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Does Your Dog Need to Be On a Grain Free Diet?

grain free blogIt’s not uncommon for pet food manufacturers to follow people food trends. As grain free (and gluten-free) diets have become increasingly popular for people, it’s become more and more common for the words grain free to be predominantly displayed on dog food packaging. But, is it really necessary for your canine companion to be on a grain free diet?

The argument for grain free food is that grains are historically an unnatural source of nutrition for dogs. The modern dog’s ancestors may not have ingested grains, but canine genes have evolved to allow digestion of carbohydrates fairly easily, including grains. So, while dogs may not suffer any setbacks from eating grain free food, this special diet may not be necessary.

However, there are some cases in which a grain free diet is absolutely beneficial:

  • Allergies: While other ingredients, like dairy and beef, are more often the cause of food allergies in dogs, grains can sometimes be the culprit. Food allergy symptoms include itchy skin, hair loss, inflammation, and scabs. If you notice these symptoms, speak with a veterinarian about a food trail to determine the cause of the allergic reaction.
  • Gluten Intolerance: Gluten intolerance is fairly uncommon in dogs, but it is possible. Gluten is a protein found in specific types of grains. Therefore, foods labeled gluten free may not be entirely grain free, but all grain free foods are free of gluten. Foods labeled either gluten free or grain free are appropriate for dogs with a gluten intolerance. Irish Setters are known to suffer from gluten intolerance more often than other breeds.

Always speak with  a veterinarian regarding any questions or concerns you have about your dog’s diet.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • GB March 9, 2016, 9:56 am

    Our dog is grain free due to a sensitive tummy, he used to vomit once or more a week. After switching his food from a high quality brand to the grain free variety of that brand he very rarely has any tummy trouble and his potty schedule has gotten more regular, no more having to go at all hours. Happy to say he is a very happy pooch.

    • VetDepot March 9, 2016, 11:03 am

      Thanks for your comment! My dog had a HORRIBLE skin issue when I adopted her – bumps, oily fur, horrible smell, etc. – and I realized it was a yeast infection skin reaction caused by the grain in her diet (and some poultry that would exacerbate it). After we cut grain from her diet and limited her chicken intake, her skin cleared up in a matter of a month or so!

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