Potatoes are becoming an increasingly common ingredient in many dog food recipes. Many brands have chosen to shift away from grains due to increased consumer awareness. When this shift has occurred Potatoes, and Sweet potatoes have often been pushed as a superior alternative.
While the argument that they are superior could be somewhat valid, White Potatoes are far from an ideal ingredient in dog food. Therefore other carbohydrate providing ingredients should be strongly considered besides potatoes, and we will discuss the options in detail later in this article.
Not only are Potatoes a less than an ideal ingredient, unfortunately, but not all dogs are capable or well suited to digesting Potatoes. Many dogs suffer from intolerances or severe allergies and Potatoes can be a common cause of such conditions. Thankfully many dog food recipes and formulas are Potato free.
A large number of dog food formulas lacking Potatoes makes the process of finding a Potato-free dog food formula far more manageable than finding a pea-free or legume-free dog food as we found out in our Best Dog Food Without Peas article. While the range of formulas may be higher, which of the Potato free dog food formulas on the market are the most nutritious for your dog and which use the highest quality ingredients? Let’s find out.
Are Potatoes a Nutritious Dog Food Ingredient?
Potatoes a hugely popular for human consumptions and have a reliable place on our dinner plates. They are a starchy vegetable and dense source of complex carbohydrates. Also, Potatoes can provide dietary fiber and a surprising number of minerals and vitamins such as Potassium, Copper and Vitamin B6.
While we don’t believe Potatoes are a low-quality dog food ingredient, they sadly do not contribute significant or appropriate nutrition for dogs beyond their carbohydrate content.
Therefore, we consider them to be an average-quality ingredient that features in the middle ground between low-quality ingredients, such as grains like Corn and Wheat and vegetable by-products like Pea Flour, and high-quality ingredients which sit on the other side of the spectrum such as legumes and other vegetable ingredients such as Pumpkin and Squash.
However, while whole White Potatoes may take their place in the middle ground, Potato by-products such as Potato Protein and Potato Starch are not nutritious ingredients and should be considered low-quality. These Potato by-products are often used as cheaper fillers or utilized to inflate the overall level of protein on the dog food formulas guaranteed analysis
For more information on Potato By-products like Potato Protein check out our in-depth article: Potatoes, Potato Protein & Potato Starch in Dog Food. We rate dog foods with potato by-products, such as Potato Protein and Potato Starch, less highly than dog food formulas that include whole traditional potatoes.
Potatoes And Heart Disease
In July 2018, the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) announced that it had received reports about a type of heart disease called canine dilated cardiomyopathy. Canine dilated cardiomyopathy can cause an enlarged, weakened heart and eventual heart failure in dogs. These reports suggested a link between grain free dog foods, high in Potatoes, Peas and other Legumes and the condition.
The heart disease occurred in select breeds such as golden and Labrador retrievers, whippets, Shih Tzus, bulldogs, and miniature schnauzers. None of these breeds are believed to be genetically prone to the disease which suggests that there must be another cause and the reports pointed the finger at ingredients such as Potatoes, which have replaced grains in many dog food recipes.
If true, this could have enormous consequences and massively shake up the commercial dog food world as almost all brands, especially premium brands, utilize Peas and other legumes as their primary carbohydrate source. While far fewer recipes contain Potatoes in comparison to Peas, if there is a link found between Potatoes and Heart disease then there will still have to be a significant change made.
However, at this time this link is far from conclusive and may be unfounded. Unfortunately, a significant amount of research and studies conducted in relation to pet food are funded by pet food manufacturers and therefore can be biased or misleading.
Nevertheless, this claim should be taken seriously and further investigated. However, until there is indisputable evidence to link heart disease and a diet high in ingredients such as Potatoes, we will not negatively review or exclude dog food recipes that contain Potatoes any differently than we have in the past.
However, we will continue to mark down dog food recipes that use inferior quality ingredients like Potato Protein and Potato Starch as we believe these are not a positive addition to dog food.
What About Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet Potatoes are very similar to White Potatoes as they are also a starchy vegetable and a source of complex carbohydrates. However, Sweet Potatoes are widely considered to be superior to traditional Potatoes as they contain more fiber and a more extensive range of vitamins and minerals. Many premium and higher-quality dog food brands have been taking advantage of this and have been including sweet potatoes in their formulas more regularly and in higher portions.
Some examples of vitamins and minerals that are abundant in Sweet Potatoes are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Calcium. These Vitamins and Minerals are important for the health of your dog’s skin, coat, immune system and for the long-term health of their cardiovascular system. While dogs do not need a high portion of dietary fiber in their diet, it is important to regulate digestion and allow for regular and consistent stools.
The higher amount of fiber and the range of micronutrients in Sweet Potatoes is the main reason that they are considered a higher-quality ingredient despite containing mostly carbohydrates.
The Best Alternatives to Potatoes in Dog Food?
Legumes are the staple of almost all premium or high-quality dog food formulas. The most commonly used legumes in dog food include Peas, Chickpeas, and Lentils. Some less frequently included examples of legumes are Kidney and Mung Beans.
Legumes have a variety of benefits including a high protein content, a high level of fiber for healthy digestion and some beneficial vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K, Vitamin B1, and Manganese. Legumes also have a relatively low-glycemic index. A low glycemic index means that they have a more minimal effect on your dog’s blood sugar levels after digestion which can be seen as advantageous by some and can be especially important for dogs who suffer from diabetes.
Legumes are by far the most common ingredients that provide carbohydrates in Potato free dog food formulas. However, try to choose a recipe with whole legumes and avoid those who use by-products Pea Protein and Pea Flour. These ingredients are low-quality and are often employed in a technique known as Ingredient Splitting.
Pumpkin & Other Squashes
Pumpkin is commonly prescribed to aid dogs who suffer from diarrhea or constipation as it is an excellent source of fiber. For many dogs, this added fiber will help them maintain healthy and regular digestion.
In addition to its fiber, pumpkin contains high levels of Vitamin A and E. Unfortunately, dog food formulas that only contain pumpkin without any additional vegetables like legumes are very rare, but many formulas without potatoes do contain some pumpkin.
There are many close relatives of Pumpkin that are occasionally found in dog food. Examples of other Squash vegetables includes Butternut Squash and Acorn Squash. These Squash ingredients are very similar to Pumpkin. However, there are some differences. These alternative Squash ingredients also contain similar beneificial vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, E, and C.
When people think of starches, the first thing that comes to mind is Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes. But there are other starchy vegetables available, and some of these are used in dog food.
Tapioca is the most common example of a less commonly used starch. It is a root vegetable from South America and is often used as a thickening agent in dog food. It offers similar nutrition to Potatoes in that it is a complex carbohydrate. Tapioca is also a good source of Iron and Calcium.
However, be careful, as similarly to Potatoes, Tapioca by-products are sometimes used. Examples of this includes Tapioca Starch and Tapioca Flour. These are once again considered lower-quality ingredients are best to avoid.
At Pet Food Reviewer we do not usually recommend grains in pet food. However, there are situations where grains are a viable and necessary ingredient. For those dogs who react very poorly to the vast majority of traditional vegetable or starch ingredients in dog foods, grains may be a necessary evil.
High-quality dog food that is potato free and legume free is exceedingly rare which is the blunt reason why some recipes with grains must be considered.
In this extreme case, we would strongly recommend dog foods that contain Oats or Brown Rice as their primary source of grains as we believe them to be the most nutritious and digestible.
Oatmeal contains very high levels of Manganese and moderate levels of Phospherous. Brown Rice, on the other hand, contains high levels of magnesium and selenium. Both Oats and Brown Rice contain high levels of fiber.
Best Dog Foods Without Potatoes / Best Potato Free Dog Foods
For the sake of simplicity, we are only going to be considering dog food formulas without White Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes or Potato By-Products. This decision is as many dogs that are allergic to Potatoes are also allergic to Sweet Potatoes, and we do not want to confuse what type of formulas we are suggesting.
Zignature produces some of the best Limited Ingredient formulas on the market and is considered a leader in the niche. They have a wide range of dog food recipes, none of which contain Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes. Instead, they use legumes such as Peas and Chickpeas. These legumes contribute high-quality carbohydrates, with a low glycemic index, and dietary fiber to aid digestion.
For those dogs who don’t suffer from meat or fish allergies or intolerances, our favorite recipe is Zssential Formula. It contains a much more extensive variety of meat and fish ingredients than their other formulas and is the only dry formula produced by Zignature that we would consider not to be a strict limited ingredient formula.
Some examples of the ingredients it contains are Turkey, Lamb, Duck, and Salmon. These are all considered high-quality ingredients that are dense sources of protein and fat.
However, there are a large number of other meat and fish ingredients used in Zignature’s formulas for those dogs who do nope cope with multiple inclusions in a single recipe. Some examples include Turkey, Lamb, Salmon, Duck, and as of recently Goat and Guinea Fowl. We’d personally suggest checking out Goat Formula, Pork Formula, Kangaroo Formula, Venison Formula, and Catfish Formula.
Venture by Earthborn Holistic is a high-quality Limited Ingredient range. No two formulas within this range are the same, and they utilize a variety of vegetable, meat and fish ingredients.
Many of Venture’s recipes such as Rabbit Meal and Pumpkin and Pork Meal and Butternut Squash make use of legume ingredients like Peas, but others such as Alaska Pollock Meal and Pumpkin are entirely legume and potato free. They instead contain alternative vegetables and starches such as Pumpkin and Tapioca.
Do you recall how we discussed earlier that dog food formulas that contain Pumpkin but not Potatoes and Legumes were extremely rare? Well, Venture – Alaska Pollock Meal & Pumpkin is probably the best and most available recipe to effectively utilize Pumpkin.
Pumpkin is actually the primary carbohydrate ingredient of the recipe which is extremely rare and therefore very appealing to those dogs who cope well with a large portion of Pumpkin. Tapioca is the secondary carbohydrate ingredient and one which we have discussed in detail earlier.
Seafood ingredients such as Squid and Pollock aren’t commonplace in most dog food recipes but are highly nutritious and could appeal to your dog’s pallet.
Venture formulas also include a significant portion of Flaxseed which can provide a healthy portion of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Flaxseed is probably the best non-meat or fish source of these fatty acids. Find out more about Flaxseed in our article Flaxseed In Dog Food. The Omega 3 Fatty Acids are well known to offer a range of health benefits such as preventing heart disease and helping to maintain healthy skin and coat.
Nature’s Logic is a lesser known brand in comparison to some of the others mentioned in this article but not one you should ignore. They have a broad range of recipes available including some that include rare or uncommon meat or fish ingredients such as Rabbit, Venison, and Sardine. These are often ingredients of Novel Meat formulas which we discussed in our Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food Article.
What makes Nature’s Logic formulas unique is that they offer excellent nutrition despite using grains as their primary source of carbohydrates. They use Millet which is one of the lesser-known grain ingredients.
While we usually show preference to dog food formulas with grain ingredients, especially those that use Wheat or Corn, this formula may be a very realistic option for those dogs who can not stomach most vegetable ingredients such as Peas or Chickpeas. Alternatively, it could be a viable option for those dog owners who are overly concerned with Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy as the formula lacks Potatoes, Peas, or other Legumes.
While they have a range of formulas, their Rabbit Formula is one of the best and has great potential as a formula for dogs who suffer from multiple allergies. The core ingredients are Rabbit, Rabbit Meal & Millet but it also includes some Turkey and Chicken ingredients. This recipe has a particularly high level of both the Omega 6 and 3 Fatty Acids for a formula without fish ingredients. These fatty acids can bring a range of health benefits.
Nature’s Variety Instinct is one of the giants of the premium dog food market. They are probably best known for their raw and semi-raw products but they also produce some excellent dry and canned dog food recipes.
Their Ultimate Protein range of formulas isn’t specifically designed for dogs who suffer from allergies or intolerances such as a Potato allergy. They do have a range for this purpose which is their Limited Ingredient Diet range. However, we strongly believe that the Ultimate Protein range it is still a very viable option, especially given its lack of traditional vegetable ingredients such as Peas or Potatoes.
There are three recipes within the range and two of them focus on two poultry ingredients, Chicken and Duck. The third recipe in the range is designed for small breed dogs and also uses Chicken. All three recipes contain a very large portion of their chosen poultry bird and this portion provides an incredible portion of protein and fat, one of the highest of any commercial dog food.
While Ultimate Protein’s primary ingredients are meat based it also contains Tapioca, which we mentioned earlier. In this formula, Tapioca is being used as a thickening agent in order to form kibble. The Tapioca also provides a small and very satisfactory proportion of carbohydrates.
Orijen is one of the most popular and famous names in the premium pet food industry. Its formulas are known to contain a large variety of high-quality meat and fish ingredients in extraordinarily high proportions. This can include 10+ meat or fish ingredients in a single formula. None of its dog food formulas include Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes.
Instead, they provide carbohydrates from a large variety of fruits and vegetables. This includes commonly used ingredients such as Peas and Chickpeas, but also less common ingredients like Carrots and Squash. Some of these less common fruit and vegetable ingredients can provide a unique combination of vitamins and minerals.
