The 5 Best Chicken-Free Dog Foods
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Many people are concerned about food allergens and sensitivities with their dogs. According to veterinarians, dogs can have reactions to many things other than their food but our dog’s diet is something that most of us feel we can control.
Perhaps that’s why we look at our dog’s food first when there is a problem of any kind. Chicken is one of the most common ingredients used in dog foods and it’s a common trigger for food allergies and sensitivities in dogs.
If you suspect that your dog might be having a reaction to chicken in his diet, we can show you the best chicken-free dog food. Let’s have a look.
At a Glance: Our Picks For The Best Chicken-Free Dog Food To Buy
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Introduction To Chicken-Free Dog Food
The first thing you should know about food allergies is that they are usually triggered by a reaction to proteins. There is a popular belief that ingredients such as corn and wheat cause allergic reactions in dogs but these ingredients are actually not the biggest offenders when it comes to allergies.
A recent British study found that beef was, by far, the biggest cause of food allergies (producing over one-third of the cases diagnosed in the study), followed far behind by dairy. Chicken was third and wheat was fourth. Soy, lamb, corn, and eggs rounded out the allergens, each in the single digits.
Obviously, beef is not a “bad” ingredient. Dogs love beef and it’s good for them. But this is another example of how a common dog food ingredient can become a common dog food allergen.
The more dogs are exposed to an ingredient, the more they can start to have an allergic reaction to it. If dog foods made of fish suddenly become the bestsellers, it probably won’t take very long for fish to appear as one of the most frequent dog food allergens.
Chicken has been a popular dog food meat protein for decades. It’s both nutritious and not too expensive for dog food companies. Many companies include both whole chicken and chicken meal in their foods so dogs get lots of chicken protein. Some companies also use chicken by-products. Most dogs love all of these forms of chicken. However, if your dog develops an allergy or food sensitivity to chicken, he’s in trouble.
Food allergies occur when your dog’s immune system decides that a protein in the food is a threat instead of a food. The immune system mounts an immune response that can take the form of itchy skin or other allergy symptoms. With a food sensitivity, the reaction is more likely to be a response through your dog’s gut, leading to vomiting or diarrhea.
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Symptoms Of A Food Allergy
- Itchy skin (most common)
- Hives – scratching can lead to hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems (gas, vomiting, diarrhea)
- Swollen face
- Chronic ear and paw infections – repeated infections of ears and paws can be a sign of a food sensitivity instead of a food allergy
If you and your veterinarian discover that your dog cannot eat dog foods that contain chicken, we have some recommendations for you for the best chicken-free dog food.
What To Look For When Shopping For The Best Chicken-Free Dog Food?
Here are some things to look for when you’re reading labels and searching for a chicken-free dog food.
- If your dog can’t eat chicken, he may not be able to eat other kinds of poultry. This can depend on your individual dog. With some dogs, turkey might be different enough from chicken that your dog could eat it. With other dogs, turkey and other kinds of poultry would be too similar to chicken. It could produce the same kind of problems you are trying to avoid with chicken.
- Check all of the ingredients listed on the label. Most of us think of chicken as a meat protein in whole form but it can appear in other forms in your dog’s food. Chicken meal and chicken by-products are also common ingredients. Some foods can contain chicken broth, chicken liver, hearts, and other organs. Foods that claim to have natural forms of glycosamine and chondroitin may obtain these ingredients from chicken cartilage. Foods that are “chicken-flavored” are out, too, since they can use some chicken parts to obtain flavoring.
- Consider the fat source in your dog’s food. Some foods use chicken fat as a fat source. According to some sources, a dog with an allergy or sensitivity shouldn’t react to chicken fat since it’s not a protein. However, there are some dogs that will react to chicken fat, too. This may happen because pet food companies cannot always be completely responsible for the purity of their ingredients, especially before they are purchased.
