It seems everyone is taking their dogs to the vets these days with itchy ears, skin and allergy complaints. Pet owners are finding that their dogs are allergic to grains, fillers and pretty much their food. Like humans more and more dogs suffer from food allergies or intolerances to grains, starches and soy and these can cause everything from gastrointestinal (GI) upset, to skin problems, to recurring infections when fed these trigger foods.
Sensitivities like these make a lot of sense. Our dogs’ ancestors didn’t eat foods like wheat, corn, rice, potatoes or soy so why should our own dogs be eating them? They shouldn’t!
Enter grain free dog food … specifically raw food, which most of us assume is grain free. Free of allergens, processed ingredients and starchy fillers, a grain free, raw diet is the best way to ensure your dog is getting nothing but the freshest, most nutritious foods. His energy’s up and his muscle tone has improved … and you’re confident your choice leads to a healthier pup.
But wait …
… Does your dog still have smelly, yeasty ears after eating this raw diet? Does he lick or chew at his paws? Is his coat dull? Maybe he has inconsistent bouts of diarrhea or leaky gut syndrome or watery eyes?
You need to look a little deeper. Your snacks will contain allergens, in extreme cases if where your meat was sourced had feed them on corn maize this can trickle into the meat. Here is a list of ingredients that actually does contain grains and may be in your grain free food.
- Xanthan gum is another popular thickening agent. Not to be confused with xylitol (which is deadly to dogs), xanthan gum has been deemed by the USDA as safe for your dog to consume. However, xanthan gum is made from corn, wheat flour and soy and therefore isn’t recommended for dogs with a grain or legume intolerance.
- “Meals” like salmon meal, corn meal, chicken meal, beef meal, etc are blends of meat by-products and wheat proteins, wheat germ oil, soy, starch and/or sugar (glucose). These are over-processed and, more importantly, grain-based additives often found in supplements.
- Yeast is actually a fungus, but when used as a fermenting agent, it’s often used with grains. This includes the ever-popular Brewer’s yeast. Some dogs benefit from yeast in their diets, while others experience skin complications and GI upsets. This will vary according to each individual dog’s needs but be aware whether yeast is a trigger for your dog.
- “Vegetable”- Anything: While vegetables themselves don’t contain grains, processedvegetables can. Processed vegetables often contain stabilizers, so if you see ingredients such as vegetable oil, vegetable broth, vegetable protein, vegetable shortening, hydrolyzed protein and vegetable gum – know that these thickening agents are processed with wheat, yeast and corn.
- Citric acid is an additive that’s almost always derived from corn, beet sugar, wheat or molasses. Xanthan gum, dextrin, dextrose and fructose are all corn-based sweeteners.
- “Natural Flavors”: This common ingredient is an undisclosed, mysterious term that can simply be a strain of sugar, wheat or animal by-products. Potato products, flaxseed and tapioca are all starches that can cause skin, allergy and GI problems in dogs with these intolerances.
- Mixed tocopherols are preservatives that come from sunflower, corn and soy products.
- Emulsifiers are things that make liquid thicker. Wheat, corn, potato and soy are common additives in supplements, used to help as thickeners or flavor enhancers.
- Soy products like
- Lecithin—a fat found in soybeans and egg yolks. This is used in commercial feeds and supplements to make things into pellets or thicken liquids
- Soy is used in vegetable broth, canned chicken broth, and bouillon cubes
- Potassium sorbate
- Sodium benzoate
As you can see grain is hidden in many different names so be aware!