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So I know there's a grain free or raw mentality towards dog food now, it's all over the internet and I've even seen a good number of advertisements on television. All of this raises a few questions in my mind. Is this claim that grain free is the only way to go based on legitimate research or is it a new trend? Does a food really have to be grain free to be good? If my dog has no allergies, does it really matter if there is rice or corn in her food? I was told by a nutritionist that it is not a good idea to raise a puppy under a year on grain free food...Any opinions on that? I know dogs are carnivores, but the herbivores they ate had bellies full of grains and dogs also evolved over hundreds of years to approach us humans and eat our scraps which contained grains. I'm wondering if grains will actually kill my dog and if commercial pet food companies will kill my dog...it seems that dogs have lived well on grains for a long time. I honestly can't afford to feed her Orijen, Acana, Wysong, Fromm, Wellness, Innova, Taste of the Wild, etc etc...the list goes on and on. However, I have heard Canidae has quality and economical foods. At the same time, I'm confused because the basic formulas for Canidae contain grains. Does that mean Canidae is a bad company because they use grains in some of their formulas? And aren't all those high end dog foods commercial foods, too, meaning they are also bad (because they are commercial)? I can't feed raw because we will be soon volunteering in hospitals and the program's rules are that the dogs can not eat anything raw within four weeks of visiting the hospital, so that's out of the question. Anyways, any feedback would be great!
 

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Grains, in general, aren't bad for all dogs. There are, of course, some dogs that do have severe allergies to grains and absolutely must be on a grain free food. Corn, wheat, and rice all meet up with AAFCO standards for dog food. Now having said that, I do generally recommend that you feed a formula without corn and wheat. Dogs can't digest the corn, just the same way that humans cant, and both have been some of the biggest allergy issues I have coke across for dogs in my five years of working for Nutro. I can tell u out that my dogs have been eating Nutro Natural Choice and Ultra for all those five years for the older one and since they were puppies for the two younger dogs. Those formulas both have rice in them. My dogs do amazingly on their food and have been extremely healthy on it. In my opinion, while the grain free foods are also very good for them, they aren't 100% necessary unless your dog does have severe allergies. I generally do recommend either a chicken and whole brown rice formula or a lamb and whole brown rice formula as your first option.
 

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The short answer to this is: You need to try a food you think would be good and then listen to what your dog "says" in the way of health and digestion once they've been eating the food.

I was on the grain free trend up until just recently. I fed Fromm 4star grain free for the majority of their food. I had issues with stools being soft and large. It's a pain for the head scooper to be dealing with ooky dog poop all the time. I also had some flabby bodies and itching issues.

The thing is, the grain free foods replace the grains with potatoes or tapioca or beans (garbanzo, lentils), which are all high-carbohydrate and fattening for dogs (and people too).

Some grains are inflammatory and wreak havoc on dogs: I absolutely do NOT feed Wheat, barley, corn or rye. I also do not eat these things myself.
I am ok feeding my dogs rice and oatmeal (small amounts) but again, I do not eat these things myself (because I've listened to my body and my body says NO thanks!). The dogs do really well on a chicken/brown rice food. (PetGuard Lifespan). I get it off chewy.com and the big 36lb bag is around 52.00, which is pretty economical. Paying a little bit more for a quality food helps keep the other vet visits down, like itchy skin/hot spots, ear infections, etc. Oh, and tummies are MUCH better on this food than on Fromm. and $20 bucks less than the fancy Fromm grain free foods.

I make sure they get variety with cooked toppers (meats/veg, and yogurt or eggs or fish or...)
Hope this helps.
 

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The short answer to this is: You need to try a food you think would be good and then listen to what your dog "says" in the way of health and digestion once they've been eating the food.

I was on the grain free trend up until just recently. I fed Fromm 4star grain free for the majority of their food. I had issues with stools being soft and large. It's a pain for the head scooper to be dealing with ooky dog poop all the time. I also had some flabby bodies and itching issues.

The thing is, the grain free foods replace the grains with potatoes or tapioca or beans (garbanzo, lentils), which are all high-carbohydrate and fattening for dogs (and people too).

Some grains are inflammatory and wreak havoc on dogs: I absolutely do NOT feed Wheat, barley, corn or rye. I also do not eat these things myself.
I am ok feeding my dogs rice and oatmeal (small amounts) but again, I do not eat these things myself (because I've listened to my body and my body says NO thanks!). The dogs do really well on a chicken/brown rice food. (PetGuard Lifespan). I get it off chewy.com and the big 36lb bag is around 52.00, which is pretty economical. Paying a little bit more for a quality food helps keep the other vet visits down, like itchy skin/hot spots, ear infections, etc. Oh, and tummies are MUCH better on this food than on Fromm. and $20 bucks less than the fancy Fromm grain free foods.

