grain-free vs whole grain pet foods

Whole grain and grain free pet foods for dogs and cats

You may have heard some people say grain-free diets are better for pets while others state diets with grains are better. The truth is, it’s more about how the food is made than the type of starch used, no matter if the starch is a grain, vegetable, or tuber source.

Be it rice or barley, studies show1 pets can easily digest a whole range of starches if they are well-cooked. It’s the same for people. Here’s an example. If you were to eat uncooked dry rice, your stomach would more than likely become upset. Now, when you cook the same rice it becomes a healthy source of energy, iron, magnesium, and fiber. Going back to your pet, if they eat uncooked starches, or starches not cooked correctly, they could experience digestive issues, such as diarrhea.

At Freely, we test every batch of food we make to ensure it meets our exacting standards. That includes testing to make sure starches have been well-cooked and will be easily digestible for your pet.

We understand some people may be concerned about a potential link between grain-free food and DCM. We invite you to read more here.

Ultimately, it is your choice as a pet parent if you want to feed your pet a grain-free or whole grain diet. We believe there are benefits to both, which is why we’ve created both grain-free and whole grain recipes for dogs. If you want to discover which Freely food is best for your dog or cat, take our What to Feed quiz.

Still have questions?

Our pet nutrition team is here for you. Send us an email, give us a call, or connect with us through LiveChat. We’d love to talk through your pet’s unique nutritional needs!


1. Walker, J.A., Harmon, D.L., Gross, K.L. & Collings, G.F. 1994. Evaluation of nutrient utilization in the canine using the ileal cannulation technique. Journal of Nutrition 124: 2672S–2676S.