Are Grain Free Dog Foods Healthier
Over the past couple of decades, grain free dog foods have become tremendously popular. Today they are often preferred to other kinds of kibbles, even for dogs that do not have any food allergies or sensitivities.
People often believe that these foods have better quality ingredients that they are lower in carbohydrates/starches than other dog foods and that they have more protein. Not all of these things are true. It always depends on the particular dog food or brand.
Veterinarians tells us that true food allergies are not common in dogs, accounting for about 10 percent of all the allergies diagnosed in dogs. They are only the third most common cause of allergies in dogs, behind flea bite allergies and inhalant allergies. However, if youve ever had a dog with a food allergy or a food sensitivity, you know just how awful they can be.
And, if youve ever spent any time on a dog food message board, you would probably doubt that low percentage. There is never a shortage of dog owners with itchy dogs or dogs with gastrointestinal problems.
Some people even some veterinarians and alternative health practitioners seem to believe that grain free dog foods are healthier for dogs because, by definition, they do not contain the glutens found in some foods with grains.
Actual gluten only comes from wheat and related grains such as barley, rye, oat, and all their species and hybrids . This means that corn and some other grains and cereals do not really have gluten.
How To Choose The Best Grain
Lets take a look at a few important characteristics that high-quality grain-free dog foods should possess, and how this could impact the health of your pup.
- High in Meat Protein – High-quality grain-free dog food will list real meat as the main ingredient not unnecessary fillers such as potatoes and starches. Dogs are primarily carnivorous and thrive on a meat-based diet. When real meat is listed as the first ingredient, you can be sure your dog’s food contains a high ratio of a quality protein source that will support their overall health.
- Minimally Processed – The best grain-free dog foods are made with minimally processed, whole, and natural ingredients. Dry dog foods are cooked multiple times at high heat, which destroys nutrients and diminishes flavor. By comparison, minimally processed wet foods contain ingredients and nutrients closer to their original state.
Moisture Rich – A dog’s natural, carnivorous diet contains around 70% moisture. High-quality, wet grain-free dog food mirrors mother nature by providing adequate moisture to help the body function. Unlike dry dog food, it’s biologically appropriate and can help prevent health problems including urinary tract infections, digestive issues, and obesity.
What Ingredients In Grain Free Dog Food Causes Heart Disease
According to the FDA, certain grain-free dog food products may possibly increase the risk of canine dilated cardiomyopathy . In addition to those which contain legumes such as peas or lentils, seeds of beans of different types, or potatoes as a primary ingredient, foods of concern also includes foods that contain other legumes, nuts, and grains.
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Does Your Puppy Have A Gluten Allergy And Require Hypoallergenic Food
Choosing whether or not to put a pup on a grain-free diet is generally up to the owner.
This is not the case for those dogs with gluten allergies they will have to make the transition to allergen-free foods, such as those available on a grain-free diet.
While it is rare for puppies and dogs to suffer with a gluten intolerance, it does happen and needs to be taken seriously.
Unfortunately, there is no long-term cure or treatment for these allergies. However, keeping your puppy or dog on a gluten and grain-free diet permanently is an effective way of managing this condition.
Signs of a gluten or grain intolerance in your puppy include:
- Unhealthy looking poop. This might include diarrhoea, or blood and mucus in their stools.
Vets Explain The Connection Between About Grain
Veterinarian Erica Irishs first brush with DCM came in the form of an emergency. A Doberman eating grain-free was brought in and passed away almost immediately after due to heart failure. But her other DCM case has a happier ending:
An owner brought their three-year-old pitbull in who was lethargic and showing symptoms of respiratory distress. My colleague recommended an emergency echocardiogram and found the signs of DCM. The owners stopped the grain-free diet and started heart meds. Now shes active and playful again, Dr. Irish told us.
Neither vet that betterpet interviewed felt that grain-free food was a safe choice for most dogs. Dr. Irish said that, To date, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that grain-free diets have major health benefits. Dogs with food allergies could potentially have a grain-allergy, but it is more likely that the protein source would be the inciting factor for food-allergic dogs.
Dr. Brooks commented further on allergy cases, recommending owners should only feed their dog grain-free food if their pet has a confirmed grain allergy.
The only benefit to grain-free dog food would be for that very tiny percentage of dogs that actually has a grain allergy. Working with a veterinary dermatologist or other specialist and doing extensive food trials and testing would be the way to confirm whether grain-free food will help with this or not, she said.
