Is Grain- Free Dog Food Healthy?
Have you ever been in a store picking out your dog food and wonder why there are foods listed as grain- free? Maybe you have wondered is grain- free dog food healthy? Or maybe if its a better option than what I am giving them already. I want to clear up some questions that have come to my mind because I’m surely not the only one with them. I have actually had my dog on a grain- free diet for a long time now and never thought about the pros or cons since she is healthy.
When you look at your dog’s food ingredients you see a long list of grains, minerals, fruits, vegetables and vitamins. The grain ingredients are going to be rice, corn, wheat, barley, oats, quinoa, or buckwheat. When you buy a grain free bag of dog food there will be foods like sweet potato, broccoli, and chickpeas that replace the grains usually in food. Keep in mind that grain free doesn’t necessarily mean carbohydrate free. Ingredients like potatoes that are replaced for grains can be just as many calories as keeping a grain in the food.
Sometimes only one certain grain will be taken out of the food to cater to a dog food allergy. This will not have the allergenic grain but contain the other grains your dog is not having issues with. A single grain formula dog food is cooked at a lower temperature and that is actually easier for dog’s to digest. Usually when your dog has an allergy to food there will be many symptoms that may arise. Some are hair loss, inflamed skin, sores, or scabs, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Can My Dog Digest The Grains?
Dogs have been with humans for so many years now. Over this long period their digestive systems have changed and adopted to a new diet. When a wild dog is hungry they will eat bread or fruits but a wild wolf usually will not. Although dog’s have adopted well does not mean there is no potential issues.
Dogs can have a rough time digesting carbohydrates and cereal grains. If they do not get digested properly then the body relies on fermentation to break them down. This will only do damage to the lining of your dog’s digestive system as time goes by. When the lining of your dog’s digestive system is damaged you end up with bowel inflammation disorders, food allergies, food sensitivities, and many other issues.
Grain-free diets have been known to keep a dog’s tummy full for longer periods of time and that means less eating. When your dog is eating a healthier diet they will have fewer or smaller stools. This is because grain free foods have less indigestible fiber than grains like corn or wheat would have. When you replace the carbohydrate content with grain substitutes they work as a thickening agent. These foods slow the time it takes for food to pass through the intestines.
This diet is also recommended for pregnant and lactating dog’s! It gives mommy energy to produce puppies and provide them with the right nutrition. Their breathe odor will improve because the carbohydrate residue is no longer sticking to their teething. When this residue sticks to their teeth it makes a bad bacteria that stinks. Some dog’s have less shedding, improved coat quality and healthy skin after getting switched to this diet. Grain free can be high in protein. Protein will usually contain omega 3 fatty acids. This is what gives your dog a healthy coat especially if the food contains fish.
Your dog’s energy level may increase. Grains can be highly processed when the outer layers of a grain are mechanically removed to improve the taste, texture and color. This takes most of the healthy fiber out of your dog’s food. Your dog’s body will burn through the energy gave to them much faster. This results in a spike and then fall of your dog’s sugar levels. Keeping your dog at a consist sugar level will give them more energy.
The Three No’s
On your dog’s bag of dog food you don’t want to see corn, wheat or soy listed as the first ingredients. Wheat is a low cost grain to use compared to food like Bison. This carbohydrate is a sticky protein and will only give your dog issues. Wheat has been known to cause bloating, diarrhea, gas, low grade autoimmunity that causes inflammation. These issues are known for affecting people and not just our dog’s.
Soy is also a protein but highly genetically modified and has an unhealthy manufacturing process. Around Ninety percent of corn and soy planted in the United States is genetically modified in some way. High levels of pesticide roundup is found in GMO soybeans. They are also known to cause problems with organ systems in your body. Soy does not let the thyroid glands make T4 thyroxine and T3 Tri iodohyronine. These are hormones necessary for your thyroid to function properly.
Corn is a protein easily digestible that has linoleic acid and Omega-6 fatty acid. They are both known skin, coat, and immune system health. Vitamin E and beta carotene are also in corn and they promote a healthy immune system. The problem with corn comes when manufacturers make your dog’s food out of livestock feed corn. This type of corn is cheap and can contain my cotoxins. This is badly contaminated.
Research Is Key
To avoid issues with a certain bag of dog food you may want to look at company recalls or see if they manufacture their own food. The Association of American Feed Control Officials are who sets the standards for pet food in the United States. In order for a dog food to pass their inspection it must be complete and balanced. Checking the dog foods you are interested in with their standards can be a great help. Every dog is different and going to have different needs when it comes to nutrition. Your local Veterinarian can help you in the right direction of any food concerns you have with your dog.