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grain free puppy food ultimate guide

Grain-Free Puppy Food: The Ultimate Guide

Written by Steph McCulloch


You’ve just got a puppy but what next? Are you up to speed on what food they should be eating? And what even is grain-free puppy food?
grain free puppy food


Grain-free puppy food simply refers to food that is made using a recipe without cereal. This means you won’t find any barley, oats, rice, wheat, maize, millet, triticale, or sorghum in it.

Lots of owners opt for grain-free food because their puppy has intolerances. The type of diet you place your pup on depends on what works best for them. There are lots of benefits to grain-free puppy food such as a healthier coat, better skin, better breath, and fewer allergies - phew!

When deciding to choose a balanced diet for your new puppy, we know it can be overwhelming. From wet food to raw and back to grain-free, it’s a lot to take in. But fear not as we’re here today to discuss grain-free and the best types of grain-free food available in the UK.

The advantages of grain-free puppy food

french bulldog stood next to food bowl

So what’s so special about grain-free food? Well, lots of things! Grain-free puppy food aids digestion and overall stool quality - this is because a grain-free diet emulates what dogs ate in their ancestral wolf days.

Instead of rice and wheat, lots of grain-free foods make use of potatoes, carrots, chicken, and beef for carbohydrate and protein sources. All these high-quality ingredients in a complete diet helps to promote healthy growth.

Lots of people believe dogs can’t eat carbohydrates but this isn’t correct! Dogs are omnivores and can easily digest carbs.

More dogs are eating a grain-free diet than ever due to the amazing health benefits including reduced allergies and sensitivities. This means more owners are breathing sighs of relief in unison and waving goodbye to frequent vet trips for allergy-related illnesses.

Grain-free relieves allergies because it doesn’t contain wheat and soy - two of the things dogs can be majorly allergic to. However, this doesn’t mean that grain-free food is hypoallergenic, in fact, the two terms are different in meaning.

Whilst some may use them interchangeably, some grain-free puppy foods can still contain allergens such as chicken and beef so it isn’t currently classed as hypoallergenic.

Instead, grain-free diets help pooches with grain and gluten sensitivities. It’s even recommended for dogs who don’t have current sensitivities as it can help to prevent further development as they age.

If your dog is allergic to grains or has some sort of sensitivity or food intolerance , you may have noticed the following:

  • Flaky, dry skin

  • Itchiness all over

  • Rashes 

  • Raw paw pads 

Switching to grain-free puppy food may be just the change they need in their diets. Grain-free helps to provide shiny, smooth coats and alleviates any nasty itchiness.

It also helps to increase energy levels so if you’ve noticed a lethargic pup, grain-free puppy food could get them back on all fours and bounding around in no time.

It is important to ensure any grain free food you buy has the essential nutrients they need. Many have high levels of amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and are an excellent source of high-quality protein when compared to traditional foods.

Understanding the different types of grain-free puppy food

dry grain free food with wet grain free food

When it comes to grain-free food, your puppy certainly won’t be restricted. There are multiple types to enjoy so let's have a look.

Wet grain-free puppy food

Wet grain-free food is perfect for those who probably don’t visit the water bowl as much as they should. Most wet grain-free puppy foods contain around 75% water keeping your dog super hydrated every meal time.

Wet food is a popular choice for many grain-free puppies as its texture is considered more palatable and its taste more refined. For puppies who may be teething, wet food can help them as it doesn’t require to be chewed too much and can be licked up straight from the bowl!

Dry grain-free puppy food

Though dry grain-free puppy food is harder than wet food, it’s a lot cleaner, meaning mealtimes don’t have to be messy if you’ve got an excitable pup. Lots of dry dog foods are shaped to specific breeds meaning your dog’s biscuits will be the perfect size for their mouths.

Dry grain-free food also has many benefits to teeth health as it encourages older pups to start making use of their jaw strength. There are lots of puppy-specific dry grain-free foods on the market so your pup really is spoiled for choice.

Freeze-dried grain-free puppy food

So you’re probably wondering what freeze-dried puppy food is. It’s exactly what it says on the tin! Freeze-dried food refers to raw, frozen food that has been dried out specifically for the purpose of retaining yummy nutrients and enzymes that can be found in raw meat.

A freeze-dried grain-free puppy food diet is closest to the type of diet your dog would have eaten in the wild. It provides all the good stuff such as key vitamins and minerals your pup needs to stay healthy whilst also retaining the benefits of grain-free eating.

The best grain-free puppy food UK

So we’ve done the research into what makes grain-free food so special but what one should you and your puppy opt for? We’ve put our heads together and made a list of our top 5 recommendations to help you out.

