The Best Dog Food Without Chicken (Top 10 Most Nutritious in 2021)

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall without Chicken: Acana Singles Dry Dog Food
“Acana Singles Dry Dog Food is a high-protein, fiber-rich dog food that is absolutely chicken-free. It is formulated to provide complete nutrition to fussy eater dogs who are extra sensitive to chicken.”

Best Flavor Variety: Earthborn Holistic Venture Grain Free Dog Food
“This dog food offers a huge variety of delicious, chicken-free recipes that provide your pup a perfectly balanced meal. There are six amazing flavor combinations that your pup can enjoy.”

Best Value for Money: Diamond Naturals Grain Free Dry Dog Food
“Diamond Naturals Grain Free Dry Dog Food comes in chicken-free flavors that contain DHA, high levels of Omega fatty acids, veggies, carbs and antioxidants. It’s an incredibly affordable food made from premium-quality ingredients.

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Chicken is the most common poultry ingredient found in dog food. It is, however, also the most likely ingredient to induce allergies in dogs. This occurs when there is an over-reaction of your dog’s immune system to an unwelcome poultry protein – in this case, chicken. It can manifest in several ways but skin reactions are the most common.

This can be quite a dilemma for dog parents, especially since most highly affordable dog food uses chicken, as it’s one of the most inexpensive main protein sources. To help you out, we’ve created a list of highly nutritious, incredibly tasty, and affordable dog foods that do not contain chicken.

Product Name
Best Overall Without Chicken
Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Pork & Squash, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
Venture Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Diamond Naturals Grain Free Real Meat Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food With Real Fish 28Lb
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Our Rating 90 / 100
Our Rating 90 / 100
Pro 1
Variety of tasty, nutrient-dense, chicken-free flavors
Multiple high-quality, excellent flavor combinations available
Chicken-free recipe with DHA and high levels of Omega fatty acids
Pro 2
Limited ingredients, single source animal protein to reduce risk of allergies
Enriched with taurine to keep your pup's heart strong and healthy
Added probiotics and prebiotics for digestive and immune system health
Best Overall Without Chicken
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Pork & Squash, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Variety of tasty, nutrient-dense, chicken-free flavors
Pro 2
Limited ingredients, single source animal protein to reduce risk of allergies
Custom Button
Best Flavor Variety
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
Venture Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Rating
Our Rating 90 / 100
Pro 1
Multiple high-quality, excellent flavor combinations available
Pro 2
Enriched with taurine to keep your pup's heart strong and healthy
Custom Button
Best Value for Money
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Diamond Naturals Grain Free Real Meat Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food With Real Fish 28Lb
Rating
Our Rating 90 / 100
Pro 1
Chicken-free recipe with DHA and high levels of Omega fatty acids
Pro 2
Added probiotics and prebiotics for digestive and immune system health
Custom Button
Sources researched
33
Sources researched
Customer reviews
23,000
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
34
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested

Best Dog Food Without Chicken

Here are our top picks for the best chicken-free dog food you can get your pup:

  1. Best Overall without Chicken: Acana Singles Dry Dog Food
  2. Best Flavor Variety: Earthborn Holistic Venture Grain Free Dog Food
  3. Best Value for Money: Diamond Naturals Grain Free Dry Dog Food
  4. Best Food Topping without Chicken: Tylee’s Human Grade Dog Food
  5. Best Chicken-Free Treats: Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Dog Treats
  6. Best Chicken-free For Seniors: Blue Buffalo Senior Dry Dog Food
  7. Best Chicken-free Wet Food: Natural Balance Canned Dog Food
  8. Best Chicken-free For Puppies: Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food
  9. Best Raw Food without Chicken: Stella & Chewy’s Raw Dinner Patties
  10. Best Hypoallergenic Food: Canidae Pure Real Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

1. Acana Singles Dry Dog Food

Best Overall without Chicken: High protein, complete nutrition dog food in a tasty, exciting flavor

ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Pork & Squash, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
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Overall Rating92%
Ingredient Quality95%
Protein Source95%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken93%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Variety of tasty, nutrient-dense, chicken-free flavors
  • Limited ingredients, single source animal protein to reduce risk of allergies
  • All flavors contain glucosamine for hip and joint health
  • All flavors have great Omega fatty acids, including DHA and EPA

CONS

  • Slightly pricey (but not unusual for a limited ingredient food)

The Acana Singles Dry Dog Food come in five delicious, chicken-free flavors. They are perfect for dogs who have food allergies or intolerances, as they contain limited ingredients, are made up of biologically appropriate ingredients, and have nothing artificial in them at all.

