Pros and Cons of a Grain Free Diet For Dogs

pros and cons of a grain free diet for dogs

I need to make it clear that I’m not a vet. I can’t give medical or dietary advice. All I can do is share the story of how my own dog has thrived on a grain-free diet.

If you decide to change your dog’s diet, please check with your vet. Also, if you notice any change in eating or drinking habits, you’ll want to rule out any serious underlying cause.

Anyway, here is my story.

Buddy is now nearly 15. He’s doing exceptionally well for a dog his age. He has a good appetite. He’s active and engaged. But it wasn’t always this way.

At one point, a few years ago, he began to drink a lot of water. In fact, we had trouble keeping his bowl filled. Over the course of one day, he drank 10 full bowls of water. Even this didn’t seem to be enough.

He also urinated a lot. Sometimes, we couldn’t move fast enough to let him outside. Puddles would appear on the floor of our kitchen. He also began to experience what looked like painful muscle spasms when he tried to get up, after lying in one position for a long time. When this happened, he’d let out a loud whimper.

Putting Your Dog On a Grain Free Diet

Being an elderly dog, I immediately suspected blood sugar. He was elderly. He was also eating a lot of grains, despite the fact we were also feeding him organic meat. It seemed clear that we needed to really reduce the grains if we wanted to keep him a little longer, which we did.

Within a day or two of feeding him just meat and eggs, with just a couple tablespoonfuls of grain-based kibble, to make this adjustment easier, he was a new dog. The insatiable thirst quickly stopped. Fortunately, those painful leg spasms also stopped.

His diet is now much closer to what dogs eat when they’re in the wild. Kibble, made from corn and cheap meat byproducts, is a relatively new invention. There’s plenty of evidence that it’s not the healthiest choice for a canine.

Benefits of a Grain Free Diet for Dogs

Diabetes is very common in older pets, and many animal health experts believe much of the problem stems from an improper diet, such as eating grain-based kibble. Although we had been feeding our dog a lot of organic meat scraps, it was the kibble that was slowly killing him.

It was also very clear our dog needed to shed a bit of weight, and get more exercise. Our vet had urged moderate walking, and not running, because she thought she had detected a heart murmur. However, she wasn’t entirely sure of this because our dog was so upset about being in an examining room in the first place, so she couldn’t get an accurate read by listening with her stethoscope. We decided against additional testing to get a more firm diagnosis, and, instead, just assume he might have a murmur.

Cooking a Dog’s Meals from Scratch

Over the past year, I had become increasingly concerned about the wisdom of feeding our dog conventional kibble. I made sure to include a lot of people food because it was real food. But dogs are not meant to eat a lot of grain, as our dog had become accustomed to. Just feeding him table scraps, even though they were organic, still wasn’t the best diet for him.

After making the decision to drastically reduce all complex carbohydrates, and feed him mostly meat and eggs, his health turned around and all symptoms that he suffered from elevated blood sugar disappeared.

We could have continued cooking all his meals from scratch, but this was too time consuming, and my husband noted that he felt “like a short order cook.” This is why we were absolutely delighted to find a commercial dog food made with high-quality meat products and no grain. The kibble we now feed him does contain some simple carbohydrates, in the form of sweet potatoes and other fruits and vegetables. But its main ingredient is meat.

Taste of the Wild Dog Food

Taste of the Wild kibble was a lucky find. It meant we no longer had to cook special meals for our dog. It was also an economical choice, because the meat we were feeding him was getting very expensive.

Our first bag of Taste of the Wild arrived, and my dog happily ate it, although he hesitated for a second because it was new. This kibble is made from real food, which includes bison, venison, lamb, eggs, chicken, sweet potato, peas, blueberries, raspberries and other healthy ingredients. It also contains various vitamins, including supplemental Vitamin B12, which is helpful for an older dog.

Although this costs more than a store-bought brand, considering our dog’s health prior to going mostly grain free, I believed it was potentially lifesaving. He’s been a good dog, and this is a small price to pay, so we can spend more time with him. Taste of the Wild comes in a variety of different flavors, as you can see here. It’s available in single bags, and you can choose the size.

Grain Free Dog KibbleGrain Free Dog Kibble

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Pros and Cons of a Grain Free Diet For Dogs

The upside we could see with putting our dog on a grain-free diet was an immediate improvement in his health. However, it’s definitely more expensive to feed your dog high quality food, as opposed to corn-based kibble. Also, it can be time consuming cooking for a dog. If you find yourself running out of time, or money, my best advice is to divert all healthy grain-free table scraps into your dogs’s bowl and then supplement with a high-quality kibble, such as Taste of the Wild.

My dog subsisted largely on Taste of the Wild for about a year. Then, he sort of lost his taste for it. This is something I have to respect. So we switched his diet to primarily people food. Lately, we’ve also supplemented with a high-quality grain free canned dog food. Although I’d love to say we don’t need dog  food, our 15-year-old dog has a voracious appetite, so we do.

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