The term “grain-free” might be confused with “superior,” but these are not the same. Not all grain-free dog foods feature wholesome ingredients, and switching to a grain-free food does not automatically constitute a healthy diet for a dog.
To ensure a dog receives a balance of meat, fruit, vegetables, and nutrients, dog owners want foods monitored by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO establishes minimum standards for nutrition in dog food, and after that, the manufacturer determines which ingredients they use to reach such standards.
Brands, to offer natural grain-free diets, must start with meat or fish as their first ingredient. That means real chicken, beef, fish, or other proteins. Meat meal is an acceptable secondary, but never an acceptable primary component.
Also, a true grain-free product must have no dyes, artificial flavors, unhealthy additives, sugars, sweeteners, or propylene glycol.
When reviewing the contents of grain-free dog foods on the market, three stand out: ACANA Meadowland, Merrick Grain Free, and ZiwiPeak Air-Dried Dog Cuisine.
ZiwiPeak comes from New Zealand and contains air-dried foods with natural proteins and kilocalories. Using a twin-stage air drying process, they eliminate bacteria and naturally preserve the nutrients in their ingredients.
What Makes ZiwiPeak Great?
Merrick comes at a more affordable price than the other two brands, but still, includes real meat as the first ingredient. Merrick combines quality proteins and healthy fats, including real chicken and sweet potatoes. All chickens are raised, butchered, and cooked in the United States for extra peace of mind.
What Makes Merrick Great?
ACANA designs dog food products for dogs of all ages and sizes living the grain-free life. They use a 60/40 balance of 60 percent protein and 40 percent vegetables and fruits. ACANA suits dogs on low carb diets too, with the lowest carbohydrate count out of the three.
What Makes ACANA Great?
All three cost significantly more than other dog food products, but these companies use organic, sustainable meats and nutrients.
While grain-free, particular formulas might not work for all dogs, and pets must make a slow transition to a new dog food. It is best to consult with a vet before picking a grain-free product.