Put your hands up if you know at least one person testing out the gluten free or grain free diet these days. There are ‘paleo life’ hashtags everywhere you look and plentiful benefits being boasted about all over the place. But what about your canine companions? Should their diets be privy to the same sort of treatment?
Most dogs you’ll know will try to eat any sort of food; whether it’s raw, cooked, presented nicely in their bowl or just straight-up off the floor; this is more commonly known as the ‘anything goes’ diet!
But in today’s modern world, you see more and more dog food brands advertising that they are grain free. Their reasoning behind this? Dogs in the wild wouldn’t have eaten grains, as part of their food prep process was to hunt and capture raw, protein-rich foods. If this was the case back then, why include grains in their present diet? Essentially, grain free dog foods mimic the dogs natural, ancestral diet and nods to the current lifestyle in which human beings are attempting to achieve; getting back to their carnivorous state.
Not to mention that pet pooches can have just as much of a sensitivity to grains as their human counterparts and as a pet owner, you want to make sure their tum is as happy as yours!
So, what is a grain free diet?
As the name would imply, a grain free doggy diet is a diet, which does not contain any grains whatsoever. This is not the same as a gluten free diet as gluten itself is a form of protein, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. So if you do switch to a gluten free diet for your pal, know that grains could still be present.
Is it suitable for all types of dog?
Your pal might not be showing any signs of needing to switch to a grain free diet, so it’s always a good first port of call to check with your vet. Any sort of diet switch should be introduced slowly and with regular check-ups, particularly at one end of your pooch… if their stools are becoming that of a more watery consistency, you may want to make the elimination process even more gradual.
There are certain pooches where studies have indicated a higher susceptibility to certain types of food allergy. These can include: Boxer, Collie, Dachshund, Retriever, Springer Spaniel and Dalmatian to name but a few. Key things to look out for in relation to any suspected allergies or intolerances are:
- Itching/sneezing/excessive chewing or biting to relieve said itch
- Excessive shedding or loss of hair
- Loose stools/Diarrhoea
- Frequent ear infections
If you have a brand new pup, then it’s best to check before introducing grain free food, as diets high in protein can be damaging to their kidneys. Some brands do cater for dogs at all stages of their life but it’s best to always consult your vet first!
What are the advantages of this type of diet?
101 allergies and sensitivities
One of the most important things to note when considering a grain free diet for your furry friend, is that these will be safe for any tummies suffering from the inability to digest certain types of pet food.
Whilst many domestic dogs digestive systems have evolved to allow for a diet heavier in grains, there are still certain hounds whose tums are that of a more primitive nature and struggle to cope with this way of eating.
If your doggy is struggling with the digestion of grains, it can of course be really distressing, not just for your pet itself but for you as an owner. There could be any number of allergies that your poorly pup is having to deal with, whilst you try to figure out simultaneously what the internal issues could be. Cue ongoing and expensive vet visits and a diet consisting of trial and error for a long period of time. Both you and your pup need a solution, fast, and this is where grain free diets can step in.
Is weight becoming a heavier issue?
Some grains can be chock full of carbohydrates, so it would make sense that eliminating these from Fido’s diet could indeed assist with their expanding waistline. This can of course go hand in hand with your dog perhaps not getting the right amount of exercise they need, but there’s no harm in cutting out grains to see if this can have an impact. It’s always best to read the labels though, as certain brands are known to replace grain free ingredients, with sometimes heavier and more card-loaded ones, such as potatoes.
Nutrition, glorious nutrition!
Their are some brands on the market today that will try to make up for a lack of nutritional ingredients simply by adding more and more grains. Will this add extra calories? Of course. But, from a nutritional point of view, your four-legged friend isn’t going to be at their best.
For a dog to be feeling and looking in the best possible way, they rely on you as their owner to make it happen. In the same way that you want to ensure you’re putting the healthiest ingredients into your body (Saturday nights aside), a grain free formula could be the way to do this.
The benefits reported can include a much healthier, shinier coat but because grain free foods tend to also play host to slightly more premium ingredients, it’s not always safe to assume that it is related to specifically to eliminating grains.
That being said, as so many dog owners reap the rewards of going grain free, as it can often be a sign that a diet is a healthy mix of protein, vitamins and essential minerals and that there are fewer filler ingredients. In this regards, it’s absolutely worth sniffing out.
Again though, it’s a good idea to check the label as not all brands operate in the same way.
Okay. So, which brands offer grain free diets?
At Time for Paws, there are many excellent featured brands that get the woof of approval when it comes to grain free. Burgess Sensitive offers a range which focuses on doggies with delicate digestive systems and Autarky focuses on a more holistic approach to Fido’s diet, by offering a grain free option. There’s also an exciting brand in the name of Acana, whose heritage products offer up high protein, low carb and grain free goodness, all in the freshest possible way.
Not only does Time for Paws play host to such nutritional quality foods, but with such excellent prices at paw, you’d be barking mad not to head on over and check out what’s in store!