How Do I Add Grain to a Grain-Free Dog Food?

Grain-free diets for dogs have recently become a source of debate. The main focus of the FDA’s ongoing investigation is grain-free dog foods and a possible link to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). So, if you bought grain-free dog food but are worried about the controversy, you may be wondering how to add grain to your dog’s food that is already grain-free.

Before making any changes to your dog’s food, you should first talk to your vet if you have any questions about what it needs to eat. In this article, we’ll talk about the different kinds of grains that are good for a dog’s diet and how to add them to grain-free dog food.

Why Avoid Grain-Free Dog Food?

In the past few years, grain-free foods have become very popular, and there are now hundreds of different kinds on the market. But in June 2019, the FDA said that grain-free foods might be linked to heart disease. Dogs who didn't eat grains were more likely to get dilated cardiomyopathy.

At the same time, research has shown that most dogs can eat whole grains without getting sick, and most food allergies aren't to grains. Because of this, most dogs don't need a diet without grains and would do better with grains. If you want to try feeding your dog grains, here are five things you can do to get started.

The 5 Steps To Add Grain to a Grain-Free Dog Food

1.Determine Whether Grain Is Needed

Unfortunately, you can't just add some oatmeal to grain-free food to avoid the risks that come with it. Dog food should have a good balance of nutrients, and many grain-free foods already have a lot of carbs from potatoes and legumes.

 It's also not clear if heart problems are caused by not eating grains or if they are caused by common substitutes. But there may be times when it's fine to add grain.

The best way to decide if you want to add grains to your dog's food is to look at the label. Food for dogs shouldn't have more than 50% carbs, 10–20% protein, and 5–10% fat. If your dog food has more than 30% protein, you might want to add some grains.

2.Choose a Grain Source

Dog food can be made with many different kinds of grains. There are many kinds of grains, like wheat, rice, corn, barley, sorghum, millet, and quinoa. Each grain is good for your health in its own way. Some dogs can't eat common grains like wheat and corn because they are allergic to them.

When adding grains, you should also think about how easy they are to get to. It's important to find a grain that is easy to get and easy to cook. Brown rice and oatmeal are two of the best things to add to dog food. That's because they are good for you, easy to make, and easy to find.

Brown rice is easy to digest, so it is great for dogs with sensitive stomachs. It is a good source of fiber and has a lot of B vitamins. Oats are good for dogs with blood sugar or cholesterol problems because they are low in gluten and high in protein.

 Oatmeal is a great way for your dog to eat oats. Even though these are some of the easiest options, you can also feed your dog another whole grain.

3.Cook or Prepare Grains as Needed

Once you have your chosen grain in hand, it’s important to prepare the grains. Most grains require cooking to be easily digestible. You can prepare food similarly to how you might prepare it for humans. For example, rice can be boiled in water to prepare it. 

Although you have lots of options to prepare, it is best to pick a method that doesn’t add other ingredients like fats or dairy ingredients. For example, if you want to add corn to your dog’s diet, you’ll want to prepare plain grits from cornmeal, not cornbread.

4.Mix Grains Into Food

Once the grains are ready, they can be added to your dog's food. If your dog eats wet food, it's easy to mix a few spoonfuls into his food. It can also be added on top of dry food.

Some dogs may also like to eat the grain food by itself. Some dogs might be pickier than others, so you need to figure out how to feed your dog best.

5.Find the Balance That’s Right for Your Dog

Adding food to your dog's diet without thinking about what he or she needs to stay healthy is a recipe for disaster. Start small by adding no more than a tablespoon or two of grains. Because grains are high in carbs, your dog probably won't want to eat a lot of them in the long run.

Make sure to keep track of how many calories and carbs your dog's grains add to his meals so you can change them as needed. Remember that you never want your dog's intake of protein and fat to drop too low or his intake of carbohydrates to rise too high.

The 7 Types of Grains Considered Healthy for Dogs:

1.Brown Rice

Brown rice is a grain that is easy to find and is full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. When given in the right amounts, it is thought to be healthy for dogs. Brown rice keeps the outer hull, which is where most of the fiber is. White rice, on the other hand, doesn't have the hull. Brown rice is a whole grain that is easier to digest and can help your digestive system feel better as it heals.

Brown Rice


Barley is a common cereal grain that is often used instead of corn and wheat as a source of carbs in dog food. Since there are a lot more carbs in barley, it is a great source of energy for dogs that are more active. It also has a lot of vitamins and minerals and is a good source of fiber.


3.Whole Wheat

A lot of dry dog foods have wheat as one of their main ingredients. Wheat is a controversial food because it has gluten, which can be an allergen. However, dogs usually have allergies to protein sources like meat, chicken, eggs, and even dairy.

If your dog has allergies, it's best to talk to your vet about whether or not wheat is a good thing to put in their food. Most of the time, wheat can be digested safely. It is a good source of energy because it is high in carbs, and it is also high in fiber.

Whole Wheat


Oats are low in gluten and high in protein and soluble fiber. They are a popular grain for dogs that have trouble digesting other grains, like corn or wheat. This is a common ingredient in dog food these days, and it's easy to add to food you make at home.



Millet is a small grain seed that is becoming more and more popular as an ingredient in dog food. You might know it as something that is in bird seed. Millet has carbohydrates that can help give you energy, but it is more balanced than other grains because it also has more fat. It is also a great choice for dogs that are sensitive to gluten.



Sorghum is a grain that doesn't have gluten and has more nutrients than many other grains. In commercial dog food, it is often called a "superfood." It is easy to digest and full of vitamins, minerals, and important fatty acids and antioxidants.



There is a lot of debate about whether or not corn should be in dog food. Most of the debate is about the possibility of allergens, but studies have shown that corn allergies are much less common than allergies to chicken, beef, eggs, and dairy. Corn is a safe ingredient for most dogs and has a moderate amount of nutritional value. If it is cooked properly, it is also easy for dogs to digest.


Before you add grain to grain-free dog food, you should talk to your vet to make sure that changing your dog's diet is even necessary. You will want to ask your vet if a grain-free dog food is even something they recommend.

There's no way to know for sure that adding grain to grain-free food will make up for the possible risks, but there are some healthy grain options on the market that can be fed to dogs safely with the help of a professional.
Princy Hoang
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