This updated guide lists all of the Best grain-inclusive dog foods this year.
With all the debate and competing information about grain-free diets for our dogs, it can be difficult to tell if it’s a good choice for them. So many dog food companies offer grain-free diets for dogs that it has to be good for them, right?
Not for all dogs, no.
A grain-rich diet for your dog can be an excellent nutritional choice, provided your dog isn’t allergic or sensitive to grains. The thing to know about grain-inclusive dog foods is the quality of the grain that makes the food. Many dog foods use low-quality grains as fillers, and you should avoid those foods.
However, if you have decided to give your dog a rich, wholesome diet with healthy grains, the following is a list of high-quality, grain-inclusive dog foods that you and your dog will love.
Let’s dive in.
The Best Dog Foods with Grains
|Top Picks||Main Ingredients|
|1. Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Oatmeal Dog Food|
(Best For Adults)
|Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Barley, Peas|
|2. Purina ONE Natural, High Protein +Plus Puppy Dog Food|
(Best for Puppies)
|Chicken, Rice Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Corn|
|3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Senior Vitality Chicken Dog Food|
(Best for Seniors)
|Chicken, Brewers Rice, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Oats|
|4. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Chicken & Brown Rice Canned Food |
(Best Canned Option)
|Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Peas, Sweet Potatoes|
|5. Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Dog Food||Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Ground White Rice, Dried Yeast, Egg Product|
How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick
1. Wellness Complete Health Adult Chicken & Oatmeal Dog Food
Top Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Oatmeal, 4. Ground Barley, 5. Peas
This nutrient-dense formula perfectly combines supreme-quality protein and healthy, wholesome grains for highly active dogs. It contains omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, antioxidants for immune system support, and glucosamine to keep your dog’s bones and joints in good working order.
This food is manufactured in the USA from globally sourced ingredients and contains no GMOs, meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives.
2. Purina ONE Natural, High Protein +Plus Healthy Puppy Dog Food
Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Rice Flour, 3. Corn Gluten Meal, 4. Whole Grain Corn, 5. Soybean Meal
This Purina ONE Natural Puppy Formula promotes stable growth and long-term health in puppies. This recipe contains chicken, beef fat, carrots, and micronutrient supplements to fulfill your dog’s nutritional needs.
This formula uses healthy grains like whole corn, rice flour, and oatmeal, which are high in fiber and calories, promote gastrointestinal health and increase energy levels.
DHA provides for the proper development of your puppy’s vision and brain. Similarly, omega fatty acids and antioxidants deliver a better coat and a stronger immune system into adulthood.
3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Senior Vitality Chicken Dog Food
Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Yellow Peas, 4. Cracked Pearled Barley, 5. Whole Grain Oats
As dogs age, their digestive systems begin to become more sensitive.
But with Hill’s Science Diet Senior Vitality Formula, your senior dog can get its needed energy and fiber while retaining optimal digestive efficiency.
This recipe is made from premium chicken meat and features L-carnitine to promote a lean and muscular body.
The grains in this recipe are rice, barley, oats, and corn. All of them are loaded with fiber and supply tons of carbs to keep your dog active without excess calories. The formula includes Vitamin E and C for immune support, and omega fatty acids provide the healthy oils needed for coat and skin health.
4. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Chicken Dinner & Brown Rice Canned Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Broth, 3. Chicken Liver, 4. Carrots, 5. Peas
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Chicken Dinner Canned Food includes the best proteins, veggies, and wholesome grains in this recipe. This puppy food uses boneless chicken meat and liver for optimal muscle maintenance.
Grains include brown rice, barley, and oatmeal, which are easy on the stomach and packed with carbohydrates to keep your dog active.
Additionally, this recipe has vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and peas to provide minerals and vitamins to promote bone health and a strong immune system. Blue Buffalo’s Homestyle recipe also contains 451 calories per cup to fuel your growing puppy’s active growth.
5. Nom Nom Turkey Fare
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Ground turkey, 2. brown rice, 3. eggs, 4. carrots, 5. spinach
A fresh food diet containing grains like Nom Nom Turkey Fare is perfect for keeping dogs at peak health. The company makes its food from human-grade ingredients, including ground turkey, spinach, eggs, salmon oil, and a whole bunch of natural foods.
Brown rice provides plenty of carbohydrate and magnesium content and is easily digestible. Nom Nom customizes each meal plan specifically for your dog, so they can maintain weight, stay fit, and avoid disease. If budget is not an issue, we recommend you try Nom Nom.
6. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Dog Food
Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Whole Grain Brown Rice, 3. Whole Grain Sorghum, 4. Whole Grain Oatmeal, 5. Chicken Fat
Nutro Natural Choice is a great pick for large and giant breed dogs. The formula contains every nutrient a large breed could need – deboned chicken, fat, pumpkin, and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.
This recipe provides grains in the form of brown rice, which is easy on the stomach and an ideal dog fuel. Besides brown rice, the food also contains whole-grain sorghum, oatmeal, and barley to supply even more carbohydrates.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are also present to provide the joint support needed by dogs of all shapes and sizes.
7. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Chicken Meal & Rice Dog Food
Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Whole Grain Wheat, 4. Cracked Pearled Barley, 5. Flaxseed
Grains and extra carbs are always helpful for small breeds due to their intense physical demands. That’s why we’ve chosen Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws Formula. It’s packed with protein from chicken and contains loads of calcium to strengthen your dog’s bones and joints.
Rice, whole wheat, sorghum, and barley are the grains used to fuel your dog’s daily adventures, while omega fatty acids provide for a healthy coat and skin. Finally, vitamins C and E and added antioxidants strengthen immunity—helping your dog become better resistant to disease.
8. Holistic Select Adult Health Anchovy, Sardine & Salmon Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Anchovy and Sardine Meal, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Oatmeal, 4. Rice, 5. Salmon Meal
This special recipe contains antioxidant-rich superfoods to boost your dog’s cellular health. The nutrient-dense formula is a holistic diet suitable for dogs with sensitive digestion.
The wholesome grains support the utilization and absorption of vital nutrients. This recipe is rich in high-quality ingredients and has a lip-smacking flavor your dog will love.
9. Diamond Naturals Beef Meal & Rice Formula Adult Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef Meal, 2. Ground White Rice, 3. Egg Product, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Dried Beet Pulp
Suitable for adult dogs of all breeds, the formula is rich in protein derived from fish and beef. The list of ingredients also includes various whole foods for lean nutrition and wholesome grains for maximum energy.
This recipe is a popular choice for pet parents who want a complete meal that includes powerful antioxidants and added vitamins for the health and well-being of their best friend.
Lastly, the essential omega fatty acids ensure your dog’s coat stays healthy and shines!
10. Nature’s Logic Canine Duck & Salmon Meal All Life Stages Dog Food
Top Ingredients: 1. Duck Meal, 2. Millet, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Salmon Meal
This high-quality, grain-inclusive recipe is a top pick because of its excellent nutrient composition, which includes:
- 38% protein from duck meal, turkey meal, and salmon meal to deliver the nutrient profile and delicious flavors your doe will love
- Nutritionally balanced ingredients
- Nutrient-dense crunchy kibble containing healthy concentrates of fruits and vegetables.
A special coating of digestive enzymes on the kibble ensures the meal is easier to digest.
Last but not least, this recipe contains only wholesome grains and is free from fillers and chemically synthesized vitamins to offer guaranteed health benefits for your dog.
11. Dr. Tim’s Active Dog Pursuit Formula Dog Food
Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Whole Oat Groats, 5. Dried Beet Pulp
Designed for athletic and active dogs, Dr. Tim’s Active Dog Pursuit Formula uses ingredients like premium-grade protein and wholesome grains that keep your dog lean and satisfied.
This formula uses chicken meal, brown rice, animal-based oils, and beet pulp to provide a balanced and fulfilling diet.
Another great feature of the formula is that it contains BC30 probiotics and fibers, which improve nutrient absorption and keeps your dog fueled throughout the day. Finally, this food is enriched with omega fatty acids to make your dog’s coat softer and shinier.
12. Nutro Ultra Adult Weight Management Chicken, Lamb & Salmon Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Whole Grain Brown Rice, 4. Whole Grain Sorghum, 5. Whole Grain Barley
Grains are a crucial part of any weight loss journey as they provide lots of energy without using excess fat. Our favorite weight loss dog food with grains is Nutro Ultra Adult Weight Management Dog Food. It combines whole sorghum, brown rice, barley, and oats to keep down the calorie intake and kickstart weight loss while helping your dog feel satisfied after each meal.
Besides that, it also uses proteins like chicken, salmon, and lamb to promote muscle mass and a lean physique. Fruits like apples, blueberries, and pumpkin further elevate the taste of the food and provide essential micronutrients. And because the food is free from artificial preservatives, flavors, corn, wheat, and soy, it has minimal chances of causing allergic reactions or digestive upsets.
13. Whole Earth Farms Adult Recipe Dry Dog Food
Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Rice, 3. Barley, 4. Pork Meal, 5. Canola Meal
This delicious kibble from Whole Earth Farms uses real chicken, chicken meal, and pork meal as healthy protein sources. Easily digestible grains like barley provide fiber for healthy digestion. All Whole Earth Farms recipes contain a Wholesome Harvest Blend that delivers antioxidants, Omega-3, and 6 Fatty acids for immune and skin health. Free of any fillers or artificial additives, this recipe ensures whole-body health for your canine companion. It is a complete meal designed by veterinarians and nutrition experts.
14. Kinetic Performance Power 30K Formula Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Chicken By-Product Meal, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Brewers Rice, 5. Ground Sorghum
The name says it all! Experts design the power-packed formula for super active and performance dogs with sources that offer sustainable energy to your hyper tail-waggers. The nutrient-dense recipe includes handpicked ingredients to ensure it is free from artificial flavors and unwanted fillers.
Maintain your hound’s performance potential by offering them a diet that features a healthy nutrient profile. With healthy grain options like sorghum and brown rice, this performance power recipe by Kinetic is all you need to serve your dog.
Why are grains considered bad for dogs?
The answer would depend on the type of grains you are feeding your dog. First off, if your dog is not allergic to grains or a certain grain, in particular, grains may not be harmful at all. In fact, grains are considered a healthy source of nutrients if provided in their non-processed, wholesome form.
Is a grain-inclusive diet really a healthy option for my dog?
It depends on what’s nutritionally appropriate for your dog. But if we just talk about grains, they are actually a great source of nutrients that are important for canines. The key is to choose the right source of grains to ensure your pooches get the nutrition and energy they are entitled to, and only then a grain-inclusive diet will be considered healthy for dogs.
How do I find out if my dog is allergic to grains?
Food-related allergies often present the same kind of symptoms in our dogs as we humans experience. Itchy skin, gastrointestinal upset of all kinds, lethargy, and ear infections often indicate an allergy. As always, if any of these symptoms persist or are severe in nature, you should always consult your veterinarian.
How are whole grains better than processed grains for my dog’s food?
Since whole grains are unprocessed, they contain fiber and nutrients that could offer health benefits to your dog when included in their diet. Refined grains, on the other hand, are processed and tend to lose minerals, fiber, and vitamins during the process. Whole grains are usually a healthier option for your dog’s diet.
Are there any benefits of feeding whole grains to my dog?
Grains are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They provide healthy carbohydrates and offer your dog the energy they need to stay active and thrive.
Should I consider taking my vet’s advice before starting a grain-inclusive diet for my dog?
It is always a great idea to speak to a vet or a pet nutritionist before starting a particular diet for your dog, especially if you are giving them a grain-inclusive diet for the first time. You can also try introducing a small amount of grain-inclusive kibble in their diet first and watch out for allergy symptoms before seeking assistance from a professional.
Are there dangers associated with feeding your dog a grain-free diet?
Grain-free diets are recommended for canines with grain-related allergies. Usually, these options are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. However, grain-free diets are known for aggravating the levels of taurine. This could lead to cardiomyopathy, which is a fatal heart condition for both canines and felines.
What are the best varieties of whole grains that I can feed my dog?
You have many options when it comes to healthy whole grains that you can feed your dog. These include wheat, rice, oats, barley, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and oatmeal. Usually, grain-inclusive diets have one or more of these as primary ingredients in the blend.
What varieties of grains are harmful to my dog’s diet?
Grains are not really harmful, but it is recommended that the diet you pick for your four-legged buddy consists of whole grains only. Steer clear of anything that mentions refined varieties. Also, you must avoid grain by-products such as corn cobs, peanut hulls, soybean hulls, rice hulls, oat hulls, almond shells, cottonseed hulls, powdered cellulose, grain fragments, wheat middlings, wheat mill run, and soy mill run. Even if a brand tries to make it sound like real grains, remember they are just leftover debris, which can be unhealthy for your pooch.
Can whole grains cause weight gain in my dog?
If you stick to the recommended portion size for your dog’s diet, whole grains shouldn’t contribute to their weight gain. In fact, if you compare whole grains to alternative carbohydrate sources such as peas and potatoes, the latter can lead to an unintentional spike in weight.
Do grains have a positive impact on the digestive system of my dog?
Not only are whole grains rich in minerals and vitamins, but they also contain fiber, which is great for digestion. If your dog does not have allergic symptoms from grain, a grain-inclusive diet can actually help them maintain a healthier digestive system.
Whole grains help with healthy stools – is this correct?
As mentioned earlier, the fiber content present in grains can help your dog pass stool regularly and keep the digestive system running smoothly.
Can my dog easily digest grains?
Grains are easily digestible by dogs that are not sensitive to the ingredients. Additionally, fiber helps maintain a healthier digestive system in dogs.
Does a grain-inclusive diet impact the nutrient profile of dog food?
A diet that includes grains has an overall positive impact on the nutrient profile. The carbs are now extracted from whole grains, which are rich in minerals, vitamins, and fiber, instead of alternative varieties like pumpkin, peas, potatoes, etc. The overall nutrients are adjusted accordingly to ensure the diet is balanced and complete.
When it comes to an understanding the dietary requirement of grains in dogs, there’s a never-ending debate on the topic. And while there’s no potent evidence to suggest that dogs must eat a grain-inclusive diet, grains aren’t considered harmful for your dogs either. In fact, the more pet nutritionists research, the more benefits they can see.
The first thing we need to understand as dog owners are that dogs are not strictly carnivores. As much as we like to match up to their ancestral diet, they have evolved into digesting various categories of foods that we eat, such as vegetables, fruits, and even grains.
So what made people believe that grains were all bad for a dog’s diet? Well, the answer to this question is that we want to believe that. We can’t think past the fact that a dog’s diet should replicate that of a wolf and, therefore, should primarily be based on protein. What we fail to understand is that, unlike wolves, dogs are domesticated animals and can benefit from the different varieties of nutrients we provide them.
As far as grains are concerned, it isn’t really the ingredients that cause the issue. It is a fact that we don’t pay enough attention to the quality of grains we are choosing for our dogs and the content of carbohydrates present in a grain-inclusive composition. One thing needs to be clear despite the kind of food you choose, carbs should never surpass the protein and fat content in a blend. Your dog’s ideal diet should be high in protein, contain moderate fat levels, and be low in carbs.
With that said, let’s dig deeper into this debate and figure out why grain-inclusive diets are not that bad after all and how you may be depriving your hound of an array of great nutrients by opting for a grain-free diet without purpose.
Why Are Grains Considered Bad for dogs?
As I’ve said, grains are often not harmful if your dog is not allergic to them. Even vets and veterinary medicine do not support the myth about the dangers of consuming grains by dogs. First of all, true food allergies are not considered to be that prevalent in canines, and usually, the offending ingredients are not grains. In fact, whole grains are a healthy source of essential nutrients that hold various health benefits.
Some people are just more comfortable feeding a grain-free diet option to their dog, even if there are no allergy symptoms present. While this is a personal choice for every dog owner, I would still advise that you take all things into account before making this decision.
Good grains vs. Bad grains
When choosing dog foods with grains, you want to choose whole grains as they contain the most nutritional value and are easiest to digest. Some great examples include:
On the other hand, you want to avoid leftover grain by-products, most of which have ‘mill’ or ‘hull’ at their end and only contain empty calories. Here are a few examples:
• Peanut Hulls
• Wheat mill runs
• Soybean hulls
• Corn Cobs
Is Grain-Free Diet Potentially Dangerous?
