Grain-Free Dog Foods: What’s the big deal?

September 17, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

You may have noticed some dog foods being advertised as grain-free or you may have been suggested to find grain-free dog food for your dog. So what is the big deal with grains in the dog food?

Grains such as corn,wheat, oats, barley and yes, even rice are not bad for many dogs, however for some dogs they can cause significant issues. Grains are considered a “hot” food, meaning  they stimulate the body. In many cases they can stimulate the immune system and the inflammatory process.

Dogs with allergies, dogs with inflammatory issues, dogs with sensitive digestive tracts all can be helped by eliminating grains from their diet. Dogs do not have to be allergic to grains in order to benefit from having them removed from their diet. It is similar to people with allergies using hypoallergenic products. Grain-free food is hypo-allergenic for dogs.

For the normal dog it can also be beneficial to feed grain-free as it may help prevent immune system issues such as allergies and sensitive digestive disorders (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).

For more information you can check out The Dog Food Project

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About Dr Daniel Beatty
An Infopreneur with a Veterinary Medicine degree.

  • Sarah

    “Grain-free food is hypo-allergenic for dogs.” This statement is false. In fact, the top three inciting ingredients identified in food allergic dogs are 1) BEEF 2) DAIRY 3) POULTRY products. Wheat comes in at number 4, and other carb rich foods such as rice and corn don’t even make the top 10. Furthermore, while a grain-free diet may help dogs with an allergy to wheat or corn, these diets are most certainly NOT hypoallergenic. A true hypoallergenic diet by definition is either a novel-protein or hydrolyzed protein diet such as Hills d/d or Purina HA, usually only available by prescription.

  • Daniel Beatty

    That sentence is taken out of context of the entire paragraph, but I’ll work with you on understanding what was meant.

    First – hypoallergenic definition – designed to reduce or minimize the possibility of an allergic response, as by containing relatively few or no potentially irritating substances.
    Grains do stimulate the immune system, so even if the dog does not have a “true” allergy to grains placing them on a grain free diet will help by not stimulating the immune system with another substance.

    Second – a novel protein diet is not only available by prescription. Besides making your own homemade diet there are a numerous companies that make single source and novel protein diets.

    Third – it is interesting to note that the diets you used as examples are grain free. Coincidence?

    I was not saying that grains are the number one allergen for dogs or even the number 4, it does not matter where they fall on the allergen scale they do stimulate the immune system and we are looking to reduce items that stimulate the immune system in dogs with allergies. In that sense I was using the term hypo-allergenic in the whole context of the paragraph where that sentence was taken.