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If you’ve heard about The Farmer’s Dog, then you already know that they deliver fresh, human-grade dog food to your door on a regular schedule. This food is gently prepared in their USDA kitchens, then frozen so your dog can eat it fresh instead of having to consume bland, over-processed kibble.
We fed it to our dog, Max, and he loved it.
But just because The Farmer’s Dog is high-quality doesn’t mean their recipes will suit your dog’s unique requirements.
Some dogs have a dietary intolerance to grain, which is why grain-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years. But other dogs don’t need a grain-free diet, and there are some theories that suggest grain-free diets could actually be causing disease.
Below, we’ll break down the myths about grain-free food, learn if The Farmer’s Dog is grain-free, and discuss some grain-inclusive options.
In this guide:
- Does Farmer’s Dog have grain?
- Does my dog need a grain-free diet?
- Grain-inclusive alternatives to consider
Does Farmer’s Dog have grain?
The Farmer’s Dog does not have grain-inclusive food.
If your vet has told you your dog needs a grain-free diet, then The Farmer’s Dog could be an excellent choice. We’ve fed it to our dog and researched the ingredients they include in their recipes, and we highly recommend it. Its pork recipe may also be a good choice if you need a novel protein dog food, but only if your dog has never had pork before.
You can learn all about it, watch us unbox it, and get a discount in our full The Farmer’s Dog Food review.
Does my dog need a grain-free diet?
Your dog needs a grain-free diet if they have a grain allergy. Your vet may also recommend grain-free dog food as part of an elimination diet to detect the cause of chronic diarrhea, colitis, or dog IBD.
However, most dogs do not need a grain-free diet, and grain-free diets are not necessarily better or worse for most dogs.
Grain-free dog food has risen in popularity alongside gluten-free diets for humans, mainly through marketing messaging and social media trends. But unless your dog has a known grain allergy, grain-free dog food may not offer any benefit compared to grain-inclusive dog food.
There are even some theories that grain-free diets could be causing harm, but these theories are not proven. We’ll get into the details below.
Grain-free food and cardiomyopathy
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease that causes a dog’s heart chambers to enlarge, making it difficult for the heart to pump and sometimes leading to leaking and a lethal buildup of fluid in the dog’s chest cavity.
DCM is typically a hereditary disease, which means certain dogs and dog breeds are predisposed to it, regardless of their diet. Large dog breeds, such as Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Golden Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers are a few examples of breeds that may be more likely to experience DCM.
However, in June 2019, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was researching a potential link between grain-free dog food and non-hereditary DCM. The question being investigated was whether diets high in legumes (often a replacement for grains in grain-free diets) could contribute to the disease.
To be clear, multiple other factors interact to determine whether a dog experiences DCM. But since food and nutrition fall under the purview of the FDA, it made sense for the administration to focus on how diet could influence the disease.
The announcement started a firestorm of speculation, and the FDA quickly released follow-up research in partnership with Kansas State University to add context to the study. The follow-up clarified that no brands or pet products had yet been found to contribute to the disease, and no regulatory action was currently being taken.
To date, no conclusive link has been found between grain-free diets and DCM, and research is ongoing. You can see the FDA’s most recent statements on the issue here. And here is The Farmer’s Dog’s statement on the issue.
The FDA stresses that every dog has unique nutritional needs, and your veterinarian is best suited to advise you on what type of diet your dog needs. We reiterate that advice.
Our own opinion is that if your dog doesn’t have a known grain allergy, then there’s no reason to seek out or avoid a grain-free diet. If anything, occasionally rotating your dog’s food (with built-in transition times) may help expose your dog to a more nutritionally diverse diet.
Grain-inclusive alternatives to consider
As we said above, there is no conclusive link between grain-free diets and any type of disease. Additionally, most brands that offer grain-free diets, including The Farmer’s Dog, supplement their recipes with taurine to reduce the risk of DCM.
However, if you’d like to find a dog food that is similar to The Farmer’s Dog, but with included grain, we have some recommendations.
Nom Nom offers one grain-inclusive option—its turkey recipe. The recipe includes whole-grain brown rice, which is a healthy source of fiber and energy-producing carbohydrates.
Nom Nom operates in the same way as The Farmer’s Dog and offers comparable human-grade food. We’ve personally tested it, and our dog, Hobbes, was a big fan. You can learn more about it and get a discount in our Nom Nom dog food review or our Nom Nom vs Farmer’s Dog comparison.
Ollie Pets offers both fresh wet and baked dry food made with human-grade meats, veggies, and wholesome grains. We fed our dog, Hobbes, Ollie and he was a big fan. We loved the convenience of the brand and the clean ingredient list. Learn more in our Ollie dog food review or our comparison of Ollie vs Farmer’s Dog.
Just Food For Dogs
Just Food For Dogs offers a wide variety of recipes, including both grain-inclusive and grain-free food. This human-grade food comes in both fresh and shelf-stable boxed forms. And if your dog has advanced issues, JFFD offers vet-prescribed recipes to target these needs. Watch us unbox it in our Just Food For Dogs review, or see our Just Food For Dogs vs The Farmer’s Dog comparison.