With the latest increase in the popularity of grain-free food items for dogs, most pet parents are concerned whether a regular, grain-based diet is harmful to the pet. The essence of a gluten-free diet comes from popularity seen amid humans that are gluten-sensitive. This is why pet owners today have started questioning whether grains are actually beneficial for their four-legged friends.
Even though certain pups tend to suffer from gluten or grain sensitivities, most canines thrive when fed a grain-rich diet. Unlike the wolves, most domesticated dogs are counted among omnivores. So, your fur friend can surely eat grains. However, the type and quantity are what matters when picking the right grain-based diet for your dog.
Unless your dog is sensitive to gluten, there is no reason to consider a grain-free diet. This blog will discuss the best grains for your dog’s diet to ensure that they are healthy and happy.
The 9 Best Grains for Your Dogs
Most of the grain-based food available for dogs is considered safe for your pet and packs multiple nutritional benefits. However, you need to consult a vet if you plan to change your pooch’s diet abruptly.
So, without further ado, let us check out some of the best grains that can be fed to your dog without having to worry about any adverse health conditions.
- Whole Wheat
- Brown Rice
While wheat is a primary ingredient found in our kitchen, it is just as common in the canine world. Wheat packs in a good amount of gluten & some dogs might be allergic to this gluten content. For most pups, whole wheat is considered a valuable and balanced component of the diet.
Domesticated canines can safely consume & digest wheat. This particular grain functions as an amazing source of easy-to-digest carbohydrates that your dog uses for energy. Apart from this, wheat also packs a good amount of protein when mixed with meat-based diet formulas.
Whole wheat contains grain kernels left intact. This outer layer, also known as wheat bran, is loaded with fiber. This fiber serves as a nourishing, pre-biotic agent that allows the good gut bacteria to thrive within the pooch’s digestive system.
Rice is something we have all been consuming for quite some time. It is loaded with minerals and vitamins. And if you are looking for a healthier version of the same for your pooch, brown rice would be a safer option. It houses outer kernels that aren’t similar to white rice. This brown rice packs in a lot of fiber & nutrients within the grain.
Apart from the carbohydrates and fiber, brown rice also packs in a good amount of vitamin B. This particular vitamin plays a critical role in your dog’s energy metabolism & enzyme function. Brown rice also has a natural presence of selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, & vitamin E.
Dogs that suffer from digestive issues can benefit from the consumption of brown rice and even white rice. It is easy to digest for the pooch and helps soothe their stomach while they recover.
Another commonly occurring cereal grain that is good for your pooch is barley. It is used for the replenishment of carbohydrates in the dog. Although mostly used for brewing beer, the grain serves as a popular alternative for wheat and corn.
As compared to any other grain, barley has a high amount of energy content. It serves as an ingredient for dogs that are particularly active with higher needs for carbohydrates. Just like rice, this grain also has a good amount of Vitamin B.
Oats are a nutritious grain used in canine and human diets. Oats come with a good amount of protein & are particularly low in gluten content. There are several dog food options available in the market that are meant for dogs sensitive to wheat, corn, or similar grains.
Even though dogs tend to digest animal protein in a rather efficient way than plant protein, oats help boost the meat-based protein content. Its diminished glycemic index helps control the blood sugar level. Not just that, the soluble whole oats fiber helps manage cholesterol levels.
Oats are perfect for pet parents looking for a non-GMO-based diet for their pooch.
Millets are mostly used for feeding wild birds. However, this grain has gained immense popularity in the past few decades. This omnivore-appropriate food ingredient for dogs is a perfect option and is easily digested.
This gluten-free grain is an ideal choice for dogs sensitive to gluten yet prefer a grain-inclusive diet. Additional features of this grain include a higher concentration of antioxidants that help boost your pooch’s immune system.
It also has a higher fat concentration than most of the grains added to your pooch’s diet. Carbohydrates are meant to help in aiding with energy bursts that help your pup without any weight gain.
This particular grain is completely safe for humans as well as canines when served in a moderate amount. Quinoa ranks as a premium-quality ingredient for dog food which is a healthy alternative to wheat and corn.
Quinoa is a nutrient-dense grain and is packed with a good amount of calcium. This mineral is essential in a canine’s diet and plays an important role in the dog’s bone development.
However, there are some concerns related to saponin found in quinoa. It is a natural chemical that can irritate your canine’s intestines. Even a tiny segment of the saponin found in quinoa can cause health issues when fed to the dogs in average portions.
Yet another safe grain option for dogs is sorghum. This ancient grain is often termed a dog’s “superfood” when used in pet formulas. Not just that, it is completely gluten-free & packs in a good amount of nutrition as compared to traditional grains.
Talking about the digestibility of this grain, it is easy to digest and enjoys a decreased glycemic index. Sorghum is surely beneficial for pets that suffer from diabetes. Additionally, the fatty acid present in sorghum is known to have antioxidant properties for your pup.
Sorghum’s spiked mineral content also provides your dog with the much-needed phosphorus, magnesium, copper, & zinc. This grain serves as a natural source of minerals and vitamins, which is way better than the artificial minerals found in certain food items.
Similar to barley and wheat, rye consists of gluten. This is why the grain isn’t ideal for dogs that suffer from gluten sensitivity, grain intolerance, or celiac disease. However, some dog food production companies tend to prefer rye to help with weight control.
Rye flaunts a nutritional profile that is similar to barley. The grain is also an amazing source of fiber and vitamin B. However, despite its high energy level, certain studies demonstrate that this grain can aid in the promotion of weight loss, heart health & curb blood sugar.
When left unprocessed, rye shows a higher level of fiber as compared to wheat. Although dogs do not use fiber in its primary form for the production of energy, the high fiber composition helps the dog feel fuller for long hours & prevents them from overeating.
Regardless of its popularity, corn being used as a part of your dog food can actually be controversial. While corn-based food could be food for some dogs, others might suffer from allergies. In general, corn is considered a safe ingredient for the dog’s dietary needs. It is loaded with nutrients and digestible carbohydrates.
Although other options in this list do pack a good amount of nutritional punch, corn is considered safe, abundant, and affordable in nature. It also has a good amount of vitamin E & beta-carotene. Further, it also packs in important fatty acids known to aid coat health for the pooch.
Unfortunately, most corn-containing dog foods tend actually to contain the by-products such as corn’s gluten-meal. So, make sure you select your dog food by checking whether it has whole corn or cornmeal as an ingredient. Meat and not corn has to be the main ingredient of any dog’s diet.
Whole Grains Comparison: Nutrition Chart
|Whole Grains||Calories (Kcal)||Gluten Free (Y/N)||Total Fat (%)||Cholesterol (%)||Saturated Fat (%)||Sodium (%)||Dietary Fiber (%)||Carbohydrate (%)||Protein (%)|
So, the next time you look for an enriched meal for your pooch, make sure you check out these options available in the market to give your dog the best in terms of nutrition. But, before you make any major changes, consult your veterinarian, especially if your pooch is gluten-sensitive or allergic to any grain.