As the debate on whether grains are healthy for our canine friends heats up with many claiming that dogs should not eat them, what is your stand? Is dog food with grains good for your dog?
If you own a dog, you should know that dog foods with grains are a healthy choice, especially with this documented evidence linking grain-free diets to heart diseases in dogs. When choosing the best dog foods with grains, as I advice my friends, just make sure is that the brand you choose is using high quality grains, not processed (or what they label as refined grains).
According to Leslie Brooks of Betterpet, ‘Most dogs do not have any problems digesting or tolerating grains and need adequate carbohydrates to be healthy. Grains are not inherently bad.“
So which one is better: Grain-Free or Grain-Inclusive Diets?
It is not easy to say which is better than the other given the different understanding dog parents, experts, and vets have regarding grained dog foods. In my opinion, however, unless your canine buddy has problems with grains, feeding him a grain-inclusive diet comes with a basketful of benefits, especially heart health.
Research has found that dogs originated from Europe approx. 70k years ago where agriculture also came from. At some point, dogs must have eaten grains from scraps and barns in their owner’s homes which means they are not an alien ingredient instinctively.
First five ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, and Poultry By-Product Meal
If you want to provide your furry friend with high-calorie nutrition, you won’t go wrong with our top pick on this list, Purina Pro Plan Large & Giant Breed Adult Dry Dog Food & Wet Dog Food. This recipe is the best option for large breed dog food with grains out there in the pet food market. If you have problems feeding your dog kibble, we recommend the brand’s canned dog food with grains.
This Purina Pro plan prides itself on 100% complete and balanced nutrition dogs need to reach their full potential. This US-made dog food brand has been rated very highly in customer reviews which makes it a good option. Its crunchy pet kibble with a great taste and the texture also helps maintain good dental health by cleaning your dog’s teeth to prevent tartar.
This brand is made of authentic America farm-raised chicken which is a great source of amino acids to suport muscle mass and is mixed with carrots and green beans. This high quality dog food with grains contains 26% protein, 12% fat, 4.5% fiber, and 12% moisture.
First five ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, and Oatmeal
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is our second-best in the list of the best dog foods with grain and is produced from the highest quality grains as main ingredients. The grains in this premium dog food choice could be brown rice, barley, and oatmeal. Additionally, this dog food has been formulated with whitefish and fish meal which are excellent sources of premium protein and vital amino acids.
This recipe, in particular, comes with a lot of benefits as it is crafted using premium ingredients.including antioxidants, probiotics, and omega fatty acids for overall body health and well-being. This dog food with wholesome grains is a healthy option and you can choose between Fish & Brown Rice or Lamb & Brown Rice recipes.
This top quality dog food with grains contains 24% protein, 14% fat, 5% fiber, and 10% moisture. What would be a more healthier option?
First five ingredients: Ground whole Grain Corn, Meat & Bone Meal, Animal Fat, Soybean Meal, and Natural Flavor
Pedigree Adult Dry Dog Food grilled steak & vegetable flavor is yet another great option for the best dog foods with grains in the list.The recipe includes pure ingredients that are slow-cooked to produce an authentic broth that is both nutritious and palatable. This dry dog food with grainsand no chicken has a unique, crunchy texture that also helps to clean your dog’s teeth to prevent tartar and build-up.
Additionally, it has extra vitamins and minerals to provide great nutrients since it could be crafted from the pet’s health in the brain. Also, it can contain fatty acids for enriched skin and coat health as well as vitamins that help promote a healthy immune system. The high quality ingredients used in this recipe guarantees a taste like no other.
This premium dog food with grains contains 21% protein, 10% fat, 4% fiber, and 12% moisture.
Supports healthy digestion
Complete & balanced nutrition
Promote overall health & well-being
A crunchy texture
4. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Adult Dry Dog Food for Small & Toy Breeds
First five ingredients: Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Barley, Split Peas, Brewers, and Whole Grain Brown Rice.
Are you looking for Nutro dog food with grains? This chicken & brown rice recipe from Nutro Wholesome Essentials is among the best grain-inclusive dog food that you can pick on for your dog. This high end dog food with grains is one of the best option for small and toy dog breeds in the market.
The crunchy kibble formula has farm-raised chicken as the main ingredient making the diet savory and leading quality protein making it the best dry dog food with grains. It has high-quality protein from chicken and other ingredients like omega-3 and 6, glucosamine & chondroitin to support overall health. This small breed dog food with grains comes with a crunchy texture to maintain your dog’s dental health by preventing tartar formation.
This wholehearted dog food with grains contains 24% protein, 16% fat, 3.5% fiber, and 10% moisture.
First five ingredients: Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken By-Product Meal, and Dried Plain Beef Pulp.
The IAMS Proactive Health Chicken & Whole grain recipe is yet another product in our list of best dog food with grains in 2021. We like it most because it contains wholesome grains and veggies. Chicken meat is the main ingredient sourced from American-farm raised chicken to provide essential amino acids for lean, strong muscles. The combination of ingredients comprising grains is supportive for busy and hyperactive pets by giving them lots of energy for every day activities.
With the feeding up of their meals along with perfect flavors or minerals enriched with antioxidants, it promotes your dog’s immune system. Sourced from eggs and top quality chicken, chunks that little make bodies stronger and develop one’s center. This mixture of primary substances can be packed with vitamins and minerals as well.
This best kibble dog food with grains consists of 25% protein, 14% fat, 4% fiber, and 10% moisture.
First five ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, Rice Bran, and Peas
This lamb meal & rice recipe from Canidae our dog food with grains best for puppies and all life stages alike. It is formulated by vets with lamb meal as the first ingredient which is a good source of protein to promote lean, strong muscles as your pup grows.
Made with limited grains such as rice, this dry dog food it free of common allergens such as corn, soy, and wheat. Other premium ingredients included in this dog food with grains in it are antioxidants, a blend of probiotics, and omega-3 & 6 fatty acids for immune, skin, and coat health. It also has added vitamins and minerals for palatability and extra nutrition.
If you are looking for the best dog food with grains in it specifically made for all life stages, sizes, and breeds, Canidae dog food with grains is excellent. It has 23% protein, 12.5% fat, 4% fiber, and 10% moisture.
First five ingredients: Deboned Duck, Duck Meal, Oat Groats, Whole Sorghum, and Duck Liver
If you are looking for the best duck dog food with grains, the duck & pumpkin dry dog food from ACANA Wholesome Grains recipes has the upper hand in the list. This high-protein and nutrient-rich dog food is made with premium duck components as the first ingredient to keep your pooch happy and healthy with essential amino acids.
This gluten-free high quality dog food with grains contains high fiber content balanced with premium grains and pumpkin to promote healthy digestion. It also has butternut squash in it and proprietary heart-healthy pack of vitamins that support peak functionality in all stages of life. This recipe from ACANA is also the best dog food with grains and no chicken in the list.
The recipe contains 27% protein, 17% fat, 6% fiber, and 12% moisture which make it the best kibble dog food with grains in the market.
First five ingredients: Buffalo, Pork, Chicken Meal, Grain Sorghum, and Millet
Ancient grains are not refined which means they have high protein, fiber, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty, and zinc. All these ingredients are healthy for your furry friend. If you prefer this, Taste of the Wild is among the best brands making dog food with ancient grains in the market today.
This ancient prairie recipe features real meat as the first ingredient to provide vital amino acids that supports joints, bones, and development of lean, strong muscles. This venison dog food with grains is nutrient-rich with minerals and vitamins, antioxidants, and probiotics. They help support immune and digestion health while omega fatty acids promote skin health and shiny coat.
Ancient Grains recipe is the best bison dog food with grains contains 32% protein, 18% fat, 3% fiber, and 10% moisture.
First five ingredients: Beef Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Whole Grain Millet, Grain Sorghum, and Chicken Fat.
Are you looking for the best dog food for weight loss with grains? You must be lucky because Victor Super Premium Pet Food prepared this beef flavor with your pooch in mind. Although senior dogs are less active, they still thrive on protein-rich, low carbdog food with grains.
This low fat dog food with grains formula is also made for adult dogs that need to reduce their overall weight to keep them active, happy, and healthy. In addition, this dry dog food includes chondroitin and glucosamine that support long-term joint health and is perfect for dogs with allergies to protein from other meats.
If you are concerned about adult maintenance, this dog food made with grains is great and contains 27% protein, 11.5% fat, 4.5% fiber, and 9% moisture.
First five ingredients: Dehydrated Chicken, Organic Barley, Dehydrated Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, and Organic Oats.
The Human Grade Dehydrated dog food chicken meal formula from the Honest Kitchen is our best organic dog food with grains on the list. The recipe includes free range chicken as the first ingredient which is a premium protein source for lean, strong muscles growth and development.
This highest rated dog food with grains in the market is crafted with other dehydrated real whole food ingredients such as organic oats and bananas for easy digestion. A complete and balanced nutrition, the dog food is suitable for pups and adults of all breeds and sizes. If you are looking for human grade dog food with grains, this chicken meal recipe is an ideal choice.
Even if you have a picky eater, this homemade dog food with grains is special and contains 24.5% protein, 14% fat, 4% fiber, and 8% moisture.
