yourpurebredpuppy logo

5 Reasons Not To Feed Your Dog Grains

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Last Updated: October, 2019



Rice really shouldn't be in dog food

Grain means rice, wheat, corn, soy, barley, millet, rye, quinoa, oats, pasta, bread, and so on.

Wheat, corn, soybean, barley, rice, oats, sorghum.... why is there so much grain in dog food? Common sense says dogs aren't livestock, right?

Ah, good questions. Follow the money.

Did you know that bagged and canned dog food didn't even exist until the past hundred years or so? That's when entrepreneurs with dollar signs in their eyes foresaw an industry in which pet owners would pay them for the convenience of ready-made bagged and canned diets for their pets.

All these entrepreneurs needed was.... ingredients.

Obviously dogs were meat-eaters, so meat needed to be in the recipe. But it couldn't be too much meat. Too expensive.

Wait, what about all the crops being produced across the vast Midwest and Central Plains of the US? The farm belt was producing huge quantities of grains and cereals, some of which wasn't fit for human consumption because of mold or other contaminants.

Could cheap grain unfit for human consumption be used to replace much of the meat in pet food? Would pet owners complain? Would they even notice?

The answers are yes, no, and no.

Oh, a few people complained, but were shouted down by the burgeoning pet food industry. "Dogs do just great eating grain," said the pet food company shills... oops! I mean pet food scientists, not shills. My bad.

Marketing firms spent an enormous amount of money training both pet owners and veterinarians that grains were great for dogs. It worked for decades.

But recently....

Dog owners began noticing all the health problems.

  • Grain is hard for a dog to digest, because his digestive tract is not designed for eating it. A dog's digestive tract is short and straight – perfect for digesting meat – but grain requires a longer, more winding digestive tract.

    Many dogs end up excreting grain only partially digested, and then you'll see soft stools or copious stools. Some owners aren't even aware that their dog is producing much more waste than he would be if he were actually digesting more of his food.

  • Dogs who eat food with grain need to consume a larger quantity of food in order to obtain the nutrients they need, which predisposes them to weight gain. dog scratching
  • A significant number of dogs develop allergic symptoms such as itching, scratching, chewing on their front paws, or rubbing their face against the carpet. Many vets simply put the dog on repeated courses of steroids rather than look at the dog's diet as the potential cause. To understand why vets do this, read Two Shocking Reasons Vets Recommend Kibble and Canned Dog Food.
  • Grains can be made up of complex carbohydrates or simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates get converted into sugar very quickly, which causes your dog's blood sugar to spike, predisposing him to a condition called insulin resistance or diabetes.
  • Carbohydrates have one purpose only: energy. When not needed for energy (and a typical family dog doesn't expend a lot of energy), carbohydrates are quickly stored in the body as fat, making them the leading dietary cause of overweight dogs.

On the plus side, there's really only one thing: cost.

  • People on a tight budget who are struggling to feed their dog might need to substitute some grain for the far better, but more expensive, meat.

If you must feed some grain, I recommend quinoa and oatmeal, which are less likely to cause allergies or blood sugar spikes.

Be careful not to accept legumes in place of grain! Dog food companies have discovered that consumers are avoiding foods with grain. Unfortunately, instead of doing the responsible thing and replacing that grain with MEAT, they've replaced it with a different cheap protein: legumes (peas, lentils, beans...).

Legumes are NOT the kind of protein that's well-digested by dogs. Legumes can cause intestinal discomfort and flatulence. And they're high in unneeded carbs.

Even more ominously, there is suspicion/concern that feeding too many legumes – as meat substitutes – might be triggering a specific form of heart disease in some dogs.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.



To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.