it comes to grain-free food:
Beware of brands that bolster their product with excessive fillers, reducing nutritional integrity and potentially harming your dog.
Foods rich in artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives can trigger adverse reactions, especially in sensitive dogs.
A label proclaiming "natural" or "premium" doesn't inherently signify quality. Dive into the ingredient list instead of relying on such claims.
High Legume Content
Some research suggests grain-free foods high in legumes might be linked to heart issues in dogs. Always err on the side of caution and seek vet advice when needed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What's Grain-Free Dog Food?
Grain-free dog food is characterised by the absence of wheat, corn, rice, and other cereals. Even without grains, dogs still require carbohydrates for energy. Grain-free options often utilise alternative carbohydrate sources like potato and pea flour to fulfil this need.
Grain-free dog food has become popular over the past few years as it addresses concerns around allergies and digestive complaints, and in 2023, it shows no signs of slowing down amongst dog owners!
Do vets recommend grain-free dog food in the UK?
Most veterinarians advise choosing a diet based on each dog's individual needs. While some dogs may benefit from a grain-free diet, others might not, which is why it is important to consult with a veterinarian before making dietary changes.
Is grain-free dry food better for dogs?
Grain-free dry food can be beneficial for dogs that have grain allergies or digestive issues, however, it's essential to ensure the food is nutritionally balanced and meets the dog's specific needs.
What grain-free dog food do dogs like best?
Every dog is unique, so their preference will vary. However, many dog owners in the UK have found that certain grain-free options are consistently favoured by their pets, however, many dog owners in the UK have found that specific grain-free options are consistently favoured by their pets. This could be due to the rich protein content and natural ingredients often found in grain-free options, which can appeal to a dog's innate dietary inclinations and taste preferences.
What are the benefits of using some of the best grain-free hypoallergenic dog foods in the UK?
Hypoallergenic grain-free dog foods reduce the risk of allergic reactions in sensitive dogs by excluding common allergens. This can lead to fewer skin issues, digestive problems, and overall better health.
How do I transition my dog to a grain-free diet?
Transitioning your dog to a grain-free diet should be done gradually to avoid digestive upsets. Start by mixing a small portion of the grain-free food with their current food, then gradually increase the grain-free proportion over 7-10 days. This phased approach allows your dog's digestive system to adjust. Always monitor for any signs of allergies or sensitivities, and consult your veterinarian if you notice any adverse reactions or if you have concerns during the transition.
Final Food for Thought
Finding the best grain-free dog food in the UK for 2023 can be pivotal for many dogs' health and well-being. Grain-free diets can aid digestion and are especially beneficial for dogs with grain sensitivities or allergies. Brands such as Beco, Canagan, Forthglade, and Billy & Margot offer nutritious and balanced grain-free options that cater to the unique needs of every canine. As always, consult with a veterinarian to ensure your pet's dietary requirements are adequately met.
Shop our wide range of nutritionally balanced and tasty grain-free foods for your precious pup here.