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10 Best Chicken Free Dog Foods

chicken closeup

This is our review of the best chicken free dog food in 2020.

Chicken is a healthy lean protein frequently found in dog food. It’s a nutritious, inexpensive, and tasty ingredient. 

So why would you want to cut this food out?

Unfortunately, chicken is a common food allergen in dogs. And if your pup starts displaying a chicken sensitivity, eliminating this ingredient is critical.

I’m a former vet tech who researched the best chicken free dog food. And I found that Wellness Complete Health Adult Whitefish Dog Food is the best dog food without chicken overall.

But not all dogs with chicken allergies are the same. So I’ve also reviewed chicken-free formulas in every category.

Let’s get started.

Our Best Chicken Free Dog Foods

10 Best Chicken Free Dog Foods Reviewed

All dog foods included on this list meet the standard AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for dogs. [1] Always consult with your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet.

Wellness Complete Health Adult Whitefish Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Adult Whitefish
  • First 5 Ingredients: Whitefish, Ground Barley, Peas, Menhaden Fish Meal, Oatmeal
  • Key feature: Chicken-free formula suitable for a wide variety of dogs
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 22% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 4.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 435 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Chicken-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Overall

This chicken-free formula uses whitefish as an alternative nutritious lean meat. The moderate 22% protein content is suitable for a wide variety of dogs.

Fish also provides high levels of omega fatty acids that promote a healthy coat and reduce inflammation. These healthy fats are essential for providing support to dogs with sensitive skin.

The recipe is grain-inclusive. Whole-grain ingredients such as barley provide healthy sources of digestible carbohydrates. While grain free dog food can benefit some sensitive pups, they are not suitable for all breeds. [2]

This filler-free formula only uses natural ingredients. The dog food does not contain any wheat, corn, soy, by-products, or artificial additives. Pups who suffer from chicken sensitivities may also react to these ingredients.

Additional biotin further supports skin and coat health. And taurine promotes a healthy heart.

Owners of a variety of dogs recommend this formula for pups who have chicken allergies and sensitive skin. But, it does have a strong fishy odor.




Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Food

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes
  • Key feature: Chicken-free puppy food
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 360 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Grain-Free, Chicken-Free
  • Life Stage: Growth
  • Best for: Puppies

This puppy chow excludes chicken in favor of salmon, which provides an easily-digestible protein source for the formula’s 27% protein content. Adequate high-quality protein is essential for muscle development in growing dogs.

Salmon is a preferred alternative to chicken for feeding growing dogs due to its high omega fatty acid content. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish promote healthy brain and eye development in young dogs. [3]

Natural oxidants from real fruit and vegetables help support young immune systems. And dried chicory root provides healthy fiber to encourage healthy digestion. A canine strain of probiotics also enhances nutrient absorption.

All essential minerals are chelated with amino acids to ensure that they are absorbed correctly. [4] Balanced nutrition is critical for preventing developmental issues in growing pups.

This formula is an excellent choice for owners who want to provide their puppies with a chicken-free alternative. But, it may not be specialized enough for the unique needs of toy breeds or giant puppies.




Blue Buffalo Basics Senior Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Basics LID Senior Turkey
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Potatoes, Peas
  • Key feature: Chicken-free formula with nutritional support for seniors
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 18% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 7% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 348 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Sensitive Digestion, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Limited Ingredient Diet, Chicken-Free
  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Best for: Seniors

Older dogs suffer the most from food sensitivities. This senior dog food eliminates common allergens like chicken that may irritate the sensitive digestive systems of elderly pups.

A lower 18% crude protein content from deboned turkey is ideal for seniors. As dogs age, they become less active and require less protein than younger pups.

Easily digestible carbohydrates like peas and potatoes provide healthy sources of energy for your long-term companion. And a concentrated blend of antioxidants protects tissue from the oxidative damage caused by aging.

Senior dogs frequently suffer from arthritis. The added glucosamine in this formula helps keep older dogs comfortable and mobile. [5] And additional taurine helps keep aging hearts healthy.

Senior dog owners found that this turkey-based formula helped encourage a healthy appetite in their old pals. But some exceptional picky pups will spit out the “LifeSource” bits of kibble that contain concentrated vitamins and minerals.




Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Formula Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Formula All Life Stages
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Fish Meal, Potatoes, Lentils, Peas
  • Key Feature: Affordable chicken-free formula with skin support
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 337 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Grain-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Chicken-Free
  • Life Stage: All life stages
  • Best For: Budget Chicken-Free Dog Food

Chicken is an inexpensive ingredient commonly used in even the best budget dog food formulas. But this Skin & Coat dog food from Diamond Naturals swaps out chicken without a drastic price increase.

