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Why Grain Free? Understanding Grain Free Options

SitStay Blog Why Grain Free? Understanding Grain Free Options

Before they were domesticated, canines hunted other animals. The diet of your dog's ancestors consisted almost entirely of protein. Naturally, feeding grain to an animal with a digestive system for processing meat can have ill effects. Note that the inclusion of grain in the canine diet is a relatively new development.

The Origin of Grain in Dog Food

When dry dog food came about in the World War II era, grains like corn and wheat were added to the diet of dogs. Idea behind using grain was to keep the cost of dog food down.  This has continued into the present day as most mass-produced commercial dog foods have grain as the main ingredient.

Benefits of Grain-Free Dog Food

Grain is difficult for dogs to digest. Simply put, their gastrointestinal system is not designed for it. A big part of the problem is that grains contain complex carbohydrates. The fibers in grain do not get digested and will ferment in your dog's gut instead. The results of this include can include:

  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rashes
  • Bowel inflammation
  • Ear infections
  • Low energy level
  • Food allergies
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

The main benefit of grain-free dog food and treats are that it is easier for your dog to digest. Along with treating and preventing the issues above, increasing your dog's protein intake delivers benefits like:

  • Increased energy
  • A reduction in food intake
  • Reduced stool quantity (more of the food is used, less passed out as waste)
  • A shinier coat
  • Improved breath

Keep in mind that each dog has its own unique dietary needs, which means that a grain-free diet may not be the right option in all cases. For example, a grain-free diet may not be appropriate for sedentary dogs as it may cause excessive weight gain.

How to Make the Switch

When making a significant change to your dog's diet, proceed with caution. Introduce grain-free dog food gradually rather than all at once. Start by mixing it into your dog's present dog food a little bit at a time. You can also try feeding them dog food with less grain, gradually reducing the percentage of grain until you go completely grain free.

When shopping for grain-free dog food and treats, do your research and talk to a veterinarian before deciding on a particular brand. Just because a dog food is grain free, that does not mean that it will meet all of your pet’s nutritional needs. 

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