9 Best Dog Foods Without Chicken or Chicken Meal: Our Top 2019 Picks

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Chicken is one of the most common proteins used in commercial dog food. Not only is it a complete protein that contains all 10 essential amino acids your dog needs, but it is also a lean source of protein which can help support your dog’s lean muscle mass. Unfortunately, chicken isn’t always a good ingredient for dogs.

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Dogs can develop allergies to food in the same way that humans can, and chicken is one of the most common culprits. Keep reading to learn more about why you might want to avoid chicken in dog food, what protein options to consider as an alternative, and how to find the best dog food without chicken or chicken meal.

What is the Best Dog Food without Chicken?

Reasons Why You Might Want to Avoid Chicken

A dog has the potential to develop an allergy to just about any food ingredient. When your dog’s immune system becomes sensitive to a particular ingredient, it starts to identify that ingredient as a threat and launches an immune response against it. This is what triggers an allergic reaction and it happens each and every time your dog eats the offending ingredient.

Dogs can develop food allergies to just about any ingredient, but chicken is one of the most common. Other common allergens that make the list include beef, dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, pork, lamb, rabbit, and fish. If your dog continues to eat chicken after his body becomes sensitive to it, his reaction can worsen. Common symptoms of food allergies in dogs include the following:

  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Redness and inflammation in the ears
  • Recurrent skin and ear infections
  • Hair loss or dull, dry coat
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

If your dog exhibits these symptoms, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about the possibility of a food allergy. Your vet may suggest that you switch your dog to a limited ingredient diet made with a novel source of protein and carbohydrate until your dog’s body heals from the damage caused by the allergic reaction. Once your dog has healed, you can introduce potential allergens one at a time until you identify the culprit.

7 Alternative Meats to Use Instead of Chicken

The key to resolving your dog’s chicken allergy is to switch to a dog food that doesn’t contain any chicken ingredients. This can be difficult because chicken is such a common ingredient in commercial dog food. Even if chicken or chicken meal aren’t one of the main proteins, many recipes include other chicken-based ingredients like chicken fat.

If you suspect that your dog is allergic to chicken, you should consider switching to a limited ingredient diet to reduce the risk of triggering food allergies. Look for a recipe made with a novel source of protein – one your dog hasn’t had before – to further reduce that risk. Here are 7 alternative meats to consider:

  • Beef – Though beef is another common food allergen, it can be a good alternative to chicken if your dog can tolerate it. Keep in mind that many commercial dog foods use low-grade beef, so make sure you choose a recipe from a reputable brand.
  • Duck – In addition to being a novel source of protein for most dogs, duck is also rich in iron, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
  • Lamb – This is a novel source of protein for most dogs, so it is a great addition to limited ingredient diets and elimination diets for dogs with food allergies. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial for your dog’s immunity, skin, and coat.
  • Turkey – A lean source of animal protein, turkey is another common ingredient in commercial dog food diets, so it shouldn’t be hard to find.
  • Rabbit – This ingredient is very rich in protein and it is a novel source of protein for most dogs. It contains plenty of essential fatty acids for healthy bones and joints as well as B vitamins.
  • Salmon – In addition to being a complete source of animal protein for dogs, salmon is also incredibly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are essential for healthy skin and coat but they also support your dog’s joints as well as his immunity.
  • Venison – A type of game meat, venison is a lean source of protein as well as a novel source of protein for most dogs. It is rich in zinc, phosphorus, iron, and B vitamins.

When shopping for dog food, you are likely to see two different forms of various proteins – meat and meat meals. If the protein ingredient is simply listed by name (ex: turkey), it is likely the deboned meat. Meat meals (ex: turkey meal) are simple fresh meats that have been cooked and ground prior to their addition to the formula – this makes them a more highly concentrated source of protein than fresh meat, considering that fresh meat contains up to 80% water by volume.

The Best 9 Dog Foods Without Chicken or Chicken Meal

If you’re concerned that your dog may be allergic to chicken, you’ll need to find a dog food made without any chicken ingredients – including fresh chicken, chicken meal, and chicken fat. Look for a recipe featuring one of the 7 proteins from the list above and consider choosing a limited ingredient diet to further reduce the risk of triggering a food allergy or sensitivity. Here is our top pick for the best dog food without chicken or chicken meal:

Nature’s Variety Instinct LID Grain-Free Duck Recipe

The Overall Best Dog Food Without Chicken or Chicken Meal: If you want to give your dog the best of the best when it comes to chicken-free dog food, consider this Nature’s Variety Instinct LID Grain-Free Duck Recipe. This formula features duck meal as the main ingredient and a concentrated source of complete protein. It contains grain-free carbohydrates like peas and tapioca with several sources of healthy fats. This recipe is completely free from fillers and artificial additives but balanced in nutrition thanks to vitamin supplements and chelated minerals. Overall, it provides 27% protein with 17% fat and it is coated in freeze-dried duck for a boost of flavor and nutrition.

  • Pros: Novel source of animal protein, rich in essential fatty acids, limited number of ingredients, chelated minerals, freeze-dried duck coating, 27% protein and 17% fat
  • Cons: Doesn’t contain probiotics, expensive to feed as a staple diet

American Journey LID Grain-Free Venison & Sweet Potato Recipe

Most Affordable Dog Food Without Chicken or Chicken Meal: If you’re concerned about your dog’s chicken allergy but you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a limited ingredient diet, this American Journey LID Grain-Free Venison & Sweet Potato Recipe is a great option. Made with deboned venison as the main ingredient, this recipe also contains venison meal for a protein-rich product. It features digestible sweet potatoes, peas, and chickpeas for a grain-free formula that is rich in fiber for healthy digestion. It also contains canola oil and fish oil to ensure the optimal blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. Overall, it provides 22% protein and 12% fat with 6% crude fiber and it is formulated for all life stages.

