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Is Grain Free Dog Food Good For Your Dog

The Link Between Grain

Is Grain Free Food Good For Dogs?

Apr 22, 2021 | Pet Health

Like people, dogs are omnivores. They require a nutritious blend of meats, vegetables, and grains in their diet for optimum health. Yet, there are many people who feed their four-legged family members grain-free diets, citing healthier skin, coat and digestion as a result. But in 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration investigated the potential link between canine heart disease and grain-free dog foods, which sparked a debate among dog food manufacturers, veterinarians, and owners alike. The FDA cited the increased potential of heart disease in dogs subsisting solely on grain-free diets, turning back to the basics of dietary needs for omnivores.

So, whos right and whos wrong? Heres what you need to know about grain-free diets and heart disease in pets.

Is Grain Free Dog Food Better For Your Dog

Though most dogs ate grains only in part as pups in the wild, over time, theyve refined their metabolism to make use of various s their ancestors may have eaten only a small portion of grains in the wild, dogs have evolved over the years to digest different types of Having said this, grain-free pet food does not have to be consumed by dogs for metabolism.

Things To Be Considered While Choosing A Particular Diet

Traditional veterinarians usually do not recommend a grain-free diet for pets, while holistic veterinarians support it. So it can be quite difficult for pet owners to decide what kind of food they should choose for their dogs. As a pet owner, you should always weigh the pros and cons of a particular type of food before incorporating or excluding it from your pets diet. So, consider the following things before completely eliminating grains from your dogs diet.

Each dog is different and has different nutritional requirements. There is no magic formula that fits all dogs. The nutritional requirement of a chihuahua is definitely not the same as that of a working dog like a German Shepherd or Siberian Husky.

Dogs with a more active lifestyle can be fed a high-protein diet, but this type of diet is usually not recommended for older and less active dogs.

Some dog food experts are of the opinion that dogs dont have a problem in digesting grains, as they do possess the enzymes required for digesting starchy carbohydrates. According to Dr. Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, dogs can digest cooked grains.

Many veterinarians maintain that grains, especially whole grains, are essential for dogs, as these can provide crucial vitamins and minerals. Whole grains also provide a significant amount of fiber that helps maintain digestive health.

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What To Avoid In A Grain

When choosing a grain-free dog food, keep it simple. Always check the ingredients on the label and do not buy the food if the main ingredients include the following:

  • Meat and Bone Meal – Meat and bone meal is a product of the rendering industry. It is made from the portions of animals that are unfit for human consumption. Meat and bone meal is of lower quality than real meat. It is also highly processed, which makes it difficult to digest.
  • Starches – Starches like potatoes, green peas, sweet potatoes, and beet pulp are cheap filler ingredients in many grain-free dog foods. These food ingredients are biologically inappropriate, increase calories, and can contribute to obesity and other health issues.
  • Soy Products – Soy products are commonly used in low-quality grain-free dog foods as an inexpensive form of protein. They are biologically inappropriate, highly processed, and often genetically modified. This means that they are difficult to digest and can lead to health problems in dogs.
  • Carrageenan – Carrageenan is a thickening agent that’s used to improve food texture. It has no nutritional value and has been associated with gastrointestinal inflammation in dogs.
  • Artificial Preservatives – Artificial preservatives are used by many pet food manufacturers to extend the shelf life of their products. Grain-free dog foods that contain these chemicals should be avoided, as they have been linked with toxicity in pets.

More Meat And Less Plant Protein

Naturediet Feel Good Grain Free Dog Food

Grain-free dog foods use either potatoes or legumes to replace the cereal grains found in conventional recipes.

Yet even though both make adequate grain substitutes

Legumes provide an additional benefit.

Theyre naturally rich in protein.

But compared to meat, plant protein tends to be less complete in its essential amino acid content.

Which is why we selected the 18 grain-free kibbles below where meat remains the primary source of protein in each recipe.

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Tip: Save Time With Petplate

Want to make life a little easier? PetPlates here to help. Our vet nutritionist, Dr. Renee Streeter, has been with us since day one, crafting each of our recipes to ensure theyre both highly palatable and perfectly balanced.

With four recipes to choose fromall made with high-quality, human-grade, and whole-food ingredientsyoure bound to find one that your dog loves. Plus, meals are delivered right to your door and on your schedule. Youll have more time to spend with your furry family members, backed with the peace of mind that youre serving them the best.

Instinct Raw Boost Grain


Instinct Raw Boost with Real Duck is one of 14 dry recipes included in our review of the Instinct Raw Boost product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Duck, chicken meal, peas, egg product, turkey meal
  • Other recipes: Adult, weight loss, puppy, skin and coat, large breed puppy, small breed, senior
  • Price: $$$
  • See all 14 available recipes

This Instinct recipe derives the bulk of its meat protein from fresh duck and chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 38% protein, 23% fat and 31% estimated carbs resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.

