Food is always a hot topic and recently people have become increasingly aware of the impact our diet has on our health and the environment.
One of the major talking points: how do we eat food in its most natural form? This means food choices are constantly up for debate. This mind-set has a big say in what we choose to eat, and now, what we buy our dogs.
It’s fantastic to see so many owners passing their healthy diets on to their dogs. It's important to feed them the right stuff. As with all things food, however, there’s a lot of confusion as to what the best options are.
There is a dog food debate in full swing. The major question is: should I be feeding my dog grain free dog food? So, here’s our attempt at an ultimate guide to grain free dog food.
The rise of grain free dog food.
Some of the most common grains in dog food are wheat, rice, maize and barley. Grain free dog food is a popular choice among owners and its rise coincided with our very own diet changes – most notably the introduction of gluten-free choices. Dogs followed and grain free food quickly became a common food choice.
Grain free and gluten free dog food is much more than a fad. It’s a great choice for dogs that need a change in their diet and for pups growing up. Most grain free products are full of the nutritious goodness and use high quality ingredients.
Both owners and vets have also reported noticeable improvements in dogs that suffer from digestive issues and skin complaints, when turning to grain free options; the British Veterinary Association estimated that 70% of non-routine appointments were for these cases alone.
On this evidence, surely grain free foods are a great alternative? In our eyes, yes. The issue is, when it comes to grain free options there’s plenty of mixed messaging and information that’s been misinterpreted. This makes for a lot of confused dog owners.
We thought it’d be a good idea to answer a few questions and clear up some of the confusion surrounding grain free dog food.
Is grain free food better for your dog?
We think grain free food is a great choice. A lot of the time grains are used by big dog food companies as cheap fillers. We believe dogs get far more nutritious value from other ingredients.
On top of a grain free diet, we believe a high % of fresh or freshly prepared meat and fish is crucial, topped up with nutritious vegetables, pulses and botanicals. This isn’t because grains are necessarily bad, but because dogs benefit from natural ingredients with vitamins and fibre that naturally aid gut health, support the immune system and much more.
Think of it like this, dogs in their most natural state are used to eating their prey – stomach contents and all. Herbivores have fruits, berries, vegetables and some grains, which dogs happily gobble up. But the main taste they’re after is fresh meat. We think modern day dog food should stay true to its ancestors’ roots – a diet predominantly free of grains.
Is grain free food okay for puppies?
Yes, grain free is a great option for young pups. These early stages have a big say in their development and growth down the line. As long as grain free options have the correct nutrients and minerals, they are a great option for dog owners and their new pups.
So, are non-grain free foods bad for dogs?
Not all grains are the same and equal when it comes to the nutritional value they deliver dogs, and a lot of dogs do well on dog foods that contain grain. For example brown rice is better than a cheaper grain like wheat which is often used as a filler in dry dog food to bulk it out. So it’s not a matter of all “grain-free” food are good, and all foods containing “grain” are bad, the variants of grain, and quality of other ingredients play a big part. That said, whilst some grains are better for dogs than others we believe there are more nutritious vegetable ingredients such as potato, broccoli and carrots that can be used instead of grains. Vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and pumpkin are great prebiotics, types of dietary fibre that feed the friendly bacteria in your dog’s gut. This helps your dog’s gut bacteria produce nutrients for their colon cells and leads to a healthier digestive system, and we believe often a happier and healthier dog.
The most important thing is finding a dog food that your dog does well on, and you believe in. Dogs are unique. They come in different shapes and sizes, which means there’s no one size fits all food plan. It’s important you adopt a balanced diet that gives your dog the nutrients, proteins and minerals they need.
It’s also worth remembering though that just because it’s grain-free dog food, it isn’t necessarily better. Quality ingredients make quality dog food. So, if it’s grain free but then the dog food is using a meat meal instead of fresh meat, the nutritional gains in not using cheap grains, would be negated by the cheaper meat source. The best advice we can give owners is to be cautious and thorough when buying for your dog – just like you would when buying for yourself. Make sure you read the composition on the back of the bag carefully, and make sure the first 2-3 ingredients are of high quality.
Where can I buy the best grain free dog food?
At Beco, we provide a wide range of freshly prepared grain free wet dog food and dry food. We’re big believers in tasty flavour, sustainably sourced produce and foods that provide our dogs with everything they need to keep them happy and their tummies healthy.
Our recipes are cooked at temperatures between 90 – 100ºC. This locks in all of the nutritious goodness, as opposed to meat meal foods that are usually cooked between 250 and 350ºC.
From wild boar, to free range chicken and carrots, or our sustainable tuna with pumpkin and peas, our wet foods cater for dogs of all shapes and sizes. Take a look here to see our full collection of healthy dog food – a carefully selected range that leaves your dog spoilt for choice.