  • Pros: Limited ingredient diet, venison as a lean source of protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in omega fatty acids, chelated minerals
  • Cons: No probiotic supplements, could be higher in protein

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Recipe

Most Popular Dog Food Without Chicken or Chicken Meal: If you’re not sure which chicken-free dog food to choose, why not go with a popular option like this Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Recipe? This formula features several premium animal proteins like fresh salmon, smoked salmon, and ocean fish meal with digestible grain-free carbohydrates and fresh fruits and veggies. It contains 25% protein with 15% fat for energy and it is supplemented with vitamins as well as chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption. You’ll also be glad to know that it contains dried fermentation products for probiotic support.

  • Pros: Several novel protein sources, rich in omega fatty acids, grain-free carbohydrates, nutritionally balanced, 25% protein and 15% fat, dried fermentation products, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

Ziwi Peak Lamb Recipe Canned Dog Food

Best Chicken-Free Wet Dog Food: Some dogs simply prefer wet food over dry food and if your dog is suffering from skin problems caused by food allergies, a wet food might be the best option. This Ziwi Peak Lamb Recipe Canned Dog Food is a great choice because it features a single source of novel animal protein as well as nutrient-rich organ meats. Made with fresh lamb, lamb organs, and lamb bone, this formula is an excellent source of balanced nutrition and natural flavor. It also contains New Zealand Green Mussel as a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support with chelated minerals for nutritional balance.

  • Pros: Single source of novel protein, nutrient-rich organ meats, natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin, chelated minerals, rich in natural flavor
  • Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet

5 More Top-Rated Chicken-Free Dog Foods

If the four chicken-free dog foods reviewed above aren’t quite right, don’t worry! There are plenty of other options to choose from. Here are five more top-rated chicken free dog foods:

Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose Freeze-Dried Raw Food

For a high-quality diet made with no chicken ingredients, consider this Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose Freeze-Dried Raw Food. This recipe features duck, turkey, and goose as premium sources of animal protein as well as healthy fatty acids. This food consists of freeze-dried raw patties and it is loaded with natural ingredients including organic fruits and vegetables. It is positively packed with protein but free from fillers, grains, and artificial additives. It also contains probiotics for digestion.

  • Pros: Freeze-dried raw patties, several premium sources of protein, organic fruits and vegetables, no grains or fillers, probiotics for healthy digestion
  • Cons: Very expensive to feed as a staple diet, may need to be rehydrated prior to feeding

Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

For a chicken-free diet that is rich in omega fatty acids, consider this Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe. This formula features deboned salmon and salmon meal as the primary ingredients which are both complete sources of protein and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This recipe contains fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources of key ingredients as well as supplemental fiber. It contains vitamin supplements and chelated minerals for nutritional balance as well as probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: Protein-rich salmon as main ingredient, rich in omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, nutritionally balanced, probiotics for digestion
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (potato protein), main source of fat is plant-based (sunflower oil)

Zignature Kangaroo Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Formula

When it comes to limited ingredient diets, this Zignature Kangaroo Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Formula is an excellent option. Not only does it contain fewer than 10 main ingredients, but it features a novel source of complete protein – kangaroo. This recipe is packed with 26% protein and 14% fat, plus it contains grain-free carbohydrates and chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption. Overall, it is rich in nutrition and natural flavor with a low risk of triggering food allergies.

  • Pros: Novel source of animal protein, rich in omega fatty acids, grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals, no artificial additives, limited number of ingredients
  • Cons: Very expensive to feed as a staple diet, main source of fat is plant-based (sunflower oil)

Wellness Simple LID Turkey & Potato Formula

If you’re looking for a limited ingredient diet free from chicken ingredients, consider this Wellness Simple LID Turkey & Potato Formula. This recipe features deboned turkey and turkey meal as the top two ingredients, making it a lean source of novel animal protein. It contains grain-free carbohydrates plus prebiotic fibers and probiotics for healthy digestion. This formula contains plenty of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat with vitamin supplements and chelated minerals to ensure nutritional balance as well as optimal nutrient absorption.

  • Pros: Limited number of ingredients, novel source of animal protein, blend of omega fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics, grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

The Honest Kitchen LID Grain-Free Dehydrated Fish Recipe

If you want to feed your dog the best of the best, consider a human-grade recipe like this The Honest Kitchen LID Grain-Free Dehydrated Fish Recipe. Made with only the highest quality, human-grade ingredients and prepared in a human food facility, this dehydrated dog food is packed with nutrition and completely free from grains, fillers, and artificial additives. It features white fish as a novel source of lean protein with fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients. There are also vitamin supplements and chelated minerals to ensure nutritional balance.

  • Pros: Premium-quality human-grade ingredients, certified white fish as main ingredient, fresh fruits and vegetables, grain-free, rich in protein and healthy fats, nutritionally balanced
  • Cons: Very expensive to feed as a staple diet, must be rehydrated prior to feeding

Dog food allergies are just as severe as food allergies in humans, though they may present in different ways. As soon as you start to worry that your dog is allergic to an ingredient in his food, you need to make a switch – his reaction will only get worse and it could compromise his nutrition as well as his overall health and wellness. If your dog is allergic to chicken, try one of the best dog foods without chicken or chicken meal reviewed above. Best of luck!

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