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Quality animal ingredients and botanical inclusions

This dog food does not only use quality animal meat, it also includes organs, cartilage, and bone which rounds up its amino acid profile quite nicely. It also has high-quality fruits and vegetables that have great immune-boosting properties which help protect your pup from allergies and diseases.

2. Earthborn Holistic Venture Grain Free Dog Food

Best Flavor Variety: Exciting, nutritious, chicken-free flavor options available for your pup to enjoy

Venture Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food
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Overall Rating90%
Ingredient Quality95%
Protein Source90%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Multiple high-quality, excellent flavor combinations available
  • Limited ingredient formula which reduces any risk of allergies
  • Also avoid other common allergens such as potato, grains, and egg
  • Enriched with taurine to keep your pup’s heart strong and healthy

CONS

  • Slightly pricey
  • No glucosamine

For a limited ingredient diet, the Earthborn Holistic Venture Grain Free Dog Food comes in six incredibly tasty, highly nutritious, and absolutely chicken-free recipes. Aside from chicken, it avoids other common allergens, while providing great protein, fat, and Omega fatty acids content that rounds up your dog’s nourishment.

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Great for Picky Eater Dogs

Your fussy pup can choose from six tasty recipes – duck, pollock, pork, rabbit, squid, and turkey. All of them are chicken free, and contains great fruits and vegetables for fiber and easily accessible, long-term energy. 

Varying Nutrient Values 

The nutrient values do vary based on which flavor you choose, but they’re all high protein (26% – 34%), have great fat contents for active pups, and are among the highest Omega fatty acids on the market (4% Omega-6 fatty acids and 1 – 1,5% Omega-3 fatty acids). 

3. Diamond Naturals Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Best Value For Money: High quality, nutrient-rich dog food for a budget-friendly price

Diamond Naturals Grain Free Real Meat Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food With Real Fish 28Lb
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Overall Rating90%
Ingredient Quality95%
Protein Source90%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken90%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Protein-based diet based from dogs’ typical diet in the wild
  • Chicken-free recipe with DHA and high levels of Omega fatty acids
  • Good protein and fat levels for all ages, sizes, and breeds
  • Added probiotics and prebiotics for digestive and immune system health

CONS

  • “Fish meal” is a little vague

It can be tough to find a high-quality dog food that fits into the budget, and even more so to find a chicken free dog food, as it’s one of the more affordable dog food ingredients. These grain free dry dog food from Diamond Naturals uses whitefish as its main protein source. It’s a healthy, safe, and affordable option for dogs who are sensitive to chicken.

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Premium Ingredient Quality 

The carbohydrates found in this dog food include fruits and vegetables for boosting the immune system. Veggies include sweet potatoes, peas, and lentils, which are great energy and fiber sources. Blueberries and raspberries are loaded with antioxidants. You won’t find any by-products, artificial stuff, or low-quality fillers in this affordable dog food. 

4. Tylee’s Human Grade Dog Food

Best Food Topping without Chicken: Real, whole foods recipe that’s safe and tastes like a homemade meal for your pup

Tylee's Human-Grade Beef Recipe Frozen Dog Food

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Overall Rating90%
Ingredient Quality95%
Protein Source90%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Minimally processed dog food that retains flavor and nutrients
  • Free from chicken and other common allergens in dog foods
  • Rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins & minerals
  • Easy to serve dog food made from human-grade ingredients

CONS

  • Low in protein, so it may be best dog food for low-protein diets

Feeding your sensitive pup human food is not recommended as human food usually contain ingredients that may not be safe for your dogs. You can, however, feed them human-grade food like Tylee's Human Grade Dog Food. It’s an extremely safe, chicken-free dog food that provides your dog exactly what he needs while avoiding chicken and other ingredients your dog may be allergic to.