A protein-rich recipe. Confidently recommended.

Sample buyer reviewThis was a first for me in ordering this product, but WOW, I am glad that I did. My Chow Chow is a picky eater, so I was a bit skeptical about whether or not she would eat it but it turns out that she LOVES the stuff, and she loves taking out the small raw pieces, and eating them as if they were a treat! I am pleased with this purchase, because it is nutritious for my pet, and she loves it!

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Whats The Cause For Concern

Over the past couple of years, veterinary cardiologists noticed an increase in the number of dogs they saw who had dilated cardiomyopathy , a heart condition that decreases the hearts ability to pump blood. There are some dog breeds that are more likely to develop DCM, but the cardiologists were diagnosing the condition in breeds without a known genetic predisposition, so the Federal Drug Administration began an investigation.

Heres A Potentially Life

What food is right for your dog: Grain or grain-free?

If you are worried that your dog might have a taurine deficiency, make an appointment with the veterinarian to discuss. If your dog is happy on a grain-free diet, your veterinarian should be able to work with you to supplement the diet and/or incorporate additional dietary changes.

Your Dogs Health Matters

Some of the grain-free dog food diets being formulated are high in lentils, peas, fava beans, and chickpeas. The protein is often a mix of what are known as exotic ingredients. These include things like lamb, bison, venison, buffalo, etc.

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Why Is There A Trend To Feed Dogs Grain

As with their own overall health and wellness, pet parents are now more aware of the importance and impact nutrition plays in our dogs overall wellbeing, and thats a GREAT thing! We are our dogs only advocates, and ensuring they are fed the best diet will certainly help them live long, healthy, and happy lives!

Home-cooked, whole food nutrition, and raw dog food diets are popular for our dogs now more than ever before. All-natural diets with no artificial additives and preservatives are becoming increasingly important when pet parents choose the diets to feed their dogs, and these types of diets can definitely be healthy and fulfilling for our dogs!

However, many pet parents have come to believe that what is healthy for us as humans is also healthy for our dogs. While pets have adapted to eating human food-based diets through hundreds and even thousands of years of living with humans, we should not necessarily make the same nutritional choices for our pets that we make for ourselves.

Pros And Cons Of Feeding Grain

Grain-free dog foods are becoming increasingly popular in recent times. But, is it good for all dogs? Let’s find out more about grain-free dog food and its various pros and cons in this post.

Grain-free dog foods are becoming increasingly popular in recent times. But, is it good for all dogs? Lets find out more about grain-free dog food and its various pros and cons in this post.

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The Rise Of Clean Eating

As human eating trends change and evolve, so too do our pets. In recent years, weve seen a huge increase in gluten free and paleo diets among humans. Typically, it follows that these trends flow through to our perceptions to whats right for cats and dogs, and some pet food companies have certainly placed big bets on this being the case. The trend of gluten-free has evolved in pet food to exclude all grains with entire aisles now dedicated to grain-free options for our pets. Thats not to say that grain-free pet food is simply a marketing ploy.

Grain-free dog foods play a role for dogs who have grain intolerances and those that use high quality, natural ingredients offer additional choice as every dog is different and has their own taste preferences. A number of grain-free dog foods are packed with high-quality ingredients that can work wonders for your poochs digestion. However, it is the use of good ingredients at appropriate ratios that make these good dog foods, rather than the exclusion of grains.

The elimination of an ingredient often leads people to believe that that ingredient is bad. In turn, they think that all recipes excluding that ingredient are good for you or your dog. This simply isnt the case. If youre considering feeding grain-free dog food here are some considerations to help you make the right decision by your pet.

What Does This All Mean

Naturediet Feel Good Grain Free Lamb Wet Dog Food 200g ...

A relationship between grain-free diets and the development of DCM hasnt been fully proven. However, there are numerous reports of dogs with DCM whose condition improved or completely resolved after they were taken off a BEG diet and started on a special amino acid supplementation . The short answer is, we still dont know why this is happening, but it appears that DCM is more likely to occur in dogs who are only eating BEG diets.

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Taurine And Heart Disease

Taurine, an amino acid thats abundant in meat, was implicated in cases of cat DCM 30 years ago. It turned out commercial cat foods didnt contain sufficient taurine. When taurine was added to the food, DCM in cats basically disappeared.

Taurine immediately became suspect in dog DCM, but relatively few instances of taurine-deficient DCM have been identified in dogs. Certain diets, however, notably those high in lamb, rice bran, or fiber and very lowprotein diets have been associated with canine taurine deficiency.

Fast-forward to 2018. Veterinary cardiologists started noticing higher than usual numbers of dogs with DCM. At Tufts University, Lisa Freeman, DVM, Ph.D., DACVIM, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist with a research emphasis on nutritional effects of heart disease, reported an alarming number of these dogs were eating what she called BEG diets.

