What’s the big deal with grains? Why even provide a grain free dog food? There are many (and the number keeps growing by leaps and bounds) pet owners out there who feel that we are not feeding our dogs the appropriate kind of ingredients. And one of the primary problems is grains, with wheat being on the top of the list. (Another of the problems is the quality and kinds of proteins – but that is for another day.)
What’s The Problem?
So what exactly is the problem? Dogs originated from wolves, who are carnivores. As such, many people feel we should not provide our dogs any grains, as they are not built to digest and process them. However, others feel that, over time, dogs have adapted to being omnivores (there are even some very healthy dogs out there that are fed a strict vegan diet). Unfortunately, we don’t really know who is right and who is wrong. We can only look at our pets right now and see that there are some growing problems in their health.
We all know nutrition plays a significant role in our overall health. Yes, there are some things that even the best diet and exercise programs cannot prevent. But, generally speaking, the better you eat, the better off you are. And the same holds true for our dogs.
With this in mind, it is proven that dogs cannot process grains are easily and efficiently as proteins. So why even bother to feed it? Because an all-protein diet is expensive. And there are questions regarding the effects on certain internal organs from an all protein diet.
But there are other kinds of carbs we could feed our dogs besides grains. Sweet potatoes, potatoes, green beans, peas, barley, rice – just to name a few. However, these are not grown in abundance like wheat, soy, and corn. And since most commercially produced dog foods are made from by-products of our human food, and since corn, wheat, and soy, are the most common carb used in our foods, it has become defacto that these are the grains used in the majority of dog foods on the market.
This ultra-high use of corn, wheat, and soy, and the fact that the majority of it is actually by-products, means our dogs are getting carbs with very little of the nutrition left in tact for their bodies. By-product means the processing takes the ‘good’ parts and uses it in our foods. What is left over is the by-product – and that is what we are giving our dogs. In my opinion, this is the first half of the problem. The other is that we are ‘brain-washed’ by the dog food companies into thinking that we should only feed our dogs one brand of food (in reality, it is just brand loyalty to the dog food companies). The second half of the problem is that our dogs get no change in their diet – just the same food, day after day, week after week, year after year.
Are Grain-Free Dog Foods Worth It?
So, now you know my opinion about dog food in general – most of it is comparable to junk food.
Do I think grain free is worth it? YES! Mainly because the companies, listed below (among others), actually care about the quality of the ingredients they put in their dog food. They use ingredients like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and peas, which are just easier for our pets to digest and use, rather than the uber-cheap corn, wheat, and soy by-products.
Best Grain Free Dog Food Brands
Luckily, pet owners are not sitting back and taking it anymore. We are tired of feeding our beloved pets junk food. And many ultra-premium dog food companies have risen to the challenge. Not only in the grain-free field, but also in the hypoallergenic dog food, organic, holistic, and even vegan dog food! They care about what our pets are eating!
I have compiled a list of some of the top brands (and I know right now that I have left some off – so please e-mail me if you use a brand I don’t have listed and love the food). I have also look extensively at user comments from several sites that sell these dog foods.
- Natural Balance – from 533 reviews
While Natural Balance provide superior organic and limited ingredients dog foods, they also provide a grain free limited ingredients and even vegan dog foods. Natural Balance Alpha Grain Free contains potatoes, garbanzo beans, peas, and sweet potatoes for a change of carbs for your dog.
- Sojos from 80 reviews
Sojos provides freeze-dried dog foods, with or without the protein source. It also offers a grain-free product which contains turkey and sweet potatoes, broccoli, celery, apples, flax meal, pecans, pumpkin, cranberries, and more. Freeze-drying helps retain vital nutrients that can get destroyed through heating.
- Orijen from 396 reviews
A product of Champion Petfoods and a family owned business that has been around for 25 years. Their grain-free products use regional fruits and vegetables in place of grains.
- Taste of the Wild – provides grain free dry dog food with sweet potatoes and peas, any many choices for proteins, from salmon, duck, bison, and lamb, which makes switching up your dog’s food a little bit easier.
- Raw Addiction – these foods are just naturally grain-free (I don’t believe it says that on the label). The neat thing about Raw Addiction is that the food is dehydrated at low heat, which keeps vital enzymes, vitamins, and amino acids in tact. They also use novel proteins in their foods – great if you think your dog has food allergies.
- Wellness CORE – the Wellness CORE brand is all about balance. Between high quality, human grade protein sources, to lower carb sources that are easier to digest (i.e. grain-free), to mineral levels that support better metabolism.
- EVO – a brand line of Natura Pet foods, which also make Karma organic. EVO is a very high protein dry dog food with vegetables, not grains, as the carb source. Many people love the shiny coat, reduced allergies, reduced digestive problems and reduced ear infections seen after feeding this product.
- California Natural Grain-Free – part of the Natura Pet foods (like EVO above), the California Natural line is a limited ingredient dog food, great for dogs with allergies. As an extension of that line, they created California Natural Grain Free – a limited ingredient, wheat free option.
- Before Grain
Produced by Merrick, a family owned business that has been around since the 1980′s. Just like these other dog food companies, they just started simply – with high quality products and keeping dogs as healthy as the primary goal. Today they are one of the grandfathers of premium dog foods.
- Honest Kitchen 4.7 out of 5 stars from 360 reviews
Started in 2002 by a woman who began dehydrating dog food to keep in many of the vital nutrients and enzymes lost during the heating process of most dog foods. Available in both traditional and grain-free varieties, Honest Kitchen dog food provides a 100% human-grade ingredients food packed full of nutrients for your dog.
Most of these brands offer more than one ‘flavor’ of dog food. If you’re into brand loyalty, switch between their choices to vary your dog’s nutrients. Or switch between brands – it doesn’t matter, as long as they are not eating the same, low quality dog food every day. Any of these grain free, wheat free dog food brands will improve your dog’s overall health.