Why Feed Dogs Whole Grains
If youre new to the world of pet food, you might be surprised to see ingredients like whole brown rice or oats listed on a bag of kibble. Its easy to assume that all dogs are natural carnivores, interested in meat to the exclusion of all other foods. However, a study done by The University of Maine found that our dogs are indifferent omnivores, meaning that they are capable of benefiting from a wide variety of foods. One of those is grains.
Transitioning To Homemade Dog Food
Most dogs dont have a problem making the switch to homemade food. If yours is prone to digestive issues, start slowly by mixing a little bit of the homemade food with the commercial food.
Over the course of a week or two, gradually increase the amount of homemade food while decreasing the commercial food.
If your dog vomits or has diarrhea, try introducing only a couple of new ingredients at a time until their systems are well adjusted to the fresh diet.
For dogs with health issues, please consult with a veterinarian if you arent sure what kind of supplements are needed. Use your best judgment, the way you would when feeding yourself or your family.
Should Your Dog Be On A Grain
Theres been a lot of buzz about the FDAs recently-released Grain-Free Diet Alert, which has left many dog owners concerned about potential impacts of grain-free foods on their pets health. The alert came after the FDA investigated reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy essentially an enlarged heartin dogs eating certain types of dog foods, many of them labeled grain-free.
With the growing popularity of grain-free dog food and many leading healthy dog food brands making the list, dog owners who feed their dogs these foods are faced with many uncertainties: How safe is it to feed my dog grain-free foods? Should I switch my dog to a different diet or brand of food? Should my dog even eat grain-free food? Are some foods safer than others?
With all the confusion out there, weve put together key considerations from our expert animal nutritionist, Dr. Richard Patton, to help you decide which diet is best for your dog.
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Preparation Of Our Homemade Diet
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!
Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food Lamb & Barley
In addition to healthy grains like barley and oats, the Complete Healthy formulation from pet food brand Wellness is made from high-quality, natural ingredients and packed with vitamins and nutrients to support your dogs overall health and wellness, including essential fatty acids , pre- and probiotics , and vitamins A and E .
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A Look At The Ingredients
The following chart shows that these cases may have something to do with common ingredients in grain-free dog food. The findings show high instances of cases reported in foods with ingredients such as peas, lentils, and sweet potatoes.
Image courtesy of FDA
And, to complicate the situation even more, some brands were reported more frequently than others, and some dog breeds also had more cases reported than others.
Image courtesy of FDA
With so many unknowns, its hard to pin down the exact cause of or contributor to these cases. But, as Dr. Patton shares, we should consider how these foods impact our dogs health, and we shouldnt limit our concerns to the risk of DCM. There are other problems that can result from some dog foods that have been labeled grain-free.
Iams Proactive Health Adult Minichunks
Good quality dog food often means a hefty price-tag, but thats not the case with this nutritious kibble with grain. While this definitely is not a cheap line, it is one of the most affordable on this list and excellent value for the quality.
The first ingredient in this recipe is chicken, and it is great to see a named meat as the first ingredient in a dry kibble. The meat content of this dish is then topped up with chicken fat, which is a healthy additive, as dogs need about 10 percent of their daily calories from fats, and also some chicken by-product meal, which is not great to see, but acceptable considering the quality of the other meat ingredients.
For grains, this recipe uses whole grain corn and whole grain sorghum, both of which are nutritious and highly digestible for dogs.
It also contains dried beet pulp, which is also perfectly good for dogs, but combined, these ingredients do mean that we are looking at a pretty high carbohydrate content, at the top end of what is acceptable in quality dog foods.
This recipe is then topped up with a very comprehensive nutrient pack, which means that your dog should not be missing out on any of the important things they need with this as a diet staple.
- Contains animal by-products
- Carbohydrate heavy
This recipe from IAMS is an affordable way to put healthy foods in your dogs bowl, as it uses a named meat as its main protein source and highly digestible, healthy whole grains as the carbohydrate.
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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken And Brown Rice Recipe
Blue Buffalo is one of the most trusted dog food brands on the market, and this recipe reminds us why.
It starts with deboned chicken as its first ingredient, topping up the protein content of the recipe with chicken meal as its second ingredient, and also added chicken fat. No animal by-products are used by this company.
For grains, we see brown rice, barley and oatmeal, all of which are recognizable ingredients that we would be happy to see on our own plates. This is a good indication that they are the right kinds of grain to be feeding our canine friends. The balance of grains to proteins in this recipe result in a high-protein recipe that is ideal for dogs.
The nutrient pack is again very comprehensive and includes added probiotics to aid digestion. The only red flags here really are again a relatively high amount of added salt and the price tag. Not as expensive as the previous food, but still pretty heavy on the wallet.
- Added salt
This is a great quality dog food from a trusted brand, and it has the ideal balance of protein and carbohydrates for dogs to thrive.
Nutritional Myths About Corn In Pet Food
Given the previously stated nutritional benefits, you might be thinking that corn doesnt sound so bad. Before you make your final decision, however, you should view the issue from both perspectives. Here are some myths and misconceptions that the pet food industry has been perpetrating about corn for years:
Corn is highly digestible for dogs. In general, whole grains are considered more easily digestible than grain-based by-products for dogs, but that doesnt mean that all grains are good for them. The fact of the matter is that corn needs to be processed in order to make it digestible for dogs.
This process involves refining the whole kernel into flour and then cooking it. Even if the corn on a pet food label is listed as whole, it is still likely to have gone through this process.
Corn is a low-glycemic ingredient. Not only do many dog owners worry about the digestibility of the carbohydrates in their dogs food, but they also worry about the glycemic index the degree to which the product affects your dogs blood sugar.
Some say that corn is a low-glycemic food, but it actually varies depending how it is processed the more finely it is ground, the higher the GI rating. To give you an idea what this means, consider the fact that meats generally have a GI rating of 0. Barley is rated at 25 and oatmeal at 49. Whole corn has a GI rating of 53 and corn meal has a rating of 69.
Corn is valued at 34 while quinoa earns a 45, peas a 53, and spinach a whopping 91.
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What Should You Look For
Dog parents should check for the Association of American Feed Control Officials label on any food they try. That means the food meets industry health standards. Other than that, she says its important to monitor your pet if the dog isnt gaining weight, doesnt like the food or is having issues like diarrhea and vomiting, call a vet. But if the dog likes it, keep going.
If you have an AAFCO-balanced food and the dog is doing well, thats the most important thing, Dr. Kraus says.
Top photograph: Fertnig/Getty Images
Grain Allergies In Canines
Occasionally, dogs can develop allergies to grains and require a grain-free kibble. However, a true allergy to grains is rare. An allergy can develop at any time, even if dogs have been eating grains their whole life.
Vets usually diagnose food allergies by process of elimination. Vets will usually switch their furry patients to hypoallergenic dog food for a few weeks to rule out other causes. If the symptoms resolve, they will begin trying different dog foods to find the root cause. Contrary to popular belief, grains arent the number one food allergy in canines its meat. But still, grain-free and gluten-free foods are often the first foods prescribed.
Symptoms of food allergies in dogs:
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Good For Dogs With Food Intolerance
It has been observed that food allergies are often caused by a grain-based diet. Many supporters of grain-free dog food therefore, maintain that grains are not bad, but they can cause digestive problems in dogs having food allergies or intolerance.
An intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat and other cereal grains, is not very common in dogs. But, if your dog has gluten intolerance, then a grain-based diet that includes wheat, oats, rye, or barley, can damage the lining of its small intestine and impair the absorption of vital nutrients. Such a dog can benefit from food that contains carbohydrates from sources other than grains.
The Discussion About Grain In Dog Food
With an understanding of the how dog food has evolved over time, it becomes easier to see why there are such differing opinions about the place of grain in the diet of a dog. On one hand, dogs have survived for thousands of years while consuming grain in various forms. On the other hand, dogs have also survived for thousands of years relying primarily on meat and vegetables as their source of nutrients. To begin to parse this argument apart, it is vital to understand the underlying reasoning and factors that affect each side of the discussion.
