The Benefits of Grain Free Dog Food

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic

Figuring out the right diet for your pet’s needs is no easy feat – there are so many options out there and it can be difficult to narrow down the choices to food that will actually nourish your pet’s body. Things get even more complicated for pets with sensitive stomachs or food sensitivities, but there are always alternatives that will cater to your pet’s unique nutritional requirements, such as grain-free food – ideal for dogs who that experience gastrointestinal upset when eating anything that contains grains.

Why Some Dog Foods Have Grain

If you look at the ingredient lists of most dog foods, you’ll notice that a great deal of them contain grains, some of them even listing grains as their first or second ingredient. But do dogs really thrive when fed grain-rich foods? The answer is not completely black or white. While carbohydrates are essential for dogs and need to be a staple of a canine’s nutrition, there are some key aspects to be considered. First, the carbs should come from complex sources such as barley, whole oats, brown rice, whole wheat, whole corn, and sweet potato, to balance blood glucose levels and sustainably support your pet’s energy levels throughout the day. Secondly, carbs, while important, shouldn’t make up for such a huge chunk of your pet’s diet – protein should always be the primary ingredient in dog food.


Pros and Cons of Grains in Dog Food: How Grains Affect Your Pet’s Health 

While some grains are not inherently bad for dogs, the way they are used in dog food recipes may be far from ideal for their nutrition. Often highly processed, added in larger quantities than they should, and nutritionally poor. For example, grains in pet food may trigger certain dogs' food sensitivities. Even if your pet is not allergic to grains (which would most definitely cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to hives and skin itchiness), they might have a delicate tummy that can be irritated by the cheap grain fillers in their food, causing an upset stomach, gassiness, or vomiting.


However, grains are an important part of a dog’s diet – they provide carbohydrates and fiber and ensure that their nutrition is complete and balanced. A way to reap these benefits without exposing your pet to the potential downsides of grains is to opt for other sources of complex carbs and fibers, such as sweet potato, quinoa, or ancestral grains. Grain-free dog food often includes one or more sources of complex carbs, both to ensure that all the essential nutrients are present in the recipe when grains are excluded from it, as well as to introduce important vitamins and minerals your pet needs. 

Is Grain-Free Food the Right Choice for Your Dog?

If your pet’s tummy is irritated when eating foods that are full of grains, a grain-free formula could be what they need for healthier digestion and other health benefits, such as itch-free skin and a shinier coat. Of course, that doesn’t mean that any type of grain-free food will do – not all of them are formulated to support your pet’s overall health.

One of our favorite choices is Nature's Recipe grain-free dog food, which offers a tried-and-true formula with over 35 years of experience behind it, crafted with purposeful, natural ingredients tailored to suit your pet’s nutritional needs. It is made with real meat, either chicken or fish, and mixed with healthy veggies and wholesome sources of carbs and fiber, such as sweet potato and pumpkin. Needless to say, all of their formulas are free from corn and wheat, contain no artificial preservatives or flavors, and no poultry by-product meal. Nature’s Recipe provides a clean, complete formula that needs no grains to maintain your pet’s good health.

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Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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