Best Dog Food Without Chicken
Are you struggling because you want to give your dog the best possible food, but they have allergies and sensitivities? You've probably tried everything but they are still uncomfortable.
I was you two years ago with my dog (Nitotem)! There is a better way. With so many different types of chicken free dog food on the market, how can you know which one is right for your pup?
And what other considerations should you be aware of when selecting a poultry free diet? This guide will list the best chicken free dog food brands, plus other trigger foods to avoid and considerations for picking the perfect poultry free diet for your pup.
First a quick note: this website is reader-supported. I spend a lot of time personally evaluating, testing and reviewing each product on this list. When you buy through links on our site, I may earn an affiliate commission.
Let's get right into the list because I know you don't want to scroll through all the fluff first.
Sure, below is a detailed table comparison for the price of various dog food products:
Best Salmon Based
Best Meal Topper
Best High Protein
Best With Grains
Best Chicken Free Dog Food
The best chicken free dog food options include products from Honest Kitchen, Bluebird Provisions, Whole Earth Farms, Zignature, Blue Basics, Taste of Wild, Acana, Purina Pro and Natural Balance.
1. Best Dehydrated: The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Recipe
The Honest Kitchen makes my favorite dog food with grains because of their commitment to quality sourcing. They use USA sourced, humanely reared beef as a source of protein, along with organic oats, barley, flaxseed and other nutritious ingredients.
There are no nasty preservatives, by-products or GMO ingredients. This is huge because many of these things are what cause food sensitivities in my husky Nitotem.
Keep in mind this food is dehydrated (great for storage). I buy the 10 lb bag and mix it with warm water at meal time.
In terms of nutrition, Honest Kitchen has a protein content of 22.5%, which is right where most brands sit.
You might find the price per meal a bit higher than others, but you are paying for the high quality ingredients and sourcing you can trust.
Beef, organic oats, organic barley, organic flaxseed, potatoes, carrots, eggs, apples, parsley, cranberries, spinach, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate
When it comes to customer feedback, my dog loved it but some pet owners mention concerns about the consistency. I found you just need to adjust how much water you use and you're good to go.
I highly recommended it as the best fully dehydrated option. There are 10,000 Amazon reviews which is amazing as well!
2. Best Salmon Based: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free
Taste of the Wild is one of the best dry dog food brands thanks to the limited ingredients and quality manufacturing.
I've used them for years with my two dogs (Atlas and Nitotem). For the longest time, we could not figure out what Nitotem was allergic to. After lots of testing, my wife and I finally realized that he is sensitive to just about everything because he has parvovirus when he was a puppy.
Finally we found Taste of Wild with their limited ingredient salmon recipe and he's a happy boy.
While this one is grain free, they do have grain based alternative if you want. I find his comes down to personal preference. There's lots of protein with 25% and 15% fat.
If your pup isn't doing well on chicken based food, I would give this one a try because of the canine strain probiotic to help with gut health and digestion. It helps Nitotem and might be able to help your dog too.
Also, I just checked and there are over 12,000 customer reviews on Amazon and they get a 4.7 star average. Try some today!
3. Best Meal Topper: Bluebird Provisions Grass Fed Beef Bone Broth
If you're looking for a chicken free meal topper then go with Bluebird Provisions. This topper is dog bone broth that uses one ingredient: grass fed beef bone broth.
The bone broth is sourced from cattle raised in the USA is a natural, low stress environment. If you are looking to get a natural source of collagen protein into your pet's diet, you won't find a better way to get it.
Here how bone broth can help your dog:
- It's a delicious meal topper that entices picky eaters
- It is full of protein for active, elderly or recovering dogs
- Natural potassium and other electrolytes for hydration
I started using it with my poodle, Atlas, who is the pickiest of eaters. With tsp ontop of his kibble, he gobbles everything up now!
It's been a life saver for me knowing that he is eating all of his food now.
4. Best High Protein: ACANA Red Meat Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food
I absolutely love the ingredient quality of Acana. This grain free, red meat based option uses locally sourced (in USA) beef and pork as the main source of animal protein.
Speaking of which, Acana came in at a whopping 29% protein, which is the highest on the whole list. I also like the high fat content at 17%. If you find that your dog doesn't do so well on a high carb diet, Acana is the answer.
Historically, canines have eaten predominately protein and fat, so our modern day pets are evolved to thrive on it.
