Considering the variety in people's culinary preferences and requirements, it's good to know there are flours to suit everyone. You can also extend this variety to your dogs. Even though dogs don't need to eat anything with flour, you can choose the healthiest options when making or buying their goodies.
The Natural Dog Diet
A dog's ideal diet should consist of meats, vegetables, fruits and other whole foods. Protein should be the base, followed by carbohydrates and fats. Flour is a source of carbohydrates, but there are so many different types -- and so much variation in nutritional density -- it can be hard to sort out which ones to use. Dogs actually don't need to consume flour at all, especially those made from grains, which are not natural foods for dogs.
Basic Info on Type and Quality
Even though dogs don't need flour, it is present in many recipes and products. So if you're including flour in your dog's diet, it's helpful to know which ones are the healthiest. Some grains and their associated flours are high on the list of foods likely to produce allergic responses or food sensitivities. The level of quality is also key, because grains rejected from the human food supply can still be put into pet food.
Choosing Whole Grains
When choosing flours for your dog, look for whole grain flour or, preferably, non-grain flour. Whole grain flours use the entire grain, and therefore contain all the original nutrients. This is different from white flour, for example, which is stripped of most of its nutrition. Look for whole ground flours from quinoa, oats, barley, millet, peas, buckwheat, rice, millet or sorghum. Several non-grain options are available, including chickpea, lentil, potato, almond, hazelnut and coconut flours.
Avoiding Allergen-Producing Flours & Fragments
Some flours are derived from foods that may cause allergies, such as soy, wheat and corn. Avoid fragmented flours like potato product, middlings or unspecified flours, along with those not fit for human consumption. If you're incorporating a new flour into your dog's diet, do so gradually. This lets him adjust to the new food, and gives you a chance to monitor him to make sure the new flour agrees with his body and taste buds.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.