Do not be confused or fooled by dry dog foods that advertise themselves as being “grain free” and therefore supposedly healthier. Those foods have to use some sort of carbohydrate source to hold the dough together that becomes kibble- and many are using potatoes, which are not just a starch (also known as a carbohydrate) but are also high on the glycemic index (for example, diabetic people need to stay away from potatoes).

All the same, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and white potatoes are all excellent sources of healthy carbohydrates, too, but again you want to make sure they are whole versions of those foods, and not the discarded, damaged leftovers of food that was made for people. Sometimes you will see “pea” or “pea flour” used in place of other carbohydrate sources, and that can be a good ingredient, too. But do not be confused into thinking that there is inherently something wrong with grain in dry dog food – quite the contrary.

Whole, gently processed grains are excellent sources of energy in your dog’s food. Of course, there is an understandable push-back about the heavy presence of corn in bagged dog foods – usually found in the supermarket brands or the lower cost/lower quality foods (you can read more on that topic in THE DOG BIBLE or on my website in other blogs I have written or Q&A’s posted there – where I say that corn has become a four-letter word in the pet food world).

However, there are many grains that are terrific carbohydrate sources as long as they are not sourced from the broken-down remnant components of those ingredients from the human food production process. You want to choose dry dog food that utilizes whole grains like rice or brown rice (as opposed to “brewer’s rice), or whole ground barley or oatmeal – not flour made of these ingredients or fragments of these carbohydrate sources.

Tracie Hotchner, author of The Dog Bible and The Cat Bible, guest blogs here every Thursday on healthy, natural choices for pets.

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  1. Shelly says:

    Hi Traice,
    What can you tell me about pea protein and the benefits of this protein source in Halo Dog Food?

  2. Halo says:

    Hi Shelly:

    Pea protein is an excellent source of highly digestible vegetable protein. It is particularly rich in lysine and other essential amino acids which are critical for active pets to rebuild muscle tissue. Halo includes this in their foods as a way to naturally keep protein levels high without adding inferior sources such as meat meals or other rendered products.

    • Debbi says:

      Hi I have an 8 yr old maltese..weighs approx 7.5 and is in good health. He is a picky eater and I have him off dry food as either the size is too big for him to chew and he is picky. He is off Chicken and Soy, wheat and corn due to itching..This has helped alot in the past 18 months. I found Halo surf and turf and am trying it as the kibble is small however I am concerned with the protein which is 28%. Could you please tell me if this is too much for an 8 yrs old..good health but I dont want him on it if too high. I just bought it this weekend and as of now, just getting a few bites with his food. Thank you, Debbi and Paddington

      • admin says:

        Hi Debbi,

        Thanks for your question. If your Paddington does not have any issues with kidney or liver disease, this level of protein should be just fine. Healthy middle aged and senior dogs do not necessarily need lower protein foods. In fact, high quality higher protein diets can help maintain lean body mass in dogs as they age.

        Hope this helps.
        Dr. Donna Spector

  3. I guess you got a pretty good explanation directly from Halo- they do know their stuff when it comes to nutrition and they make decisions about ingredients based on overall health and wellness, which is why I have total faith in their kibble and feed it to my lucky dogs at every meal.

  4. Cj says:

    Actually some dogs are like humans when it comes to gluten. I have 2 dogs that have very bad skin allergies if they eat grain of any kind. it clears up completely when i put them on a grain free food. Otherwise I would say grains in moderation are very healthy!

  5. Tracie says:

    Hi CJ – thanks for joining the conversation. Since I personally have celiac sprue disease I know only too well the havoc that gluten can cause in me. However, I know that many PEOPLE mistakenly think they have issues with gluten when actually it is something else that does not not agree with them. It would be interesting to see whether your vet can administer the same blood test to your dogs that is used in people to rule out celiac disease. Since you say you have two dogs with this problem, unless they are from the same litter I’d wager that the statistical odds of two dogs having gluten intolerance is pretty unlikely, to say the least! It’s very likely there is something else in those foods you were feeding that caused the problem. Let us know if you or your vet is willing to test the dogs for the antigen in their blood to gluten!

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