I make sure they get variety with cooked toppers (meats/veg, and yogurt or eggs or fish or...)
Hope this helps.
This!

It is really about what works for you and your dog. Pick something that is economical and of an okay quality and see how your dog does with it and go from there. That's usually how I tell people to pick a dog food if they want something different.

Grains in and of themselves are not bad for dogs. I know some dogs who literally can't tolerate grain free. They get loose stool, fur looks bad, etc.

I personally will not feed anything with wheat, soy, and corn. For two reasons, one they are generally inexpensive ingredients that just boost the protein up to meet the standards by AAFCO. Also because ingredients like corn just pass right through the system barely digested so your dog doesn't get that much out of it.

I do a grain free food but not because I think it's the best thing or because it's grain free. I do it because it's the food I found with the highest fiber content that keeps my dogs stools firm.

Variety is really the most important thing you can do for your dog in my opinion. I switch up canned food a lot or use raw goats milk or low fat yogurt as a topper. I personally don't feel it's healthy to just feed one kibble day in and day out because you simply can't guarantee that after the kibble is cooked that it hasn't lost a lot of nutrients. In fact, 80% of probiotics are cooked out. Unless you feed a kibble like Fromm or Holistic Select who add the probiotics after the food is cooked.

Sorry! I went off on a long tangent there! :)
 

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I have always rotated dry foods (my dogs get 50% dry, 50% cooked). But, I haven't been able to find many foods that all 4 dogs do well on. I keep coming back to this one since they do so well and then with my cooked diet, I am able to rotate proteins/veggies for that sort of variety.

I thought about looking into Natural Balance, as they are similar in formulation to the pet guard i like so well. But then, I just got tummies and skin back to normal after trying 6 weeks on THK, so I don't think I'll mess with things for a while. :)

I wish I could be one of those people who didn't notice things so much! LOL I wouldn't be so picky with dog food.
 

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I have always rotated dry foods (my dogs get 50% dry, 50% cooked). But, I haven't been able to find many foods that all 4 dogs do well on. I keep coming back to this one since they do so well and then with my cooked diet, I am able to rotate proteins/veggies for that sort of variety.

I thought about looking into Natural Balance, as they are similar in formulation to the pet guard i like so well. But then, I just got tummies and skin back to normal after trying 6 weeks on THK, so I don't think I'll mess with things for a while. :)

I wish I could be one of those people who didn't notice things so much! LOL I wouldn't be so picky with dog food.
Haha. I'm the same way! I won't be changing Vee's dry food for a long while. I'm finally comfortable with her stool and because of all the loose stool and diarrhea she lost some weight so I hate the thought of risking her lose more. But I do vary it up a lot with canned and I do the goats milk. I'd like to start trying some new dry foods in maybe a month. What she's on though is so high in fiber at 8.5% and I'm scared if I try anything lower she'll go back to how she was :(

Natural Balance is good. I recommend it a lot to people with dogs with allergies as a starting point to figure out what allergies are going on. The only thing I dislike about it is that it lists potatoes first...that always kinda bugs me but the food works for a lot of people so you can't argue with that really. Despite the recall, I do like California Naturals grain free product because it doesn't use potatoes at all, and I really have been liking Zignature a lot.

Have you ever tried Fromm Pork and Peas? I know you've done a lot of Fromm and it's not been the best with their stool.

It's expensive but if you are looking for something that gives good stools, I swear by the Pure Vita Bison Grain free...that crazy high fiber seems to do the trick. :) Not that that means it would work for your dogs but worth a shot!
 

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humans can't digest the outer shell on the corn. humans can digest the inside.

Grains, in general, aren't bad for all dogs. There are, of course, some dogs that do have severe allergies to grains and absolutely must be on a grain free food. Corn, wheat, and rice all meet up with AAFCO standards for dog food. Now having said that, I do generally recommend that you feed a formula without corn and wheat.

>>>>> Dogs can't digest the corn, just the same way that humans cant, <<<<<

and both have been some of the biggest allergy issues I have coke across for dogs in my five years of working for Nutro. I can tell u out that my dogs have been eating Nutro Natural Choice and Ultra for all those five years for the older one and since they were puppies for the two younger dogs. Those formulas both have rice in them. My dogs do amazingly on their food and have been extremely healthy on it. In my opinion, while the grain free foods are also very good for them, they aren't 100% necessary unless your dog does have severe allergies. I generally do recommend either a chicken and whole brown rice formula or a lamb and whole brown rice formula as your first option.
 