- Eggs can be okay. Strange as it may seem, eggs can be okay for your dog, even if he has an allergy or food sensitivity to chicken. This can change over time but eggs are considered to be a separate allergen. Only a small portion of dogs have a reaction to eggs compared to a larger percentage that react to chicken. There are some dog foods that use eggs as an animal protein so you might consider these foods.
- If your dog is very sensitive to chicken, consider a prescription diet. If you are buying commercial dog food there is always some risk of cross-contamination. This can occur when companies make various recipes, one after another, using the same machinery. You might be buying a fish-based recipe for your dog but if a chicken formula was made over the same machinery, it’s possible that your dog’s food could contain some trace amounts of chicken. If your dog is highly allergic or very sensitive to chicken, you might consider buying a prescription food. More care is supposed to be taken in the manufacture of these foods so there won’t be any cross-contamination.
- When in doubt, contact the manufacturer. It’s never easy having a dog with a food allergy or sensitivity. If you are in doubt about the ingredients in a food or how the food is made, contact the manufacturer and ask careful questions. Sometimes the ingredients listed on a label are vague and you need to be certain about them before you feed them to your dog.
The 5 Best Chicken-Free Dog Foods Reviewed
For dogs that need a chicken-free diet but love canned foods, Weruva Chicken-Free Just 4 Me Variety Pack Grain-Free Canned Dog Food is a great choice. The four varieties included in this pack feature beef, tuna, lamb, and mackerel – real animal protein that dogs love.
These formulas contain no chicken, gluten, or grains so they are perfect for dogs with food sensitivities.
Available in 5.5 ounce case of 24; and 14-ounce case of 12.
Trying to get away from chicken but you’re looking for something that your dog will like? Lots of dogs love dog foods made from fish. Wellness Complete Health Adult Whitefish & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food uses only one animal protein – fish (whitefish and menhaden fish meal). Barley, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes provide useful carbohydrates that dogs with sensitive digestion should be able to handle. The fish in the food also provides a good source of omega fatty acid for healthy skin and coat.
Available in 5-lb, 15-lb, and 30-lb bags.
For many people with dogs, Natural Balance is the brand of choice when they have a dog with food sensitivities. If you are looking for a food that doesn’t contain any chicken, you might consider Natural Balance L.I. D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Bison Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. This limited ingredient diet features one animal protein – bison; and one main carbohydrate – sweet potatoes.
And, if this formula doesn’t work for your dog, Natural Balance has many other limited ingredient diets. One of them might help your dog.
Available in 4.5-lb, 13-lb, and 26-lb bags.
Taste of the Wild is always a popular brand but most of their formulas include several different kinds of meat protein. Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Dog Food features only various forms of lamb as meat proteins. It contains egg product and peas but no other meat proteins that we could see in the ingredients; and no chicken. For this reason, we think that this food could be a good choice if you are looking for a chicken-free food for a dog with a food allergy or sensitivity.
This is a grain-free formula with sweet potatoes as a carbohydrate source. Chelated minerals help your dog absorb minerals more easily. Omega fatty acids support your dog’s healthy skin and coat.
Available in 5-lb, 14-lb, and 28-lb bags.
Rabbit is often recommended as a good novel protein for dogs that can’t eat chicken and many dogs love it. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Rabbit Dry Dog Food is made from farm-raised rabbit – the first ingredient. This formula features 71 percent real animal ingredients and nutritious oils.
Plus, this is the only kibble that includes raw nutrition in every piece. The kibble is coated with freeze-dried raw food that dogs love!
Available in 4-lb and 20-lb bags.
There are many dogs today who may have some kind of food sensitivity, even if they don’t have a full food allergy. If your dog has a chicken allergy or sensitivity, it can seem frustrating to try to find a dog food that doesn’t contain chicken in some form.
The dog foods suggested here can provide you with a good place to start. If these foods don’t work for you, there are other recipes made by these companies and others that might work. You can also talk to your veterinarian about a prescription diet for your dog. Prescription diets can be more expensive but they can be effective.