Does Grain Free Dog Food Cause Loose Stool?

Grain-free dog food does not typically cause loose stool. In fact, going grain-free is one of the best ways to prevent diarrhea. However, any time you change your dog’s diet, there’s always a chance diarrhea will follow until your dog’s digestive system adjusts. The diarrhea should only last 2-3 days.

Did you recently switch to grain-free food and are noticing a change in your pup’s stools? Are you wondering if this is cause for worry or a side effect you may have to get used to with the new diet? 

Let’s walk through what to expect with grain free dog food and what factors may cause your dog’s loose stools. 

Grain Free Dog Food is Not The Problem

Depending on how sensitive your dog’s stomach is, there can be quite a few side effects when you make a change to their food. Your dog may experience itchiness, diarrhea, and more frequent bowel movements. 

With a change in diet, a change in stool is expected for a few days and isn’t usually cause for concern. It’s not the grain-free food that’s causing an issue, it’s simple the fact that your dog’s stomach needs time to adjust.

What most likely led you to this article is that a few days of diarrhea has turned into a week or longer. You’re likely wondering when it will end and if you should be worried. 

On a positive note, even if your dog is currently experiencing diarrhea, once you find the right food, they will experience increased energy and improved temperament, so it’s a road worth traveling.

Is The Grain-Free Food Upsetting Your Dogs Stomach?

Any shift to a dog’s diet can cause a strange reaction in their digestion. It isn’t always diarrhea, sometimes it is just a confused stomach that produces more gas or bloating. 

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, we can assume that their stomach is most likely upset, and the new food isn’t sitting right. 

Loose stools aren’t a huge cause for concern over the first few days of a new diet, but if they persist for a week or longer, you should contact your vet.

If Grain-Free Food Isn’t to Blame – What is?

As you can imagine, many things can lead to diarrhea in dogs. It’s helpful to sit down and list out any changes that your dog may have experienced since the loose stools began. 

Have they experienced any lifestyle shifts? Are they experiencing any new stress? Has anything besides their food been changed recently? All these things can lead to diarrhea.

How Long Should Diarrhea Last?

When you switch your dog’s food, you can expect your dog to have diarrhea for three to five days. If you don’t see any improvement after five to seven days or longer, discuss your options with your vet. Loose stools can lead to dehydration and one very unhappy pup. 

How to Introduce Grain-Free Dog Food Without Upsetting Your Dogs Stomach

The best ways to bring new food into your dog’s life is to start slowly and introduce it one portion at a time. 

If your dog typically eats two cups of kibble for breakfast, mix in 1 cup of the new food with 1 cup of the existing food. The more gradually you can introduce a new food, the easier it will be on your dog’s stomach. 

This gradual transition between foods should last about seven days before your dog is eating 100% grain-free food.

If you follow these guidelines, it’s possible that your dog may not experience diarrhea at all. 

If, when you mix in more and more of the new food, you notice loose stools, slow down the process and prolong the transition. Slow and steady wins the race!

Does Grain-Free Dog Food Offer Any Benefits?

One of the biggest perks of grain-free food is that it’s easier for your dog to digest. Although it might seem like it’s harder on the digestive system at first, once the transition to grain-free is complete, your dog should be able to easily digest this food.

Many dog owners transition their pets to grain-free to help with allergies and upset stomachs. It’s believed that many of the symptoms that accompany allergies, such as itching, rashes, and upset stomachs, will dissipate altogether with a grain-free diet. 

This occurs because some of the most common dog allergies are found in foods that contain grains – such as corn and wheat. Of course, the transition to grain-free should only happen after you’ve discussed it with your vet.

Should Your Dog Stay on a Grain-Free Diet For Life? 

It’s a great idea to test out the grain-free diet with your dog to see if it helps with their allergies, coat, and overall energy level. 

If you quit the diet before knowing the actual outcome, you could miss out on a potentially great thing for your dog. 

It may seem wrong to continue the food transition if your dog is experiencing diarrhea, but it’s very common for a dog to have a sensitive stomach for the first few days on the new food. 

As long as your dog enjoys the food, there’s nothing wrong with keeping them on a grain-free diet. But that brings us to the next point…

Does Your Dog Even Like Their Grain-Free Food?

If your dog is enjoying his/her new food, they will make it abundantly clear by happily and quickly eating all of it. Of course, we don’t want our dogs scarfing down their food too fast, but some excitement to eat breakfast and dinner is appreciated and reassuring. 

On the other hand, if you find your pup is only picking at their meal or leaving it for hours without touching it, grain-free food might not be the right fit. 

Your dog will probably still eat the new food at some point, but it will be because they are hungry and not necessarily because they are enjoying it. 

While not every meal needs to be gourmet for your pup, it’s helpful for both of you if you can find a type of food that they genuinely enjoy and look forward to eating. 

Grain-Free Food Should Improve Your Dog’s Bowel Movements

Diarrhea isn’t necessarily caused by grain-free food. In fact, in the long run, grain-free should help your dog have consistent, healthy bowel movements. 

With any new food introduction, your dog, unfortunately, may experience some side effects. These can vary greatly, but they include potentially uncomfortable changes in their digestion. 

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide if the potential benefits associated with a grain-free diet are worth these few transitional weeks of the unknown. 

If you are unsure if you want to proceed with the switch to grain-free, it’s possible to find a happy medium. Look into healthier foods that still contain grain or a small amount of grains and see if that’s a better fit for your dog. Our dog’s stomachs aren’t “one size fits all”. Different dogs require different diets. The only way to know which food is best for your dog is to experiment. 

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