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I like the logic behind grain free, but too many companies are jumping on the bandwagon and coming up with foods that are much worse than their grain inclusive counterparts. They are chalk full of potatoes and peas and I'd much rather see something that around 30% protein with some rice or millet than a ton of starches.
While my dog doesn't have grain allergies, he's always done better on higher protein, grain free foods like Acana and Go. Overall better muscle tone, skin/coat condition, less shedding, less pooping, etc.

They tend to cost little more, but they are also generally higher protein/calorie, so you don't have to feed as much and can end up costing about the same in the long run as less expensive brands like canidae.
 

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I've had several dogs over the years, and all of them have done better on a grain-free kibble. Grains have made all of my dogs itchy. I've had mostly rescues - maybe they've been given up because they've had dietary issues that their former owners weren't willing to resolve - who knows? Lord knows, I wish I had a dog who could eat anything - lol!

I've had to find the right grain-free however, for each dog. I currently have a westie/bichon who absolutely cannot tolerate ANY grains, potatoes (white or sweet), or alfalfa (also has an environmental grass allergy). I've had a boxer in the past who needed grain-free, but couldn't tolerate peas, and had to have potato to keep his stool firm. Every dog is different, just like people are.
 

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The food portion has been covered. Dogs were domesticated. They still have a digestive tract most similar to a wolf. That means something different to each and every dog owner. Use the info as you wish.

Dogs are by nature carnivores but they became dogs by being the ultimate scavenger and learning to use humans to survive.
 
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Dogs are opportunistic carnivores. The carnivore part means they do best on foods that are protein "heavy" and digest meat based proteins more readily. But the opportunistic part means they can do pretty well on pretty much anything as long as it supplies enogh digestible protein. The grains in dog food has been processed up the kazoo, so it can be digested fairly easily. Some dogs through gentics and diet digest grain inclusive foods better than others by the same token these can make it more difficult for some to digest grain inclusive foods at all. This is why it so important to look at your dog and determine which foods they do best on. I'm big on feeding a variety of foods ("base" diet and toppers), so feel switching back and forth between the 2 "kinds" of kibble to be a good thing. There are some economical grain free foods. I've fed a couple, quite a few people may think they're not the best quality but my pups do well on it, soo I feed them. One is Zero Grain from Rachel Ray Nutrish, the other is a PetsMart brand (Authority puppy, not a fav though. They prefer the grain inclusive version better). You need to buy, as others have said, a food you feel comfortable feeding then determine is your pup doing good on it or not. This may involve cycling through lots of foods to find what works for you both. Personally, I think finding 3 or more brands/types of food to feed and switching between them often (nearly daily for me) important to the health and well being of dogs.
 

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Grains, in general, aren't bad for all dogs. There are, of course, some dogs that do have severe allergies to grains and absolutely must be on a grain free food. Corn, wheat, and rice all meet up with AAFCO standards for dog food. Now having said that, I do generally recommend that you feed a formula without corn and wheat. Dogs can't digest the corn, just the same way that humans cant, and both have been some of the biggest allergy issues I have coke across for dogs in my five years of working for Nutro. I can tell u out that my dogs have been eating Nutro Natural Choice and Ultra for all those five years for the older one and since they were puppies for the two younger dogs. Those formulas both have rice in them. My dogs do amazingly on their food and have been extremely healthy on it. In my opinion, while the grain free foods are also very good for them, they aren't 100% necessary unless your dog does have severe allergies. I generally do recommend either a chicken and whole brown rice formula or a lamb and whole brown rice formula as your first option.
Respectfully, for a person that works at a pet food company, your statement that dogs cannot digest corn is 100% incorrect. Dogs and people cannot digest the Pericarp, or the shell, but corn (and all other grains) are then milled (ground) and gelatinized. Once these steps occur, corn is virtually all digestible above 90% of the ground matter. Commercialized wheat does have a measurable incidence of allergies but there is some very pronounced breed disposition. Corn on the other hand is among ingredients like rice, oats, spelt and millet to have almost no statistical importance in allergies. It happens of course but it is very rare.

Ciao
 

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Personal anecdote here: I am allergic to corn. It is in EVERYTHING. Quite literally, nearly everything. It's a dickens trying to feed myself, bathe myself, clean dishes and laundry, mop floors, walk into a grocery store or movie theater, etc. etc.
I don't wish this allergy on anyone.
 

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Personal anecdote here: I am allergic to corn. It is in EVERYTHING. Quite literally, nearly everything. It's a dickens trying to feed myself, bathe myself, clean dishes and laundry, mop floors, walk into a grocery store or movie theater, etc. etc.
I don't wish this allergy on anyone.
That's terrible :( Aren't you allergic to wheat too or gluten intolerant? Or am I confusing you with another forum member.
 

