Feeding your dog a grain free diet has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Most regular dog food is stuffed with wheat, corn and soy, but grain free dog food eliminates all of these ingredients. It contains more protein, meat and animal fats, while having lower levels of carbohydrates than the regular stuff.
Though these are definite positives, there is much debate around whether or not a grain free diet is right for your dog or not. In some cases, it may not be prudent, but in this post, we will run through the benefits of grain free dog food.
Before we start, please note that a grain free diet is not for all dogs. It’s therefore vital that you discuss any plans with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.
It has been proven that dogs are biologically incapable of fully digesting grains.
As grain free dog food has more protein and less carbohydrates, it’s easier to digest than food laden with carbohydrate heavy grains.
Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down starchy carbohydrates, and dogs do not have enough of it in their bodies to fully break down and digest carbs. Therefore, grain free food is beneficial in aiding digestion.
If your dog has trouble digesting their food it’s therefore advisable to introduce them to a grain free diet.
Many pet food brands stuff their products with unnecessarily large quantities of grains to bulk up their product and produce it as cheaply as possible.
These products are therefore very low in nutritional value, as their main ingredient is carb-heavy grain.
Conversely, grain free food is high in vegetables, fibre and healthy meat or fish protein, which provides your dog with a nutritionally complete and balanced meal.
A grain free diet can be of great benefit to your dog’s coat.
Grains do not provide your dog with the proper oils and nutrients needed to maintain a healthy skin and coat.
As grain free dog food is high in protein, there tends to be an increase in omega-3 fatty acids, especially in food that contains fish. These fatty oils make your dog’s coat thick, shiny and healthy.
The increase in protein also leads to a stronger coat which in turn reduces shedding, a benefit that every dog owner can agree on!
(Photo credit - kallerna)
Grain free dog foods can be of benefit to your dog’s energy levels.
Protein is the main source of energy for dogs, and regular dog food doesn’t provide your dog with much protein or energy, as it will mostly come out as waste.
Alternatively, grain free dog food is high in protein and is therefore an excellent energy source.
This mirrors the way humans eat. If we eat a low-quality, high-carb diet we don’t have enough energy and do not really fill up.
Grain free dog food is also recommended for pregnant and lactating dogs, as it will provide the energy the dog needs to produce puppies and to provide them with nutrients.
If your dog suffers from an allergy, making the switch to grain free dog food can be especially beneficial.
Many dogs are allergic to wheat and corn, common ingredients in dog food with grain. If your dog has diarrhea, an itchy behind or is licking their feet, these are symptoms of an allergic reaction and you should visit your vet immediately.
If the result is that your dog has a grain allergy, then you will be advised to make the switch to grain free dog food.
Another benefit of grain free dog food is that it can help control your pet’s weight.
If dogs consume an excessive amount of carbohydrates without getting enough exercise, they could experience weight gain. Most grains contain a lot of carbs, so feeding your dog regularly can therefore lead to weight gain.
Alternatively, grain free dog foods have a high vegetable and meat content, and usually include good carbohydrates like sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have a lower carbohydrate level than regular potatoes and include more vitamins, potassium and fibre than grains.
What’s more, because of the high nutritional content in grain free dog food, it helps keep dogs fuller for longer than regular dog food, which results in less food being eaten overall.
(photo by https://www.flickr.com/people/10393601@N08)
As dog owners, we‘ve all experienced a time when our pet’s breath is less than pleasant. But eating grain free dog food can actually help improve bad breath in dogs.
Nutrition has a huge impact on dental health, and in most cases, poor nutrition leads to bad breath. Therefore, if a dog eats a highly nutritional diet, like grain free food, it can really benefit their breath.
It’s clear that a grain free diet can be incredibly beneficial to dogs.
If you are beginning the change to grain free dog food, always introduce it to your dog slowly. You should begin by mixing a bit of grain free dog food into their regular food, and gradually increase the amount over a few weeks. This will allow your dog’s digestive system to adjust to the new food.
In summation, here's why grain free food is beneficial to dogs:
But, as always, you should always discuss changing your dog’s diet with your vet first.