Is Wheat Bad for Dogs?

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Moving on to the letter “W” in our dog food ingredient series. Today we are writing about wheat.


What is Wheat?

Wheat is a cereal grain that is the third most produced grain behind maize (corn) and rice in the world.


Common names for Wheat

Besides the generic “wheat”, other names include wheat middlings, wheat mill run, wheat gluten, and wheat flour.
is wheat bad for dogs

Why is Wheat in Dog Food?

Wheat is used as a lower cost source of protein, fiber, and some vitamins and minerals.


Is Wheat Commonly Used in Dog Food?

Wheat or one of its derivatives is in about 18% of all dog foods. The most common forms of wheat by far are wheat gluten and wheat flour which are in almost 13% of all dog foods.


Common Benefits or Risks of Wheat

A 3.5 oz. serving of wheat has about 330 kcals, 71 grams of carbohydrates, and 12 grams of protein. Wheat is rich in manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and many of the B vitamins, including thiamine and niacin. Wheat is also relatively high in fiber.


However, a dog’s body has no real nutritional need for wheat (and other grains) and dogs can be negatively impacted by wheat consumption (as can humans as well).


One of the risks of wheat is that it contains something called wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) which, even in small quantities, can have adverse effects on the body. Among other things, WGA may be:

  • pro-inflammatory and linked to digestive disorders
  • immunotoxic, lowering the body’s ability to fight off disease
  • neurotoxic, with adverse effects on the brain and nervous system


Wheat can also be a cause of food allergies. It is a common canine food allergen.


Read Dr. Mercola’s excellent article about the side effects of wheat consumption for a good perspective on WGA.  Dr Mercola sites Greed Med Info’s explanation of WGA and its potential adverse impact on the brain, which is repeated here:


“WGA can pass through the blood brain barrier (BBB) through a process called ‘adsorptive endocytosis’ … WGA may attach to the protective coating on the nerves known as the myelin sheathand is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor which is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons. WGA binds to N-Acetylglucosamine which is believed to function as an atypical neurotransmitter functioning in nocioceptive (pain) pathways.”


slimdoggy frownSlimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level

Due to the fact that wheat is a cheap and suboptimal protein and fiber source, and it many health related risks, it gets the SlimDoggy Sad Face.


Miscellaneous facts about Wheat

According to Wikipedia, wheat is one of the first cereals known to have been domesticated, and wheat’s ability to self-pollinate greatly facilitated the selection of many distinct varieties.

Recent findings estimate the first domestication of wheat occurred in a small region of southeastern Turkey and archaeological sites in Jordan provide evidence of domesticated wheat as far back as 7,500 BC.


Sources and further reading


Editor’s note: to view all of the dog food ingredients we have covered, search on the tag “ingredients” or click here:

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  1. Interesting to hear more about it, but we aren’t on a wheat free diet. It is in our food and many treats, but since it doesn’t seem to bother any of us, we don’t plan to change right now. We don’t think it is a good thing in large amounts.
    Emma recently posted…Waffles For Dogs The Easy WayMy Profile

    • I stopped eating it myself, or at least cut down and feel better for it. I agree – reasonable amounts is okay.
      mkob recently posted…Is Wheat Bad for Dogs?My Profile

  2. Wheat doesn’t both my gang nor I, I know a few friends that have gluten allergies as well as a bunch of dogs that come to the clinic.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Tasty Tuesday~Christmas YogurtMy Profile

  3. We avoid food with wheat, I’m not allergic but it sometimes has bad aftereffects… literally :o) My dad read this post to my mom and she misheard it completely, she thought it’s a post about “weed” … I should borrow her one of my ear cleaning pads :o)
    easyweimaraner recently posted…easyblog BACONS SHOW&TELLMy Profile

    • BOL…yes that would be a different kind of review wouldn’t it 😉
      mkob recently posted…Is Wheat Bad for Dogs?My Profile

  4. When I’m reading these posts, one thing stands out. When you include the phrase “cheap source of…” it’s probably not going to be a recommended ingredient.
    Pamela recently posted…Do Dogs Get SAD?My Profile

  5. Our pack eats wheat-and grain-free only 🙂 Lots of fish, however, and it shows in their beautiful coats!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…New Year’s Eve Safety Tips For Your PackMy Profile

  6. Say no to wheat! hehe
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…2014 best of husky bloopersMy Profile

  7. It seems that gluten has recently become such an ugly word in the world of marketing.
    jan recently posted…Pup Fan still wants more puppiesMy Profile

    • It is kind of a fad, but I do think too much can be harmful.
      mkob recently posted…Is Wheat Bad for Dogs?My Profile

  8. Wheat doesn’t bother my boys, but my Golden Retriever couldn’t eat it.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…BFTB Channel 7 NETWoof News 12/29/2014My Profile

  9. Very interesting. I found out 2.5 years ago I have a gluten intolerance, didn’t know my dogs could have issues too. We seem to rotate between wheat free and wheat full food. Haven’t seen any physical differences in them, but will watch.
    Hailey and Zaphod recently posted…Finally We Got Our Christmas GiftsMy Profile

  10. SlimDoggy, you get four paws up for this post! Lots of health benefits from cutting out wheat and grains from the diet! *wags* – Gilligan from
    Gilligan recently posted…Adopt a Doxie!My Profile

    • Thanks Gilly…it’s good for humans to reduce it too!
      mkob recently posted…Blogiversary Part 2My Profile

  11. Yes! My Mama and Papa believe in this “paleolithic diet” stuff, so we’re big on this philosophy in this house! 😉
    Gilligan recently posted…Adopt a Doxie!My Profile

  12. Our dogs don’t seem to do well on wheat so we avoid it in their food. A little in treats is OK but the problems come if they eat too much.

  13. I try to limit the amount of wheat Harley eats – but it’s so prevalent in so many pet foods and treats. Don’t get me started about human food 🙁 Makes little to no sense to me. Thanks so much for this post.
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…2014 OUR YEAR | WWMy Profile

  14. We don’t have wheat in our dog food here but it’s luckily not because of the common allergy. It’s really crazy to think how prevalent wheat is in EVERYTHING. I’ve heard so many times that someone’s dog is allergic to it; and now I know some of the other risks associated with it. Thanks for the great information.
    jengabbard recently posted…A Mutated Dog Gene Might Help Treat BlindnessMy Profile

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