So you went shopping and brought home grain-free dog food. But now you are wondering: Is it safe? Does grain free dog food cause loose stools like they are saying on dog forums and social media? Or is it all just a myth? Let’s explore the facts!
About 57% of homes in America have at least one pet. Pup parents are always concerned about what food to give to their dog. Manufacturers know this, and continually keep innovating and coming out with new products.
Grain-free dog food is a new subcategory in the dog food industry. People have many doubts and questions regarding this type of dog food. One of the most popular questions, is whether grain-free dog food causes loose stools? The answer is no, a grain-free diet should not cause diarrhea in your dog.
Let us look more closely at what can and cannot cause loose stools in dogs.
What Causes Dog Diarrhea?
As per Washington State Univ’s Vet Teaching hospital, typical causes of dog diarrhea include viruses and bacteria, stress, foreign bodies, parasites, poor diet, toxins, allergies, tumors, and some diseases.
Can Grain-Free Dog Food Cause Diarrhea?
No, it’s actually good for vomiting and diarrhea caused by grain allergies.
Homemade grain-free dog food actually helps prevent diarrhea caused by food allergies from grains. It is difficult to get loose stools from grain-free dog food. So why does your dog have loose stools after you switched over to this type of diet?
This could happen because of several reasons, but the main reason is simply that your dog is not used to this diet! Your dog’s digestive system needs some time to adjust to the new diet.
Usually, diarrhea caused by a change in diet lasts for a short time. Your dog should feel better in about two to three days.
Can Too Much Protein Cause Diarrhea In Dogs?
For most dogs, no; unless the dog is allergic or the protein is not properly cooked.
Every dog owner at some point experiences dog diarrhea, it is almost inevitable. Many myths exist regarding the causes of dog diarrhea, and excess protein is one of them. There is no link between dog diarrhea and protein consumption.
There are two exceptions to this condition.
However, the first exception is that your dog might be allergic to excess proteins, or they might have a sensitive digestive system. This condition in dogs is also known as dietary protein intolerance. It is a low condition in dogs. You can identify this condition in the dogs by looking for some symptoms such as itching, irritation of the skin, swollen tongue, throat problems, etc.
The second exception might be feeding your undercooked dog proteins. Meat is an excellent source of protein.
If the meat is not cooked correctly, parasites and bacteria can quickly get into your dog’s system. Once such elements get into your pet’s system, they can result in your patients suffering from loose stools (as we mentioned earlier)
Pork and chicken are among the most dangerous meats if you want to keep these bacteria in control. Similarly, raw eggs also have a principal amount of bacteria in them. The most efficient way for killing and removing this bacteria is by cooking the dog food thoroughly.
Undercooked meat can also result in vomiting alongside diarrhea in some cases.
Does Grain-Free Dog Food Cause Loose Stools?
As already briefly stated above, the answer is no. But there are some things that may be causing this.
There are some internal and external factors at play that might affect the digestive health of your dog. Each dog is different from other dogs. Due to this, every dog has a different system. Therefore a diet with a different caliber and concentration will have a different impact on various dogs.
The breed of the dog also matters when it comes to being accepting of certain food elements in a diet. Different dog breeds have varying intolerances and allergies. If you notice your dog experiencing loose stools after switching to a grain-free diet, then you must analyze the root cause behind this occurrence.
You should not immediately jump to any conclusion that your dog is suffering from diarrhea just because of the diet. Loose stools are a normal reaction, and dogs also recover quickly from such problems. All of this may be because of the transition period that your dog is going through. Once you start feeding your dog a grain-free diet, they might initially refuse to eat it, but over time they will get accustomed to the taste.
Don’t think about quitting and changing your dog’s diet too soon. Persist with this diet for at least a month. You can also feed your dog with alternate sources of protein. Grain-free dog food is not a problem for loose stools of your dog.
What Happens When You Change Your Dog’s Diet?
Your dog will take time to adjust to the new food. Till then, don’t be alarmed by things like vomiting and diarrhea.
Your dog’s condition is also very dependent on the sensitivity of your dog’s stomach. It is natural for dogs to experience some side effects when there is a change in their diet. Let us know about the common symptoms.
The common symptoms that your dog may go through are itchiness, frequent bowel movements, loose stools, and so on. These symptoms are expected to last a few days.
However, there isn’t anything that you should be serious about. Many people think that grain-free dog food is the problem for these symptoms because the dog’s digestive system needs time to adjust.
In most cases, this is still not an issue of significant concern. However, you should keep a check on your dog’s health and his or her stools. If diarrhea persists for longer than 2-3 days for a week or longer than that, then you should consult your dog’s doctor.
Is Grain-Free Food Responsible?
If you can manage to switch your dog to grain-free food items, your dog will experience increased energy in the long run. Some people also experience the temperament of their dogs rising over time. Any shift in the diet of your dog can result in this condition.
Dogs may also experience more gas or bloating due to a change in diet. You can read this article further to gain knowledge about the best ways to introduce grain-free dog food without upsetting your dog’s stomach.
How To Introduce Grain-Free Dog Food To Your Dog?
The best way, in my opinion, to introduce a new food or diet to your dog is to start slowly. You can start by introducing one portion at a time to your dog.
For instance, if your dog consumes two bowls of food at a time. Then you start by feeding your dog with one bowl of new grain-free dog food and one bowl of regular dog food.
This method will facilitate a gradual transition between the two foods for the dog. You can continue this method for seven to eight days. After this time, your dog should be used to the new food so that you can switch to the newer diet completely.
There are a few changes if you follow this diet pattern, then your dog can experience less or no diarrhea at all. On the other hand, if you don’t give your dog enough time to adjust to the transition, then you’ll notice your dog having loose stools. You can achieve your desired results with better efficiency by slowing down the transition process.
Is Grain-Free Food Better For Dogs?
Well, yes and no. Some people have reported better skin and fur in dogs after giving a grain-free diet, but there is no scientific research to prove this. Secondly, gluten allergy is not that common in dogs, and dogs are not carnivores (one of the reasons justifying grain-free), but omnivores. You can read more about the debate on Texas University’s Blog.
Answers To More Questions About Grain Free
Can grain food cause diarrhea in dogs?
No, ideally, your dog should not suffer from diarrhea because of grain-free food. Dog’s mostly suffer from diarrhea because of the gluten present in their diet. Wheat and other similar sources of carbohydrates are the most prominent sources of gluten for dogs.
If your dog is experiencing loose stools after switching to a grain-free diet, that could be because of habit and sudden change. Apart from gluten, one of the most common causes of diarrhea among dogs is the harmful chemicals present in their foods.
Do vets recommend a grain-free diet?
The jury is out on this one. While some people have noticed better skin, fur and GI function in dogs after giving a grain-free diet, there is no scientific study or rationale behind this.
Vets recommend a balanced, nutritious diet for dogs. Whether that diet comes from grain-free foods or foods that do contain grains, it does not matter.
Should I switch my dog from grain-free food?
You can switch your dog’s food from their regular diet to grain-free food only if you have permission from your vet. You must feed your dog food that does not trigger any allergies and also provides for their nutritional needs.
A Few Final Words
Grain-free dog food has many proponents in the market, and there is a lack of awareness and insight into this type of dog food. With this article, we have tried to enlist scientific and veterinary sources to help you understand the good and bad about this diet.
We have tried to establish that it is not the diet that causes the dog to suffer from diarrhea. Rather the root cause for loose stools among dogs is because of the fast transition between diets.
We thank you for reading this article and hope we have answered your queries if you have more, please drop them in the comments section and we will be happy to answer them.
We have also written about several other potentially harmful types of foods for dogs such as leather, sugar cookies, and gummy bears. Do read these articles to keep your pet safe!