Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Is No Grain Food Good For Dogs

Can Grains Make Dogs Fat

Why Is Corn Good for Dogs?

This idea probably came about from the Atkins low-carb diet popular with humans. But grain-free does not mean carbohydrate-free. Grain-free foods contain about the same amount of carbohydrates as foods containing grains. In actuality, wheat gluten contains more than 80 percent protein, is 99 percent digestible, and has an amino acid profile similar to meat proteins. Corn, when prepared properly, is actually an excellent source of highly digestible carbohydrate, essential fatty acids, and fiber, and can be an especially crucial ingredient in diets for dogs with medical conditions requiring reduced fat or protein.

Pros And Cons Of Grains In Dog Food

by Best Pets Veterinary Hospital | Dec 22, 2017 | Blog

Dogs are notoriously unfussy about what they eat. One of the reasons for this is that despite being largely classified as carnivores, they can also obtain the nutrients that they need to live from both plant and animal origin.

Choosing the right food for your dog can be something of a challenge, particularly as there are so many varieties currently available. Yet as a responsible and caring owner, you will undoubtedly want to ensure that your pet gets the best possible nutrition to live a healthy, active life.

One of the hot topics surrounding pet nutrition in the last couple of years has been the presence of grains in dog food, and there is now a wide selection of grain-free choices available to choose from. But is grain-free food really better for your furbaby?

To help you make the decision as to what to feed your furry best friend, here is our guide to the pros and cons of grains in dog food.

About Grains

First things first what are grains and what do they do? Grains are the source of energy in our food and are classified as a carbohydrate. There are two subcategories of grains. These are:

whole grains, which include whole wheat bread, crackers, cereal flakes, brown rice, oatmeal, and popcorn

refined grains, such as white bread, cornflakes, flour tortillas, and white rice

When it comes to checking food to see which type of grain it includes, the information should be listed clearly on the label.


What Does This All Mean

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.

Recommended Reading: Iams Prostora Max

Reasons Not To Feed Your Dog Grains

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Grain means rice, wheat, corn, soy, barley, millet, rye, quinoa, oats, pasta, bread, and so on.

Wheat, corn, soybean, barley, rice, oats, sorghum…. why is there so much grain in dog food? Common sense says dogs aren’t livestock, right?

Ah, good questions. Follow the money.

Did you know that bagged and canned dog food didn’t even exist until the past hundred years or so? That’s when entrepreneurs with dollar signs in their eyes foresaw an industry in which pet owners would pay them for the convenience of ready-made bagged and canned diets for their pets.

All these entrepreneurs needed was…. ingredients.

Obviously dogs were meat-eaters, so meat needed to be in the recipe. But it couldn’t be too much meat. Too expensive.

Wait, what about all the crops being produced across the vast Midwest and Central Plains of the US? The farm belt was producing huge quantities of grains and cereals, some of which wasn’t fit for human consumption because of mold or other contaminants.

Could cheap grain unfit for human consumption be used to replace much of the meat in pet food? Would pet owners complain? Would they even notice?

The answers are yes, no, and no.


But recently….

Dog owners began noticing all the health problems.

On the plus side, there’s really only one thing: cost.

Lemons And Limes: Cant Eat

Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Dry Dog Food ...

Lemons and limes can be toxic to your dog.

This is because the skins of lemons and limes contain a substance called psoralen, which can cause dogs to have gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea .

If very large amounts of psoralen are consumed by dogs, more severe symptoms, such as muscle tremors, difficulty walking, liver failure and death, can result.

Also Check: Low Residue Iams

The Nutritional Content Is What Really Matters

The are pros and cons to both grain-free and regular dog foods. Grain-free may be a great options for your dog, but it may not be the best option. The best option is to go with the dog food brand that has the best nutritional content for the specific needs of your dog. You can work with your veterinarian to determine which is the healthiest dog food for your dog. Your vet will make specific nutritional recommendations based on the health, lifestyle, and age of your dog and from there, you will know whether to buy grain-free or regular dog food.

Regardless if you and your vet have decided you will go grain-free or stick to a regular dog food, you need to then make sure you always read the nutrition label. The label will tell you all the ingredients so you can avoid fillers or bad carbohydrates. It can help you figure out if the vitamins and mineral content is good for your dog and also if the manufacturer is using high-quality ingredients. So whether you decide to go grain-free or not, if you keep your dogs nutritional needs in mind, you will always pick the healthiest dog food.

