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If you compare the ingredients in a grocery store brand of dog food to a premium recipe, you’ll notice a stark difference. Cheap dog food tends to make heavy use of grains, often listing them before the primary source of protein. Grains aren’t necessarily bad for dogs, but some are better than others and they should never outweigh the animal ingredients in a dog food recipe.
Quality nutrition is the best way to support your dog’s long-term health and wellness. You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on dog food every month, but you should at least consider switching to a dog food without corn, wheat, and soy.
Here’s what you need to know about your dog’s nutritional needs and why corn isn’t the best ingredient to support them.
Meeting Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs
Your dog is descended from wild wolves who are technically classified as facultative carnivores. Their bodies are designed to subsist on a meat-based diet, but they can survive on plant foods when necessary. This makes protein – especially from animal sources – the foundation of an ideal canine diet.
Animal products like meat, poultry, and fish should be the first ingredient in your dog’s food. Protein from animals is considered complete protein which means it contains all the essential amino acids your dog needs. It also provides healthy fats as a concentrated source of energy.
Dogs have no biological requirement for carbohydrates in their diet. That being said, healthy and digestible carbohydrates like whole grains and low-starch veggies can provide natural sources for essential nutrients as well as dietary fiber.
The Trouble With Corn in Dog Food
The best way to determine the quality of a dog food recipe is to check the list of ingredients and compare it to the guaranteed analysis. Carbohydrate listed before proteins is always a problem, but you need to watch out for significant use of plant-based proteins as well. Corn is both a carbohydrate and a source of plant-based protein.
Here are some other problems with corn in dog food:
- It has a high glycemic index rating—it raises your dog’s blood sugar more than other grains.
- Whole-grain corn is not easily digestible by dogs—much of the corn in dog food is refined.
- It has low biological value compared to animal proteins like eggs and meat.
- Corn is a carbohydrate—it doesn’t provide a significant amount of protein or fat.
At this point, you may wonder why corn is such a common ingredient in dog food if it doesn’t provide much nutritional value. Good question!
The truth is carbohydrates are cheap and they are an important element in the extrusion process through which dry pet foods are made. Inexpensive, processed carbohydrates like corn add bulk and calories to dog food without increasing the cost for manufacturers.
While corn may not be the absolute worst ingredient for your dog, its inclusion implies the manufacture is more concerned about cost than quality.
The Best Dog Food Without Corn
Your dog deserves the highest quality diet you can consistently afford. The good news is that dog food without corn doesn’t have to be expensive. We’ve done our best to assemble a list of recommendations at different price points to help you choose.
Check them out below.
Made with 85% animal ingredients, this dry food formula nourishes your dog with premium-quality nutrition. This recipe features a protein-rich blend of free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs with no corn or other grains.Shop on Amazon
This all-natural dry food formula lamb, turkey meal, and salmon meal as the top three ingredients with lamb meal as a supplemental source of animal protein. It is entirely grain-free in addition to being free from low-quality fillers like corn, wheat, and soy.Shop on Amazon
Canned dog food tends to be higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than the average dry food and this Wellness 95% chicken recipe is no exception. In addition to being packed with premium animal protein from real chicken, it is free from corn and other low-quality grains.Shop on Amazon
This chicken and brown rice recipe is packed with protein and supplemented with digestible whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal. It also contains Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits which provide a rich blend of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.Shop on Amazon
Formulated for affordability and quality, this chicken & turkey recipe canned food is packed with protein and free from corn and other fillers. It is complete and balanced for dogs in all life stages from all breeds. It’s a healthy, affordable option in dog food without corn.Shop on Amazon
If your dog suffers from food allergies, a limited ingredient diet like this Canidae PURE dry food recipe is a great choice. It features just 8 main ingredients including fresh salmon, salmon meal, and menhaden fish meal with absolutely no grains including corn.Shop on Amazon
This grain-free dry food is made with an assortment of premium roasted meats for unbeatable flavor. It features real roasted bison and venison with supplemental protein from lamb meal, chicken meal, and beef. It also contains fresh fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients.Shop on Amazon
If you’re looking for an affordable option in dog food without corn, this Wag recipe is perfect. It features real animal protein from turkey with no added corn, wheat, or soy. They make it with real chunks of meat and sweet potato in a flavorful gravy.Shop on Amazon
Another affordable option in grain-free dog food, this dry food recipe features real beef as the #1 ingredient. This recipe is made with digestible grain-free carbohydrates like peas and lentils with added vitamins and minerals to ensure nutritional balance.Shop on Amazon
For protein-packed nutrition, this Instinct Raw Boost Recipe is the one to choose. Made with high-protein kibble infused with freeze-dried pieces of raw chicken, this grain-free formula doesn’t contain any corn and it is completely free from by-products and artificial additives.Shop on Amazon
This Weruva chicken recipe dog food is minimally processed and packed with real animal protein. It features cage-free boneless, skinless white breast meat chicken for lean protein and is completely free from corn, wheat, soy and other grains.Shop on Amazon
More Tips on Dog Food Without Corn
Shopping for dog food without corn is pretty simple. Many high-quality brands make a point of stating on the label that their product is free from corn, though you can also just take a quick look at the ingredients list on the back of the bag. You’re most likely to see corn products within the first 10 to 12 ingredients since it’s commonly used as a filler by inexpensive pet food brands.
Before switching to a dog food without corn, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian. When you’re ready to make the switch, make sure you have enough of your dog’s old food on hand to transition him onto the new diet over the course of 5 to 7 days. Changing your dog’s diet too suddenly can cause digestive upset—no one wants that!
If you’re concerned about food allergies, check out our guide to hypoallergenic dog food which explores limited ingredient diets for dogs.