As a pet owner, you may be wondering why grain-free dog food has become popular in recent years. It can sound like a fad diet that cuts out important foods, so is grain-free food safe for dogs long-term?
Depending on your dog, this kind of dog food may be an excellent choice to keep them happy and healthy.
Dogs That Need a Grain-Free Diet
It’s easy to find misinformation on the internet, so it’s important to know that most dogs don’t need a diet that’s free of grains. We know that the ancestors of dogs hunted for their food at ate a high protein diet and likely didn’t consume many grains. However, dogs have evolved over the years and can tolerate carbohydrates much better than their ancestors.
This isn’t to say that dogs don’t get the proper nutrition in grain-free foods. Many handle this kind of diet well, but it doesn’t offer better health and nutrition than dog food with grains.
In fact, a dog’s diet should consist of 50 percent vegetables, 40 percent meat, and 10 percent grains. There’s vital nutrition in each of these kinds of foods, but our furry friends need more of certain foods to remain healthy.
The dogs that need a grain-free diet are the ones that have allergies or intolerances to grains.
Symptoms of allergies
If your dog has food allergies, they likely aren’t allergic to grains. Most dog food allergies involve beef and dairy, but there is a small group of cases that list corn as an allergy. If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with a corn or grain allergy, a grain-free brand will be the best dog food for allergies.
If you aren’t sure if your dog has food allergies or intolerances, look out for the most common symptoms:
- Bald spots and hair loss
- Inflamed skin
- Sores and scabs
If you notice these symptoms, consult your vet before changing their diet. They can help you with a trial run to see if grain-free foods alleviate the symptoms.
Why Grain-Free Dog Food Benefits Many Breeds
Dogs only need 10 percent of their diet to include grains, which is why grain-free dog food can be a great choice for your pooch. These kinds of dog foods put more of their focus on vegetables and meat. They also tend to have meat listed as the first ingredient, meaning that it’s the most prevalent ingredient in the food.
Because these foods are well-balanced, they have several benefits for dogs. Your dog will eat less overall because they’ll fill up on nutritious foods instead of fillers. Eating less will make the bag of food last longer, which will help you save money each month.
With your dog eating more nutritious food, they’ll have fewer and smaller bowel movements. This is because their body will absorb all the essential nutrients instead of constantly getting rid of foods with nutrients they don’t need.
This also means that your dog will have more energy, healthier skin and fur, less gas, and better breath.
Read the Label Before You Buy
If you take the time to read the label, you’ll see why grain-free dog food is a popular choice among dog owners.
If you look at the best dog food with grain, you’ll likely see grains as the first ingredients with the meat and vegetables further down the list. As stated previously, grains aren’t bad for dogs if they don’t have an allergy. However, they don’t need a dog food that has so many grains in it that they don’t get the nutrients they need from meats and vegetables each day.
On the other hand, seeing that these kinds of food don’t have grains in them doesn’t mean they don’t have any carbohydrates. Many dog foods that are free of grains use ingredients like potatoes to add carbs to the mix. This helps them to get the nutrients they need from a variety of different foods.
You should also check labels before buying grain-free dog food for your furry friend. Some brands offer grain-free food for all stages, and some make food specific for puppies. Make sure you buy a formula that works best for your dog’s breed, age, and food sensitivities.
Grain-Free Dog Food Warning
It’s crucial that you consult your dog’s vet before switching to a grain-free diet. They can recommend specific brands and ingredients that will best meet your furry friend’s needs.
You should also make sure you know the difference between grain-free and gluten-free foods, as well as the link between some grain-free dog foods and canine heart disease.If you aren’t careful, you can harm your dog’s health instead of making it better.
The difference between grain-free and gluten-free
Dog food that doesn’t contain grains avoids corn, oats, wheat, rice, and all other forms of grain. It doesn’t have anything to do with gluten.
Gluten-free dog food, on the other hand, only avoids the grains that contain gluten. This includes wheat, barley, and rye. They may contain other grains because they won’t be a problem for dogs with celiac disease.
Thankfully, it’s rare for a dog to have a gluten intolerance. The breed that’s most susceptible is the Irish Setter in the U.K. If you think your dog has celiac disease, consult your vet.
The link to canine heart disease
In the first few months of 2019, the FDA received hundreds of reports of pets (the vast majority being dogs) diagnosed with canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). These pets had been eating grain-free dog food for as little as a few months to several years. While studies have not discovered whether grain-free food causes DCM, the FDA wants pet owners to be aware of the situation.
Their main concern includes foods that list potatoes, peas, lentils, and other legumes as primary ingredients. This includes food from well-known brands like Blue Buffalo, Taste of the Wild, and several others.
DCM affects a dog’s heart’s ability to pump blood, and this can turn into congestive heart failure. This health problem is already prevalent in large dog breeds, but these reports show that other breeds have been affected as well. Before you switch to grain-free food, talk to your vet to decide the best course of action.
Why Grain-Free Dog Food? The Benefits Speak for Themselves
Even though it isn’t necessary for dogs, it’s easy to see why grain-free dog food is an attractive option. They offer balanced nutrition that doesn’t rely on grains to fill your pooch’s stomach. This offers several benefits to your dog’s health.
The only dogs that require grain-free food are ones that are allergic to grains. However, you have to be careful when making the switch. Your veterinarian can help you find the best grain-free dog food for your dog.
What’s your experience with this kind of dog food? Let us know why grain-free dog food is your choice in the comments section.