Consumers went grain-free with their pets' food for many years. This movement was originally tied to a scare from China that pet food originating there was contaminated with melamine-tainted wheat.
To counter that pet food scare, many pet food manufacturers began making grain-free food, relying on the fiction that wild dogs don't eat grains, while there is evidence that wild dogs do eat whole grains, just not melamine-tainted wheat!
After the recent FDA study of canine heart disease correlated to the feeding of several popular grain-free foods, the particular foods identified are still on the market because they were not instructed to be recalled. These foods are not so rich in animal proteins, which dogs do eat in the wild; they are rich in vegetable proteins - peas, beans, legumes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes - which dogs do not eat in the wild.
Still, as I write, two months after the report was released, new grain-free foods and treats for dogs are being introduced to the market that are full of peas, potatoes, and lentils, those connected with fatal episodes of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
Even the new 'cricket protein' products are full of these unhealthy vegetable proteins.
Protein from meat, fish, and chicken is what's recommended for your dog and, unless your dog has allergies to grains, vegetables, and fruits, these foods are, in fact, healthy for dogs. Just like in our own diets, whole grains provide digestive health, firmer stools, and more energy. Fruits are rich in vitamins that dogs can't get naturally from meat and grains. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) the top five allergies in dogs are beef, dairy, wheat, chicken, and egg, but few dogs actually have these allergies.
Additionally, "Dogs have differences in 10 key genes compared to wolves that enable them to better utilize grains than wolves can."
Last week I posted a blog of what I determined to be the healthiest dry dog foods that contain whole grains after reviewing 30 popular dog food brands. Today, I've picked five healthy dog treats that contain whole grains and/or fruits and vegetables.
Remember to follow the feeding instructions for these goodies. They are intended as treats, not meals. Too many treats of any kind can be unhealthy for your pets.
My dog gets treats for all kinds of things, but he has to do something to get a treat, and he knows it. Zuke's Minis are great rewards for training and rewarding. They come in several flavors and the flavors are real - real chicken, duck, salmon, pork, rabbit, or peanut butter and oats are the main ingredients. They smell like what they are too, which makes your dog work harder to please.
These are the ingredients in the chicken recipe, all healthy, all natural. You can substitute the appropriate protein for the chicken to know what is in the other recipes.
Zuke's Mini's are soft and chewy, so they are suitable for all dogs, young and old, small and large. Customers love these treats, canine and human!
Also very popular with dogs and dog parents are Zuke's Superfood Blends featuring berries, great greens, or vibrant veggies. These are meat-free and low gluten, but they're packed with energy from oats, fruits, and vegetables.
Zuke's Superfood comes in three blends: Bold Berries, Great Greens, and Vibrant Veggies. Bold Berries and Great Greens have a whole oat grain with beets or alfalfa as the second ingredient. The Bold Berries are loaded with all kinds of berries - not just blueberries, but cranberries, strawberries, and cherries. Great Greens feature green beans and spinach plus a bunch of berries to boot. The Vibrant Veggies contain potatoes and carrots. My move would be for the Bold Berries or Great Greens.
This old favorite happens to be healthy for your dog! Buddy Biscuits, which have been made in the U.S. with whole grain wheat since 1999, comes in three flavors (Roasted Chicken, Bacon & Cheese, and Peanut Butter). They come in Roasted Chicken, Peanut Butter, and Beef. They have minimal ingredients and only ones that are healthy for your dogs. For example, the Roast Chicken contains: Whole wheat flour, chicken, rosemary, canola oil, and mixed tocopherals (as a preservative).
When I say that Buddy Biscuits are healthy for your dogs, I mean healthy, if given as treats. I think I have to remind you of this, because your dog will love them so much she will want to eat a meal of them and they don't give her all the nourishment she needs.
Buddy Biscuits are about an inch high, crunchy, and breakable to give your small pups.
Now these are really crunchy and Old Mother Hubbard has many flavors your dogs will love - many flavors and sizes. So you'll have to visit to find them all, but things you should know is that the first ingredients are made from whole grains. The image above happens to be a wheat free version of Old Mother Hubbard, but most of the company's cookies have ground wheat as the first ingredient.
There is Just VeggN, Liver Crunch, and P-Nuttier among the favorites in a myriad of different size packages, even one for puppies! One of Old Mother Hubbard customers suggested that if your dog can't crunch these really crunchy cookies, it would be worth it for your dog if you either smash them or soften them just a bit with a couple drops of water. (Thanks for the ideas!) But if wetting the cookies is not your thing, try the Soft Chewies found on this page. (It's headed "Crunchy" but there are Soft Chew options on the page.)
If your pup likes 'not too chewy' these are for her - a bit more chewy on the outside than the inside. Plus, Spot Farms Chicken Apple Sausage are delicious - good enough for you to eat yourself! Just look at these ingredients: Chicken, honey, apples, ground brown rice, glycerin, salt, vinegar, natural flavor, rosemary extract, allspice, and cinnamon - all the best quality human grade ingredients you can buy.
Customers with older dogs report that they can break up these treats for easier chewing, but if you are hesitant, the highly-rated Turkey Meatballs With Cranberries might be a better choice for an older dog. Or find other suitable treats and foods for Spot Farms here.
You have to appreciate the quality of Spot Farms dog foods, whether buying whole grain foods and treats or grain free. The company, run by a farmer and his grand daughter in North Carolina, obtains its dog food ingredients from its own and nearby farms, using only foods that humans would eat themselves, produced without antibiotics. Its motto is: "Human Grade Dog Food Brought To You By Grade-A Humans®."
These are five of the best whole grain dog treats available. There are more out there. The most important thing is to read every label and, regardless of the brand's reputation, or whether your dog likes the treats or not, stay away from dog food and treats that use peas, potatoes, lentils, particularly anywhere near the first 5 ingredients.
Here are the previous articles in this series, written after the FDA revealed the association of grain free dog foods with canine heart disease in June, 2019: