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Some people insist on using grain free food. Others want grain in their diet. What is the benefit of grain free? Are there any benefits to grains? Angie has an allergy to chicken, but is not sensitive to grain that we are aware of. Raw is not an option.
 

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From my understanding and reading there are two main reasons to go grain free. The first is if your dog has allergies to grains or to prevent allergies to grains developing. The second is that grains are not a natural part of a dogs diet and their digestive systems are not well equipped to digest it, therefor it doesn't add much nutritional value to their diet. By removing grains you get more nutrients per cup/lb of food so you can generally feed less. This often results in smaller stools as well because you are removing the undigested "filler" which for most pet parents is a plus.
 

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You should be confused about grains as there are many strong opinions about but few facts about them in dog foods.

In dog foods grains are primarily a source of energy from carbohydrates, they are simply a relatively inexpensive way to add calories to a food. Some dogs do much better on grain free foods. Dogs can be allergic to grains, but they are not inherently allergenic nor are they indigestible. Most grain free foods contain some other "unnatural" carbohydrate source such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, or peas, anyway.

Be prepared for an onslaught of opinions any time, now. :)
 

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Sassafras is right, a lot of commercial dog food just replaces grain with a different carb source such as potatoes. I'm not convinced one is really better than the other. Neither are inherently bad in small amounts. I think it's more important to find a food that is high in meat content and lower in carbohydrate content. I've had more luck finding grain free products with higher meat content than grain inclusive so that's what has worked for me so far. Hoping to make the switch to raw at some point.
 

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I'm neither for or against grains in dog food. They could be a problem if your dog is allergic to them, of course, but there are other ingredients in commercial food that could cause allergy reactions like herbal supplements, preservatives, etc . All kibble foods need a binder of some sort and like Sassafras said it's either grains or some kind of potato or legume. Canned food and/or raw can be better if you're willing to feed it because of the moisture content and less need for a carb binder. My dogs don't seem to have a problem with a little grain in their food, such as rice or oats. I don't like corn or wheat in my dogs' food, though. However, I'm currently feeding Natural Balance LID potato and duck because of a health reason in one of my dogs. All of mine are eating the food, however, and doing fine on it. I'm also using the canned food as a topper. You will find many opinions on this subject and others, like high protein versus lower protein, raw versus kibble, etc. Just make sure your food is a good quality food with ingredients that you can understand when you read the bag. Make sure there are no artificial preservatives or colorants, etc. And make sure that your dog is doing well on it....good stools, good energy, good coat, eating it well, etc.
 

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i choose to go grain-free because grains are notorious for being an allergen [in both canids and humans]. i dont hold it against anyone if they choose to feed grain, as long as a good quality meat comes first.
but, aside from the allergy concern, the way i see it, if a dog is out roaming in the wild.. hed eat meat first, obviously. but then hed eat potatoes or peas over a bundle of oat grass or wheat, or even corn flour. fresh corn on the cob is probably more appetizing, but the fact that some 90%+ of corn is genetically modified.. no, thanks. not for me, and not for my dog.
 

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I guess I think it depends on the individual dog. Just like some dogs to better on certain proteins than others, I'm sure some do better with or without grains. Both of my dogs are currently on GF foods (TOTW and B2B). I am in the first year of starting to rotate foods and I am planning on having both GF foods and foods with grains, as long as my dogs do well. I do plan to avoid corn, wheat and soy. As I've been researching foods I'm excited to find grain foods that are 4 stars and less expensive (4Health for example) and hope to be able to include those in our rotation.
 

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The above posts are right on target. Funny thing is when I feed my horses some corn, my dogs are right there eating up the spills. I put the dogs away now when this chore gets done. I do have a dog who is allergic to grains and his digestive upset is not worth it. I am reading about a study done of wolves in the wild. These wolves would catch salmon and only eat the heads off them and leave the body. The author believes the wolves would not eat the body bc this is where the parasite load was at. ? is my answer. I saw a documentry where the wolves would prefer caribou meat and when the caribou left the area would eat salmon. Once the caribou came back the wolves would start eating the caribou. Scientist still do not know why this is. The caribou took a lot more energy to kill than what was needed to catch salmon. All this from hair samples taken from wolves. AMAZING how science works nowadays.
 

