What You Need to Know About Grain-Free Dry Dog Food in the UK

If you are a dog owner, you may have heard about the trend of grain-free dog food. Many people claim that grain-free dog food is healthier, more natural, and more suitable for dogs than regular dog food that contains grains such as wheat, corn, or rice. But what is grain-free dog food exactly, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of feeding it to your dog? 

a brown and white dog eating dry dog food out of a bowl

Photo by Ayla Verschueren on Unsplash

In this blog post, we will answer these questions and more, so you can make an informed decision about what to feed your furry friend. We will also review some of the best grain-free dry dog food brands and products available in the UK, and give you some tips on how to transition your dog to grain-free dog food and what to expect. 

Whether you are looking for a grain-free dog food for your dog’s sensitive stomach, allergies, or simply for a more natural diet, this blog post will help you find the best option for your dog.

Why grain-free dog food is popular and what are the benefits

Grain-free dog food has surged in popularity over the last decade. Once a niche product, it’s now a mainstream choice found in most pet stores. But why exactly has interest grown so rapidly in grain-free diets for dogs? Simply put, there is increasing recognition of the benefits of removing grains from canine nutrition. 

Dogs are carnivores by nature and some studies have linked grain consumption to a variety of health problems in dogs. By taking grains out of the equation, many owners find grain-free diets alleviate allergy symptoms, improve coat health, reduce ear infections, and boost energy levels. When chosen wisely and fed properly, grain-free food can be an excellent choice for many dogs.

When considering grain-free dog food, you still need to make sure to choose a high quality product. Looking for the Best Dry Dog Food UK along with a grain-free formula can help ensure you find a nutritionally complete kibble that also avoids potential issues from grains.

What is grain-free dog food

Grain-free dog foods are designed to exclude grain ingredients like wheat, corn, soy and rice that are commonly found in regular commercial dog foods. Instead, they use ingredients like meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes as carbohydrate and protein sources. The idea is to try to mimic the natural ancestral diet a dog would have consumed. 

Proponents argue this leads to improved digestibility and nutrient absorption. It’s important to note though that not all grain-free foods are created equal. Some still contain high levels of carbohydrates like potatoes and peas. Ideally, look for those higher in quality sources of animal protein. 

When compared to mass market kibble, a good grain-free food often contains fewer additives like preservatives and artificial colors/flavours. They also undergo less intensive processing which helps preserve nutritional content.

How to choose the best grain-free dog food for your dog

With so many grain-free varieties now available, it can be tricky to select the best one for your dog. Here are some tips:

Consider your dog’s age, size, activity level and any health issues when choosing a formula. For example, puppies and high energy dogs may benefit from higher protein and fat kibbles. Senior dogs and less active dogs do better with lower calories to avoid obesity. 

Read labels carefully and aim for named meat proteins like chicken, fish or lamb as the first ingredients. Try to avoid vague terms like “meat meal”. Look at the proportions of carbohydrates sources like peas and potatoes used to replace grain. Are antioxidants like vitamins E and C included to promote a healthy immune system? High quality oils like salmon and flaxseed provide healthy omega fats. Think about your dog’s sensitivities. 

Some grain-free foods include eggs, dairy or chicken which are common triggers for allergies or intolerances. Purchase sample packs first to gauge your dog’s preferences and tolerance before committing to a large bag, especially when transitioning from traditional dog food. Reputable companies happily provide free samples to try.

The top brands and products of grain-free dog food in the UK

With the UK grain-free market booming, deciding which brand to choose can be difficult. To narrow options down, here are five top rated UK grain-free dog food products to consider:

Canagan Grain Free Range: This biometrically balanced range uses 60% fresh meat and fish ingredients. With premium proteins like duck, salmon and venison coupled with digestible carbohydrates like sweet potato and chickpeas, it meets nutritional requirements for all life stages. Plus contains berry mixes to boost immunity.

Millies Wolfheart Grain-Free: Certified veterinary nutritionists uniquely formulate these recipes containing ethically reared meats, sustainably caught fish and wholesome veggies. Gently cooked to retain nutrients. Options for puppies to senior dogs.

Natural Instinct: Their Pure ranges provide completely raw, gently frozen meat formulas using responsibly sourced ingredients. Comes in ratios ideal for puppies, adult and working dogs. Also offer grain-free kibble using quality proteins like duck and trout.

Canine Cottages Grain-Free: A small artisan company producing nutrient dense, preservative free, limited ingredient recipes like their Free Run Chicken formula. High animal protein creates natural energy. Supplemented with superfoods like kelp, rosemary and yucca schidigera.

Dogtastic Grain Free: Offers globally inspired recipes like their Peruvian Potato and Japanese Azuki Bean dry foods. Also, balanced wet foods in tasty combinations like duck and butternut squash as well as mixed grill dinner. Nutritionally balanced for all dogs.

How to transition your dog to grain-free dog food

When shifting your dog from a traditional grain-inclusive diet to grain-free, take the change slowly. An abrupt switch can upset digestion causing diarrhoea or constipation. Try following this example transition plan:

Week 1:

Mix 25% new grain-free food with 75% previous food

Week 2:

Mix 50% new grain-free food with 50% previous food

Week 3:

Mix 75% new grain-free food with 25% previous food

Week 4:

100% new grain-free food

This gradual change allows their digestive system time to adapt. Keep an eye on stool consistency and stomach upset signs like vomiting or excessive gas. You may also initially notice increased thirst and urination as grain-free foods tend to be lower in sodium. Monitor portions if your dog gains or loses weight.

In terms of other changes, most dogs will adjust well to a high quality grain-free diet. Positively, you may see improvements in energy levels, skin and coat condition, odor, dental health and stool volume/consistency. 

It can temporarily take 2-3 months for any reductions in allergy symptoms like itchiness and ear infections to emerge. Every dog adapts differently based on their unique health status so allow enough time for observable effects.

The pros and cons of grain-free dog food

Grain-free dog food, when thoughtfully chosen and fed appropriately, can offer many benefits. The higher quality ingredients tend to increase digestibility, nutrient absorption and hydration. This can lead to an array of health advantages from allergy relief to better weight management. 

However, no single type of diet suits every dog. Some may thrive on a grain-inclusive food or require special therapeutic formulas. It’s important to monitor your individual dog and feed the diet providing the best outcomes long-term for their needs. 

To maximize benefits of grain-free, try supplementing with prebiotics/probiotics for improved digestion and immunity. Additionally, still take care not to overfeed as weight gain remains a top health threat for modern pets. Overall though, the grain-free concept resonates with owners seeking more natural nutrition for their dogs.

Conclusion

Grain-free dog food is a popular choice for many dog owners who want to feed their dogs a natural, healthy, and balanced diet. Grain-free dog food can offer many benefits for dogs, such as improved digestion, skin, coat, and energy levels. However, grain-free dog food is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it may not be suitable for every dog. 

Some dogs may have allergies or intolerances to other ingredients in grain-free dog food, such as meat, potatoes, or peas. Some dogs may also need more carbohydrates or fibre than grain-free dog food can provide. Therefore, it is important to consult your vet before switching your dog to grain-free dog food, and to choose the best grain-free dog food for your dog’s needs and preferences. 

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