Whole grains can be very beneficial for your dog’s well-being, but certain dogs may have sensitivities to them or show signs of discomfort when eating foods that contain these types of grains. A lot of people wonder whether grain-free or grain dog food is the better choice for their pet.
Grain free vs grain inclusive dog food
There are a lot of misconceptions about grains in food. Some people think they’re unnatural and that dogs can’t digest them. However, the truth is that dogs digest processed grains just as well as their natural counterparts. Grain-free food can be good if your dog has allergies, but most dogs do just fine on foods with grains.
Grain-free dog food is a type of dog food that doesn’t include grains such as wheat, corn, or rice. Dog foods can be grain-free and still contain potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, and other carbohydrates. Grain-free dog food is often marketed as healthier than grain-inclusive diets because it is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein from meat sources.
However, there are no reports to date suggesting that healthy dogs have any need for the extra cost of grain-free foods. In fact, oats and barley (grains) contain fiber that is beneficial to gut health and can help prevent obesity in pets. There is also no evidence that dogs with food allergies or intolerances must avoid all grains; they just need to avoid the ones they’re allergic to.
Food allergies in dogs are rare, but they can happen. Most food allergies occur because of a reaction to a protein. The most common food allergens are beef, dairy, lamb, chicken, chicken eggs, soy or wheat. Dogs can also be allergic to less common ingredients such as rabbit, venison or fish.
Is grain free bad for dogs?
There are some studies showing that grain-free may actually be worse for dogs than diets with grains!
We know what you may be thinking: “If grains aren’t bad for dogs, why do so many pet food companies make grain-free products?”
The answer is simple: Marketing! Pet food companies know that consumers love their pets and want only the best for them. They also know that people have been led to believe that grains are unhealthy. So, what do they do? They use this information to create products that appeal to people’s emotions and make a lot of money doing it!
The answer is yes. In some cases, grain-free dog food is linked to heart disease.
Many pet owners feed grain-free dog foods because they believe grain-free diets are healthier for their pets.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement about a potential connection between dogs who were on a grain-free diet and a type of heart disease called canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
The FDA has received reports of more than 500 dogs diagnosed with DCM, with most eating dry food containing legumes like peas or lentils, or potatoes as main ingredients. Many of these diets were labeled as “grain-free.”
Some experts believe that the absence of grain in pet food might make it harder for dogs to absorb certain nutrients, leading to DCM. The FDA is working with veterinary nutritionists to figure out what is causing this problem.
What researchers know so far is this:
Dogs on a grain-free diet have been diagnosed with DCM at higher rates than dogs who do not eat grain-free food.
Some of the dogs diagnosed with DCM had low blood levels of taurine. Dogs need taurine for normal heart function. A taurine deficiency can cause dilated cardiomyopathy in some dogs. Some dogs that have been diagnosed with DCM have normal taurine levels.
The FDA has not concluded that grain-free food is the cause of DCM in these dogs, but it makes sense to be cautious if you are feeding your dog grain-free food.
What dog foods do vets recommend?
Here are some other dog food options that veterinarians say could be good for your dog:
- Hill’s Science Diet
- Blue Buffalo
- Purina Pro Plan
- Royal Canin
- Rachael Ray Nutrish
What makes something “vet recommended?”
By its very definition, any diet a veterinarian recommends is a “vet-recommended food.” However, this doesn’t mean that when vets recommend a particular food it’s automatically good for all dogs.
Every veterinarian has his or her own dietary philosophy and personal experience with certain diets. Most veterinarians like to see their patients eating commercially available diets because they are formulated to be complete and balanced for growth or maintenance.
We also recommend that you talk to your dog’s veterinarian before changing its diet to make sure you understand its nutritional needs and any special dietary considerations. Our guide includes recommendations from veterinarians, but they are general ones that apply to most healthy dogs. If your dog has specific health issues, it will need food tailored to address them.
Conclusion of grain vs grain-free dog food
In conclusion, grain-free dog food is not for every dog. Your veterinarian may suggest the introduction of a grain-free diet in certain cases, such as food allergies or intolerances. However, most dogs will do fine on a balanced diet that contains grains, including ones made from whole grains.
As you consider what to feed your dog, remember that there is no one “best” diet for all dogs. Each dog has unique nutritional requirements and health needs. Work with your veterinarian to develop a dietary plan that is right for your pet and helps to ensure many long and happy years together.
We hope this series on grain-free vs grain dog food has been helpful. Our goal is to help you make informed decisions about the health of your pet.