Dog owners who love their pets always keep an eye out for the potential news about what’s good and bad for their pets.
One of the instances that caught the attention of dog owners was the Grain-Free Diet Alert released by the FDA1.
This specific alert was initiated after an investigation that said that dogs eating specific grain-free foods might be more vulnerable to dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM. It means a dog might have an enlarged heart.
If you also read about that alert and you are wondering whether the supposedly healthy grain-free diets are worth it when it comes to your dog, then read on.
Here are some satisfactory answers for you.
The Rise in the Adoption of Grain-Free Diets for Dogs
There has been a rise in the adoption of a grain-free diet for dogs by pet owners.
This is because of one simple reason: People who are switching to healthier food options want the same for their furry friends.
Marketers of grain-free dog food have cashed in on this opportunity by promoting their products endlessly and using the emotional bond pet owners have with their pets.
The Meaning of “Grain-Free Food” for Dogs
Though the name itself is quite self-explanatory, we would like to mention it again.
Grain-free food for dogs is food manufactured for consumption by dogs without any grains. Examples of grains that are not present in such foods are corn, rye, wheat, rice, oat, soy, barley, etc.
All grains are small hard seeds that are derived usually from a food plant.
Do Dogs Need Grain-Free Food?
There is no single answer to this question.
Some dogs do fine with foods with grains in them as they have learned to accept them as a part of their diet.
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On the other hand, some dog owners prefer grain-free diets for their pets, and hence, the dogs adapt to that.
Are Grain-Free Diets for Dogs Also Carbohydrate-Free?
No, usually, the grain-free diets for dogs have carbohydrates that can be due to the addition of ingredients like sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, quinoa, etc.
For example, Pure Balance’s Grain-Free dog food contains peas, beets, carrots, and potatoes. Check out our full review here!
In many cases, the number of carbs can even be higher in grain-free dog food as compared to dog food with grains in it.
Is Grain-Free Dog Food Different from Gluten-Free Dog Food?
No is the simple answer to this question.
Grain-free dog food won’t have any grains at all.
In contrast, gluten-free dog food will have no gluten-rich grains like rye, barley, or wheat. But it might have other gluten-free grains.
Similarly, grain-free dog food might have ingredients that are a source of gluten.
Also, there might be cross-contamination at a factory if a manufacturer is producing gluten-free dog foods and grain-free dog foods.
So, if your dog has to stick to either of these diets, you should be very cautious about the products you pick.
Grain-free and gluten-free are not synonymous terms.
How to Know If You Need to Buy Grain-Free Dog Food?
You need to buy grain-free dog food if your dog is allergic to grains.
However, dogs usually don’t have an allergy for grains.
They are more likely to be allergic to the protein, especially chicken or beef. Corn allergies are also there, but they are not very common.
Hypoallergenic foods tend to be grain-free, though.
It is also a fact that most dogs don’t have food allergies. They might, however, have allergies that stem from environmental conditions or fleas.
In such allergies, changes made to dry dog food will be unlikely to bring in any results.
Choosing the Right Grain-Free Pet Food for Your Dog
If you have consulted with a vet and they advised you to look for grain-free pet food, here’s a small guide on choosing the right one from many options out there.
Look at Meat Protein Content
As pet parents, you should know that foods that are high in meat protein content are good for pets.
When your dog has more protein than other fillers like potatoes, the dog would be healthier.
As dogs are carnivorous animals, they would also relish foods with high-quality meat protein in them.
Less Processed is the Best
Processed foods are one of the best options for people who can’t cook their dog’s food at home.
However, when buying such products, make sure that the foods are minimally processed.
If they are processed to a great extent and are dry, it will mean that they might have fewer nutrients and minimal flavor.
In contrast, if they are minimally processed, they will be loaded with natural ingredients and will be wet.
An easy way to tell if the food is highly processed is to see if they ingredient list mentions animal meal instead of a specific species such as beef or salmon.
Make Sure There’s Enough Moisture
Your dog’s diet should include foods that have moisture, as the dogs need moisture to ensure their body works perfectly.
Too much intake of dry foods can lead to digestive issues, obesity, and even urinary tract infection by changing the urine’s pH and contributing to the formation of bladder stones2.
So, switch to pet food manufacturers that retain the moisture in the food and make every meal a healthy and tasty one.
When deciding whether or not you need to look at grain-free dog diets for your pet, pet parents should better consult a vet.
They will conduct a thorough exam of your dog’s health and then decide whether it’s needed or not.
Most dogs do fine with gluten-containing grains, and your dog will most likely do the same.
Is It Really Healthier for a Dog to Eat Grain-Free?
Unless a dog has an allergy to grains, going grain-free is not necessarily healthier.
Do Dogs Need Grain in Their Diet?
It doesn’t matter much. Protein is the only necessary element in a dog’s diet.
Why Is Grain-Free Dog Food Bad?
Grain-free dog food is not bad. It can be a healthy option for dogs who are allergic to grains.