Proponents of grain-free dog food argue that ancestors of modern dogs would not have sought out or relied on grain as a source of food in their diet. One image that proponents of grain-free dog food rely on to challenge the logic of using grain in dog food is that of a wild dog eating wheat in a wheat field. This seems inherently unlikely, which is why it is intended to support the grain-free diet. One of the main tenets of the argument for grain-free dog food is that dogs were not intended to rely on grains in their diet and their digestive system is created accordingly. This can result in allergies, gastrointestinal issues, and infections as a result of a digestive intolerance to grain. However, not all dogs display an adverse reaction to food containing grain.
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How Often Should A Yorkie Eat
Feeding a Yorkie will be different thanfeeding a larger dog because they require smaller, more frequentmeals. Too much time between feedings can cause low blood sugar,hypoglycemia, and an upset stomach.
- Newborn puppies up to three months old should be given free-fed meals while they are being weaned from their mothers milk and are at a weight that can handle a more structured feeding schedule.
- Three months old to one year is when scheduled feedings should begin. Your Yorkie should be given three to four meals a day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. Meals should not be given later than two hours before bedtime.
- One year old and older is when a Yorkie is considered an adult and can be given an adult formula. Typically, a Yorkie should be given three small meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If there are any large snacks given, then it is okay to give your Yorkie two meals per day.
Is Grain Free Food Good For Dogs A Veterinarians Advice
Nutrition has an invaluable impact on our dogs lives, as it does with our own. Because we do want whats best for our fur babies, its becoming increasingly trendy to feed our dogs what we eat since what is healthy for us must be healthy for them, right? Well, not necessarily
Grain-free and gluten-free are two of the biggest food trends right now. Many dog foods boast containing more meat and fewer grains, getting back to how our pets ancestors ate, but today, I want to break down the ideas behind grain-free dog food and let you know a veterinarians take on this fad diets.
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Taste Of The Wild Ancient Grains Dog Food
Taste of the Wild Ancient Wetlands with Ancient Grains is one of 4 dry recipes included in our review of the Taste of the Wild Ancient Grains product line.
- First 5 ingredients: Duck, duck meal, chicken meal, grain sorghum, millet
- Type: Grain-inclusive
- Other recipes: Bison formula, fish recipe, lamb, and more
- Price: $$
- See all 4 available recipes
Taste of the Wild Wetlands derives the majority of its animal protein from fresh duck and both duck and chicken meals. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% estimated carbs which produces a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.
A new, grain-inclusive product line from one of the industrys most popular brands. Highly recommended.
Sample buyer reviewI have a Border Collie who grazed on the lawn for the past 8 years because we believed the hype that Grain Free was best. Due to several allergies and the information that some animals need grains, we tried Taste of The Wild Ancient Prairie with Ancient Grains. She stopped grazing the lawn and her allergic reactions ceased. She also no longer wipes her butt on my carpet because her stool consistency has improved. I would highly recommend this food for any canine owner. Im just sorry it took us so long to wise up. With the overall improvement in her health, we will continue to feed this food and will probably offer it to any future pets.
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.
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Secret #: Read The Ingredient List
Knowing exactly what is in your dogs food can have a huge impact on her health. If your dog has known food sensitivities, reading the list of ingredients is critical. Often a food will be called lamb and rice, but upon closer examination, the ingredient list will reveal that it also contains chicken, wheat, and corn. Ingredients are listed in order by weight, from greatest to least.
If your dog doesnt have allergies, these are the top four things to look for:
1. A single meat source as the first ingredient. You should be able to tell what type of meat was used poultry meal is a much better ingredient than meat meal.
2. Whole meat or meat meal. Meat by-products are made from the meat parts of the animal such as the organs, and are generally lower-quality ingredients handled less carefully than whole meats so avoid by-products. Whole meat contains a lot of water, while meat meal is whole meat that has been cooked and dried. When whole fresh meat is followed by a grain in an ingredient list, it means that, once the water has been removed, there are actually more grains than meat in the food. If that is the case, look for a meat meal in the list of ingredients as well to ensure that there is enough meat protein in the food. The type of whole meat/meat meal should be identified avoid mystery meats!
The top four things to avoid:
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