Flour is a staple food around the globe. It's even in most commercial dry dog foods. Wheat, soy and corn are plentiful and inexpensive, so lower-quality dog companies rely on them. Even high-quality dog foods tend to incorporate them. But traditional flours don't provide good nutrition for dogs.
A natural diet for dogs doesn't include any flour at all. Dogs are descended from wolves, and their dietary requirements haven't changed much from those of their wild cousins. In the wild, dogs and wolves eat mostly protein and fat, and very little carbohydrate. Most of the grains that dog eat in the wild are in the stomachs of their prey.
Dry dog food uses some kind of starch or flour to make the kibble pieces stay formed. Many canned dog foods also include flour to bulk up the food. When choosing a dry dog food, it's important to choose foods with quality grains that provide some nutritional value for dogs. Complex grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, barley and millet provide better nutrition than many other grains. Look for products that use whole grains, which provide more nutrition than grains that have been turned into flour or gluten.
Some dog food and dog treat companies have substituted grain flour with more nutritional flours. The most common substitutes are pea flour, chickpea flour, coconut flour, lentil flour and tapioca. These alternatives to grain flours make the food and treats healthier for dogs and eliminate many of the digestive difficulties that come with grains. If you like to cook food or treats at home for your dog, try substituting one of these healthier flours for wheat or other grain flours in your recipes.
While every dry food or treat needs some kind of flour to hold the ingredients together, not all flours are good for dogs. The most common types of flour used in lower-quality dog foods are wheat, corn, and soy. These ingredients are cheap, so they keep the cost of the products down. But they provide very little nutritional value for dogs. For some, these ingredients can even be harmful as they are three of the most common allergens for dogs. Allergic dogs will often have digestive problems, flaky skin and itchy ears. Some dogs may even develop nutritional deficiencies if their diets are based on wheat, corn and soy flour.