Dog food: Grain Full or Grain Free? - The Trupanion Blog
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Dog food: Grain Full or Grain Free?

grains foodYou may have noticed the recent trend of gluten-free foods that can be found in grocery stores. Whether people are intolerant of gluten or are just deciding on a gluten-free lifestyle on the belief that gluten is unhealthy, they have come to the conclusion that grains are not good for them and therefore must not be good for their pets. Enter grain-free dog food.

There are many reasons pet owners choose to feed a grain-free diet, but they aren’t all necessarily backed with solid evidence that grain-free is the way to go. Check out the benefits of each type of diet and decide for yourself.

Benefits of feeding grain-free:

  • Less poop to scoop: High-protein, grain-free diets are very digestible which results in smaller stools
  • Beautiful coat: These types of diets contain higher levels of fats which produce a gorgeous coat quality for most dogs
  • Allergy prevention: It is suggested that corn, wheat, and rice (grains) can lead to the development of allergies in dogs
  • Feeding less: Grain-free foods are more calorically dense which means you can feed smaller portions (your dog won’t blow through his bag of dog food as quickly!)

On the contrary, feeding dog food with grains

dog food bowlDog foods with whole grains such as oats and barley promise plenty of carbohydrates and fiber which your pet might not necessarily be getting as much of on a grain-free diet. Whole grains are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and proteins.

When a dog develops allergies, it could be due to a number of reasons, yet grains get the blame. If changing your dog’s food to grain-free resolves the allergies, then your dog either has an intolerance of grains or is simply feeling better due to eating higher quality food ingredients. Dr. Ken Tudor suggests on PetMD to add pasta to your dog’s food after he has acclimated to a grain-free diet to see if symptoms return (making grains the true cause of allergies). If your dog does not react to the addition of pasta, then it is perfectly okay to feed a diet that includes grains.

Whether or not you choose to include grains, be sure to select a dog food with high-quality ingredients (lamb vs. lamb meal, chicken vs. chicken meal, etc.) and protein should be the first listed ingredient.

Some pet owners swear by grain-free diets while others love their tried-and-true pet food brands that they have been using for years. It is ultimately up to you as a dog parent and your veterinarian to decide which type of diet and what particular food best suits your pet.

Do you have experience with grain-free pet foods? Let us know in the comments!

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