When it comes to feeding your dog, there are so many choices available that it can be difficult to choose the right type of food. One thing you may notice that there are more grain-free options available than ever before. But is a grain-free diet right for your dog? In limited cases, canines can indeed benefit from a non-traditional diet, but it’s always best to consult your veterinarian for personalized guidance.
Understanding Grains in Dog Food
Dog food can contain a variety of grains, including corn, wheat, barley, and oats. These grains provide dogs with essential nutrients, like fiber for good digestion and carbohydrates for energy. Dogs also get an essential fatty acid from grains, as well as some protein. Some puppy caretakers switch to grain-free food out of the belief that grains are difficult for dogs to digest. However, throughout the course of their evolution, dogs have undergone genetic modifications that allow them to easily digest the grains that their ancient ancestors might not have eaten. Other puppy parents might switch to grain-free food, believing that it helps prevent obesity. Yet, grain-free dog food must include carbs from other sources, like potatoes and peas. This can actually cause unintentional weight gain.
Determining If Your Dog Needs Grain-Free Food
Since grains provide important nutrients and energy for dogs, and because most dogs are able to digest grains perfectly well, the only medical reason to give a dog grain-free food is the presence of a food allergy. Note that food allergies in dogs are uncommon. The vast majority of dogs who do have food allergies are actually allergic to the protein in beef—not to grains. Dairy is the second most common food allergen in canines, with corn being a very distant third. However, if your dog is displaying signs of a possible food allergy, you’ll want to schedule a vet appointment. Your vet can determine if a food allergy is causing your pet’s symptoms. If so, he or she can recommend an appropriate food for your dog.
The knowledgeable veterinarians at Horizon Animal Hospital can help you identify the best food for your dog’s needs. We offer a complete range of veterinary services in Scottsdale—from wellness exams and vaccines to diagnostics and surgery. You can schedule an appointment by calling (480) 800-4559.