There is a variety of dry dog food recipes available from Orijen and they contain Fish, Poultry, and Red Meat. Examples recipes include Six Fish which as you might guess focuses on fish, Regional Red which focuses on red meat, and Fit and Trim which aims to be lower in fat and uses poultry and fish ingredients.
Orijen’s Original Formula is a safe bet and contains a range of meat and fish ingredients including Chicken, Turkey, Flounder, Eggs among others. These ingredients are combined with vegetables such as Peas, Beans, Pumpkin and Squash. All of these ingredients combine to provide a very satisfactory proportion of protein, fat, and carbohydrates that is ideally suited to the vast majority of dogs.
Taste of the Wild is one of the most popular pet food brands in circulation in the United States and is best known for producing high-quality pet food at an affordable price. They have a relatively small product range that focuses on traditional dry dog food and limited ingredient food.
While some of their recipes like Wetlands Formula and Southwest Canyon Formula do contain Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes, they have others available without potatoes or sweet potatoes like Appalachian Valley Formula and Pine Forest Formula.
Their Appalachian Valley Small Breed Formula combines a variety of meats including Venison, Duck, and Lamb. These meat ingredients are far less common than the usual Chicken or Beef and could be appealing for dogs with allergies and for those looking for something different.
Due to its lack of Potatoes, the formula makes use of Legumes like Peas. It also contains Tomato Pomace, a source of soluble fiber which is included with the intention of improving digestion. Find out more about Tomato Pomace in our article Tomato Pomace as a Pet Food Ingredient?.
Victor is another successful brand to feature in this article and one which many of you will be familiar with. Victor is commonly found in local or large pet food stores as well as at a myriad of online retailers.
Victor produces a number of high-quality and nutritious formulas some of which contain Legumes and Potatoes, but there are others that include some of the more preferred grain ingredients such as Brown Rice or Millet.
A noteworthy example of such a formula is the Hi-Pro Plus. It contains a substantial variety of meat and fish ingredients all of which are meat meals. While meat meals may sound scary, they are, in fact, very nutritionally dense. This is as they have had their moisture removed. As long as the meat meal is named, we consider it to be a satisfactory ingredient. Examples of meat meals used in Hi-Pro Plus include Beef Meal, Chicken Meal, Pork Meal, and Menhaden Fish Meal.
The formula uses two sources of carbohydrates, Grain Sorghum and Millet. While not quite as preferred as some other carbohydrate providing ingredients, these are two very realistic options for those dogs with severe allergies associated with Potatoes or legumes. Besides, the sum of carbohydrates provided by the portion of these two ingredients is modest and satisfactory for the majority of dogs.
Hi-Pro Plus from Victor is a formula that we would highly recommend to those dog owners who are deeply concerned about Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy or have a dog breed that is prone to Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy. It could also be advantageous in comparison to other formulas suggested in this article as it is very affordable and cost-effective. Victor dog food comes in huge bags which can allow you to make use of economies of scale.
Canidae is another favorite brand and reliable source of high-quality dog food. Canidae has a truly massive range of products including dry dog food, canned dog food, limited ingredient dog food, and dog food for specific life stages such as puppies and senior dogs.
However, they do produce other recipes without potatoes such as Grain Free Pure – Ridge.
Grain Free Pure – Ridge formula contains a small range of Chicken ingredients such as Chicken, Chicken Meal, and Chicken Fat. These ingredients combine to provide a satisfactory proportion of animal protein and fat.
These Chicken ingredients are combined with a range of traditional legumes such as Lentils and Peas. Other beneficial ingredients like Flaxseed are also present which can provide increased levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Acana is the sister brand of Orijen, and they share many of their high-quality ingredients and nutrition. Acana is designed to be more affordable than Orijen and as a consequence does not contain quite as many high-quality meat and fish ingredients. However, they do have some more specialist formulas such as Limited Ingredient formulas, Puppy formulas, and a low-fat formula.
One great fact about Acana is that all of their dog food recipes are potato free. In addition, their singles range is specially designed for dogs with allergies and sensitivities and so is more suitable for this guide. The four formulas in the Singles range are Lamb and Apple, Duck and Pear, Pork and Squash and Wild Mackerel.
These Singles recipes combine a less commonly used fruit or vegetable ingredients like Apples or Squash with a combination of other vegetables. Unfortunately, there is a large number of vegetables are used in these formulas which may make them unsuitable for dogs who suffer from allergies associated with plant material. The vegetable content is complemented by a single source of meat or fish in high proportions.