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Benefits Of The Grain
Most veterinary doctors suggest that Carbohydrates and grains make about 10% of your dogs diet. The ratio that needs to be maintained and is considered healthy is 50% vegetables,40%protein and 10%grains. Most of the grain-free dog foods contain very less amount of carbohydrates and are rich in meat and therefore are easily digested.
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.
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Why Were Grains Removed From Dog Foods In The First Place
The myth that domestic dogs are unable to digest grains is likely to be a factor in the growing popularity of the grain-free diet. It has been well-documented that dogs can thrive on a grain-inclusive diet and have done so historically!
The great evolutionary success of the dog can be traced back to its evolution alongside human populations. This was achieved, in part, by the dogs ability to adapt to consuming the carbohydrate-rich scraps and leftovers. There are no studies that have shown grain-inclusive diets to be detrimental to the health of our domestic dogs. In fact, the cooked grains in commercial diets provide many beneficial nutrients to the diet including vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
The grain-free statement on the label itself has also proven to be an attractive feature of certain dog foods. The absence claim labelling trend is on the rise as has been seen with the popularity of free-from foods on British shelves.
This category of products was originally created to satisfy the needs of individuals with allergies and intolerances. However, free-from foods are now being appreciated by the wider market and are perceived to be healthier than ones without a claim. Similarly, with dog foods, absence claims can make a diet seem like a better choice even when the reasons arent clear.
Grain Free Dog Food Faq
A: Grain free food means that the food is not made from wheat, rice, corn, sorghum, tapioca, potatoes, or any other type of grain. The vast majority of dog food, especially natural dog treats, contain grains. However, the nutritional content of the grains has been altered by the addition of either bacteria, enzymes, such as pectin, amylase, lipase or peptase A, are present, in particular, to allow the dogs to digest the starch contained in the foods. As a result, there is no longer any need to feed your dog a grain-based diet.
A: There are many reasons why a dog needs to be on a healthy gluten-free diet, but the main reason is that they cant digest certain foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and other grains but is especially prevalent in kibble made with wheat. It is also present in some kinds of dairy products. If your pooch has a sensitivity to gluten, they will not be able to thrive on this kind of food.
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Is Grain Bad For Dogs
Filled bones can help dogs pass the time safely.
Over centuries of domestication, dogs have adapted to accommodate grain in their diets, so the corn and wheat in ordinary dog food isnt destroying your dogs digestive system. Lower-quality brands may rely too much on those starches as fillers, and thats not ideal. They may also use genetically-modified corn or wheatand we dont fully understand the effects of GMO ingredients on dogs. If that is a concern, however, you can find GMO-free dog food that uses grains.
There is some controversy about whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores. Their guts have certainly adapted to some grains, however, so its not necessarily grains themselves that are the enemy. Instead, consider the proportions. Good-quality foods for dogs should have protein as the first ingredient, and shouldnt be packed with additives and unnecessary fillersincluding low-quality meat byproducts or too much potato, both of which can show up in otherwise grain-free foods. In other words, just because its grain-free doesnt mean a food is healthy or will help your dog maintain a healthy weight to avoid obesity-related health issues.
How Much Is Kirkland Grain Free Dog Food
On the site, it costs only about $1 to purchase dog food at Costco. For a pound online, you will pay $14, while if you are in the local store it will cost you nothing. In the store, it costs 77 cents per pound. Price changes are made in response to service and delivery charges when buying Costco online.
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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.
Taste Of The Wild Grain
Taste of the Wild High Prairie is one of 9 dry recipes included in our review of the Taste of the Wild product line.
- First 5 ingredients: Buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas
- Other recipes: Puppy, adult, small breed, and more
- Price: $
- See all 9 available recipes
Taste of the Wild High Prairie derives most of its meat protein from buffalo, lamb meal and chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% estimated carbs resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.
A superior choice for your dog. Heartily recommended.
Sample buyer reviewMy fur babies love it, I bought the bag before I finished off their other food and they would inspect the bag. As soon as I cut it open and fed them, they wont touch their other food. They know which is which and they prefer Taste of the Wild over all their food. Glad theyre happy.
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Taste Of The Wild High Prairie
Ingredients: Grain-free is the motto of Taste Of The Wild. Featuring a potent blend of natural ingredients, including free-range bison meat, this blend is for dogs who cant eat grain or whose owners want a more ancestral diet for their pets. You wont find anything but the best ingredients from a brand like Taste Of The Wild, and your pet deserves the best.
Price/Where To Buy: You can buy a 28-lb. bag of Taste Of The Wild High Prairie for about $48 on sites like Chewy and other pet food outlets. You can also find it in some stores.
