More and more often we’re starting to see our friends and family gravitate toward a “gluten free,” or grain free diet. Not surprisingly, when people are on a health kick, they want their pets to be more healthy too! The gluten free world may be a foreign concept for some, but there has been research that connects grain to sensitivity and allergies in canines.
Before domestication, dogs had to scavenge and hunt for their food. Usually this consisted of freshly killed meat, a truly carnivorous diet. In order to lower the cost of money and resources that are required to feed the modern day dog, humans came up with kibble. James Spratt created the first official pet food in the United States in 1860. The same ingredients that were used back then are still used now; you’ll probably see some type of grain or wheat product in the label of most commercial dog foods.
If you’ve ever had a dog that wouldn’t stop itching and biting at their back end, paws, or legs, it could be that they’re allergic to their food. Dog kibble that contains grain also creates other symptoms such as chronic ear infections, inconsistent bowel movements, and might even exacerbate other issues like conjunctivitis. This is assuming that you’ve already provided your pet with flea and parasite prevention, as both can wreak havoc on your dog’s skin!
Since we know that excessive itching is more prominent in dogs who consume grain, you might be curious as to what other benefits are possible! When your pup scratches too much, their fur becomes dry and brittle. After switching to grain free food and treats, you should begin to see much less shedding along with a softer, shinier coat. If you pet them and run your fingers through their fur, there might even be less flaky dandruff coming off on your hands.
Changing your dog’s diet all at once is likely to cause an unpleasant reaction in their tummy. If you notice that your pet is suddenly vomiting or having loose bowel movements, you might be giving them too much too fast. Start by cutting back on their regular food by half a cup, and slowly mixing an equal amount of grain free food in; continue to do this until you can give your dog a fully grain free meal. Consider switching over to grain free treats and supplements as well so that both you and your pet can experience the benefits.
You won’t have to deal with so much shedding, and they won’t be so itchy! Keep in mind that some grain free dog food brands often put a little too much protein in their formulas. If you aren’t sure how much protein your dog needs to stay healthy, just check with your vet. They’ll be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.