You’re probably familiar with the various benefits gluten-free, or even grain-free diets offer humans, but what about pet food for your dog? Could Fido benefit from removing gluten and other grain ingredients from his food?
Why Go Grain-Free?
There are many reasons pet owners might choose to put their dogs on grain-free diet food.
One of the most common factors in pet parents choosing a grain-free dog food is food allergies. Whether mild or life-threatening, when a dog shows an allergic response to a food, the reaction most often comes down to one of three dog food ingredients — corn, soy or wheat. It just so happens that corn, soy and wheat are some of the most popular ingredients in many mainstream dog foods. However, most grain-free dog food avoids one or all of these, meaning grain-free food is often a safe pick for dogs with food allergies.
Additionally, while your dog might not have a food allergy, he or she may still have a sensitivity or intolerance — similar to how a human might be lactose intolerant. While the intolerance might not be dangerous to your pet, think of how much more comfortable they would be if they could avoid the symptoms of eating something they shouldn’t. Just as when a lactose intolerant human experiences fewer digestive issues when switching to a dairy-free diet, your dog can experience fewer digestive issues, too, when switching to grain-free diet food.
Some dogs need to be put on a grain-free diet due to weight issues. After all, even as a human, if you’re on a diet, you’re probably avoiding bread. Grains do little to help you shed the pounds and maintain a healthy weight.
One perk of switching to grain-free dog food is purely for appearances. Feeding your pup grain-free dog food often results in him or her having a shinier coat and shedding less, thanks to the healthy fats and oils found in grain-free dog food.
Other perks of putting your dog on a grain-free diet? You might find that he or she has more energy and better breath. It just makes sense, when you think about it; if your dog isn’t eating something that makes them feel ill, they’ll enjoy a vast array of health benefits.
Best Grain-Free Puppy Food
Want to start your puppy out on a grain-free diet? Make sure they’re still getting all the nutrients they need during this critical phase of growth. Here are three top grain-free dog food options we like.
This grain-free puppy food blends complex carbs, like what you’ll find in sweet potatoes and beans, with high-quality meats, such as boar, buffalo, salmon and turkey, to give your puppy long-lasting energy and none of the filler that you find in other brands of puppy food.
When you can count the ingredients in a food product on two hands, you’re on the right track. Canidae Pure Puppy Food is made from just nine ingredients, including chicken, fish, eggs, lentils and peas.
Help your little guy grow strong and lean, with this grain-free food for puppies. This food is made for sensitive stomachs with high-quality ingredients that help your puppy build muscle mass and a robust immune system while developing into an adolescent dog.
Best High Protein Grain-Free Dog Food
Your dog will tap into his canine ancestry with these high protein grain-free dog foods fit for a true carnivore.
This high protein grain-free dog food is nutrient-rich, filled with probiotics for prime digestive health, omega fatty acids for a healthier skin and coat and glucosamine and chondroitin for strong joints.
Nulo high protein grain-free dog food is made up of more than 80 percent protein, with the first three to four ingredients in every mix being animal-sourced protein. Beyond the meat, the ingredients are still items you probably have in your own pantry — ingredients like chickpeas, lentils and sweet potatoes.
This award-winning dog food is what the brand calls “biologically appropriate.” It’s made from fresh, regional meats, for a blend that matches your dog’s evolutionary diet.
Best-Grain Free Dog Food on a Budget
Of course, with all these fancier brands of grain-free dog food, you could easily start spending more on your pet’s meals than you do on your own. Even if you’re shopping on a budget, though, that doesn’t mean you can’t help your pup live their best grain-free life.
Purina Beneful Grain-Free, for example, goes for less than $20 for a 12-pound bag. The dry dog food is made from chicken, blueberries, pumpkin and spinach for a full-flavor kibble, that comes with all the benefits of some of the pricer dog food options.
Nutro Grain Free dog food for large breeds is slightly more expensive, at around $50 for a 24-pound bag, but not by much when you consider the amount of pet food you’re buying at one time. The first ingredient is farm-raised chicken and the formula is not only free from grain but also GMOs and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
Lastly, for something you can pick up while you’re grocery shopping at your local superstore, look for Iams Grain-Free Naturals. A small bag is only $11 and this option is made with zero grains and zero chicken by-product meal.
Should I Buy my Dog Grain-Free Dog Food?
Grain-free dog food does come with a lot of benefits for a lot of dogs — better digestion, fewer sensitivities, healthier skin and coat.
While many dog owners are making the switch, some are concerned with the fairly recent FDA investigation into heart disease, specifically dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), among dogs eating an increased amount of peas and legumes, typically found in grain-free pet food.
Before you make any drastic changes to your dog’s diet, speak with your vet or animal nutritionist. They’ll be able to help you best address your dog’s individual needs and the right grain-free formula.
The Best Grain-Free Dog Food: