Is Wheat Bad for Dogs?
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
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 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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