Choosing a diet for man’s best friend is not a task to be taken lightly. We want our dogs to be as healthy as possible, and nutrition plays a very important part of their well-being. Grain-free foods have become popular among humans and among dog food diets as well. Is this the right choice for your dog?

The theory behind grain-free food for dogs is that protein-based, grain-free dog foods more closely mimic a canine’s natural or “ancestral” diet as a carnivore. However, mass-produced dog kibble generally uses inexpensive fillers like corn, wheat and barley to create bulk and reduce costs.

A dog’s digestive system has little support for breaking down and metabolizing complex carbohydrates and cereal grains. The inability to process these grains can cause damage to the lining of the digestive system, resulting in bowel inflammation disorders, food sensitivities, food allergies and obesity.

Most vets today recommend that carbohydrates and grains make up a small portion of a dog’s diet. Many grain-free dog foods contain more protein and animal fats and fewer carbohydrates than their grain-filled counterparts, and are therefore more easily digested.

Other benefits include:

  • Helps keep dogs fuller longer resulting in less food being eaten
  • May help prevent or reduce canine food allergies
  • Provides more energy
  • Fewer and smaller stools
  • Healthier skin
  • Shinier coat
  • Less shedding
  • Better breath

Should you switch your dog to grain-free? If your dog has no health issues, you might not need to worry. Definitely consult your vet before making any changes, but check out the ingredients in your dog’s food. If corn, wheat or soy is listed as the first ingredient, you might consider switching to a different formula.

If you and your vet determine change is a good idea, make sure to introduce the new food gradually so your dog’s digestive system can adjust.