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Home > Dogs > 10 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods in Canada in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

10 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods in Canada in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

a dog eating on a bowl

Grain-free diets have been all the rage in the pet industry lately, but are they safe or even necessary?

Most vets only recommend a grain-free diet for their pet if it has been proven that the pet in question does indeed have an allergy or sensitivity to grains. The truth is that most dogs and cats are actually allergic to the protein source1 in their food and not the grains.

If your vet has recommended a grain-free diet for your dog, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed by all the options out there. There are so many different brands, foods, and buzzwords out there that choosing a dog food can feel nearly impossible. We’re here to help take some of that confusion out of the equation for you.

Keep reading to find our list of the ten best grain-free dog foods available in Canada right now. Our reviews will acquaint you with your options and find the food that’s best for your dog’s needs.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2024)

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe
  • Made with cage-free chicken
  • High-protein recipe
  • Great for dogs of all ages
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina Beyond Ground Entrée Variety Pack Purina Beyond Ground Entrée Variety Pack
  • Meaty formula is enticing to dogs
  • Affordable price tag
  • Made with real meat
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Taste of the Wild High Prairie Taste of the Wild High Prairie
  • Antioxidants from vegetables and fruits
  • Probiotics for immune system health
  • Easy to digest
  • Best for Puppies
    Merrick Lil' Plates Pint-Sized Puppy Merrick Lil' Plates Pint-Sized Puppy
  • Pre-portioned meals
  • First ingredient is real meat
  • Easy to digest
  • Vet’s Choice
    Acana Regionals Wild Atlantic Acana Regionals Wild Atlantic
  • Very high in protein
  • Fresh and raw ingredients
  • Great for dogs of all sizes and ages
  • The 10 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods in Canada

    1. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe – Best Overall

    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken

    Main ingredient: Chicken, chicken meal, peas, chicken fat, tapioca
    Protein content: 37.0%
    Fat content: 20.5%
    Calories: 508 cal/cup

    Instinct Raw Boost is a high-quality dog food that combines all-natural freeze-dried raw bites with high-protein kibble to provide your pooch with the best grain-free dog food in Canada. This food has been formulated to meet the nutrition needs of all dogs regardless of their breed size or age. This particular recipe features real cage-free chicken as the first ingredient to provide your dog with a hefty source of high-quality animal protein to support strong and lean muscles. The raw bites are 100% raw and are packed with real meat to keep your dog interested in his food.

    The formula is made without wheat, corn, and artificial colors or preservatives. It is chock full of probiotics to support your dog’s sensitive digestive system and omega-fatty acids to boost its skin and coat health. The ingredient list features antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits like carrots, apples, cranberries, and blueberries.

    Pros
    • Made with cage-free chicken
    • High-protein recipe
    • Great for dogs of all ages
    • Probiotics support digestive health
    Cons
    • High in calories
    • Expensive

    2. Purina Beyond Ground Entrée Variety Pack – Best Value

    Purina Beyond Ground Entrée Variety Pack

    Main ingredient: Turkey, chicken, turkey broth, liver, sweet potatoes
    Protein content: 8.0%
    Fat content: 6.0%
    Calories: 457 cal/can

    If you’re searching for the best grain-free dog food in Canada for the money, Purina’s Beyond Ground Entrée Variety Pack should fit the bill. This affordable wet dog food for adults features three delicious recipes that your dog will love. The one we’re looking at today is the Turkey & Sweet Potato recipe which was made with real turkey raised without any steroids or hormones. Each can is this variety pack features real poultry or fish as its main ingredient This natural food features added vitamins and minerals to keep your dog looking and feeling its best. It is made without the use of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. This wet food’s unique tender texture is appealing to most dogs.

    Pros
    • Meaty formula is enticing to dogs
    • Affordable price tag
    • Made with real meat
    • High in protein
    Cons
    • Dogs may not like all three flavors

    3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie – Premium Choice

    Taste of the Wild Roasted Bison & Venison

    Main ingredient: Water buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas
    Protein content: 32.0%
    Fat content: 18.0%
    Calories: 422 cal/cup

    This extremely high-protein recipe from Taste of the Wild High Prairie is a great choice for dog owners who have an unlimited budget when it comes to their pups’ food. While this food is on the expensive side, it provides a hefty dose of protein to give your dog the digestible energy it needs to stay active. The recipe features vegetables, legumes, and fruits to help your dog maintain its overall health. It’s made with pasture-raised bison and venison, which gives the kibble a roasted flavor that most dogs love. As with most of Taste of the Wild’s food selection, this recipe features their K9 Strain Probiotics to boost your pup’s digestive and immune systems.

    Pros
    • Antioxidants from vegetables and fruits
    • Probiotics for immune system health
    • Easy to digest
    • Very high in protein
    Cons
    • High in fat
    • Pricey

    4. Merrick Lil’ Plates Pint-Sized Puppy – Best for Puppies

    Merrick Lil' Plates Pint-Sized Puppy

    Main ingredient: Deboned chicken, chicken broth, turkey broth, chicken liver, deboned turkey
    Protein content: 8.5%
    Fat content: 3.5%
    Calories: 96 cal/bowl

    If you have a puppy who needs a grain-free diet, the Lil’ Plates from Merrick are a fantastic option. Their Pint-Sized puppy formula is designed to meet the dietary needs of small breed puppies. This package comes with 12 pre-portioned easy-open trays that take the guesswork out of portion sizes. The recipe features deboned chicken as the main ingredient to help your pup build and maintain the muscle tissues it needs as it grows into adulthood. It has succulent pieces of real chicken in the gravy that add moisture and a tasty flavor to your pup’s meal. This formula features vegetables and fruits like apples and red peppers to boost its nutrient levels and omega-3 fatty acids for the maintenance of healthy skin and coat.

    Pros
    • Pre-portioned meals
    • First ingredient is real meat
    • Easy to digest
    • Designed specifically for small breeds
    • Can help build muscle mass
    Cons
    • Hard to store if there are leftovers
    • Formula is a little watery

    5. Acana Regionals Wild Atlantic – Vet’s Choice

    Acana Regionals Wild Atlantic

    Main ingredient: Whole mackerel, whole herring, whole redfish, silver hake, mackerel meal
    Protein content: 33.0%
    Fat content: 17.0%
    Calories: 392 cal/cup

    Acana’s Regionals Wild Atlantic dry dog food takes our Vet’s Choice award for the best grain-free dog food in Canada. This kibble is made with both fresh and raw ingredients to match the natural diet of your dog’s ancestors. It is high in protein, with the first five ingredients all being a protein source and features no artificial coloring or preservatives. This recipe is chock full of nutrients from whole vegetables, fruits, and botanicals like collard greens, pumpkin, pears, and apples to provide your pooch with additional nutrients and fiber. The kibble is coated with freeze-dried cod liver to entice your dog to eat it and keep them coming back at meal time. This recipe has been formulated to meet the AAFCOs nutrient profile for all life stages.

    Pros
    • Very high in protein
    • Fresh and raw ingredients
    • Great for dogs of all sizes and ages
    • No artificial colors or preservatives
    Cons
    • High price

    6. Wellness Complete Health Canned Food

    Wellness Complete Health Turkey & Duck Stew

    Main ingredient: Turkey broth, turkey, duck, turkey liver, Egg whites
    Protein content: 8.0%
    Fat content: 4.0%
    Calories: 320 cal/can

    Wellness Complete’s Turkey & Duck Stew is a protein-rich grain-free food that’s designed to provide your pooch with a tasty meal chock full of chunks and tender cuts of meat. The high-quality protein is naturally lean to provide both energy and muscle support. This recipe is formulated with natural ingredients and features added vitamins and minerals to give your dog a healthy coat and skin. One of the key ingredients in this recipe is cranberries which are present to provide your dog with a rich source of antioxidants. Cranberries can provide an immune system boost while preventing harmful bacteria from forming in your dog’s urinary tract.

    Pros
    • Gravy-rich recipe is enticing
    • No artificial colors or preservatives
    • Thoughtfully selected natural ingredients
    • Supports urinary tract health
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Some batches can be too liquidy

    7. Weruva Variety Pack

    Weruva Variety Pack

    Main ingredient: Chicken, water sufficient for processing, potato starch, sunflower seed oil, dicalcium phosphate
    Protein content:  10%
    Fat content: 1.4%
    Calories: 104 cal/can

    This 12-can variety pack is a great way to introduce your dog to the many different flavors that Weruva has to offer. Each 5.5-ounce can features a different flavor and all but one (Marbella Paella) is free from carrageenan (a natural resource additive that can sometimes cause adverse side effects2). Weruva’s canned food is not only grain- and mostly carrageenan-free, it’s also free of MSG and preservatives, too. All the canned formulas in this variety pack are formulated with your carnivorous dog in mind so they provide a hefty source of protein and minimal carbohydrates. Each recipe contains added vitamins and minerals to provide a complete and balanced diet for your pooch.

    Pros
    • Carrageenan free recipes
    • Variety pack is great for testing flavors
    • No preservatives
    • High-quality protein sources
    Cons
    • Pricing can be inconsistent
    • Not all 12 recipes have meat as the main ingredient

    8. Ziwi Peak Tripe & Lamb Dry Food

    Ziwi Peak Tripe & Lamb

    Main ingredient: Lamb tripe, lamb, lamb heart, lamb liver, lamb lung
    Protein content:  36.0%
    Fat content:  32.0%
    Calories: 295 cal/level scoop

    Ziwi Peak’s Tripe & Lamb recipe is a high-protein and nutrient-dense formula that features 96% meat, organs, bone, and green mussels. The New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels are exclusive to the country and provide a great source of glucosamine and chondroitin for your dog’s joint health and mobility. This food can be served on its own as a meal, or you can add it as a topper to your dog’s favorite grain-free wet food. Every protein source in this formula is either free-range or wild-caught, so they’re ethically and sustainably sourced.

    Pros
    • No hormones or antibiotics fed to meat sources
    • High in protein
    • Great as a meal or as a topper
    • Ethical and sustainable
    Cons
    • Pricy
    • Food can be crumbly

    9. Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Classic Red Meat

    Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Classic Red Meat

    Main ingredient: Beef, pork meal, sweet potato, potato, pork fat
    Protein content: 26.0%
    Fat content: 19.0%
    Calories:  400 cal/cup

    This grain- and legume-free red meat recipe from Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red is packed with meat from three non-poultry animal sources: beef, pork, and lamb. This formula is made using whole prey ingredients, including the muscle and organ meat as well as cartilage. The recipe is great for dogs in any life stage as it is simple to digest and isn’t chock full of unnecessary fillers. The formula has been fortified with several vitamins and minerals to support your dog’s entire well-being and has natural fiber sources to provide a digestion boost. Taurine is present to support your dog’s heart health, and omega-fatty acids are included to support its skin and coat.

    It is important to note that this formula meets the AAFCO nutrition levels for dogs in all life stages except for the growth of large breeds that reach 70+ pounds in adulthood.

    Pros
    • Great for dogs with poultry allergies
    • Whole prey ingredients mimic the ancestral diet
    • Natural ingredients
    • No fillers
    Cons
    • Not many freeze-dried bits
    • Doesn’t meet nutrition requirements for large dogs

    10. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Canned Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Turkey & Chicken Grill

    Main ingredient: Turkey, chicken, chicken broth, water, chicken liver
    Protein content: 7.5%
    Fat content: 5.0%
    Calories: 375 cal/can

    Blue Buffalo’s Healthy Weight formula is formulated with high-quality ingredients and features both turkey and chicken as its main two ingredients. This formula doesn’t contain any poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy and is also free of artificial flavoring and preservatives. This recipe is fortified with L-carnitine, an amino acid that can help your dog achieve a healthy weight, and flax seeds for better digestion. Whole, fresh potatoes are included in the formula to provide an easy-to-digest carbohydrate and are a source of both vitamins B and C. This wet food can be served on its own or mixed with your dog’s favorite dry kibble.

    Pros
    • No artificial flavors or preservatives
    • High-quality protein sources
    • Promotes a healthy weight
    • Supports digestive health
    Cons
    • Formula can be watery
    • Strong scent
    • Expensive

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Grain-Free Dog Food in Canada

    Now that you know about some of the best grain-free dog foods available to Canadians, you have to decide which will be best for your dog. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know before you buy.

    Is a Grain-Free Diet Necessary?

    Grain-free diets for dogs are really only recommended if your dog has been formally diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance to the grains found in its food. You and your vet can put your pooch on an elimination diet to determine whether or not it is the grains causing an adverse reaction.

    A grain-free diet is not appropriate for dogs who do not have an intolerance or allergy to grains. This is especially true as the FDA is investigating a potential link between grain-free diets and canine-dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

    DCM is a disease that often has a genetic component, but the FDA has been receiving reports of diet-associated instances of the disease since as early as 2014. DCM is typically a progressive disease that has short survival times, but statistics show that dogs diagnosed with diet-associated DCM can have echocardiographic improvements and much longer survival times with a diet change and medical intervention.

    The issue with DCM isn’t specific to grain-free diets. BEG diets in general seem to be part of the problem. BEG stands for food from Boutique companies containing Exotic ingredients, many of which are labeled Gluten-free.

    The connection between BEG and DCM could be the ingredients that are used to replace the grains in grain-free foods, like lentils or chickpeas, or other commonly found ingredients in BEG diets like exotic meats.

    What Should I Look for in a Grain-Free Dog Food?

    It’s important when shopping for dog food that you know what constitutes a great product. We looked at several factors as we compiled our list of the best grain-free dog food. Below you’ll find the factors we considered in compiling our list above.

    man buying pet food
    Image by: LADO, Shutterstock

    Whole Protein as the First Ingredient

    Real, whole protein should be the first ingredient in any dog food, regardless of if it’s a grain-free food or not.

    Your dog needs animal-based proteins as they contain the amino acids your pooch needs for optimal health. Many dog foods also have plant protein sources such as potatoes or peas that will complement the animal protein.

    Scour the ingredient list to compare how many plant and animal protein sources are included in the formulas. If there are more plant sources of protein, the food may not be as high in protein as you think, and your dog could be missing out on essential amino acids.

    It is important to note here that sometimes wet dog food will list water or broth as the first ingredient. This is not an issue so long as a real protein source is listed next.

    No Artificial Colors or Preservatives

    Your dog doesn’t care what color his food is, so the inclusion of artificial coloring is pointless. Many types of artificial colors have been linked to behavioral issues and cancer, so why put your dog’s health at risk just to have his food a little less brown in color?

    Preservatives prevent your dog’s food from spoiling too quickly. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene are the two most commonly used artificial preservatives in dog kibble. Both have been linked to potential health issues.

    Dog food manufacturers can instead opt to use natural preservatives in the formulation of their recipes. This would include a natural substance like vitamin E or plant extracts. These preservatives won’t keep your dog’s food from spoiling as long as artificial preservatives would, but since they’re natural, they’ll generally be better for your dog’s health.

    Don’t Skimp on the Fat

    Unlike humans, dogs’ main source of energy comes from fat instead of carbohydrates. But dogs need all three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) to thrive. Studies suggest that the optimal macronutrient content of a healthy dog’s diet should consist of 30% protein, 63% fat, and 7% carbohydrates.

    Fat plays a very important role in maintaining your dog’s health.

    Active dogs need fat to fuel their muscles and to provide the energy they need for their activity level. Fat can also help your dog feel satiated after meals which can help lower its risk of obesity. Fat also helps your dog better absorb and digest fat-soluble vitamins.

    dry and wet pet food on white background
    Image by: Jiri Hera, Shutterstock

    Wet vs Dry Food

    Is it best to feed your dog wet or dry food? This is a really great question that gets a lot of pet parents confused. The answer isn’t a simple “Yes” or “No”.

    It truly doesn’t matter which food you choose to feed your dog. We included fantastic grain-free options in both wet and dry forms in our list simply because some dogs are picky and prefer one over the other.

    High-quality dog food, whether it be canned or kibble, will provide your pet with the complete nutrition it needs to grow and thrive.

    That said, both types of food come with their own list of pros and cons.

    Wet food is highly enticing to dogs because of its natural sensory characteristics. It’s softer, moister, and smells stronger than dry food. But dogs need to eat more wet food on a per gram basis to get the same number of calories that kibble would provide, which makes it quite a bit more costly.

    Dry food has an exceptionally long shelf life which can save you money and trips to the pet store. Studies also suggest that kibble can boost your dog’s oral health. Dry food is generally less palpable, however, and can be difficult for older pets or those with tooth loss to eat.

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    Final Thoughts

    Instinct Raw Boost is the best overall grain-free dog food in Canada, thanks to its high protein content and whole-food ingredients. Purina Beyond’s wet food provides the best value and is made with real ingredients you can recognize and pronounce. Taste of the Wild is our premium pick for dog owners with an unlimited budget due to its high-quality meats and immune system support. Merrick’s Lil’ Plates is the best pick for puppies as it’s easy to digest and conveniently portioned. Finally, Acana’s Wild Atlantic Recipe took our Vet’s Choice award thanks to its fresh and raw ingredients and unique formulation that makes it great for dogs of all ages.

    If your vet recommends a grain-free diet for your pooch, you can’t go wrong with any of the ten products you read about in our reviews.


    Featured Image Credit: Mart Production, Pexels

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