The 25% crude protein content comes from salmon instead. Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats can be valuable for promoting coat health in sensitive dogs who struggle with skin conditions. [6]

This kibble is hypoallergenic, limiting the risk of other allergies causing skin reactions. 

High levels of antioxidants and a proprietary blend of probiotics help boost your puppy’s immune system. Immune health is critical for managing allergic reactions from chicken and other food.

Dog owners note the added benefit of a shiny coat when feeding this formula. But, this dog food may not solve all itchy skin conditions.




Instinct Original Grain-Free Dog Food

Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe Rabbit
  • First 5 Ingredients: Rabbit, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Chickpeas, Canola Oil
  • Key Feature: Premium chicken-free dog food based on rabbit meat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 36.5% Crude Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 525 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, No Corn, No Soy, No Wheat, Chicken-Free, Natural
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Premium Chicken-Free Dog Food

Farm-raised rabbit provides a healthy alternative to chicken that provides a high protein content of 36.5%.

This dog food features kibble coated in freeze-dried raw ingredients that are 71% animal-based and only 29% plant-based.

This formula also has a high 20% crude fat content. It is ideal for active dogs with chicken-sensitivities that need high-calorie diets. This fat features a high portion of healthy fatty acids from salmon and fish meal.

Live probiotics help support digestive regularity in dogs with sensitive stomachs. [7] And antioxidants from fruits and vegetables help combat free radicals in the body.

Many owners report increased energy levels in their dogs. But the high caloric content of this formula may not be suitable for overweight pups.




Natural Balance LID Canned Dog Food

Natural Balance LID Grain Free Duck Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Duck Broth, Potatoes, Dehydrated Potatoes, Potato Protein
  • Key Feature: Wet food with a simple chicken-free recipe
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 5% Crude Protein, 4% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 82% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 420 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Sensitive Digestion, Limited Ingredient Diet, Grain-Free, Pea-Free, Chicken-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Chicken-Free Wet Food

This simple wet food features a formula based solely on duck and potatoes. The limited ingredient formula eliminates common causes of food sensitivities like chicken, corn, soy, and peas.

Real duck provides a quality protein source that is also high in healthy fats and energy. The lower crude macronutrient percentages of this wet food reflect the high moisture content of the formula.

Potatoes are an excellent grain-free source of digestible carbohydrates. They are also high in potassium, which is essential for nerve function. [8]

Added vitamins and minerals ensure that this simple diet provides balanced nutrition to meet your pup’s needs.

If you struggle to find dog food that your pup will eat, wet food could be the answer. Most dog owners recommend this formula for the fussiest eaters. But this canned food can have a smoky smell.




Health Extension Little Bites Dog Food

Health Extension Little Bites Buffalo Whitefish
  • First 5 Ingredients: Buffalo, Deboned Whitefish, Buffalo Meal, Whitefish Meal, Chickpeas
  • Key Feature: Chicken-free recipe suitable for toy and small breeds
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 405 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Grain-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Gluten Free, Non-Gmo, Chicken Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Small Breeds

Small dogs have unique needs that most chicken-free formulas don’t meet. They also have little mouths that may struggle to chew regular kibble.

This chicken-free dog food features an exclusive formula designed for teacup, toy, and miniature dogs. Buffalo and whitefish are the primary ingredients, providing a high 25% protein content.

The limited proteins make this formula ideal for mini pups with sensitive stomachs. There are no by-products, rendered fats, hormones, or preservatives in this recipe.

A high fat content of 15% and digestible carbohydrates from chickpeas provide adequate energy for your small pup’s fast metabolism.

Unique supplements like apple cider vinegar and colostrum may help support immune function in vulnerable dogs. [9]

Toy breed owners appreciate the small kibble size of this dog food compared to competitors. But, this is not a limited-ingredient diet for dogs with severe allergies.




Nutro Limited Ingredient Large Breed Food

Nutro LID Grain-Free Adult Large Breed Lamb
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Dried Potatoes, Dried Sweet Potatoes
  • Key Feature: Chicken-free formula designed for large breeds
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 20% Crude Protein, 13% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 475 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Limited Ingredient Diet, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Grain-Free, Non-GMO, Chicken Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Large Breeds

Large breeds have unique nutritional requirements too. And some standard chicken-free formulas may not meet the individual needs of our gentle giants.

Instead of chicken, the primary ingredient of this formula is lamb. Lamb provides a moderate protein content of 20%. An average protein content is ideal for managing weight in large breeds.

This limited-ingredient recipe only uses ten nutrient-dense ingredients to provide a balanced diet. In addition to chicken, this formula also excludes wheat, soy, and corn.

Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin provide extra joint support. Large breeds are more likely to suffer from joint pain due to the additional weight their massive size places on their legs. [10]

Giant breed owners share that their dogs have an easier time chewing this formula’s large kibble size. But some dogs may experience smelly flatulence.




