Why Grain Free Dog Food?
You probably know someone who has a gluten intolerance and perhaps it’s you! The shops are full of gluten or grain free products for people with gluten intolerances and coeliac disease but what about our dogs?
Dogs and Digestion
Most dog foods include fillers in the shape of grains but these would not have featured in their natural diets in the wild. Most domesticated dogs will eat literally anything but that doesn’t mean that they should.
Grain free dog foods more closely mirror the protein rich meals that canines would experience in the wild. Their digestive systems remain relatively primitive and may not cope well with breaking down complex carbohydrates and cereals.
Domestic dogs’ digestive systems have evolved and are better at coping with grains than their wild ancestors but for some animals complex carbohydrates may still be problematic.
Requiring fermentation to break them down, grains can hang around in the gut for quite some time and could damage the lining of the digestive tract. If your dog is vomiting, develops rashes, skin irritations or excessive flatulence or experiences diarrhoea then it could be suffering from an intolerance to grains.
Breeds Prone to Food Allergies
Certain breeds may be more prone to food allergies; Retriever, Boxer, Chinese Shar-Pei, Cocker Spaniel, Collie, Dachshund, Dalmatian, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzer, Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier, Springer Spaniel and West Highland White Terrier.
Many owners who have provided a grain free diet for their dog report impressive results. General health can be improved together with skin condition and coat colour. However, grain free foods are a relatively new trend and tend to feature premium ingredients and excellent all-round nutrition.
It is unclear at this time whether the health improvements noted are the result of the absence of grains or simply the fact that the quality of the food is higher than that previously provided. More research is required but many dogs do seem to benefit from grain free dog food.
Grain free dog food is less suitable for older animals as it is high in protein. Senior dogs tend to benefit from a low protein diet.
Introducing a New Diet
If you would like to try grain free dog food then take care to introduce the new food gradually. Dogs’ stomachs contain an army of bacteria which are at the ready to attack foreign material.
A new diet can trigger a reaction and lead to diarrhoea. Start by mixing a small amount of the grain free food with your dog’s regular food and then increase the proportion of grain free food over a period of three to four weeks.
Always seek veterinary advice if your dog is displaying symptoms of ill health. They will be able to advise you as to whether or not the problems could be the result of a food intolerance. If so, then grain free dog food could be the answer.
At Time for Paws we offer high quality grain free dog foods from James Wellbeloved, Barking Heads and Lovejoys.