Beef, deboned pork, beef meal, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, whole green peas, pork.
I'll mention that this is a grain-free option: so if you're looking for grains, I would check another one on the list. That being said, Acana is has no nasty artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Peace of mind for a conscious pet owner like yourself.
The absence of grains in this recipe makes it suitable for dogs with grain sensitivities or allergies. For a high protein option you'll be hard pressed to find a better one.
5. Best Wet Food: Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach
Here's the chicken free wet dog food you've been looking for! It's made by Purina Pro and uses salmon as the main ingredient.
Here's a quick story of how I found out about Purina Pro. My poodle, Atlas, suddenly had some bad GI issues with awful diarrhea for days on end. We took him to the vet and it turns out he has giardia.
The vet recommended we keep him on a bland diet of beef or fish and rice, but it was too late in the day to stop at the grocery store to get some ground beef.
In a pinch, they recommended Purina because it is specifically made for sensitive stomachs. Atlas loved the stuff and got him cured up in a few days.
I love that Purina is free from common allergens like chicken and grains. It is also fortified with essential vitamins and minerals to support recovery. Combined with bone broth, it works even better.
6. Best With Grains: Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Diet (Salmon & Potato)
This is a new line from Blue Buffalo that is specifically designed for dogs suffering from food sensitivities. The limited ingredient formula uses a single protein source (salmon) along with easily digestibly carbohydrates like oatmeal and potatoes.
Salmon my favorite protein source for dogs because it gives them essential amino acids for muscle development and growth along with Omega 3s. Speaking of which, there is extra fish oil to get the omega 3s to 1% of the formula.
This is a really important metric to look at. Not all dog foods list it, so you often times have to do some digging.
Deboned Salmon, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Salmon Meal (source of Glucosamine), Peas, Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Canola Oil.
Blue Basics is free from common allergens like chicken, corn, wheat, soy and dairy, making it a great choice for puppies and adult dogs.
In terms of nutrition facts, you can see that there is 20% protein and 12% fat, these are great numbers - especially when you account for the high omega 3s.
Pet owners absolutely love this food, it has an average rating of 4.7 on Amazon with over 2500 reviews.
7. Natural Balance L.I.D. Duck and Potato
Another great limited ingredient option is the duck and potato LID formula from Natural Balance. There's no nasty hidden by-products, chicken, corn or soy to mess with your dog's digestion.
The recipe features duck as the primary source of animal protein, making it a novel and hight protein option for dogs at 24%.
I like how the formula uses potatoes as a grain-free carbohydrate source and added omega 3 fatty acids (0.5%) to help with coat and skin health, joint pain and inflammation.
Duck, Duck Meal, Potatoes, Cassava Flour, Sweet Potatoes, Brewers Dried Yeast, Sunflower Oil.
If you look closely at the ingredients, you'll see both prebiotic fibers and probiotics to support healthy digestion and gut health.
It is also fortified with vitamin supplements and chelated minerals to ensure nutritional balance and optimal nutrient absorption.
Overall, Natural Balance is a fantastic option for gut health and sensitive tummies.
8. Zignature Kangaroo With Probiotics
Kangaroo seems a bit odd in pet food, doesn't it? Prepare to have your mind blown. Kangaroo is one of the lowest allergen proteins in the world.
I stumbled across this because a friend told me to try Kangaroo for my husky Nitotem. He always itched himself to the point where he opened up sore all over his skin.
It took months of trial and error before I found out that he was sensitive to most common allergens.
One of the things that helped was using Zignature kangaroo because of the limited ingredients and single protein source.
KANGAROO, KANGAROO MEAL, PEAS, PEA FLOUR, CHICKPEAS, SUNFLOWER OIL
There's lots of protein at 28% and it is grain free. I would recommend it if your pup is sensitive to other proteins.
9. Wellness 95% Lamb Wet / Canned
I scoured online looking for wet dog food that wasn't full of preservatives and finally found this one from Natural Balance. This grain free lamb recipe is high in protein and fat with minimal carbohydrates.
In my experience, I mix it with a dry kibble for my two dogs. As soon as I start opening the can, both of them run to the kitchen.
They are absolutely crazy for this stuff.
Lamb, Water Sufficient For Processing, Natural Flavor, Cassia Gum, Carrageenan
As you can see, there are no common allergens like chicken, turkey, corn, wheat or soy in this formula. The limited ingredient formula also makes it ideal if your dog has sensitivities or allergies.
10. Whole Earth Farms Pork, Beef, Lamb Grain Free
Whole Earth Farms offers a high-quality, fully-natural alternative to traditional chicken-based dog foods. While some brands promote single protein sources, this one proudly uses pork, beef and lamb -- all sourced from the USA.
There are also probiotics, apple, carrot and sweet potatoes to balance out the recipe to promote gut health and digestion.
When I tried this one with my dog Atlas, I noticed a shinier coat and healthier looking skin. I would guess the probiotics are helping his digestion as well, which could be what is helping his skin.
I love how Whole Earth Farms has no chicken, soy, wheat, corn, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Pork Meal, Potatoes, Sweet Potato, Peas, Canola Meal, Pork Fat, Pork, Beef, Lamb
What to consider when choosing a dog food without chicken
The things you need to consider with chicken free dog food is protein, grains vs no grains, Omega 3 fats, vitamins and minerals and the presence of added preservatives or allergens.
1. Protein Source and Percentage
The protein source is the single most important thing to consider. Obviously you want one without chicken, but you might find that your dog is also sensitive to turkey and duck as well.
From here you'll want to look at the total percentage of protein in the food. This is always found on the back of the package (by law). You'll find brands that range from 15-34%.
As a general rule, you'll want to find something with more than 22% protein. Why? Canines evolved on meat and fat centric diets, so they still perform best on diets higher in protein and fat.
Some brands cut corners by adding lots of so called 'healthy' carb sources like sweet potatoes, chickpeas and oats instead of protein. While
2. Grains vs No Grains
The age old question with dog food nowadays is grain vs no grain in both wet and dry recipe dog foods. To be honest, I've tried both with my dogs and it was difficult to tell the difference.
This is a very individual choice as some dogs really are allergic to grains. My fear is that many brands are marketing grain free products to create a healthy halo around these claims.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If there is one nutrient to look out for, it is omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are fantastic for brain development, skin and coat health, reducing inflammation and eye health.
Some brands even tell you the amount of EPA and DHA per serving. These are the two omega 3s that actually give your pup the wonderful health benefits. Look for 0.5% or more of total omega 3s.
4. Vitamins and Minerals
All pet food brands fortify their recipes with lots of vitamins and minerals. It is difficult for me to list everything you want to look for. But if you have an active or elderly dog, I would look for bone broth, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
It is also good to look for B vitamins, choline, vitamin A, vitamin D3, etc.
If you want to know more about bone broth, read my ranking of the best bone broth for dogs.
5. Preservatives or By-Products
Are there preservatives and animal by-products in your dog food? You'd be surpirsed when you look at ingredient lists. With pet food it is confusing enough looking at the massive list of vitamins and minerals. Oftentimes, there are preservatives and artificial flavors hiding amongst this list.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHE/E320) - This is an artificial antioxidant used to prolong the shelf life of dog food.
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT/E321) - This artificial antioxidant is used similarly to BHE.
- Propyl Gallate (E310) - A commonly used artificial preservative.
- Potassium Sorbate (E202) - Another artificial preservative used extensively in pet foods.
- Ethoxyquin (E324) - This artificial antioxidant has been suspended in Europe due to concerns over its safety.
It's important to extensively read through both the ingredients list and the typical analysis or 'statutory statement' sections on the packaging, as some constituents may not be prominently listed.
Also, be sure to also avoid any food that has been recently recalled and always aim to feed your pet food that has been formulated by a boarded vet nutritionist to ensure a balanced diet.
6. USA Made and Sourced
Most large pet food brands you see online and in store are owned by massive food companies. These companies source and manufacture pet food products all over the world in order to keep costs down.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I prefer to support brands that are independently owned, source and manufacture in North America.
7. AAFCO Guidelines
When in doubt, always make sure that your pet food adheres to AAFCO guidelines for different life stages. Puppies should get puppy food, adults and seniors should get food labelled for them.
Dangerous Chicken Ingredients to Avoid
Even if your dog food does not list chicken in the first 5 ingredients, odds are it is hiding later on in the ingredient list. For this reason, you need to be diligent and check the entire list to be safe.
Brands use these ingredients as flavoring in everything from treats to supplements.
