Monday, April 22, 2024

Is Grain Or Grain Free Dog Food Better

Are There Any Grain

Pet Nutritionist Explains Grain Free vs Grain Inclusive Pet Foods | Which is Better?

If a grain-free diet is critical, Romine recommends considering a grain-free product from one of the following brands: Eukanuba, Hill’s Science Diet, Iams, Purina, or Royal Canin. These options are among the few that meet current nutrition and safety standards set by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and labeling standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials . They also have undergone AAFCO feeding trials to ensure safety.

“There are so many health problems we can’t prevent,” Romine says. “If you can prevent heart disease by controlling your dog’s diet, do it. Err on the side of feeding a diet that doesn’t have those problems , until we understand the problem more.”

Should You Switch To A Grain

Pet parents may want to know if they should put their dogs on a grain-free diet. You should only switch your dogs good to a grain-free diet if you have permission from your veterinarian. Above all else, your dog needs to eat pet food that does not trigger any allergies and also provides all their nutritional needs.

Aside from ensuring that your dogs food has the right ingredients, it should also be suitable for your pets age . For instance, puppies need puppy food, adults need adult food, and seniors need senior food.

As long as you do your research and talk to your vet, youll know whether or not your dog needs to go on a grain-free diet.

Does Grain Free Dog Food Cause Weight Gain

Grain-free doesnt mean low carb. Some pawrents decide to make the switch from standard to grain-free dog food as they want to put their pooch on a low-carb or carb-free diet. Whether its for weight management, health concerns or simply their own preference, reduced carb diets are popular for both pets and humans nowadays.

Dry food needs a binding ingredient to create the kibble. In a lot of grain-free dog foods, the grains are substituted out with alternative starchy ingredients including legumes and potatoes. So, in reality, youre not actually cutting carbs at all and could actually be increasing it. As always, its important to look at the full ingredient make up to assess the quality of the food and ensure youre delivering on what your dog needs.

Also Check: Is Iams Dog Food Grain Free

Do These Ingredients Have The Same Benefits For Dogs Should Dogs Eat Grains

Whole grains such as corn provide dogs with important digestible nutrients including energy, protein, vitamin E and linoleic acid. It is those nutrients that are crucial to a dog’s overall health. The most important thing to remember is to choose a food that provides your dog with complete and balanced nutrition. This is true whether or not the food contains grains.

What Are The Pros Of Grains For Your Dog

Top 10 Best Grain

Dogs can enjoy the taste and nutritional benefit of a number of grains, just like us. But, like everything else we feed our dogs, its important to make healthy choices and not just opt for the same grains you or I would enjoy. Dogs are different. For example human toothpaste is a no no when it comes to brushing your dogs teeth.

Whole grains are our favourite type of grain for your pooch, providing the most nutrients and goodness. By definition, these are grains that have 100% of the natural kernel, meaning nothing has been removed during production. Brown rice and oats are whole grains that avoid gluten and offer an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

High in fibre

Whole grains, particularly brown rice, are full of fibre and a great source of magnesium and selenium, helping to ease digestion and keep your dogs gut healthy.

Antioxidant rich

Many whole grains are packed with antioxidants the superhero of nutrients! They can help your dog in a number of ways, including aiding weight loss, stabilising blood sugar and promoting good heart health.

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Is Your Puppy Intolerant To Grains

Whilst it is often up to the owners preference whether they feed grain-based or grain-free diets, there is one instance when grain-free food is necessary for your puppy if he or she shows signs of intolerances from eating traditional foods. Signs of a food intolerance include:

  • Chronic itchiness, chewing or licking of body parts
  • Sores or rashes
  • Bald patches or hair loss
  • Enduring flatulence, loose stool or vomiting

Grains are one of the least likely allergens in dogs . However, if your puppy is showing any or all of these symptoms and you have tried a variety of traditional foods, you might want to consider switching to a grain-free diet. For the majority of puppies, traditional food is perfectly healthy and if your dog enjoys it and is eating a balanced diet, then that is all that matters. However, for those of you with puppies that are showing signs of allergies, grain-free food represents a great option.

Being Equipped With The Right Information To Help Pet Owners Understand The Differences Between Grain

  • Paige Brockway

The grain-inclusive dog food category is surging, according to manufacturers, though retailers are concerned that dog owners are still being fed conflicting information about the benefits of grain-inclusive diets versus grain-free diets.

Weve seen tremendous demand for value-premium grain-inclusive foods over the past year, and were ready to grow our product sets and apply our high-meat nutritional strategy to this category, said Heather Acuff, product development director for Nulo Pet Food, a manufacturer in Austin, Texas.

Nulo saw a sharp increase in sales following the launch of its grain-inclusive lines in 2019. This can be partially attributed to concerns stemming from the U.S. Food & Drug Administrations June 2019 report on a possible link between grain-free diets and canine dilated cardiomyopathy , Acuff said.

Many pet owners were led to believe grain-free foods are harmful and that grain-inclusive diets were in some ways safer, she said. This caused a shift in their typical purchasing patterns that is evident throughout the industry.

Jilliann Smith, director of communications for Merrick Pet Care, a manufacturer in Hereford, Texas, said sales of both the companys grain-inclusive and grain-free diets are growing.

The debate over the merits of grain-inclusive diets versus grain-free diets remains contentious, with various retailers, manufacturers, veterinarians and pet nutritionists disagreeing over what is biologically best for dogs.

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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.

Preparation Of Our Homemade Diet

Grain vs. Grain Free Dog Food

All of the information above might seem intimidating, but I assure you that making the actual meals for our dogs takes no more than 20 minutes of actual hands-on time.

First, we cook our complex carbs, whether theyre grains, legumes, or starchy vegetables.

While that pot is simmering on the stove, we cook the meat in a separate pan in coconut oil and ground turmeric. After its cooled a bit, we add chunks of meat to our food processor and pulse until theyre broken down into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces.

Then, we gather whatever vegetables or fruits we have in the kitchen , chop them up as needed, and toss them into the food processor.

We also add a few clean, crushed eggshells to the mix. A few pulses turns all this food into smaller pieces, making them more digestible for our dogs.

Finally, we add the cooled, cooked carbs to the food processor and do a couple more pulses to combine. Everything should have a finely crumbled texture by this point.

Since dogs have short digestive tracts, its crucial that you break down the food to increase its bioavailability that is, making all the nutrients in those wholesome ingredients more digestible in a dogs system.

I prepare enough food to last my two pugs an entire week. Its unbelievably easy, and I like knowing exactly what goes into their food. Friends will watch us feed our pugs and remark that it looks good enough for them to eat!

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Grain Free Dog Food Vs Regular Dog Food

Whats the real difference between grain free dog food vs regular dog food? The base of what these foods are made from is the real difference. For traditional dog food, the base is often made from cereal grains.

Cereal grains are the seeds of certain plants that are grown as food. These grains include barley, rye, spelt, wheat, corn, oats, or rice. Other grains like buckwheat or quinoa have been gaining popularity lately, however theyre most likely not going to found in dog food.

A traditional dog food is also using grain as a source of carbohydrates and sometimes protein. So, the real difference between grain free dog food and regular dog food is that grain free dog food does not use any grains. Grain is not a filler nor is it a source of carbohydrates. Instead, these grain free dog foods often use potatoes, peas, chickpeas, or carrots as a source of carbohydrates.

Is Excessive Protein In Dog Food Bad For My Pet

Protein is a calorie dense nutrient and many of the high protein diets are extremely high in calories and can quickly lead to weight gain. With over 50% of dogs in the U.S. considered overweight or obese, dog owners need to be aware of where those extra calories are hiding. If a dog has kidney or liver issues consuming too much protein can increase the workload on these organs and upset the balance of nutrients leading to exacerbation of disease.

Rather than look for a dog food that contains excessive levels of protein you should find one that is specifically formulated for your dogs lifestyle, life stage, and size. A working sled dog, for example, will have significantly different nutrient and caloric requirements than the average pet dog that ventures outside for a few walks a day and spends the rest of the time lounging. These two dogs should not be fed the same diet.

Puppies, meanwhile, require more protein than adult dogs because their bodies are busy growing. Among breeds of puppies there are different requirements for nutrients as well. For instance large breed puppies like Labrador retrievers need a much different diet than a Yorkie for optimal growth. Feeding large breed puppies something that is too high in protein may make them put on weight too quickly causing abnormal joint development and making them more prone to issues like arthritis in the future.

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Purina One Smartblend Chicken & Rice Adult Formula

Another highly affordable option, this is a very similar recipe to the IAMS option above, so it is similarly good quality and healthy for your pooch.

It starts with chicken as its first ingredient, so we know that the recipe starts with a good quality meat-based protein. The meat is topped up with beef fat, which is a great healthy addition, and chicken by-product meal, which is acceptable considering the other meat content of this dish, but not ideal.

For grains, we see rice flour, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, and soybean meal. So, again, this is a very carbohydrate-heavy recipe, and at the top end of what we like to see in food for dogs.

The corn gluten meal might be a red flag for some dog owners who are familiar with the issues associated with gluten, but most dogs dont have a problem with gluten. I would be more worried about the soybean meal, which can cause a little bit of flatulence. Smelly.

Again, this food has a very comprehensive nutrient pack, which is like a multivitamin for your dog and contains pretty much all the good stuff they need. The one ingredient I didnt like to see pretty high up on the list is salt. Excessive sodium can be toxic to dogs, so it is not great to see a lot of it in their food.


  • Contains added salt
  • High in carbohydrates

Another affordable recipe that ticks the boxes in terms of combining high-quality meats and digestible grains into a healthy and nutritious meal.

Wellness Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe

Country Kibble Grain

Wellness Complete offers another fantastic recipe that mixes high-quality meats with highly digestible grains.

Deboned chicken is the first ingredient in this recipe, followed immediately by chicken meal, and then added chicken fat. The result is a food that is high in the rich animal-based protein that dogs need as their primary source of energy.

For grains, we see oatmeal, ground barley, peas, and brown rice. All of these ingredients should be full of the nutrients that dogs should be getting from grains and should be easy for them to digest. The fiber should also mean that they have no problem digesting the proteins in this recipe.

The recipe then adds a selection of fruits and vegetables, as well as a nice nutrient pack, to ensure that your dog is getting all the nutrients that they need to thrive with every bowl.

The big red flag on this ingredient list is garlic powder. Garlic is part of the onion family, and onions and garlic are toxic to dogs. There is probably not enough garlic here to be overly concerned, but there is just no reason that it should be added to a dog food recipe.

The other concern with this kibble is the price, being one of the more expensive options on this list. But isnt your canine best friend worth it?


  • A good selection of fruits and veggies


  • Expensive
  • Contains garlic powder

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Is Grain Free Dog Food Right For You

So, there you have it, lots of myths debunked. Hopefully this helps you assess if grain-free dog food is best for your pooch. Not all grains are equal and hopefully weve drummed in the mantra of check the ingredients as your go to for assessing pet food.

If you have consulted a vet, gone through the process of elimination and discovered that your pooch is one of the unfortunate few with a grain intolerance, grain-free dog food is certainly what you need. If, however, youre looking for the best dog food for your pooch, assess the ingredients fully. Most importantly see how your dog enjoys the food of your choice.

When making any changes to your poochs diet, its important to transition. Remember that all dogs are different, and their nutritional needs differ throughout their lives. Its best to take things slowly and make the change gradually for your dogs digestive system.

Our top tip on what to look for is a dog food thats gut friendly.

Treating Food Allergies In Dogs

The only effective way to treat a food allergy in dogs is to change their diet.

While grain-free foods are often touted as good for food allergies, science tells us that protein sources are more likely to be the culprit. According to a study published in 2016, the top three most common causes of food allergies in dogs are beef, dairy, and chicken.

Recommended Reading: Is Iams Dog Food Any Good

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


*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.

Holistic Select Adult Health Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Recipe

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

While this recipe may start with chicken meal as its first ingredient, this is quite common for dry kibbles, and it is reassuring to see that there are no animal by-products in this recipe. The animal-based protein in this bag comes from chicken meal, pork meal, and chicken fat.

For grain, we are looking at brown rice, rice, oatmeal, and oats. This is a combination of grains that I like because they are all foods that I understand and I am happy to put on my own plate. While dogs and humans dont have the same dietary needs, that doesnt mean that there isnt any crossover, and in general, the grains that are good for me are also good for my dog.

As well as containing one of the most comprehensive nutrient packs Ive seen, there are a few other standout ingredients. The recipe contains some fresh fruits and vegetables, such as cranberries and papayas, which are superfoods for dogs as well as humans.

There is also a nice dollop of salmon oil, which is a great source of both fats and Omega 3 fatty acids, which means a healthy and shiny coat among other things. It also contains added microorganisms to help with digestion, especially of protein.

The big problem with this dry kibble is that it is expensive. It costs twice as much as the previous two foods on this list. This recipe is also high in calories at around 4,000 per kilogram, so should be fed to your dog in moderation.


  • Added microorganisms to aid digestion


  • Expensive
  • High in calories

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