Boutique diets are produced by small companies without nutritional testing facilities. Exotic-ingredient diets use unusual sources, such as kangaroo or duck, which have not received extensive testing more common sources such as chicken or beef have. Grain-free diets replace grains such as rice and corn with potatoes or legumes as a carbohydrate source. No study has ever shown grain-free to be superior to grain-inclusive diets.

Good Health Begins With The Gut

When it comes to choosing a diet for your dog, the health of their gut should be at the forefront of every decision. They only get one digestive system in their lives, and any damage can unfortunately be long lasting and irreversible. Do your research, understand your pooch and make choices based on their preferences and health.

Of course, all dogs need a healthy supply of animal protein to get all essential amino acids. Meat should be the number one ingredient on every dog food recipe. Percentages are important, but they can also be misleading. Some brands may include fresh and dried meat in the same category, so be sure to take a closer look at the ingredients list. And for those that have vague terms and are not transparent run a mile!

Our philosophy at Scrumbles is to focus on gut health. We include probiotics in our range of dry dog food and dry cat food, as well as slippery elm in our range of wet dog food and cat food for digestive health, stool quality and healthy immune systems.

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So Is A Grain Free Diet Better For Dogs

Now that weve established that dogs can digest grains, should they? And do grains offer any benefits for dogs?

As weve seen, grain-free dog food arose from the gluten-free trend in human food. A lot of people believe that grain causes allergies for dogs, but this isnt supported with evidence. The more common food intolerances for dogs are reported to be beef, dairy, wheat, chicken and egg.

So, opting for a grain-free dog food is unlikely to protect against allergies unless your dog is specifically intolerant to grains. Its more common for a dog to be gluten intolerant than intolerant to grains and these words are not interchangeable.

Animal Numbers In Dcm Reports Received Between January 1 2014 And April 30 2019

Ask the Dogologist: Are grain-free foods the best?

*Cats are generally more likely to develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is recognized as a genetic condition in dogs, typically in large or giant breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, or the Irish Wolfhound. It is also seen in Cocker Spaniels associated with taurine deficiency. It is believed to be less common in small and medium breed dogs. We suspect that cases are underreported because animals are typically treated symptomatically, and diagnostic testing and treatment can be complex and costly to owners. FDA has observed a reporting bias for breeds like Golden Retrievers due to breed-specific social media groups and activities that have raised awareness of the issue in these communities and urged owners and vets to submit reports to FDA. Because the occurrence of different diseases in dogs and cats is not routinely tracked and there is no widespread surveillance system like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have for human health, we do not have a measure of the typical rate of occurrence of disease apart from what is reported to the FDA.

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The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe

Another very expensive recipe, this food offers something a little bit different. The ingredients in this recipe are dehydrated rather than cooked. This means that they dont lose any of their nutrients to the cooking process, so this recipe contains even more of the goodness that your dog needs.

This food starts with dehydrated food as its first and only animal-based protein. It is coupled with organic barley and oats, dehydrated potatoes, and peas as its source of carbohydrates. While the recipe then also utilizes a nutrient pack, it also contains a range of dehydrated fruits and vegetables, ensuring that your dog gets most of their vitamins and minerals delivered directly in the way that nature intended.

This recipe is one of the most nutritious things that you can feed your dog however, it is by far the most expensive food on this list. It is an investment in your dogs health. The food is also very high in calories, at around 4,300 calories per kilogram. But thats OK, the price-tag means that you will want to feed it to your dog in moderation.


  • Expensive
  • High in calories

If you are looking for the best and healthiest possible dry food to fill your dogs bowl, you cant beat this dehydrated recipe from The Honest Kitchen.

Wholegrains Boast Lots Of Benefits For Dogs

For more than 40 years in my career as a veterinary surgeon I have championed the valuable role that whole grains can play in managing health problems in dogs. Brown rice, oats and maize are excellent whole grains that can help a variety of ailments including skin disorders, digestive problems and even behaviour issues. Regardless of whether these ingredients are home cooked or commercially produced, they can play an important role in supporting pet health, meaning fewer trips to the vets and a happier pup all round. Natural, wholesome grain-based food has stood the test of time!

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Is It Safe To Feed My Dog A Grain

Its important to understand that researchers are still looking into what appears to be a rise in dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs eating boutique or grain-free diets. The concern is that there are more dogs not traditionally susceptible to DCM being diagnosed.

Unfortunately, marketers would have you believe that high-priced specialty dog foods that are grain-free and filled with the taste of exotic proteins are actually better for your dog.

That doesnt mean they are not safe. They just might not be enough.

Pet food companies are now pushing a back to nature agenda that suggests ingredients should resemble things we normally eat. The reality is that our dogs nutritional requirements are not the same as ours and a grain-free diet may not be enough.

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