Photo: Terry Vine/Getty Images

The answer may surprise you. 

Hayley Sugg
September 28, 2017

Going gluten-free has been all the rage for people, despite the majority of the population not having any major allergies or intolerances. While humans, for the most part, are designed to digest wheat, there is some confusion when it comes to our canine friends.

If you peruse the dog food aisle, you'll see various claims on packages, everything from 'grain-free' to 'gluten-free'. But are these diets necessary for man's best friend? The answer the depends on your individual dog.

Some pet owners may feel that dogs are made to only eat meat, like their wolf ancestors. Research shows though that as dogs evolved with humans, their genetic makeup changed in a way that made digesting starch (aka, grains) significantly easier. Dogs are also evolved to consume other plants that wolves would never eat like potatoes, peas, spinach, pumpkin, squash, and various fruits.

Health-conscious owners may be more worried about food allergies and sensitivities. Wheat allergies are the third most common type of food allergy in dogs, accounting for roughly 10 percent of all cases. Some symptoms to keep an eye out for include an itchy coat, changes in behavior like shaking their head and rubbing their face on the carpet, or digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhea. 

Unless your dog has begun exhibiting symptoms of a food allergy, there is no reason to assume that he or she shouldn't eat wheat. Dogs are biologically capable of easily digesting whole grains, along with a mix of meats and plants, for a healthy diet. If your pet seems to be thriving on a diet that includes grain products, then there is little reason to opt for changing their meals to grain-free (and often pricier) options. 

Disclaimer: We at Cooking Light are not pet nutritionists or veterinarians. A dog's diet should be changed at the discretion of the pet owner and only after consulting with their veterinarian.