Many modern pet owners are opting for grain-free dog food because, not only has grain-free dog food become a trend as of late, but owners fear that ordinary grain might cause weight gain. They also say that these grains are not part of the dog’s natural diet.
While this is true to some extent, dogs are omnivores (unlike cats, which are strict carnivores), so their digestive system can process things other than meat, including grain. Many grain-inclusive foods contain important nutrients like vitamins and minerals that are important for good health.
The key is to look for high-quality foods, and we can help. Keep reading while we review several popular brands that contain grain to see which ones are healthy. We’ll give you the pros and cons of each one so you can see how they differ, and we’ve even included a short buyer’s guide so you’ll know what to look for if you continue to shop.
A Brief Look at Our Top Picks of 2024
|Nom Nom Turkey Fare Fresh Dog Food Subscription
|Click to Save 50%
|Purina ONE SmartBlend
|Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive
|Best for Puppies
|Rachael Ray Nutrish Puppy
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection
The 8 Best Dog Foods with Grain
1. Nom Nom Turkey Fare Fresh Dog Food Subscription — Best Overall
Nom Nom is a dog food subscription service that ships premium, human-grade food straight to your door. Most of the formulas are grain-free, but the Turkey Fare recipe is not as it contains brown rice. If you’re looking for a grain-inclusive formula for your canine, it doesn’t get much better than this.
To sign up for Nom Nom, you’ll need to go to the company’s website and create an account. You’ll answer various questions about your dog which will help them make suggestions and pre-portion the food they send you. Then, you’ll be able to select Turkey Fare as your dog’s recipe and you’ll receive pre-portioned bags to your door each month.
This food is extremely high in protein and nutrients and it includes eggs as the third ingredient, which are very nutrient-dense and high in protein.
We particularly like that this food is human-grade, cooked with real ingredients that you can see. Plus, many canines enjoy this food more than other commercial foods, so it is a great option for pickier dogs. We think it’s the best overall dog food with grains that you can purchase. However, it is a bit pricey considering the quality and the fact that it is a subscription service.
2. Purina ONE SmartBlend Adult Dog Food – Best Value
|Whole grain wheat
Purina ONE SmartBlend Adult Dog Food is our pick as the best dog food with grain for the money. It lists chicken as its first ingredient, a great source of glucosamine that helps build strong muscles. It contains dried vegetables like carrots and peas that can help provide important nutrients, and it’s fortified with several B vitamins to help your pet stay more active.
We like the low cost of Purina ONE SmartBlend, and our pets seem to like the taste. However, it contains corn and soy ingredients that can lead to weight gain in your pet.
3. Hill’s Science Diet Skin & Stomach Dog Food
Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Skin & Stomach Adult Dry Dog Food is our premium choice for dog food with grain. It features chicken as its first ingredient, so you know your pet is getting a high-quality protein, and Hill’s uses a special easy-to-digest formula that won’t upset your pet’s sensitive digestive system. It’s a great source of prebiotic fiber, and it also contains omega fats that promote a shiny coat. They also fortify the food with extra vitamins and minerals to ensure your pet has what it needs to stay healthy.
We like the ingredients and didn’t have much trouble getting our pets to eat it, but it’s a little lower in protein (20%) than many of the other brands, so you might want to supplement it with some real meat treats.
4. Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken & Rice Food – Best for Puppies
Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe is our pick as the best puppy food with grain. It contains chicken as its first ingredient and plenty of real fruits and vegetables like carrots, peas, and brown rice. Fishmeal helps provide essential omega fats that are especially important for growing puppies because they help with brain and eye development.
We think Rachael Ray Nutrish is a fantastic brand, but it comes in a small bag. We realize this food is for puppies, but we might have continued feeding it longer if the bag was a little larger and didn’t run out so quickly.
5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dog Food
|Brown rice, barley, oatmeal
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dog Food is another great dog food with grain. It features chicken as its first ingredient, so it provides your pet with plenty of high-quality protein, which is an important building block for strong muscle, and it also provides energy. It also contains plenty of good grains like rice, barley, and oatmeal, along with real fruits and vegetables, which helps ensure your pet gets enough calcium and other important vitamins and minerals, omega fats, and important antioxidants.
