Top 10 Best Chicken Free Dog Foods
It’s hard to escape chicken-based dog food as it seems to be the most popular protein source in many brands today.
For some dogs, this is unacceptable, and a poultry-free alternative is necessary. While many brands make dog foods with different protein bases, they’re not all created equal. Even some that looked great on paper didn’t pass our pup’s sniff test.
We’ve searched for a chicken-free dog food that’s as healthy for our furry friends as it is tasty. After testing many of these dog foods with our dogs, we wrote these reviews to share what we learned.
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Hopefully, you’ll have everything you need to make the right choice for your four-legged companion.
The 10 Best Chicken-Free Dog Foods
Zignature Goat Dry Dog Food
Another premium priced dog food, the Zignature brand food is made with goat as its protein source. It makes sense for it to be so high-priced with goat listed as the very first ingredient. We love dog food formulas that prioritize quality protein, but the price of this one is pretty hard to overcome. Thanks to the limited ingredient formula, this food is an excellent choice for any dog with allergies or food sensitivities. None of our dogs had any problems digesting this food and it seemed to be easy on the stomach, even for the ones with digestive issues. That said, it did cause some very rank breath, which we didn’t enjoy. Between the breath and the high price, we recommend choosing a different brand that won’t turn you off from your dog when it tries to give you love!
- Wildly expensive
- Goat formula caused excessively bad breath
- Limited ingredient formula
Instinct Be Natural Chicken-free Dog Food – Best Value
The Be Natural dry dog food from Instinct is one of our favorites and our dogs loved it even more than we did. We love its no-filler formula that’s all natural, and features animal protein that’s responsibly sourced as the first and second ingredients. Though it’s not grain-free dog food, it’s made with natural fruits and vegetables to keep your furry friends healthy. Moreover, it’s the first Raw-coated kibble. This means that every piece is coated with Raw that’s made from real meat and whole food ingredients, adding in more protein to this food to help it achieve its high 25% crude protein composition.
With several available options, you can vary your dog’s diet between salmon, lamb, and beef. Our dogs loved all three. Since it’s free of ingredients known to trigger food sensitivities but it’s packed with protein and natural ingredients, we think it’s the best dog food without chicken for the money. Affordable and crafted from the finest ingredients from around the world, we feel confident recommending it in our number two position.
- Not a grain-free dog food
- No fillers
- Raw coated
- High protein formula – 25%
The Farmer’s Dog Beef Recipe Fresh Dog Food – Best Overall
The Farmer’s Dog is a dog food subscription service that produces premium, fresh food customized for your dog and delivers directly to your door. The Farmer’s Dog is made at USDA-inspected facilities, and its Beef Recipe was our 1st best overall pick for the best dog foods without chicken. The Farmer’s Dog does not subject its food to a high-temperature oven but uses a low-temperature process to gently cook the ingredients to retain nutrients.
The first five main ingredients of the Beef Recipe are beef, sweet potatoes, cooked lentils, carrots, and beef liver. We’re confident your pup will enjoy the Farmer’s Dog Beef Recipe.
In the end, this was our favorite dog food without chicken and which is why it has earned our highest recommendation for best dog foods without chicken.
- Pricier than most commercial dog foods
- Includes fish oil, a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids for better joint health.
- High in protein
- Slow-cooked to retain nutrients
Purina Pro Plan Adult Dog Food
Purina is a well-known name in dog food, but they’re sold at big box stores, which tends to make us wary. However, their ProPlan FOCUS adult dry dog food is several steps above their traditional formula. To start, it’s a high-protein formula with 26% of the total calories coming from protein. This is one of the highest of any food we tested and we appreciate the benefits this brings for our dogs. You can choose salmon or lamb as the protein source and it will be listed as the first ingredient.
Free from corn, wheat, and soy, this blend is great for dogs with a sensitive stomach. Despite what it’s missing, it’s packed with fiber, Omega-6 fatty acids, and zinc for a healthy coat, and to improve the overall well-being of your dog. For dogs with skin problems, this food didn’t introduce any new problems. In fact, it helped to reduce the existing conditions’ severity in our case. However, we discovered several bugs by the bottom of our bag, an issue that prevents this dog food from reaching our top three.
- Very expensive
- Discovered some bugs in our bag
- High-protein formula – 26%
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- Sensitive stomach
Natural Balance Ingredient Diets
Feeding your dog a limited ingredient diet can have many benefits, and this Limited Ingredients Diets dog food from Natural Balance is an ideal choice. It’s completely grain-free and uses no artificial flavors or colors. There are many protein sources to choose from, including fish, duck, bison, lamb, venison, and beef. With 20% protein, it’s sure to meet the demands of your active dog. It’s also packed with natural fiber to promote healthy digestion.
With such high-quality food for your canine, you can’t expect it to come cheap. While it’s priced pretty high, we don’t think it’s outrageous considering what it does for your dog. It features healthy, natural ingredients, and it’s also full of vitamins and minerals that help your dog live a long and healthy life while promoting a shiny coat and strong joints. Overall, we think it’s one of the best out there, which is why it’s earned our pick as the third best dog food without chicken. Our dogs loved the taste and we loved the nutritional benefits of this grain-free recipe.
- Very expensive
- 20% protein
- Limited ingredients
- Great selection
Whole Earth Farms Dog Food without Chicken
This all-natural dog food from Whole Earth Farms is a healthy and delicious alternative to chicken-based dog foods. With multiple sources of protein in each formula, you can be sure that your dog’s needs are adequately met. Devoid of by-products, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, corn, wheat, and soy, this dog food will provide your dog with the nutrition it needs to maintain the highest level of health. Packed with vitamins and minerals, it will help keep your dog’s coat shiny and beautiful while helping them maintain strong bones and joints.
While many dog food brands stick to a single source of protein in each formula, Whole Earth Farms has gone with a different approach by including several types of protein in each to keep your dog’s diet varied. Our dogs loved the pork, beef, and lamb recipe, but there were other options to choose from. Completely grain-free and with added vitamins and minerals, we liked the focus on our dog’s good health.
- Only comes in bags up to 25 pounds
- No by-products
- Multiple protein sources in each formula
- No artificial colors or preservatives
Nature’s Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food
Some of our favorite dog foods without chicken list a high-quality protein source as the first ingredient. Nature’s Recipe lists lamb meal as the first ingredient. While this isn’t a deal-breaker, we do prefer a higher quality protein such as deboned lamb. That said, Nature’s Recipe is one of the more affordably priced dog foods, likely due to the use of lamb meal, at least in part. There is no grain-free formula, but healthy and high-fiber vegetables were used such as oats, barley, and brown rice.
For your dogs’ health, this food has added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for healthy digestion and optimal muscle strength. Unfortunately, some of the calories are coming from poultry fat, which is listed as one of the ingredients. Though it’s lamb based, the inclusion of poultry fat means the Nature’s Recipe dog food may not be a good choice for dogs with allergies or sensitivities to chicken, which is one of the major flaws that kept this food from reaching a higher position on our list of best dog foods without chicken.
- Uses meal as a protein source
- Has poultry fat as an ingredient
- No grain-free formula
- Affordably priced
- Natural fiber from oats, barley, and brown rice
- Added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Unlike lower quality dog foods that use cheaper substitutes instead of quality protein sources, the Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet dog food lists its quality protein as the first ingredient. Instead of chicken, you can pick from lamb, turkey, duck, and salmon to treat your dog to a varied and healthy diet. All of them are grain-free to support gentle digestion making this dog food excellent for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
The limited ingredient formula means this dog food is a great option for dogs with allergies, food sensitivities, or other health concerns. We were a bit disappointed with the protein level, though, which is just 20%. While this is adequate, we prefer the higher protein formulas available on foods such as the Instinct Be Natural dog food in our second spot. The Blue Buffalo was also priced at a premium and we just didn’t think it offered quite as much value as competing brands at the same price.
- Only 20% minimum protein
- Lamb is the first ingredient
- Limited ingredient formula
ACANA Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
ACANA is known for its premium dog foods, but we feel that this one missed the mark. It does use real meat from premium protein sources such as freshwater fish, which provides your dog with a variety of protein sources in the same formula. The freshwater fish includes wild-caught rainbow trout, yellow perch, and blue catfish. There is also a red meat option that has no chicken. We appreciate the quality and unique protein sources used for this dog food, but you will be paying an absolute premium for it, as this is one of the most expensive ones we tried.
With a composition that’s 60% meat inclusions, we knew there would be a lot of protein, but there’s also more. In the red meat blend, we found lots of hair in all of the kibble. This suggests that carcasses are being ground up as well, which isn’t our first choice of what we’d like to feed our dogs. Some of the dogs we fed it to had adverse reactions and ended up with diarrhea or vomiting. Obviously, this is something we never want our dogs to experience. Despite the quality protein, we don’t recommend the ACANA dog food.
- Extremely expensive
- Lots of hair in the kibble
- Made some of our dogs sick
- Premium protein options
- 60% meat inclusions
GENTLE GIANTS Natural Dog Food
Made by Burt Ward who played Robin the Boy Wonder in the Batman TV series, the GENTLE GIANTS natural dog food is a non-greasy formula that’s meant to help your dog live a healthy and long life. It’s advertised as smelling great, which we can all agree is quite subjective. To us, the smell was atrocious! Even our dogs didn’t like it. Well, we’re making that assumption since none of them really wanted to eat it. Our dogs will eat almost anything, but they didn’t like this food! This was a real downer since it’s very expensive. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive dog foods we tried. It’s likely this is because they used wild-caught salmon and non-GMO vegetables. We do appreciate this care taken with the food, but if our dogs don’t like it, then it was all for naught!
