If you’ve been reading up on dog nutrition, you may be on the lookout for the best grain free dog food.
Grain free seems to be all the rage right now.
If you don’t really know what all the fuss is about, let’s have a closer look at when it might be the best choice for your dog.
First, let’s have a look at the dietary needs of dogs, then answer some questions:
What is grain free dog food?
Is it a better nutritional choice for my dog?
And what is the best grain free dog food?
What Are the Dietary Needs of Dogs?
Dogs have lived with humans for thousands of years now. As such, their dietary habits have been heavily influenced by us.
However, some recent studies have suggested that, given the choice, modern dogs seek out a diet very similar to that of wolves.
One study found that in dogs selecting their own diet, carbohydrates consisted of only 3% of their macronutrient intake.
This in itself is not conclusive evidence that dogs shouldn’t eat carbohydrates.
It does suggest that a diet rich in carbohydrates may not actually be the natural diet for dogs.
Grain Free Diet for Dogs
In light of these findings and concerns about food allergies, some dog owners and health care professionals have started looking into grain free diets for dogs.
They reason that while dogs are capable of digesting starches, it might not be the optimal diet for them.
Some pet food manufacturers also claim that a grain free diet is the answer to a slew of health issues.
However, grain free may not be a “cure all” for every dog.
Much care is always needed when selecting what to feed your dog.
This is especially true when considering a specialized diet, such as grain free.
Is Grain Free Dog Food Better?
Poor quality dog food will use grains as a filler to bulk up their product.
Often the amount of grains and starches used as filler offer little to no nutritional value to your dog.
While going grain free will eliminate this issue, there is still more to consider before making the switch.
Give careful attention to the needs of your dog and the risks of feeding your dog certain foods.
For example, if you are considering going grain free in the form of a raw food diet, there are some risks that come into play.
Meat Based Raw Food Diet
In Europe, a study was conducted which examined 95 dogs being fed a homemade, meat-based raw food diet.
It was found that 60% of these dogs were suffering nutritional deficiencies.
Salmonella infection also poses a risk to both pet and owner when your dog is being fed a raw food diet.
You may have heard reports of the benefits of a raw food diet.
Make sure you have carefully researched the dietary requirements of dogs, especially if you are preparing the food yourself.
It is vital that you do not pose extra health risks to you or your pooch when feeding your dog such a diet.
Not all grain free diets are raw, however.
A high quality, commercial grain free diet will eliminate some of the risks we have mentioned.
Fat in Dog Food
Dog owners might be concerned a grain free diet will be high in fat, and therefore bad for their dog.
Unless your vet has advised you to put your dog on a low-fat diet because they have a certain condition, such as pancreatitis or obesity, then feeding your dog a low-fat diet is of no real benefit.
In fact, despite being demonized for many years, fat is a necessary and beneficial part of a balanced canine diet.
You can find out more about the benefits of fat in your dog’s diet in this article.
Grain Free Dog Food Benefits
Some debate swirls about the benefits of feeding dogs a grain free diet in general.
However, if your dog has an allergy to certain grains, then the benefits of going grain free are undeniable.
It is important to make sure you have any allergies or intolerances properly diagnosed.
The foods that dogs are allergic to can be surprising.
According to one study, the most common allergens for dogs are beef, chicken, milk, eggs, corn, wheat, and soy.
However, if you have had your dog tested and grain is indeed the culprit, your dog will most likely thrive on a quality grain free diet.
Best Grain Free Dog Food
When considering grain free dog food brands, you should check the ingredients list.
Make sure that the manufacturer has not simply replaced the grain with large quantities of other cheap, starchy ingredients such as potato.
It is worth keeping in mind that grain free does not mean low carb.
If you need both, it might be worth looking out specifically for a low carb grain free dog food.
But how do I know if it’s good?
A good grain free dog food should meet the guidelines put forward by the American Association of Feed Control Officials.
The AAFCO does not endorse any brands as the “best grain free dog food.”
They also do not produce a list of pet foods that meet their standards.
If a food states that it is nutritionally complete and balanced, however, it must meet the standards set by this body.
By visiting their site you can check out any claims made by the food company yourself.
Below are a few grain free options you might like to have a look at.
Grain Free Dry Dog Food
CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Dry Dog Food. The Canidae range makes food with just 7 to 10 ingredients.
This is perfect for a pooch with a touchy tummy.
They also use whole ingredients in their foods which aids easy digestion.
This range caters to dogs at all life stages.
If you have an older dog or a young pup with sensitivities, a product from this range might be worth trying out.
Grain Free Wet Dog Food
Purina Beyond Adult Grain Free Wet Food. Purina only uses real ingredients from reliable sources (no ingredients from China) in this product.
This option is affordably priced if your dog needs to go grain free.
The price tag of some other grain free options are prohibitive.
Other common irritants, such as corn, wheat, and soy are also omitted from this product.
Grain Free Senior Dog Food
NUTRO Grain Free Natural Dry Dog Food (Senior). Made in the US from quality products, this product promises that high quality protein is the number one ingredient in their food.
Nutro has formulations for dogs of every life stage and size, but the senior product is made primarily of chicken.
Grain Free Puppy Dog Food
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food – Grain Free Puppy Formula. This product has no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.
It has limited ingredients so that your puppy is not eating low quality ingredients from unknown sources.
The kibble is even shaped with little puppy jaws in mind, so that your little pooch can chow down with ease.
This company also has chemists carry out nine tests on their food.
The results of these tests can be found on their website, so concerned owners can check in and make sure the food their puppy is eating is safe.
Of course, there are many more grain free alternatives out there.
You can look for grain free small breed dog food, grain free large breed dog food or grain free limited ingredient dog food, to name just a few.
As devoted dog owners, finding the best grain free dog food is no doubt something you take seriously for the sake of your dog’s health.
Keep in mind that you need to take into account your dog’s individual needs when selecting their diet.
Grain free dog food may be the best choice for your dog.
But there may be other dietary plans that are more beneficial to your dog at this stage in their life.
If you are looking for the best grain free dog food, make sure you read the labels carefully, and ensure that the food is nutritionally complete.
We hope you have found this article on grain free dog food helpful.
Is your dog grain free?
In your experience, what is the best grain free dog food?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Roberts, M.T., Bermingham E.N., Cave N.J., Young W., McKenzie C.M., Thomas D.G., Macronutrient intake of dogs, self‐selecting diets varying in composition offered ad libitum Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 2017
Bosch G., Hagen-Plantinga E.A., and Hendriks W.H., Dietary nutrient profiles of wild wolves: insights for optimal dog nutrition? British Journal of Nutrition, 2014
MSD Veterinary Manual – Dog and Cat Foods
Schlesinger D.P., and Joffe D.J., Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 2011
White, S. D., Food Allergies in Dogs Compendium of Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian, 1998