We dog parents all want what is best for our beloved companions. One of our main priorities is to feed our pets with the best, most balanced, nutritious, and healthiest dog food.
The problem is that in recent years there has been much controversy surrounding grain-free dog foods and whether eating grain is good or bad for dogs.
Another dispute that nutritionists and experts have is whether dogs are strictly carnivores or omnivores. In other words – do our pups need only animal-based proteins and nutrients, or can they get some of these essential elements from grains and other plant-based products?
Many dog owners have wondered if the grain is hazardous for their pets.
We have summarized the key information about grains, their effects on canines, and the pros and cons of feeding your pet food with and without grain.
Hopefully, we can help you decide whether grain-free food is better for your furbaby or, on the contrary – its diet should include healthy grains.
What Are Grains
Grains are an essential part of the diet of humans around the world. They are the edible seeds from different plants and are the source of about 50% of the food energy needs of people worldwide.
Grains are carbohydrates and can be divided into two main subcategories, as follows:
- Whole grains – oatmeal, brown rice, wheat bread, popcorn, cereal flakes, and other unprocessed grain products.
- Refined grains – grains that have their bran and germ removed through a milling process, such as white rice, white bread, flour tortillas, corn flakes, and other processed grain products.
Whole, unrefined grains are proven to be the healthier option of the two for humans. The reasoning is that the milling used for refining the grains removes many of the vital and healthy nutrients of the whole grains, such as fiber, iron, and vitamin B.
Pros of Dog Foods with Grains
There is a wide choice, and they are readily available
The most significant advantage of feeding your pup with dog food containing grains is that there is an extensive choice of such products on the market. These foods are much less expensive and are more readily available than specialized grain-free dog foods.
They are much cheaper
Since grain-free dog foods are considered specialized foods, they are more expensive than regular wet and dry dog foods containing grains.
They have a greater nutritional profile
Regular dog food contains a wide variety of ingredients. This can help make them more balanced and complete than specialized foods.
The grains used for dog foods are excellent sources of potassium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients which are not provided naturally in many grain-free dog foods.
Grains in dog food are also a primary source of complex carbohydrates, which provides your dog with the energy it needs to be healthy, active, and well.
Dog foods with grains can be a better option for less active and senior dogs. This is so because they do not contain as much protein as the high-protein grain-free options.
They are also loaded with healthy fiber for dogs.
Cons of Dog Foods with Grains
They can cause allergies
Many dogs have various food allergies. Some have a gluten intolerance, meaning that a regular dog food containing grains can cause adverse reactions in dogs with allergies and intolerances.
In other words, if your pup is allergic or sensitive to grains, gluten, or similar foods, grain-free dog food is a safer and healthier option.
They are not as easy to digest
Grains are carbohydrates that are not as easy to digest by canines, especially for animals with digestive problems. So, pups can experience digestive issues like constipation and stomach aches when consuming too much grain.
Overall, vets recommend that dogs with digestive problems eat specialized dog foods, such as grain-free ones.
Sometimes, they can contain low-quality fillers
Some dog grain foods can contain lower quality and cheaper fillers, such as wheat gluten or corn meal. These fillers are added for bulking up the food while lowering its price but offer little or no nutritional value for canines.
On the other hand, the more expensive grain-free dog foods are less likely to contain such fillers. They are also more likely to incorporate healthy and higher-quality ingredients.
Remember that every dog is different, so always speak to your vet about the best diet and food option for your pet.
Your veterinarian will give you the best advice on whether to choose grain-free or regular dog food, or any specific type of food for your pup, depending on its overall health, age, weight, and activity level.