Should You Feed Your Puppy a Grain-Free Diet?

Dieting is all the rage nowadays, and your pup is no exception! While dogs can eat anything and everything, it may be important to understand what your pup should and shouldn’t eat, and what their food should or shouldn’t have. Some popular food diets you may have heard are grain-free diets, which cut out a lot of grains from your pup’s diet.

Some people say “Go grain-free” while others say, “No don’t do it!” With these conflicting opinions, it can be hard to understand what grain-free actually means in terms of health for your dog. There are even different definitions of “grain-free”! 

The best way to understand what each diet does is to do your own research, as well as complying to your pup’s needs, along with your vet’s advice! And just like any other diet, there are several pros and cons you should be aware of before feeding your pup a grain-free diet.


Grain Allergies

One of the biggest reasons dog owners choose to go grain free is that their dogs are allergic to grain. Some symptoms of grain allergies take the form of scratching, hives, and even vomiting up meals. If you suspect your pup may have a grain allergy, consult a vet immediately and put them on a rice soup diet! Slowly figure out what your pup can and can’t have, and reintroduce a new brand of food to your pup.

Grain allergies can also be the cause of several minor digestive issues, such as smelly farts, constipation, diarrhea, and even extra gas. If you find that your pup’s stool isn’t up to par, their diet may be the reason!

Meat And Vegetables: Raw Food Diet

Another reason many owners like switching over to a grain-free diet is that their pup will now be eating meats and vegetables! Due to many dry foods having grains, owners decide to either switch to cans or even prepping their own meals! This switch actually is more appetizing for your pup, as they can now smell their food and thus enjoy their food.

Not only that, removing grains allows you to focus on the nutritional value of their food, rather than stuff your pup’s tummy full of fillers or carbs. While some grains may be good, not all are used to benefit your pup’s health. Raw food diets are able to help you watch what your dog eats, and help balanced meats and vegetables, so they are able to eat healthy rather than just filling their tummies.


Digestive Wheats

One of the major reasons your pup’s food has grain in them is because ancient grains actually help your pup’s digestive system! Wheats like barley and quinoa are actually known to help provide your pup with digestive bacteria they need in their gut. However, many dog food brands don’t have these important wheats. Always check the back label to know what your pup needs!

Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

One of the biggest concerns dog owners have is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopath (DCM), which is basically the enlargement of your heart. Enlarged hearts can cause several problems, including affecting the lungs as well as heart failure. When grain is removed from your pup’s diet, it may be replaced with fillers such as meat that can cause your dog’s heart to be enlarged. Check with your vet to make sure a grain-free diet is necessary for your pup, and what to do to avoid DCM.

Dry Food Fillers

When dry dog food brands go free, rather than increasing healthy vegetable content or protein content, they often find fillers such as corn instead. Not only does this actually decrease the amount of real food your pup gets, it can also reduce the amount of nutrients your pup gets, as they may become less hungry due to fillers. The filler content also increases the chances of your pup gaining DCM, which is why pet owners tend to avoid dry grain-free diets, as it causes different problems.

Peas and Lentils

While peas and lentils are great grain substitutes for humans, they’re not so great for dogs. Peas and lentils are another filler replacement for grain, and it can cause DCM for dogs. Legumes are not something you should be feeding your pups, because while they can digest it, they aren’t getting the nutrients humans get from these beans and potatoes.

In other words, you should always do your own research before you decide what to feed your dog! While grain-free diets might seem scary, it depends on what kind of grain-free you’re looking for. Generally speaking, grain-free dry foods may not be the best for your pups, but going grain-free by switching your dog to a raw diet can do wonders for your pet! When in doubt, contact your vet, as they are able to provide the best nutritional needs for your pup. 

What are the Best Grain Free Dog Food Brands?

We’ve compiled a list of the most highly recommended (by vets and pet owners alike) grain free kibble for your small dogs here. Chock full of healthy natural ingredients that avoid the heavy carbohydrates of grain, but instead emphasizes the dense nutrients of sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and other vegetables and root crops. Check it out.

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Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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