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I only feed grain free because your average grain-free food is higher in fat and protein than your average grain-inclusive food. But this is a generalization, and I'm sure I could find a grain-inclusive food that had sufficient fat to keep my dog's itchy skin at bay. Foods with lower fat tend to make her itchy, or that's been my observation. I don't think she has an allergy to grains since she eats grain-inclusive treats with no apparent issue. But no matter, since a grain-free food is working for her I'm sticking with it.

I recommend you just look for a high quality food you're comfortable with price-wise and which your dogs thrive on and not worry too much about the grains unless an issue pops up.
 

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i choose to go grain-free because grains are notorious for being an allergen [in both canids and humans]. i dont hold it against anyone if they choose to feed grain, as long as a good quality meat comes first.
but, aside from the allergy concern, the way i see it, if a dog is out roaming in the wild.. hed eat meat first, obviously. but then hed eat potatoes or peas over a bundle of oat grass or wheat, or even corn flour. fresh corn on the cob is probably more appetizing, but the fact that some 90%+ of corn is genetically modified.. no, thanks. not for me, and not for my dog.
Do you live in America? If so, then you're probably eating genetically modified food on a regular basis and may not even know about it. Most processed foods have corn in them, and that's GM. Soy, which is also nearly all GM, is also in just about any kind of processed food. Although I don't agree with the insidiousness nature of GM foods and how their introduction into the marketplace was nearly invisible to consumers, most Americans have been eating them for a couple of decades without even realizing it.
 

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The second is that grains are not a natural part of a dogs diet and their digestive systems are not well equipped to digest it, therefor it doesn't add much nutritional value to their diet. By removing grains you get more nutrients per cup/lb of food so you can generally feed less. This often results in smaller stools as well because you are removing the undigested "filler" which for most pet parents is a plus.

Ever witness a farm dog chewing on an ear of corn? Happens all the time. While meat may be a dogs first choice, you'd be surprised what they will willingly munch on . My dog just happens to love cantaloupe.

With regards to grains, quality grains do add to a dogs diet. They have essential amino acids that compliment those within meat sources. More importantly though, they provide as was stated, an energy source as well as calories. Grains like rice, barley and oats are a good source of carbohydrates and unless your dog is allergic to them, which is rare, then they provide a useful purpose to a balanced diet. Most people slam grains as being the main cause for food allergies, but in reality it is a meat source that is most common followed by dairy products.

If you feed a grain free diet and your dog is doing well on it and you can afford it then more power to ya. However, there are plenty of good feeds out there that use quality grains as part of a balanced diet. A meat source as the main ingredient with the right balance of quality grains and or vegetables.

FWIW
 

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What essential amino acids do grains have that meat doesn't have? My raw fed dog gets all the amino acids required just fine with no grains fed.

My very old dog needed grain as a source of low phosphorus calories. If she could have tolerated fat then I would have fed less grain and more fat though.
 

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My Boone was four months old when he started with ear infections; he is six now. I had very few options back then for a food without chicken, corn, wheat, soy, rice, flax and brewers yeast (I was given that list of ingredients to avoid by a friend because I didn't have the cash for allergy testing). Back then, the only foods I could find was Cal Nat herring, Solid Gold holistique blendz and Timberwolf fish. I opted for the Cal Nat, which he ate for three years. Then, a bunch of grain frees popped up. He does great on turkey or fish foods that don't have those ingredients, although he can have flax. I've ad prior dogs who had grain inclusive foods and did fine. My Brittany doesn't need grain free but if she has grains, oh, the poops! Frequent and huge so she eats grain free.
 

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Ever witness a farm dog chewing on an ear of corn? Happens all the time. While meat may be a dogs first choice, you'd be surprised what they will willingly munch on . My dog just happens to love cantaloupe.

With regards to grains, quality grains do add to a dogs diet. They have essential amino acids that compliment those within meat sources. More importantly though, they provide as was stated, an energy source as well as calories. Grains like rice, barley and oats are a good source of carbohydrates and unless your dog is allergic to them, which is rare, then they provide a useful purpose to a balanced diet. Most people slam grains as being the main cause for food allergies, but in reality it is a meat source that is most common followed by dairy products.

If you feed a grain free diet and your dog is doing well on it and you can afford it then more power to ya. However, there are plenty of good feeds out there that use quality grains as part of a balanced diet. A meat source as the main ingredient with the right balance of quality grains and or vegetables.

FWIW
My city dog will eat garbage off the sidewalk if I let him that doesn't make it part of a canines natural diet.

Dogs might get some energy from grains (and the other carbohydrate products like potatoes and peas that are put into most dog food) but that doesn't mean they need to eat them either. Will they be worse off for eating good quality grains (or potatoes )? Maybe yes, maybe no. It really depends on the dog and their personal sensitivities. The majority of dogs will do just fine with a limited amount of any of them in their diet.

What essential amino acids do grains have that meat doesn't have? My raw fed dog gets all the amino acids required just fine with no grains fed.
I'm wondering this as well.
 

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Why is so much stress put on wolves? Dogs are NOT and will never be wolves. They can eat grains. Grains are a beneficial addition to a dogs diet. It does not matter what would be eaten in the "wild". Animals in the wild eat what they can. They aren't out there attacking prey animals left and right. A dog's diet today should be immensely different than that of a wild animal. A domesticated dog leads a much different life than that of a wild animal so why should it be fed as one?

Also, dogs are very rarely allergic to corn or any other grains. Protein supplied by grains isn't different than protein supplied by meat. They're composed of the same amino acids and once broken down, the body cannot tell the difference between an amino acid from meat vs. an amino acid from plant matter.

You may believe grain free is better, but don't bash grains. It all comes down to preference and the individual dog.
 

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My city dog will eat garbage off the sidewalk if I let him that doesn't make it part of a canines natural diet.
Well if you believe the co-evolution theory, dogs evolved eating our garbage and so it actually IS the ultimate dog's natural diet. Not that there's anything natural about dogs anymore, anyway, we've made them into maybe one of the most unnatural animals on the planet.
 

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Only one person mentioned wolves and it wasn't in relation to eating grain or not. I don't think anyone is bashing grain either, just providing their opinions and experiences.

Dogs are opportunistic eaters and can and do eat a variety of things but they are still carnivores. Carnivores need meat to survive. They can eat other things like grain and potatoes but they don't "need" to eat it when meat is available. But as I've said that doesn't make grain or other carbohydrates "bad" for dogs.

You're right dogs aren't "natural" or "wild" anymore but I don't think their digestive systems have changed as much as people would like to believe.

http://www.campaignfortruth.com/Eclub/240205/Petfood.htm
http://orijen.ca/orijen/ORIJEN_White_Paper.pdf
http://www.thewholedog.org/id34.html

To sassafras: By garbage I mean plastic, tin foil, paper, gum etc.
 

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I would like to feed my dogs the best all around diet. I don't want to give them any soy, wheat, or corn though as I have had dogs in the past with allergies. I have small dogs, 2 yorkies and a small shih tzu. I know this is a very controversial subject, but can anyone recommend a dog food that is good for small dogs. Raw is not an option for me. Thanks for the help!
 

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How much do you want to bet that grains are notorious for being allergens? I name the amount. You wanna bet?
I don't know about in dogs, but I know SEVERAL people with grain allergies. I myself am allergic to dairy and soy, so it's not all that far off hah. I think the reason is because pretty much all food is genetically modified now, causing food allergies. I honestly don't feed my dogs grain free. And I eat grains myself. About 90% of that though is me not wanting to cut down my own food that much, I'd very likely have to have formula if I went off of all grains. For dogs it's a lot easier(at least seemingly) to feed grain free. But as long as my dogs don't have any issues on it, I don't feel a need to switch their diet, especially since my one dog can have a sensitive stomach.

I think for the most part, this thread is going to be all opinions of personal experience. Has any research been done to show that grains are bad for dogs?

~IJMB
 
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