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Human-grade ingredients

This dog food contains real, whole ingredients you’ll usually find in your kitchen. It’s human-grade which means it’s so safe it’s even fit for human consumption. It’s minimally processed food so it retains its flavor and nutritional value.

5. Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

Best Chicken-Free Treats: Raw, mineral-rich dog treats that packs a flavor

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Beef Liver Dog Treats - All Natural - Made & Sourced in USA - Grain Free - 2.1 oz Resealable Pouch
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Overall Rating89%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Source90%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • All flavors contain high-quality, single source protein
  • Naturally preserved to retain its flavor and nutrients
  • Highly concentrated animal protein source
  • Packed with minerals and Omega fatty acids

CONS

  • Some of the treats can be a little crumbly

These dog treats are packed with incredible nutrients and flavor. Freeze drying helps retain the quality of the protein as well as other healthy ingredients in each dog treat. They’re concentrated with protein and vitamins, which is great for a treat your pooch will be getting between meals. 

They’re limited ingredient, contain no fillers, no by-products, no hormones or antibiotics, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. These are pretty much the healthiest treats you can get without chicken, and the variety makes them even better.

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Nice Flavor Variety 

What makes these treats amazing is that there are 13 flavors in total, 11 of which are chicken-free which provides your chicken-sensitive pooch a wide variety of options. They contain a single source animal protein and use mixed tocopherols to preserve the treats naturally, locking in both flavor and nutrients.

6. Blue Buffalo Senior Dry Dog Food

Best Chicken-free For Seniors: Limited ingredient recipe that supports digestion especially for older pups

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet, Natural Senior Dry Dog Food, Turkey & Potato
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Overall Rating89%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Source90%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Limited ingredient formula intended for dogs who are sensitive to chicken and also struggles with digestion
  • Contains DHA and glucosamine and chondroitin, all essential supplements for an aging pooch
  • Good Omega fatty acids to keep aging skin and fur nourished

CONS

  • No flavor variation
  • Slightly low in protein for seniors who are still quite active

Majority of senior-specific dog foods out there are made with chicken, and it can be hard to find one specifically for senior dogs that’s completely chicken-free. The Blue Buffalo Senior Dry Dog Food is a limited ingredient recipe that steers clear of many allergens, including chicken, beef, grains containing gluten, and eggs.

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Great Protein From Turkey 

Turkey is an animal protein that is quite similar to chicken but doesn’t aggravate food allergies or cause food sensitivities. It’s a lean white-meat animal protein that’s healthy and easy on your older pup’s stomach. The carbs include brown rice and oatmeal, and vegetables high in fiber such as peas, pumpkin, and potatoes. Canola oil, fish oil, and flaxseed provide a nice fat content. 

7. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Canned Dog Food

Best Chicken-free Wet Food: Naturally preserved dog food loaded with antioxidants for immune system support

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Dog Food, Sweet Potato & Fish Formula, 13 Ounce Can (Pack of 12)
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Overall Rating88%
Ingredient Quality85%
Protein Source90%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Single source high quality protein that avoids adverse food reactions
  • Loaded with fatty acids to help maintain skin and coat health
  • Limited ingredient formula minimizing food sensitivities
  • Rich in carbohydrates that aid in digestion

CONS

  • Contains carrageenan, which is considered a low-quality thickening agent

Wet dog food can be added as a kibble topper to a fussy pet’s food, used as a medicine-concealer, given as a treat, or used as a meal when your pup struggles with kibble due to illness or injury. The Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Canned Dog Food is an excellent wet food option that provides your dog the proper nutrition they require while limiting the number of foods they are exposed to, thereby reducing any risk of food-related allergies.

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Five chicken-free flavor variety

If you are serious about limiting your pet’s exposure to ingredients, it’s a good idea to try and match the flavor of their wet food to the flavor of their dry dog food. This wet dog food comes in six flavors, five of which are safe for those intolerant to chicken – Lamb & Brown Rice, Buffalo & Sweet Potato, Venison & Sweet Potato, Duck & Potato, and Sweet Potato & Fish. 

8. Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food

Best Chicken-free For Puppies: Contains just the right amount of protein for a growing pup

Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Real Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe - 10.0 lb Bag
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Overall Rating88%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Source90%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Excellent protein levels for a growing pup
  • Contains DHA to help your puppy’s brain and eyes develop
  • Perfect calcium/phosphorus ratio to grow strong bones
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin to strengthen joints

CONS

  • Somewhat pricey
  • No flavor variation

Sometimes, food sensitivities can be genetic and it can start manifesting even at your pup’s very young age. If you notice your pup reacting differently to chicken, choosing to feed them a chicken-free dog food that’s packed with healthy fruits and vegetables like the Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food is the best way to get them off to a healthy start.

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Everything A Growing Puppy Needs 

This dog food is made from superior quality ingredients, with nutrients that are essential for a pup who is growing and developing. It has DHA which helps your pup develop a healthy and sharp brain. Its calcium/phosphorus ratio are also within the ideal range to support a growing pup’s bone development.

9. Stella & Chewy’s Raw Dinner Patties

Best Raw Food without Chicken: Raw food made from responsibly sourced protein enhanced with probiotics and antioxidants

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Stella's Super Beef Dinner Patties Dog Food, 14 oz. Bag
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Overall Rating88%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Source90%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Perfect balance of protein and fats with no unnecessay carbs
  • Raw food makes for easier digestion
  • Very high in animal protein, fat and Omega fatty acids
  • Minimally processed and nutrient-packed dog food

CONS

  • Somewhat pricey
  • You may find yourself going through a packet quite quickly if you have a large, hungry dog

Raw feeding can be a great alternative to dry dog food, especially if your dog tends to develop intolerances or a food allergy towards kibble. If you’re keen to give it a try, Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties is a great option that’s tasty, nutritious, and best of all, chicken free.

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Transition To Raw To Limit Allergies 

Raw diets can eliminate a lot of food allergies due to the unprocessed, pure nature of the ingredients. They’re packed with single source animal protein in the form of raw meat, cartilage, organ, and bone, which makes an extremely well-rounded nutritious food. There are also fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables that are loaded with antioxidants and probiotics that support immune system and digestion. 

10. Canidae Pure Real Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Best Hypoallergenic Food: Grain-free, well-rounded dog food which avoids common allergens

Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Lamb, Goat and Venison, 24lbs
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Overall Rating86%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Source90%
No Artificial Ingredients90%
No Hidden Chicken80%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • 10 or fewer ingredients in each recipe
  • Enough variety that your pooch can avoid other common allergens, such as chicken and potatoes
  • Probiotics added to help with digestion and boost immune system
  • Good Omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat

CONS

  • Some flavors aren’t chicken free
  • Somewhat expensive

Limited ingredient diet is usually recommended for dogs who have sensitive stomachs and also suffer from food sensitivities. The Canidae Pure Real Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food is packed with premium ingredients that make up proper and well-balanced nourishment for your pup while avoiding chicken and other common allergens.

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Hypoallergenic Formula with a Variety of Available Flavors

This hypoallergenic food uses a limited number of wholesome food ingredients that are safe and healthy for your pup. It’s highly recommended for dogs who suffer from food allergies and an extra sensitive stomach.


5 Best Alternatives to Chicken as the Main Protein Source in Your Dog’s Food

If your dog is allergic to chicken or has an aversion towards it, you can substitute this ingredient for these five protein alternatives below.

Lamb

This protein is high-quality and easily digestible, ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs, or can only process small amounts of food. They also suit athletic dogs with high energy levels. This iron-rich protein source is abundant in vitamin B12 and essential amino acids. Incorporating lamb into your dog’s diet can boost their immune system and help maintain muscle. 

Beef

Beef has a well-balanced nutrient profile rich in essential vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, and B12. As such, it makes an excellent staple protein in any diet and can be served as a healthy snack or meal mixer. Because it is also a dependable source of carnitine, your dog will experience enhanced heart health and will metabolize fats easier. 

Whitefish

Fish with flaky white meats such as pollock or cod are low in fat—perfect for dogs that adhere to a controlled caloric intake. However, this delectable meat is also high in protein, which can help sustain dogs with higher energy levels. Its high phosphorus content also helps your dog maintain a healthy bone structure and density. 

Turkey

This lean meat is highly digestible and is loaded with minerals such as selenium, which boasts impressive antioxidant properties. Its higher zinc and phosphorus levels help maintain healthy, growing bones. 