Canidae Pure Grain-Free Dog Food

Canidae Pure Grain Free Salmon
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
  • Key Feature: Limited ingredient diet for managing food sensitivities
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 32% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 496 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Sensitive Digestion, Grain-Free, Chicken-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Gluten Free, Limited Ingredient Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Sensitive Dogs

If you have to eliminate chicken from your dog’s diet, he probably has a sensitive stomach. Limited-ingredient diets can help manage allergies in dogs who suffer from food sensitivities.

These diets use simple recipes to meet nutritional requirements while eliminating common allergens, like chicken. This dog food uses salmon as a single protein source to provide 32% crude protein content.

A single protein source helps prevent the development of new allergies to other proteins. [11] Salmon is an excellent alternative to chicken that is also high in healthy fats.

Only eight simple ingredients make up this recipe. It does not include common allergens like grains, soy, wheat, and corn.

Grain-free diets can help reduce digestive upset but may negatively impact heart health. This grain-free option has added taurine to help promote cardiovascular function.

Many owners have success managing allergies in sensitive dogs with this chicken-free food. But the high-caloric content of 496 kcal/cup is not ideal for overweight dogs.




Wellness Simple Healthy Weight Dog Food

Wellness Simple LID Healthy Weight Salmon
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes
  • Key feature: Chicken-free recipe for overweight dogs
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 8% Crude Fat, 6% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 394 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Sensitive Digestion, Limited-Ingredient Diet, Weight Control, Gluten-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Chicken-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Weight Control

This chicken-free dog food provides a high 26% protein content from salmon. But the low 8% fat content makes this formula an ideal choice for weight management diets.

The simple recipe eliminates chicken and other common allergens to support dogs with sensitive stomachs and food allergies. [12]

But some sensitive dogs also have other special needs. It can be challenging to promote weight loss while following strict guidelines on an elimination diet. But the low-caloric content of this food can help dogs lose weight while avoiding chicken.

Excess weight is often associated with joint problems. Chondroprotective ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin help promote healthy cartilage and reduce joint discomfort.

A 6% fiber content helps keep your dog full and regulates his digestive tract. [13]

Owners of overweight dogs with food sensitivities have incorporated this dog food into successful weight management programs. But, it is not suitable for breeds that need high-fat content in their diet.




dog licking closeup

Chicken Free Dog Food Buying Guide

Deciding to switch your dog to a chicken-free diet should involve careful considerations. Most dogs do well on diets that contain chicken.

But if you suspect your dog has a chicken sensitivity, eliminating the ingredient can help improve his overall wellbeing.

Should You Stop Feeding Your Pup Chicken?

There is no purely nutritional reason to remove chicken from your pup’s diet. Chicken breast is an excellent source of protein and other vital nutrients.

But, some dogs can become intolerant to this animal product.

A three-ounce serving of chicken breast contains 26 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat. [14] It is a lean meat that is ideal for boosting dog food’s protein content without drastically increasing fat or calories. Chicken is an excellent source of selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. 

You can frequently find this animal product in budget dog food formulas. Compared to other animal proteins, chicken is exceptionally affordable. It is ideal for providing high-quality nutrition with real meat while keeping dog food prices low.

When to Stop Feeding Chicken

So when should you avoid feeding your dog chicken? Most dogs enjoy chicken flavor, but this meat can sometimes cause food sensitivities. You will need to eliminate chicken from your pup’s diet if he suffers from a chicken allergy or intolerance.

Food Allergy

Chicken is one of the most common food allergies in dogs. Food allergies cause your dog to have an allergic reaction in response to an ingredient in his dog food.

An allergic reaction occurs when an allergen, typically a protein, triggers an exaggerated immune response.

Food allergy symptoms typically impact the skin more than the digestive system. Common symptoms include dry skin, scratching, hotspots, and recurring infections. Many dogs that came into our veterinary clinic for skin conditions had food allergies.

If you suspect your dog is allergic to chicken, talk to your veterinarian before beginning an elimination diet.

An elimination diet removes suspected allergens from your dog’s diet. If your pup no longer experiences an allergic reaction, you can identify the cause of his allergy.

Food Intolerance

Food allergies are relatively rare and difficult to diagnose in dogs. If your dog is suffering from digestive upset, he likely has a food intolerance instead. 

Environmental factors can also cause allergies. But intolerances are explicitly caused by food. If your dog suffers from gas, bloating, diarrhea, or vomiting, he may have a food intolerance.

Talk to your veterinarian if you suspect a chicken intolerance. Although different, both intolerances and allergies have the same treatment: eliminate the ingredient from his diet.

Chicken Ingredients In Dog Food

It can be challenging to identify the best dog foods without chicken. If your dog is intolerant or allergic to chicken, you will need to avoid all dog food ingredients that contain this animal protein. 

Check the label of the dry dog food brands you feed for chicken meal, chicken fat, chicken by-products, and other chicken-based ingredients.

Deboned Chicken

Pet food formulas that use real chicken meat have ‘chicken’ or ‘deboned chicken’ labeled as protein sources. Deboned chicken is flesh and skin without bone, while whole chicken includes bone. Chicken breasts and other filets are examples of deboned pieces of chicken meat.

This ingredient is easy to spot on a dry dog food brand label. Dogs who are allergic to chicken should not eat dog foods that contain these ingredients.

Chicken Meal

Grinding rendered chicken meat produces chicken meal. The dried, ground-up meat used in this meal can include flesh, skin, and bone. It does not contain feet, heads, feathers, or intestinal contents.

This ingredient is generally safe for canine consumption and acts as a natural source of glucosamine. But dogs with chicken sensitivities cannot eat chicken meal. This ingredient may cause the same reaction as whole chicken.

Chicken Fat

Chicken fat is a by-product of chicken meal production. Animal fats can help improve the taste of dog food and increase omega 6 fatty acid content.

This ingredient consists of fat from chicken tissues. The allergen that causes chicken allergies is a protein. And chicken fat does not contain that allergen. But some chicken-sensitive dogs may still experience digestive upset when they eat animal fats or by-products.

If your dog is allergic to chicken, talk to your veterinarian before feeding this ingredient. But, it may be best to cut chicken fat out of his diet as well.

Chicken By-Products

By-products can be controversial ingredients in dog foods. Chicken by-products are what remains of a slaughtered chicken after removing the parts for human consumption.

Examples of leftover meat processing scraps include feet, backs, organs, and heads. By-products can also use other parts that are declared unfit for human consumption.

Pet food grade by-products are typically safe for canine consumption. But, whole meat is generally healthier. Dogs with sensitive stomachs commonly experience digestive upset when they eat these ingredients. Dogs with a chicken allergy or intolerance should always avoid chicken by-products.

dog looking at dry food

Alternatives to Chicken

Thankfully, there are several alternative high-quality animal protein sources for dogs with chicken sensitivities.

Bison

Bison is a popular lean alternative to beef and an ideal alternative to chicken because of its low-fat content. This red meat is also rich in iron and protein, providing 24 grams in a three-ounce serving. But, bison does have a premium price.

Duck

Although relatively uncommon, duck is an excellent source of animal proteins in pet food. This poultry is safe to feed chicken-sensitive dogs and is a perfect option for breeds that need a higher fat content. But you can also cut out the extra fat in the skin before processing.

Eggs

Eggs are another unusual dog food ingredient. Some pups may have egg allergies, but they are a high-quality source of protein with a complete profile of amino acids and omega fatty acids. This animal product is also frequently found in grain free dog food.

Fish

The best dog foods with a limited ingredient formula often use fish as their single source of animal proteins. Fish are high in omega fatty acids, especially omega 3. These healthy fats help promote skin and coat health, which are essential for pups with a chicken allergy.

Lamb

Lamb is a novel protein often used in the best dog foods for elimination diets. This red meat rivals chicken in mineral content. It is rich in zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and niacin. It is an excellent alternative source of protein for grain free dog foods without chicken.

Pork

It is rare for pork to appear as an ingredient in dry dog food. But it is a complete protein rich in potassium, zinc, niacin, and vitamin B6. This red meat is not ideal for overweight pups due to a high-fat content of 12 grams per three-ounce serving.

Rabbit

Rabbit meat is a high-quality novel protein that can help manage allergies in dogs. Common allergens include animal protein ingredients found in most canine formulas. A unique meat source in dog foods without chicken can help avoid allergic reactions.

Turkey

Just like chicken, turkey is a lean poultry item. Despite the similarities, dogs with chicken sensitivities can still safely eat turkey. Three ounces of turkey provides 115 calories, 26 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fat. This nutritional profile is almost identical to chicken.

Venison

Venison is a game meat and lean source of protein. This red meat also features high concentrations of iron. The L-carnitine content of deer meat can help promote a healthy weight in pups that eat dog foods without chicken.

Our Verdict

Despite the nutritional benefits of chicken, this animal protein can sometimes cause adverse reactions in our dogs.

Feeding a chicken-free diet is critical for dogs with chicken allergies or intolerances. The best overall choice for eliminating chicken from your pup’s diet is Wellness Complete Health Adult Whitefish Dog Food.

Your dog’s itchy skin and digestive upset could be a sign of chicken sensitivities. 

There are plenty of healthy protein alternatives to chicken for dogs that can help your pup feel more comfortable. If you suspect your dog needs an elimination diet, talk to your veterinarian before making any nutritional changes.

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