A Healthier Choice: Best Dog Foods with Healthy Grains

October 3, 2023
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A Healthier Choice: Best Dog Foods with Healthy Grains

In the world of canine nutrition, the role of grains has often been a subject of debate. However, when chosen wisely, grains can be a vital source of essential nutrients for our four-legged companions. In this guide, we'll explore the realm of the best dog food with healthy grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats. We’ll also shed light on their potential benefits for your canine companion's overall health and vitality. From bolstering digestion to providing sustained energy, discover why opting for dog foods featuring these nutritious grains can be a beneficial choice for your cherished pet.

Understanding Healthy Grains in Dog Food

What are healthy grains? When it comes to dog food, healthy grains refer to grains that provide essential nutrients without causing any adverse reactions or allergies in your dog. These grains are often whole grains, which means they still contain the bran, germ, and endosperm, making them rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Examples of healthy grains commonly found in dog food include brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, and millet. (1)

Let’s explore these grains a little more in-depth.

  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a whole grain that is a good source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential nutrients like manganese and selenium. It's easily digestible for dogs and provides a steady release of energy.
  • Oats: Oats are another whole-grain option that is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are also a good source of protein and can help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Quinoa: While technically a seed, quinoa is often classified as a pseudo-grain. It's a complete protein source, providing all nine essential amino acids, making it a valuable addition to a dog's diet. It's also gluten-free.
  • Barley: Barley is a nutritious whole grain that is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It's often used in dog food for its digestive benefits and its ability to help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Millet: Millet is a gluten-free grain that is rich in B vitamins, fiber, and essential minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. It's easily digestible and a good option for dogs with sensitivities to wheat or corn.
  • Buckwheat: Like quinoa, buckwheat is technically a seed, but it's often included in discussions about healthy grains. It's high in protein, fiber, and essential amino acids, making it a nutritious option for dogs.
  • Rye: Rye is a nutritious whole grain that provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It can be a good option for dogs that do not have sensitivities to gluten.

Benefits of Healthy Grains in Dog Food

The benefits of healthy grains for dogs are numerous. Firstly, they offer a good source of carbohydrates, which are essential for providing energy. Carbohydrates are especially important for active dogs or those participating in high-energy activities. 

Secondly, healthy grains provide dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps regulate bowel movements. They also promote a healthy gut by serving as a prebiotic, which stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. (3)

Additionally, healthy grains contain important vitamins and minerals that support overall health and well-being in dogs.

How to Choose the Right Dog Food with Healthy Grains

When selecting the best dog food with healthy grains, there are a few key factors to consider. For example, it’s important to read the ingredients list of any dog food you’re thinking about introducing to your pet. This way, you can compare the nutrient provisions with your dog’s specific needs. In addition, you should also contact your dog’s veterinarian if you run into any complications.

  • Reading the ingredients list: Look for dog foods that list healthy grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, or barley, as the main ingredients. Avoid brands whose products contain fillers or artificial additives. These fillers provide very little in the way of nutrition and they may very well cause or exacerbate allergies or food sensitivities in dogs. (2)
  • Considering your dog's specific needs: Take into account your dog's age, size, activity level, and any specific dietary requirements. Some dogs may need a higher protein or lower carbohydrate content.
  • Consulting with a veterinarian: If you have any concerns or questions about your dog's diet, it's always best to seek professional advice. Your veterinarian can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog's unique needs. In fact, if you’re not sure where to start when it comes to finding the best dog food with healthy grains, your vet should serve as a helpful source of information. He or she will be able to guide you on the right track so that you’re able to feed your dog the most appropriate food for his or her needs. 

Grains and Food Allergies

Most dogs are not allergic to the more high-quality grains found in some pet foods, but it’s worth noting that dogs can be allergic or sensitive to practically any ingredient. Though it’s unlikely that your dog will develop allergies to dog food with healthy grains, it’s a good idea to be vigilant during the transition process, just in case. (4)

Tips for Introducing Healthy Grains into Your Dog's Diet

When incorporating healthy grains into your dog's diet, it's important to do so gradually and monitor their response. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Gradual transition to new food: Mix small amounts of the new dog food with the old food, gradually increasing the proportion of the new food over several days. This helps prevent any digestive upset and allows your dog to slowly grow accustomed to the new food they’re being given.
  • Mixing in small portions: Initially, mix a smaller portion of the new dog food with the old food to ensure your dog adjusts well to the new flavors and textures. Depending on your dog’s unique needs, transitioning from one food to another should take one to two weeks to complete. (5)
  • Monitoring your dog's response: Keep an eye on your dog's overall well-being, including energy levels, coat condition, and digestive health. If you notice any adverse reactions, consult with your veterinarian. Watch out for any signs of digestive upsets, such as diarrhea, gas, lack of appetite, or vomiting. These signs may indicate that you’re making the switch too quickly. Reach out to your dog’s veterinarian for advice if this occurs.

Choosing dog foods with healthy grains can be a beneficial decision for your furry friend's nutrition and well-being. By understanding the benefits of healthy grains and selecting high-quality brands, you can ensure that your dog receives the essential nutrients they need to thrive. Remember to introduce new foods gradually and consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns. With a balanced diet that includes healthy grains, your dog can enjoy improved digestion, enhanced energy levels, and overall better health.


  1. Webster, M. (2022). 9 Best grains for dogs: From brown rice to sorghum! K9 Of Mine. https://www.k9ofmine.com/best-grains-for-dogs/

  1. Richard Rowlands, Pet Health Expert. (2021). How to Choose a Dog Food with Grain. Only Natural Pet. https://www.onlynaturalpet.com/blogs/holistic-healthcare-library/how-to-choose-a-dog-food-with-grain

  1. Market, D. (2022). Grain Free vs. Grain-Inclusive Pet Food. The Dog Market. https://thedogmarket.ca/blog/grain-free-vs-grain-inclusive-pet-food/

  1. Knight, C. (2022, August 2). Different kinds of grains your dog can eat. Top Dog Tips. https://topdogtips.com/grains-your-dog-can-eat/

  1. Staff, A. (2022d). How to switch & transition dog foods. American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/right-way-switch-dog-foods/

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