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How to Safely Switch to a Grain-Free Diet for Dogs

Over the last few months we’ve heard a lot about trying a grain-free diet for dogs. As more people are moving toward all-natural, organic, paleo-type diets it seems the diets of our dogs has become a popular topic as well. Due to some medical issues my husband has been facing we’ve had to change our diet at home to include less sugar, less dairy, more grains, and more raw or lightly steamed vegetables. I figured while I’m adjusting to our new diet I might as well throw the dogs in the mix and switch things up for them while I’m at it. Of course, changing your dog’s food can be troublesome for their bellies so I reached out to our vet before doing so. During our last visit, I asked why a grain-free diet for dogs is so popular and if we should really try it. He said it all comes down to the natural history of dogs…

History of a Grain-Free Diet for Dogs

Long before we could take a quick drive to PetSmart or buy dog food on Amazon, canines hunted and captured raw, protein-rich meals by hunting and scavenging in the wild. Dogs, wolves, and other canines didn’t graze on wild grass or in wheat fields, they ate high-protein grain-free diets. Switching to a grain-free diet for dogs mimics their ancestral diet. It wasn’t really until around World War II that mass-produced dog food was introduced using inexpensive fillers like corn, wheat, and barley. Despite how far we’ve come with domesticating and training dogs, their digestive system is still pretty primitive. They have difficulty breaking down and digesting complex carbohydrates and cereal grains which can ultimately damage the lining of the digestive system, resulting in bowel inflammation disorders, food sensitivities, allergies, and obesity.

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Switching to a grain-free diet for dogs

I mentioned that my cheagle, Wilkins, has a lot of odd little behaviors like excessive gas, chronic licking, and frequent ear problems which our vet mentioned may be attributed to food allergies. He then recommended that we try switching to a grain-free diet to see if it would alleviate any of his issues. We started researching grain-free dog food brands and ended up in touch with I and Love and You from Boulder, CO. I and Love and You is a fun dog-centered pawsitively fabulous company that sells natural, real-meat, grain-free, pet food. They’re all about pets and owners having a good time together and pets getting the best possible nutrition. They offered to send us a bag of their Lamb & Bison Naked Essentials food with Happy Tummeez prebiotics + probiotics to aid digestion.  

A few of the top benefits of switching to a grain-free diet for dogs are:
  • Contains more protein and animal fats and fewer carbohydrates
  • More easily digested.
  • Keeps dogs fuller longer resulting in eating less frequently 
  • Reduces food allergies
  • Healthier skin
  • Shinier coat
  • Less shedding
  • Better breath
  • Reduced gas

How to safely switch to a grain-free diet for dogs

If you decide to switch to a grain-free diet for your dog, you need to make the change gradually. A dramatic change from grain-based to grain-free food can cause severe abdominal distress in your dog. Instead, slowly introduce the grain-free food by mixing it with their regular food a little at a time. Gradually increase the amount of grain-free food over a couple of weeks to allow time for their digestive system to adjust. 

I and Love and You Grain-Free Dog Food

grain-free diet for dogs featuring I and love and you dog food

You can also slowly introduce your dog to a grain-free diet by giving him small bites of dried raw food or vegetables as treats. Dogs can eat asparagus, carrots, blueberries, sweet potatoes, and apples without issue. If you don’t regularly give your dogs raw food or vegetables, introduce them slowly with little nibbles here and there. 

If you notice any strange behavior in your dog after changing their food or giving them raw food / vegetables, contact your vet.

Strange behavior in your dog may include:

  • Hair loss
  • Constant licking or itching
  • Lack of interest in food or water
  • A new interest in eating grass
  • Change in stool

If your dog is still a puppy I highly recommend getting started with a puppy starter kit from I and Love and You. A grain-free high protein diet can potentially damage a puppies’ kidneys and some grain-free dog food is recommended only for adult dogs. The puppy starter kit helps start your dog off on the right paw (haha) until their 1st birthday.

Thank you to I and Love and You for sending a complimentary bag of grain-free dog food for our boys!

 Have you been thinking of switching to a grain-free diet for your dog(s)?
switch dogs to a grain-free diet

Comments

  1. This is such a great article So many people don’t understand the impact of what we feed our pets. My baby, Chow-chow has had a lot of the same issues as yours! She has frequent ear issues, endless paw licking and scratching. Changing to grain free has made such an impact on her life!

    • My dog licked its own chest and paws constantly until we switched. I thought it was just a quirk of his. I had no idea it was due to his food. I’m so glad your pup is doing better!

  2. That’s such a great switch! I know some are mostly grain, which isn’t good! My kitties like more meaty/less grainy ones. It’s better for them for sure.

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