Best Grain-Free Dog Food
When you walk into a pet store, you’ll see dozens of different dog food brands, each with multiple recipes to choose from. It’s easy to believe that all dog food is the same, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The quality of any dog food is determined by the ingredients and their nutritional value. Many dog foods these days are made with grain-free ingredients, but what makes this kind of dog food different and could it be a good choice for your dog?
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of grain-free dog food and how to choose the best one. You’ll also receive our top 5 picks for the best grain-free dog food.
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What Do You Need to Know About Grain-Free Dog Food?
Low-quality dog food brands rely on inexpensive grain-based fillers like corn, wheat, and soy to add bulk to their products without increasing their own costs. Unfortunately, these ingredients are low in nutritional value and are hard to digest for dogs. While many dogs can digest whole grains, some cannot and there is some controversy regarding grains and their nutritional benefits for dogs.
Grain-free dog food is not necessarily healthier than regular dog food because, again, the quality of any dog food depends on the ingredients. In many cases, however, grain-free dog food is a good option for dogs with food allergies and sensitive stomachs.
Here are some things to look for in grain-free dog food:
- Quality Protein. High-quality animal protein should be the first ingredient in any dog food, grain-free or not. Premium meats, poultry, and fish make excellent proteins for dogs, so look for these ingredients when you start shopping.
- Digestible Carbohydrates. In the absence of grains, you’ll need to choose a recipe made with other carbohydrates and you should ensure that they are highly digestible for dogs. Things like sweet potatoes, peas, legumes, and tapioca are all good options.
- Nutritional Balance. In addition to quality proteins and digestible carbohydrates, a grain-free dog food should also be nutritionally balanced. Fresh fruits and veggies offer grain-free sources of key nutrients, though chelated minerals and vitamin supplements are beneficial as well.
- Fiber Content. Just because a dog food recipe is grain-free doesn’t meant that there aren’t any carbohydrates. Look for a recipe that contains up to 5% dietary fiber to ensure healthy digestion for your dog.
Keeping all of these things in mind, you are now fully prepared to learn how to choose the best grain-free dog food. Here’s what you need to know:
How to Choose the Best Grain-Free Dog Food
No matter what kind of diet your dog follows, protein is the most important nutrient to consider. Look for a recipe made with a high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient and also provides a minimum of 18% protein, ideally more.
Once you’ve ensured that the dog food recipe contains plenty of quality protein, you can start looking at carbohydrates. When it comes to grain-free carbohydrates, digestibility and nutritional value are essential. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and peas as well as beans and legumes are some of the most common choices. In addition to being grain-free, these ingredients are also complex carbohydrates which means they are easier to digest and rich in both fiber and nutrients.
After protein and carbohydrates, look for healthy sources of fat like chicken fat and salmon oil. These ingredients provide your dog with a concentrated source of energy as well as essential fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. Finally, look for beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics. Chelated minerals have been bound to protein molecules to increase absorption and probiotics help to ensure healthy and regular digestion.
Keep reading to see our top 5 recommendations for the best grain-free dog food.
The Top 5 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods
A high-quality grain-free dog food will list an animal protein like meat, poultry, or fish as the main ingredient with healthy fats and digestible grain-free carbohydrates. You should also look for fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics, and other healthy supplements.
Here are our top 5 picks for the best grain-free dog food that you should consider:
How Much Should You Feed Your Dog?
The amount you feed your dog depends on its breed, size, and age – changing to a grain-free dog food doesn’t necessarily mean changing how much you feed your dog. Something to keep in mind is that small-breed dogs have faster metabolisms than large-breed dogs. This means that you should feed small dogs three meals per day and larger dogs just two. Puppies may also need three or four meals to fuel their growth and development.
In terms of how much to feed your dog, you’ll need to refer to the feeding recommendations on the package because every dog food is different. The higher the calorie content of the food, the more careful you need to be to avoid overfeeding. Check the package and choose the right amount of food based on your dog’s size and weight.
What About Food Allergies and Sensitivities?
Grain-free dog food is a great choice for dogs with food allergies and sensitivities because, in many cases, these things are triggered by grains. Corn, wheat, and soy are the most common culprits of grain-based allergies, though things like rice and barley can trigger allergic reactions in some dogs as well. When eliminating grains from your dog’s diet, you still need to meet its needs for carbohydrate energy and dietary fiber, so look for healthy alternatives. If your dog has food allergies or sensitivities, you may also want to consider a limited ingredient diet to reduce the risk of triggering those allergies.
Grain-free dog food is a good option for dogs that are sensitive or allergic to grains, but you still need to make sure that the recipe you choose is high in nutritional value. Protein is the most important nutrient for any dog and digestible ingredients are essential as well. To help you get started in finding a good grain-free dog food, try one of our top 5 picks for the best grain-free dog foods above.