“Enriched” white flour should come with a warning label. Flour has no nutritional value, and this includes white, all-purpose, wheat, pastry flour, and the rest. The problem is not so much the wheat itself, but in the processing. And if flour is no good for humans, you can bet it’s no good for your dog. Unprocessed whole wheat, which has fiber and other nutrients, is stripped of its husk, and bleached, leaving behind a substandard food.

Unfortunately for humans, and dogs, food products made with white flour are tempting: dinner rolls, pizza crust, doughnuts, cakes and other pastries. But if you’re going to eat those items, you might as well swallow a spoonful of sugar. Just as eating refined sugar negatively affects blood sugar and can cause diabetes (in dogs too), white flour, though not sweet tasting, basically breaks down into glucose. Eating a slice of white bread literally turns to sugar in your mouth and your body.

Gluten: not so great.

Flour and water, when mixed, turns into a paste. It’s sticky: that’s why you need to scatter flour over your counter top when you roll out dough. You can even use flour and water as a paste when making homemade crafts. So, when a dog eats a gluten-refined grain, like wheat flour, the paste sticks to the villi (the finger-like projections that move digested food along the intestines) and sticks to the colon wall. If the colon and intestines are covered in paste, they are unable to do their job–which is to absorb nutrients.

Negative effects of white flour.

When dogs consume white flour they can suffer digestive problems and bloating. Some experts claim that eating white flour can lead to inflammatory bowel syndrome or dog colitis, swelling of the colon and/or large intestine.

Perhaps the biggest risk for flour consumption is that dogs can have an allergic reaction or food sensitivity to certain grains. The big offenders include corn, soy, and wheat. Common symptoms include itchy skin, usually on the face, ears, legs, and feet. These can lead to chronic ear infections, hair loss, and skin infections. Unchecked allergies could lead to serious health conditions, and even death. Always introduce new foods gradually, then watch your dog for changes in behavior or skin.

What should my dog eat?

A dog’s diet should consist of meat, vegetables, and fruit. The most significant component should be protein, then carbohydrates, then fats. And while it’s not necessary for dogs to eat flour of any kind, if you choose to buy or make treats for them using flour, use the most healthful products possible. Flours can be made from grains, nuts, beans and other sources. To keep it simple, try to remember: one-third to three-quarters of your dog’s diet should include protein from meat or other protein products. The other thirds to fourths should consist of vegetables and fruits, and good grains.

Flour appears in so many recipes and dog food products it may be difficult to avoid completely. And, some grains rejected for human consumption can make it into pet food. You’ll want to look for “whole grain” or “grain-free” flours. Just like it sounds, whole grain contains the “whole” grain. Choose quinoa, oats, barley, and the like. And for grain-free choices, try lentil, potato, or almond flour.

Certain whole grain wheats contain fibers that may help in the growth of good bacteria in the gut and/or intestines. Just as in humans, fiber in a dog’s diet can help him or her stay regular, especially in older dogs. Whole grains also boost a dog’s energy level. Good grains can give your dog the energy to tackle muscle building and metabolism raising exercise.

Always read the dog food label. Moderate amounts of whole wheat, when combined with a protein-rich diet can be beneficial. Choose a dog food where the main ingredient is meat, not meat byproducts. When in doubt, leave wheat out.

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