Should Your Dog Go Gluten Free?

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Grain and gluten free dog food is becoming more and more easily available to consumers that are looking to feed a healthier diet to their canine companions. With the trend of gluten free diets for humans becoming more popular by the day, many owners are also looking to switch their dogs to a gluten free diet.

Before making any drastic changes, however, some research is required. It is important to know what the benefits are to feeding a grain or gluten free diet and whether or not it is appropriate for every dog.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is the protein portion of any carbohydrate and is found in many grains, such as rye, barley and wheat. Carbohydrate sources that do not have any gluten are potatoes, rice, and oats. It is important to recognize that all dry dog food must include a carbohydrate of some kind to act as a binding agent. This allows the kibble to become hard and crunchy, as well as to stick together instead of falling apart. It is also important to know that the protein in gluten in not inherently bad and can have good qualities that can rival proteins found in meat and vegetables.

Benefits Of Grain Free Dog Food – Reasons To Switch

Rhona-Mae Arca - https://www.flickr.com/photos/musespeak/8585141174/

Rhona-Mae Arca – https://www.flickr.com/photos/musespeak/8585141174/

Allergies are the biggest, and also one of the most valid, reasons for consumers to switch to a grain free diet. One of the first signs of a food allergy in dogs is unhealthy skin. They tend to have dry and itchy skin and may also lose hair in some places. Eliminating specific foods and elements from their diet is one of the easiest ways to find the source of the allergy. Since grain and gluten is one of the biggest allergens, it is naturally one of the first options for people to try and eliminate. The dog food market is flooded with various grain and gluten free options that offer consumers a variety of choices when choosing a food made without grains or glutens.

Another advantage to choosing a grain free food is that it will likely have a higher percentage of protein. A canine’s natural wild diet would consist of large amounts of protein and smaller amounts of carbohydrates and vegetables. Mimicking their natural diet in the wild will provide the best chance for a healthy digestive system. Since dogs have become domesticated, their digestive tracts have slightly adjusted to accommodate higher levels of carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Although they have learned to adjust, their digestive systems are still mainly designed to process more protein and less grain than humans have been providing.

Another fact to consider is that any brand of dog food that offers a grain free variety is going to offer a better quality of food than a brand that does not have that option. The regulations for what ingredients are acceptable to use in dog food can be rather alarming. There are some brands that use lower quality protein sources to provide their food at a reduced price.

While this may be an option that is easy on the owner’s pocketbook, it will likely end up costing more in vet bills later on. Low quality dog food can lead to a host of problems later in life including obesity, bad skin, and digestive problems. Choosing a dog food that is made of high quality ingredients is always important, whether it includes gluten or not.

The Final Decision

Whether or not to use a grain or gluten free dog food can be something that owners consider for a long time before making the switch. After reading all the facts and benefits to switching, one thing that stands out is that there are no negative effects listed. Switching to a gluten free food may or not may not improve a dog’s performance, skin, and digestion. For owners that are looking for an easy way to solve chronic skin or digestive problems, gluten and grain free is a great option.

The absolute worst case scenario is that there will be no change at all. It is much more likely, however, that grain and gluten free food will make for a healthier and happier dog all the way around. With that information, it is absolutely worth choosing a high quality grain and/or gluten free dog food.