Grain Free Dog Food 101

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Grain Free Dog Food 101

In the past few years grain free dog food had become very popular.

Grain free dog foods do not contain ingredients such as corn, wheat and rice.

They are made of meat based ingredients such as salmon, beef, turkey, venison, lamb, or chicken.

These recipes substitute grains with other types of starch like potato, sweet potato, tapioca, or green peas. Common dog allergy problems sometimes are connected with a grain based diet.

Grain Free Dog Food

Thus grain free dog foods have been known to relieve digestive and allergy problems linked with grain based dog foods.

It is important to recognize that a grain free formula is not necessarily a low carbohydrate diet.

In fact, some grain free dog foods contain carbohydrate levels similar to or even higher than diets containing grains. So grain free and low carbohydrate dog foods are not always one and the same.


Nutritionally, the main aspect of a dog food is to provide complete and balanced nutrition. This theory is true despite the food contains grains or not.

Your dog will eat foods that are not classified as meat, he is not a strict carnivore, though primarily, dog are carnivores.

So, grains or carbohydrate foods should not occupy a large percentage of the dog’s diet.

Your dog’s biology is ready to digest mainly meat protein and some simple carbohydrates like fruits and light vegetables.

His gastrointestinal system is naturally adapted to a diet that is grain free.

Complex carbohydrates are not efficiently digested because your dog does not naturally produce the enzymes that are required to break them down.

Eventually this undigested food can compromise intestinal wall, making the dog prone to allergies, leaky gut, obesity, and bowel inflammation conditions.

When a dog presents clinical signs of dog food intolerance or food allergy, it may be advisable to change his food to a grain free formula.

Dog food allergy signs include rash, licking, biting, and vomiting.

Dog food intolerance can be recognized by flatulence, loose stool, or diarrhea.

Benefits of Grain Free Dog Food:

  • Less stool
  • Less shedding
  • Healthy coats
  • More vigor
  • Less allergies and better health
  • Decrease food intake
  • Better oral health

Some dogs maintain great health eating dog foods that contain grains, while many dogs do not do well with grains. You should keep in your mind that each ingredient provides a group of nutrients to the overall composition of the dog food. All the ingredients together provide a balanced nutrient profile for your dog.

My advice is:

There is no one nutrition or type of food that is ideal for all dogs. Grain free dog foods can provide a complete nutrition for your dog. However, these foods are not the only option, or even necessarily the finest choice, for each individual dog.

In our dog food selector you can find some grain free dog food reviews:


About the Author:

Hi! I'm Dora Mancha, DVM. I am graduated for the Veterinary Medicine Faculty of Lisbon (2009). My degree is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). I completed my degree in Veterinary Medicine in July, 2009. Over the first years as a veterinarian my work was closely related to the animal health field. I have gained some average experience having worked in Barcelona University (UAB) Equine Hospital and by working with veterinarians in Portugal. In addition, in 2009 - 2010 I was in Madrid at the University Alfonso X el Sábio doing an internship in the equine service. I am also very interested in small animal medicine and surgery. In fact I worked in several small animals clinics in Portugal improving my knowledge about small animal behavior and health. Dogs always have been present in my life, since I was a child. At the present moment I have four dogs a Labrador, a Epagnheul Breton, a Whippet and a mixed breed dog.

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Why was the Dog Food Selector created?

Each dog has unique needs... The approach "one food for all dogs" isn't the more suitable. Dogs have different sizes, different life stages, unique breed characteristics, health conditions and a few other factors... Choosing the right food for your dog may help him or her life a longer and healthier life! We exist to make that task easier for you.

How does the Dog Food Selector work?

It's quite simple... It's a 1-2 step process. You just have to fill in the form with your dog's characteristics, like gender, age, size, activity, health conditions and a few other important data and click "search". Then, you'll see a list of dog foods with the highest review score. If you wish you can see all the detailed review of each individual dog food.