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Against the Grain: Feeding Your Dog Grain-Free

Learn how a grain-free diet may be able to ease health issues related to grain sensitivities. Here's what you'll need to consider before making the grain-free switch.

What does grain-free mean?

Grain-free pet foods do not contain the typical carbohydrate food sources like:

  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Barley

Wheat is the single most common grain associated with food sensitivities in pets, with soy and corn following behind.

Grain-free ingredients
What kind of health conditions could be linked to grain sensitivites?

What are some grain-free carbohydrates to consider?

These alternative sources of carbohydrates can provide pets the energy and fullness they need:

  • White potatoes
  • Green peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots

Rice is sometimes considered a substitute for the typical grains, although it's not strictly grain-free. If you incorporate rice, monitor your pet for any signs of intolerance.

Do pets need grains for a balanced diet?

Research shows that grains were never really a part of the ancestral diet of dogs and cats, whose wild cousins mainly feed on live prey and occasional fruits and vegetables. Therefore, many pet parents reason that a more natural diet for their pets would be one that's grain-free.

Even if your pet doesn't show signs of grain intolerance, he may still enjoy improved digestion or skin and coat health.

Dog with balanced diet
Dog health conditions

Are there any pets who should not eat grain-free?

Consult your vet before switching to a grain-free diet, especially if your pet is:

  • Diabetic
  • Living with
    kidney issues
  • Overweight
  • Inactive

Pet parents should be aware that food sensitivities may take as long as 12 weeks to completely respond to a dietary change with most vets recommending food trials of at least 6 to 8 weeks.

Avoid treats and table food during this time, as these may contain ingredients the pet is sensitive to, including grains.