Is Your Grain Free Dog Food Really Grain Free?

If you feed your dog grain free dog food, you may feel pretty good about yourself, thinking you are feeding him the best food available. Unfortunately, grain free dog foods are not created equally. And you should always ask, “Is my grain free dog food really grain free?” This may seem like a strange question, but the truth is, just because a dog food says it’s grain free, doesn’t mean it really is. Like with everything that has to do with dog nutrition, you really have to do your research, read the labels, and research again.

Now you are probably thinking, wait if they say it is grain free, it has to be, right? Otherwise, it’s false advertising, right? Wrong again.

If the grain is coming from a secondary source within an ingredient, they don’t have to test for it or add it to the label.

So how exactly does the grain get in the food? Through the meat. Your dog’s meat is coming from animals that are largely raised on grains. Grain is good for herbivores like cows and sheep, and for poultry such as chickens and ducks. Not so much your dog.

Look at the ingredients in your dog’s grain free dog food. Here is example of an ingredient list from another brand:

Meat (Poultry meal & meat meal, duck meal & meat meals), vegetables & vegetables meals (including potato, peas, carrots, pumpkin), potato & Tapioca starch, Tallows & oils (Poultry and Vegetable), Beet Pulp, Chicken Digest, Oil seeds (Canola & Linseed), Egg Powder, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (A, D, E, B1, B5, B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, B12) and Minerals (Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Iodine, Selenium), Kelp Meal, Choline Chloride, Soy Lecithin Powder, Dried Chicory Root, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Garlic Powder, Tomato Powder, Potassium Sorbate, Natural Antioxidants.

It starts out with meat meals, and while vague you are probably thinking that’s a good thing – it’s the first ingredient. However, any time a label says “meat” or something vague such as “poultry” instead of being specific on type of animal, the meal can contain offal – parts of the animal such as organs, guts (may contain grains and chicken poo) feathers, head, feet, beak, etc. On the other hand, if the ingredients say specifically chicken meal or turkey meal, they cannot. Stay Loyal only uses chicken and turkey meal without guts, feathers, heads and feet. This ensures we are truly grain free.

So if your dog is having a reaction like he is eating grain while on a grain free food, check your dog food and treats, it may contain hidden grains.

Other Things to Remember When Shopping Grain Free

When comparing grain free dog foods, here are a few other things to watch for to ensure you really are getting quality food. After all, a food could be grain free but still low quality – it’s like eating gluten free cake. Sure, it’s free of wheat gluten, but it still has plenty of sugar, fat, and other things that aren’t the best for us humans.

Any label that just says “meat meal” (like the above label) is something to stay clear of because you never know what protein or mix of proteins your dog is getting. And, if your dog is allergic to a certain protein, the food may cause problems one month and then not the next as the proteins change, making it impossible for you to figure out the source of your dog’s discomfort.

Be sure the main protein source is meat, not vegetables. Dogs do better if the majority of the protein in their food is from meat.

Finally, don’t forget to look at the fats and oils – they should be specific fats so you know exactly what type your dog is getting. This is important for allergies, but also so that you can make sure ratios are correct, like the Omega-6 and Omega-3 ratio that should be around 5 to1.

For more information on the differences in grain free dog foods, check out this comparison article.

Not just another dog food company. With our mission to improve the health and happiness of dogs all over Australia through enriched nutrition and continued education of caring dog owners, our priority is helping you care for your dog. Check Us Out!

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  1. Loving your product and recommending it to all my puppy buyers… need to do what Royal Canin does and that is a 4kg bag for $10 for breeders ,you have to provide details of your litter and if l had a brochure as well, l know l would get more people to stay on your food.l have spoken to other Frenchie breeders and they totally agree it would look more professional then putting it in a plastic bag , with their puppy paks, regards Jenni

    1. Hi Jenni, you are right we need to work out something for breeders. We do currently supply a coupon code that you can share with your puppy buyers and they can get a discount on their first purchase. If you are interested just email us a week before the pups are ready. Email

  2. Good morning Robert, I have used your dog food samples before but my dog took his time in eating it. Do you make up smaller packs of it as I do not want it to become stale.

  3. Firstly, thanks for the insight with the sneaky grains… but there was something else I noticed in the ingredients… It’s so annoying that manufacturers of dog food are adding GARLIC! Dogs aren’t supposed to have it! I, myself am intolerant to garlic, onion & wheat and even on human food labels they are sneaking it in under the guise of “herbs and spices”, and I can smell/ taste & do react to it. They’re high allergens/toxic VEGETABLES? Aren’t they?

    1. Hi Colleen, I guess people and dogs can be allergic to anything. My experience is that dogs benefit from small amounts of garlic. I do understand that large amounts of garlic can cause anemia but the amount in dog foods is less than 0.1grams per 100grams of food. That all said it is safest to not add garlic to your dogs food especially small dogs are more likely to get a large dose compared to their size. Hope that makes sense.

  4. Robert I just read your long blog & I had a bit of a smile to
    myself, do you know I feed my dog StayLoyal so I don’t have
    to worry thanks o lot cheers Patricia

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