Well, a grain-free diet is a popular concept mainly because there are benefits associated with it. Therefore, calling it outright dangerous isn’t appropriate. We have been feeding all sorts of grains to our dogs until this topic became too trendy, and suddenly relying on the alternatives can be a little problematic. Some grain-free foods include unknown elements that are advertised as healthy alternatives to grains, and since this fashion is still pretty new, it can be a risk.
Being allergic to grains is one thing, but most pet parents opt for a grain-free diet without any allergy symptoms being present. On top of that, dog food brands market grain-free diets focusing on all the health benefits that humans gain from it. Unfortunately, the doting pet parents fall into the trap without realizing that the nutritional needs of animals and humans are very different.
You could possibly be depriving your tail-wagger of nutrients that could contribute to their overall well-being by choosing a grain-free diet. I believe that grain-free options are best for dogs with allergies – otherwise, it isn’t!
The only two reasons why it is okay for pooches to pass up a grain-inclusive diet are:
- Allergies – While most dogs can easily digest and thrive on grains, some could be allergic to the ingredients. However, it is important to note that protein-related allergies are more common in canines compared to grain-related allergies. Therefore, it is important to watch out for the symptoms carefully.
- Digestion and Gas: Even if they are not allergic to grains, dogs with a weaker digestive system may find it difficult to process a grain-inclusive diet without any problem. Some dogs may have excessive gas and tummy troubles. If you notice your dog being gasier than usual, you might want to switch to a grain-free diet to see the difference.
Why Feeding a Grain-Inclusive Diet is a Good Idea
While dogs are capable of synthesizing glucose for energy from fat and protein, it does not mean grains are an unnecessary part of their diet. Here are some reasons why it is a good idea to stick to grains:
- Your pooch’s digestive system requires fiber for regulation, as it eliminates toxins from the body.
- There’s a whole myriad of vitamins and minerals your dogs get from whole grains.
- Grains, such as oats, also contain soluble fiber to help control cholesterol, stabilize blood glucose levels and enhance the absorption of nutrients.
- Unlike protein sources, grain can reduce the calorie content of a diet without compromising on the satiation it offers.
- Energy extracted from healthy carbs also helps dogs with certain medical conditions like liver or kidney disease, intestinal bowel disease, and pancreatitis.
- A grain-inclusive meal also works perfectly with dogs who require a low-fat or protein-reduced diet.
What Kind of Grain-Inclusive Food Is Best?
With the variety of grain-inclusive foods available today, choosing the best dog food with grains can be a daunting task. I’d suggest that you start by reading the labels. Look at the variety of grains present in the blend. Do not opt for a variety that includes GMOs, processed grains, or grain by-products.
With all this information in hand, you will be able to identify the good grains and avoid the bad ones. In addition to this, also check out the following:
- Formulated as complete and balanced – Grain or no-grain, the recipe should offer the recommended nutrient profile, including protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The balanced concentration and appropriate ratios indicate the quality of the formulation.
- Lifestyle and life stage – It is crucial to serving your dog according to the varying nutritional needs as they grow from a puppy to an adult dog and then to a senior dog.
- Special needs – Especially if you are planning to stick to a grain-inclusive diet, make sure you are completely aware of the special needs of your dog and know about their allergies if any.
Picking Up The Best Dog Food with Grain
Buying great dog food goes beyond selecting the right grains and formula. You must also consider the following essential factors when purchasing food for your canine:
1. Macronutrient balance: A balanced diet consisting of lots of protein, moderate amounts of fats, and a few carbs is crucial for your dog’s good health. Always check the guaranteed analysis to determine whether the food fulfills AAFCO’s criteria and will be sufficient for your dog.
2. Type of protein: Although dogs are omnivores, they derive most of their nutrition from protein. Ensure that your shortlisted products contain easily digestible proteins and that your dog isn’t allergic to any of the sources.
3. Other ingredients: Ingredients can reveal a lot about the quality of dog food. Try to pick one mostly containing whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and meat sources instead of artificial ingredients.
Use the information shared in this article to make an informed decision based on facts. Each of these options has been selected keeping these factors in mind to help you pick a diet that’s nutritionally rich, complete, and balanced.
So unless your dog shows symptoms of grain intolerance, feeding the right amount of a whole grain diet can be a healthy choice for your pup.