Pros and Cons of a Complete Grain-Free Diet for Dogs

by Staff

Most pet parents are caught between choosing a grain-free diet and one with grains. While some pet parents believe that grain-free dog foods are right for dogs, there’s also a more significant percentage who think that grains should be part of healthy dog food.

While all of them may be correct to some extent, it is worth noting that according to FDA, some food items found in grain-free dog foods such as lentils, peas, potatoes, etc. have been found to cause canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.

Considering the things that have been fronted in favor of grain-free dog food, this can be confusing, especially for inexperienced pet parents.

The grain-free dog enthusiasts, on the other hand, believe that since dogs are naturally meat-eaters, grain-free dog food is ideal for dogs. As such, they think that dogs should take only limited amounts of plant-based dog foods.

Whether you think that a grain-free diet is ideal for your canine friend or you’re among those who believe that plant-based dog food is right for your dog, you have come to the right post. Read along to learn the pros and cons of feeding your dog with complete grain-free dog food.

Pros and Cons of a Grain-Free Dog Food

Just like any other type of dog food, grain-free dog diet has both advantages and disadvantages as you will see below:

Advantages of Grain Free Dog Food

Ideally, grain-free dog food will come with meat-based ingredients like beef, lamb, chicken, fish, buffalo, bison, turkey, etc. They also include non-grain products, for instance, vegetables. Grain-free dog food has many benefits, including:

Easily Digestible

Your dog will not be able to digest some grains, such as corn if they don’t have adequate amounts of amylase enzyme. Amylase is a crucial enzyme required in the breaking down of starch and carbohydrates.

As such, your dog is likely to suffer from gastrointestinal problems if they don’t have enough amylase enzymes. In such a case, you should consider feeding your dog a grain-free dog diet.

Pet food brands know this, and that’s why they have made dog foods to serve this particular purpose. For instance, Health Extension canned grain-free dog food is a dog food formulated with whole-grain ingredients to ensure it provides all the necessary ingredients for your canine friend. Apart from nutritionally rich, Holistic Extension grain-free dog food is formulated with beef stew to make it more palatable. It is also easily digestible, making it more beneficial to your canine friend. Also, make sure to source your pet food products from a reputed source like to get genuine products.

It is Less Allergenic

If your dog is known for food intolerance, then grain-free dog food may come in handy. Ideally, compared to dog food formulated with grains, grain-free dog food is less allergenic.

Among other things, grains can cause intestinal problems to dogs with food allergies. For instance, most dogs are allergic to gluten, a specific protein found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley. You can, therefore, do your dog a huge favor by feeding them with grain-free dog food.

Helps Boost Health and Activity Level

Apart from helping prevent allergic reactions, grain-free dog food plays a crucial role in improving your dog’s overall health and levels of activity. Ideally, grain-free dog food provides your dog with the much-needed energy for optimal activity.

It’s Beneficial for Dogs with Diabetes and Cancer

If your dog is diabetic or has cancer, then feeding them with a grain-free diet is ideal. Just like humans, feeding your dog with carbohydrates will lead to increased blood sugar levels. Among other things, this can lead to overweight which can put their lives at risk.

Even if your dog is not diabetic, it is still advisable to avoid feeding them complex carbohydrates.

Disadvantages of Grain Free Dog Food

Even with the many benefits that come with a grain-free dog diet, here are some disadvantages that come with it:

More Expensive

Compared to other generic dog food, grain-free dog food is more expensive. However, this shouldn’t concern you if the price of dog food isn’t an issue for you.

Not Ideal for Less Active Dogs

Remember, we stated earlier in this post that grain-free dog food can help boost the level of activity for your canine friend. However, if your dog is a senior, it doesn’t require the kind of energy available in a grain-free diet.

The grain-free diet contains significant amounts of proteins that can make older and less active dogs overweight.


Even if the grain-free dog food is becoming increasingly popular, sometimes availability can be a challenge. As such, it may not be readily available at the pet store or supermarkets. Even when it is available, compared to other regular dog food, it may not be enough. This can be a challenge, especially for pet parents who are looking to switch to grain-free dog food.

It Can Be Challenging for Picky Eaters

Even if grain-free dog food is available, sometimes your dog may not just like it. As such, if your dog has been used to grain-based dog food, it may take some time before accepting grain-free dog food. This is especially the case if your dog is a picky eater.

While it’s normal for a dog to turn down new food during the first try, if they keep avoiding it multiple times, then you should consider feeding them the kind of food they like.

High in Carbohydrate

Grain-free dog food can still have high carbohydrate content. As such, it may not be ideal if your dog is on a low carbohydrate diet.

For instance, if your dog is Type 1 Diabetic or is strictly on a non-carbohydrate diet, then feeding him with grain-free dog food may not be ideal.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many benefits as well as disadvantages that come with grain-free dog food. You should, therefore, consider the health, age, and nutritional requirements of your dog before deciding which dog food is right for your dog.

Even so, before you change your dog’s diet, ensure to first consult your vet. Among other things, changes in diet can affect your dog’s gastrointestinal system.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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