Dogs are well-known for being picky eaters. One explanation for this is that, although being mostly carnivores, they can get their nutrition from both plant and animal sources.
Choosing the best dog food may be difficult, especially with so many options. However, as a responsible and loving owner, you will definitely want to ensure that your pet receives the greatest possible nourishment in order for them to live a long and healthy life.
The prevalence of grains in dog food has been one of the hottest concerns in pet nutrition in recent years, and there is now a large range of grain-free options available.
What are Grains?
Grains are “edible seeds of select grasses belonging to the Poaceae (also known as Gramineae) family,” according to the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. Grains are commonly pulverized for use in loaves of bread and cereals, as well as in dog food.
Grains are high in fiber and are thought to be beneficial to the digestive system because they help in stool movement and provide food for good gut flora.
What’s the difference between grain-free and conventional dog food?
Grain-free dog food is exactly that: wet or dry food without grains. Grain-free dog food isn’t the same as gluten-free or carb-free dog food.
Potatoes, carrots, peas, and other root vegetables or beans provide the carbs in grain-free dog food instead of grains. The following ingredients are absent from grain-free dog food:
- Brown rice
Is grain-free food, on the other hand, actually better for your pet?
Here is our guide on the benefits and drawbacks of grains in dog food to help you make an informed decision about what to give your beloved buddy.
Grains are a type of cereal that is used to make bread.
To begin, let’s define grains and what they do. Grains, which are classed as carbohydrates, are a source of energy in our meals. Grain may be divided into two types. Here are some of the chevalier
- entire grains (whole wheat bread, crackers, cereal flakes, brown rice, oatmeal, and popcorn)
- white bread, cornflakes, flour tortillas, and white rice are examples of refined grains.
Because the milling necessary to manufacture refined grains destroys many of the natural nutrients found in them, such as B vitamins, iron, and fiber, whole grains have been shown to be far healthier.
When it comes to determining whether the sort of grain is present in a product, the information should be prominently shown on the label.
Grain in Dog Food has Several Advantages
- Possibilities and options
The availability of options is by far the most significant benefit of selecting a dog food with options. Grain-based products considerably outnumber grain-free alternatives, and finding grain-free options in smaller convenience stores can be challenging.
Grain-free dog food is still considered ‘specialized’, and is thus marketed at a higher price than conventional dog food.
- Profile of nutrients
Regular dog chow has a diverse range of components that contribute to its excellent nutritional profile. Grains in regular food provide a lot of nutrition from components like omega 3 fatty acids, potassium, and magnesium, which are sometimes lacking in grain-free types, and complex carbs supply a lot of the energy that your dog requires to keep active.
Grains give your pet yet another source of protein. Finally, fiber is essential for your pet’s health and is abundant in grains found in most pet foods.
Grain in Dog Food has Several Disadvantages
- Allergies may occur
Grain allergies are one of the most frequent allergens seen in dogs, and they are just as common in humans. As a result, ordinary dog food may aggravate the symptoms of your pet’s allergy, while grain-free diets are nearly always preferable.
- It’s difficult to swallow.
Carbohydrates are difficult for all dogs to digest, especially those with digestive issues. This might induce stomach soreness and constipation in your pet. As a result, a grain-free diet can help dogs with stomach problems.
- Filler of poor quality
As a cheap and simple way to bulk up their goods, several dog food producers utilize grains like maize meal or wheat gluten, which can drastically degrade the food’s quality. These fillers provide your pet with almost little nutritional benefit. Grain-free meals are less likely to include fillers and are more likely to have higher-quality components.
The use of grains in dog food has both positive and negative aspects, and which is best for your pet may depend on her health. Contact our veterinarian for more information on the benefits and drawbacks of grains in dog food.
What Should I Feed Instead of Grain-Free Dog Food
Grain-free dog food has certain advantages, but ultimately, it boils down to what you and your dog prefer.
Before moving your dog to a portion of grain-free food, we recommend talking with your veterinarian. Based on his age and life stage, health, and other individual circumstances, your veterinarian can help you evaluate if this is the best food choice for your dog or if there are other choices.
Dr. Venator also recommends searching for dog diets that are comprehensive and balanced. This indicates that all of the components are in the proper ratios and concentrations to give the acceptable quantities of protein, fat, and important nutrients.
He also suggests double-checking that the food complies with the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) pet food rules.
What Is the Best Grain-Free Dog Food?
The majority of dog owners desire to provide their pets with high-quality food. Providing your dog with the proper nourishment on a regular basis can help keep them happy and healthy, which is something that everyone wants for their pet. Grain-free food is necessary for some pets.
