There are several reasons why you may opt for chicken-free dog food. For starters, just like us, dogs have distinct preferences when it comes to flavors. Your pup might simply not like chicken. Or, you may find that they develop a sudden sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy to this common ingredient.
Every pet parent wants to do best by their fur baby and making the right choice about what to feed them is a big part of that. If you’re a seasoned dog owner, you may have some ideas about suitable foods for your Doodle. Alternatively, you may be feeling confused and overwhelmed by the vast number of options available. So, no matter the why and what for, we are here to help. Lets navigate the top chicken-free dog food choices available.
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Top 8 Vet-Approved Chicken-Free Dog Foods
We scoured expert websites and online forums to find you the very best Doodle-owner-recommended chicken-free recipes. Later on we’ll take a more in-depth look at each of these. In the meantime, here is a quick rundown of their key features:
- Pick #1:
Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin and Stomach: Salmon and Rice Formula. Specialized nutrition for sensitive systems, real salmon as the number one ingredient, fortified with prebiotic fiber to support digestive health, contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no artificial colors or flavors.
- Pick #2:
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food: Potato and Duck Formula. Limited ingredient diet with a single protein source, grain-free for special care, no fillers and artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, has essential vitamins and minerals to meet a dog’s every nutritional need.
- Pick #3:
Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Real Salmon and Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food. High-quality protein for lean, strong muscles, premium ingredients with zero grains, added vitamins, and minerals to promote health, including antioxidants, fatty acids, probiotics, and hypoallergenic ingredients.
- Pick #4:
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties: Surf and Turf. Wild-caught salmon and grass-fed beef, organs and bone, organic fruits and vegetables, minimally processed and completely balanced, raw nutrition with no added fillers, hormones, antibiotics, or grains.
- Pick #5:
Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient, Grain-Free Dry Dog Food: Bison, Lentil and Carrot Recipe. Ten ingredients or less, grain-free for dogs with sensitive stomachs, added probiotics to support digestion, antioxidants to boost immune functioning, and Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for hydrated skin and a beautiful coat.
- Pick #6:
Zignature Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food: Turkey Formula. Meat as the primary ingredient and a single protein source, grain-free and limited ingredient, enhanced with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals for all-round good health.
- Pick #7:
Taste of the Wild High Protein, Real Fish, Premium Dry Dog Food. Fish as the top ingredient, high-quality and protein-rich, contains ancient whole grains and seeds, high in nutrients and easily digestible, added probiotics beneficial to canines for overall health and wellbeing.
- Pick #8:
Natural Balance Ultra Premium Wet Dog Food with Real Beef and Brown Rice. Complete balanced nutrition, highly digestible, contains high-quality energy sources and premium proteins, effective Omega-3 and Omega-6 levels support healthy skin and a luxurious coat.
Canine Nutritional Needs: A Quick Overview
No two dogs are alike, and for this reason, their nutritional requirements can vary quite widely from breed to breed as well as dog to dog. However, what we do know that’s true of all dogs is that they are facultative carnivores.
Basically, what that means is that unlike cats, who are obligate carnivores and can only process meat, dogs benefit from other ingredients besides protein in their food. However, meat should still be the main staple of their diet.
Chicken vs. Chicken-Free
Chicken is a popular ingredient in many dog foods, and for good reason. As well as being an excellent source of lean protein (important for pups that are watching their weight), it’s also cheap, versatile, and tasty. Yet, what most owners don’t know is chicken is actually a common allergen among canines. Issues can develop even in pups that have been eating it all their lives.
An essential part of going chicken-free is carefully checking the ingredients list of foods before giving them to your pup. Just because chicken isn’t mentioned as one of the recipe’s main proteins doesn’t mean that it’s not included in one form or another.
Chicken fats and chicken meal (dried and ground-up flesh, skin, and bone) are often used as supplements to boost the taste and the protein content of many dog foods.
Some Healthy Alternatives to Chicken
While chicken is one of the most often seen ingredients in dog food, it is by no means the only source of animal-based protein out there. These days there is almost as wide a selection for dogs as there is for people. This is great news for those who are suddenly forced to seek an alternative for one reason or another.
Beef, as red meat, is naturally higher in both fat and calories than chicken; however, it has a well-balanced nutrient profile. It contains various essential vitamins such as thiamine, which supports organ functioning, and riboflavin, which helps regulate cellular metabolism. It is also an excellent source of crucial minerals such as iron, phosphorus, zinc, and amino acids, the latter of which are vital for strong bones. Beef is also rich in carnitine, which is good for heart health and metabolizes fats into energy.
Lamb is another high-quality source of digestible protein. Not only is it packed full of iron for healthy blood, but it also has large quantities of zinc, phosphorus, essential amino acids, and vitamin B-12, which is crucial for a healthy nervous system and boosts brain functioning, among other things. Lamb is particularly recommended for extremely active, high-energy dogs due to containing a lot of niacin, which the body uses to turn food into energy.
Many different types of fish are used in dog food, including herring, salmon, whitefish, and menhaden. Fish is a great lean protein alternative to chicken. It is low in calories but high in fatty acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6. Both are great for keeping your pup’s coat and skin healthy. They also play a key role in cognition. In particular, whitefish is also known for its high phosphorus content; this helps maintain bone structure and density. B vitamins are another benefit of fish; these are necessary for healthy red blood cell production and functioning and aid with protein and energy metabolism.
Dogs who love the taste of chicken but can’t have it may appreciate other poultry like turkey or duck. Turkey is lean meat that is very digestible and is a high-quality protein source for dogs. Not only is it rich in B vitamins, zinc, and phosphorus, it’s also loaded with minerals such as selenium, which is known for its antioxidant properties. Duck, on the other hand, contains an impressive amount of critical fatty acids, which makes them great for pups who aren’t fans of fish-based formulas.
Game meats like rabbit, venison, and bison are becoming increasingly popular with premium dog food brands. They recognize that these tend to be leaner than chicken and far less likely to trigger allergies. Rabbit contains generous amounts of potassium, selenium, phosphorus, and iron. Bison is rich in iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Venison has plenty of niacin, iron, vitamin B6, and L-carnitine, which is heavily involved in metabolism.
Best Chicken Free Dog Foods: Reviews
Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin and Stomach: Salmon and Rice Formula
Purina is a long-trusted canine brand with a multitude of options in both dry and wet form. Their sensitive skin and stomach line is specifically developed to provide gentle nutrition for pups with allergies and intolerances, helping them thrive. Doodle owners swear by it for helping to eliminate food-based digestive issues, skin problems, and more. Although, you will need to check each of the different recipes for the presence of chicken.
The salmon and rice formula comprises real salmon as the first ingredient, and rice and oatmeal are easily digestible carbohydrates. Furthermore, the recipe is fortified with live probiotics and prebiotic fiber that supports good intestinal bacteria and promotes both digestive and immune health. The food is also rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and zinc for excellent joint mobility, nourished skin, and a beautiful coat.
- High-quality ingredients free from common allergens
- Protein-rich recipe with healthy fatty acids
- Gentle on tummies, reduces bloating and gas
- Great for dogs with dry, flaky skin and a brittle coat
- Has a strong odor, which some owners found unpleasant
- Higher in carbohydrates than other brands
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food: Potato and Duck Formula
Another popular brand with Doodle owners, Natural Balance, has crafted a range of limited ingredient diet recipes to help owners minimize the number of ingredients their dog is exposed to. Developed by veterinarians and animal nutritionists, the grain-free formula contains just a single animal protein source. The experts over at Natural Balance truly believe in keeping things simple when it comes to pet nutrition.
With farm-raised duck and potatoes, this quality formula is bound to tempt even the fussiest of pups. Although ingredients are limited, the blend is nutritionally balanced to provide everything your dog needs to stay healthy and happy. There are no fillers or ingredients canines are commonly sensitive to, such as corn, wheat, and soy. Other flavors in the range are also chicken-free, so there is plenty of variety for your pooch.
- Suitable for dogs with multiple food allergies
- Free from unnecessary filler ingredients
- Dogs love the taste of this food
- Great for maintaining a healthy weight
- A little on the pricey side
Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Real Salmon and Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
With its exceptional ingredients of wild-caught salmon, tasty vegetables, and an array of superfoods, Diamond Naturals Salmon and Potato Dry Dog Food effectively combines flavor and nutrition. Designed for all canine life stages, it has an optimal amino acid profile that supports strong, lean muscle mass for healthy, active dogs. It also contains energy-rich carbohydrates and has added antioxidants to aid your pet’s immune system.
Doodle owners are pleased with the quality of the food and with how their previously itchy, scratchy pups respond to this unique recipe. They conclude that it is excellent value for the price. Not only does it help dogs with sensitive stomachs, but the beneficial fish oils are perfect for nourishing skin and boosting hair shine for a softer, healthier, easier to manage coat.
- Top-quality proteins, fruits, and vegetables
- Ingredients great for skin and hair health
- Reduces dry skin and shedding issues
- Significantly cheaper than other brands
- A strong smell that some owners didn’t like
- Not as popular with dogs as other flavors
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties: Surf and Turf
Made with raw wild Alaskan salmon and naturally raised beef, these handy patties combine all the nutritional benefits of raw food with all the convenience of dry food. The protein-rich formula is blended with organic fruits, vegetables, and direct-fed microbial for an enriching recipe without any nasty hormones, fillers, or preservatives. The patties are freeze-dried to lock in flavor, as well as all this excellent nutrition.
Crafted with care and minimally processed to keep things as natural as possible, this super dog food has managed to impress Doodle owners with its wealth of benefits. These include improved digestion, increased vitality, healthy teeth and gums, and a vibrant coat. Many of them have seen such an enormous difference in their dog’s energy levels and overall health since starting to feed them these patties.
- Mimics a canine’s natural diet
- Sustainably-sourced, fresh ingredients
- Increased alertness and shiny coat
- Dogs simply love the taste of this food
- Quality definitely comes at a price with these patties
- Requires some preparation
Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient, Grain-Free Dry Dog Food: Bison, Lentil and Carrot Recipe
Formulated for all dogs but specifically aimed at those with sensitivities, Canidae Dry Dog Food provides a complete, well-rounded meal using only ten wholesome, nutritious ingredients. Real bison is number one and an excellent source of protein for building strong muscles. The other components provide a beneficial range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics that support digestion, immunity, and coat health.
Dog owners have had great success with this blend solving many food-related issues, and even problems they didn’t know were caused by diet. For many, it has been a game-changer. Even pups who had seemed to lose interest in their food have been wolfing it down, and their allergy symptoms have become far more manageable.
- Limited, high-quality ingredients
- Range of excellent flavors and unique proteins
- Nutritionally complete dry dog food
- Great for older dogs who need a little fattening up
- Has a few more calories than other brands
- Limited appeal for some Doodles
Zignature Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food: Turkey Formula
Zignature prides itself on utilizing only the highest-quality natural ingredients, sourced worldwide, in their protein-rich, limited-ingredient recipes. That is why it’s one of the top brands of premium dog food on the market. Alongside their more regular meat blends, they also offer some more unusual protein sources such as kangaroo – making the switch to chicken-free more interesting for your pet.
A wide variety of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables and botanicals are included for nutritional balance and flavor. These are supplemented with fiber-rich, low-glycemic grains. Reviewers report great things from this dry dog food, which is both chicken and potato-free, stating that although it might cost a little more than other brands, it is worth every penny.
- Top two ingredients are animal proteins
- Multiple formulas free from the most common canine allergens
- Reduction in allergy-related scratching and hair loss
- Suitable for sensitive tummies
- More expensive than other brands
- Some owners have noticed bad breath
Taste of the Wild High Protein, Real Fish, Premium Dry Dog Food
Designed to mimic the natural ancestral food of wild wolves, this brand creates formulas that represent, as they put it, “the balanced diet that nature intended.” Taste of the Wild specializes in dog food that doesn’t have chicken as the main protein ingredient. However, this doesn’t mean that all of their recipes are 100% chicken-free, so make sure you always check the label.
Their salmon blend is chicken-free. Not only is it packed with fresh salmon and canine-healthy carbohydrates, but it also has added probiotics for good digestion. What’s more, all the ingredients are from trusted and sustainable sources. There are no grain, corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. It’s good for you, your dog, and the planet, too.
- Premium meats boost energy
- Chelated minerals to aid with absorption
- Visibly shinier coat and improved skin
- Reasonable price
- As with other fish-based foods, can be a little smelly
Natural Balance Ultra Premium Wet Dog Food with Real Beef and Brown Rice
The sole wet food on our list, Ultra Premium with Real Beef and Brown Rice by Natural Balance contains only the tastiest and most nutritious ingredients. High-quality beef is paired with fresh carrots, brown rice, and potatoes to help keep dogs happy, healthy, and brimming with energy. The recipe has no artificial ingredients or byproducts, making it suitable for sensitive pups.
What is particularly noteworthy is the added Yucca Schidigera extract, which aids the gastrointestinal system and reduces odor in stool. This makes it perfect for pooches who are prone to bloating and other unpleasant side effects of digestion. The smell of the food, which reviewers note is pretty good for humans too, is enough to tempt any dog.
- Balanced formula perfect for all ages and breeds
- Highly digestible and designed for maximum nutrients
- Dogs just love the taste
- Some owners not happy with the consistency
- Tricky to open
Chicken-Free Dog Food Buying Guide
When you’re browsing tons of different dog foods, it can be tricky to really know what you’re looking for. A bunch of random words appear on labels in such a way and with such frequency to suggest they surely must mean something. Let’s cut through all that jargon to see what the labels are really saying.
Limited Ingredient Diet
If a dog food advertises itself as Limited Ingredient Diet or LID, this generally means that manufacturers have reduced the number of components – it has fewer ingredients than other blends. This is beneficial to pups with very sensitive stomachs. It can also be useful for helping owners to pinpoint intolerances in their pooch’s diet.
However, less doesn’t always equal more. Always look out for the words “complete” and “balanced.” The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requires that food labeled this way to contain all the essential elements needed in a canine diet.
Grain vs. grain-free is an argument that has been raging for some time now. While many owners have chosen to switch to grain-free, foods containing wheat, corn, barley, oats, rye, rice, and soy are still popular. The two key reasons for this are that they are likely to be both more affordable and easier to get hold of than grain-free options.
Grain-free blends don’t necessarily offer any benefits over grain ones, except in dogs who are truly intolerant to them or have difficulties with weight management. Aside from that, it really all comes down to what your dog likes. Your pup might thrive on a grain-free diet, or they might not. Your best bet is to switch things up to see what goes down well. Variety is always good when it comes to food – just make sure that you handle the transitions correctly to avoid any digestive issues.
Single Protein Source
As you know by now, animal-based protein is the most vital element of your pup’s diet. When selecting good-quality dog food, you will want to find something with a high level of protein. However, foods often boost their protein levels by including fats, oils, and meals from other meats or from non-animal sources such as legumes and vegetables. While still beneficial for dogs, the latter is not quite as beneficial as meat-based protein.
When there is a single protein source, all the protein in the formula is derived from one place (hopefully from an animal). Just check the label, and this should be the first item on the list.
Fortified with Probiotics
The term probiotics refers to living microorganisms similar to the friendly bacteria that live in your dog’s gut. These gastrointestinal-dwelling microbes aid in the digestion of food, fight disease, manufacture key vitamins, and hold up the immune system. They are as crucial to your pup’s health as they are to yours.
Even healthy dogs benefit from daily supplementation of these positive critters. For that reason, many quality dog food formulas have included them as part of their recipe to offer more health benefits for your pooch.
Frequently Asked Dog Food Questions
While chicken is an excellent source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals, it is actually the third most common food allergen for canines. If you suspect that your pup is allergic to or intolerant of their current pet food, you might want to check the chicken content and, with the guidance of your vet, consider switching to a chicken-free formula to see if that helps.
The difference between an intolerance and an allergy is the part of the body reacting to the food. With food intolerance, this will be the digestive system, and with an allergy, it is the immune system. Symptoms of intolerance include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and nausea. Allergy symptoms are hives, swelling, itching, excessive licking, hot spots, bald patches, and skin infections. However, diagnosing either can be a tricky business. It’s always best to seek advice from your vet.
As chicken sensitivity is a common problem, an increasing number of brands have eliminated this ingredient from many of their recipes. Common alternative proteins include beef, lamb, fish, and more novel ones: kangaroo, ox, rabbit, and venison. Above we have listed favorite formulas for Doodles, and there is something to suit every taste.
When you love your dog as much as we do, it’s only natural that you want them to be as happy and healthy as they can possibly be. The right dog food can make a big difference in how your pup looks and feels. If you suspect they might be sensitive to chicken, why not give one of these excellent chicken-free dog foods a try?
The information on this page is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified animal health provider with any questions you may have.