Is Grain Free Dog Food Good For Your Dog

Is Grain Free Dog Food Good For Your Dog

Grain-free dog food has grown in popularity as an alternative diet for dogs since the mid-2000s. Many large dog food companies now produce grain-free formulas for our four-legged friends.

Don’t panic if you’ve heard conflicting information about grain-free dog food. You’re not alone. You may be wondering whether this type of food is better for your dog or if you are inadvertently harming them.

If you look deeper, you’ll discover that pet owners have mixed feelings regarding grain-free dog food. So, what is it exactly? Is it appropriate for your dog? Do vets think it’s a good idea? Let’s explore the topic of grain-free dog food to see if it’s worth it.

What Is Grain-Free Dog Food?

Any dog food prepared without wheat, corn, rice, or other grains can be labeled as “grain-free”. The following grains are most frequently found in dog foods:

  • Barley
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Sorghum
  • whole-grains

Many grain-free dog foods include alternative carb sources like potatoes, lentils, and vegetable flour since they can be an energy source. Because of this, “grain-free” is not the same as “low carb.” Dogs don’t technically need to eat carbohydrates, but they do need the glucose that carbs can give for their metabolism. The same is true for “gluten-free” food, which may not contain wheat or barley but may contain grains like corn or rice. Check the label every time before buying!

What Motivated The FDA To Look Into Grain-Free Dog Foods?

The FDA received 524 complaints of DCM in dogs and cats between January 1, 2014, and April 30, 2019. This disease is inherited genetically in several breeds, including the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Boxer, and Cocker Spaniel. However unusual data from the FDA reports prompted them to look into the connection between a grain-free diet and DCM in dogs.

Some data suggested that the association between grain-free diets and DCM may be due to the foods used instead of the lack of grains. Over 90% of the foods reported in DCM instances, according to the FDA report, were grain-free, and 93% of the foods had peas, lentils, or both, while 42% contained potatoes or sweet potatoes. The FDA received 524 complaints of DCM in dogs and cats between January 1, 2014, and April 30, 2019. This disease is inherited genetically in several breeds, including the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Boxer, and Cocker Spaniel. However unusual data from the FDA reports prompted them to look into the connection between a grain-free diet and DCM in dogs. Some data suggested that the association between grain-free diets and DCM may be due to the foods used instead of the lack of grains. Over 90% of the foods reported in DCM instances, according to the FDA report, were grain-free, and 93% of the foods had peas, lentils, or both, while 42% contained potatoes or sweet potatoes.

There was no dominating source of animal protein. The FDA cautioned concerned dog owners who switched their dog’s diet from grain-free that these modifications were not always to blame for a partial or complete recovery from DCM. The majority of the sick canines were also given pharmacological medications, extra vitamins, and supplemental taurine.

Benefits of Grain-Free Diets

1. Beneficial For Food Allergies

Making the move to grain-free dog food can be especially helpful if your dog has allergies.

Many dogs are sensitive to wheat and corn, both of which are typical constituents in dog food with grain. If the test reveals that your dog is allergic to grains, you will be encouraged to switch to grain-free dog food.

Remember that pet allergies to grains are quite rare; instead, dogs and cats are much more likely to develop allergies to the protein source in their food. Even though many pet parents claim that their pets’ skin and/or digestive complaints improved after switching to a grain-free diet, there is no proof that this was due to the diet’s lack of grains, or simply due to the changing protein source. Grain-free diet producers frequently choose unusual and ‘new’ protein sources like bison, lamb, and kangaroo. Because pets will rarely be allergic to these new and unusual protein sources, moving pets to one of these grain-free diets may lead us to conclude that grains were to blame.

2. Ancestral diet

Another reason grain-free dog diets are well-liked is the growing emphasis on providing dogs with an “ancestral diet.” The notion of a dog’s food being similar to that of the wolves from which they descended is known as an ancestral diet.

Dogs on ancestral diets are fed raw meat or high-protein foods with few ingredients and little fruit and vegetable content. Ancient diets frequently lacked wheat.

The goal of ancestral diets is to promote healthy muscles and joints while enhancing digestion. Due to their high meat content, they are also intended to be tastier for dogs. This is a result of its few ingredients and substantial protein content.