- Very expensive
- Awful smell
- Our dogs didn’t want to eat it
Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
We’ve enjoyed Merrick pet products in the past so we had high hopes for their grain-free dry dog food. The one we tried was real Texas beef and sweet potato, which sounded great to us, but some of our dogs disagreed and wouldn’t eat it. Since it’s grain-free, we thought this would be a great choice for our dogs with sensitivities. However, it actually ended up causing some skin allergies in a few of our dogs!
After just a few days on this food, their skin seemed to dry out and get flaky and they became very itchy. Switching back to their previous food seemed to remedy the issue. Packed with Omega-3 and 6, this food should be great for your dog’s coat, though that wasn’t our experience. It’s also very expensive, and since we got better results with some lower-priced foods we tried, we think the Merrick is overpriced for what it is and would recommend something like the Whole Earth Farms grain-free dog food in our top position instead.
- Created skin allergies in some dogs
- Not all the dogs wanted to eat it
- Omega-3 and 6 for healthy skin and coat
Buyer’s Guide: Buying the Best Chicken-Free Dog Food
Searching for the best chicken-free dog food for your pup can be a daunting task, but here are a few things to help make it a little easier.
The ingredient list on your dog’s food package will be listed in order, from the most present to the least. You can tell the quality of the dog food by looking at the order of ingredients. A high-quality protein source should be the first ingredient on the list so you know that it’s a healthy option for your dog. If the first ingredients are fillers, you know that your dog will be getting less protein in their meals.
- The protein source in your dog’s food is one of the most important things to look for. Since your pup can’t eat chicken, you’ll want to make sure a chicken protein source isn’t included in the ingredients.
- If the protein source is labeled as “meat,” this can include heart tissue, esophagus tissue, and gristle of a type of meat that people eat too. By-products refer to animal parts that don’t include meat. These are non-rendered and include organs, tissues, and bones.
- Foods with single-protein sources may be better for dogs that suffer from allergies. Too many protein sources increase the risk of your dog being allergic to one of them. If you know which protein your dog can easily digest without issues, try to stick with that protein as the main source in the ingredient list.
Not every dog has the same dietary needs. When you’re shopping for a chicken-free dog food, consider your dog’s age, activity level, weight, and health condition. Puppies need different nutrition than adult and senior dogs. Your dog should be eating a food that is balanced and formulated for their life stage.
- Check out the guaranteed analysis on your dog’s food package. Some dog food companies find it difficult to add proper protein sources without using chicken, which is inexpensive. You want to make sure the protein is high even without the use of this ingredient. The protein content should always be the highest number in the analysis.
- A dog food that offers balanced nutrition will include ingredients for digestive, immune, coat, skin, and joint health in addition to protein.
Make Sure It’s Chicken Free
- The front label of a dog food package may state that it’s made with lamb and rice, but you can then read the ingredient list and see that chicken is included in the formula. Chicken is such a common ingredient in dog food, it can be difficult to find a brand that doesn’t use it at all in a few of its flavor options.
- Always scan the ingredients on any promising option to confirm that chicken is not used in the food.
You may have found the healthiest option you can — it has a high protein content, healthy nutrients, and no chicken. You fill your dog’s bowl with it, only to watch them sniff it and walk away.
It can take a while for your dog to get used to a new food, especially if you are cutting chicken from their diet completely. Sometimes, it takes a bit of trial and error to find a food that is appropriate for your dog and still tastes good to them.
Lots of dog foods are made without chicken, but for our canine companions, only the best will do. That is why we’ve tested as many different dog foods without chicken as we could find. You’ve read our reviews of the ten best, but before you make your decision, we want to quickly review our top recommendations so they’re fresh in your mind. Our choice for the best chicken-free dog food was The Farmer’s Dog. Each recipe includes a diverse selection of high-quality protein sources, it’s all natural, and it’s free of by-products, artificial colors, and artificial preservatives. The dogs loved the taste, and we loved the health benefits.
For the best value, we think it’s hard to beat the Be Natural dog food from Instinct. Devoid of fillers, raw coated, and with 25% protein content, it’s a great choice for any dog and we think it’s worthy of our second-choice recommendation. In the third position, the Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Diets dog food was grain-free, 20% protein, and contained limited ingredients for dogs with allergies or sensitivities. Plus, they had a great selection to choose from. We’re confident that you and your dog will love all three of these foods.