a bowl of natura dog food on a wooden floor

Benefits of Whole Grain Dog Treats & Food (and More)

Welcome to the world of Little Chef, where the well-being of your furry companion is our top priority. We understand that loving pet owners like yourself want nothing but the best for their four-legged friends. Whether you’re a dedicated pet parent or veterinarian, staying informed about the latest nutritional trends and research is crucial.

This knowledge allows you to provide the best advice and care to your pets and clients, aligning with the broader mission of ensuring our furry friends’ overall health and well-being. 

So, today, we’re delving into the incredible benefits of whole-grain dog treats, shedding light on how they can be the key to a happier and healthier pup, as well as settling the great whole-grain vs. grain-free diet debate.

First Things First: What Are Whole Grains?

Whole grains are a staple in human diets but can also be a valuable addition to your dog’s nutrition. But what exactly are whole grains, and why are they essential for your canine companion?

Whole grains are unprocessed grains that include the bran, germ, and endosperm. This means they contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. Whole-grain dog food and treats are designed to include the right balance of protein and healthy fats. Protein is essential for muscle growth and overall health, while healthy fats support a shiny coat and brain function.

Now, let’s dive into why these grains can be a game-changer for your pup.

What Are the Health Benefits of Whole Grains for Dogs?

Whole grains of wheat in bags and ears

In the world of grains, whole grains stand in striking contrast to their refined grain counterparts. These nutrient powerhouses are brimming with insoluble fiber, delivering a punch of essential nutrients. When we talk whole grains, think about brown or wild rice, the humble yet nutritious millet, and the ever-reliable oats – just a few examples of these wholesome grain heroes.

Whole grains are packed with many nutritional benefits that can lead to a healthier and happier pup. Here’s a closer look at the advantages they offer:

Nutritional Benefits

Whole grains are a rich source of essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients play a vital role in maintaining your dog’s overall health and well-being. With Little Chef, you can ensure your pet gets a balanced diet with all the goodness that whole grains offer.

Digestive Health & Heart Health

A key component of whole grains is dietary fiber, which is crucial for proper digestion. It can help regulate your dog’s bowel movements and prevent constipation, making for a more comfortable and happy pup.

Whole grains can also act as a shield for your pup’s heart, effectively reducing high cholesterol levels and, in turn, promoting cardiovascular health as well.

Balanced Diet & Healthy Weight Management

Whole grains also help with weight management and weight loss in overweight dogs. They are a source of complex carbohydrates, which provide sustained energy, making them an excellent choice for dogs that need to shed a few pounds.

Apart from obesity prevention, the nutritional magic of whole grains extends to kidney disease management and keeping diabetes at bay. How? Well, keeping those sugar levels in check is vital for your furry friend, and whole grains can play a significant role in maintaining that delicate balance.

Reducing the Risk of Cancers

High in fiber, whole grains have been associated with lowering the risk of chronic diseases, even certain types of cancer, making them a valuable addition to diets for dogs, too.

Different Types of Whole Grains: A Breakdown

Unjustly notorious, whole grains are the unsung heroes of a well-balanced diet, and their diversity is worth celebrating. These grains are an essential source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and an array of vital nutrients that promote good health.

Now that we’ve established the benefits of whole grains let’s explore the different types of whole grains out there:

Ancient Grains

Ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth, and millet are gaining popularity for their high nutritional value. They are excellent sources of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients that can benefit your pet’s health.

  • Quinoa, often called a “superfood,” is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all essential amino acids. This pseudo-grain is an ideal option for dogs with protein sensitivities or those needing a protein boost. Quinoa is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
  • Millet is a lesser-known grain, but it’s no less nutritious. It’s gluten-free, making it suitable for dogs with sensitivities, and offers a good balance of carbohydrates and protein. Its mild flavor and small size make it a versatile ingredient for dog treats, and it’s known for being easy to digest.


Brown rice and white rice are both excellent choices for whole-grain dog treats and food. However, unlike its paler counterpart, brown rice proudly preserves its outer kernel layers, which not only adds character but also transforms it into a fantastic fiber-rich delight. Brown rice is packed with fiber, while white rice is easily digestible and can be suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Wild rice isn’t actually rice; it’s a type of aquatic grass. It’s often used alongside other grains in dog food and treats to provide a diverse range of nutrients and flavors. Wild rice is an excellent source of protein and dietary fiber.


Oats are a staple in many human diets, and they can also be a valuable addition to your dog’s nutrition. They are a rich source of soluble fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and aid in digestion. Oats are often used in various forms, including oatmeal and oat flour, to create tasty and nutritious dog treats. You’ll frequently come across oats masquerading as “oatmeal” on pet food packages.

These are just a few examples of the diverse world of whole grains. Each s has unique nutritional profiles, flavors, and textures, making them suitable for different dietary needs and preferences. When choosing whole grain dog treats, you have the opportunity to introduce a variety of these grains into your pet’s diet, ensuring they receive a wide array of essential nutrients while enjoying delicious and nutritious snacks.

Notable Mentions

Amaranth is a lesser-known whole grain that is gaining recognition for its health benefits, high in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. It has a slightly peppery taste that can add a unique twist to your dog’s treat selection.

Barley is another hearty and wholesome grain that’s not as well-known and can be used in various forms, including pearled, hulled, or flour. It’s an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Barley’s mild, nutty flavor can make it a tasty and nutritious addition to your dog’s diet.

