7 Best Dog Foods without Corn, Wheat, and Soy: Our 2019 Guide

If you were to read a list of healthy foods for humans, you might not be surprised to see things like whole wheat and whole-grain corn on the list.

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Looking at a list of healthy ingredients for dogs, however, these are the very ingredients you do NOT want to see. But why are ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy bad for dogs?

There are a number of problems with these ingredients. Keep reading to learn why corn, wheat, and soy are bad ingredients for dogs and why pet food manufacturers continue to use them anyway. You’ll also see our top 7 picks for the best dog foods without corn, wheat, and soy.

Common Issues with Corn, Wheat, and Soy in Dog Food

When you think of the unhealthiest pet food ingredients you want to avoid in your dog’s food, things like by-products and artificial additives are probably at the top of your list. While these things certainly have the potential to negatively impact your dog’s health, there are three ingredients you should be even more concerned about corn, wheat, and soy.

But why are these ingredients so bad for your dog? Here are some of the most common issues with corn, wheat, and soy ingredients in dog food:

  • They are plant-based ingredients which are inherently more difficult for your dog’s body to digest and derive nutrition from.
  • These ingredients are common food allergens for dogs and can cause recurrent ear infections, skin problems, and digestive upset.
  • Soy, in particular, is one of the most genetically modified foods on the planet and is often heavily treated with pesticides.
  • Corn is also highly genetically modified, and the body converts it into sugar which can affect your dog’s blood sugar levels and upset his digestive system.
  • Soy contains chemicals called phytoestrogens which mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen and can cause a wide variety of problems in dogs including hormone imbalance.
  • Not only is wheat a common food allergen for dogs, but it contains a protein called gluten which can also trigger food allergies and sensitivities.
  • All three of these ingredients offer little nutritional value for dogs, and that limited value may be negated by the difficulty your dog’s body may have in digesting the ingredients.

Just because corn, soy, and wheat ingredients are common food allergens for dogs doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog will have a negative reaction to them. Even if your dog doesn’t develop an allergy, however, you should still avoid these ingredients in your dog’s food simply because there are better sources of nutrition out there.

Why Dog Food Manufacturers Use These Ingredients

By now it should be obvious to you that corn, wheat, and soy are not the best ingredients to see on a dog food label. This being the case, why do pet food manufacturers still use these ingredients? The answer to that question is multifaceted.

While there are plenty of reputable dog food companies out there whose sole purpose is to provide high-quality nutrition for pets, some manufacturers are more concerned with their bottom line than with the quality of their products. For these companies, the goal is to manufacture their products at the lowest price point possible and to sell them for the highest price they can get. One way of doing that is using fillers to add bulk to the product without increasing their costs.

The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is responsible for regulating the manufacture and sale of pet food products. They have created nutrient profiles that outline the basic nutritional needs for dogs in different life stages. Before going to market, pet food products must be tested to ensure that they meet these basic nutritional needs – if they do, the product will carry the AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy on the label. If they don’t, the product can still be sold as a supplemental food, food topper, or treat.

AAFCO makes sure that all pet food products labeled “complete and balanced” will, in fact, meet a dog’s basic nutritional requirements but those requirements are based on nutrients and say nothing about the quality of the ingredients used in the recipe. As such, AAFCO does not have a definition for the word “filler.” Most experts agree, however, that fillers are generally low-quality ingredients that provide little to no nutritional value for dogs and which may not be biologically appropriate. Corn, wheat, and soy are common fillers in dog food because they hit all of these main points.

The bottom line is this – pet food companies still use corn, wheat, and soy ingredients because they are inexpensive. If you are more concerned about the quality of your dog’s diet than the price, look for a recipe that is free from these ingredients.

The 7 Best Dog Foods Without Corn, Wheat, and Soy

If you’re ready to switch your dog to a food made without corn, wheat, and soy ingredients, then you’re in luck! There are plenty of different recipes to choose from and many from reputable dog food manufacturers. To get you started in your search, here is our top pick for the best dog food made without corn, wheat, and soy:

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Recipe

Overall Best Dog Food Without Corn, Wheat, and Soy: If you’re looking for a high-quality dog food free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients then look no further than this Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Recipe. This recipe features a variety of premium animal proteins including buffalo, lamb, chicken, bison, venison, and beef to provide a total of 32% protein. In addition to numerous sources of high-quality protein, this recipe is completely grain-free which helps to ensure digestibility. It features several sources of omega fatty acids as well as supplemental fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion. It also contains chelated minerals.