We love the ingredient list on the Blue Buffalo Life Protection package, and the only thing we can complain about is that some of our dogs didn’t like it and would hold out until we gave them something different.
6. Purina Pro Plan Shredded Chicken & Rice Dry Dog Food
|Rice, whole grain wheat
Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food is available in several size packages, so you can get one for any dog you have. It lists chicken as its first ingredient, so you know your pet is getting plenty of high-quality protein, and contains fish oil that provides omega fats to help your dog have a shiny coat.
The downside to Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded is that it contains a lot of corn and ingredients, which can lead to weight gain, and some dogs might sort through it, picking out the meaty chunks and leaving behind the kibble.
7. Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Chicken & Rice
|Barley, brewer’s rice, oatmeal
Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food features chicken as its first ingredient. Also, it contains several real fruits and vegetables like pumpkin, peas, tomato, and more. These ingredients provide essential vitamins and minerals along with prebiotics that help feed your dog’s good gut bacteria so they can digest their food more efficiently. In addition, omega fats help your dog maintain a shiny coat.
The downside to Nutro Natural Choice is that the package is quite small, and even a tiny dog will go through it pretty quickly. We also noticed that some dogs don’t like it and will hold out until they can get another kind of food.
8. Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food
Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food is the last brand on our list of reviews. It’s another puppy food containing plenty of fish oil, so it’s high in healthy omega fats that are important for a growing puppy. It also features a formula that’s easy to digest, so it shouldn’t result in diarrhea or constipation, which can be a serious problem for small dogs.
The downside to Royal Canin is that it doesn’t contain any real meat and relies on chicken by-products to provide the protein. It also has plenty of corn ingredients which can lead to weight gain, and foods high in corn tend to leave the dog hungry sooner.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Dog Food with Grain
Why Would I Give My Dog Food With Grain?
As we mentioned earlier, dogs are omnivores, and their digestive system can break down many kinds of food, including grains, so there is no reason to try to limit your pet’s food to a meat-only variety. Many grains are high in nutrients like calcium that can help build strong bones and vitamins that will help boost your immune system. Grains can also help provide the fiber that regulates the moisture in the digestive tract, reducing the frequency of constipation and diarrhea.
What Grains Are Good for My Dog?
When looking for a brand of dog food containing grain, we recommend checking the ingredients list. Choose a brand with one of the following grains listed near the top and avoid brands that use corn or soy instead. Corn and soy digest quickly, which can lead to weight gain.
What Other Ingredients Are Important?
Dog Food Protein Content
One of the most important things to look for when choosing a new food for your dog is real meat like chicken, turkey, or beef listed as the first ingredient. It will ensure your pet gets plenty of high-quality protein that they can use for energy and building strong muscle. Foods high in protein also tend to keep your pet feeling full longer than brands that rely on corn and soy.
Dog Food Omega Fat Content
Omega fats are important for pets of all ages. These important facts are essential for brain and eye development in a puppy and they help your dog maintain a shiny coat and healthy skin throughout life. As your dog ages, the omega fats will help reduce inflammation which can help a dog with arthritis feel more comfortable.
Dog Food Prebiotics Content
Foods containing prebiotics or probiotics will help balance your dog’s digestive system, reducing the frequency of constipation and diarrhea. Some experts also suggest that a stronger digestive system leads to a better immune system. Most brands containing probiotics will list it on the package, as will some containing prebiotics, but any brand containing real fruits and vegetables will be effective as a prebiotic.
When choosing your next dog food with grain, we highly recommend our pick for the best overall. Nom Nom Turkey Fare dog food lists turkey as its first ingredient, and it also contains plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as omega fats. Its simple subscription service ensures you always have enough dog food on hand, although the cost can be a bit steep. Another smart choice is our pick for the best value. Purina ONE Smart Blend Adult Dog Food also features chicken as its first ingredient and also contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, which provide important vitamins and minerals as well as prebiotics and fiber. This brand is also easy to find in most grocery stores or pet shops.
Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock