As loving dog owners, we’re always looking for new ways to ensure our canine companions are happy and healthy. For starters, ample exercise is a must for dogs, in addition to mental stimulation with plenty of play and attention. But what about your dog’s diet?
Diet is a huge component of your dog’s overall health, which is why knowing the ingredients in your dog’s food is one of the first steps toward healthy living. After all, not all ingredients are created equal, and some ingredients, like real meat, complex carbohydrates, and fiber blends, are more beneficial than others.
And when it comes to promoting health, a grain-free dog diet can be a fantastic option for pet parents looking to feed their pups a more nutritious diet, as grain-free dog foods feature everything dogs need to thrive, and nothing they don’t.
If you’re just looking for the best grain-free dog food, and don’t want to read about the benefits of grain-free diets, then please feel free to skip the details and go right to the source. Here are links to Lucy Pet’s grain-free Formulas for Life™ dog foods:
- Salmon, Pumpkin & Quinoa Grain-Free Dog Food
- Duck, Pumpkin & Quinoa Grain-Free Dog Food
- Duck & Potato Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dog Food
In this article, we will outline what grain-free dog food is, we’ll cover why many people believe it is the right choice for dogs of all breeds, we’ll talk about the benefits grain-free diets offer, and we’ll explain some of the negative press grain-free dog foods have recently received in the news.
Let’s dive in!
Why Grain-Free Dog Food?
Chances are that you’ve seen items in grocery stores and restaurants labeled as “grain-free”—so, what’s all the fuss over eating grains?
We would like to start by saying that grains are a perfectly healthy ingredient to be included in pet food, as well as grain-free diets. Either choice is perfectly fine for the nutritional health of your pet.
But, and this is very important, they must be formulated correctly. When selecting a diet with grains, whole grains (like brown rice and quinoa) are often better choices, but it all comes down to the individual needs of the pet and the preference of the pet parent.
At Lucy Pet, we are guided by science and facts. Our team of experienced nutritionists analyzes the nutrient values of every ingredient, how they contribute to the overall formula, and how well they will be digested.
This process ensures the nutritional integrity of our Formulas for Life™ dog foods, and it’s the reason why so many people trust us for their dog’s nutritional needs.
Next, we want to make clear that while grain-free diets are healthy, carb-free diets are not. In fact, it’s important to understand that carbohydrates play an important role in providing energy to your dog’s brain, and since grain-free formulas can also include carbohydrates, let’s discuss a few facts about carbs.
Five Benefits of Grain-Free Dog Food from Lucy Pet
Lucy Pet’s grain-free diets are great choices because they are formulated and balanced correctly. They feature premium proteins, fats, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and support a healthy digestive system, healthy skin and coat, and more.
Here are the top grain-free dog food benefits:
1. Grain-Free Diets Provide Health from the Inside Out
Your pet’s digestive tract goes far beyond just processing the food your pet eats: the gut plays a key role in supporting your dog’s natural immunity to disease.
That’s why our Formulas for Life™ dog foods feature our unique P.B.F. Prebiotic Balanced Fiber blend for gut health. New research shows that having a blend of carefully selected fiber sources can produce an optimal environment in the digestive tract.
Having a diverse blend of prebiotics provides nourishment for the gut bacteria, which in turn, nourishes the entire body. Our grain-free formulas truly provide health from the inside out.
2. Grain-Free Diets Come With Less Risk of Food Allergies and Intolerances
Food sensitivities or allergies can be frustrating and cause health problems and discomfort for dogs. In fact, many dog owners are unaware that their dog may be allergic to their food.
While food intolerances describe any scenario in which a dog has difficulty digesting a certain ingredient (think: lactose intolerance in humans), a food allergy is a bit different. Food allergies in dogs occur when their immune systems have an extreme response.
As it turns out, three of the most perceived ingredients that cause food allergies in dogs are wheat, corn, and soy. And can you guess what three of the most common grains found in those grocery store dog kibble brands are? You got it, wheat, corn, and soy!
Symptoms of food allergies in dogs vary significantly and can range from mild, to very severe, to life-threatening. If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms, talk to your vet for a health check-up, and consider switching your dog’s food to a grain-free variety:
- Excessive gas
- Skin irritation or rash
- Diarrhea/loose stools
- Itching skin with chronic chewing, scratching, biting at the itchy area
- Frequent infections, including those of the ear and skin
Even if your canine companion exhibits none of the above symptoms, that doesn’t mean that their current diet is working flawlessly. Food intolerances, while not usually as severe as allergies, still pose a serious threat to your dog’s health.
3. Grain-Free Diets Provide Better Nutrients and Value
As is the case with most super-premium dog foods, you can usually count on reducing the amount of food you need to give your pup once you switch to grain-free to maintain a healthy weight.
The feeding guidelines of the bag provide instructions based on your pet’s age, weight, and health condition. This can help you to offset some of the added cost of feeding Fido a grain-free kibble.
Some pet parents feel “sticker shock” when they see prices of super-premium, grain-free foods. But when you factor in the smaller amount you can feed your dog as well as the reduction in health problems and potential resulting vet visits, you may find that super-premium, grain-free foods are the more affordable option.