Grain-free food isn’t necessary for all canines. Dogs can suffer from allergies, but only around 10% of all canine allergies can be traced back to their food. Most food allergies in that 10% are to beef, poultry, lamb, eggs, or dairy, not grains. Grain-free food can help your dog ingest fewer carbohydrates, but many grain-free formulas just swap other carbs, like peas or rice, in the diet.
However, one proponent of grain-free dog food formulations points to the food’s quality. Many are made by well-known dog food manufacturers who only utilize the highest-quality ingredients.
Let’s get started with these grain-free dog food reviews without further ado.
American Journey Grain-Free Formula – Best Overall
Deboned fish, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and a combination of fruits and vegetables make up this salmon and sweet potato recipe from the American Journey. Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are provided via salmon oil and flaxseed in this dish.
To support your dog’s general health and immune system, this meal is strong in fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. It’s grain-free, corn-free, and soy-free, making it an excellent alternative for dogs that have sensitive stomachs or food allergies.
Despite its “all life stages” description, this meal is not recommended for pups. American Journey does, however, produce grain-free puppy food for dogs under the age of one year.
Although American Journey dog chow is not certified to be GMO-free, it is deemed safe.
Breed Size – Small, medium, and large breeds
- Suitable for dogs of all sizes
- Exceptional food
- There are no fillers or by-products
- Excellent for dogs with food allergies
- Not recommended for pups
- GMOs are present
Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Dog Food – Best Value
The first ingredient on Blue Buffalo Freedom is actual beef. It contains no by-product meals, artificial colors, or flavors, and is grain and gluten-free. It includes Blue Buffalo’s trademark Life Source Bits, a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals selected by veterinarians and animal nutritionists to enhance overall wellbeing. It’s also a limited-ingredient meal, so it’s less likely to cause a food sensitivity reaction.
Some owners reported their dogs developing diarrhea after eating this meal; however, this can happen when you introduce a new food to a dog too quickly. Furthermore, because the kibble is tiny, it is not recommended for large breed dogs that may choke.
Breed Size – All breeds
- Food with few ingredients
- Bits from Life Source
- Transitioning might cause stomach distress
- Small in size
ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dog Food – Premium Choice
Our grain-free dog food of choice is ORIJEN Original Grain-Free. ORIJEN is proud of how it obtains its components. While this results in extraordinarily high-quality cuisine, the price reflects this.
Fresh free-range chicken and turkey, as well as wild-caught or sustainably farmed fish, are included in this kibble recipe. It’s produced entirely of Whole Prey animal products, including organs and bones, and contains an incredible 85 percent animal content. While it is essentially raw food, it has been freeze-dried coated for long-term storage and preservation.
Dogs that have never eaten freeze-dried raw food may struggle to acclimate to the new diet since ORIJEN food is raw. This meal is also rather costly, so you’re taking a risk if you’re not sure if your dog will enjoy it.
Breed Size – Small, medium, and large breeds
- Ingredients of excellent grade
- raw frozen
- If your dog isn’t used to eating raw, it can get unhappy
FAQs: Grain-Free Dog Food
What grains should dogs avoid?
Another big issue with feeding grains to your pet is that it causes diarrhea. Most, if not all, of the brands that include grain components use highly processed grains, such as rice, oats, or wheat. This low-quality food has a variety of negative consequences for the dog’s health.
Should dogs consume grains?
Food intolerances affect dogs just as much as they do humans, and grains are one of the most prevalent allergens seen in dogs. As a result, ordinary dog food may aggravate your pet’s sensitivity symptoms, and grain-free diets are almost probably preferable for your canine companion.
Is grain-free dog food better?
While carbs are necessary for your dog’s energy production, too many of them can lead to obesity, incorrect bacteria in the gut, and a lack of energy. So, just because dog food is branded “grain-free” doesn’t mean the grains have been substituted with other substances.
Is grain poisonous to puppies?
Grain-free labels are more damaging to the dog and should not be provided unless necessary for other reasons.” Grain allergies are uncommon, according to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, especially when compared to animal proteins.
Do grains induce inflammation in dogs?
Many processed commercial dog feeds contain grains including wheat, rice, soy, and spelled, which can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate and uncomfortable swelling in your dog. Grain restriction in your dog’s diet can help to reduce inflammation.
It’s ultimately up to you what you feed your dog, but now that you know the facts, you can make an informed decision for him. Still not sure which dog food is best for your pet? To speak with a veterinarian in real-time, click here.