Should You Feed Your Dog A Grain

If you think your dog would fare better on a grain free or novel grain diet, talk to your vet. He or she might take the same stance as the doctors we spoke to, who agreed: if it aint broke, dont fix it.

If your dogs doing really well on his current diet, I wouldnt change it, says Dr. Adolphe. My motto is all foods fit, its just figuring out which works best for your individual pet.

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Why Go Grain Free

We know that, when given correctly cooked grain as a food ingredient, intolerance in dogs is relatively uncommon but when it does occur, it can be distressing for the dog and the owner. So an increasing number of dog owners are not taking any chances and are going straight to grain free. Many of our customers report that the grain free foods are even more palatable than our rice-based foods, so are especially good for fussy eaters. There are many benefits of going grain free for your dog, meaning theyll be full of energy and shining with health from toe to tail.

Grain Free Feeding Has Been Linked To Heart Disease In Dogs

Can Dogs Eat Grains ( what are the best grains to feed them?) – Dog Health Vet Advice

When grain-free first became fashionable, I hesitated because of my concerns about the nutritional and health consequences of alternative ingredients. This caution has been justified. There is growing evidence from the USA that grain-free diets are linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy , a type of heart disease. Analysis of data by the US Food and Drug Administration into hundreds of cases including deaths caused by DCM has found a potential link with grain free food, although, so far, no definite cause has yet been established. A particular concern is that DCM is being seen in breeds not associated with the disease. Some of the US pet food brands linked to the condition are being sold in the UK.

As a result, both American and British vets are encouraging pet owners to think carefully before choosing a grain free diet. Even if you put aside the potential risks associated with this diet, there is no evidence to support any claim for health benefits that can be gained from feeding a grain free diet.

Read Also: Dr.pol Dog Treats

Grains Arent A Protein Substitute

Also what grains are healthy to feed to a dog? So having said that dogs can digest grains and they can utilize them, grain shouldn’t be utilized as a substitute for high quality animal protein. So we’re not talking about using grains to completely replace the animal protein or the meat, if you like. We’re just using it as an addition to a diet.

Before You Switch To A Grain

If you do decide to go grain-free, transition gradually between old food and new food. Start out with 90 percent old food / 10 percent new food and slowly alter the proportions until youre serving only new food. This will help your dogs digestive system adjust properly. Keep an eye on your dogs bathroom excursions during the transition and keep an eye out for diarrhea or constipation.

As always, its a good idea to consult your vet before making changes to your dogs diet, and be sure to check for the AAFCO-verified nutritional value on the label. AAFCO, or the Association of American Feed Control Officials, regulates pet foods in the United States an provides health guidelines for manufacturers and pet owners.

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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.

Some Dogs Do Benefit From Grain

IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Dry Dog Food, Grain Free ...

-Dr. Donna Solomon, a veterinarian in Chicago .

Dr. Solomon continues, “Is it true that dogs are not designed to eat grains? No, dogs can digest grains. Your pet dog is not genetically equivalent to the ancient wolf that he arose from. The precise timing and location of this transformation is unknown but it is speculated to have occurred over tens of thousands of years ago…10 key genes have been identified that demonstrate our domesticated dogs increased ability to digest starch and fat relative to his ancient predecessor, the wolf.”

That same research above out of the University of Maine found that feeding a grain-free diet can be harmful to dogs when coupled with a high-protein diet. “Feeding a dog a high protein diet that is high in fat causes long term effects, such as harm to the kidneys due to being over worked and not being able to flush out enough urea in the system…Labels that read grain-free are more harmful to the dog and should not be given unless required for other specific needs.”

According to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, grains are actually very rare sources of food allergies, especially compared to animal proteins.

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How Do Grains Benefit Dogs

Grains are actually an excellent nutrient source. Grains are packed with nutrients and provide carbohydrate, fat, and antioxidants. That means the grains in dog food can support healthy, skin, and hair, plus support healthy immune systems and more. Also, there are many different kinds of grain: wheat, barley, corn etc. Each has its own combination of nutrients, and many are easily digested by dogs. Dog foods containing grain balance the grains nutrients with nutrients provided by other ingredients to create a nutritionally complete dog food. Are dogs carnivores? Have you ever thought of your dog as a wolf? He isnt. Really, dogs are not carnivores or just meat eaters. Dogs are omnivores. This means dogs can eat and digest meat as well as grains . In fact, a recent study published in the journal Nature announced a discovery that explained dogs genetics and the implication it holds for their nutritional needs. Dogs have been omnivores for centuries and their bodies have evolved to easily digest starches.

If You Feel Your Dogs Food Is Connected To Dcm:

Based on the FDAs report, here are our first take-away points:

  • No matter what your dog eats, if she has any signs of DCM including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapse you should make an appointment to see your veterinarian ASAP, preferably one who can refer you to a veterinary cardiologist.
  • If you feed your dog a food that contains any potatoes, peas, lentils, or other seeds of legumes , look at the ingredients list. If the food contains one or more of these ingredients high up on the ingredients list, has several of these ingredients, and/or is a limited-ingredient diet typically, one containing only one animal protein source and one or two carbohydrate sources the possibility is good that the food is one of the type that is being looked at as possibly causing a higher incidence of DCM.
  • In contrast, foods that are not limited-ingredient foods and contain just one of those ingredients, or that have one or two of these ingredients fairly low on the ingredients list , are not the kind of diet that has been connected with DCM.
  • If you feed your dog a diet that meets the description of the foods that have been described by the FDA as potentially problematic , consider these points:

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Healthy Grains For Dogs

In the vast majority of dogs, grains can be a valuable source of nutrients without causing any harm to health.

Whole grains are generally more nutrient rich. So rather than talking about which grain in particular, I’d be saying whole grains are definitely the best, and thats something we should be thinking about. They’re more nutrient rich than highly refined grains.

That said, they shouldn’t make up the bulk of a diet. The reason this is an issue, is that refined grains especially, they are very cheap and so theyre often used as the main bulk of a diet, especially in cheaper diets.

So, we want to be thinking how much grain is in a diet. We don’t want it to be the main ingredient, and also what type of grain? So, rather than the specific plant, we should be thinking about whole grains rather than refined grains ideally.

The above is a transcript taken from The Dr Alex Answers Show.

If you would like me to answer any question you have about your pets health, simply fill in this form and Ill try and get you the information that you need. Its that simple!

Protecting Your Pet From Heart Disease

Grain vs. Grain Free Dog Food

CDM is not the only form of heart disease. Keeping your pets heart healthy can be a great motivation to make changes to their lifestyle to keep them heart-healthy. Here are changes you can make to protect your furry loved ones heart.

  • Feed a balanced diet as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Avoid giving too many treats and people food.
  • Keep your pet on monthly heartworm preventative.
  • Make sure you exercise your pet each day by taking 20-30 minutes walks, jogs, or other forms of active play.
  • Maintain your pets annual/biannual wellness examinations, which includes a checkup of cardiovascular health.
  • If you would like more information on grain-free dog foods and heart disease, please contact us. We will continue to keep you informed when there is new research and the latest developments on all things affecting your pet.

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    Other Possible Effects Of A Grain

    So is grain-free good for dogs, or a mistake? Any diet that relies too heavily on limited ingredients can result in nutritional imbalances, especially if your dog is fed the same food for extended periods . Nutritional deficiencies can cause fur loss, skin diseases, infections, lethargy, irregular bowel movements and a variety of other symptoms.

    What Should I Do To Make Sure My Dog Is Healthy While On A Grain

    Romine recommends taking a dog who has been on a grain-free diet to the vet to get checked outeven if that pet doesn’t show any symptoms. The vet will listen to your dog’s heart and take x-rays. Your pooch may even end up getting an echocardiogram by a veterinary cardiologist, which is the gold standard for evaluating cardiac function. But, she says, the good news is, “It’s possible to reverse the disease as long as your dog is not in end-stage DCM and you swap out the grain-free diet.”

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    Nutro Max Adult Natural Beef Meal & Rice Recipe

    Another affordable option, this beef recipe actually starts with chicken meal as its first ingredient, and then added chicken fat. Beef is actually the sixth ingredient on the list, and then we also see lamb meal. The result is a high protein recipe, but to characterize it as a beef recipe seems ingenious.

    For carbohydrates, we see whole grain sorghum, brewers rice, whole grain oatmeal, and whole brown rice. These are all nutritional and digestible, but despite there being quite a bit of it in the recipe, it is still pretty low in fiber, so some dogs may struggle with the high protein content.

    The recipe uses a good quality nutrient pack with nothing artificial, which means that you can happily feed it to your dog, even if it isnt really a beef recipe.


    • Low in fiber
    • Disingenuous marketing

    This kibble from Nutro Max is an affordable dry dog food that is very high in the animal-based protein that should be at the center of every dogs diet.

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