But it’s important to remember that, in contrast to their carnivorous origins, dogs are omnivores. Dogs have evolved to digest fruits, vegetables, and grains the same as animal-based protein.

3. Digestion

It has been discovered that dogs lack the biological capacity to completely digest grains. Grain-free dog food is easier to digest than food rich in carbohydrates since it contains more protein and less carbohydrates.

Dogs’ bodies lack enough amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starchy carbohydrates, to completely break down and digest carbohydrates. Food free of grains is therefore advantageous for improving digestion. Introduce a grain-free diet to your dog if they have a problem digesting their meal.

Grain-based dog food can cause long-term damage to the digestive tract’s lining, which can lead to bowel inflammatory diseases, food sensitivities, food allergies, leaky gut, and obesity.

4. Weight Management

A grain-free diet might be beneficial for dogs who are predisposed to gaining too much weight or for those who are already overweight. Dog food made without grains gives your dog more nutrients for fewer calories.

Some low-quality dog feeds contain high-calorie fillers with little to no nutritional value, such as maize flour and wheat gluten. Instead, the increased levels of animal protein in grain-free dog food may help your dog’s metabolism move properly.

Although it’s not the best option because your dog could get more hungry, it can be useful for some dogs. Grain-free dog food can be worthwhile to try because obesity can shorten your dog’s lifespan by years.

5. Reduces Risk Of Yeast Infections

You should significantly reduce the carbohydrates your dog consumes if they have recently been diagnosed with a yeast infection or have had one in the past. Sugar is a food source for yeast infections, so cutting it out of your dog’s diet will essentially starve the illness, resulting in fewer symptoms or a complete recovery. To restrict your dog’s intake of grains and other carbohydrates, you may consider giving him a grain-free dog food alternative. Many grains and other carbohydrates are simple starches that break down into sugars.

6. Reduce Flatulence

A lot of dogs frequently produce a lot of gas when eating corn, wheat, and other grains. In addition to being unpleasant for owners, this foul-smelling gas frequently causes your dog to experience cramps and discomfort until he passes it. Gas in dogs is more of an annoyance than something particularly nasty or unhealthy. It may occasionally be a symptom of a more serious digestive health problem.

Grain-free diets, on the other hand, rarely result in these same kinds of issues, and most dogs create significantly less gas after moving to such a food. Probiotics are frequently found in high-quality grain-free diets and can help with flatulence in additional ways.

7.  Breath

Every dog owner has encountered a situation where their pet’s breath was less than nice. However, feeding your dog grain-free food can greatly assist with foul breath.

Dental health is greatly influenced by nutrition, and in many situations, bad nutrition results in foul breath. Therefore, a dog’s breath can truly benefit from eating a highly nutritive diet, such as grain-free food.

When your dog eats grains, they frequently leave a coating of carbohydrates on his teeth. Your dog’s saliva eventually washes the food particles away, but this process takes several hours. While this is happening, the remaining carbohydrates will be consumed by bacteria in your dog’s mouth. These bacteria frequently release unpleasant smells.

Foods without grains do not contribute to this issue, at least not to the same degree.

Dogs are less likely than people to get cavities, yet too many carbs can still lead to poor oral health and cavities. Any dog owner should brush their dog’s teeth at least once every few days.

Cons of Grain-Free Dog Treats & Food

Grain-free dog treats provide many health advantages, but they also have some disadvantages. The following are some drawbacks of a grain-free dog diet:

1. Not suitable for older and less active dogs

For dogs with sedentary lifestyles, grain-free dog treats can result in weight gain. Dogs who are older and less active do not require the energy that a diet high in protein gives. Additionally, it is not beneficial for dogs who are already overweight or have movement issues.

2. Most are still rich in carbohydrates from non-grain ingredients

Many people think that dog treats made without grains have more protein than carbohydrates. The majority of non-grain dog foods actually contain more carbohydrates per pound than meat. While starch helps produce a dry kibble and cohesiveness in processed foods, it is easy to find grain-free dog treats produced from inexpensive sources of carbohydrates with no nutritional value.

3. The price is slightly higher.

You’ll pay more for a diet free of grains than one that includes grains. This is due in part to their expanding popularity and rising demand, which also had an impact on supply. Grain-free dog foods are sometimes out of stock at your neighborhood pet shops and supermarkets. You could find it challenging to move to a grain-free diet if you can’t find any grain dog food. Grain-free foods, on the other hand, are more satisfying, and hence your dog will eat less.

4. Getting your dog to adapt to a new diet

Your dog will adapt to a particular food over time. It’s not easy to persuade him to try a new diet. If your dog is used to a grain-based diet, transitioning to grain-free dog foods may take some time. They might never eat it at all. If your dog continues to reject grain-free food, it is advisable to call it quits on your grain-free diet trial.

5. Starches of Poor Quality

Low-cost components that hold the kibble together. They’re frequently near the top of the ingredient list. They can also be extremely inflammatory in dogs. They are biologically unsuitable, add calories, and lead to obesity, just like legumes. They’ve also been related to stomach problems, skin problems, and other health problems in dogs.

6. Phytic Acid 

Grain-free diets that include cheap plant proteins like lentils and legumes, as well as carbohydrates like potatoes, beets, and peas, are low-quality. They can also cause shortages in other critical nutrients. This is due to the high phytic acid content of these components. Phytic acid can interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients such as manganese, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Furthermore, phytic acid reduces manganese retention in the body.

Transitioning Your Dog To Grain-Free Food

If you choose to transition your dog from dog food containing grains to one without, start slowly. Over a few weeks, add progressively more of the new food, a little at a time. By doing this, you’ll give your dog’s digestive system time to adapt.

Keep an eye on your dog’s stool while you switch their food to make sure they are not constipated or experiencing diarrhea. You should also keep track of any food or water rejections by your dog. Your dog may be avoiding food for health-related reasons, but it’s also possible that he just doesn’t like what’s being served to him.

The FDA Study Is Ongoing

The FDA report is currently just the start of a more extensive investigation. Unfortunately, it is impossible to say for sure whether feeding your dog grain-free dog food puts its health in danger. Even worse, if their dog food is having negative health effects, your dog might not exhibit any signs.

You should consult your veterinarian and switch your dog’s diet right away if your dog has been eating a grain-free diet and is exhibiting signs like excessive weight loss, extreme collapsing, pale gums, and loss of appetite. The harm may be repairable in some circumstances.

Do vets recommend grain-free dog food?

In cases where a dog has a grain allergy, veterinarians may advise grain-free diets, however, they are divided on whether these diets are beneficial for dogs. Grain-free diets work just well for the majority of dogs. They have significant benefits for dogs who have grain allergies, although this is not a common food allergy.

However, grain-free meals could be harmful for some dogs. There is some evidence that grain-free diets raise the risk of heart disease in an area of the population. Researchers are trying to figure out why this occurs, and one theory is that more dogs are eating more legumes.

Grain-free dog diets are generally considered to be safe for dogs, however excessive amounts of pulses, lentils, and other legumes may raise the risk of heart disease.

Is grain-free good or bad for puppies?

Both puppies and dogs can benefit from eating food that has no grains. They can be a safe and nutritious option for puppy food as long as it is nutritionally balanced, of excellent quality, and satisfies the unique dietary demands of puppies.

It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that not all grain-free foods are made equal. Some will substitute potatoes and wholesome veggies for grains. However, other “grain-free” companies will utilize inexpensive, synthetic fillers, which are significantly less healthful than foods made with whole grains.

When examining whether grain-free diets are hazardous for puppies, researchers may favor the idea that grains include a lot of fiber. Being on a grain-free diet may mean that your dog doesn’t get enough fiber, which will cause them to feel less satisfied after eating.

Because of this, their parents may feed them more than they actually need, which could lead to the accumulation of extra fat.

Once more, the sort of nutrients in their grain-free diet heavily influences this. For instance, adding vegetables like pumpkin, which is naturally high in fiber, makes up for whatever fiber that a grain-based diet would have offered.

So, Is Grain-Free Food Good For Your Dog?

The decision is ultimately up to you and your dog. Look for quality and balanced food. This indicates that the contents have the recommended amounts of protein, fat, and important elements in the correct ratios and quantities. Check that the brand is reputable, conducts scientific studies, adheres to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) pet food standards, and is Vet Recommended. Then consider the overall ingredients whether they are quality, and healthy, and whether the recipe is designed to meet your dog’s specific nutritional requirements.

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