When people think of dogs, they often imagine them as full-on carnivores. This has made many people consider dishing up grain-free food for their furry friends. But do Goldendoodles need a grain-free diet, or can they thrive on food containing carbs in the form of grains?
Today, the team at barksinthepark.co explain the benefits and drawbacks of grain-free dog food to see if Goldendoodles should be allowed to eat it.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Does a Grain-Free Diet Entail?
- 2 Benefits of Grain-Free Dog Food for Goldendoodles
- 3 Drawbacks of Grain-Free Food for Goldendoodles
- 4 What Grain-Free Foods Are Available?
- 5 Should Goldendoodles Eat Grain-free?
- 6 FAQs
What Does a Grain-Free Diet Entail?
Even though grain-free food for dogs doesn’t have cereals like wheat, brown rice, or corn in it, most of the time it will contain some form of plant matter. Usually, this is to make up for the carbohydrates that grains add to normal dog food.
Some of the starchy vegetables and seeds that are used in grain-free food for dogs include potatoes, peas, and amaranth.
Contrary to popular belief, most grain-free dog foods aren’t just a heap of meat and animal fat. Instead, they are designed to be as balanced as some of the highly recommended regular dog foods. That means you can expect to find a healthy mix of both plant and animal proteins, minerals, and vitamins in grain-free food.
Benefits of Grain-Free Dog Food for Goldendoodles
Adding grain-free grub to your dog’s diet can go a long way in boosting their health and wellbeing. The ingredients that replace the grain in many of these foods usually have more nutritional value. Cutting out carbs can benefit your Goldendoodle in many ways; let’s see a few below.
Mitigating food allergies
Putting your furry friend on a grain-free diet can decrease the chances of them developing skin allergies, or help reduce existing allergy symptoms. That’s because wheat, corn, and soy are known to cause allergies in Doodles.
If your dog is prone to getting sores on their skin, losing hair, or is itchy most of the time, buying grain-free food can help reduce these symptoms and keep your pet more comfortable.
Gluten found in certain grains is usually a major contributor to triggering allergic reactions in Goldendoodles. It can cause nasty symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach bloating. Grain-free diets are usually hypoallergenic, so they’re worth a shot if your Doodle is displaying these symptoms.
Grain-free diets increase energy levels in Goldendoodles because dogs use proteins instead of carbohydrates to generate energy. That makes a diet with more animal protein perfect instead of one crammed with grains.
Many types of grain-free dog food are designed to have higher percentages of protein in them, especially if their carb content is dramatically reduced. Food with higher protein levels keeps your Doodle full for longer, which makes it a healthier energy source in a dog’s diet.
Anything that stops them constantly begging for more food is a winner in our eyes!
Usually, the waste your dog poops out relates to the amount of waste it’s getting into its system. Regular dog foods tend to have more indigestible fibers in them, because grains get used as fillers to increase the volume of their products. In many cases, whole grains aren’t even used to make dog food filler – it’s often grain residue instead.
Grain-free diets contrarily are designed to be more biologically suitable for dogs. Their nutritional needs are satisfied while they take in less of what they don’t need. Besides reducing stool size, putting your dog on a grain-free diet will reduce the number of times your pup needs to poop.
Poop scooping is any dog owner’s least favorite aspect of caring for their furry friend, so we’re sure you’ll agree that this is a huge benefit!
Drawbacks of Grain-Free Food for Goldendoodles
As much as eliminating grain in a dog’s diet can improve its overall well-being, there can be negative effects if the switch isn’t done properly.
Health risks of grain-free dog diets
Although Goldendoodles can thrive on some grain-free diets, health risks can arise if they aren’t structured properly. For example, your dog’s diet can cause it to develop a heart disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM.
DCM is usually caused by legumes like sweet potatoes, and some dog food manufacturers use these ingredients as a source of carbohydrates in place of grains in grain-free products. Large dog breeds like the Goldendoodle are already predisposed to developing DCM so checking what they eat is very important.
Imbalance in carb intake
A common problem with many dog foods without grains is that sometimes they have too many or too few carbs. It’s usually caused by manufacturers mistaking grain-free for carb-free or by compensating grain for other carb sources by product volume instead of nutritional value.
These imbalances can cause different problems. For example, in puppy food, too many carbs can be detrimental as young dogs don’t need many carbs – they need much more protein instead.
A lack of carbs in adult food, especially for lactating or pregnant adult dogs, will lead to adverse effects. Dogs need carbs in moderation as a source of energy (and it should come as no surprise to Goldendoodle owners that this is a high-energy breed!).
What Grain-Free Foods Are Available?
There’s plenty of room for variety when it comes to the types of grain-free diets you can prepare for your Doodle. The easiest option is deciding to get canned food instead of kibble for your dog. This might also be easier for senior dogs to chew if they have dental issues.
One drawback about this is that wet food is usually more expensive than dry, especially if you’re looking for a high-quality product with a high animal protein content.
Grain-free kibble is another practical option to consider. When choosing this type of food, look for one appropriate for Goldendoodles. There are many large breed grain-free foods available which are perfect for Standard Goldendoodles.
Alternatively, some Goldendoodle parents decide to give their fur babies a grain-free diet made 100% of animal protein. This could be in the form of raw or homemade food, which isn’t as convenient as a dry diet but does offer other benefits for your pup.
We love Purina Pro Plan for Goldendoodles – the brand offers some excellent grain-free options and comes at a very affordable price point for the quality.
Should Goldendoodles Eat Grain-free?
Whether your Goldendoodle should eat grain-free is a question that varies from dog to dog. For example, your vet may put your pup on this diet if they have certain health issues, or you might decide to give it a try if you think your dog’s health could be better.
If your Goldendoodle is very active, they might require more calories than regular dog food offers. This is especially true if your Goldendoodle is a working dog, as a grain-free diet usually lessens gastrointestinal complications in dogs with these stress levels, more so if they sleep in kennels.
Feeding a Goldendoodle grain-free food willy-nilly can put your dog in danger. Golden Retrievers (one of the Groodle’s parent breeds) are one of the most prone to developing DCM after being put on grain-less food, according to the FDA.
If you plan to feed your Doodle only meat and animal protein (in imitation of a wolf’s diet), be careful as this can be taxing to its kidneys if done without professional assistance.
So should Goldendoodles eat grain-free? In most cases, it’s not really necessary – this breed can safely eat a diet with a 20% grain content. If your dog’s food has a grain content higher than this, you may consider switching to something with a lower grain content.
If you want to make changes to your dog’s diet, it’s best to consult your vet first. Always change food gradually to avoid any potential stomach upsets.
Do Goldendoodles need high protein food?
Golden Retriever mixed breeds like Goldendoodles are large dog breeds, and as such, they grow quickly as puppies. However, excessive growth (caused by too many calories in the diet) can put additional strain on your pup’s growing body.
For that reason, look for food with high-quality protein instead of excessive calories from grains and other carbs. Also look for named proteins – these are also easier on your dog’s digestive system than carbs.
Why do vets not recommend grain-free food for dogs?
Unless your dog seems to have a grain allergy, your vet may recommend against a grain-free diet. The nutrients in grains can help keep your Goldendoodle’s heart healthy, so you’ll need to ensure they’re getting these vital nutrients elsewhere if not from grains.
Should dogs eat grain or grain-free?
If a dog is on a grain diet and seems healthy, there’s no need to change it to one without – the only difference between is the type of carbohydrate used. If a dog eats grains and appears to be allergic to them, grain-free food will be recommended by a vet.
Since grain-free food for dogs is a relatively new commercial development there isn’t much information to prove definitively if it’s all bad or all good. While grains aren’t always needed in your dog’s diet, they can be a useful source of energy and contribute to heart health.