What Grain Is Best for Dogs?

golden retriever eating whole grain dog food from metal bowl

Pet parents often ask, “What is the healthiest grain for dogs?” Well, the answer may vary depending on your dog’s specific dietary needs, but some of the healthier types of grain options for dogs include oats, brown rice, and whole wheat, as they offer a variety of nutrients and can be easily digestible.

What Grains Should Dogs Avoid?

Contrary to popular belief, grains aren’t the enemy when it comes to our canine companions. In fact, domestic dogs have the ability to digest starches, thanks to their omnivorous nature, except for dogs experiencing grain or gluten intolerances. For these special pups, a grain-free or gluten-free diet tailored to their specific needs and sensitivities is required, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Now, when we talk about grains being “bad” for dogs, it’s often linked to the quality and type of grains they consume. Low-grade, refined grains are the culprits here, frequently found in heavily processed dog food as inexpensive fillers may pet food companies use. These grains serve no nutritional purpose for your furry friend and might even disrupt their delicate digestive balance, leading to potential stomach upsets. 

You should also be cautious of grains like corn, soy, and white flour. Little Chef, on the other hand, is committed to using high-quality, wholesome grains in our functional dog treats, ensuring the best for your pup’s health and happiness. 

Should I Feed My Dog Whole Grain or Grain-Free Food and Treats?

When it comes to our furry companions, their diet is a topic close to every pet parent’s heart. You want to provide the best for your dog, ensuring they live a long, healthy, and happy life. And the debate over whether to feed your dog whole grain or grain-free food and treats is a hot topic in the pet world.

So, let’s dive right into the heart of the matter and address the question that’s probably been on your mind: Is whole-grain dog food better? Well, whole grains undoubtedly outshine their refined counterparts. They are extremely healthy grains because they come as a wholesome package of health benefits, unlike the stripped-down refined grains, which lose their valuable nutrients in the refining process.

However, the choice between whole grain and grain-free dog food and treats is a decision that should be made based on your dog’s specific needs, dietary preferences, and any potential sensitivities they may have. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and what’s best for your dog depends on various factors.

To determine which type of food and treats are best for your dog, it’s essential to consider their individual needs:

  • Sensitivities: If your dog has grain allergies or sensitivities, grain-free food may be the best choice. However, consult with your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and dietary recommendations.
  • Activity Level: Highly active dogs may benefit from grain-free food due to its higher protein content, while less active dogs might do well with whole-grain options for sustained energy.
  • Overall Health: Some dogs may have specific health concerns that require tailored diets.
  • Personal Preferences: Every dog has its taste and dietary preferences. Some dogs may simply enjoy the flavor and texture of one type of food over the other.
  • Age and Life Stage: Puppies, adult dogs, and seniors may have varying nutritional needs. Choose a food that aligns with your dog’s life stage.

Ultimately, the decision between whole grain and grain-free dog food and treats should be made in consultation with your veterinarian.

Food Sensitivities in Dogs & The Need for Grain-Free Diets

Contrary to the grain-free diet trend, many dogs do not have allergies or sensitivities to grains (fewer than 1%, according to studies). Grain-free diets have been a popular topic of discussion, but recent research suggests that they may not be the best choice for all dogs.

;In fact, it turns out dogs may be more susceptible to food allergies related to the protein source in their diets rather than the grains themselves.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Dogs Due to Certain Diets

Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a heart condition that has been associated with certain diets, including some grain-free options. Whole grain dog treats can help reduce the risk of DCM, as they provide essential nutrients that support heart health.

Gluten-Free Diet Options

Gluten is a protein commonly found in grains, particularly wheat, barley, and rye. It’s what gives dough its elasticity and helps bread and other baked goods rise. However, it can be problematic for humans and pets with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, as it can trigger adverse reactions in their digestive systems.

For those seeking gluten-free options, grains like rice, quinoa, and oats can be safe choices, as they are naturally gluten-free. All Little Chef treats are gluten-free and whole-grain, so your pet can enjoy the benefits of whole grains without any discomfort.

Little Chef Premium Whole-Grain Dog Treats: The Nutritious Snack Dogs Deserve

a dog's paw print consists of natural whole grain dog food pellets on a white background

Little Chef offers a wide range of whole-grain dog treats, each carefully crafted with real ingredients and baked to perfection. From delicious biscuits to savory snacks, we have something for every pup’s taste buds. Our treats are created without GMOs and additives, using only the highest quality, all-natural ingredients to ensure amazing taste and incredible nutritional value.

At Little Chef, we bake love into every biscuit and take pride in using a variety of premium whole grains in our dog treats to cater to the diverse palates and dietary requirements of our furry customers. These wholesome grains are carefully selected and prepared to provide the best for your pet’s health and happiness.

Bon appétit!

marko golinger

Marko Golinger

Father, husband, veterinarian, animal lover, and nature enthusiast. Born on September 1, 1973, in Belgrade. I’ve spent my entire life with German Shepherds, which my father has been breeding since 1967 in the Kalavestra kennel registered with the FCI in 1986. Living with dogs has helped me supplement the formal knowledge I gained at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine with a wealth of experiential knowledge about the needs and behaviors of dogs, as well as corrective measures we can take to ensure our beloved pets are healthier, more stable, and obedient. I’m constantly dedicated to improving the welfare of animals and their place in society. I am a staunch opponent of humanizing dogs who, I am sure, want to be dogs and not humans or children.