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Yep, that too!
:(

I'm actually pretty ok now, as I have sources of safe food and soaps and such, it's going out to eat (rarely) or traveling to visit family or attending dinner parties that kills me.
 

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Yep, that too!
:(

I'm actually pretty ok now, as I have sources of safe food and soaps and such, it's going out to eat (rarely) or traveling to visit family or attending dinner parties that kills me.
What would be in soaps that you are allergic to in the way of grains? I ask this because I have recently started making my own soap and it is heaps of fun. I think I am up to batch No.10 in about 7 weeks. Yesterday I made a sandalwood patchouli soap part coloured with cocoa powder using olive, coconut and rice bran oil. Tomorrow I am going to make an uncoloured unscented one. Hopefully I can sell to friends as I have had some interest. I was lucky enough to find all my equipment in second hand shops (thrift) and my husband has made me a soap mould, soap cutter and cutter blade to make life easier. There are people that are allergic to the additives in soap I know or that they have eczema or dry skin that commercial soaps irritate. If you have the time or inclination it is really worth a go because actually making the soap takes very little time, it is just the curing that I wish was not so long. (cold process soap).
BTW getting back to the subject in question, I personally feed mostly raw with a bit of commercial (not dried) thrown in as I have recently adopted a second ex racing greyhound and we are on a budget. As others have said I think different dogs do well (or not) on different foods. For instance my inlaws just about to turn 13 year old border collie looks amazing, shiny coat, lively, no health problems and he has always eaten commercial dog food a mixture of dogroll and kibble, he is only fed once a day and is intact. Most people think he is about 6 or 7 and I have seen other younger border collies that look positively decrepit compared to him....could be good genetics of course.
My dog is lean with a shiny coat and good teeth, not sure if it is genetics or diet and exercise. I have had him since he was 5, mind you his coat was really dull, shaggy and rough when we got him which apparently is quite common in greyhounds off the track plus he came from a colder climate so was maybe losing his winter coat?
 

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Sozzle, there is a very long list of corn derivatives that could be in soap, it would suck to type them down here LOL.

I can use castile soap, and I like the soaps from GF savonniere as well. Even dog shampoo bothers me, I either wear gloves or make sure I rinse my hands/arms very well.

Leaveittoweaver, I forgot to answer your question. I have not tried Fromm Pork n peas yet. I'm not sure I will. Echo (pwd) is still healing after working up a hot spot from THK Embark, I am suspecting the flax. She did not get any better on Fromm surf n turf, which has flax also, and now she's got a giant hot spot <sigh> on her side. So I've got her on a simple chicken/rice food to see if that helps her any. Poor thing is wearing her winter fleece to keep her from scratching at it.
Ugh.
 

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Sozzle, there is a very long list of corn derivatives that could be in soap, it would suck to type them down here LOL.

I can use castile soap, and I like the soaps from GF savonniere as well. Even dog shampoo bothers me, I either wear gloves or make sure I rinse my hands/arms very well.

Leaveittoweaver, I forgot to answer your question. I have not tried Fromm Pork n peas yet. I'm not sure I will. Echo (pwd) is still healing after working up a hot spot from THK Embark, I am suspecting the flax. She did not get any better on Fromm surf n turf, which has flax also, and now she's got a giant hot spot <sigh> on her side. So I've got her on a simple chicken/rice food to see if that helps her any. Poor thing is wearing her winter fleece to keep her from scratching at it.
Ugh.
Yeah probably best to stay away then. I guess there is some debate out there about Flax being a grain or not?

Glad you've found some safe foods! I can't imagine how frustrating that is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Wow, so much information! Well I guess I'll give a couple foods a shot... Should I try things like Pedigree and Iams? Pedigree is supposed to be awful food but Jackie's sister who is two years older than her has been on it her whole life without problems. I'm not entirely sure if that's a coincidence or if diet really does depend that much on the individual!
 

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ME personally? I would never feed Pedigree or Iams. I don't like the ingredients in them (my dogs would tear themselves up). I can't stand the way Pedigree STINKS, and their stool is huge and gross. Since I'm the head scooper, that's a big deal to me.

I stick to the 3-5 star foods on dog food advisor.com, not as a "holy grail'' but as a good guide to healthier food choices.

Certainly if it came down to budget and my dogs did ok on something like that, I'd feed them, but I think 3 of my 4 dogs would rapidly turn into itchy, hair losing, miserable dogs.

So anyway, I recommend against them, BUT there are tons of dogs who DO eat those brands and do ok enough that their humans feed it. Just please listen to your dog. Itching, scratching, ear infections, hot spots, foot licking, butt scooting, "doggy smell" are not normal and symptoms of food intolerance.
 
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