The Difference: Taste Of The Wild High Prairie blend provides optimal nutrition while keeping your pet grain-free. Many people prefer a more ancestral diet for their pets, but if youre not getting high-quality food, it wont make a difference.
What Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy
DCM is a heart condition that is characterized by an enlarged heart size and thinning of the heart muscle. These changes weaken the hearts ability to pump blood, so the disease tends to be progressive and eventually leads to heart failure.
Dilated cardiomyopathy can affect both cats and dogs. Canine DCM has traditionally occurred in middle-aged and older dogs, especially large and giant-breed dogs, such as the Doberman, Great Dane and Irish Wolfhound. Because specific breeds are susceptible, this had suggested that the disease has a genetic cause.
But in cats, DCM is caused by a deficiency in taurine, an amino acid that cant be synthesized by the body and must be obtained in the diet. Once researchers found that low taurine was the cause of feline DCM, manufacturers began adding taurine to commercial cat foods to ensure that cats received adequate amounts. As a result, feline DCM is now very rare. That raises the question of whether diet plays into a dogs chance of developing DCM.
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Is Grain Free Dog Food Killing Dogs
Over 1,100 deaths resulted from DCM poisoning associated with grain-free food between 2014 and today, the FDA said. Well, when you look at the millions of dogs and cats who consume grain-free diets, and the number is well-above that, why do we have so few dogs and cats eating grain-free food??. Morgan noted that it accounted for only a very small percentage of the population.
The Theory About Dcm And Grain
The suspicion is that grain-free foods may not contain enough taurine to support heart health. Taurine is an amino acid thats needed for heart health though its not considered an essential amino acid for dogs . Dogs make taurine themselves and shouldnt need taurine supplements. Its also important in eye, brain, and immune function. Taurine is abundant in meat, but it was discovered that some large breeds, including Great Danes, Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, and Irish Wolfhounds, cant manufacture enough taurine when their diet is low in animal protein. The dogs studied were eating grain-free diets that may have led to DCM. and these particular dogs had their heart disease partially reversed when taurine was added to their diet.
Again, grain-free diets dont have cereal grains, but they do contain legumes like lentils or peas. These are sources of protein but not animal protein that contains amino acids like taurine. And grain-free diet manufacturers are saving money by using plant-based proteins instead of meat.
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Cooking Our Way To A Healthier Dog Diet
Ever since I started raising my own dogs, Id always wanted to make their food at home but thought it would be too expensive or too time consuming, or that they wouldnt get the nutrition they needed.
During the month of Bugs doggy depression, I vowed to make her precious life as comfortable as possible.
Both of my pugs had a range of health issues growing up, which I unfortunately found out were common for the breed.
My older one had persistent hot spots and itchiness that no commercial dog food could cure .
Bug was overweight for a while when she was younger, even though she ate the recommended amount of food for her target weight. Eventually, I settled on Wellness kibbles and they did well with that brand.
But, I wanted to explore other options. I wanted to give them real food fresh, nutritious ingredients that I recognized and could even eat myself.
Ive mentioned in my post on homemade whole grain chicken feed that the entire household all share the same whole grains and seeds that we buy in bulk, as well as the bounty that comes from our edible garden.
Everything our animals eat, we can eat.
When it comes to homemade feed for our laying hens, we stick to a tried-and-true formula that works for every layer: 16 to 17 percent protein , vitamins, minerals, and amino acids from a wide variety of grains and seeds, and free range of a pasture for weeds, greens, and insects.
Dogs, on the other hand, arent bred for a standard function the way chickens are.
Faqs With Our Vet Nutritionist
How do I serve this beef recipe to my pup?
You can serve this recipe right away while its still warm, or cool it in the fridge first. If your pup prefers wet food, you can also thin out the recipe with some beef broth. Serving size will vary depending on your dogs size check with your vet for a more specific recommendation.
How do I store this recipe?
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days you can also freeze this recipe and store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.
What if my dog doesnt like this recipe?
Similar to humans, some dogs are just picky eaters! Keep trying out recipes to find one your pup loves. If you notice any gastrointestinal issues or skin infections, talk to your vet. You may need to opt for an alternative protein thats gentler on the tummy, such as lamb.
Can I feed beef to my dog every day?
Lean ground beef is a fantastic ingredient to feed your dog, but its also important that your pup gets a balanced diet! While many of the homemade dog food recipes you can find are easy to cook, studies have shown that most DIY recipes still lack all the necessary nutrients that would make it an adequate everyday meal.
To ensure your pup is getting everything they need to stay healthy and happy, we recommend working with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.
How do I know if my dog should avoid grains?
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