Re: Ideal dog food - Grain or grain free
Every dog is different. Amos eats Earthborn Holistic Meadow Feast. He either had trouble with grains or chicken...not sure which, but this food has neither and works well for him.
This next part is not from tons of experience as a dog mom (Amos is only 9 months old and he's my first) but from the tons of experience with the lovely health issues that my family has that forced us to better understand food allergies. I can't help but think that at least some of it might apply to dogs. Either way, that is my disclaimer regarding the following info.
Food allergies are not necessarily genetic. They can also be developed from a compromised digestive system. Our immune system is housed in the gut. If our digestive system is compromised, then food particles can escape into the blood stream. That is called leaky gut. Over time the immune system starts to react to these food particles and that reaction is an allergy.
What causes the gut to be compromised? It can be compromised by parasites (Amos has had a terrible battle with tapeworms all summer). It can also be compromised by an imbalance of gut bacteria and gut yeast/fungus. If one is out of balance it can cause the other to overgrow. This is why we take probiotics after a round of antibiotics.
Why might grains be a problem for some? Grains are a simple carbohydrate. Carbs feed yeast/fungus. If your gut is already unbalanced in favor of yeast, this would be like pouring gasoline on a fire. People who crave lots of sugar and simple carbs likely suffer from a yeast/fungus overgrowth. Many grains also contain gluten or cross-reactive particles (meaning the body can mistake them for gluten). Gluten is a known common allergy and for many who aren't technically allergic, it is still inflammatory. Inflammation can be digestive, joint-related, cognitive, even weight gain. Almost any symptom can be further inflamed by gluten. Also, gluten is like a "glue". It can build up in the gut since it is not digested easily and prevent the absorption of vital nutrients. My husband, the picture of an athlete, was found vitamin deficient in many areas after being diagnosed with a gluten allergy. We never knew.
But people have been eating wheat and grains for thousands of years! How can this be?! (We asked this very question when the hubby was diagnosed). It is because in the last several decades we started farming GMO versions of wheat. Wheat today is engineered to contain 10x the amount of gluten it did 100 years ago. First off, it makes for a hardier crop that can withstand unfavorable conditions better. Secondly, it makes a flour that is almost fail proof to bake with. All the extra "glue" makes it nearly impossible for a cake to "fall." I've never had a cake "fall" but I remember my grandmother talking about that being an issue. Nowadays, anyone can bake beautifully. Anyway, so if you are allergic or sensitive to gluten, eating one slice of bread today is like eating an entire loaf from 100 years ago.
This is an oversimplification of everything and I don't fully understand it all myself, but it's what we've learned and have to live by. It's been the only way we've been able to manage our health after years of failed efforts at symptom relief through traditional medical protocol. Between my husband and I, we are allergic or sensitive to gluten, dairy, eggs, canola oil, and neither of us handles sugar or a high amount of carbs well. Carbs are filler, even for humans. We eat alot of healthy (translate high Omega 3, low Omega 6, and grassfed) fats in their place so we aren't hungry, grumpy messes. Since learning this about ourselves and making these dietary changes, we both live a nearly symptom free life.
Not everyone or every dog would be allergic or sensitive to grains. If you feed them, I would just watch for signs of inflammation (gut, fatigue, cognitive, etc.) and signs of yeast overgrowth (UTIs, Ear infections, ezcema or dandruff, etc.). And if there is ever a blood draw done and cost is minimal to add a vitamin panel, I would do it just to check that they are absorbing their nutrients properly.