Grain free diets are all the rage amongst health conscious humans at the moment. The justification is that when the human race was evolving, we ate a diet of meat and the occasional vegetable or fruit.
The Evolution of Dogs
A similar argument can be made for dogs. Wild dogs also evolved while eating meat and some vegetables, without much in the way of grains. Dogs are naturally carnivores, and if left to their own devices will eat a diet containing little if any grain. Many pet owners are starting to wonder whether they should switch their dogs to a grain free diet. To meet this increased level of interest, dog food manufacturers are producing both dry foods and canned foods that contain no grains at all.
Skeptics point out that our domestic dogs live longer and – in general – healthier lives than wild dogs. This is despite grain-filled diets being common and relatively unquestioned until recently. However, wild canines have more to contend with than our pets, such as predators and an irregular food supply, so diet isn’t the only thing that contributes to a healthy long lived pet.
The Health Debate
Most dog owners just want to know what’s healthiest for their dog, so the debate surrounding grain free diets can be frustrating. To keep things simple, if your dog is fed only grain free food would he be healthier than a dog on “regular” food?
The simple answer is: maybe, but at a cost. There may be some benefits of grain free food on the dog’s digestive system, as mentioned earlier. If all things are equal then grain-free food is easier for a dog to digest. It also contains meat proteins which are often of a higher quality than grain protein. With that said, grain-free food is more expensive than those containing grain. This is because grain is often used as filler, and without it more meat and vegetables are required.
The benefits of grain free food also depend on the individual dog. There are certain situations where grain free food is particularly beneficial. Some dogs develop allergies to certain types of grain. Symptoms of grain intolerance can include stomach upsets and vomiting, as well as itchy skin, and they can be relieved by feeding a grain free diet.
There are some advantages to grain-free food, but these vary depending on the dog. Some owners believe that all dogs should be on a grain-free diet, while others dismiss it as a diet “fad”. The truth is somewhere in the middle, the best food for your dog is the one that your dog does best on. If your four legged best friend is active and healthy with a glossy coat and firm stools, then there’s no specific need to switch to a grain free food unless you want to try it out.
Susan Wright is a trained veterinarian of more than a decade and is a freelance writer. Susan frequently shares helpful tips to make raising a dog easier.