Buffalo

This low-allergen meat source is ideal for dogs with intolerance. Compared to beef and pork, it has 70 to 90% less fat content, perfect for pups who can stand to lose a few pounds. Its vitamin and mineral inclusions are beneficial to heart health, while its high protein content keeps your dog energized throughout the day.  


What to Look for in Dog Foods Without Chicken

Naturally, no brand of dog food is identical to another. Even limited-ingredient options undergo varying processes that may or may not suit your pet. As such, what you should look for in a healthy, chicken-free diet are: 

1. Healthy balances

The right chicken-free formula should have a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. 

2. High-quality proteins

If you are substituting chicken for other proteins such as beef, pork, or fish, ensure that these are the first ingredients listed on the product. Avoid brands that contain meat meals or by-products—especially those with traces of chicken. 

3. Grains

If your dog doesn’t suffer from irritable bowels, grains are an excellent source of carbohydrates, fats, and antioxidants. In fact, some grains can improve digestive function! Introducing wheat, barley, or corn into your dog’s diet can keep coats and immune systems healthy.  

4. Fruits and vegetables

You’ll want to source food with healthy fruits and vegetables in the absence of a protein like chicken. These ingredients might include blueberries and apples, which are an excellent source of fiber, or sweet potatoes, which can prevent the spread of cancer-causing agents. 

5. Natural preservatives

Contrary to popular belief, preservatives help keep your dog’s food fresh. However, you’ll want to carefully vet the kind of preservatives in your dog’s food. BHA and BHT, for instance, are carcinogenic and typically banned in human-grade foods. Thus, they are equally as detrimental to your dog’s health.


Questions & Answers

How can I tell if my dog is allergic to chicken?

Chicken is a common allergen, and it can be hard to pinpoint which ingredient is the culprit in food allergies. If your pet is showing signs of skin irritation, unexplained scratching (especially around the ears and paws), or exhibits a reluctance to eat his food, it may be because the chicken is disagreeing with his system. 

The easiest way to tell if chicken is the culprit is to switch to an entirely chicken free food and see if the symptoms improve. Be patient – it can take up to 8 weeks for signs and symptoms to disappear as your pup’s body get used to the new food.

What’s the difference between food allergies and food intolerances?

Food allergies and intolerances are actually two different things, although both of them are uncomfortable and not fun at all for your pet. 

Food allergies cause a reaction in your pup’s immune system, which can result in many symptoms as your pet’s body tries to get rid of the allergen. These can include unexplained itching and scratching (especially around the ears and paws), and inflamed, red ears. Digestive upset can also be a symptom of an allergy. 

Food intolerances are purely digestive. This means that your dog’s stomach has a problem digesting and absorbing certain ingredients, and symptoms and signs can include vomiting or diarrhea. 

Can I use a food with chicken meal instead of real chicken?

Unfortunately, chicken meal is just as bad as chicken meat when it comes to allergies or food intolerances. This is because chicken meal is made from exactly the same stuff – chicken meat. While chicken meal is higher in protein than the meat, it’s no different to the meat, so it still aggravates food allergies and causes digestive upset in dogs who are sensitive to chicken. 

It’s best to avoid chicken entirely instead of trying to find appropriate forms of chicken to feed your pup! There are enough other options out there (including poultry) that you shouldn’t even need to consider chicken, whether it’s in meat or meal form.

If my dog is allergic to chicken, should he avoid other poultry as well?

All poultry is not the same, so your pet should be able to eat turkey and duck even if he or she struggles with chicken. These are the closest options to chicken, so if you would prefer to try and stay as close to chicken as possible, these are the ones you should go for. 

If, however, your pet displays the same symptoms then it’s a good idea to switch to something completely different. There are plenty of red meat and fish options that are just as high in protein as poultry, and they should eliminate the symptoms  your pet experiences with poultry. 

The best dog foods will always avoid poultry by-products though, so if you see these on the list (chicken or not), stay away.

Mike Powell

Mike is an avid dog lover and writer. He’s based in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up in a household surrounded by pets. He’s been a dog owner all his life and he uses this extensive experience of having dogs as part of his family to share valuable, practical tips to improve other people’s dog parenting experience.