1. James Wellbeloved Puppy Food Grain-Free

James Wellbeloved Puppy Food Grain-Free

James Wellbeloved puppy food comes in perfectly sized wet pouches and doesn’t contain any beef, pork, soya, eggs, wheat, or dairy products meaning there’s no likelihood of upset tummies.

Made from ingredients such as turkey and lamb, James Wellbeloved food is sure to keep your pup feeling like their happiest self. Gentle but tasty, they also provide dry food giving you lots of options when it comes to selecting a grain-free diet.

2. Burns Grain-Free Puppy Food

Burns Grain-Free Puppy Food

Burns pet food is developed by veterinary surgeon John Burns and is both grain-free and dairy-free. Made with all-natural ingredients Burns grain-free food contains all the nutrients your puppy needs whilst simultaneously avoiding common allergens.

From wet food to kibble and training treats, Burns stocks it all to help both puppies and seniors alike! With high demand, you better run and not walk to your local stockist.

3. Butchers Grain-Free Puppy Food

Butchers Grain-Free Puppy Food

Butcher’s is one of the most recognised dog foods in the UK and for good reason. Their Puppy Perfect grain-free wet food range provides everything your pup needs to thrive.

Containing all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for energy, growth, and immunity support, this Butcher’s grain-free puppy food even includes healthy salmon oil and prebiotics to help your pup get the best start in life.

4. Harringtons Grain-Free Puppy Food

Harringtons Grain-Free Puppy Food

Harrington’s range of wet and dry grain-free puppy food is sure to get your pup drooling and excited for meal times. From chicken wet food to salmon dry kibble, your pup is sure to wag their tail every time you say dindins.

They also use ingredients such as sweet potato, salmon oil, yucca, and seaweed to give your pup a boost of healthy goodness in every mouthful. You’ll also find no grain, soya, dairy, egg, beef, or pork in this perfect pup food! Winner winner chicken dinner.

5. Wainwrights Grain-Free Puppy Food

Wainwrights Grain-Free Puppy Food

Wainwright’s make grain-free puppy food following natural recipes your dog is sure to love. Using just one source of protein in their puppy food aids digestion and reduces sensitivity.

Wainwright's have developed a wide range of dry and wet grain-free foods to suit puppies, adults, and seniors. They also have a range of tasty grain-free treats from salmon and sweet potato to turkey and duck.

Factors to consider when choosing grain-free puppy food

a dog eating food from a bowl

Before you make the jump to grain-free food, it’s important to consider the following things:

  • Ingredients

  • Quality of proteins and fats

  • Nutritional content 

Though some grain-free foods may look promising on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. In recent years, lots of pet food manufacturers have also stepped into the grain-free market meaning it can be a bit daunting knowing which puppy food to select.

If your dog is showing signs of an allergy or sensitivity we recommend speaking to your vet or making use of your exclusive Waggel membership by using Joii, our 24/7 online vet care provider.

Just like us, dogs have their own nutritional needs so what works for one dog may not work for another. We know your puppy is like family and you want to give them the best treatment possible, therefore it’s important to do your own research to make sure grain-free is the food for them and contains everything they need to live their best, healthiest life.

How to transition your puppy to grain-free puppy food

Dog eating food

Any time you’re considering changing your puppy’s diet, you should do so carefully and with veterinary advice. This change is a transition and should be conducted over time, not instantly. If done too quickly you could be looking at (and cleaning up) a smelly mess.

Your pup’s digestive tract is very sensitive and needs time to adjust to new foods in their diet. A slow period of transitionwill help your puppy’s intestines get used to their new, tasty grain-free diet.

A general rule of thumb is to slowly introduce your new food into your dog's old food over a timeframe of 10 days (or longer, if needed) and reduce their old food at the same time. For example: their first transition meal will include 10% new food, and 90% old food. The second meal will contain 20% new food and 80% old food and so on until your pup is happy with their grain-free diet.


So to wrap up our grain-free puppy food post, what have we learnt? Firstly, grain-free food provides excellent nutrition to dogs without the need for any cereals and gluten-based ingredients.

It also provides an array of benefits such as firmer stools, softer coats, and all-around healthiness to puppies giving them a diet most similar to what their ancestors would have thrived on.

It’s also important to seek veterinary advice before switching up your puppy's food, or if they begin to show signs of an upset stomach once you’ve made the transition.

We hope that you feel more confident in moving forward with a grain-free puppy diet due to our top recommendations that can be accessed widely throughout the UK. Don’t forget - transition your pup along slowly to help them stay healthy and happy throughout the process.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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