As with just about everything these days, whether or not to put your dog on a grain-free diet is hotly debated.
Grain free dog foods have become popular for those wishing to mimic a dog’s natural ancestral diet,
and it’s easy to see why. Over the years dog foods in general have deviated further and further
from what dogs actually need to survive and flourish.
Compared to the typical kibble or wet food, the best grain free recipes contain more meat protein as well as easy-to-digest animal fats. Wheat, gluten and dairy are the most common
allergens seen in dogs today and account for a whopping 70% of dog allergies.
Chances are you know at least one person who has gone gluten or grain free, who cites the benefits of the Paleo Diet or quotes from the bestselling books Wheat Belly and Grain Brain.
Grocery stores have made shelf space for gluten-free pastas, crackers, cereals, cookies and cake mixes and restaurants offer gluten-free pizza and beer to appeal to grain-free customers.
But what about our four-legged fur babies?
What are the pros of going grain-free and how can it benefit your dog?
Here's 10 benefits of a
Grain Free diet
A grain-free diet is more closely associated with a canines natural diet..
Long before dog food was scooped from a bag into personalized doggie dishes, canines would hunt and capture raw, protein-rich meals. After all, you don’t see wolves grazing peacefully in a field of flowers.
Protein-based, grain-free dog foods more closely mimics a canines natural or “ancestral” diet.
However, with the introduction of mass-produced dog kibble around World War II, inexpensive fillers like corn, wheat and barley were added to dog food to create bulk and keep costs down. Today, most commercial dog foods still list corn or wheat as their main ingredient. What's the main ingredient in your dog food?
A grain free food will contain predominantly meat and
high quality foods will have a fresh meat content.
Grain-free dog foods are more easily digested and therefore easier on the digestive tract.
While dogs have evolved from wild animals to Internet celebrities, the canine digestive system is still pretty primitive. Dogs have little natural digestive support for breaking down and metabolizing complex carbohydrates and cereal grains.
These difficult-to-digest fibres and grains remain undigested, with the body relying mainly on fermentation to break them down. Over a long period of time, this can damage the lining of the digestive system, resulting in bowel inflammation disorders, food sensitivities, food allergies, leaky gut and obesity.
Our cooking methods of human grade freshly prepared food at low temperatures mean more than 90% is digested!
We all know how uncomfortable it can be to have an achy tummy and our four legged friends can’t let us know if they’re just feeling ‘meh’!
Dogs on a grain-free diet produce
less poop and toot less too!
Because our dog’s digestive tract isn’t irritated it is more efficient and so processes more of the healthy high quality food to help their bodies work.
This means there is little to come out the other end,
what does, is usually compact and easy to pick up.
Most high quality food providers will also add
yukka extract to help lessen those nasty smells.
Your dog will have more energy
and vitality for life!
While considering a grain free diet for our dogs, we should pay attention to the nutritional value of the most important dog food ingredient—meat. In the wild, the wolf will hunt, and in desperate times, he will scavenge. Once he finds a fresh kill, he drags it to the nearest campfire and cooks it up until it's well done.
Of course a wild dog would eat the carcass raw, the parts with the highest biological value first, and as fast as he can. Meat, raw meat specifically, is your dog's number one food of choice and his body does best when fed a primarily meat protein, and specifically, raw meat.
A diet that includes low-quality grains (fillers) won't provide your pooch with the energy they need since it will mostly come out as waste. It echoes the way humans consume. If we eat a low-quality, high-carbohydrate diet, we stay hungry and we don't have the energy we need to get through the day. Imagine having pizza for breakfast, we’d just want to sleep on the sofa all day!
Protein is the main source of energy for dogs. A healthy un-irritated digestive tract will be able to take all the proteins our dogs needs from the food it consumes ultimately maintaining a normal weight and enjoying better overall health.
Dogs on a grain-free diet
have fewer allergies
Most canine allergies are associated with the grains in dog food. Wheat, gluten and dairy are the most common allergens seen in dogs today and account for a whopping 70% of dog allergies.
When a dog is displaying signs of dog food intolerance or food allergy, it becomes absolutely necessary to change to grain free.
Some of the signs that your dog is having a bad reaction to the grains in their food include Rash, licking, vomiting, upset tummies, constipation and diarrhea, skin and coat irritation, ear infections, and a wide variety of other health issues.
If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, of course the first thing you should do is consult your vet but usually a grain-free diet can help to eradicate these symptoms if they are on-going and is worth considering before allergy testing and medications.
And even dogs without allergies will benefit from a diet that has been formulated specifically to meet their natural nutritional needs. Typical fillers to look out for would be wheat, wheat gluten, barley, rye, corn, maize, dairy and soya.
When there are health risks involved,
why waste money on dog food with grain fillers?
With no fillers there’s space for more healthy stuff, like vegetables
One common misconception is that grain free dog food is also low-carb.
Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, green peas, potatoes and carrots often replace the grains in grain-free dog foods and have a good carbohydrate content.
Fruit, vegetables and herbs are a healthy addition for our pets and are an important part of their diet, they keep it balanced and contribute to all the
vitamins and minerals our dogs need to sustain a healthy life.
Dogs on a grain-free diet consume less food
Because many grain-free dog foods contain more protein and animal fats, and fewer carbohydrates than their grain-based counterparts, they are more easily digested so our dogs get more energy from the food they are eating, and therefore they consume less.
So whilst grain free can appear more expensive, in the long run you may even save money but even if you spend the same, or a tiny bit more,
having a happier healthier dog full of vitality and
the peace of mind knowing their insides are fit
whilst still feeling fuelled and energised and at a healthy weight
has got to be worth it, right?
Your dog will shed less and have a healthier coat.
Consuming low-quality grains on a regular basis does not provide our dogs with the proper oils and nutrients they needs to maintain healthy skin and coat.
We all shed some, but think about how one of the signs of human malnutrition is brittle, breaking hair and hair loss. Same with dogs.
The easy-to-digest animal fats in grain-free dog foods include the necessary oils that are key to a healthy coat. Meats high in oils are fish as well as duck and pork.
Get that 'show coat' shine!
Variety is the key!
Grain free brands often have a choice of flavours.
This not only naturally allows for the variation of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and nutrition our dogs need in their diet but
helps with fussy eaters too.
A choice of flavour stops them getting bored with the same food.
Would you want to eat the same meal day in day out,
even if you were told it had everything you need in it to survive?
“Variety is the spice of life” as they say and we have 10 flavours to choose from! From the humble Chicken and Herbs that never lets us down to the more gourmet Salmon and Asparagus, gentle Haddock and Parsley to meaty Tuna and Broccoli or maybe spring Lamb and Mint to hearty Venison and Mulberry.
Take a look at our other flavours and see what appeals to your pooch.
Good honest labelling
A high quality grain free company will want you to know what is in the food you feed your dog, they want to build a relationship you can trust.
Avoid generic terms like ‘fillers’ and whilst not a legal requirement, labelling should ideally have a breakdown of the meat percentages for your convienience.
Items are listed with the largest quantity ingredient first.
As dog lovers we want to know exactly what we are giving them and
can make a clear and informed decision which is the
best choice for them what ever their stage of life.
Is Grain-Free Food Right for My Dog?
If your dog is perfectly happy and healthy, then you may not need to make any dietary changes.
A good rule of paw: always consult your vet before making any
major changes to your pet’s diet.
In the meantime, check out the ingredients label on your dog’s food or the brand’s website.
If they list corn, wheat or soy as the first ingredients, you should consider gradually
switching to a formula that features protein as one of the main ingredients.
Tips for going Grain Free
It's a Dogs Life!
Healthy nutrition is the foundation of a healthy fit dog inside and out
but don’t forget the other elements of a healthy canine lifestyle:
plenty of water, exercise, medical check-ups, dental hygiene, and grooming.
If you have any concerns about whether you should change your dog food, how to change your dog onto an alternative food or any concerns following a swap, always consult your Vet.
We all want to live a happy healthy life and to do this we need to eat well and enjoy our food.
Naturally, we want the same for our dogs,
it's the least we can do given all the unconditional love and joy they bring!
Whether your dog is a Dachshund or a Great Dane,
a puppy or a gentle old friend, a show dog, a working dog,
a precious pooch with a sensitive tummy or a portly lovable rouge
who eats you out of house and home
they trust us to give them exactly what they need.