One of the biggest breakout trends in dog nutrition in recent years has been the evolution of grain free dog food. But what is it and how can you tell if your dog will benefit from a grain free diet?
Well, if your dog is showing signs of digestive troubles or red, itchy skin (or both at the same time), then he might have food allergies and be reacting to grains in his food.
Some experts believe the diet has grown as we look to match our pets diets to our own. We spoke with Dr John Lowe, canine nutritionist at Autarky to find out more about the emerging diet.
He told us, “Animal feed often follows trends from the human market, so the grain free market has certainly mirrored human trends. It is noticeable that there is so much talk around plant-based feed at the moment too.”
So, what is grain free dog food?
In essence, grain free pet foods are recipes designed to exclude cereal grains, such as rice, barley, wheat, oats, maize and any of their by-products.
John tells us that as a consequence, grain free diets tend to fulfil their carbohydrates using vegetables, pulses and fruits.
Grain free dog food myths
Are grains ‘bad’ for dogs?
John tells us, “Grains are not inherently bad for dogs, nor are such substitutes as potato necessarily better.
“The nutritionist that designed the food will have taken into account the properties of the various ingredients available and allowing for processing, designed the food to deliver the correct amounts of nutrition. It is about owner choice as to whether you select a diet without cereal or with cereals.
“There may however be a few dogs that exhibit adverse reactions to specific ingredients, in which case you would select a diet that does not contain such ingredients.”
Is it easy to tell a grain free dog food from the pet food label?
John believes so. He tells us that when looking for a balanced grain free food dog owners should look to find a complete food that fits a dog’s life stage or lifestyle. This is the best way to feed a diet that’s balanced and tailored to a dog’s needs to maintain a healthy weight.
Do percentages matter on a dog food label?
John reiterates that it’s more important to find a balanced diet that fits a dog’s age or lifestyle adding, “the actual percentages are more a function of design preferences and there would be no right or wrong amounts.”