If your dog is allergic to chicken in most dry dog food with grains, Nature’S Logic Dog Food Canine Meal Feast is your ideal option and I recommended it as the best salmon dog food with grains. It uses millet as the grain ingredient in this dog diet. You can check its price on Amazon here
Buying Guide for Dog Foods with Grains
When it comes to choosing the best dog food with grains, you will never get a straight answer as a hot debate surrounds the topic. Most of as dog parents tend to think that grains are harmful to dogs but study suggests that grains are healthful, especially to our dog’s heart health and more.
Although we want to feed our dogs the ancestral diet their descendants eat in the wilderness, domesticating these friendlies are used to eating things they did not before, grains included.
That being said, what we should keep in mind as dog owners when picking the best dog food with grains is the quality of grains, plus their carbs content. Ensure that the diet is high in protein content, moderate in fats, but low in fiber and carbs.
Check out below for the grains to include and those to avoid:
Dog Food Grains to Include
With the number of dog food brands on the market, offering dog food with grains, picking the best for your dog is an overwhelming task, and even more when grains are cluded. We highly recommend that you could begin with reding the ingredients list before making any purchase.
Whole grains are good and healthy for promoting your dog’s heart health and it is approved by vets, most dog parents, and dog food experts. So, if you are buying grain-inclusive dog food, look for those with grains like brown rice, oatmeal, oats, rice, wheat, barley, quinoa, and millet.
Dog Food Grains to Avoid
Typically, no grains are harmful to dogs whatsoever.
Dog food grains to avoid include anything labeled as refined varieties and grain by-products such as hulls from oats, rice, cottonseed, and soybean, or almond shells, soy & meal mill runs, wheat middling, grain fragments, and powdered cellulose.
While they may sound like grains, they are just waste debris and unfit for your dog.
When to Consider Dog Foods without Grains
Although non-grained dog foods are most dog parent’s option and preference despite the risks they are said to pose to our dog’s health, there are times when you must consider dog foods without grains. Here are the two major cases for feeding grain-free diets:
Gas & Digestion Issues
Some dogs are unable to digest grains properly even when they do not have allergies which results in stomach disorders and too much gas. In such a case, you must change your dog’s diet to grain-free, especially if he seems gassier than usual. See if there are changes.
Although uncommon, some pooches will have grain allergens which mean that continuing to feed them dog food with grains will make their life a living hell, and yours too due to vet visits. As such, dogs with grain allergens should eat dog food without grains and protein (plant-based).
Where to Buy
Whether you are feeding your dog wet or dry dog food with grains, there are many places to shop including Amazon and Chewy which are my most preferred online platforms. You can also buy from the nearby, trusted pet store or Walmart, Petco, and more.
Why are grains considered bad for dogs?
Some people tend to believe that grains cause allergic reactions and sensitivities in dogs. In my opinion, that conviction is brought by fear but I understand because most grains are GMOs. However, cases of dogs being sensitive to grains are less than 1%. The FDA advocates for grain-inclusive diets because they support heart health.
Can whole grains cause weight gain in my dog?
Yes, whole grains can cause weight gain your dog because as we can see, they are full of nutritional benefits. However, if you feed your dog the right amounts of food and calories, you will be able to maintain his healthy weight. It all comes to the feeding quantities.
How will I find out whether my dog is allergic to grains?
There is no direct answer on how to find if your dog is allergic to grain mainly because food allergies and sensitivities have common symptoms. While you can go for a dog food allergy test, using the elimination diet method is more reliable. However, symptoms of itchy skin, hot spots, hair loss, and constant scratch in places such as the ear and chewing or licking paws should raise alarms.
Is a grain-inclusive diet a healthy option for my dog?
Yes, grain-inclusive diets are a healthy option for your dog as research has found grains to support heart health which is why I would recommend it, I feed mine too. Furthermore, what would be better than approval or warning from the FDA?
How are whole grains better than processed grains for my dog’s food?
Whole grains are high in nutrients and fiber content and have a lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and support healthy digestion in dogs. Other nutrients packed in whole grains include high protein, antioxidants, and trace minerals like zinc, magnesium, and copper, as well as B vitamins. Processed grains (labeled as refined grains in dog foods) are toxic and have a higher risk of DCM.
Dog food with grains is a healthy and nutritious diet for your canine friend(s) since it promotes heart health and is typically healthful. Despite the many controversies surrounding dog health and grains, you can see that the dog foods we reviewed above are full of health benefits.
And while feeding your dog grains is recommended, ensure you verify whether they are the healthful ones or those you should avoid. From dog foods with grain for pups, adults, seniors to weight maintenance, there are great formulas for all life stages, breeds, and sizes. Just choose wisely.
Hi there! My name is Ben Walker and I am the editor here at 10PetFood. I have 7 years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition or walking my dog.