In recent years, the hot trend in pet foods has been grain free dog food and cat food. Grain free pet foods can have many health benefits for our pets. Here, we’ll focus on grain free dog foods and discuss why feeding a food that contains no grains may be a healthy choice for your pet.
Most grain free pet foods will naturally be lower in carbohydrates than a food containing corn, wheat, oats or rice. This doesn’t mean that grain free foods are carbohydrate free. All dry pet food requires that the ingredients include some form of starch so that the kibble can be hard and crunchy. Grain free pet foods replace the grain based starch with other types of starch such as potato, sweet potato, tapioca, or green peas.
Grain free dry foods do contain lower levels of carbohydrates, which more closely resembles the natural diet of a carnivorous animal. Dogs are descendents of wolves, and a wolf would only encounter grain in the stomach contents of prey animals they consumed.
What’s wrong with grain?
Some dogs develop allergies to the ingredients in pet food. Corn, wheat, and rice are frequently found to be the cause of the allergic reaction. Some say that it’s not the grain that’s the problem but rather the pesticides that were used on the grain while it was growing that causes the sensitivity. Feeding a grain free diet may help if your dog has chronic skin or digestive problems.
Can puppies eat grain free food?
This depends on the brand of grain free dog food you select. Some brands only recommend their grain free food for adult dogs, while other brands formulate the diet to be complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages. The label will indicate if the food is recommended for all life stages or just for maintenance of adult dogs.
Are there other health benefits?
Studies have shown that many dogs live healthy lives on diets that are high in carbohydrates;however, others tend to gain weight on such diets. Just as there has been evidence showing that low-carb/high-protein diets can help to promote a healthier weight in humans, the same may be true for some dogs.
While reducing obesity in dogs, low-carb/high-protein diets have also been shown to reduce the incidence of diabetes in cats. There are fewer studies proving the same for dogs, but studies showing successful weight loss suggest that similar benefits may be seen.
Grain free, high-protein diets are highly digestible, which typically results in decreased stool volume. High-protein diets also contain higher levels of fats and amino acids resulting in radiant coat quality for most pets. Finally, grain free foods are more calorically dense, allowing for smaller portions to be fed.
Grain free dog food is not for every pet, but if you are noticing problems with digestion, skin/coat or weight gain, your dog may benefit from one of the many brands of grain free food on the market.