4. Grain-Free Foods Encourage Healthy Skin and Coat
Did you know that Lucy Pet’s grain-free food can improve your dog’s skin health and coat health?
When it comes to skin and coat health, healthy fats and oils are the names of the game. Our formulas provide healthy oil and fats to maintain a healthy, shiny coat with soft, supple skin.
Lucy Pet uses premium ingredients naturally high omega-3 fatty acid content, like wild Alaskan salmon, duck fat, and flaxseed.
Not only does Lucy Pet’s grain-free Formulas For Life™ food make your dog’s skin and coat healthier, but also the quality of protein, fats, fiber and complex carbohydrates found in our grain-free foods contributes to a stronger coat, which in turn can lead to less shedding.
If there’s one benefit that every pet parent can relate to, it is less hair to deal with around the house!
5. Grain-Free Foods Offer Unique & Specialized Ingredients
Another interesting set of grain-free dog food advantages are the ingredients used as alternatives to grains.
Many of these are ingredients your dog may not have been exposed to before, but which are great sources of nutrition!
For example, sweet potatoes, quinoa, chickpeas, and potatoes are just a few examples of delicious veggies that are used to formulate grain-free diets.
One of the primary grain-free dog food advantages is that there tends to be an increase in omega-3 fatty acids, which are particularly good for your pet’s skin and coat.
The Switch Alone May Solve Several Issues
Sometimes your dog may be experiencing several digestive issues that you cannot attribute to a specific condition or cause.
Oftentimes, pet parents will try switching their dog’s food first to see if the condition clears up. Choosing a grain-free dog food is a great choice because they often avoid ingredients that could be causing an issue for your dog.
Also, because grain-free dog foods are usually formulated with less common ingredients, your dog may respond well by making the switch to grain-free.
Always remember to switch your dog gradually, so you don’t cause digestive upset. After 7-10 days, your dog can begin eating the new diet 100%. Please note that dogs with more sensitive stomachs might need a longer transition.
You may be delighted to see that the switch to grain-free alone might save you a lot of money in allergy tests and various medications.
Always be sure to consult your veterinarian for any serious health conditions or drastic changes in your dog’s behavior.
Grain-Free Dog Food FAQs
For more information regarding the benefits of grain-free dog foods, below refer to our FAQ section found below:
Is It Healthier For A Dog To Eat Grain-Free?
In some cases, feeding your best friend a grain-free diet can help them live a healthier and more fruitful life.
As mentioned, many dogs can have food sensitivities or allergies to common dog food ingredients like wheat, corn, and soy which can negatively impact their quality of life.
Many dogs can consume these ingredients and live perfectly healthy lives, so there’s no guarantee that switching to a grain-free dog food will automatically alleviate the issues your dog may be experiencing.
Therefore, if your dog is afflicted with an issue or set of issues, it’s best to first talk to your vet before making the switch to a grain-free diet.
What Is The Advantage Of Grain-Free Dog Food?
Grain-free dog foods, like Lucy Pet’s™ very own Formulas for Life™ grain-free dog foods, tend to use premium, complex carbohydrate sources like quinoa, sweet potatoes, and more to provide dogs with all the energy they need to get through their day.
Compared to corn or wheat, complex carbohydrates like quinoa or brown rice release more slowly into the bloodstream and prevent spikes/dips in your dog’s energy and blood sugar levels.
Additionally, complex carbs tend to keep your dog feeling “full” longer, so they can focus on what’s important, like herding sheep, catching a Frisbee, or going on a jog with their loving owner!
Are Grain-Free Diets Bad For Dogs?
Simply put, grain-free diets that are properly formulated are perfectly healthy for both dogs and cats.
Recently, several stories made their way to various new outlets claiming that grain-free dog foods caused a medical condition known as “dilated cardiomyopathy” (DCM); however, none of Lucy Pet’s diets were involved in those cases.
In fact, the leading theory suggests that the dogs affected by DCM were not formulated and balanced correctly and thereby causing the condition in certain dogs.
However, Lucy Pet has a team of animal nutritionists with extensive experience who precisely formulate and review every pet food formula.
Additionally, our pet foods include higher levels of taurine for heart and eye health, and Lucy Pet was one of the first dog food suppliers in the industry to do so!
Do Dogs Need Grain In Their Diet?
Grain can be an excellent source of carbohydrates and nutrients; however, there are other sources of carbohydrates, like the starchy vegetable sweet potatoes, that can be fed to dogs instead.
Above all else, the important thing to remember is that no one ingredient will make or break a dog food; instead, it’s how the ingredients are formulated and proportioned that makes all the difference!
What Grain-Free Dog Food Is Safe?
When properly formulated grain-free dog foods are perfectly safe for dogs. However, when dog food is improperly balanced and lacks essential nutrients, problems can arise.
That’s why it’s so important to do your research when purchasing new dog food for your best friend, and why our nutrition experts go to extreme lengths to ensure that our Formulas for Life dog foods are perfectly balanced to provide dogs with all the proteins and nutrients they need to live their best dog life.
Before we wrap up, let’s cover a couple of other important topics related to the grain-free conversation. First, let’s discuss the importance of including carbohydrates in your dog’s diet (which raw food diets are missing!), then let’s discuss why it’s a bad idea to “feed your dog like a wolf”, and finally, let’s talk about the bad press grain-free diets have received recently, which was definitely not deserved.
There is a great deal of misinformation about the role and value of carbohydrates in nutrition.
In short, carbohydrates are important because they provide glucose (energy) for the brain and central nervous system. Additionally, there are other important facts to know about carbs, including:
- Carbs provide energy, which is essential to survive.
- Dogs and Cats are very efficient at digesting and converting carbs into energy.
- It is much more difficult to obtain energy solely from meat/fish protein, and is more taxing to the body, so a diet with zero carbs creates more physical challenges to the metabolism. What is key, however, is the type of carbs used in a diet, and how they are blended with protein, fats, and fibers.
- As a point of differentiation, there are “simple carbohydrates” and “complex carbohydrates”, which digest differently and convert to energy differently.
That said, carbohydrates can vary in quality and nutrient contribution, depending on the brand.
The majority of carbohydrates that Lucy Pet uses are generally complex carbohydrates, which convert into energy much more gradually, and are highly digestible.
Complex carbohydrates provide long-term storage of energy when the animal is not eating. When pets eat, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are digested and broken into smaller parts. Once broken down, these parts will affect blood glucose differently depending on how they are absorbed and how the body uses them. With complex carbohydrates, dogs tend to experience fewer blood sugar spikes and stay full longer.
This makes complex carbohydrates like quinoa and brown rice excellent ingredients for dogs, especially highly active dogs who run, play, and work all day.
So, whether you choose to feed a grain-based or grain-free diet, please keep in mind that carbohydrates are important for energy and brain function.
Well over 12,000 years ago, humans domesticated and played a role in feeding canines. Those early dogs were interdependent with humans, and over time, the genome of these canines evolved and changed.
It is worth mentioning here that while it is trendy for marketers to tell you that “your dog is a wolf, so feed it like one” – the fact is today’s dogs have been domesticated for well over 12,000 years or so, and as such, have dramatically different lifestyles, digestive processes, and energy requirements.
Before their domestication, the way dogs ate was by hunting or scavenging for their meals. In the wild, dogs would travel in packs, sometimes not eat for days in between hunts, and they were extremely active.
They also had much shorter lifespans from living outdoors and being subjected to elements, pests, and predators. Therefore, how and what they ate had different requirements than today. If you are not yet convinced that your dog is not the same as a wolf, and shouldn’t be fed like one, then consider these facts:
- There are 36 parts of the genome that differ between dogs and wolves, 10 of which play a critical role in starch digestion and fat metabolism.
- These genetic differences in the genome between dogs and wolves include the ability for dogs to digest carbohydrates and fat (for energy), which was a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs and enabled dogs to obtain energy efficiently from food.
- Note that raw diets ignore carbohydrates, meaning your dog’s body has to work harder to obtain the necessary energy the brain and organs need to survive. That also means the organs are getting taxed by working to derive energy from meats.
It is true that some dogs have food sensitivities to grains such as corn, wheat, and soy, but these conditions are relatively rare in dogs. When consumed by a dog with an allergy to one of these ingredients, there may be health problems like food allergies, obesity, and digestive issues.
Lucy Pet offers high-quality grain-free dog food and cat food for consumers who prefer a diet without grains. The advantages of grain-free dog food are numerous, and in the next section, we will cover the many benefits.
Now that you understand the history behind canine diets, you are probably wondering what the benefits would be of switching your pup to a grain-free diet.
Research has shown that of the many forms of dog food available, kibble is the best type to get your pet the right nutrients.
Grain-free diets are an excellent choice, provided they are formulated correctly, precisely balanced, and manufactured in a quality manufacturing facility.
But is grain-free dog food healthy?
There have been several reports in the news about some dogs experiencing a heart condition known as “dilated cardiomyopathy” (DCM). The FDA and veterinarians are still studying these cases, but not all grain-free diets are involved in this issue.
As experts began to dig into the issues, one leading theory is that the dogs affected by DCM were not formulated and balanced correctly. As a result, what would have been perfectly good ingredients for a grain-free food were included in levels not correctly balanced, and therefore caused a health condition in certain dogs.
None of Lucy Pet’s diets were involved in those cases. Lucy Pet has a team of leading nutritionists with extensive experience, who precisely formulate and review every formula. Additionally, we have always supplemented our dog formulas with much higher levels of taurine for heart and eye health.
Over 25 years ago, our president Joey Herrick led the pet food industry by being the first to add taurine to dog foods. What’s key to understand is that a grain-free diet is an excellent choice for your pet, if the company formulates and manufactures correctly.
Shop Lucy Pet Food’s Grain-Free Formulas For Life™
This article covered just 5 of the many grain-free benefits for dogs.
Now that you know about all of these benefits, including that a grain-free diet provides healthier skin and coat, increased energy, better breath, and fewer allergies and intolerances, we hope you’ll agree to switch your dog to a grain-free diet is a no-brainer!
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