  • Pros: Grain-free recipes, numerous premium animal proteins, rich in omega fatty acids, supplemental fiber, and probiotics, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Contains plant proteins (pea and potato protein), main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

6 More Top-Rated Dog Foods Without Corn, Wheat, and Soy

If you’re not sure the recipe above is the best choice for your dog, you’ll be glad to know that there are still plenty of other options! Below you’ll find six more top-rated dog foods made entirely without corn, wheat, or soy ingredients:

Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Rabbit

If you’re looking for a high-quality recipe to provide your dog with complete and balanced nutrition, try this Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Rabbit. This recipe features wholesome natural ingredients with no fillers, by-products, or artificial additives and it is completely free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients. Not only is this recipe free from low-quality ingredients, but it features a novel source of premium animal protein – rabbit. It is also grain-free for digestibility with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients. You’ll also be glad to know that it contains chelated minerals for nutritional balance and probiotics for digestive support. It is also coated with freeze-dried rabbit for a boost of nutrition and flavor.

  • Pros: All-natural ingredients, rabbit as a novel protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotics, freeze-dried coating
  • Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet, main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Farm-Raised Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato Recipe

This Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Farm-Raised Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato Recipe is not only free from corn, wheat, and soy but it is made with wholesome natural ingredients like fresh chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, and chicken fat. This recipe contains several supplemental sources of protein as well as plenty of nutrient-rich essential fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It is supplemented with chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption with dried fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients. All in all, it provides 22% protein, 14% fat, and 3.5% fiber in a recipe full of natural flavor.

  • Pros: Fresh chicken as the main ingredient, whole-grain carbohydrates, dried fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, rich in natural flavor
  • Cons: No probiotic supplements, not a grain-free recipe

American Journey Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Dry Food

If you want to provide your dog with a high-quality diet without emptying your bank account, try this American Journey Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Dry Food. This recipe features high-quality, natural ingredients in a recipe free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients. It is highly affordable but still offers excellent nutritional value with premium ingredients like deboned chicken, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and chicken fat. This recipe contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat as well as chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption. It also contains probiotics for healthy digestion and plenty of dietary fiber as well.

  • Pros: Wholesome natural ingredients, fresh chicken as the main ingredient, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and veggies, probiotics for digestion, blend of omega fatty acids
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), could be too high in fiber for some dogs

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe

To give your dog high-quality nutrition that is also rich in natural flavor, consider this Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe. This recipe features deboned lamb as the main ingredient with menhaden fish meal as a concentrated source of supplementary protein and omega-3 fatty acids. This formula contains digestible whole grains as well as fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure balanced nutrition with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption. It is rich in essential fatty acids for energy and coat support with dried fermentation products and prebiotic fibers for digestion. You’ll also be glad to know that it contains LifeSource Bits, a proprietary blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to ensure maximum nutrition and flavor.

  • Pros: Fresh lamb as the first ingredient, digestible whole grains, rich in omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, dried fermentation products, contains LifeSource Bits
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe, contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe

If you’re concerned about grains other than corn, wheat, and soy in your dog’s diet, consider this Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe. This grain-free recipe features fresh turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal as the top three ingredients for a diet rich in premium animal protein and natural flavor. It contains digestible grain-free carbohydrates like peas and potatoes with supplemental fiber for healthy digestion. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support with chelated minerals for maximum nutrient absorption.

  • Pros: Rich in premium animal protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, blend of omega fatty acids, supplemental fiber and probiotics for digestion, chelated minerals, fresh fruits and veggies
  • Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients

Merrick Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Food

Another excellent grain-free recipe is this Merrick Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Food. This recipe is completely free from corn, wheat, and soy but loaded with premium natural ingredients like real chicken, sweet potatoes, peas, and more. It is rich in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat with supplemental fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion. This recipe contains fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients with chelated minerals and vitamin supplements to ensure complete and balanced nutrition.

  • Pros: Premium natural ingredients, rich in lean protein, blend of omega fatty acids, supplemental fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Some dogs may be sensitive to chicken ingredients, may be too high in protein for dogs with kidney problems

By now you know full well why you shouldn’t choose a dog food made with corn, wheat, or soy ingredients. Not only are these ingredients low in nutritional value for your dog, but they come with a high risk of triggering food allergies and sensitivities. Fortunately, there are many dog foods to choose from that do not include these ingredients. If you’re not sure where to start looking, simply try one of the top-rated dog foods we’ve reviewed above.

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