Most dog food is full of ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy. Grain-free dog foods eliminate these ingredients and instead contain meat-based ingredients like lamb, chicken, fish, beef, and turkey. They also contain carbohydrates from non-grain foods such as sweet potatoes and vegetables.
Many pet owners have reported an improvement in health and energy levels after switching to a high-protein, grain-free food. However, a grain-free diet is not necessarily right for all dogs, and you should consult your veterinarian before changing diets. Here are some benefits dogs may experience when given a grain-free diet.
Many people believe that dogs are not capable of fully digesting grains and that a dog food with more protein and fewer carbohydrates is easier to digest. A lack of the enzyme amylase can impair the digestion of grains. If your dog is having a problem digesting food, a grain-free diet may help.
The problem with many lower-quality dog foods is that carbohydrates are used to bulk them up. This gives volume but often provides little nutritional value. Grain-free food is usually higher in meat or fish protein, fiber, and vegetables, which have more nutritional value.
Food with high nutritional content will keep your dog feeling full for longer. However, just because a dog food is grain-free does not necessarily mean it’s not packed with fillers too, like low-quality meat byproducts or too much potato. Checking the ingredients is important.
Protein is one of the main sources of energy, and if a grain-free dog food contains more protein, this will be seen in increased energy levels. Highly active dogs have been reported to benefit from grain-free diets. An older, less active dog may not need so much protein.
Your dog’s coat will look good thanks to the fatty oils often found in grain-free dog food. More protein also leads to a stronger coat, which will mean less shedding.
A dog that suffers from allergies to corn or wheat may benefit greatly from switching to grain-free dog food. The signs may be itchy, flaky, red skin or ears and gastrointestinal issues. As dogs may also be allergic to meat or dairy, it’s best to establish the nature of the allergy before changing the diet.
Before changing your pet's diet, you need to take note that those with certain health problems may not respond well to a grain-free diet. You need to base your choice of dog food on factors such as breed, age, activity level and overall health.
Remember that grain-free does not necessarily mean free of carbohydrates. One food that is higher in protein and contains less carbohydrates is better but often more expensive than others that contain more potato or beans. A dog food containing too many simple carbs can cause an overproduction of insulin and weight gain.
It’s always best to introduce a grain-free dog food slowly. Mix a bit into the regular food and gradually increase the amount over a few weeks. A dog’s digestive system takes a while to adjust.