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There’s a reason a high percentage of dog foods are made with chicken. It’s a lean source of animal protein, loaded with healthy nutrients, and relatively inexpensive.
The problem is that chicken is one of the most common food allergens for dogs. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should start throwing away everything in your pantry that contains chicken, but if your dog has been showing signs of food allergies or sensitivities, it may be worth looking into.
We’ve compiled a list of the best dog foods without chicken but, before we get into it, let’s talk a little bit about healthy alternatives.
Should You Stop Feeding Your Dog Chicken?
Unless your dog is sensitive or allergic to chicken, there’s no nutritional reason to cut this ingredient out of his diet. Chicken breast contains about 26 grams of protein and a little over 2 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s also rich in selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
If your dog starts to exhibit signs of an allergy to chicken, that’s another story. In dogs, food allergy symptoms are more likely to affect the skin than the digestive system, which can make them tricky to diagnose. Dry skin, excessive itching and scratching, hot spots, and recurrent ear infections are all possible signs of a food allergy and should be examined by your veterinarian.
Confirmation of a food allergy may require a food trial, or you might simply try switching your dog to a recipe that contains a protein other than chicken.
What Are the Alternatives?
Protein is the foundation of a healthy diet for dogs, so you’ll need to find a safe and healthy alternative if your dog can’t tolerate chicken. Unfortunately, chicken is not the only protein known to trigger allergic reactions in dogs—others include beef, eggs, lamb, pork, rabbit, and fish.
Unless your dog is displaying signs of an allergy to one of these ingredients, however, you should be able to safely make the switch. To further reduce the risk for triggering an allergy, choose a novel protein—one your dog hasn’t eaten before.
Some of the best protein alternatives to chicken for dogs include:
As long as the product you choose features a high-quality source of animal protein that your dog can tolerate, you’re off to a good start. You also need to keep your dog’s other nutritional requirements in mind and choose a recipe made with wholesome, natural ingredients.
Keep reading to see our top picks for the best dog food without chicken.
The 12 Best Dog Foods Without Chicken
The best dog food without chicken is one made with plenty of the animal-based protein your dog is able to tolerate as well as digestible carbohydrates, healthy fats, and essential nutrients. As long as your dog’s basic nutritional needs are met, the choice is up to you.
Here are our top picks for the best dog food without chicken.
This high-protein kibble is comprised of 71% meat, with rabbit as the first ingredient and additional freeze-dried raw rabbit coating the kibble. It makes for a nutritious and delicious diet free from chicken, as well as grains and artificial additives.
These freeze-dried combination duck, turkey, and goose patties provide the nutritional benefits of raw food with the convenience of dry food, all in one protein-rich, grain-free formula.
You won’t find a lot of chicken in Orijen’s recipes, but all of the proteins are sourced regionally. Regional Red is a dry food formula made with 85% meat and fish, including Angus beef, wild boar, plains bison, Romney lamb, Yorkshire pork, and wild-caught Pacific pilchard. Two-thirds of the ingredients here, as in most of Orijen’s dog food, are fresh or raw.
American Journey is Chewy’s house brand; this limited-ingredient recipe features fresh venison as the single source of novel animal protein and sweet potatoes as a high-fiber and nutirent-filled secondary ingredient.
Taste of the Wild specializes in dog food without chicken as a main ingredient, and most recipes contain little to no chicken products (but always check the ingredients for things like chicken fat). Pacific Stream is a particularly good choice—it’s a grain-free recipe that avoids any kind of fowl or eggs and is packed with fresh and smoked salmon along with probiotics to promote good digestion.
Available as both dry and canned versions, this recipe features 92% single-sourced, free-range lamb free from antibiotics and growth hormones along with New Zealand green-lipped mussels for a dose of glucosamine and chondroitin. A family-owned company based on New Zealand’s North Island, Ziwi Peak sources all of its ingredients locally and air dries, rather than bakes, its dry foods as a natural preservation method. Both dry and wet foods contain more than 90% meat.
We love the sweet sentiment here, of course, but it’s the high-quality ingredients in this chicken-free and grain-free dog food that really make us swoon. It’s seafood-heavy, featuring whitefish and menhaden fish meal as the primary protein punch, delivering a hefty dose of omega fatty acids along with other added nutrients.
As far as dog food without chicken goes, this may be the most dramatic departure yet. One of the only brands to use kangaroo as a protein source, Zignature utilizes only the highest quality natural ingredients in their protein-rich, limited ingredient—this is grain-, soy-, and corn-free—formulas.
This grain-free, biologically appropriate diet is regionally inspired and sourced (the company is based in Alberta, Canada), featuring 70% wild-caught Atlantic fish from six different species as well as fresh fruits and vegetables with no preservatives.
Dehydrated instead of cooked to preserve nutritional integrity, this formula with a load of whole-grains features cage-free turkey as its lean source of premium animal protein.
Not only does this recipe feature seven regionally sourced red meat species, including goat, boar, and venison, but the kibbles are coated with freeze-dried raw lamb for maximum meaty goodness.
Featuring deboned beef as the main ingredient, this canned food recipe is loaded with 96% red meat for maximum flavor and optimal nutrition your dog won’t be able to resist.
Talk to Your Vet Before Choosing Any New Food for Your Dog
We’ve selected some great dog food options for dogs with chicken allergies or sensitivities. But before introducing any new foods into your dog’s diet, we suggest consulting with your vet. Your veterinarian can help you understand any health issues your dog may be experiencing, and can recommend dog food that’s going to best support their specific health needs.
Nia Martin grew up with cats, dogs, horses, and a goldfish that lived for eight years. Based in Seattle, her writing and photography have appeared in Seattle magazine, The Seattle Times, The Fold, Cascadia Magazine, and Bitterroot Magazine, among others. When not working, you can find her petting dogs and visiting her family’s charismatic tabby, William of Orange.
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