Pros and Cons of Grain-free Dog Food

As of late, grain-free dog food has gained popularity when it comes to the health and wellness of your beloved canine. 

While many advocates of grain-free dog food will rave about the benefits, it pays to inform yourself as a dog owner and consider both sides of the coin. In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of grain-free dog food.  

Advantages of Grain-free Dog Food

Improved digestion

Some dogs find it difficult to understand individual grains, mainly corn. Digestion issues especially hold true for dogs that don’t have enough amylase enzyme in their gut – which is critical for adequately breaking down everything from starchy and carbohydrate-rich foods to those containing simple sugars. 

A lack of the enzyme can impair your dog’s ability to digest grains, causing a variety of gastrointestinal problems. In this case, a grain-free diet is best. As a bonus of improved digestion, your dog will also experience less flatulence

It’s better for diabetic dogs

Many vets and animal health researchers have observed how a grain-free diet can benefit dogs suffering from diabetes and cancer. A diabetic dog must not be fed a diet rich in simple carbohydrates as these can dramatically raise sugar levels, worsening diabetic symptoms as a result. 

A diet full of grains means that your dog eats only complex carbohydrates, thus helping to manage symptoms.  

However, even if your dog is not diabetic, a diet rich in simple sugars and carbohydrates can cause too much insulin production, leading to weight gain and, eventually, diabetes. 

Improved general health and energy levels

Grain-free food can help improve your dog’s overall health and energy levels, improving day-long activity as a result, because it can provide relief from allergy and digestive problems. A diet high in protein and free from grains can also provide an energy boost, which is especially favorable for high-activity dogs required ‘on the job,’ such as a police or emergency rescue services dog. 

Disadvantages of Grain-free Dog Food

Not ideal for older and less active dogs

Even though grain-free dog food can be excellent for working dogs or those that are generally energetic throughout the day, it may cause weight gain in those that lead a sedentary lifestyle indoors. For a fact, less active or older dogs do not require large amounts of energy coming from a protein-rich, grain-free diet.

Furthermore, older dogs with mobility issues or those that are already overweight will experience more weight gain and, at some point, compounding mobility issues. 

Generally more expensive

Grain-free dog food is typically more costly than the grain-based variety. So before making the decision, carefully review how this may affect your monthly budget. 

With that said, many would argue that grain-free dog food contains more protein, and that means your dog will become fuller faster – eating less as a result but still getting the required nutrition. Either way, you’ll have to consider the expenses involved in grain vs. grain-free, and see if it’s worth switching your dog to a grain-free diet.  


Given its popularity, grain-free dog food isn’t always available, even at the most popular supermarkets and pet stores. 

Is Grain-free Dog Food Right for You?

As with all things, buying grain-free dog food should depend on age, breed, health, and activity of your dog. If you’re not sure, ask your veterinarian what is best for your dog.  

Alan Behrens

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