Here are some common chicken centric ingredients:
- Chicken meal
- Chicken by-product meal
- Chicken by-products
- Poultry by-product meal (may contain chicken)
- Poultry by-products (may contain chicken)
- Chicken broth
Looking for dog food? Read my guide to find the best freeze dried dog food.
How to Know if Your Dog is Allergic to Chicken?
If you think your dog may be allergic to chicken, several clues can help you identify this issue. As with any allergies, your dog typically has to be exposed to chicken more than once for these allergies to develop.
If you suspect that your dog is experiencing allergic reactions to chicken, you take an at home allergy test, do a strict removal diet or contact your veterinarian for a professional opinion.
My husky Nitotem used to open terrible hotspot all over his body. The poor guy was itchy all the time. After months or removing certain food groups, I finally found how that he was allergic to chicken, corn and soy.
If your dog is diagnosed with a chicken allergy, you'll need to remove chicken from your dog's diet. Some dogs with chicken allergies can safely eat other poultry like duck or turkey. For other dogs, however, an entirely different protein may be needed to avoid triggering negative immune responses.
Read my guide to electrolytes for dogs.
Chicken Allergy Symptoms in Dogs
Here are some symptoms and behaviors to look out for.
- Itchiness all over their skin and coat.
- Skin injuries or infections, which may manifest as red or itchy skin, rashes, wounds, and "hot spots" caused by excessive licking or chewing.
- Hair loss due to uncontrolled scratching
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea
- More severe symptoms can even include anaphylactic reactions like facial swelling, difficulty breathing, and tremors
- Ear inflammation due to excessive scratching
It's important to remember that these symptoms are not unique to chicken allergies and can also be indications of other allergies or sensitivities.
Chicken Allergy Causes
Chicken allergies in dogs are primarily caused due to the overreaction of the dog’s immune system towards chicken proteins.
This type of allergy often starts from genetics and occurs when the dog's digestive system is unable to wholly break down the chicken proteins.
As a result, the enterocytes, the absorptive cells in the digestive tract, see these unbroken proteins as foreign agents and instigate an immune response.
This immune response is what triggers the allergic symptoms. Some dogs may develop this allergy even towards other types of poultry, signifying that they have more generalized food sensitivities.
Interestingly, food allergies, including those to chicken, can sometimes develop suddenly in dogs, even to foods they have been eating for a while.
It is always a good idea to stay vigilant for the common symptoms I listed above.
How to Fix a Chicken Allergy
Addressing a chicken allergy in dogs would require a combination of finding the problem, adjusting the diet and visiting your veterinarian.
Here's a step by step breakdown:
- Find the Problem: Observe your pet carefully for signs of a potential chicken allergy which I listed above.
- Elimination Diet: If you suspect chicken is the culprit, or you confirm this on an allergy test, it's essential to remove all forms of poultry from your dog's diet. Dogs, sometimes, can tolerate other poultry like duck or turkey, but this isn't a risk worth taking for severe allergies.
- Gut Friendly Diet: Apart from the primary protein change, you can also look for a limited ingredient dog foor or one that says 'sensitive' on it. Foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids would also be beneficial as they help in skin recovery after an allergic reaction.
- Check with your Vet: The severity and scope of your dog's chicken allergy can only be correctly identified by professional allergy testing. This testing also helps in understanding if your pet is allergic to other poultry types and assists in finding a safe protein option without triggering an adverse reaction.
It usually takes repeated exposure to chicken for food allergies to develop. So you need to constantly check for things out of the ordinary with your dog.
Best Chicken Alternatives in Dog Food
The best alternative proteins sources to chicken are salmon, beef, lamb, bison, kangaroo and pork. From here you can get into all sorts of fun game meats and other things, but I stuck with these.
Fish is a great source of omega 3s (EPA and DHA), protein and happy fats. Most dogs do not have issues with fish as a protein source.
Looking for some extra gusto for your food? Read my guide to dog food seasoning.
Beef is nutritionally advantageous as it is rich in essential minerals like iron and zinc, along with B-vitamins, phosphorus, and amino acids.
Also, the palatability of beef is a factor that cannot be overstated. Dogs go crazy for it which makes for effortless consumption and digestion.
The best thing about lamb is its palatability. Many dogs enjoy the taste of lamb, which can be advantageous, especially for picky eaters.
Lamb is also a bit lower in calories than other protein sources, while being rich in nutrients like iron and B vitamins.
Bison is less common than beef and a bit more expensive. But is works great for dogs on lower fat diets because of how lean it is.
Kangaroo offers an exceptional protein source for canines, particularly those susceptible to allergies from common protein options.
While humans may find it gamey tasting, dogs absolutely love it. It is protein packed and low in fat. But the best part is that kangaroo is amongst the lowest allergens of any animal protein.
Finally, it rich in iron, Vitamin B, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Despite being pricier due to its rarity, it is an awesome choice if your pup has lots of allergies.
Pork is a great source of protein for dogs due to its high protein content, comparable to that of beef, as well as its rich flavor, making it an attractive option especially for dogs with chicken sensitivities and picky eaters.
The one thing to keep in mind is that pork has a higher fat content which may not suit dogs needing a leaner alternative.
Venison is kind of like kangaroo in that it is lean and low in allergens. It has not been used to feed dogs historically, this is likely the reason why most dogs are not sensitive to it.
This lean, gamey meat is rich in valuable protein necessary for muscle development and overall health. In comparison to beef and lamb, venison is considerably lower in both calories and fat, making it a healthier alternative. Dogs love the distinct taste, but it is hard to find and expensive.
Can dogs with chicken allergies eat turkey or duck?
Dogs who are allergic or sensitive to chicken can oftentimes eat turkey or duck without flareups. But this is not always the case. Sometimes you will need to completely remove all poultry in exchange for another protein source like fish or beef.
This is why it comes down to your dog and how they react to different proteins.
Are there any health risks associated with a poultry free diet?
There is no inherent health risk associated with a poultry-free diet in dogs as long as the diet remains balanced and nutritionally complete. Just make sure that you have some type of animal protein as the main part of their diet (lamb, beef, fish, etc).
How can I tell if my dog has an allergy to poultry?
You can tell if your dog has an allergy to poultry by keeping an eye out for common symptoms like excessive itching, hot spots on their skin, rashes, ear redness, eye boogers, coughing, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
Sure, all dogs itch themselves when they're at home or lying on the couch. You want to notice if your dog stops to itch themselves during walks or when they are stimulated doing other activities. This is how to tell if it is an issue or not.
Can dogs with chicken allergies eat chicken fat?
Dogs with chicken allergies are typically allergic to the protein found in chicken, but chicken fat may not trigger the same allergic reaction in dogs.
Note that these proteins are definitely present in all chicken by-products, but less so in fact.
It is important to note that very dog is unique and some may still show allergic responses to chicken fat. I would check with your vet, do a home allergy test or a strict elimination diet to know for sure if your dog is sensitive to chicken fat or not.
Can dogs with chicken allergies eat chicken by-product?
No. Dogs with chicken allergies cannot eat any chicken by-products. These include chicken meal, poultry meal, eggs, chicken broth or chicken bone broth.
Some dogs can handle chicken fat because there is limited protein in it. But you generally want to remove all chicken products to be sure.
Chicken products are used to pack a punch of flavor, so make sure you check your labels to make sure it is not hiding at the end of the ingredient list as a flavor additive.
What protein is best for dogs with allergies?
Great protein options for dogs with allergies include beef, lamb, salmon, whitefish, kangaroo and venison. But this is a very individual thing, because all dogs are different.
My husky was sensitive to just about every protein except for salmon. But this is because he suffered from parvovirus when he was a puppy.
Your dog may be sensitive to something else, so you need to test it out and see what works best for you and your canine friend.
What are common food allergies in dogs?
Dogs are commonly allergic to chicken, eggs, dairy, corn and soy. If you suspect that your dog may be sensitive or allergic then try to eliminate these foods from their diet, one by one.
If you don't want to wait this long, you can do an at home allergy test, or take them to the vet for testing.
There are plenty of high-quality dog food brands that don't use chicken in their recipes. If your pup has sensitivities or allergies to poultry, one of these brands will surely be a great fit.
For grain free, I really like the Taste of Wild, for dehydrated, I like Honest Kitchen and for a meal topper, Bluebird Provisions bone broth is the absolute best option.
Leave a comment if you have any questions about these brands or any other band you want my feedback on. I'll do my best to answer it asap.
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to treat or supplement any pet's diet. Consult your veterinarian or animal health specialist if you have questions about anything related to their food, consumption or health. The statements have not been evaluated by the FDA,AAFCO, USDA or CFIA.