Wheat has long been ranked as one of the most common dog food allergens. For many years it was a common ingredient in all dog foods. It was so common that many dogs developed allergies to it. Although it’s a grain, it has been used as a plant source of protein, the same way that corn has been used. You can find various forms of wheat listed by AAFCO such as Wheat, Wheat Bran, Wheat Flour, Wheat Germ Meal, Wheat Germ Meal Defatted, Wheat Germ Oil, Wheat Gluten, Wheat Middlings, Wheat Mill Run, Wheat Products, Wheat Red Dog, and Wheat Shorts. All of these forms of wheat are parts of the grain, with more or less nutrition (often less). You can see how these ingredients can add up if they are used in a dog food. Many of them have been used as fillers.
Today wheat is usually found in lower quality foods. Wheat’s reputation as a dog food ingredient was not helped any by the 2007 pet food recalls in the U.S. which featured wheat gluten (mostly in canned foods) contaminated with melamine from China.
As a result, most top quality dog foods today don’t contain wheat. In fact, many of the best dog foods today are grain free. They don’t contain wheat or corn, in particular.
Instead of wheat (and corn), dog foods today are more likely to contain peas, lentils, potatoes, and other plant sources of protein/carbohydrates.
What to look for in a good dog food that doesn’t contain wheat
If you’re looking for a good dog food that doesn’t contain wheat, we suggest the following:
- Do you want to feed a grain free food or not? Just because you don’t want to feed wheat (or corn) doesn’t mean you have to feed grain free. There are lots of good grain free dog foods. But there are also some good foods that have low to moderate grains such as oatmeal, barley, and rice. Or you can look at less common grains/cereals/seeds such as quinoa. There are good quality dog foods that use all of these options.
- Some grain free dog foods can have a lot of plant protein from peas and lentils. Not all dogs are able to digest these foods easily. For this reason, some dog lovers prefer more traditional dog foods, even if they don’t feed foods that contain wheat.
- If you are avoiding dog foods that contain wheat you will still want to choose a food that has good quality meat protein and named animal fat. Avoid generic ingredients. And avoid artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives. These ingredients are harmful regardless of the kind of food you choose for your dog. Look for foods with low to moderate carbohydrates.
A secret place where wheat is still found
Many dog lovers are unaware that wheat can be used in canned or wet food. It’s not just used in kibbles although you may think that since it’s used to make flour it’s used to make dough for kibble. Actually, wheat or wheat gluten can be found in some canned foods boosting the protein a little and/or serving as a thickener in the same way guar gum and carrageenan do. It’s not found as often as it once was, but you can still find it in some canned foods today.
Best Value Dog Food without Wheat
Taste of the Wild Wetlands Grain-Free Dry
If you’re looking for a grain free kibble without wheat that’s a good value, our favorite is Taste of the Wild Wetlands Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. It’s good for dogs of all sizes. It has real duck as the first ingredient plus roasted quail and turkey. No fillers, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The 30-lb bag is $48.99 on Chewy.com or $46.54 with autoship.
3 Best Puppy Foods that don’t contain Wheat
American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Dry
American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain Free Puppy formula is relatively new but it’s already incredibly popular. It’s high in protein with moderate fat. The first three ingredients are Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal, and Turkey Meal. It has 419 kcal/cup. It has salmon oil which is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid and DHA for your growing puppy. The 24-lb bag is $39.99 at Chewy.com or $35.99 with autoship. Chewy is offering 50 percent off your first bag!
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Turkey Recipe Dry
This grain free puppy formula from Wellness CORE is high in protein. It has Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, and Turkey Meal as the first three ingredients with 417 kcal/cup. DHA from salmon oil is good for your puppy’s skin and coat as well as his cognitive development. The 26-lb bag is $59.99 at Chewy.com or $56.99 with autoship.
Merrick Real Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Dry
Merrick Real Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain Free Puppy formula is made in Texas. The first ingredient is real beef, along with lamb. It has 377 kcal/cup. This formula is poultry-free and gluten-free with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The 25-lb bag is $59.99 at Chewy or $56.99 with autoship.
3 Best Adult Dog Foods without Wheat
Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry
Zignature is one of our favorite dog food brands. This turkey limited ingredient formula grain free food has turkey and turkey meal as the first two ingredients. Those are the only meat proteins. The turkey is farm-raised from the American midwest. It has 457 kcal/cup. No chicken, corn, wheat, soy, or potatoes. No dairy. The 27-lb bag is $54.99 at Chewy.com. Sorry, no autoship.
CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Sea with Salmon Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Dry
Canidae Grain Free PURE Sea with Salmon LID is a good food for dogs with sensitive digestion but you can also feed it to any dog if you simply like these good ingredients. It has eight main ingredients plus vitamins and minerals. The first three ingredients are Salmon, Salmon Meal, and Menhaden Fish Meal with 496 kcal/cup. No gluten, grains, antibiotics, hormones, corn, wheat, or soy. The 24-lb bag if $64.99 at Chewy.com or $61.74 with autoship.
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Formula Grain-Free Dry
This is a limited ingredient diet dog food so it’s not something that every dog will need. However, if your dog needs an LID diet, Natural Balance may be the top choice. They have a wide range of popular diets for dogs with allergies and other food issues. The first ingredients in this food are sweet potatoes and venison. Most dogs are unlikely to have previously eaten venison. It has 370 kcal/cup. And no wheat. If your dog has food allergies it is especially important to avoid possible allergens such as wheat. LID foods are more expensive than other dog foods but they are a specialized diet. This food is $69.99 for a 26-lb bag at Chewy.com or $66.49 with autoship.
You won’t find wheat or its derivatives in most good quality dog foods today. Whether you go completely grain free or not is up to you. We hope the wheat-free dog foods we have suggested here provide you with some good ideas.